Chinatowns and the Space Shuttle

What do the space shuttles, Chinatowns, and copper on ship hulls say about human development?

Why does every major American city have a Chinatown?

When I was traveling around Europe once, had the idea of stopping at every Chinatown I could find and having the beef with broccoli there – yes, I know it’s not traditionally Chinese but, then again, neither am I.

In any case, went to the one in Paris, London, and (kinda) Berlin and Hamburg. None in Malaga.

This writer for Freakanomics wrote that every large American city he likes has a Chinatown. The reason, it turns out, is because in history, it marked a stage in development where a city was large enough to require a railroad. And back in the day, when you wanted a railroad built, you called the Chinese.

Instant Chinatown.

It’s all of these unexpected consequences that I find so interesting in life. Like when the British became a superpower by using copper-plating on their ships instead of plain wood.

It used to mark a point in development of nations when they headed to space.

In 2004, the Cassini spacecraft went to Saturn and the Today show had Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson on. Matt Lauer asked him how America could justify a $3.3 billion dollar mission such as that.

Dr. Tyson replied, “First of all, it’s $3.3 billion divided by 12 – it’s a 12 year mission. Now we have the real number: less than $300 million per year. Hmmm…$300 million. American spend more than that per year on lip balm.”

Right now, we spend less than 0.5 of a penny out of every dollar on space.

Think it it’s a direct consequence that we stopped trying to go to space that America’s fallen behind in science and math. People like Matt Lauer see the dollar figure and fixate on that, not seeing the jobs created, the side technologies (like microwaves and the Dustbuster), and all of the inspiration for nerdy kids like myself.

By now you’ve seen a million pics of the space shuttle making like LL Cool J and going back to Cali. As a kid growing up in the era of the space shuttle, it’s remarkably sad to me.

At this rate, we’ll have to head to China and build Americantowns.

Suppose I’ll have to go there to get a traditional American Beef with Broccoli.

Location: about to go to the post office
Mood: nostalgic
Music: I’ll soon be back again, that’s what I said in China
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