Why the vacant optimism of the ‘Humanity Star’ perfectly sums up the vanity of modern neoliberal NZ

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Rocket Lab should have called their contemptibly named ‘Humanity Star’, ‘The John Key Orb’ .

The effluence with which Rocket Lab defend their grotesque advert in the sky is as toxic as it is gag-inducing…

“The whole point is to get people talking as a planet and I think we’ve achieved that. If you’re going to do something big some people will love it and some people won’t love it and it’s all about sparking the conversation.”

…what the fuck?

What conversation?

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This conversation?

“Isn’t it fucking outrageous that a corporation shot an advert into the night sky that we are now all forced to see as it passes over in some type of Orwellian Marketing Horror story that will have McDonalds, Coke and fucking Apple all eyeing this up as an opportunity to start advertising in the last piece of unspoilt beauty we haven’t manage to shit on yet as a species’?

Is that the conversation we are having?

Here is how Rocket Lab are describing their tacky business card in the sky…

”The Humanity Star is a reminder to all on Earth about our fragile position in the universe. The project aims to draw people’s eyes up and encourage them to look past day-to-day issues and consider a bigger picture, including the role space will play in the future of our species,” 

“We must come together as a species to solve the really big issues like climate change and resource shortages.”

…are you fucking kidding me?

This advert of yours is a semi-religious thought experiment is it?

You are a commercial operation, who blessed by geography, happen to have a super cheap means of shooting low cost satellites into orbital space. You are not a philosophical movement or ethical resource for humankind to help determine the momentum of our species.

This is like a MacDonald’s burger wrapper telling us that they exist to remind us of the human fucking condition.

The sheer audacity of this self-deceiving sophistry manages to sum up all the vacant aspiration and vanity of modern neoliberal New Zealand in a way that would make John Key (who best represented this cultural mutation), blush with lust.

The 30 year neoliberal economic revolution can only sustain its dominance through a crippling cultural mythology that robs citizens of solidarity and leaves them as competing individual consumers powerless with nothing but their wallet as a voice.

Under neoliberal culture, there is no hegemonic economic structure under which we are all slaves, oh no, there is only individual success and individual failure. If you ‘succeed’ then you have done this individually, and as such, have all the moral and ethical rights to do what you wish with that success.

Likewise if you ‘fail’, you do so all on your own with no one to blame but yourself.

This luck egalitarianism is why we have no issues in NZ treating beneficiaries with such contempt. Why we don’t blink at 10 000 in prison. Why we turn a blind eye to 40 000 homeless. Why we ignore 220 000 kids in poverty. Why a suicide rate almost double that of the road toll doesn’t mean much.

Each of these are just the market working by punishing those too helpless not to succeed. It’s economic darwinism.

We lie to ourselves about our clean green brand when the reality is that we allow the agricultural industry to pollute and steal vast amounts of water. We ignore the truth that our relative ‘clean’ environment is only that way because New Zealand was one of the last places white people colonised.

We cheer Team NZ and sneer at those homeless in cars.

We property speculate ourselves to false illusions of wealth and decry public spending on state housing.

We lose ourselves in the labyrinth of neoliberal identity politics while the richest 1% own almost 30% of everything.

We cheer Lord of the Rings while trashing worker rights.

We shoot a bloody business card into the sky and tell ourselves this individual success of a medium sized enterprise is actually a metaphorical Plato-esk intellectual lantern to light the future of humanity!

The vanity of modern neoliberal NZ is Trump-like in its delusion.

 

 

36 COMMENTS

  1. Brilliant Martyn! And so right. Enjoy your day forget about these pricks and do something you love . This wankery will still be polluting the atmosphere to morrow

  2. Well said, Martyn.

    Of course putting anything into the sky (or even worse into space) takes a humungous amount of energy……all that gravity [force] to overcome! That is true for aircraft, rockets, helicopters, satellites, even fireworks. All of them are inordinately energy-guzzling and destructive.

    And, needless to say, those who promote mindless consumerism and policies based on aspiration are scientifically illiterate.

    Therefore, as a species, we head rapidly towards ‘self-annihilation’ (I say that because the whole process is being riven by a tiny band of psychotic sociopaths, whilst the bulk of humanity are simply victims of their bizarre machinations which are promoted via continuous propaganda and lying), taking down most of the biosphere with us, as ‘we’ trigger Abrupt Climate Change via the CO2 emissions that are an inevitable consequence of the way industrial humans live.

    You know you are living in a completely mad society when rapid destruction of the future is not just celebrated but is actually subsidized and promoted via local authority rates and central government taxes.

    ‘it’s all about sparking the conversation.”

    …what the fuck?

    What conversation?’

    Exactly!

    How about this conversation (bearing in mind that the temperature of the oceans is one of the major factors in the fate of life on Earth):

    ‘In 2017, the oceans were by far the hottest ever recorded. ‘

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/jan/26/in-2017-the-oceans-were-by-far-the-hottest-ever-recorded

    And so, as sectors of the NZ economy begin to collapse due to severe climate change, and as NZ heads towards recording the hottest January ever, we have fuckwits and liars telling us there is no link between CO2 emissions and planetary overheating, and that we, as a society, can carry on behaving in the same idiotic manner that has charactrised western societies ever since perfectly valid narrative of ‘Limits to Growth’ was sabotaged by commercial interests in the 1970s.

    • “Of course putting anything into the sky (or even worse into space) takes a humungous amount of energy……all that gravity [force] to overcome! That is true for aircraft, …”

      Nonsense. A commercial airliner uses just 4.8L of hydrocarbons per person per 100 kM – better than most cars with one person in them… which is of course most cars on our roads (but obviously nowhere near the efficiency of buses or trains).
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_efficiency_in_transport

      • 4.8 litres of hydrocarbon, when burned, releases A HUMOUNGOUS AMOUNT OF ENERGY! (and is equivalent to about one week of normal human muscular activity).

        It takes a force of approximately 10 Newtons to raise a 1 kilogram mass, and if that mass is raised 1 metre the energy required is 10 Joules.

        To raise a 1 tonne mass 1 metre requires a force of 10,000 Newtons. And to raise a 1 tonne mass 1 metre requires 10,000 Joules of energy.

        To raise a 1 tonne mass 1 kilometre requires 10,000,000 Joules of energy. So to raise a 100 tonne aircraft 1 kilometre into the sky requires 1,000,000 Joules of energy. And to raise a 100 tonne aircraft 10 kilometres (typical commercial altitude) requires 10 million Joules of energy.

        • Point taken, but you specifically singled out aviation as an issue when cars (with one person) are worse than commercial airliners for transport inefficiency. Given how relatively little hydrocarbons are consumed globally by aircraft vs automobiles I don’t really see a problem worth singling out there.

          • One major difference is that carbon emissions from planes go straight into the upper atmosphere, where there is very little chance of being reabsorbed by growing plants or other biological processes. Since we don’t yet have a viable way of running commercial air flight without high-octane fossil fuels, as well as being a luxury we can’t afford (if we want a livable climate), they have no future. If we still have air flight in 100 years, it will most likely be lighter-than-air-craft, not jet planes.

          • Nitrium.

            Have you taken into account the different damage done by emissions from airlines high in the atmosphere compared with polluting cars on the ground.

            Compare with sailing ships. Whats the big hurry about, in destroying our biosphere. Hardly convenience.

            Westerners generally are in denial about their toxic way of life.

          • The carbon comparison between airlines and cars is not much of a guide as to which is the greater evil. Airline carbon emissions are a small part of the pollution as the IPCC guide suggest the airline emission damage to the atmosphere is 2 to 4 times that of carbon alone. IPCC is generally very conservative as time has shown, hopelessly conservative in many aspects.

            Airlines facilitate passengers packing a far greater climactic impact per hour than any other form of transport.

            Lifestyles / cultures / economics need to be reorganised to bring travel to a minimum

          • Taking a train give a ball park carbon foot print reduction on airlines travel by 5 to 10 times.

            And that is without taking into account the “hidden” carbon footprint of plane construction and disposal, servicing, fuel transportation, airport infrastructure and attending ground transportation for goods services and passengers.

            Trains have a many times smaller small ” hidden” carbon footprint and virtually none of the damage to the stratosphere which for planes is extra to their carbon footprint and many times more damaging.

            • > Taking a train give a ball park carbon footprint reduction in airlines travel by 5 to 10 times

              Hey, good point. Perhaps you could hop on a train to the next UNFCCC conference in Poland and let them know about the benefits. I’m not sure how frequently the Auckland-Katowice service runs though – I hear they’ve been having some problems with water on the tracks.

              More seriously, why stop at trains? Horses have a lower carbon footprint, they run on fuel which is completely renewable, their waste products increase agricultural output and return carbon to the soil, and once obsolete they can be organically recycled and returned to the food chain.

              Of course, neither horses nor trains have ever put an Earth-observation satellite into orbit – so their ability to help us monitor and mitigate our effects on the environment are somewhat limited compared to rockets.

              • Digital conferencing beats travel regarding GHG footprint of politicians globetrotting to hob knob with all manner of information sources.

                Bad habits or just lack of action to change.

                When Non Renewable Natural Resources become even more depleted then looking at horses, oxen , donkeys or whatever is sustainable by way of animal power; may well be what is left.

                Some parts of the world use animal power now and have a very low GHG footprint.

                What is stopping us.

                Making wise choices may mean reorganising out methods of existing before we are left with no choices in a much further depleted world.

                http://sailingdog.org/sail-freight-projects-around-the-world/

                Three quarters of all time Non Renewable Natural Resources at 1800 have been consumed to date and we are still on this consumption course with record rates of using NRNRs.

                Within a decade this has to grind to a halt in spite of all the reductionist analyses abound and inane talk of humans finding a way past this barrier to continuing stupidity.

                Mankind’s mind seems to have a problem with looking ahead. That is put off until tomorrow if it means effort today.

                The rich have power and dictate what the rest do. They usually own the media.

                Some see it more clearly.

                “I wish I had myself a horse,
                You can’t grow roses from exhaust.
                I wish I’d listened to my old dad,
                He said: two wheels good and four wheels bad.”

  3. I’m truly surprised that no one’s thought of using laser beams from Earth to advertise on the surface of the moon. I’m thinking a cheese commercial?
    I like those huge, LCD hoardings now popping up everywhere. The extensive research that would have gone in to them to justify their initial cost will have you and your mind tinkered with as you wait in the traffic lights to change. Their messages will be psychologically customised to coincide exactly with the time you must spend waiting for those other sheeple to shuffle off to their destinations in their ugly modern car-units. Probably heading to their work-units or home-units. One does still need a multitude of slaves to make a billionaire. It’s when robots powered by self- learning algorithms take over the need for the human workfarce; that’s when the culling will begin. Billions of service industry people will be exterminated like flies and I think it may be a viral weapon with a deadly kill factor yet a short half-life of say a month and delivered drone. A robot with a sniffle should probably be avoided. There will be no wasteful, destructive kinetic war, there will be plenty of room for the select few human survivors and animal and plant life will be un touched, so there’s a plus.
    What we should all be doing, of course, is waging war on advertising.

    Banksy said;

    People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.
    You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.
    Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.
    You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.
    – Banksy

    Sadly Banksy, Idiocracy is well upon us.

    • I’m truly surprised that no one’s thought of using laser beams from Earth to advertise on the surface of the moon. I’m thinking a cheese commercial?

      Oh, god, no please, CB. Don’t give the pricks any more ideas! Any corporation that tried such a stunt should – in my ‘umble opinion – be targetted by every activist, astronomer, and conscientious citizen to resist such a thing. Even if that meant civil disobedience such as blockading a corporate’s HO.

      • Joking aside, it wouldn’t work anyway. We can see about 4000 odd kilometers of the Moon from Earth, so to make a visible impression on it from the ground here would require truly massive amounts of energy using lasers so powerful they haven’t even been conceived of (you’d have illuminate like ~10 kms across on the Moon to even be remotely visible from here). Combine that with atmospheric distortion (not to mention Earth’s constant rotation) and you’ll quickly appreciate the impracticability of such a project.

        • Good to hear, Nitrium.

          Using lasers for science and greater understanding of our Universe (eg; laser-powered interstellar probes) is one thing. (Yeah, I ‘fess up; I’m a Trekkie Geek!). Lunatic (excuse the pun) advertising exercises should never see the light of day.

    • Do these people have any respect for the end game of Neo Liberalism. Its not a pretty picture CB. It ends in Anarchy all out war between the haves and have nots. The haves lock them selves inside enclaves and the have nots basically invade thats it. Its not a pretty ending.

  4. An orbital ego-trip–that guy probably fancies himself as some free-market Von Braun. Considering humanity, the mass majority wouldn’t bother looking above let alone at a fast moving speck of light. Nature will always provide a spectacle which will far surpass anything humanity can, that coming lunar eclipse is one example.

  5. ‘Humanity Star’

    Wow!
    I think of Ed Hilary knocking the top off Everest. For no other
    reason than it was there.

    It takes a while to achieve big things. Lots of courage.

    And as for our sad sick mate John Key, he couldn’t even get a small flag off the ground.

    Go for it *Humanity Star*. The local Hospice will look after your fat bellied detractors – with their rocking chairs and foul mouths.

  6. This was another National party plan to make spending money on a fake star good for us all.

    What a big waste of money when we need money for everything else here not up there bloody national fuck wits.

    • Its more Labours baby.
      Nash is so happy he may take off into space, though I suspect the good people of Wairoa will ‘benefit’ from this company the same way the locals of silicon valley have..as Nash says “When Rocket Lab reaches its full potential of a launch a week, the township could be radically different.”…goodbye home affordability then..

      and really this is all on Labour, as it was Trevor Mallard, who was Economic Development Minister, back in 2006, that gave it the tick

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11981122

  7. I wondered if this stunt ran the risk of doing a “U2”, where the band lost most of their street cred for spamming their music on to everyone’s iPhone unasked for.
    Methinks not tho, the big money telecom companies will be reading the advertisement loud and clear. This has nothing to do with the reaction of us punters we are irrelevant.
    Ain’t capitalism grand.

  8. We shoot a bloody business card into the sky and tell ourselves this individual success of a medium sized enterprise is actually a metaphorical Plato-esk intellectual lantern to light the future of humanity!

    It probably is. Plato was a conservative.

  9. My hope is that when the ‘Elites’ (so called) leave the planet for their luxury space station on Mars, there is a tragic series of miscalculations and they get wiped out by a giant space based Corporate billboard…

  10. its just another spacefuck wank. who are these people and why are they doing this to the environment? why do the new zealand media kiss the arse of every nut job that finds a new way of wasting money and putting more pressure on the natural world

    • “I wish I had myself a horse,
      You can’t grow roses from exhaust.
      I wish I’d listened to my old dad,
      He said: two wheels good and four wheels bad.”

  11. Further to my comment about planetary meltdown that is underway, (courtesy of the fuckwits, liars and saboteurs that totally dominate the political scene, both in NZ and elsewhere in the ‘developed world) and the prospect of January 2018 in NZ being the hottest ever:

    https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/national/heatwave-continues-prepare-for-more-sweltering-temperatures/ar-BBIlMOG?li=AAaeXZz&ocid=spartandhp

    and

    https://www.niwa.co.nz/static/climate/monthtodatetemp.png?1234

  12. Wow. What a curmudgeonly reaction. Rocket Lab could have launched any old piece of junk into space as their test payload. Instead they chose to approach it as an artwork. There’s no branding on it, so it’s not an ad or a billboard any more than the International Space Station is. It will burn up on re-entry, so it’s not creating any new space junk, although making it cheaper to get into space may make it easier to clean up some of the space junk already circling up there.

    Yes, shooting anything into orbit is energy expensive, but once it’s in orbit, it can remain useful indefinitely. What if having more satellites allows people to do more things through telecommuting, rather than using fossil fuel powered transport? Anyone who’s served as an officer of an environmental organization and travelled for meetings will tell you there are times when you have to do the “wrong” thing in the short term in an attempt to the “right” thing more in the long term.

    • Perhaps artwork is an overstatement, after all it’s just a reflective polyhedron, I can remember making models of those in primary school. If they really wanted something bold and reflective, the Echo satellites of the early sixties were more ingenious; a large lightweight reflective mylar balloon in orbit used for telecommunications.

  13. I am completely unsurprised at the science is there for a dollar attitude demonstrated by Rocket Lab, because since these wannabes first appeared in the business pages I noticed that one of the original ‘movers and shakers’ behind Rocket Lab had achieved some notoriety in Aotearoa’s burgeoning 1970’s junk scene as “the man who invented home baking”.
    The discovery that adding a synergist, pyridine, to the process would allow added the methyl group which distinguishes codeine from morphine, to be removed without destroying the essential morphine structure, was a groundbreaking achievement in organic chemistry. However rather than publish in journals, the ‘recipe’ began appearing in kitchens up and down the nation for those desperates who had forked across 2 or 3 grand for a copy.
    I no longer see the name of that founding partner in Rocket Labs publicity – did he jump, was he pushed, or is he merely cowering in the corner?

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