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WHO OWNS THE MOON?

IN DEFENCE OF HUMANITY'S COMMON INTERESTS IN SPACE

A primer of legal terminology and a plea for recognizing the potential dangers of space exploration.

An assessment of the possibilities for a multinational agreement on the regulation of space.

Grayling, the eminent British philosopher, worries about the planetary impact of the human pursuit of “profit and advantage.” The author claims that the prospect of valuable minerals on the moon and the planets, the commercial and military possibilities of low and medium Earth orbit, and the territorial longings of nation-states are likely to breed competition and conflict. Grayling particularly fears a repeat of what occurred in the late 19th century when powerful countries colonized Africa for wealth and territory—a problematic comparison on many levels. The 1967 United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty is inadequate regarding both the militarization of space and its exploitation by private enterprise. Any new international treaty must be carefully tailored to how space should be managed, include all nations as signatories, be supported by a central body with monitoring capabilities and enforcement powers, and benefit all humanity. In this way, “although no one owns the moon…we will all be responsible for it.” Space will thereby become “the common possession of humanity.” To this end, Grayling examines current international treaties that govern two similar realms: the oceans and Antarctica. He searches for language that will garner wide consensus and be legally enforceable. Despite his pessimism that the international order “is an anarchy of self-interests only tenuously constrained by expediencies,” Grayling believes that creating an informed public and crafting treaties and conventions through the U.N. can prevent space from turning into “yet another but even larger arena of human conflict.” His appeal to the reasonableness of people and nations, though, is a weak basis for a sustainable agreement. His argument is aspirational, and the book is mainly background for a more in-depth discussion.

A primer of legal terminology and a plea for recognizing the potential dangers of space exploration.

Pub Date: May 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780861547258

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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WHAT WENT WRONG WITH CAPITALISM

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

A book-length assertion that capitalism’s woes can be traced to government interventionism.

Sharma, an investments manager, financial journalist, and author of The 10 Rules of Successful Nations, The Rise and Fall of Nations, and other books, opens with the case of his native India. The author argues that it should be in a better position in the global marketplace, possessing an entrepreneurial culture and endless human capital. The culprit was “India’s lingering attachment to a state that overpromises and under-delivers,” one that privileged social welfare over infrastructure development. Much the same is true in the U.S., where today “President Joe Biden is promising to fix the crises of capitalism by enlarging a government that never shrank.” Refreshingly, Sharma places just as much blame on Ronald Reagan for the swollen state that introduced distortions into the market. Moreover, “flaws that economists blame on ‘market failures,’ including wealth inequality and inordinate corporate power, often flow more from government excesses.” One distortion is the government’s bloated debt, as it continues to fund itself by borrowing in order to pay for “the perennial deficit.” As any household budget manager would tell you, debt is ultimately unsustainable. Wealth concentration is another outcome of government tinkering that has, whether by design or not, concentrated wealth into the hands of a very small number of people, “a critical symptom of capitalism gone wrong, both inefficient and grossly unfair.” Perhaps surprisingly, Sharma notes that in quasi-socialist economies such as the Scandinavian nations, such interventions are fewer and shallower, while autocratic command economies are doomed to fail. “[T]oday every large developed country is a full-fledged democracy,” he writes, and the more freedom the better—but that freedom, he argues, is undermined by the U.S. government, which has accrued “the widest budget deficit in the developed world.”

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9781668008263

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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