Eeky Geeky: Weekly Peeky at the Freaky

Carl Brooks

A welcome-back EGWPATF this week as the anthill buzzes back to life. For anybody who has never had the pleasure, or possibly the slightly masochistic urge, to visit Our Fair Campus when it is devoid of people, such as the weekend, the winter break, or any Friday after 2pm, this brick pile is an eerie, dank, and lonely place.

That doesn’t change when the place is full of students, but at least the scurrying UMBeaner has other frightened, harassed, and weary faces to look at with a furtive hope of friendship. Just remember, false hope gives us the strength to return for another semester of pink cinderblocks, falling ceiling tiles, and administrative drones who are obviously enrolled in their own clandestine certificate programs for placement at the RMV. EGWPATF has learned that concentrations in this degree program include Advanced Sloth, Chatting By Telephone, and Blank, Hostile Stares.

In the geek world, one thing and one thing only has occupied the minds of nerds everywhere: the Martian Landing! Yes, we have inspired a new legion of 6th grade dorks with the fascinatingly detailed saga of the orbiter, the lander, and the rover, who all went for a trip one day before breakfast and while they were out Goldibzkqrtl the Martian snuck in and tasted the first fuel cell and said, “This one’s tooooo hot!” and then…

Whoops, wrong saga. The Mars landing is a bit like a fairytale, no?

No. The moon landing was a stupendous, enthralling landmark in history that changed the world forever. The Mars landing is a humongously expensive humdrummery of faceless scientistry that really amazes no one, and while the hardcore space aficionados are enthralled, and I must admit I have Martian landscapes on my desktop, it ain’t a surprise and what we should really be talking about is why it took so long and what about the next one. And the fact that the EU beat the pants off us and China will have a base on the moon that actually works before anyone can say “jackrabbit.”

The sting of the EU’s Beagle is mitigated by its spectacular disaster, but at the end of the day, those clever Old Worlders did it for the cash and know just about as much as we do. Our space program is a dinosaur.

It’s no shock, except to the pure of heart among the space program, why it took so long-there was no reason for it except abstract knowledge. After the moon landing, which was 99 percent symbolic, the real conquest of space began with information warfare satellites. Planetary outreach remains a thing of the distant future, and the zeitgeist that pushes us out there to stay will be the same one that pushed us across the ocean or to the west coast: the push of the nice fella with the badge and club, and the pull of the opportunity to make a new destiny.

Some people say we need that, and some people may be right, but the fact is, manifest destiny had its last gasp when America beat the USSR. We have achieved the thing that drove us west and drove us up to the moon: we rule the world, for good or ill, and without a sense that our destiny is once again unfulfilled, we ain’t going to Mars.

Fear not, intrepid space freaks-asteroid mining, space stations, and orbital transit are quite likely where the future’s at, and we probably will leap the surly bonds of gravity etc., but we’ll do it one step at a time, and someday, your huge-headed and limp-limbed descendants with take a stroll out to the planetary park and see the dusty monument to the American dream, solar panels agape, with a plaque in front of it: Nice Try-2003 CE.