Is private industry ready to head into space to save humanity? It’s very possible. Less than a week after I wrote that I’m happy to see the space shuttle program go away, a group of impressive investors has announced a company called Planetary Resources, which plans to mine asteroids and finally bring real commerce to space.
This is the sort of venture that NASA would never have attempted. Although the comparison isn’t perfect, I’d say it’s reminiscent of the European trading companies that were set up to colonize and trade in the New World. It’s the brainchild of Peter Diamandis, the guy who created the X Prize Foundation. The star-studded list of investors includes both of Google’s founders, an early Google investor, a key early Microsoft employee and Ross Perot Jr. Their previous success doesn’t guarantee anything, but I wouldn’t bet against them.
The best things about the venture are that taxpayers aren’t footing the bill and that anyone else can choose to compete on a level playing field if he wants to. It’s great to see people step up to blast off into space with a motivation to make money.
The truth about George Zimmerman is a lot more complicated and nuanced than some people wanted us to see. Many people have already convicted him of murder and are convinced that it was nothing but a racially motivated killing. Reuter’s has a long and detailed story that paints a far more interesting picture of how we got to this point.
I still don’t claim to know the complete facts of what happened that night and I still think it’s a tragedy that Trayvon Martin died. But I’m more convinced than ever that this is something far more than racial bias. I think it’s a case of a neighborhood that had been terrorized by burglars who happened to be young black men. When Zimmerman and others had spotted some of the actual burglars, the criminals got away before police could get there. I assume Zimmerman thought he was likely seeing one of the burglars in the neighborhood again. He turned out to be wrong and Martin died. I still don’t think we’ll ever know who initiated the violent conflict they had.
One of Zimmerman’s black neighbors told Reuter’s the race of the burglars hasn’t been discussed enough:
“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I’m black, OK?” the woman said, declining to be identified because she anticipated backlash due to her race. She leaned in to look a reporter directly in the eyes. “There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood,” she said. “That’s why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin.”
I don’t know exactly what Zimmerman should have done differently, partly because I don’t know exactly what triggered the shooting. But what’s becoming more obvious is that the situation was created by the fact that young burglars who happened to be black created an atmosphere of suspicion for other young blacks in the neighborhood. I’m not sure what the neighborhood was supposed to do — since police weren’t catching the burglars until then.
If we want to pin the blame for Martin’s death on someone, I would suggest that the criminals who created the climate of fear are good candidates for a very large share of blame. I highly recommend you read the Reuter’s story, no matter what you think about the Zimmerman case up until this point.
Have you ever paid attention to military advertising? There was an recruiting ad for the Marines that was shown during the previews before a movie I saw Wednesday. The pitch is brilliant. It’s a perfect mix of testosterone-fueled glory and high-minded appeals to idealism. It creates the impression that a young man can find glory for himself in the service of saving the world. Unfortunately, the reality of our modern wars doesn’t match the promise of the ads, so they’re ultimately lies. They’re just slick Hollywood productions. The killing and dying and broken lives are the reality, in far too many cases.
Does anybody know what news is these days? I’m not sure. Take a look at what a television station in Springfield, Mo., used as its lead story for a newscast recently. It was about a kindergarten child pooping in her pants because of a disagreement about when she should be allowed to go to the restroom. (No, I’m not making this up.) This is a very serious and important story for the girl’s family and maybe even for the teacher and principal. But this is not news. I’ve written before that I’m not entirely sure we know what news is now, but stories such as this one make me certain that the people making news decisions are even more clueless than I realized.
I’ve decided that I have to stop saying, “How stupid can you people be?” because some people have been taking this as a challenge.