Category Archives: Zheng He

"Myth Buster in the Space Industry" Rand Simberg (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

 “If you don’t want to lose crew, don’t got into space.”
 “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for.”
 “Most humans never got more than ten miles from the place they were born, throughout history.”

Rand Simberg: “When you have a congressman congratulating the NASA administrator saying, “We’re glad that you made safety the number one priority for that mission.” What he’s really saying is, “everything else is number two, its a lower priority”…actually doing the mission is a lower priority than making sure its safe. Safety becomes such a high priority that we’d rather not fly – “because we don’t want to risk an astronaut.” There’s something fundamentally wrong with that. What it says is that, “Space isn’t important. Actually doing things in space is not that important.” If you agree to that, then agree to it and make sure, make it very explicit, that’s what you’re saying.”

“One thing we have to recognize: people have different risk tolerances. There’s some people who are willing to risk more, for whatever their perceived reward is, and, we have to let them do that. The least safe way to get to 29,000 feet is to walk there. You know, about 10 percent of the people who climb Everest, don’t come back. But we’re not telling them they can’t do it. When we come up with these numbers, “loss of crew, 1 in 2,000…” that’s completely an arbitrary number. There’s no rational basis for it. And particularly for a vehicle that’s going to fly as seldom as Ares One did, what they are saying is, “we want a guarantee that we’re never going to lose crew.” Well, if you want to do that just do go into space. Its a tough frontier…its nutty to think we’re going to open it up without loosing people.

“Every one of the FAA regulations was written in blood – they learned by flying – and, we have to do the same thing in space. And we have to recognize that.”

NYTimes on Cultural Stagnation – Why the Americas Aren’t Speaking Italian…

“In 1315, when the Venetian city-state was at the height of its economic powers, the upper class acted to lock in its privileges, putting a formal stop to social mobility with the publication of the Libro d’Oro, or Book of Gold, an official register of the nobility. If you weren’t on it, you couldn’t join the ruling oligarchy.
The political shift, which had begun nearly two decades earlier, was so striking a change that the Venetians gave it a name: La Serrata, or the closure. It wasn’t long before the political Serrata became an economic one, too. Under the control of the oligarchs, Venice gradually cut off commercial opportunities for new entrants. Eventually, the colleganza was banned. The reigning elites were acting in their immediate self-interest, but in the longer term, La Serrata was the beginning of the end for them, and for Venetian prosperity more generally. By 1500, Venice’s population was smaller than it had been in 1330.”

(…also why we need to replace our income tax with an accumulated wealth/net worth tax:

What Would Zheng He Do? Mars to Stay

 Replica of Zheng He’s treasure ship in Nanjing’s Baochuan Shipyard. Courtesy of
In 1424, the Yongle Emperor died. His successor, the Hongxi Emperor (who reigned for only one year between 1424–1425), decided to stop Zheng He’s voyages. Zheng He traveled only once more during the reign of Hongxi’s son, the Xuande Emperor. After that final expedition the voyages of the Chinese treasure ship fleets were ended. Xuande believed his father’s decision to halt the voyages meritorious, and thus “there would be no need to make a detailed description of his grandfather’s sending Zheng He to the Western Oceans.” This, and the claim that the voyages “were contrary to the rules stipulated in the Huangming zuxun, Ancestral Injunctions of the August Ming, the royal founding documents laid down by the Hongwu Emperor…” led the conservative Mandarin Confucian bureaucracy to scuttle the entire 250 ship fleet – by far the largest of their time – and burn the shipyards. 
By the 1500s building a ship in China with more than two masts was punishable by death. Confucian bureaucrats feared an independent maritime merchant class empowered by exposure to new cultures and foreign technologies. In 1511 Portuguese ships sailed into Canton, China. 

The Speculative Film “1421: The Year China Discovered America” Part 1 of 2

The Speculative Film “1421: The Year China Discovered America” Part 2 of 2