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.. Society
We Live in the Present

10 Views of Landscape
Affect and Effect
Culture is Ordinary
I pay rent.
Listening to Corn
The Reform vs Revolution Paradox
What is Public Schooling For?

AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Is this picture real?
NonFungible Tokens
Public Art
Tearing Down Statues
What is Art?
Working With Reality

Artificial Intelligence and the Collingridge Dilemma.
Bird Brains
Bounded Rationality
Competence Without Comprehension
Consciousness is More Like Fame Than Television
Developmental Processes
Emergence and Cognition
I Lost My Knife
Incomplete Information and Stories
Is free will an illusion?
Natural Law
Necessary Illusions
On Affordances
Pencil and Paper
Post Phenomenology
Reflective Equilibrium
Return of the Law of Forms
Shifting Meanings
Taking Things on Faith
The Hard Problem
The I Love You Gesture
The Imagined Order
The Phenomenology of Swim Bladders.
Thinking about medical procedures
Thinking About Risk
Underdetermination and Redundancy
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
What Does Google Know?

A Country Is Not Like A Company
Alternate ideas lying around waiting for disaster
Blood and Money
Can Capitalism Survive?
Do Our Minds Own Our Bodies?
Everyday Communism
Invisible Hand
Job Creators
Job Destroyers
Money and Value
Money is Different
National Accounts
Necessary Production
Paper Wealth
Post Capitalist Society
Profit Motive Fails
Rentier Capitalism
Social Wealth vs Surplus Value
Spending Money Into Existence
The Metaphysics of Money
The Ontology of Debt
Thinking about Money
Wealth is What Money Buys

Blowing Up Pipelines

Absolute Knowledge
I do not know everything
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
The Curious Ineffectiveness of Facts
The Past and the Future.
Uncertainty and Unpredictability

Competition and Cooperation
Dr Malthus would be pleased
Error Correction
Evolution Defended
Evolution is not Religion
Evolution of Cars
Forces of Nature
Is Natural Selection Obsolete?
Politics and Evolution
The Evolution of Purpose.
The Problem with Natural Selection.
The Source of Bad Behavior
Thinking about Tails
Why Does a Leopard Have Spots?

Free Speech in the age of Twitter
Freedom and Badness
Freedom and Morality
Freedom From and Freedom To
Freedom in the Age of Convoys
Libertarian Coercion

Levels of Abstraction
Levels of Abstraction and Minds
What is a newspaper?

As Much As Possible
Zipfs Law

Emotional Plague
Memes: Imitated Behavior.
The Problem with Memes
What is a replicator?

Beyond Rules Based Morality
Freedom and Morality
Moral Realism.
What do we owe animals?


Maps and Territories
Metaphysics Without Absolutes
Philosophy Buds
Sincerely Held Beliefs
Sorites Paradox
Stereoscopic Vision and The Hard Problem
The Gorilla in the Room of Science
The Purpose of Science
What is Going On?

If It Walks Like a Duck
Right Wing Freedom
The Sovereign Citizen
Tyranny of the Majority


Constructed Life
Correlation Wins
Quack Doctors
The Great Shattering
The Material Space
Thinking about Interconnection
Too Small to See
Watching Pigeons
Weirdness in Physics

A society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
Family Values
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
Open Society and Falsification
Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Society and The State
Spheres of Influence
The Care and Feeding of Free Speech
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Homeless
The Problem with Hedonism
To the Moon
Work - Productive, Useful, Worthless, and Bad.

Implications of Very Productive Technology
Modest Proposal
Problems with Universal Basic Income
Tormenting Unlucky People
Why there are oligarchs

To the Moon

It's rocket science.

My Mom would let me stay home from school to watch Alan Shepards suborbital flight and later John Glenn's 3 orbits of the earth.
I was completely fascinated by "outer space". I wanted to be an 'astronautical engineer" - the term sounded more pompous than 'astronaut' (hey - I was 12 :-)
I had a spacesuit fantasy - a life supporting system that made you independent of the environment that even had little jets to fly around with.
Heinlein's story 'Have Spacesuit, Will Travel' played a lot into that fantasy. Imagine getting a spacesuit by collecting enough box tops :-)
A few years later I gave up on that. Even then I didn't like the military and that was the only way to get to space then. Also - I didn't think a Canadian could qualify. Turns out I was wrong about that as Roberta Bondar and Mark Garneau showed. Chris Hadfield became a celebrity.

But I always wanted to go.

One of the things I most wanted to experience was weightlessness. I loved swimming underwater - a weightless experience - though different. I wanted to play with water in a weightless environment.

At the time, a space station was a big orbiting wheel that spun to give artificial gravity. That would have been ideal. You could go to the hub for weightlessness and come back to gravity to have a shower.

10 years later Americans landed on the moon.

The most memorable thing then were the pictures of footprints in the lunar dust. Since there was no wind they didn't erode and remained as crisp and sharp. I wonder if they are still there.

And then there was a hiatus in space travel.
Looking back I think the hiatus was caused by the fact that it just took a long time to build the Space Shuttle and its supporting infrastructure. Like they adapted a 747 to carry the thing around - stupendous stuff.
And the present space station has been a model of international co-operation for 25 years now.

And now we have Artemis I getting ready for its first flight . This project is enormous. Vehicles the size of skyscrapers carry it around.
It will be a while before people walk on the moon again - but it's within years now rather than decades.
There may be a permanent settlement on the moon within my lifetime. Wow - I'm thrilled at the idea.

And yet, and yet - this stuff is very very expensive and there are lots of things here on Earth that we need to deal with too. Poverty is a huge global issue. Should we be sending rockets to the moon when billions of people go to bed hungry each night? Should we go to the moon when populations on all the world's coasts have to move up and away from the rising oceans?
The assumption with questions like that is that the space program competes with other projects for limited resources. I don't think it actually does.

The normal thing is to think of this in terms of money and the supposed need for societies to balance their budgets. We are all familiar with the need to keep our own expenditures within our resources. If I earn $1000 a month but spend $2000 a month then eventually I won't have money to spend. That is a bad situation.
Common sense says that this applies to society at large too.
I am pretty convinced that that is not true.

Paul Krugman is plain about that - a society is not like a household and basically cannot run out of money. In a society every expenditure is somebody's income and if you cut expenditures then you reduce income. All my life Canada and the USA have had budget deficits - people have been yelling to the sky that that will lead to financial collapse.
It does not happen in a country that has its own sovereign currency. It can be a severe problem for a country (like say Greece) that doesn't.

And what actually happens is political games that play with the government finances for pretty blatant partisan advantage - this is not economics.

The source of wealth of a society is the productive capacity of its people. Basically, an economy has to provide food and shelter and education to people so they can do productive things. Money certainly has a role to play in that but it is a product of people's productivity and not its source.

The capitalist thinks that money is the source of wealth and it may be for him. He has money and spends it to hire people to produce for him. He takes the stance that he's the source of wealth that he can dole out as he pleases. The actual situation is that the people he employs are the source of his wealth.

And capitalists are at pains - via the media - to hide that simple fact.

Modern Monetary theory talks about that. It presents and almost complete inversion of the 'common sense' that the capitalist talks about to defend his social position. The starting point is that a sovereign state creates money by just spending to enable people to be productive. And the wealth of the society is what the people produce - not the money that government creates The purpose of taxation is to destroy surplus money so that the economy remains balanced.
Money should be seen as an accounting mechanism - not as wealth.

Back to Artemis I. It certainly is expensive in terms of money but it's worth it because of the actual wealth it produces. Thousands and thousands of people get paid to build it and all those people support families and spend the money on everything from groceries to cars and computers.
And a part of the wealth is stuff like computers that didn't exist without that investment.
And that's why the space program does not compete economically with other priorities. Money spent on those priorities - to enable people to do the work - increases the society's wealth too.

What do you think?
I open the floor.

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.