Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Another Article That Sounds Like Parody

Jeff Bezos reveals construction of a massive clock inside a Texas mountain that will chime every day for 10,000 years as a ‘symbol for long-term thinking’
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has invested $42 million (£30 million) in the project, revealed the clip on social media.
It shows workmen installing the mechanism inside a hollowed out chamber in a West Texas mountain.
The clock, powered by Earth's thermal cycles, will continue to keep time over the millennia, marking time with a chime once a day rather than each hour. 
Its creators hope that this will encourage humanity to consider about their impact on the planet and act as a 'symbol for long-term thinking'.

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I guess he's not as clever as I thought.  Will it chime loud enough for the whole world to hear?  Funniest of many hysterical comments at Instapundit:
Bezos is just a monocle and a fluffy white cat away from being a Bond supervillain. He's already bald and super wealthy, and is already at work on his lair built inside a mountain.


  1. This is located right across the road from his West Texas Suborbital Launch Site, where he launches the Blue Origin vehicles.

    Around 2003 I think Bezos bought a 165,000 property known as the Corn Ranch just north of Van Horn, Texas, on which to put his launch facility. The facility is laid out east of and parallel to the Sierra Diablo range where the clock is to be located. A state highway runs between them. I don't know if the part where the clock cave is located is within the ranch boundaries, but would not surprise me.

    The clock excavation appears to have started in, or at least by 2011, if I read the Long Now Foundation website correctly. I can't find exactly when the launch facility was built, but part of it had to be in place in 2011 because that's when the first vehicle launch. It makes me wonder if there was some financial and construction cooperation here, like limestone removed to make the cave was carted across the highway to make foundations and roads for the launch facilities, and some tax advantages to supporting a nonprofit foundation in the process.

  2. This is Danny Hillis' Long Now project, which has been around for decades. (I first heard about it from the Whole Earth Catalog/CoEvolutionary Quarterly folks, led by Stewart Brand.) Bezos is just throwing cash at it. I admit I'm disappointed that the article didn't highlight Hillis and the Long Now Foundation more; it sounds as if the project is Bezo's brainchild.

    To me, it comes across as a work of high art, on the scale of the great cathedrals.

    I've got to say, I didn't find the vast majority of the comments there to be in any way amusing, just dull whining. Many are variants of the "We could be spending this money on starving children!" attitude that was raised against the Apollo program. The rest are essentially, "It's not how I'd spend my money, so it's stupid."

    It's probably not going to last the projected ten thousand years, though. Technosavages will vandalize it and steal the parts out of petty greed, blind spite, and pure ignorance.

  3. The irony of that is the one with the fluffy white cat is Elon Musk. Who is boring his way to the future while launching his car into space (not to Mars, he missed). How did we reach such a point where such promoters seem to be running the world.

  4. Cool project, but pointless... it will be cut up for scrap metal unless constantly guarded... how well do ancient stone monuments survive without vandalism, let alone ones made of metals with monetary value?

  5. You don't think the Long Now clock is kind of neat? The people behind it have been working on it for a couple of decades before Bezos got involved.

    Frankly I think it's kind of inspiring (I first heard about it something like a decade ago, and Netscape author JWZ has been mentioning it since 2002!)

  6. Neat, but very expensive for what it provides. Comments above about fourth millenium metal scavengers fits.

  7. James Gibson:

    It wasn't aimed at Mars, but at a Mars orbit intersection. I think it was the wrong time of year to hit Mars, but they had to launch now, for business reasons. It was to show that when properly scheduled, they can hit Mars when it is correctly positioned in relation to the Earth's orbit. Primarily, it was a launch test. The payload and target were just gravy added to it.

  8. It has been a while since I read about The Long Now project, but from my perspective the important thing isn't the clock, it's the significant engineering and study of technology to create things which really really last. So much of current manufacturing and building is about creating things faster, cheaper, which fall apart after a planned limited lifetime. Who's studying how to make things last and continue to function properly for multiple millenia? I haven't tried to search, but the only project I'm aware of is The Long Now.

    So yes, it's a neat but very expensive clock. But the clock is just a tangible focus for studying how to build complex things which really endure. I would hope it's a bit like the Apollo space program: expensive, but spinning off new technology which is worth multiple times that investment.

  9. To deter theft, the clock should be made out of rocks.