Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Why I love Humans so Damned Much

While screwing around looking for a way to exercise my Capitalist Pig inclinations and get someone in Antarctica using our stuff*, I happened across yet another expression of human coolness.

Scarlet Knight, First Robotic Ocean Glider, Crosses the Atlantic

In a different age this would have been a story that everyone knew about, like when Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh explored the Marianas Trench.

Today, however, we just do this kind of thing so much we don’t see it.

You probably missed this one. I did. That’s because so many people are doing so many interesting and wonderful things all the time that there is no way to keep up with it all. Buried in this ocean of creation are seeds that we cannot predict the impact of. While it makes for popular fiction to imagine robotic sharks carrying nuclear warheads, reality instead holds autonomous gliders sailing the currents of the world’s oceans feeding us more information than we could have imagined.

These “known unknowns” related to the major issues of our times give me hope. I know I don’t know what people will innovate in the future. Not for the environment, not for healthcare, not for agriculture and not for sociology. I can see the shape of possible futures where our challenges in these areas can be dealt with, if people get innovative in ways I know I don’t know yet. People from Rutgers to Cairo prove me right every day.

* (Hey, I’ll give it away to be able to say: “People use our gear on *every* continent.” ;~)

The Scarlet Knight is not a one-off, we do these sorts of things all the time these days. Apparently, there are gliders plying the depths of Monterey Bay not twenty miles from here even as I type this, “conducting sustained, multi-vehicle collaborative monitoring of oceanographic variables”.

That’s probably a good thing.

And the people creating all this aren’t Government or Corporate zombies pushing red buttons, they’re regular folks like you and I.

Just like she is.

Just like each of you reading this are.

And you amaze me more every day.


  1. Impressive NYT piece on the release of the Egyptian Google executive who helped spark the revolution

    In a tearful, riveting live television interview only two hours after his release from an Egyptian prison, the Google executive Wael Ghonim acknowledged Monday that he was one of the people behind the anonymous Facebook and YouTube campaign that helped galvanize the protest that has shaken Egypt for the last two weeks.

    Since he disappeared on Jan. 28, Mr. Ghonim, 30, has emerged as a symbol for the protest movement’s young, digital-savvy organizers. During the interview on a popular television show, he said he had been kidnapped and held blindfolded by Egyptian authorities.

    Afterward, hundreds of Egyptians took to Twitter and the Internet, calling on him to become one of their new leaders.

    “Please do not make me a hero,” Mr. Ghonim said in a voice trembling with emotion, and later completely breaking down when told of the hundreds of people who have died in clashes since the Jan. 25 protests began. “I want to express my condolences for all the Egyptians who died.”

    “We were all down there for peaceful demonstrations,” he added. “The heroes were the ones on the street.”

  2. jsfox

    I have witness some amazing things done by humans.

    My first ride in airplane was a DC 3 thinking it was the most wonderful thing I had ever experienced how could it get better. Then I watched man land on the moon. Flew in the first commercial jet to ever land in Orlando FL.

    I have watched and experienced the transition in my career from analog to digital. I have gone from the flippant phrase we’ll fix in the edit to now where we really can fix in the edit. I was there in the early days of digital imaging when I was told that’s the best we can make it look to now where the best we can make it look looks better than reality.

  3. Jjc2008

    I was already a geek (even though I don’t think I ever heard the word until much later in life).  I was a little girl whose best present was Lionel trains, and second best was a chemistry set, and who loathed dolls (what was fun about dolls, I asked my mother, who wanted to see some feminine qualities in me).

    Even back then, science fiction was my favorite thing.  I loved all those computer things with dials and buttons on spaceships of Buck Rogers.  My parents had an old, painted white tin cabinet in the basement where we kept canned goods.  There was a little space between it and the wall where a ten year old could fit. On the side I drew my computer…..dials and nobs that could take me places.

    At 19 I flew on a plane to Kentucky to go to a military ball with a guy I was dating. I was way more excited about the airplane ride than the dance and the fancy dress.  

    I became a teacher and one of my colleagues my first year (1967) had this weird thing he had made ….called it a computer and he could do some cool things.  HE was a real geek, while I was becoming more of a woman, a feminist, a political activist, a wannabee hippie.  THAT was a romantic time for me.  

    Years later, at age forty I got an MA in educational technology and once again fell in love with computers and geeky stuff, buying my first MAC in 1986.  I was enthralled at the speed of how things were changing.  I was amazed with things I saw from the young people in the tech world. I remember going to a convention for educators dealing with ed tech and seeing for the first time video on the computer…..

    I am amazed with the resilience of human beings, the ability to learn, change and adapt but sadly disgruntled with those that want to go backward.   Overall though, I consider myself a people person.  In a time, where people my age are wondering “what do we do now” as we retire, and too many resist change, I am excited at how I can meet and talk to so many people online, people of all ages, backgrounds, and points of view.  

    It’s good for me, albeit sometimes frustrating, to have my own points of view challenged.  It makes me think.  

  4. Back in the days when I used to trudge through snowdrifts chasing woolly mammoths I discovered the benefits of new technology. In my father’s time, hunters had to carry live coals with them in order to start a fire. The discovery of stones that could cast sparks was one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind. Oh, wait… I may have gotten that mixed up with another event. It’s hard to keep track of them all.

    More seriously, I probably think more than most about progress and how fast things change. When I was born, television was a curiosity only available in the largest cities. Only 0.4% of households owned a television in 1948, the year after I was born. Penicillin was a new “wonder-drug.” Polio was still a childhood scourge. The technological wonders that would come in the second half of the 20th Century were still the province of science fiction writers.

    However, the tremendous change I’ve seen in my own lifetime is not the main reason I think about the changes that affect all of us. The reason has more to do with my connection to the past. I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating because it has a lot to do with the way I view the world and human progress. My father was 32 when I was born. He was born in 1915. Forget about television or computers. The electric refrigerator was invented only 2 years before his birth. Radio and household electricity were still considered new-fangled inventions. But that’s only part of it. My father’s father, who I knew and learned from, was 48 years old when my father was born. He was born in 1867. That’s 144 years of history in 3 generations.

    Think about that 144 years for a moment. One of my early mentors was a man born into a horse and buggy world without electricity where power was provided by steam. Medicine was primitive. In many ways, people still lived as they had for thousands of years. My grandfather, who was to me a real live person and not some historical figure, lived to see airplanes, nuclear weapons, and the first satellite. I have a direct connection to his world from stories he told me as a child. That connection has had a huge influence on me and on the way I view history.

  5. SpaceX Dragon Flight Earns Praise, Opens Doors

    By Jason Paur, December 9, 2010 | 6:00 am | Categories: Air Travel

    The successful test flight of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft marks the dawn of a new era in orbital space flight and a significant milestone for a Southern California startup that admits it is “standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    “Mind-blowingly awesome” is how SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk described the day’s events shortly after the company’s Dragon capsule completed nearly two orbits of the Earth on Tuesday. The successful launch places the company on pace to fulfill a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to deliver 44,000 pounds of cargo during 12 flights to the International Space Station.

    The Dragon flew for about three hours and 20 minutes at an altitude of 182 miles (300 kilometers). It is the first privately developed and launched spacecraft to be put into low Earth orbit and return to Earth for a successful recovery.

    The first private orbit of the planet (and the second).

    15-year-old: “We never do anything cool. This place sucks.”

    Dad: Long-suffering look

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