• posted by Anindya Nov 1st, 2011

    dominosLogoPredictably, plans by Domino’s Pizza to open an outlet on the moon have been greeted with disbelief and derision. The company’s Japanese arm, which is spearheading the effort, began thinking about the project last year. Although it would not be drawn on when the new restaurant might actually open, Domino’s logic for taking this bold step appears to be sound.

    The fast-food chain anticipates there will be astronauts and other people living on the moon in future, and it is preparing to meet their needs. Domino’s has even offered a detailed cost breakdown to back up the proposal: development expenditure will total $21.7 billion, with part of this amount to be spent on transporting building materials into space by rocket, naturally.

    The plan has given cynical commentators plenty of fodder.

    An online post by LA writer April Peveteaux, for example, suggested several cheeky reasons for opening a Domino’s on the moon, including that space tourism pioneer Richard Branson needs to eat, bread-bowl pastas might be more palatable in zero gravity, and there could not be a better way of showcasing our culinary evolution to aliens than with dough, red sauce and pepperoni.

    “If I were Domino’s, I’d take that $21 billion and buy some good pizza, but that’s just me,” she writes.

    If indeed the company’s news item is merely a gimmick, it deserves a cool reception. These kinds of stunts work best when they lie within the realm of probability. And while Domino’s plan does fall within the bounds of possibility, it is hard to believe a moon pizzeria is going to be set up anytime soon.

    I mean, how many human residents would be needed to make the venture profitable? We do not know. If aliens add to those numbers, are they likely to enjoy pizza? We do not know. How will aliens pay for their meals? Will the currency be US dollars? If so, how are they going to earn those dollars? We do not know.

    Without a marketing campaign sounding at least vaguely realistic, it is unlikely to be effective. And if it is not effective, it will inevitably invite the type of criticism Domino’s has been served up.

    Far from all publicity being good publicity, any company that goes down this path risks being remembered only for what they didn’t achieve. There is one element of the whole idea that appeals to me, though, and Domino’s Japan president Scott K. Oelkers touched on it when he announced the project.

    “Perhaps you think we’re foolish to take on such a challenge, and maybe we are foolish, but we have a dream and that dream is to deliver our Domino’s pizza on the moon,” he said.

    Changing reality

    Now, a dream is another matter altogether. Who does not remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech? When he delivered it in 1963, its tenets were indeed a dream. But they were powerful enough to change reality.

    “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood … I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

    It was that vision that set America’s course toward a new horizon of racial equality that would have sounded cruelly absurd earlier. There were many detours along the way and even now, King’s dream has not been fulfilled entirely, but what he did was present a picture of the future that became its foundation.

    Here in Indonesia, the forefathers of our independence saw before them a land divided by geography, history and ethnicity. They could have given up the struggle for unity and gone on leading their lives. But they had a dream for Indonesia and thanks to their efforts it was embodied in the 1945 Constitution.

    Citizens took their place in that new reality. From the Javanese, Sumatrans and Balinese, the Muslims, Christians and Hindus, a new nation was born. Today, to feel Indonesian seems the most natural of things, but it all began with a dream.

    Domino’s dream is to bring commerce to space. I do not believe that space is the final frontier: that is the domain of the mind. One day, humans might well live on the moon. They will create new realities, like existing without gravity. Eventually those realities will be so normal that we’ll wonder how we ever lived on Earth.

    That day, humans will remember the date, July 20, 1969, when Commander Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon. His were the historic words: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Today, space missions have become common, but Armstrong’s words remain fresh.

    The citizens of the moon might also reflect on the words of Domino’s first lunar customer, as he goes to bite into a piping hot slice of pizza: “That’s one small munch for a man, one giant munch for mankind.”

    Happy eating.

    The Jakarta Globe, October 06, 2011

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