Monday, August 6, 2012

Curiosity, Our Child - Welcome to Mars.

 This thumbnail is the first tiny image from the surface of another planet by earth's youngest child abroad. We have just landed the largest man-made vehicle ever on the surface of another planet. The Curiosity rover, properly known as the Mars Science Laboratory, has completed a journey of 249 days from the surface of the Earth at Cape Canaveral to the Gale Crater on Mars. She has arrived safe and sound, already beaming back her first pictures to earth. Other bloggers more prepared than I have likely already posted about this, and if I thought this would honestly compel me to stay awake well into the wee hours of the morning yesterday, I would have done more to prepare.

Curiosity is a mission of firsts, and we have pinned all our hopes on an artificial intelligence scarcely brighter than a toddler. She is the largest single rover we have ever put on the surface of our nearest planetary neighbour, and has a wide array of tools to help us make the first exploration of the Gale Crater and the Aeolis Palus in human history. The method by which she landed was novel and original, another first.

A few of you were lucky enough to have my rather crude, ill-timed, and non-descriptive play-by-play showing up on facebook. I hate to admit it, but I had forgotten the landing would be today. I remember being excited when the MSL launched, but 249 days do surprising things to memory, and I simply expected this date to come later rather than sooner, I suppose.

But to know that everything went right, and everything is working with the rover, is spectacular.

I won't bore you with a recitation of facts, or expounding upon the purpose of Curiosity. I will only say it is the moments like these... the tense wait for hours as approach nears, and the sheer, exultant rush when the first signals come home from so far broad is what makes knowledge her own reward. There is the stuff of dreams. Right there, in that tiny, grainy photograph. All of my dreams, and the dreams of those before me, and the dreams of those yet to come. They are there, on that tiny red dot in the sky, and the dots further distant still.

We shall watch your development with great interest, child. There is nothing you can do that won't make us proud.


  1. any suggestion , if you have, to stabilize the economy, to get the continuous funding on this?

  2. Stable economies come from motivated workforces involved in the delivery of goods and services. Knowlege workers, engineers, and labour all have a roll to play. The reason for the recessionary trend in the global economy is that the economy was made to appear as larger than it actually was.

    Ensuring future funding for such projects, however, is a political rather than economic concern. Itcs hearts and minds; people need to remain convinced that expanding humanity's bubble is a worthwhile enterprise.

  3. What do you think of the Canadian economy, speaking of the economies?
    Do you think that the Harper govt. improved or made it worse? Seems to me that a lot of people hates him for some reasons. He is a right wing, trying to increase the size of the pie, whereas the Liberal wants to distribute more by collecting more taxes. Do you belive that the Liberals are unknowittigly demotivates the people from working? I mean, more benefits you give out without condition would make people lazy, from the standpoint of the invisible hand by Adam Smith.

    1. Canada certainly didn't get slugged as hard as some of the other G20/G8 nations, partly because we don't have nearly as large a financial sector, and the said sector is pretty heavily regulated.

      Since the Harper Government's involvement in the economy seems to have been limited to cessation of penny production, I can't say they improved it or made it worse. The ship building contracts for Maritime Command probably helped... in Halifax. There were no major infrastructure projects announced. Government's best option in a recession is to spend on infrastructure.

      Calling the Liberal Party distributionist is misleading at best an outright dishonest at worst. I DO believe that the current state of the welfare system is strongly de-motivational, however, but those are provincial programs. I'm also not anti-taxation. I'm against more than a few government programs, but I am mature enough to understand that my free medical coverage, working roads, clean water, emergency services, and national defence have to be paid for.

  4. I guess the old saying, "The less is the more" fits in this situation, although, frankly, I prefer "more" to "less"!

    Well, wouldnt you say the purchase of F-35 stealth fighters is the major investment? I mean, its not quite infra per say, but quite a big investment, with the hope to boost the aerospace industry, long ago messed up by that Diefenbaker guy in 60s.

    what programs are you against?

    speaking of the free medical coverage, the poor quality based on the heavy taxation makes it not really necessarily free, I dont think. I mean, you die cuz of no money in US, but here, you die in line, and the meds are to be paid from one's own pocket! There are some opinions that the privatization of medicare wont necessarily make the people miserable, but thru the competition in market, would they provide better quality with lower cost, whats your take on that?

    Another thing, do you think the heavy regulation is bad? cuz I think it disables the industries from having more competitive edges. (btw, I just love that it goes political from space mission :P)

    1. Calling the F-35 a "stealth" is a bit of a stretch. Low Radar Cross-Section is better at describing them. The purchase doesn't boost the Canadian aerospace industry at all, since the craft are going to be manufactured by Lockheed Martin in the US. This would be a good example of a program I am against - McKay botched the purchase and the rest of us are going to pay for it.

      I wouldn't call the quality of the medical care here poor. I'd call individual hospitals poor, certainly, but I've waited just as long in line in the US as I have here. If anything, the problem with the medical industry in Canada is that it isn't single-payer enough. Canadians shouldn't have to pay any more than the pharmacy's dispensing fee. To argue that introducing competition to the market would IMPROVE medical care is sort of like arguing that allowing Subway into the Fast Food market improved Fast Food... last I checked, price became the point of contention for most fast food chains and quality became an instant nose dive. If you want quality, like subway or A&W, you pay a premium for it.

      I don't think heavy regulation is bad. I think bad regulation is bad. I think we have higher priorities to answer to than pure economic performance, and it's important to remember that. Things like the minimum wage, health and safety regulations, and financial regulation are there to keep the economy from growing at the expense of the people.

      If we are to be worth our biomass, we have to be a nation that lives well first, and richly second.

  5. Btw, I have a off-topic question, why is this blog named "Auditor and a Gentleman"? and also, what is your objective of this blog?


  6. Didnt you just argue that the national defense has to be paid for?
    I mean, the Russians want to "explorer" the Artics, and for a long term the investment is needed. So,doesnt that give the reason of purchasing the jets? I mean, there are a lot of people saying that no one is gonna invade Canada, but throughout the history have we learned that without power to protect yourself, peace is nothing but imagination.

    For what it matters, something should be regulated, I agree, but the thing is that, the politicians would like to tax up and regulate the corporation, which kills the potential jobs! Though its my personal opinion.

    I mean, the introduction of competition would lower the prices, cuz there will be a lot of people joining the business, and the market wouldnt let having a bad quality, high prices product or service!

    Living well... isnt that same thing with richly?

    1. Point by point: we need the fifth generation fighters, regardless of whether I like the way the purchase was handled - see contempt of parliament. Russia has just as good a claim to the arctic as we do and it a petty nationalism that says otherwise.

      No, I think the point is that you believe the lassaize-faire economics still works for 21st century cultures. Time and again, we see the damages caused by improper regulation. Those jobs are false jobs at best, since hey just vanish when something goes wrong.

      Is medical treatment somehing we get to gamble on quality with? We cannot pretend the Market always makes perfectly logical, rational evaluations. We already have a high priced, low quality product on the market - oil. For a more prosaiac alternative, go to your local Hilton and order lunch.

      Living well and living richly are not remotely the same thing... we've all just seen one too many shows expounding the American Dream.

  7. but, after the fall of Soviet Union, we know that the high regulation is proven to be wrong. Not that I am saying that laisser-faire economics being perfect, (since humans are all guided by their own interest, and are not angels) but its the best we have right now. Yes, I agree that there are a lot of craps, no doubt.

    It could be debatable, but for those who have to wait for major surgery asap the quality may matter for the sake of their own life. and Life cannot be bought with money. Do you think you can let him/her suffering just simply wait in line? If the Hilton lunch is terrible with high price, of course a lot of people would avoid it.

    Well, living well requires money these days, and since the prices go up every minutes, thanks to the Europeans and Americans, after the SubPrime Mortgage and war, it would be better off with lots of dough, dont you think?

  8. The key idea here is high or excessive regulation. I've already said a few posts ago that there was a difference between good regulation and bad regulation. Good regulation genuinely protects people or prevents industries from throwing themselves off cliffs (see - Sub-Prime Lending. Bad regulation tells industry how much to make of what and when. To equate the failure of any one industry in a Soviet Republic to the failure of an industry in a hybrid market economy (such as what we have here in Canada) is not wholly accurate - a better comparison would be to treat industrial failure in the USSR as a company failing the operations of a subsidiary. The problem with the economics of the USSR was an attitude of manufactured shortage and an absolute inflexibility at the upper levels preventing the innovation of the smaller levels. We do not have that here, and to compare worthwhile regulation with nationalization is to demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of economics.

    No, I don't think the suffering should wait in line. I also know that (with a few notable exceptions), they don't. Doctors triage. They have to. The reason you sat for eight hours with a broken arm (let's say) is because someone showed up in the ER with worse injuries than that.

    Again, you're confusing living well with living richly. That's going to have to be a blog post over the next couple of days, but, in the meantime, I'd recommend thinking about what you think living well means. I'd love to host a rebuttal article to my own.