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Thursday, September 22, 2005

One giant, selfish step for mankind

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"Vice President Dick Cheney said today that in an effort to pump up the White House's anemic approval ratings he would remain above ground for an entire month and would not return to his secure, undisclosed location until November.

The vice president, who emerged from his underground lair two weeks ago for a series of high-profile photo opportunities, made the surprising announcement at a press briefing in the White House. "I'm untanned, but I'm rested and ready," said Mr. Cheney, squinting at the daylight as he spoke to the White House press corps.

According to one of the vice president's aides, Mr. Cheney's decision to climb out of his subterranean hideout for the entire month of October would mean his longest visit to the earth's surface since 2001. "Dick Cheney is willing to do everything he can to help the White House's numbers, even if it means exposing himself to the ultraviolet rays of the sun," the aide said.

But according to Dr. Lars Krenzel, a scientist who studies the habitats and migration patterns of vice presidents for the University of Minnesota, Dick Cheney's extended visit to the earth's surface means "a journey into the unknown." "There is no way of predicting how Dick Cheney will respond to the earth's atmosphere," said Dr. Krenzel. "One thing is certain, however: whether he is above ground or below ground, his Halliburton stock will continue to rise."

Elsewhere, NASA said it would return to the moon by 2018, and FEMA said it would return its phone calls by 2020."

A blogfriend has a great take on this: Operation: No Moon Left Behind.

How about an aerial tram [rim shot] to the moon??

This was SUPERB, Jack!

And with the other posts today, nice set! And LOVED the 'Cheney sees his shadow' comment. Rah Rah, RAH!

Time stamp changed to move this up top for Thursday morning.


You could just as easily have included a picture from one of our inner cities. Or perhaps the Rez.

When NASA made the announcement on Tuesday the first thing that went through my head was the Gil Scott Heron song "Whitey On The Moon." The more things change....

totally agree. put this together with the money spent on the war on drugs, the war in Iraq, the shuttle program, subsidy programs, etc. - we might actually do something about poverty and crime.

I'd prefer that the government offer a $20 billion prize to the first private company that can put a person on the moon and then bring him (or her) home, with the caveat that the technology must be shared with the feds.

That's a big enough prize that it will stimulate research, and at 1/5 the cost.

As a baby boomer who is looking to retire in about eight years, it makes me wonder where is all that money going to come from to fund these kind of projects. Most state budgets rely heavily on income (Oregon) and sales tax (Washington) revenues. I'm not sure where the majority of the federal revenue is generated.

Looking into my fuzzy crystal ball, I can forsee a dramatic decline especially in income tax revenues. We may even see a decline in property tax revenues as those less fortunate delay paying their property taxes.

My spending habits will be changing too as I pay the full cost for our medical and dental insurance which I believe are deductible from our smaller income.

"Think NASA on crack"

I was one of those kids who could name more astronauts then baseball stars and I would talk my mother in to waking me up at 4:00 AM so I could watch John Glenn blast off and be the first American to orbit the Earth. I was 9 back then so I had an excuse for being naive. I want to see tons of money invested in the exploration of are Solar System even if people do starve but if it came down to the choice of having people starve or send a team of astronauts up in to a low Earth Orbit and call it space exploration I'll go w/ buying the entire world a bowl of rice every day. The manned space program should have been retired after Apollo. We learn nothing from sending a couple of white guys to the Moon, or a whole rainbow coalition into low earth orbit in the Space Shuttle. For a fraction of that or hell even the whole 100 Billion we could be doing serious unmanned exploration of our solar system instead of this goofy Bread and Circus that they are proposing now. I gotta go.

"We learn nothing from sending a couple of white guys to the Moon, or a whole rainbow coalition into low earth orbit in the Space Shuttle."

A little short-sited, don't you think? We've gleaned many technological benefits from space exploration:


"If not for America's continued investment in space exploration, we wouldn't have wireless telephones, satellite television or Global Positioning Systems. Our technology has even been used to help law enforcement put criminals behind bars and to protect firefighters. The technologies that led to the computer bar codes in retail stores, the quartz watch you are wearing, and household smoke detectors that help you sleep soundly at night were originally developed for NASA."


And just how is throwing our tax dollars at the "needy" going to alleviate poverty and over population?

Thank you, Lars.

Send robots -- fewer people will die -- and feed the hungry.

Subtracting $ from NASA = more money to fight poverty in the Sudan. As if.

This is an incredibly simple minded posting. The same criticism could be levelled at any of thousands of things the government does. Or even the things we spend our personal incomes on ... if we each stopped buying one bag of potato chips and sent the money to the Sudan, poverty would end tomorrow.

If you have a reasoned argument as to why manned exploration of the Moon is a waste of resources, make it. But to contrapose these two options in this way is just an empty rhetorical device.

If you want to save the environment, your best bet is to invest in space technology.

Off-planet colonization in very large numbers is likely the only hope for this planet.

I'm not short sighted (actually I'm far sighted) but my life hasn't been enriched near as much by Tang and Velcro as it has by the images of a volcanoe on Io, lakes of Methane on Titan, and dust devils skipping across the surface of Mars, I could go on but I won't. Check out the JPL sight some time and feast your eyes and your imagination. Off I boldly go.

Preach on, brother Paul.

But to contrapose these two options in this way is just an empty rhetorical device.

So empty that you commented on it.


An honest question, because I'm afraid I agree with your opposition this time.

There were starving people in the 1960s, too, while we worked Apollo. Were you against exploration then? If not, why is now different?

Were you against exploration then?

I was in grammar school then. This time around, technology has made it unnecessary to send human beings up there, except for macho purposes, to prove "it can be done." Sorry, feeding starving humans gets ahead of that on my list. Send robots, and pass the major, major savings that would yield on to humans in need on the ground.


Robots vs. people, and the cost/benefits of each. Okay. That's a subtle, important, interesting distiction, and a worthwhile discussion.

That subtle distinction, unfortunately, is impossible to see in your not-so-subtle post. I agree with most of your views, but I think this post sheds a lot more heat than light.

Apologies for the overestimation of your age. My question still holds, though. Setting aside the moral issues...if space exploration is immoral now because there are starving people, wouldn't it have been immoral then because there were starving people?

Thanks for the props for my dumpster post, by the way.


"moral issues" should read "robot issues"

Back then, there was no way to get some very basic data other than to send people up there and have them look at gauges. Experiments couldn't be conducted without humans physically present. We had no idea what weightlessness would do to humans. Etc. It was a different time, and the incremental benefits of "manned" spaceflight were huge. Not so now.

If there's something so precious that we still need to know (which I seriously doubt, but I'll concede the point for argument's sake), send robots. Feed people.

Plus, if you think this is going to happen for a mere $100 billion, and if you think that NASA won't waste several more human lives trying to get its mechanics right, you're not as smart as I thought you were.

I'm willing concede everything, Jack--that it will cost more than they're saying, that we'll lose people in the process, that we'd be better off sending robots...everything.

I do feel, however, that exploration is, in itself, valuable. We don't know what we don't know yet. To say "we shouldn't spend money on this because we can spend it on the starving" is too easy an argument, as it can be used to say we shouldn't spend money on roads, college scholarships, the NEA, a Big Gulp...literally anything, since nothing is more valuable than human life. That's why the way you packaged your point falls short for me this time.

To say "we shouldn't spend money on this because we can spend it on the starving" is too easy an argument, as it can be used to say we shouldn't spend money on roads, college scholarships, the NEA, a Big Gulp...literally anything, since nothing is more valuable than human life.

Maybe that's what I'm saying. I'd take a pothole right in front of my driveway if it meant they'd feed that kid.

Look, the whole old "Space Race" was a cold war battle of the superpowers ("my rocket shoots farther than yours, and my old Nazi scientists are smarter than your old Nazi scientists).

While of course lots of technogical inventions result that have other, often extrememly valuable or time-saving commercial uses (gotta love that Tang), it's utterly stupid to burn all that money now -- or ever.

And as for coloniztion of space: God, please stop them.

And the mention by Murray of Gil Scott-Heron and "Whitey on the Moon", remember "Mandate My Ass"? It stomped through my memory last November.

I agree with Jud that Jack could have just as easily shown one of the many poor, desperate people who live and die just in America every day, on the rez, in the cities, in the hollows, in the old manufacturing towns from coast to coast.

"But, the Samaritan got off his rocket ship and...."

I'm sick of George II and his Court pissing our Chinese loan monies away and wiping their asses with our childrens' future.

To say "we shouldn't spend money on this because we can spend it on the starving" is too easy an argument, as it can be used to say we shouldn't spend money on roads, college scholarships, the NEA, a Big Gulp...literally anything, since nothing is more valuable than human life.

If Jack's point is too easy, then the counterpoint--"but you could say that about ANYTHING"--is also too easy. Doesn't that inevitably lead to the point where you aren't able to criticize government spending on anything? I think the argument "we shouldn't spend money on program A because we could better spend it on program B" is a perfectly fine one--I make that argument all the time.

I think what he's saying is: look, there are serious problems in this world. Why are we starting a NEW government program that will cost $100 billion (and if you remember how accurately BushCo estimated the cost of the Medicare bill, you'd have valid reason to expect that figure to double) to essentially repeat something we did 40 years ago?


The argument in your second paragraph--why spend $100 million on something we've already done--is legitimate. Jack's arguments of "why send people when we can spend less to send robots" is also legitimate.

But, as I see it, if it's okay for Jack to criticize the space program this way, it's okay for Newt Gingrich to criticize the NEA this way. Keep Jack's picture, but change the article.

Criticizing government spending is not only fine, but necessary. I just think it's more effective to do it through analysis of the program at hand--as you have, and as Jack has in the comments--rather than through playing an emotional trump card that isn't unique to the issue at hand. In other words, since this intensely emotional argument can be used by anyone for any spending, and since it's impossible to ever argue against it, I don't think it's much of a card to play. That's all.

The boyz in the gummint that are trashing this planet know that we will soon need another.

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