Monthly Archives: July 2005

Quick note from the upper Michigan hinterlands

As mentioned earlier, I have a column in the Sunday edition of the Honolulu Advertiser. It’s on why financial spendature for space exploration isn’t a waste of money that could “be better spent here on earth.” Here it is.

I’m on a weak dial-up connection, powered by a little dog running on a wheel just outside the window, so I’ll make it quick and try to post in the morning. That’ll be when Monday’s WorldNetDaily column is up, which takes today’s column extend it into the world of the private sector.

Should the budget for NASA be offered as incentive money instead to entrepreneurs and other private firms? Would we be much further along without all the oppressive PC inherent in any program overseen by the government?

Tomorrow it’ll be discussed at WND… some tongue-in-cheek, some serious. You’re smart enough to figure out which is which.

A panel cartoon to keep us occupied until I can hook up in the U.P.

Hopefully by the end of the weekend, or beginning of next week, I’ll have a chance to update the blog from my vacation spot. If not, see the post below this one as to where to find upcoming columns.

On a side note, in my younger days, I wrote and drew a panel cartoon that appeared in magazines here and there. Recently I found a bunch of old ones on a disk, and this is one of my personal favorites:

Fireflies at the Hindenburg disaster

Multiple column announcements before vacation begins

Since I’ll be leaving for Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula on Saturday morning for a week, I’ll post some of the column reminders right now. I may or may not have ‘net access up there, and if I do, it’ll be limited.

On Sunday, I have an essay in the Sunday edition of the Honolulu Advertiser. Since this has been a real NASA week, the column is about why it is important to continue the space program. Hopefully it doesn’t piss off Don Ho. If I can get online Sunday or Monday and link directly to it, I will, but otherwise you should be able to click the above link and go to the front page on Sunday, and find it from there.

Then, on Monday, my column on WorldNetDaily will also deal with NASA, but is more speculative. It’s basically picks up where the above column left off, and then ponders privatizing the space program. The column is tentatively called “Is it time to Trump NASA?”

Helen Thomas vows to kill herself if Cheney runs for Prez, shocking those who didn't know Helen Thomas was still alive

White House reporter Helen Thomas allegedly told the Hill newspaper that if Dick Cheney runs for president, she’ll kill herself, more than likely by a self-inflicted glance in the mirror.

“All we need is one more liar,” Thomas is quoted as saying, in an apparent attempt to recruit more White House reporters.

In all seriousness, Helen will be 85 years old this Friday, and her mental turn signal has been stuck on for the last few hundred miles down the highway of life.

Thomas, as an unbiased wire reporter, recently called George W. Bush “the worst president in all of American history.” Thomas is typical of leftist trolls, who often take their exaggerations to childlike absurdity– “… the awfullest in a hundred gazillion million years!”

The worst president? Helen seems to have forgotten somebody named Jimmy Carter, and a long-time rumor around the prune juice cooler is that she was banging Millard Fillmore, so I wouldn’t expect her to mention him, either.

Helen Thomas vows to kill herself if Cheney runs for Prez, shocking those who didn’t know Helen Thomas was still alive

White House reporter Helen Thomas allegedly told the Hill newspaper that if Dick Cheney runs for president, she’ll kill herself, more than likely by a self-inflicted glance in the mirror.

“All we need is one more liar,” Thomas is quoted as saying, in an apparent attempt to recruit more White House reporters.

In all seriousness, Helen will be 85 years old this Friday, and her mental turn signal has been stuck on for the last few hundred miles down the highway of life.

Thomas, as an unbiased wire reporter, recently called George W. Bush “the worst president in all of American history.” Thomas is typical of leftist trolls, who often take their exaggerations to childlike absurdity– “… the awfullest in a hundred gazillion million years!”

The worst president? Helen seems to have forgotten somebody named Jimmy Carter, and a long-time rumor around the prune juice cooler is that she was banging Millard Fillmore, so I wouldn’t expect her to mention him, either.

Time to privatize the space program

NASA has grounded future space shuttle flights indefinitely because a chunk of insulation fell off the external fuel tank during launch… again. This is most likely a problem that has plagued the shuttle since its first launch in 1981, but now the thing has more cameras on it than a topless Paris Hilton in front of a group of Japanese tourists, so no amount of debris will escape scrutiny.

You have to wonder about the timing of NASA’s announcement, since the shuttle is still in orbit. The astronauts on board must feel like a passenger traveling down the highway in a 1965 Chevy Corvair while reading “Unsafe at Any Speed.” At least now scientists can study the effects of zero-gravity on spastic colon.

As much as I’m pro-exploration, it’s becoming increasingly clear that NASA and their government-imposed limitations aren’t the answer to the stated goal of colonizing Mars and the moon.

Starting with the Mercury program in the 50’s, through the Apollo program, which ended in the 70’s, there was the feeling of progress with the space program, not to mention the fact that there were zero, zip, nada in-flight deaths.
Men have gone to the moon several times, and now, 36 years later, we can hardly get ships off the ground without incident. Why? The technology hasn’t gotten worse, but it’s a by-product of a snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug demanding, trial attorney infested, safety guaranteed government. NASA is a government agency, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they are probably only weeks away from demanding airbags on all space shuttles.

Space travel is an incredibly dangerous business, and in today’s Nerfed-up, sharp edges removed world, there is little tolerance for danger from the government. Another problem is that the government is traditionally 20 years behind the times, which is why so often you’ll walk into a government office, and straight into 1982.

The same people who bring us the Department of Motor Vehicles and punch card voting systems are in charge of funding the space program, so it comes as no surprise that a government run space program occasionally performs the celestial equivalent of accidentally voting for Buchanan.

Government slowness is usually a good thing. The attractive feature of monstrous bureaucracy has always been that it corners like an aircraft carrier in dry-dock, making it fairly easy for the fleet-afoot masses to out maneuver, but in a business such as space travel, there is little room for red tape and PC, and we’re seeing proof of that now.

The space shuttle was designed in the 1970’s and is still in use in its original design. This holds true to government tradition. It’s time for modernization and new ideas.

The time has come to take some of the billions of dollars spent on NASA and offer it in the form of tax incentives to private firms and entrepeneurs, with the idea of pushing the government’s goal of colonizing the moon and Mars along without the drag of bureaucracy and intergalactic Ralph Naders impeding the advance.

Take the portion of the space program budget that’s thrown toward the shuttle program, and missions that have become “blast off, take pictures to make sure nothing fell off, come back,” and put the private sector in charge. Should the government ever wise up and do this, there would be Starbucks franchises on the moon and Mars by the time NASA super-glued all the shuttle tiles back into place for the next orbital mission.

It’s something to consider.

__________

A shuttle astronaut reacts to NASA’s announcement that something may be screwed up again

Ten ways to destroy the earth, besides Michael Moore falling down in the shower

LiveScience.com presents “10 ways to destroy the earth.” This is a list of actual ways to destroy the earth… not Al Gore ways, like mowing your lawn when it’s over 85 degrees and muggy out.

As one example of the geekiness of the whole thing, here’s #9 on the list of ways to destroy the earth:

Hijack control of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in Brookhaven National Laboratory, Long Island, New York. Use the RHIC to create and maintain a stable strangelet. Keep it stable for as long as it takes to absorb the entire Earth into a mass of strange quarks. Keeping the strangelet stable is incredibly difficult once it has absorbed the stabilizing machinery, but creative solutions may be possible.

A while back, there was some media hoo-hah about the possibility of this actually happening at the RHIC, but in actuality the chances of a stable strangelet forming are pretty much zero.

Fortunately, this list does not mention the use of aerosol hairspray, so mall chicks and any 80’s metal band still touring can rest easy.

What else has been left off the list of things that would destroy the earth? I’ve already submitted “Michael Moore falling down in the shower,” so I’ll also have to add “Calista Flockhart exploding after eating a sandwich” and “Billy Joel spending a season on the Gran Prix circuit.”

Are NASA programs a waste of money that could be better spent here on earth?

Watching the space shuttle Discovery’s fiery ascension from the launch pad Tuesday morning, I recalled comments I’ve heard recently, such as, “it’s such a waste of tax money, and, sometimes, lives.”

Those aren’t isolated opinions. The Challenger explosion in 1986 and Columbia’s tragic reentry in 2003 have fueled talk that the cost/benefit ratio of the space program tilts inexorably to the former.

Is the space program simply an all too expensive and dangerous play toy, or is there more to it?

The first thing we usually hear from the NASA critic is that the money spent on the space program could be better spent on social programs here on Earth.

In 2004, the federal government spent around $1 trillion for Social Security, Medicare and other health benefits. In that same year, NASA was funded to the tune of $8 billion. Ending space exploration to help these already heavily funded social programs would be like getting rid of your cat so you can put the money you’ll save on his food toward the purchase of a beach house in the Hamptons.

In reading the text of a speech delivered years ago by the second man to walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, I was intrigued by one analogy made by the former astronaut. He pointed out that a society is like a balloon– a successful one will expand in all directions. In other words, you can’t blow up only one side of a balloon, and if you try, it will pop. “People who say ‘social programs, not space exploration,’ will get neither,” Aldrin brilliantly noted.

In many ways, the quest for space is a social program.

What other social program can supply humanity, especially children, with fascination, awe, the inspiration to dream and achieve and the lesson that nothing is impossible?

Other social programs are an easier sell, however, and if there’s one thing a politician likes, it’s ease. Though fueled by money, the ultimate goal of the space program is not fiscal. The space program is only limited by imagination. A terrestrial social program’s limit and goal is the bottom of your pocket. One is much easier and more convenient to reach than the other. The nearest star system is about 250 trillion miles away. Your wallet is on the dresser. Which is the government more likely to focus on first?

Our quest for the heavens is pushed forward by wonder, genius, creativity, desire, and a drive toward discovery. It’s a huge ambition, one that excites, motivates and is committed to memory by all. What other social program does that for people? How many kids will grow up to reminisce about gathering around the television, giddy with nervous anticipation and jaw-dropping marvel, to watch the arrival of Uncle Billy’s Social Security check?

The space program fulfills childlike fantasies and dreams, propelling humanity forward physically and intellectually. This must continue, and can continue, not only without sacrificing any earthly necessity, but, quite conversely, to their benefit.

__________

Hilarious addendum:

Shortly after I posted this, “cdl” posted in the comments section, saying the following:

Just the other day I was having a conversation with my liberal sister in-law when a shot of the space shuttle came across the television. She said that going to space was such a waste of money. I pointed out that she was watching a news story on satellite tv. I don’t think she got it.

J-Lo and others' "hits" are bought and paid for? Say it ain't so!

This must be how “Joey” stays on the air…

It has come to light that Sony has been paying radio stations to run songs by their acts. A memo to DJ’s from Sony spells it out, and pretty much says “if you run our songs, we’ll give you a bag of money the size of J-Lo’s butt.”

From Epic, home of J-Lo, a memo from Nov. 12, 2002, a “rate” card that shows radio stations in the Top 23 markets will receive $1000, Markets 23-100 get $800, lower markets $500.

“If a record receives less than 75 spins at any given radio station, we will not pay the full rate… We look forward to breaking many records together in the future.”

This payola to radio stations is nothing new, but now, since J-Lo’s involved, the media is acting like it’s Watergate or something.

It’s been around forever. How else can you explain Milli Vanilli, Justin Timberlake, or the entire disco movement?

This is the music business we’re talking about. The people who are shocked at this “scandal” are the same people who get the vapors when they find out the used car salesman lied to them about the “little old lady from Pasadena.”