So I decided I would wake this blog from its year-long hibernation since I’ve gotten several requests to post something new. It all started when I started posting essays from my literature class just for the heck of it. I just wanted to start a blog. But being the depressive person that I am, I lost interest (or, shall we say, the necessary inspiration?) to make another blog post. I didn’t want to post yet another one of my essays (although I may do so in the future) so I sort of ran out of ideas. I went into “everything sucks” mode.

Well, the other day I got myself a copy of the new Times magazine. As I flipped through back-to-back articles about the Democrats’ embarrassing defeats in the midterm elections I came across an article about space travel. Yep, this oughta do it.

Ok, so the European Space Agency built this robotic, unmanned space probe dubbed Rosetta. The name is of Egyptian origin. This probe will orbit a comet called 67P (Churyumov Gerasimenko) currently floating in the Kuiper Belt and making its way to the inner Solar System. As I write this, Rosetta has already reached its destination and deployed a lander which will attach itself to the comet for a look-see. But let me give you some background on this Rosetta.

The ESA spent $1.8 billon (appx.1.3 billion Euros) to build this thing, which (according to my calculations) is about 33% of the agency’s annual budget. Don’t worry though, they are based in France, and as we all know France has crazy high taxes which can more than well pay for it.

It’s crazy to think that this probe was launched ten years ago. This fucking thing has been journeying about in space for over a decade only to intersect with a tiny little comet which may or may not give us the answers we need about the origin of life on Earth.

And the fact that nothing bad happened to Rosetta during its trek to the cosmos is nothing short of a miracle. A few days ago, dumbfuck Richard Bronson’s SpaceShipTwo spaceplane crashed miserably in the Mojave Desert killing one pilot and injuring another. Look up Richard Bronson, I bet you’ve seen this guy a million times on TV. Space travel is no joke.

“This was the first flight ever to use a new type of fuel: nylon plastic grains”. (The Bakersfield Californian)

Da fuck is that? It sounds cool though.

Rosetta is lucky that during its rocket propelled ascension it didn’t prematurely deploy its feathering system which is used to help planes get back to Earth in one piece.

I gotta give it to Rosetta. This little bitch is the queen of first place ribbon victories like that one kid who wins all the races on field day back in primary school. It’s also the first spacecraft to fly close to Jupiter using only solar cells as its main power source. First to orbit a comet’s nucleus, and first to study up close how a frozen comet is transformed by the Sun’s heat.

This is where it gets interesting.

When Rosetta arrived on her date with 67P it just kind of danced around aimlessly for like 3 months. This I guess was her mating call. Well, to be fair, it was mapping out a path to the comet’s nucleus.

On November 12, Rose gave birth to her son Philae. Rosetta opened her womb and ejected her demonic offspring. Meet Philae. Philae is a research probe, or a lander, responsible for collecting data from the comet. The ESA jumped up and down when it was announced that the lander’s 7 hour descent to 67P was a great success! Great Success!

Emily Barone of Time Magazine writes:

“The lander could offer clues to the origins of the solar system”.

Yes, I’m intrigued. Continue.

“Once on the surface, this lander will take measurements that could reveal the conditions that prevailed in the universe not long after the Big Bang”

Man, this is great. This thing could literally end the age old Big Bang v Creationism debate. Maybe this fucking probe will have the ability to shut Christians up once and for all (gasp!).

It is theorized that things like water, ice and organic chemicals were brought to our planet by comets. God didn’t just fart them out one day.

Philae will be relaying a bunch of cosmic data to us Earthlings for over a year before it makes its 10 year roadtrip back to Earth.

I think much of the data will be monitored by Germany’s ESOC post. They’re in charge of telemetry. Let’s hope they don’t use any of the information to build the next breakthrough in Nazi-inspired flight technology. Allegedly, after WW2, Nazi scientists worked on UFO airplane technology they had extracted from data obtained using secret satellites hidden in Antarctica.

According to Rosetta’s project manager, most of what Philae will find while he sniffs his way around the comet are prebiotic molecules. These are molecules known to be the precursors of life, but not living organisms.

I wish Rosetta and her curious son the best of luck. I hope nothing happens to them. I hope the comet’s atmosphere treats them with mercy. I’m really looking forward to reading about the kinds of discoveries this mission will uncover.

Am I a space geek?

It’s possible.

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Humans are always searching for happiness. Since the human being is naturally a social animal, fostering meaningful relationships with other people is extremely important. However, most people can attest to the fact that true happiness is hard to find. Most people experience despair at some point in their life. Some never find happiness at all. Regarded as the father of existentialism, Soren Kierkegaard once said, “it is the highest claim upon every human being’s destiny to be spirit (Kierkegaard 676)”. If finding happiness and meaning such an essential existential goal for humans, why do they struggle so hard to achieve this?

  It’s pretty much impossible to think of somebody who never experienced any sadness, grief, or adversity in their life. Even the most virtuous, talented, and confident person has experienced disappointment and some degree of pain in their life. Even Brad Pitt could not get a date when he first moved to LA. Like happiness, sadness is one of the most basic emotions we experience. But despair is different. Despair is a total loss of hope. It is a constant state of sadness that does not go away in 2 weeks’ time. Kierkegaard calls it “a sickness of the spirit” (Kierkegaard 675).   Kierkegaard claims that despair is universal, rather than being a rarity that only affect a few. He criticized the common, superficial view of despair which says that people who behave in a cheerful manner cannot be in despair. Kierkegaard argues that some people hide their inner despair. He says that “not being conscious of being in despair is precisely a form of despair” (Kierkegaard 677). He goes as far as to describe this as a “fruit of sinful love under your heart” (Kierkegaard 678). This might explain why it’s so difficult for people to be in touch with their souls, because they are ignorant of their own despair. However, Kierkegaard might be conflating despair, the sickness, with mood swings, and the dynamic of human emotions that most of us routinely experience.

To help us understand this better, let’s look at the life of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gilman was an American feminist theorist who wrote books about madness and feminism. She experienced loss at a young age when her father abandoned her family. This is similar to when a person is raped or experiences the death of a loved one at an early age. Events of such nature can traumatize someone for the rest of their lives. On top of that, her mother barely showed any affection towards her except for when she was asleep. She had to pretend to be asleep in order for her mother to show affection. This can very well cause someone to despair.

Furthermore, Gilman was an intelligent woman who questioned 19th century patriarchy (938). People who question society’s norms and have above average intelligence are more likely to be victims of depression than others. Throughout her life she wrote poetry and was an art teacher. Her poetry and storytelling was a way for her to find her highest claim, “to be spirit”. Unfortunately, her suffering continued. When she married, she became depressed because the housework left her little time for poetry. She sought answers to her problems by consulting a specialist who told her to reduce her intellectual life to only 2 hours a day. This left her devastated, and professional help did not help her get rid of her despair. Gilman was someone who truly struggled with despair. She felt a kind of emptiness, and vacancy in her heart that is far more painful than what is typically considered as “sadness”.

* Thou shall reap what thy sow, but best not slight our fathers and mothers of sin. *

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Notes

The Bedford Anthology Book 5

Alas high tech heathens have conquered

Since the age of empires, humans have been ruled by some type of government. During hunter gatherer times, such as the Stone Age, formal governments did not exist. Instead, people lived in egalitarian band societies. These societies lacked the hierarchical structure typical of governments. Humanity has come a long way since then. Today, government plays an enormous role in people’s lives.
Through history, government has evolved considerably. Democratic governments are supposedly the pinnacle of this evolution. However, democratic governments are fairly new. Most humans have lived under some kind of oppressive autocratic government. Governments are closely linked to the State. The State is the monopoly of force (military, police, and security intelligentsia) which the government utilizes in order to preserve its existence. Even democratic governments make great use of force and coercion. Thus, governments have evolved, but they still share some similar qualities and functions.
English thinker John Locke aptly describes hunter gatherer societies when he talks about the state of nature. The state of nature is the state in which man exists untainted by the actions of a central authority, i.e. government. The members of primitive tribes all adhered to the maxim of the state of nature: no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions (Locke 589). Somewhere along the way, these natural rights were re-evaluated as societies progressed into more complex ones. As technology developed, so too did the political organization of societies. Locke writes during a very important time when powerful countries were still ruled by kings and queens.
It would seem as though Locke’s democratic principles imply a return to a hunter gatherer society, or at least that’s how a monarch interpreted it. According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, this is not the case. Rather, it was the people who gave up their freedom and rights to a King who were insane and backwards. When man gives up his liberties he is removing all morality from his acts (Rosseau 592). Even though Locke and Rousseau wished to create a more equal and innocent form of government, they surely did not intend to hinder development and the flow of new ideas. People still lived collectively, but the ownership of more sophisticated forms of private property had changed peoples’ attitudes toward central authority. Private property rights would become the defining balance between people and government.

In our journey to find freedom, let us not become a persona ficta.

Notes:

The Bedford Anthology Book 4