Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2004 / 20 Tishrei 5765

Phil Perrier

Phil Perrier
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Tourists in space | British billionaire Richard Branson announced that he plans to start blasting tourists into space in 2007. Though he admits he still has not figured out how to get them back. Perhaps one-way travel is the way to go. Just cram a bunch of refurbished Russian space stations full of Midwestern tourists- in Bermuda shorts and stretch pants- and toss them at the cosmos like so much doggy-do. It could really help clear out the Target parking lot.

Branson's vision offers a glimpse of what space tourism will look like; not the brave quest for knowledge that we may have hoped for, not "2001: A Space Odyssey." No, sadly, space tourism will simply be the expansion of American junk culture into zero gravity; it will be nickel slots and a Hooters on Mars; it will be a Hard Rock Cafe on the Moon and Chuck E. Cheeses on Uranus. (insert your own potty joke here.)

Initially, at least until Greyhound bus lines gets involved, space tourism will not be cheap. The first private citizens to venture into space en masse will likely be very rich and very old. The same crowd you see on golf outings and clogging all-you-can-eat buffets in Las Vegas. But then octogenarians are perfect for space; the lack of gravity will ease their tender joints.

So why is Branson doing this? Perhaps for the same reason that billionaires fly hot-air balloons, because they are BORED!

The rest of us are usually so beaten down by the pygmy concerns of jobs, bills and families that most of our free time is spent oozing into the crevices of our barco-loungers; one hand clutching the remote and the other a pint of Ben and Jerry's. But billionaires have two things almost none of us have: tons of money and tons of free time. And, being billionaires, they want to use their free time to show off. Forget joining a bowling league, these boys build space ships and buy sports teams and start third-party, crackpot presidential campaigns. Oh yes, and they have their own reality shows.

Donate to JWR

In fact, the aforementioned Branson is kicking off his own reality show, following in the footsteps of Mark Cuban and Donald Trump. When Ross Perot pops up on the Bravo Network it will officially be time for the comeback of books.

It sort of makes sense if you think about it. No wonder billionaires want tv shows; many of them have an insanity of riches but nobody knows who they are. A utility outfielder for a Major League baseball team can walk into a restaurant and cause whispers and giggles and flirtatious glances from women. However, nine out of ten CEOs of Fortune 500 companies can walk into a restaurant and no one will notice. People will just think, "some old white guy."

These are magnates of industry; men of intelligence, vision, real leaders. And nobody knows who they are. So they buy sports teams and TV stations and newspapers and force their faces into our homes. Guys who were abject geeks in high school, guys who lived with a constant wedgie until they were 30, finally get the attention they feel they deserve.

One man has remained conspicuously quiet lately; Bill Gates. The World's richest man has no plans for outer-space, nor does he have a reality show in development. What is he doing? Well, Gates, ever the maverick, instead of buying giant toys and gallivanting around like a jackass, actually gives much of his money away to people who need it. Weird!

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Phil Perrier is a Los Angeles-based writer and stand-up comic. Comment by clicking here.


03/22/04: Martha asked for letters to her judge, so
01/14/04: The Second Greatest Generation
09/15/03: The man in black
08/29/03: The life and times of Bob Hope
07/10/03: AWAKENING
06/25/03: Maynard and me
06/13/03: Brinkley and Peck: When class meant something
03/20/03: Oscar, shmoscar: Exclusive insider Oscar skinny from Hollywood
01/27/03: Nell Carter gave me a break
01/06/03: CLONE THIS! Why "Rael" wants to be Hef
12/12/02: Bigfoot: Myth or monster?
11/25/02: Wacko Jacko blows his stacko?
11/11/02: The "Toad Factor" --- proven yet again
08/19/02: In this game, nobody wants a souvenir!
08/08/02: Drawing the curtain on a 'forgiven' lifestyle
07/29/02: The end of the freak show?
07/03/02: Who died?
06/21/02: From death, life
04/09/02: Welcome back, Phil
03/21/02: The Hollywood Curmudgeon's Guide to the Oscars
02/15/02: Another piece of Americana bites the dust
01/18/02: I'M SPARTACUS!
12/31/01: Realistic New Year's resolutions
11/02/01: Return to narcissism with Emmys
10/19/01: White trash exchange program
10/01/01: A few shows that will not be on the fall lineup
09/25/01: What's important
09/20/01: A sleeping giant awakes

© 2003, Phil Perrier