Letters from the Editor: Would you be impressed?

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This has been, by all objective metrics, a rough year; between the overseas idiocy of Brexit destabilizing our foreign allies, the election savaging us nonstop until the stupidest conceivable outcome (that even now nobody will shut up about) and the steadily rising body count of celebrities, 2016 has felt something like an onslaught. Personal trials and tribulations aside, I know that I’m going to be hoping for a little peace and quiet over this winter break.

I wish that quiet could be counted on, but I know better than to be complacent. For one, 2016 isn’t over just yet—it still has about two weeks to take us down another peg or so. But more than that, I’m concerned about the future. A lot of this is on my own behalf, as I have one more semester until graduation unless I screw something up really badly.

My own worries aside, though, 2016 stands as proof that in the 21st century, all bets are off. Conventional wisdom is dead by the hands of the electorate, international politics have degraded into a grim pantomime of a cold war-era cyberpunk thriller and technology is in a frantic race against the apparent death-spiral of the climate. Assuming we continue on this trajectory, it’s not a far cry to say that coming years will be much, much uglier than this one.

As much as I consider myself an optimist, my adult life has left me feeling unsteady and unsure. This lack of confidence is bad enough on its own, but as bad as it may be to doubt your ability to hold a career, it’s worse to worry that careers may cease to exist in your lifetime. In our culture, the best you can hope for is to come up with a good idea, start a company and promptly sell it for a cash-out. I’d contemplate a move to the career, the westward journey that made by so many of my ancestors, except it’s not really an option anymore

Elon Musk expressed an intent to send colonists to Mars relatively soon and I’ve begun to wonder, given the state of the world, if I’d make the one way trip. My answer depends on a lot of variables, but centers on a single question; given that Earth is almost entirely staked out, colonized, and used up, is it worth it to endure hardship and sacrifice to build a new world? I don’t know that I’d answer “yes” necessarily. Then again, many of our ancestors made such a leap. As comfortable as this perpetually insane and ugly world can be, should we make every effort to build a better place?

The simple response is, yes, we should try to make that world here. Hopefully, that can happen. If not, maybe I’ll see you at pre-launch checks. But in any case, we soldier forth.

On a lighter note, this is our last newspaper of the semester. I hope your finals go well, that you get the credits you need and that you have a restful and relaxing holiday before returning to the corridors of our academic factory. Happy holidays.

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