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From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Solution to Fermi Paradox right here!
Date: 30 Dec 1998 06:29:33 GMT

In <76bfl2$9b7$> writes:

>Pick your favorite sci-fi, (say, something written 50 years ago making
>predictions about life near the year 2000), and it's probably wildly
>    JS


    Yeah, but that's only because as a society we've become effete and
lost the will to try new things just for the hell of it.  In the 60's
they were trying things like nuclear propulsion, and they were walking
on the moon.  Then, something horrible happened in the early 70's.  I
grew up then, and I could FEEL it.  I'm still trying to figure out
exactly what it was, but I think what it was, was a generation of kids
who grew up with television instead of playing with gizmos, and who got
into power and then just turned our society into a big mess of
paperwork and lawyering, because paperwork was all they'd ever learned
to do.  When I look at the physiology research done in the 60's, it
takes my breath away.  The creativity of it!  The things they did! I
find my "new" ideas all the time in papers done in the 1960's, but they
never went anywhere (perfusion of organs with fluorocarbones to cool
them, for example).  One guy (the same guy in fact), before heart lung
machines, repaired the hearts of babies by surgically cross-connecting
them to the circulation of adult humans, who volunteered in order to
save a life.  Where has that kind of courage gone?  Where are the
Yeagers and the Goddards and the Microbe Hunters?  How come the heros
of our movies are no longer Micky Rooney or Spencer Tracy playing
Thomas Edison, or Paul Muni playing Erlich or Pasteur, instead Val
Kilmer playing Jim Morrison and Woody Harrelson playing Larry Flint?
And movies whose heros are lawyers.  Arggh.  I don't care if it is Tom
Cruise or John Travolta.  And the rest of the movies seem to be
re-creations of 60's TV shows.

   Paperwork and lawyering.  Fixing and improving and advancing society
by talk-talk, not building.  A lawyer president and his lawyer wife.
Crises of power that don't involve spy planes and sputniks, but
incredibly complicated and desceptive word defintions and complicated
tax frauds.  You think we're not preparing to go to Mars because SF is
too optimistic?  Sure.   But it was optimistic about whether or not the
can-do engineering of the 40's and 50's, done by the kids who'd grown
up playing with radios and mechanics in the 20's, was going to
continue.  Needless to say, it didn't.  I've seen a late 1950's book of
science fair projects for teenagers that include things like building
your own X-ray machine and cyclotron (no, I'm not kidding-- it can be
done).  There are rockets in there, and cloud chambers, and all kinds
of wonderful electronics stuff.  But we didn't go that way.  Instead,
we turned our children into little Clintons, and our society into a
bunch of people sitting at PCs, entering data about social engineering,
not mechanical engineering.   So instead of going to Mars, we went
instead to beaurocratic Hell.  Enjoy, everybody.  It really could have
been different.  Nature didn't stop us-- WE stopped us.

                                        Steve Harris

(God, look at me.  I'm well on the way to being Uncle Al)

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