Atlantis rides above the waves

By Phil Plait | July 8, 2011 10:06 am

At 11:29 Eastern (US) time, the Space Shuttle Atlantis roared into space for the last time.

I have mixed feelings about the Shuttle, NASA, and our future in space — you can read about that here — but it doesn’t change the fact that watching a Shuttle shed the bonds of Earth and leap into space is still a magnificent thing to do.

This may be the last launch of the Shuttle, but it is not the final step for mankind. Private industry is there, other nations are still launching, and I have hope that through hard work America will once again lead the way to the final frontier. And it won’t just be into orbit, which is, after all, still bound to Earth. It will be beyond, back to the Moon, on to Mars, on to near-Earth asteroids, and eventually into deep space. It may take decades, even centuries, but the human-populated solar system I dreamed and read about, the one I still imagine, will come to life some day.

We just have to choose to make it happen.

Per ardua, ad astra.

Image credit: Robert Scoble.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind, Space
MORE ABOUT: Atlantis, Space Shuttle

Comments (93)

  1. Godspeed Atlantis. And thank you NASA, for all the hard work.

  2. Silber

    Well said.

    Per ardua, ad astra.

  3. Peter Davey

    Heinlein famously said that: “The laws of nature are not the exclusive property of any group or society; they belong to anyone prepared to make use of them.” We may soon see that demonstrated.

    He also said: “Once you are in Earth orbit, you are halfway to anywhere.” We may also see that demonstrated, if not quite so soon.

    If you are not prepared to create the future, then you must expect to have one handed to you, even if it is not quite as pleasant as the one you would have preferred.

  4. Ryan Chapman

    Hey Phil -

    The problem is though, I don’t want it to be centuries. I want to see it in my lifetime. : ( I’m 29 and I fear I wont see anything BEO now.

  5. Gayskeptic

    I wish I could be as optimistic as you are. I was born when the space race was beginning, in 1962. By 1969 we had gone to the moon and it didn’t seem very far fetched that before the century was out we would have a permanent presence in the moon. Space tourism to orbiting stations would be a common place. Really, it all seemed very viable and the technology was already there.

    Instead of that, I feel shortchanged. I feel that the future has been taken away from us by a series of do-nothing congresses and the rise of religious fundamentalism in America. Istead of a bright future conquering the Moon and Mars we have a political apparatus ready to slash the funding of Hubble’s succesor.

    No one but the russians are sending people into space now and if americans wanna get there in at least the next 5 years, they will have to beg and pay handsomely to them for the privilege.

    I am deeply saddened by the realisation that in my lifetime there will be no Mars manned mission, let alone a permanent base in the moon. Today is a very sad day for me.

  6. Chris Winter

    High Flight

    http://www.deltaweb.co.uk/spitfire/hiflight.htm

    Not completely fitting for space flight, but still pretty good.

  7. Adam

    There aren’t many things that can stand in the way of human ingenuity and desire. If we have the desire to do a thing, we do it. I hope the desire to explore and expand and explore never leaves us. Pushing out into our solar system and beyond is a dream I’ve had since as early as I can remember. It has been an honor to watch these early, tentative steps off our world. I’m so very excited to see where our next steps take us as we learn to walk.

  8. UmTutSut

    My .02 zlotys on human spaceflight: Turn LEO flights over to private industry. I’m now convinced these folks can do the job.

    Give NASA a definite, *supportable* goal: Mars. The “people” will support going to Mars. But asteroids? I’m a pretty fair PR guy, but I don’t think even *I* can sell an asteroid flight! (“Martha, I heerd them astronauts are goin’ to a *herrorhoid*!”)

    Give NASA the long-term funding commitment to develop a new heavy-lift launch vehicle.

    And team with our ISS partners to go to the Red Planet together.

    See? Simple….

  9. “We just have to choose to make it happen.”

    That may be the hardest part of all. Humans can do amazing things when they’re motivated to do them, but they’re also prone to resting on their laurels and slacking off. The powers that be now are afflicted with two conditions that are nearly fatal to any scientific endeavor; the WIIFM disorder and the GE syndrome.

    WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) disorder manifests itself as the inability to evaluate the promise of a future venture outside one’s immediate concerns and desires and often results in willful ignorance of what scientific research and exploration delivers. Example: people arguing that they don’t care to spend any money of space flight because they need jobs while negating to reason that by investing in space exploration and commercializing its applications will create the jobs they want. Combined with political demagoguery which casts the civilian government’s involvement in anything other than propping up banks on demand as being just one step short of summoning Satan from the fiery pits of Hell, this leads to a dearth of both funding and interest in scientific exploration.

    The GE (Good Enough) syndrome is a chronic unwillingness to reach above everyday, mundane mediocrity to try and do something great. Those suffering from it are worried about just living out their lives as uneventfully and stably as possible, taking their chronic boredom with the way things are as “the way things are supposed to be” and lashing out at those who want to try, to dream, and to pursue something new and something great, calling them careless, wasteful dreamers who are missing sight what’s really important: to be just as complacent and bored as they are. Hey, it was good enough for their parents, it’s good enough for them, and by FMS’s left meatball, it should be for you too.

    We’re not in danger of giving up on space because we suddenly won’t be able to reach it again or develop the technology that lets us explore far and wide. But we are facing a very real threat of one day taking the final step into space because those who ware selfish and apathetic shut down the space agencies while insisting that keeping their cubicles or paying their electric bill is far more important than humanity’s future. Only when we try to set goals other than “make lots of money,” or “make sure Timmy gets As in school so he can make lots of money too,” or “do what I think an invisible man in the sky who just so happens to agree with my every opinion telepathically told me,” are we going to see renewed interest in, and funding of, space exploration and bleeding edge science.

    The money, jobs, stability, and other benefits will follow when we invest in our long-term future after realigning our priorities and try to follow our aspirations. I really hope we’re seeing a generational thing on its way out because when I’m an old geezer, I’d like to see more and more mad scientists trying bizarre new things in their labs and help them out with something crazy I was able to build after getting the funds to do some curiosity-driven, hypothesis-generating experiments of my own.

  10. Breathtaking it was :o )

    I fear the paralysis of politics will strangle NASA, the guise of “austerity” has them playing russian roulette with JWST, and the prez and congress seem determined to pull them in opposite directions. If private industry is really the future, it’s sad to think we’ll be flying for the profit, not the exploration or the science. Is money a good motivation? Will profit motive even be sufficent? Or are we entering a new epoch of a collective shrug, ambivalence to our place in the cosmos. I wish I had your optimism Phil. Today feels like a triumph marred by growing despair

  11. UmTutSut

    John wrote: “If private industry is really the future, it’s sad to think we’ll be flying for the profit, not the exploration or the science.”

    Remember, the private firms working on spacecraft and launch vehicles will basically be offering taxi service to/from low Earth orbit. Not much science or exploration to do on the way up or down. That’s what the ISS — and hopefully, a new deep-space vehicle — is for.

  12. Digital Atheist

    I was in junior high when the first shuttle launch occured. Every class had a TV set and we all watched it. Today, I–like everyone else–am a lot older, and it is still as awesome now as it was then. I can hardly believe this is the last one, but in time newer launch systems WILL arrive. We’ve already broken beyond the bounds of this planet Earth… there is no way to put the Djinn back in the bottle. I eagerly await those new rockets or orbiters or what have you. As a species, mankind HAS to have new frontiers or boundaries to explore.

    On a slightly different note, I was watching CBS both at the first shuttle launch, and at the last. The one image I will always recall from this, the last, is the sonic shockwave as viewed from the fuel tank camera as it progressed down the body of the shuttle assembly. Man… I’m gonna be replaying that in my mind, and on my PC for a while I do believe. :-)

  13. Josie

    What’s the weather looking like for the return flight? I always cross my fingers for a landing at Edwards…I think my boss would give me a few hours off to go watch :P

  14. kohan

    Well said Greg!

  15. Chief

    If I’m not mistaken, that is exactly what was wanted for NASA. Have private industry concentrate on getting to low earth orbit and have NASA do the heavy science, for which they are good at. The reordering of the launch business is a good thing as to much money was being diverted from science critical missions to just getting “up there”. However with this said. Now that the launches and money, is supposedly freed up, Nasa should have had no problems with the redirection of funds for JWST….. hmm.

  16. QuietDesperation

    Flowery, starry eyed rhetoric about the future of humanity in space gets you a smattering of polite applause at an open mike poetry night. Beyond that, well… maybe a free coffee if you really put your heart into it. Sorry, but if anything requires cold, hard pragmatism, it’s space exploration and development.

    WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) … GE (Good Enough) syndrome …

    All trumped by the DTITPO: Do Things In The Proper Order. Another big ticket rah rah rah Mars shot would be the worst thing possible. If we had followed a Von Braun style plan from the start, where you build successive beachheads in a slow and deliberate move into space, we’d be on Mars *now*.

    OK, we didn’t. We went with a big showy direct ground to Moon shot to learn them there Soviets a thing or two, and the bubble eventually burst. Can we at least learn from that experience? We have the ISS up there. I’d be looking to expand/upgrade that or use that as the operations platform to construct a serious habitat. The habitat then supports the construction of orbital factories and interplanetary craft assembly. And, yes, it should be a global effort. Good for PR and makes the cost hurt less. Come up with a good pitch to get the oil rich nations involved. Let’s think outside the usual boxes here.

    The #1 priority right now, though, should be reducing cost to orbit. That’s your critical path.

  17. Ron1

    I also have mixed feeling about shuttle. Regardless, safe journey to Atlantis’ crew.

    As for the future, I’d just be happy to have the James Webb telescope launched.

    Cheers

  18. My idle thought for the day after reading the comment thread:

    Suppose humanity’s future in space will not involve sending people to the stars, at least, not their bodies. What if instead we send our minds?

    Rather than shipping an enormous payload of humans along with their necessary supplies, instead we send a small package of machines (perhaps even nano-scale machines). Upon arriving at some distant world, these machines construct artificial bodies as well communication systems. Then, they call home.

    Once communication is established, we transmit “copies” of our minds from here to there to occupy the bodies. By “copies”, I mean a software artificial intelligence designed to behave and think like you. Now, there would be virtual copies of you running around experiencing distant worlds. Periodically, you would use the communication system to synch your consciousness with those of your copies. Given enough time, you could theoretically be everywhere in the universe at once.

  19. Shibaz2

    If private industry is really the future, it’s sad to think we’ll be flying for the profit, not the exploration or the science.

    Oh noes! Teh evul profit! Eeek!

    (eyeroll)

    Will you people grow up and stop with this silliness? It comes across as pseudo-religious.

    Profit is what created everything you enjoy in your pampered, safe Western lifestyle. The ARPANet languished in military/academic obscurity until the private sector took over. Profit motive sells Dr. Plait’s books to you. Profit pays for R&D. Profit creates jobs- not some government magic wand. It’s corporations that build all that cool space stuff you love. You are aware that NASA contracts all that stuff out, right? The JWST is being built by Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace.

    Space is already mostly privatized- government just pays the bills. If you want private industry to pay the bills, they need a profit motive.

  20. .Q

    Chief: Freed up = removed from budget not available for reallocation.

  21. QuietDesperation

    Once communication is established, we transmit “copies” of our minds from here to there to occupy the bodies. By “copies”, I mean a software artificial intelligence designed to behave and think like you.

    Well, at least you didn’t talk about “downloading” our minds into a device. The idea that the brain can be reduced to a simple, albeit huge, array of bits has been a pet peeve of mine. And, no, not for any theological reasons. It’s just not a digital device, folks. It is seriously analog, and if there’s any quantum level or chaotic effects at all, even 256-bit floating point won’t get you an accurate working simulation. In that case, even if you can recreate the physical condition of a brain to the limits of the computing technology, your model will deviate from reality in just a few iterations.

    I have the same problem with the climate models they use. I’m not a GW denier, but they are trying to model a chaotic system. By definition, that’s fraught with peril. Heck, some early chaos theory, and recognition of it’s tenacious unpredictability, arose from meteorological research.

    Also, A.I. is the fusion power of the computing world. It’s forever *just* around the corner. I can buy it in fiction- the A.I. character Legion was my favorite Mass Effect 2 character- but in reality? I have many of the skepticisms on it.

    Yeah, I’m a big bummer. :-P

    Periodically, you would use the communication system to synch your consciousness with those of your copies. Given enough time, you could theoretically be everywhere in the universe at once.

    If you haven’t read it, you might enjoy the book “Spin” by Robert Charles Wilson.

  22. “Another big ticket rah rah rah Mars shot would be the worst thing possible. If we had followed a Von Braun style plan from the start, where you build successive beachheads in a slow and deliberate move into space, we’d be on Mars *now*.”

    Quiet, agreed. There is a very good, clear set of plans to follow for exploring the solar system and in my understanding, it goes something like this:

    1. Drastically lower the cost of getting to orbit with SSTO craft (space planes) and heavy lifters
    2. Return to the Moon with a combination of SSTO craft and heavy lifters
    3. Create a stable, maintainable, and expandable colony on the Moon as a testing ground
    4. Use Moon’s lower gravity and lack of real atmosphere to build large, deep space craft
    5. Launch towards Mars
    6. Reach the asteroid belt and establish a supply line for craft headed to the outer solar system and continue on from there

    All the meanwhile, we work on medical treatments to allow humans to survive in space without withering away in microgravity or low gravity and dying of radiation sickness or cancers using biomedical technology and human-machine interfaces.

    “We went with a big showy direct ground to Moon shot to learn them there Soviets a thing or two, and the bubble eventually burst.”

    Funny enough, as a Soviet kid, I remember hearing about the Moon landing and how it was so inspiring that humans could land on the Moon, and that the Soviets’ inability to get there was by squandering resources on stunts and setting firsts in space while NASA diligently worked through Mercury, Gemini, and finally Apollo programs to test the technology and capabilities step by step until that final landing. The bubble you mention burst because of WIIFM. The lawmakers writing the checks decided that there’s no point to be in space unless it’s to show the Reds who’s boss, not because NASA just blew it all on massive publicity stunts and had no plans for permanent bases and future exploration.

    NASA had plans to start building lunar bases after Apollo 20 and aim for Mars by the mid-1980s. Self-absorbed, short-sighted politicians simply refused to let it happen and seize the momentum to do something besides continuing ideological warfare. NASA was left rudderless and grew cautious and very risk-averse as its budget continuously shrunk as one would expect of any agency which outlived its original goal and then wasn’t allowed to pursue further plans.

    I appreciate the proper order of doing things, I really do. I’m in the comp sci field where order, timing, and testing are the top three most important considerations for building anything. But my little rant up there is about powerful people and the followers who put them in charge being far too self-absorbed and short-sighted to even appreciate the very idea of space exploration, rather than a Zubrin-esque display of irrational bluster and a call to return to an Apollo on steroids aimed for Mars by 2020 or bust.

    Oh and a fun side fact for BA readers: in the former USSR and modern Russia, Moon hoaxers are roundly considered to be lunatics of the highest order and every Russian conspiracy film involving NASA always goes out of its was to show proof after proof that yes, humans have walked on the Moon. Of all the nations, you’d think that it would be the global hoaxer hub but it’s actually the exact opposite.

  23. DrFlimmer

    Damn.

    You can never rely on the meteorologists. Just yesterday they said something of only a 30% chance of launch. They would NEVER launch with such a small chance.
    So I thought.

    Off they went, I didn’t watch.

    Damn.

    Still: Have a good mission, Atlantis!

  24. Josie

    “Moon hoaxers are roundly considered to be lunatics

    Excellent word choice!

  25. scgvlmike

    Daniel:
    Nice idea, but given the speed-of-light communication lag, impractical between Earth & the outer planets of our own Solar system, let alone other systems. It’s awfully difficult to synch a client when the client & server can never, by the laws of physics, agree on what time it is.

  26. Once communication is established, we transmit “copies” of our minds from here to there to occupy the bodies. By “copies”, I mean a software artificial intelligence designed to behave and think like you.

    @Daniel: I’m just going to post this link in reply:

    http://worldofweirdthings.com/2010/01/12/singularitarians-start-your-starships/

    TL;DR version (if ~600 words is too long): good luck getting sufficient fidelity and aiming so precisely, you could thread a needle orbiting Canopus.

  27. Bob in Easton

    It seems to me that the only thing that will motivate the American People to back a robust space program is for us to make it a matter of national pride. I figure the thing that will set that off is when the Chinese start sending men to the moon. At that point classic American xenophobia will kick in because the country will not be able to stand the idea of the yellow hoard securing the high ground. At least that’s how it seems to me living in Pennsyltuckey.

  28. Caleb T

    Well, if Austrian economics is correct, the end of the STS program is a kind of “creative destruction” that will free up capital and resources for much better kinds of space travel. My hope is that the private sector will start to expand on space tourism thereby allowing more people the opportunity to experience something once reserved to the highly-selective astronaut corps or wealthy billionaires.

    STS is in the past. It’s about time we start looking to the future.

  29. Chief

    re .Q

    Unfortunately right, I think I read here at BA that it would be a better idea to give NASA a figure and let NASA decide where the funds should go. Sounds good (Assuming a business model of budgeting is taken to heart…)

    Btw. STS being past, look to the future, you do realize that over the duration of the shuttle, newer systems for one stage liftoff to orbit craft have been explored by NASA and then left on the cutting room floor due to budget cuts. Thus a timely replacement for the shuttle kept being pushed back and back and back…..

  30. Michael Swanson

    @18. Daniel

    Don’t take this wrong, Daniel, but you’ve been reading too much science fiction.

  31. Beau

    I just got back from the launch with my wife and 3 month old son, Kepler. It was our first (and sadly, last) launch viewing, and it was an awesome experience. The shuttle program will be missed!

  32. Methodissed

    @ Plait

    “…the human-populated solar system I dreamed and read about, the one I still imagine, will come to life some day.”

    So you’re skeptical of unsupported claims except for your own fantasies? You continue to express certainty of what “will” happen, as though you have a crystal ball. You’re ignoring the many threats to our future prosperity and way of life. There are countless reasons why you could (and probably are) wrong.

    Skepticism requires a 360 degree application – FAIL!

  33. The launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery at STS-116 was what sparked my interest in astronomy. I owe the Space Shuttle program for all the love I have today for the Universe. I’m very sad to think that I will never again watch a live Space Shuttle launch. But I guess we have to keep going forward. Hopefully towards a better day.

  34. Grand Lunar

    Watched it live on NASA TV and on the news. The laptop I was using blue screened not long before lift off. Made me mad, but at least the news did a decent job covering the launch.

    When the hold at 31 seconds came, I thought “Oh no, it’s going to be scrubbed.”
    Was glad that it was a simple fix.

    I also hold mixed feelings toward the shuttle.
    I just hope the experience we gained from it’s missions is put to good use, and that the lessons we learned from the shuttle program remain with us.

    And we must not forget those that lost their lives in the program as well.

  35. Grand Lunar

    @30. Methodissed
    “So you’re skeptical of unsupported claims except for your own fantasies? ”

    You’re comparing apples to oranges.

    Phil takes on claims of people saying UFOs are alien spacecraft, that they’ve had encounters with aliens, pychic claims, paranormal claims, ect.

    What Phil is offereing isn’t a claim along those lines.
    He’s stating what he hopes will come to pass.

    The only FAIL here is on your part to be able to tell the difference.

    “You’re ignoring the many threats to our future prosperity and way of life.”

    This is nothing new in history. To put it another way, “This has happened before”.
    There have always been threats to future prosperity and people’s ways of life.
    That is no reason for people not to dream, be wistful, or to endeavour to explore.

  36. Let’s see…

    Got up early to watch the first Shuttle launch live on TV. Check.

    Watched the last Shuttle launch live on streaming video. Check.

    Saw a Shuttle launch (STS-26) in person. Check.

    Gayskeptic (#5): “Ditto”. (Well, except that I was born in 1961.)

  37. Joseph G

    @#9 Greg Fish: I can’t copy/paste on this thing, but everything you said is gold, by FSM’s left meatbll :D

    Sigh. I still remember my favorite toy when I was six years old: a plastic Space Shuttle, with light-up main engines and working cargo bay.
    I has a sad.

  38. Methodissed

    @ Grand Lunar

    Phil takes on claims of people saying UFOs are alien spacecraft… What Phil is offereing isn’t a claim along those lines.

    I made no comparison to pseudoscientific claims, but you did a nice job of making my point. Skepticism is not limited to pseudoscience and religion. Phil repeatedly speaks of human colonization in space as though it’s a foregone conclusion, e.g., “The human-populated solar system… will come to life some day.” (His emphasis, not mine.)

    So yes, he criticizes some nonsense, but then repeatedly expresses certainty about something that he could not possibly know. You’re re-framing his claim as though he’s just expressing his wishes, i.e., you’re twisting his words.

    Phil, a self-avowed skeptic, is claiming certainty about something that is clearly uncertain. To my point, he is not skeptical of his own unfounded beliefs, which is an inconsistent application of skepticism, i.e., FAIL.

  39. Sam H

    @39 Methodissed: And just WHEN were humans a totally skeptical species?

    (Can’t say anything more right now; gotta run :) )

  40. Joseph G

    @16 Quiet Desperation (FSM but I wish this forum had a quote button): QFT. Space is quite romantic until you look around at the radiation and hard vacuum and realize that everything between you and it was built by the lowest bidder :D

    You’re also absolutely right that the cold war moonshot model isn’t going to work for, well, anything at this point. I like your idea of getting oil-rich nations on board. How about we point out (particularly to the middle-eastern oil exporters) that sooner or later the oil’s going to run out, and that low latitude deserts are an ideal location for rectennas to carry power from solar power sats?

    @#18 Daniel re “mind migration” – You might enjoy Greg Egan’s novels Diaspora and Incandescance, very similar to what you’re describing.
    @21 Quiet Desperation: Don’t even get me started on mind uploading. Am I the only one who gets all kinds of existential shivers from the idea? I’m anything but a Luddite, and I’d love to live in a personizable reality, but something tells me itjust ain’t gonna happen.

    And even if it did, it still sucks to be us… I think Larry Niven wrote a short story about an island where people got shipped after having their minds copied into robot bodies. So their copies get immortality (and all their stuff, including their legal identities) and these poor slobs are basically stuck in a nursing home that’s much like a prison, realizing that they hadn’t thoroughly read the brochure :)

  41. Chief

    re #5.

    I too, 1961. My view of working on a space habitat at L5 has unfortunately not come true. Still grounded but watching the stars and know that we will eventually touch soil beyond 1au. (and a bit…)

  42. Methodissed

    @ Sam H

    And just WHEN were humans a totally skeptical species?

    I didn’t say anything about the human species – just one organism. Your response is an irrelevant distraction – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring

    I correctly noted that Phil “the skeptic” is a walking contradiction. He publicly attacks other people for their unfounded beliefs, yet boldly and repeatedly proclaims certainty in the accuracy of his own unfounded beliefs.

    There’s a word for that kind of behavior. It’s called being a hypocrite.

  43. QuietDesperation

    I’m anything but a Luddite, and I’d love to live in a personizable reality, but something tells me itjust ain’t gonna happen.

    Not thinking a certain tech is going to really happens isn’t Luddism.

    Space is quite romantic until you look around at the radiation and hard vacuum and realize that everything between you and it was built by the lowest bidder

    Well, in a truly commercial, private space flight world, reliability would be a key factor for customers, same as it is in air travel, cars, appliances, etc.

    So their copies get immortality (and all their stuff, including their legal identities) and these poor slobs are basically stuck in a nursing home that’s much like a prison, realizing that they hadn’t thoroughly read the brochure

    I’m reminded of the scene in John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” where there’s a mind “transfer” from an old body to a souped up new one. As far as I was concerned the main character died in that scene and what lived on was someone else. Didn’t detract from the overall book… just sayin’. Scalzi really tried hard to sell it as true continuity, though. One of the better efforts, actually.

  44. Sam H

    @22 Greg Fish: While I can now see that a dogmatic “10 years to Mars” approach is hopelessly unrealistic, with all the mission designs I’ve looked at some form Mars Direct clearly gives you the best bang for your buck (especially if your short on the latter) due to it’s minimal amount of components. The plan you describe is a good one, but the SSTOs we’ve always dreamed of won’t be coming around anytime soon. The Reaction Engines Skylon is pretty much the only realistic one on the drawing board these days, but even it won’t be up and running for a long time – and when it is, an alternative system (that I’ll describe below) will hopefully be already operational, and render Skylon obsolete.
    While rockets are exciting and have become part of our culture, for any long-term plan of deep space exploration they are ultimately unsustainable. While some unimagined breakthrough might fix this problem in the future, I am firmly convinced that humanity will only attain a true, permanent presence in the solar system via space elevator. It would render moot the cost of attaining orbit and escaping the Earth’s gravity well, which is currently one of the greatest (if not the greatest) challenge of space exploration. And the extremely low price would allow practically anything to be “launched” – all the stuff we’d ever need for all our missions could be lifted at almost no risk for cost comparable to modern day shipping.
    Now I know that many challenges remain to be solved with an elevator (for one, the cable material itself – carbon nanotube still has a ways to go), but I’m optimistic that some breakthrough will be achieved, and the first elevator will be up and running within the next 50 years (the first will probably be on the moon; we could theoretically achieve that with our materials today). Once the first is erected on Earth, others will follow it (due to the drastically reduced cost) and space exploration of all kinds will REALLY take off. But of course, till then we must take it one step at a time, whatever kinds steps those may be. It doesn’t matter, as long as they point forward :)

    Per ardua, Ad astra!!

  45. QuietDesperation

    Sigh. I still remember my favorite toy when I was six years old: a plastic Space Shuttle, with light-up main engines and working cargo bay.

    I still have my metal Eagle from Space 1999 made by Dinky Toys. I also have the Interceptor from UFO that actually fires a spring loaded missile. One of my favorite small fictional craft- its entire purpose was to position itself and fire one, big honking missile to take out enemy UFOs approaching at FTL speeds. Have a bunch of Robotech and other anime vehicles as well, all metal.

    Some of them transform which I never fully appreciated as a kid. The toy designers had to take the fantasy transforming mecha from a cartoon, and make something physical that actually did that. Now that’s love for your job.

    I look at what passes for toys these days and I weep. :-(

  46. QuietDesperation

    Now I know that many challenges remain to be solved with an elevator

    I was once a booster (hehe) for the Space Elevator, but it’s wandering perilously close to my “Nope, Not Happening” list.

  47. I’m sad to see the end of an era, but it’s an exciting time in the progress of space travel technologies. I can’t wait to see how the next leg of this journey unfolds. Who knows how far we’ll be in the next 50 years.

  48. VinceRN

    Exploration will continue and expand, in the hands of private industry, China and Russia. America, for now, has chosen to get entirely out of the space business. We can choose to get back into space, but it will be difficult. It will mean getting rid of a substantial majority of the people in government from the current President down to many on both sides of the isle in the House. The trouble is that there are few people out there more interested in science in a position to replace them, and at the highest level there are none, all the options seem even worse on space exploration than what we have.

    I fear America is out of the space business for a generation at least. My four year old will likely be out of college for years before America launches another human into space.

    This doesn’t the end of space exploration, just America’s involvement in it. What ever it was that lead my grandparents generation to rise from relative obscurity as a nation to defeat the two greatest powers on earth at the time, and then to send people to the moon, seems to have died with them.

    Still, at least we have billionaires interested in space, if not politicians.

  49. I worked on the shuttle program along with maybe 100′s of thousands of others. Sorry to see the last flight. It’s history may be that it was an ill-conceived design because of the high costs involved that ended up as being not-sustainable budget wise. The costs of refurbishing it after each flight was many times above original estimates.

    Only technical break-throughs, economic demand, solar system natural resources, and competition, will drive future human space travel. The pace of such progress is presently unpredictable as it always has been since it first began. Big propulsion advances would probably change the whole equation :) ————– that’s what I’m hoping for in maybe the next 30 years.

  50. Floyd

    My thought today:

    As a kid, I saw John Glenn make a Mercury launch and saw Neil Armstrong, a Purdue grad like me, on the Moon.

    I saw the Last Space Shuttle launch today.
    I almost cried, and I’m a guy.

    Now, there are no ready to go launch vehicles, and I haven’t heard about development of new vehicles.

    Now what, Phil (or anyone else)?

  51. Ron1

    @50. Floyd Said, “Now, there are no ready to go launch vehicles, and I haven’t heard about development of new vehicles.
    Now what, Phil (or anyone else)?”

    ……………………………………..

    You forget the US is not the only country with a manned space program.

    The Russian Soyuz-TMA and the Chinese Shenzhou are man capable and are fully operational. Also, Space X and other commercial programs are preparing human capable low earth orbit launch platforms.

  52. Troy

    I’m glad to see the Shuttle finally retired. I’d rather be land bound with starry eyes than stuck in LEO. If the government pursues a wise course of action we could be at the cusp of a great new day in near earth orbit mission and perhaps to Mars. 30 years of Shuttles is hard to fathom and it does have some sentimental value. I remember at age 11 waking up around 7 a.m. to check out the first shuttle launch (the rest of my family remained in bed!) and I managed to watch today’s launch at work today. So by analogy I do feel I’m retiring a bit of my childhood as well.

  53. Grand Lunar

    @50 Floyd
    “Now, there are no ready to go launch vehicles, and I haven’t heard about development of new vehicles.”

    You haven’t heard of Orion, aka the Multi-purprose Crew Vehicle?
    Or the Space Launch System (not that I’m a fan of this thing)?
    Or SpaceX?

    Yes, there’s a wait, even for the latter, but there is stuff coming.

  54. Grand Lunar

    @39 Methodissed,
    “Skepticism is not limited to pseudoscience and religion. Phil repeatedly speaks of human colonization in space as though it’s a foregone conclusion, e.g., “The human-populated solar system… will come to life some day.” (His emphasis, not mine.)

    So yes, he criticizes some nonsense, but then repeatedly expresses certainty about something that he could not possibly know”

    Probably because he’s using history as an example.

    “I made no comparison to pseudoscientific claims, but you did a nice job of making my point.”

    And that would be…what?
    That people can’t make wistful statements without someone complaining?

  55. Methodissed

    @Grand Lunar

    Probably because he’s using history as an example.

    Understanding the past does not give anyone the power to know the future, and it certainly doesn’t warrant expressing certainty about something that is uncertain.

    In response to your question, I’ve already made my point. Phis has repeatedly been inconsistent in his application of skepticism. He criticizes others for unsupported beliefs while expressing certainty about his own unsupported beliefs.

    Finally, it wasn’t a “wishful statement.” Read it again.

    … the human-populated solar system … will come to life some day. (Emphasis his, not mine)

    This is a pattern of inconsistency, and I have every right to complain. Phil can express all the wishful thinking he wants. But when he claims to know the future with certainty, he groups himself with the people that he has so often criticized.

  56. Chris Winter

    Methodissed, what part of “I have hope that through hard work America will once again lead the way to the final frontier” do you fail to understand? It’s the key part of that paragraph.

    That whole paragraph expresses the hope for a certain outcome — large-scale travel in space. Such large-scale spacefaring, if it does happen, will happen in the future. The things Dr. Plait criticizes, in contrast, are demonstrably false today. This is a crucial difference.

  57. Methodissed

    @ Chris Winter

    what part of “I have hope that through hard work America will once again lead the way to the final frontier” do you fail to understand?

    The part that says it “will” happen (his emphasis). What part of “will” happen do you fail to understand?

    As noted above, this is not an anomaly. Phil has repeatedly (and irrationally) expressed certainty about his ability to predict the future. Such claims are nonsense, just like the unsupported claims from the nuts he enjoys criticizing.

    Perhaps Phil could step in and clarify this for us. Though given the wording above and other similar statements, he has a lot of clarifying to do.

    A true skeptic would openly accept the fallibility of his perceived certainty and update his map to the territory, i.e., decrease his confidence in the inevitability of his fantasies.

  58. @ ^ Methodissed :

    The part that says it “will” happen (his emphasis). What part of “will” happen do you fail to understand?

    What part of ” “I have hope that ..” don’t *you* understand?

    Phil has repeatedly (and irrationally) expressed certainty about his ability to predict the future. Such claims are nonsense, just like the unsupported claims from the nuts he enjoys criticizing.

    Hmm.. Not sure that first sentence there is true. I think the BA hasn’t been quite so certain about his predictions as I think you think he has been.

    Also extrapolating and imagining based on science what the future may hold is hardly irrational or equivalent of what most of the nuts he criticises.

    ***

    One source for the statement on lift-off below :

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-14077893

    News with launch video included.

    Here’s an interesting piece of trivia that somehows seems poignant and apt :

    Mission Control Roses The 110th bouquet of roses arrived in Mission Control on Saturday, July 9, 2011. They were sent as quietly as they have been for more than 23 years by a family near Dallas, Texas. For 110 shuttle missions, beginning with the first …mission to fly following the Challenger accident, the Shelton family’s flowers arrived in the control center like clockwork, usually with a simple note of well wishes.

    I guess now there will be no more roses.

    Now America is depending on Russia and hoping that private companies can work. I find that very sad.

    @ 24. Joseph : ” http://abstrusegoose.com/377

    Sigh indeed. :-(

  59. Saw the final Atlantis and final ever Space Shuttle launch on the news the other night.

    Moving and wonderful a ssuch launches always are.

    The immediately after lift-off signature comment from the NASA commentator :

    “On the shoulders of the Shuttle , America will continue the dream.”

    Will it?

    Will it really now? I hope so. But *when* and *how* and what role will NASA play in doing so?

    I hope ‘Atlantis’ and her quartet of crew have a great and successful smooth mission and a safe landing home. I wish them and NASA the best.

    I hope this isn’t metaphorically the end of the road for the US manned space program – I wish there was a replacement American human-flying spacecraft or three ready to step up and fly astronauts right away.

    I hate the trend we seem to be on – of retreat from exploration and humans losing capabilities in space travel. :-(

  60. Grand Lunar

    @Methodissed
    ” Phil has repeatedly (and irrationally) expressed certainty about his ability to predict the future. Such claims are nonsense, just like the unsupported claims from the nuts he enjoys criticizing. ”

    The only irrational expression is your criticism of Phil’s statement.

    Perhaps you also wish to criticize Carl Sagan’s statement that “if we do not destroy ourselves, we WILL one day venture to the stars”?

    The claims Phil takes on are hardly comparable to what he wrote.
    You’re making far too much of it.

  61. PS. [Continued from #61] And NOT just losing the former capabilities we once had but, worse, seemingly losing the will and the boldness and the vision to do so.

    That one day that Americans would one day happily put its entire trust in getting *its* astronauts into space to the Russians and would pay Russia to do so would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago.

    To think that the US would display so little in the way of national pride and such litle confidence and willingness to dare and strive forwards.

  62. Methodissed

    @Grand Lunar

    Perhaps you also wish to criticize Carl Sagan’s statement that “if we do not destroy ourselves, we WILL one day venture to the stars”?

    Unlike Plait, Sagan at least offered one alternate possibility. Though he does commit a logical fallacy (an error in reasoning) by limiting the options to just two possible outcomes – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

    Phil doesn’t seem to recognize any alternate scenarios – just the inevitability of his beloved fantasy.

    So yes, I can logically criticize Sagan’s statement. Plait’s statement is even worse.

  63. Astrofiend

    @Methodissed

    So Phil uses the word ‘will’ without qualification. Oh no!!! Thank god you and your finely attuned skeptical brain are here to nail him to the cross for this grand hypocrisy!

    Way to make a big deal out of nothing, you sock-sniffer. You must be a blast to hang out with…

  64. Methodissed

    Note to Moderator – I see that my response is pending moderation. I was just abusively attacked and have the right to defend myself. Unlike Astrofiend, every one of my posts conform to the principles of argumentation – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentation

    Please post my response.
    __________________

    @Astrofiend

    Way to make a big deal out of nothing, you sock-sniffer.

    If you actually read my comments you would know that this isn’t simple issue of semantics. This is a pattern of behavior, not a single mistake. Phil very openly and publicly criticizes fortune tellers and prophets, yet he repeatedly pretends that he has a crystal ball of his own, i.e., he’s a hypocrite.

    When a prominent leader of the skeptical movement repeatedly displays hypocritical behavior, someone needs to call him on it, because he’s harming the movement. Contrary to your sarcastic statement, this really is a grand hypocrisy.

    In addition to demonstrating your ignorance about this conversation (try reading a little next time), you’ve also committed a glaring logical fallacy of your own (an error in reasoning). It’s called abusive ad hominemhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

    Nice job!

  65. DigitalAxis

    @Methodissed: Statements of “I hope we will…” are desires, not certainties. Phil HOPES that we will continue to lead the world in space exploration. There’s the word that modifies his “certainty about his ability to predict the future.”

    As for your original complaint, obviously NO predictions about the future can be 100% accurate; you know that, I know that, and I’m pretty sure Phil knows that too. Asking Phil to be 100% certain about what looks to me like inspirational rhetoric is holding skeptics up to an unreasonably high standard that I don’t think even skeptics (or Skeptics) hold themselves to.

    If you still want to push on his inspirational statements, I don’t consider “humans will populate the solar system” to be an unfounded falsifiable belief in the way that “I can talk to ghosts” or “2012 is the end of the world” are. Consider that we already have the technology to go to the moon, and that at least three private companies have sprung up to fill the increasingly obvious gap in NASA’s manned space program, the persistent (if casual) interest in going to Mars… People want to do this (not the people in power right now, but still). Furthermore, if it turns out Phil is wrong and humans will never leave the Earth, I’m sure he would admit he was wrong (although this prediction could take millenia to fulfil, so that’s not practical)

    I don’t think this has been your real beef with Phil at all, and you’re just attempting to pick apart Skeptics as a whole using an unreasonable standard of proof you’ve invented.

  66. Ron1

    … In moderation cause I included Methodissed link. oops. try again.

  67. Ron1

    @65. Methodissed Said:

    Note to Moderator – I see that my response is pending moderation. I was just abusively attacked and have the right to defend myself. Unlike Astrofiend, every one of my posts conform to the principles of argumentation …

    Please post my response.

    ……………………………………..

    Um, your comment was in moderation because you included a URL linking to another website, not because the ’moderator’ was intervening in your little spat.

    As for being abusively attacked, your opponent was sarcastic and was calling you names that really stink, but I don’t think it was abusive. If you want abusive, try posting some of your comments on Pharyngula (PZ Meyer’s blog).

    …………………………………

    MTU

    I’ve always thought of you as more the optomistic type. We’re going back and we’re going to go farther. If the Chinese really do push out to the moon and beyond, do you think the US will just stand by and watch? It will take time but we’re headed out into the black.

    Cheers

  68. Methodissed

    @ DigitalAxis

    Apparently you haven’t read my comments either. I’ve repeatedly addressed the issue of certainty. No one has mounted a reasonable rebuttal. Rather, the responses sound more like apologetics than rational argument. The issue is the emphasis on the word will and a pattern of making similar unsupported claims of certainty, while criticizing others for doing the same thing.

    Asking Phil to be 100% certain about what looks to me like inspirational rhetoric is holding skeptics up to an unreasonably high standard

    I’m not asking him to be 100% certain – I’m objecting to his claims of certainty. Once again, it would be helpful if you actually read my comments. I’ve invited Phil to weigh in, but he’s remained silent.

    Also, I’m not saying that human colonization cannot happen. You’ve just contributed to the collective of fallacious responses by making a big one of your own. You’re misrepresenting my position in a way that makes it easy to attack – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strawman

    My primary objection is Phil’s pattern of hypocritical behavior. Again – no one has mounted anything close to an effective rebuttal. All I’m hearing is noise from and enthusiastic and devoted fan base.

    If you or anyone else chooses to respond, please rebut my primary position and stop the irrelevant distractions – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring

    Finally, I’m not “attempting to pick apart skeptics.” I am a skeptic, and I’m irritated that a prominent leader of the movement is being so careless with his beliefs and words.

  69. Methodissed

    @Ron1

    Thank you for the clarification on the moderation policy.

    It doesn’t matter that you don’t think Astrofiend was abusive, and pointing to a blog that is known for abusive behavior is irrelevant. In the context of rational argument, calling someone a “sock-sniffer” is abusive. I challenge you to prove me otherwise.

    If you prefer to avoid Wikipedia, Google Fallacy Files or reference some of many other respectable resources that define logical fallacies.

  70. DigitalAxis

    I read your comments several times, and while I admit my response didn’t address your concerns directly, I still think it’s valid.

    In any case, am I correct in assuming your argument is:
    You are uncomfortable with the way Phil is using the word “will” and the way he presents human colonization of the solar system (and other things) as inevitable or an absolute certainty, as if he knows the future, which as a skeptic he should know is impossible.

    Phil has repeatedly (and irrationally) expressed certainty about his ability to predict the future.

    If so, in the context of the article above, I don’t think Phil has been expressing CERTAINTY about the future. I think it’s a rhetorical device he’s been using to explain how he THINKS the future will/should be.

    It may take decades, even centuries, but the human-populated solar system I dreamed and read about, the one I still imagine, will come to life some day.
    If you’re being ruthlessly logical, yes, he’s claiming future knowledge and claiming absolute knowledge of what’s going to happen. I don’t think he intended those statements to be taken that strongly, and they’re just a rhetorical device to offer his vision of the future. After all, the next sentence is We just have to choose to make it happen. If there’s a choice, there’s no certainty.

    His choice of wording may be sloppy, but I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Talking about a possible future as if it’s a definite certainty is a common motivational technique (JFK’s moonshot speech and MLK’s Dream speech come to mind). If nothing else, it avoids cluttering up your point with lots of modifier words to emphasize the uncertainty. I guess I’m willing to give Phil the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s NOT claiming his favorite future is a certainty (I’ve read enough of these blog posts to know Phil is well aware of the pitfalls to space programs). I don’t see hypocrisy, I see rhetorical shortcuts.

  71. Methodissed

    Thank you for the thoughtful response DigitalAxis. You’ve captured my concern except for the Phil’s history of making similar statements while criticizing others for pretending to know the future.

    So yes, if this was the only instance, no big deal. For me, it was one time too many, particularly since he prominently represents a movement that is so important. I’m quite sure that the people that he criticizes aren’t generous in their critiques, nor should they be. We can’t expect them to cut Phil slack for using rhetorical shortcuts.

    My purpose in making noise over this issue is the hope that he’ll adjust his beliefs and change how he expresses his beliefs. One can be inspirational without making grand unsupported claims, especially when criticizing others for doing the same thing.

  72. Astrofiend

    “Unlike Astrofiend, every one of my posts conform to the principles of argumentation …”

    Wow – saving the world one informal logical error at a time!

    Anyway, the rules of argumentation didn’t apply to my post, because I wasn’t arguing the point with you – I was making fun of you. For being anal. And yes – when I say you were being anal, I assume that this statement carries the implicit subtext that I am expressing my opinion that you were being anal, and not that you were being anal in any universally provable way.

    Anyway – If you’ve taken issue with Phil’s writing, my personal opinion is that attacking him on actual substantive points would be a good way to go about it, as opposed to beating him over the head with wikipedia references on logic for wistful, throwaway one-liners.

  73. Ron1

    @70. Methodissed said: … calling someone a “sock-sniffer” is abusive..

    …………………………………………….

    I still think it only stinks. :)

  74. Methodissed

    @Astrofiend

    Hypocrisy is no small matter, especially when repeatedly committed by someone in a position of power. I was justified in posting my initial concern, and in pointing out the fallacious reasoning that plagued nearly every objection to my post, i.e., my argument still stands.

    Apparently you don’t care if prominent leaders of important movements demonstrate integrity. I suppose that’s what we should expect from someone who throws around childish insults in a forum such as this.

  75. Chris Winter

    I vote we make Methodissed watch a looped version of the president’s speech from Independence Day when he rallies the troops just before the final attack. I’m sure he says “We will survive” somewhere in there.

    Obviously that was an unsupportable prediction and he should not have made it. Right, M?
    ;-)

  76. Methodissed

    @Chris Winter

    The issue is about hypocrisy, i.e., repeatedly doing something while criticizing others for doing the same thing. Your movie example is a faulty analogy and does not begin to address my concern.

    Why do you continue to focus on just one aspect of the issue (one example of many instances) without considering my broader argument?

    Oh wait, I know why. Because you can’t!

  77. Ron1

    @78. Methodissed

    You are one hard-core rigid thinker and obsessive to boot.

    To begin, you might want to read Isaac Asimov’s “Relativity of Wrong” and also consider the false equivalence you’re pushing, ie. Phil’s ‘hypocracy’ in his post is equivalent to that of say, your typical Republican congressman or climate denier, etc.

    Yes Phil is putting out a dream about the future in which he has no possible way of knowing whether or not that will really happen — he is acting as a believer in an area that is not tangible. At the same time he is working hard to fight fight for rationality on so many fronts that are tangible and yet you see a false equivalence between the two areas of belief.

    Well sir, I give you your day — you win the battle. Yes Phil is a hypocrite because he dared to dream about the future.

    However, I suggest you remove your eye from your microscope and get a life.

    Off to the next windmill, you are.

  78. Chris Winter

    Methodissed: Re-read my first post on the subject. You’ll see I made a clear distinction between the things Dr. Plait criticizes and the hope for a certain kind of future he expressed in the paragraph you’re so obsessively attacking.

    In other words, I did address your broader argument.

  79. Methodissed

    @Ron1

    Phil’s ‘hypocracy’ in his post is equivalent to that of say, your typical Republican congressman or climate denier, etc.

    We’ve finally found something on which we agree. Thank you for validating my concern.

  80. Methodissed

    @Chris Winter

    Re-read my first post on the subject. … I did address your broader argument.

    57. Chris Winter Says: Such large-scale spacefaring, if it does happen, will happen in the future. The things Dr. Plait criticizes, in contrast, are demonstrably false today. This is a crucial difference.

    Um, no you didn’t.

    Your cutting Phil slack because his repeated claims of certainty could come true. Phil criticizes fortune tellers and prophets for pretending to have a working crystal ball. By your reasoning, we should cut them slack too because their future predictions could come true, i.e., this is a double-standard.

    No one has a crystal ball dude. Phil needs to stop pretending.

  81. Ron1

    @83. Methodissed Said, “We’ve finally found something on which we agree. Thank you for validating my concern.”

    ……………………………….

    image — Ron slowly shaking his head …

  82. Joseph G

    Wow! I came back to see how the discussion of NASA’s future was going, and find that I didn’t miss much.
    Congrats, Methodissed: Threadjack achieved.
    I’ll now go cut a switch for you to use on me for being abusive :-P

    @QuietDesperation: Earlier I kinda lost my train of thought md-sentence. I meant to say that depite not being a Luddite, I (and many like me) would find this technology (mind uploading) so thoroughly creepy that even if it were feasible, it’d probably be effectively banned… well, at least until that generation died of old age. Conveniently for post-humanism, opponents would have a finite lifespan :-P

  83. Methodissed

    @Joseph G

    Congrats, Methodissed: Threadjack achieved.

    I didn’t try to jack the thread. I made a valid criticism and since have only responded to attacks from Phil’s devoted apologists.

  84. Back on topic: I managed to see this one go up. After five years of trying, waiting, near misses and so forth. I am finally victorious in my quest. I can now be at peace knowing I saw this majestic ship roar into the sky. It moves so much faster than TV depicts it. It’s a rocket after all! I had my mother and my oldest son with me. That’s a priceless memory. :)

  85. Methodissed:
    Mountain out of a molehill, indeed!
    Let’s recap exactly what Phil wrote in the “offending” paragraph:

    “…and I have hope that through hard work America will once again lead the way to the final frontier. And it won’t just be into orbit, which is, after all, still bound to Earth. It will be beyond, back to the Moon, on to Mars, on to near-Earth asteroids, and eventually into deep space. It may take decades, even centuries, but the human-populated solar system I dreamed and read about, the one I still imagine, will come to life some day.”

    On first reading that, it was quite clear to me – and probably to everyone else but you – that the phrase “I have hope that” is intended to apply to the entire paragraph, not just to the single sentence which contains it!
    He could have written:

    “…and I have hope that through hard work America will once again lead the way to the final frontier; that it won’t just be into orbit, which is, after all, still bound to Earth, but that it will be beyond, back to the Moon, on to Mars, on to near-Earth asteroids, and eventually into deep space; that though it may take decades, even centuries, the human-populated solar system I dreamed and read about, the one I still imagine, will come to life some day.”

    This would have been grammatically correct, and would presumably have met your meticulous standards of pedantry – but it would also have been a very awkwardly long sentence, and not easy to read.
    Alternatively, he could have begun every sentence in the paragraph with “I have hope that” – but that would have sounded clumsy and silly.
    In other words, Phil’s choice of words was a very reasonable compromise between grammatical and conceptual pedantry, and what makes for smooth and easy reading. Duh!!!!
    Now please go and annoy people somewhere else.

  86. Methodissed

    @Neil Haggath

    Let’s recap exactly what Phil wrote in the “offending” paragraph. … Now please go and annoy people somewhere else.

    If you actually read my posts you would know that this isn’t about a single incident. Phil has a pattern of doing exactly what I objected to — expressing certainty that he knows the future, while hypocritically criticizing others for doing the same thing. Given that background, his claim above that it “will” happen (his emphasis) is a claim of certainty.

    Despite all the noise from his team of enthusiastic apologists, not one person has denied his past history of making claims of certainty about the future, because the evidence is overwhelming.

    Nice job of not seeing the forest for the trees. You’re good at annoying people too.

    P.S. If you guys are so tired of hearing from me, why do you keep addressing messages to me? If you keep prodding, I’ll keep responding.

  87. Fleegman

    @Methodissed

    Quick question: if someone says to you “I’m going to the movies this weekend!” Do you castigate them for predicting the future? Do you reply with: “And how the f*ck, exactly, do you know that? Are you f*cking psychic or something?”

    This is what you are basically doing here. If you think you’re being reasonable, you are beyond hope.

  88. Fleegman

    The comment I actually wanted to make, before being distracted by Methodissed’s idiocy, was to point out that the image above is *clearly* a fake, given that the the flames are overlapping the flag at the top when, if this were a *real* photo, they would be completely *behind* the flag.

    When will you stop peddling these blatant lies?

    Eh? Who’s with me?! *waits for high five*

    Ok, I’ll stop…

  89. Methodissed

    @Fleeman

    if someone says to you “I’m going to the movies this weekend!” Do you castigate them for predicting the future? Do you reply with: “And how the f*ck, exactly, do you know that? Are you f*cking psychic or something?”

    In the context of this discussion, do you seriously think that’s an intelligent question? Your question is too “stoopid” to warrant further comment.

  90. #89 Methodissed:
    I did read your posts, but as I can’t be bothered searching the site for the “numerous other examples” which you claim, I was simply responding to your specific criticism of this particular example of Phil’s writing – which amounts to making a massive deal out of one sentence, which is at worst slightly inaccurate grammar.

    But then we have:
    “You’re good at annoying people too.”
    OK, so while you lambast Phil for supposedly “claiming to predict the future”, and for “doing what he ridicules other people for”, you are now doing something exactly equivalent, by somehow claiming to read other people’s minds!!!
    While I don’t doubt that some of my comments might annoy some people, I don’t recall anyone, apart from you, ever actually posting a comment to that effect. So you based that statement on zero evidence; you somehow asserted that I annoy “people”, in the plural, just because I annoy you! Pot, meet kettle!!!

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