Someone call Ray Bradbury. We may not be moving to Mars anytime soon, but we are preparing for the day when we have human settlements on the moon, South Pole Greenhouse proves bountiful
It’s true. At the very bottom of the world, scientists working at the United States South Pole Station manage a greenhouse that grows fresh vegetables. It also provides a warm, bright place to relax during the long, dark winters. And it tests new technology that may one day help humans garden on the moon.
The station lies on top of the massive Antarctic ice sheet, which is up to two miles thick and thousands of miles wide. Outdoor temperatures at the South Pole can drop to 100 degrees below zero, and the sun does not shine for six months out of the year: not ideal conditions for growing vegetables.
But inside the greenhouse – known as the South Pole Food Growth Chamber – cantaloupe, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, leafy green vegetables such as kale and lettuce, sunflowers, other edible flowers and even watermelons flourish.
The greenhouse is also said to make a nice break-room for those who get tired of the stale dry air of their regular living quarters.
Christopher Beam goes out of his way in a retro liberal fashion to be fair in this article. So much so that he labels the Constitution a “libertarian” document. For that to be true one would need to travel back in time and invent a political movement that grew out of 20th Century anarchism and socialism. The Trouble With Liberty. Libertarians, of both left and right, haven’t been this close to power since 1776. But do we want to live in their world?
No political movement deserves to be defined by its extreme elements. (For Democrats, that way lies socialism.) But middle-of-the-road libertarianism is already pretty far out. “The dominant strain of libertarianism these days is—and I’m not using these words in any kind of pejorative sense—radical and utopian,” says Lindsey. But if Libertopia is the goal, no one knows how to get there. Lindsey compares libertarians who preach purity to the “Underpants Gnomes” in South Park, a popular analogy in wonk circles: “Step one, articulate Utopia. Step three is Utopia. Step two is a big question mark.”
Libertarian minarchy is an elegant idea in the abstract. But the moment you get specific, the foundation starts to crumble. Say we started from scratch and created a society in which government covered only the bare essentials of an army, police, and a courts system. I’m a farmer, and I want to sell my crops. In Libertopia, I can sell them in exchange for money. Where does the money come from? Easy, a private bank. Who prints the money? Well, for that we’d need a central bank—otherwise you’d have a thousand banks with a thousand different types of currency. (Some libertarians advocate this.) Okay, fine, we’ll create a central bank. But there’s another problem: Some people don’t have jobs. So we create charities to feed and clothe them. What if there isn’t enough charity money to help them? Well, we don’t want them to start stealing, so we’d better create a welfare system to cover their basic necessities. We’d need education, of course, so a few entrepreneurs would start private schools. Some would be excellent. Others would be mediocre. The poorest students would receive vouchers that allowed them to attend school. Where would those vouchers come from? Charity. Again, what if that doesn’t suffice? Perhaps the government would have to set up a school or two after all.
And so on. There are reasons our current society evolved out of a libertarian document like the Constitution. The Federal Reserve was created after the panic of 1907 to help the government reduce economic uncertainty. The Civil Rights Act was necessary because “states’ rights” had become a cover for unconstitutional practices. The welfare system evolved because private charity didn’t suffice. Challenges to the libertopian vision yield two responses: One is that an economy free from regulation will grow so quickly that it will lift everyone out of poverty. The second is that if somehow a poor person is still poor, charity will take care of them. If there is not enough charity, their families will take care of them. If they have no families to take care of them—well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Of course, we’ll never get there. And that’s the point. Libertarians can espouse minarchy all they want, since they’ll never have to prove it works.
Finding an example of where libertarianism works is like trying to find a leprechaun’s gold. Even if you lower the standards of proof to individual examples – trying to find a Howard Roark or a John Galt – there is none. Libertarians darlings Ron and Rand Paul are not dumb or uneducated, but they are mediocre intellects who have notions – like Step One and Three, but Step Two is a killer. For example let’s say Ron somehow manages to put the U.S. back on the gold standard. There would certainly be pay offs for liberals. There would be no money to borrow – print – for more foreign policy adventures like Iraq. There would be no U.S. money for the 7 dictators the U.S. currently supports. On the other hand our financial system would collapse and we’d take most of the world down with us. Hungry people, I mean really hungry people, not someone who skipped lunch, have historically been very quick to rationalize violence in order to eat. Ideas have consequences, wacky notions have abhorrent repercussions.
Back in the day there were high hopes for moving pictures-film, then radio, then television. With each has been defenders and naysayers and those in between. The internet technology and its components like social media has come in to its share of concern. One of those concerns is that the internet is making us dumber. Like television, that might be true is some cases, but it is all in how we use it. Study Shows Year-end Test Scores Significantly Improved in Schools Using Web-based Tutor
Year-end test scores of Massachusetts middle school students whose teachers used ASSISTments, a Web-based tutoring platform developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), as a central part of their mathematics instruction were significantly better than those of students whose teachers did not use the platform, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Educational Computing Research.
[ ]…The new study is the latest to show the effectiveness of ASSISTments in improving student performance. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Research on Technology in Education showed that fifth-graders in a rural school district who completed their daily homework using ASSISTments learned two-thirds more than students who used traditional paper and pencil methods.
[ ]…The system has been developed at WPI over the past decade wi th more than $9 million in support from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and other federal and state agencies.
Besides the ASSISTments program not yet being widely available, not every kid in America has a home computer or an internet connection. And in the age of strutting deficit peacocks who came out of their caves after hiding for eight years during the Bush administration, good luck trying to find funding to widely institute ASSISTments or get kids computers.
A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.
Think of all the fun. America becomes a bloody dystopia of the OK Corral. So-called pro-life advocates hunt down women, doctors, nurses and activists. Those people feel their lives are threatened so they in turn feel killing the opposition is justified homicide. The last person standing in a pool of blood wins.