NASA, the North American Steppe, Jon Rask and Chess

On November 26, 2011, a local Bismarck (North Dakota) television station aired a story concerning Jon Rask. A google search turned up Rask’s cv, and it turns out he is North Dakota’s premier space farmer — or “astro-biologist” for you scientists in the crowd.  Rask is putting in time in Antarctica with NASA in order to push our (this is the Royal Our, or Royal Us, or Humanity — which is why Scientists and Scholars are willing to transcend contemporary geopolitical borders and shirk short-term money-making schemes for the sake of scholarship and making contributions to knowledge) understanding of plants and hydroponics in new directions. Information gained in Antarctica will in turn help us get to Mars for the duration.

To quickly make this relevant to capitalists (and I say this non-pejoratively), this is one of the reasons we are taxed today, and one of the reasons those tax dollars go to NASA: some day this will allow said capitalists to mine Mars for minerals and who knows what else. Yes, everyone likes money, and it just so happens to be one of the chorus lines repeated in the movie “Idiocracy.” But we also like WD-40 and plastics and calculators and jokes about Tang.

It turns out North Dakota winters and Antarctica are perfect places to perform studies that give us insights toward eventually planting ourselves on Mars, and eventually planting plants on Mars.

The chess reference in this subject line refers to Jon and his dad, Richard. The Bismarck Public School system charged the latter with educating battalions of 5th graders at Grimsrud Elementary School (I was one of them). Perhaps one of the most important components of Richard’s (or Mr. Rask, as I still think of him) class was that he required all of his students to learn chess. I know (or at least I think) Richard’s son (Jon) and daughter (Lisa) were subject to one chess match after another. Chess is important in that it requires each player to not only think about the short-term, but the long-term as well: not just one move, but several down the line. So the takeaway here is to learn chess in your early years. Either learn it in the 5th grade, or have your dad or mom sit down with you when you are in the 2nd grade and teach it to you (this is how it worked in my youth, as my father taught me chess when I was in the 2nd grade — by the time you’re in the 5th grade, you’re ready to crush the local competition).


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