Monday, October 18, 2021

Now we know which side to take: Balding Billy blasts billionaires' space efforts

Nothing against Balding Billy, really. He and his lovely wife, Bonnie Kate, will be King and Queen of Great Britain some day. Probably. Assuming the monarchy survives his father. Which it most likely will. The monarchy is too important for the British tourism industry.

But that doesn't mean that anyone should take these "Royals" seriously. The Brits like them because they have good manners and dress well and they provide a little lustre to any social occasion that any of them happens to attend. An animatron could probably do those jobs just as well. But the "Royals," being human, and not very bright, are capable of stupendous blunders, and make them from time to time, giving fodder for the tabloids (at least outside of Britain) and plots for new Netflix programs. It all keeps the tourists interested.

Before you accuse me of being unfair, consider the position of the monarch in the British constitutional scheme. The Sovereign can advise, and warn, and has a right to be informed -- and then, when instructed, to sign here and here and read the occasional speech exactly as written. The Brits know better than to actually pay heed to one of these creatures.

So, when Balding Billy says, in a BBC interview, "We need some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live," it means absolutely nothing.

Billy may or not be a billionaire in his own right. Yet. He will be eventually, of course. And he will acquire his billions in the oldest of old-fashioned ways: He will inherit it. (The present Queen controls a vast personal fortune in addition to the tourist traps she fronts.) But -- unless I missed it -- he's not advocating hocking the Crown Jewels in hopes of 'repairing' the Earth.

It's all very amusing, really, how the billionaire space entrepreneurs, Musk, and Bezos, and Branson, are portrayed as having the solution to all the world's problems in their wallets, but selfishly choose instead to squander their fortunes on space travel:

But that doesn't mean that it's true. Because it isn't.

We should continue to try and solve our problems here on Earth. Which we'll never do, of course, because we are imperfect beings who will never achieve perfection in this life. But we can keep trying to improve.

At the same time, however, we must also look to the future, to our future, as a species. Our fragile civilization should persist, at least until the next eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano... which probably won't happen this year or next... but might. And all the tax revenue in the world won't help us then. And who knows what other nasty tricks Mother Nature may play on us? Maybe it will be another, deadlier virus. Maybe it will be an asteroid. No... dispersal is a sound strategy for any species; it is a necessary strategy for ours, too.

I'm sure I'd much rather have Balding Billy and Bonnie Kate as neighbors than Musk or Branson or Bezos. Less drama. Polite chit-chat over the back fence. Their kids would play nice with my grandkids. But, obnoxious as they may be, I'd trust Branson and Musk and Bezos with the future over Balding Billy. Any day.

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