Saturday, May 01, 2004

"Dr Rachel Armstrong ... said the US space agency NASA was considering how to deal with the natural urges of astronauts travelling on long journeys such as a three-year trip to Mars, where the six-strong crew would be likely to include two women. "NASA is talking about the chemical sterilisation of astronauts on longer journeys...."" Well, that will certainly take the bloom off space travel for young geeks dreaming of interplanetary experiments in atmospheric fluid dispersal, inspired by their collections of images from pay per view sites.

I'm sure the Vatican will be denouncing this at once, as one more violation of Humanae Vitae. The government technocrats have been reduced to such heretical ideas by the liberal virus of "diversity". Back in the good old boy days before "political correctness", they would have had no problem just not allowing women in space. Now they're making their own zero gee beds and they have to worry about people lying in them together. The problem isn't just pregnancy, though Pro Life advocates should know that Our Noble Leader's executive orders have continued the ban on abortions in government institutions, which would include spacecraft.

"Douglas Powell, a psychology professor at Harvard University who was recruited in 1999 by NASA to investigate the behavioural needs of long-term space trips, ... noted the comments of one Russian cosmonaut about time spent cooped up in the Mir space station that "when you have two people locked up in a very small environment for months at a time, all the conditions for murder are met." Mix in sex, and you almost have the script of Othello in space."

I don't think that reporter was familiar with Othello. To replicate that story, you would need an Iago. I suggest someone like Dr. Zachary Smith. Powell's fear about crimes of passion may have been inspired by one notorious book, which depicted the first human born on Mars as the bastard child of adultery between the expedition captain and another crewman's wife, with her husband killing them both before committing suicide. We should not trust that author's foresight. In the same book , he wrote "Smith is also a citizen of the United States ...it's illegal to hold a citizen, even a convicted criminal, incommunicado ...." Obviously he totally failed to predict the advance in jurisprudence represented by the Patriot Act.

"Other scientists have suggested that the best way to ensure there is no interplanetary interplay is to crew the mission with astronauts over the age of 50." Maybe this was said by people who haven't reached 50 yet and "misunderestimate" the decline of sexual drive, as did the Bard himself in another play:
"HAMLET: You cannot call it love; for at your age
The heyday in the blood is tame, it's humble,
And waits upon the judgment...." --Act III, Scene IV
But perhaps these comments came from space geeks already past 50, dishonestly plotting to guarantee themselves a spot on the trip to the Red Planet.

"Peter Bond, a British expert on space matters ... [said] "the ideal Mars mission would have - in Star Trek terms - two Mr Scotts and two Mr Spocks, and definitely no Captain Kirks, or Mr Sulus, or Dr McCoys. You need the Scotts to do the engineering stuff, and the Spocks to do the science. You don't need a Kirk because all he does is issue orders - and kiss any woman in sight."" Have you ever read a better description of The Clenis? All this time we thought he was trying to imitate the infidelities of Kerry's initial-sake, when really he was just another Trekkie.

There are, of course, different opinions about Kirk and Spock, but things could be worse if Bond's fears are correct. As evidence mounts of possible life on Mars, we need to share the ongoing concern of Senator Santorum. There are plenty of literary depictions of the danger of interspecies miscegenation. What eggs may hatch from "man on Martian"?

Those who think more laws will solve all our problems will be concerned to read, near the end of "Sex, the final frontier", that "there is no NASA ban on sex between crew members." No wonder they are worried about musical mattresses. But eschew this utopian faith in legislation. Years of "abstinence only" programs in sex education classes have failed to reduce the illegitimate birth rate among students. Someday we may return to those good old days of putting offenders in stocks and making them wear scarlet letters (or perhaps other colors for different offenses). Until then, we need not a legal but a physical solution to preclude orgasms in space. (The classic example was the Will Rogers solution for naval disarmament. He said we should just drain the oceans; how to do that was a only a "technical problem".) It can't be chemicals, because the Catholic Church would condemn them.

What is the best proven way of discouraging sex? Obviously, we should send no one to Mars except long-married couples. But as the Grandmaster pointed out in that novel, on a long trip stimulation can still occur between different couples. The only practical solution is to have an entire crew of people who have all been married to each other for years. In short, we will need to train new astronauts from that splinter Mormon town of Colorado City, Arizona. One of those families of polygamists should have attained a state of such mutual boredom as to preclude any stimulation at all. Sanctioning their return to Old Testament marital customs is a small price to pay for avoiding a horrible bad example of hedonism over our heads.

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