austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

We'll take this planet, shake it round, and turn it upside down

During the talk on how he got into space, naturally, Greg Olsen was asked how he had the twenty million dollars to spare. He explained it was because the company he founded, and that he sold the company out at just the right point in the dot-com boom to make more money than a person can spend even when he's buying vacations to the International Space Station. Olsen went on to mention that several of the people from the company were attending the talk, including my father. Mere seconds after the audience turned as a group to look at me and my father, my father leaned over to me and asked, ``Did I hear him mention me by name?'' Yes.

He also passed around the obvious piece of real space gear, a pair of his gloves, and by the logic of the room's design they ended up with me and my father with nobody to pass them on to, so I spent the last half-hour or so of the talk with a space glove resting on my thigh. I may even have got a good photograph of it.

At the reception, several people came up to me or to my father to learn a bit more about what we did with Olsen. The cynical might suppose they were curious to know if we might have a spare twenty millions of dollars, although my father used it as a chance to pump his idle-for-five-years-now consulting business and handed out many business cards I'd created and printed for him that morning. They're not anything special, but I worked a splash of color into them, so they're plain but not boring.

My father and I were the only ones I caught asking Olsen non-space-related questions at the reception, and I watched him ably maintain a straight face as a couple space fanboys started talking about how the Chinese and Indians were planning to go the Moon and steal the Helium-3 for, no doubt, nefarious purposes and it was a Failure of Will on the part of the United States that we were only now getting around to building capsules again although the space shuttle does let you do things that Apollo On Steroids won't. It was almost as if sci.space.history newsgroup participants were to exist in real life. Olsen very gently pointed out that the infinite economic wealth of Helium-3 or minerals from asteroids or whatnot really needed to be better established before great sums were invested in harvesting them, and that political considerations must be important parts of very expensive government-funded programs, and made a graceful exit.

Trivia: On 22 April 1945 Berlin's telegraph office closed, for the first time in its 100-year history. Its last message was from Tokyo, reading, ``GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL.'' Source: The Last Battle, Cornelius Ryan.

Currently Reading: Randomness, Deborah J Bennett.

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