News you can use

One thing Mike D and I can see eye-to-eye on is the uselessness of the space program.

Recently, in the news it was reported that NASA plans on junking the shuttle program, and going back to rockets. Not only that, but due to the wisdom of President Bush’s reccomendations, they’re going to start landing on the moon again. The plan will cost around $104 billion. This is in preparation for an eventual manned mission to mars.
Of course it is! Because the real problem with Mars is the landing, not, say, GETTING THERE. But hey, it’s only $104 billion.
Of course, there’s about 150 million people in the USA that pay taxes every year. That means that each of us is paying almost $700 in our lifetime in order for some cowboy to go hit golfballs on the moon so we’re prepared to “land on Mars,” even though current technology trends indicate that it’d be a good 30 years before we ever even try to go there, and we still have only theories about how to do it.

But what really alarms me is this paragraph:
“However, some observers worried that huge federal spending to rebuild New Orleans, which could cost more than $200 billion, could undermine funding for any major space initiatives.”
Not only does this indicate that Bush’s hopes for even getting our country back to the way it was (let alone improving anything around here) take a back seat to his dreams of going to space (I have his theory that his brain was swapped with that of a 7 year old), but that running the country IMPEDES such goals. Yes, that stupid hurricane is getting in the way of things again, this time the untold suffering of thousands is stopping us from launching more fighter pilot dropouts into space for no reason!
I mean, sure you could pull a little funding out of Iraq’s ~$180 million DAILY cost of occupation (we’re coming up quick on a total cost of $700 billion), but then how would we go to OUTER SPACE (weeeeeeeeeeee!!!)?

In protest of this I’ve drawn this, which is totally not to scale, of somebody in LA crying while a rocket flies overhead, as the president demonstrates his feelings on the situation.

does he have to yell?

Your views on this matter are welcomed, unless they are wrong.


37 thoughts on “News you can use

  • 9/21/2005 at 1:57 pm

    Actually, I don’t agree with you Sander. It’s not that I think a space program is completely useless, I just think ours needs some serious re-evaluating.

    I am a huge supporter of technology. And a lot of household technologies have come from our space program, but I think that some of NASA’s missions have been less than smart.

    I don’t think that a trip to Mars is a bad idea. It’s expensive, and, personally I think the private sector should be the ones making the move instead of tax supported government agencies… but I find more usefullness in a quest for Mars than in random trips by people into space or to the Moon. Because at least going to Mars pushes our technological limits to new levels.

    It’s still too expensive. But keep in mind EVERYTHING looks too expensive to the kid who readily risks Butulism because damaged canned goods are, like, 80% off! SWEET DEAL!

  • 9/21/2005 at 2:01 pm

    You should both read Dan Brown’s Deception Point.

  • 9/21/2005 at 2:25 pm

    AHH! Dan Brown! Forgive the rant that must follow…

    While I enjoyed his writing at first, after fully exploring his “literature” it became very apparent that Mr. Dan Brown has the writing skills of decaying compost. If you haven’t already, try reading Digital Fortress. It’s the literature equivalent of the movie “BATTLEFIELD EARTH”.

    I fear I won’t be able to ever pick up another of his books. They capitalize on American’s inability to pay attention and have caught the attention of the world, despite plots that reek of over dramatized revelations that any 7 year old would be able to anticipate.

    I don’t mean this as an insult to Caitlin, as I said… I liked Brown’s books at first too. I thought “wow, so exciting!” Then upon discovering real literature, mostly through Jill’s help, I’m beginning to realize what good writing is.

    I shouldn’t be so quick to compare Dan Brown with rotting worms. Because it certainly has its place alongside Star War books and Nora Roberts. And if you like that sort of super-flashy brazen writing, that’s fine. But, I think anyone who enjoys his books should read and compare it to something written with more skill. Try Arthur Miller’s “Guns of Navarone.”

  • 9/21/2005 at 2:35 pm

    yeah, i didnt really care for Digital Fortress either (that being the first book of his that i read)…I still want to read the Davinci Code though, because even my dad recommended it (and he reads EVERYTHING). But i did like Deception Point, even though it was al little more political than I care for.

    I wish i had more time to read. I currently have about 3 things going at once, all of which i began this summer and just havent found the time to sit down and read to the end yet.

  • 9/21/2005 at 2:53 pm

    Was that Star Wars book zing directed at me?

    Prepare to fight, Sir Detonator.

  • 9/21/2005 at 2:57 pm

    Know who’s worse than Dan Brown? Chuck Palahniuk (excuse the spelling)

    I mean, we get it, it’s the same novel 18 times. Go listen to The Cure some more and shut up.

    I’ll respond to the actual post when i have time.

  • 9/21/2005 at 3:03 pm

    If it weren’t for space travel, we wouldn’t have Tang. Or those pens that write upside down.

    So, the private sector exploring space… in theory, that’s the best idea. But after some 50 years of space technology, the best the private sector can do is build a super high flying plane that takes you into space for a few minutes.

    It’s simply too expensive for any company to go to Mars, let alone the moon, let alone halfway to the moon. Despite the positive technological ripple effect, there’s just no money in it.

  • 9/21/2005 at 3:23 pm

    I agree with Patrick.
    The difference between Spaceship One barely making that trip into the boundary of space and successfully making it to the moon or even keeping people alive while orbiting the planet is a monumental one. One that I would rather not have a company lording over me.

    The rest of Sander’s arguments are grounded in that way that only a Mainer can appreciate… I don’t even know where to start. “jet pilot dropouts”? Wow.

    Now Mike’s “going to Mars pushes our technological limits to new levels”.. That’s provocative.

    I say to you, building an outpost in the Moon would certainly push technology to new levels. Lots of great research in resource use and conservation would bear fruit as well as coping with radiation over long periods of time which is definitely an important concern about the 3 months it would take to travel to mars.

    I hate dubya as much as the next guy, but picking on NASA? Did you see The Right Stuff? Apollo 13? From Earth To The Moon?

    Can anyone honestly see a private sector enterprise attempt to reach such heights?

  • 9/21/2005 at 3:44 pm

    I’m glad you just wrote all of this Jon. You pretty much said everything I would have, so, thanks for saving me the time.

    That time, which, was proficiently used working on my MS Paint entry.

  • 9/21/2005 at 3:57 pm

    I’ll TRY and make this brief.

    1. The Moon is good for one thing: Storing Nuclear waste. You heard me.
    2. The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, etc. Great for them. They overcame the odds, and…like 5 guys came back alive who wouldn’t of otherwise. Whereas, say, the guys who went to blow up the guns of Navarone overcame all odds, like 5 guys came back alive, and helped preserve the freedoms that rock so much in the world. NO comparison, space travel accomplishes NOTHING.
    3. The only argument I’ve ever heard defending space travel is the one Mike made. Like “those tiles that cover the bottom of the space shuttle? That same stuff was then developed into suits for firefighters to wear,” or “Tang…wow!”

    First of all, you can’t defend something using unplaned side-effects. For instance, “I shot this guy, and not only did I miss all the vital organs, but somehow it brought about a cure for cancer.” Great, but when I was pulling the trigger I didn’t know any good would ever come of it. Space program’s the same way: Their intentions include ZERO prospects for good results, the fact that some occur anyway doesn’t justify their retardedly spend-happy frequently incompetent totally useless programs. That’s right, Mars is USELESS. We will never live there, we probably won’t terraform it, we won’t get water from it. Useless.

    Let’s say we spend 10 billion on a space program (NASA’s yearly budget is about 16 billion for 2005), and from it we get 3 things that are found useful for civilian life.

    We could spend a small fraction of that if we killed NASA, and said “our firefighters need protection from flames, let’s figure something out,” or “we need a tasty Vitamin C rich powdered drink mix for kids, develope something.”

    God, I can’t believe Jon tried to point out spaceman heroism. Look, I could risk my life, nearly dying like 17 consecutive times, only to survive due to the genius of a bunch of scientists in a room in Texas, all in order to distribute My Little Pony’s to Hell’s Angels members, but it would be stupid, pointless and nobody should ever make a movie of it.

    Private sector will never make it without Federal funding, and that will never happen, because W. would sooner spend a billion dollars on good lawyers to defend abortion clinic bombers than give any money to anything that might result in some money trickling down to the working class.

    When was the last time you heard Bush talk about anything involving the quality of life at home that didn’t involve terrorists, natural disasters, or the moon?

    Dropouts, as in “gosh, it’s cool defending the innocent in an F16 and all, but I’d much rather drink my dinner from a vacuum sealed bag inbetween giving via sattelite interviews to kindergarteners live on CNN.”

  • 9/21/2005 at 4:25 pm

    I want to live on Mars, too.

    Can I have a check, please?

    Actually… how about we all chip in and send Sander to Mars? He’d get far, far away from Dubya that way.

  • 9/21/2005 at 4:42 pm

    Well hey, here’s my $.02.

    It goes like this:

    Space travel… awesome, it really captured the imagination of the entire world in the 20th centure and brought a few generations of people to be pilots/scientists/engineers and that seems like a good enough reason right there.

    Not to mention that basically your entire LIFE runs on satellites right now, and that has been an extremely practical part of the space program (that Sander chose to completely ignore).

    BUT… stop the space program, or reduce it greatly, and divert that money into figuring out how to solve a few impending disasters like our fossil fuel dependancy, the greenhouse effect, air+water quality controls, food safety controls.

    When you make sure this country (this one, on this planet) is livable for the next few centuries, then worry about Mars. Also, raise the minimum wage while your at it.

    If we’re going to tax the shit out of the country and have such an invasive Federal government, can’t they at least do something to correct such rediculously immediate problems?

  • 9/21/2005 at 4:52 pm

    1. It’s spelled “ridiculously.” No “e” in the word.

    2. Satellites are a good point. I mean “NASA” when I say “space program.” However people aren’t required to go into space for sattelites, and a lot of this IS private sector stuff. It doesn’t cost money, it makes money. Whereas NASA just keeps absorbing dollars for no good purpose these days. Sure, Hubble telescope is cool, but not $16 billion worth of cool.
    Still…good point, superfriend!

    3. On Mars, I’ll finally be free of Mike D’s ugly face. Also, he totally revoked my priveledges here. Super lame!

    Was it the shocking news about your mom?

  • 9/21/2005 at 7:30 pm


  • 9/21/2005 at 8:15 pm

    It’s Satellites not “sattelites,” employ a spell checker when you feel it necessary to correct people’s spelling.

  • 9/21/2005 at 8:38 pm

    uuuhhhh….Sander. The MSpaint contest involved dinosaurs and an Evil clown. You only got one of them right in your drawing. Work harder next time.

  • 9/21/2005 at 11:47 pm

    Poor poor sander…
    you just don’t have the heart of an explorer.
    I can’t help you there.

    And Ben?
    I’m disappointed.
    Nasa’s budget is about 16b for fy05. The DOD’s budget (according to the wikipedia) is $419.3 BILLION. That we know about.

    While I agree that the human space endeavors are not all that exciting anymore but I think NASA’s learned a lot from all the little robots that they’re sending up to Mars and beyond. One of my high school friends works for Johnson Space Center and the stuff I’ve seen there is pretty neat. Like robots that can serve as extra hands during spacewalks and stuff.

    The DOD blows stuff up. They’re not really particular about it either… they just dropped their standards of acceptance so they can take high school dropouts.

    Do you really want a high school dropout to be taught to kill a man with his bare hands?
    I don’t.

    NASA comes back with images to inspire and science to protect us and the DOD just set us up the bomb.

    Case closed.

  • 9/22/2005 at 6:21 am

    Oh! Don’t get me started on the Department of Defense. But the discussion wasn’t on our imperialistic tendencies, so I left it out. My main point was that it’s silly to focus on Mars when Earth needs so much attention.

    We’ve gained a lot from NASA and I think inspiration in the Science and Engineering fields is important. I also think defense of our country is important. DEFENSE OF OUR COUNTRY. I don’t mean to say we should be ANYWHERE attacking ANYONE right now.

    Except maybe the Sudan, I’d back that up.

    So cut the budget of the DoD, kill the shuttle program, and maybe cut the White House food budget some and lets figure out how not to use oil for every aspect of our lives.

  • 9/22/2005 at 7:43 am

    I say why worry about Earth when we can just develop better space traveling capabilities and move somewhere else. Earth is so last millenium. I mean, really, we’ve been here for a while, we’ve had our fun. Let’s go somewhere else before things get too crappy and everyone starts complaining. I betcha it’d be pretty relaxing sitting on my transparisteel enclosed deck on the back of my space McMansion on a overly sunny hillside of Mars eating my astronaut ice cream with a tall glass of space-cow chocolate milk.

    Or, let’s build a giant space ship with a crazy reactor that blows up and creates a new galaxy. It would be great. I’ve seen it work, too, for all your skeptics out there. It was in this movie, based on a true story. I think it was called “Titan A.E.” You should watch it for ideas, if you haven’t seen it yet.

  • 9/22/2005 at 8:48 am

    I thought it was based off a book Timmy. I guess I was wrong.

  • 9/22/2005 at 9:07 am

    #1. I think it’s awesome how Mike D’s “blog” is basically a message board where only a priveliged few can start threads.

    #2. Space Program: I think that writing off the ENTIRE space program as frivolous and without merit is a little short sited. The list of products and materials developed for the space program goes a lot further than Tang and the space shuttle tiles. One thing it the resources and infrastructure that NASA has make such innovations possible. Sure, the government could contract some private company to try and develop a device that can withstand 20 g’s, but NASA already has that giant centrifuge at Goddard. And that’s just one example. I’m sure that there are hundreds more, in various fields.

    As far as the moon and mars, those are basically just marketing as far as the real science goes. The real science is in the planning and developing. Just like the moon, what did we learn about that by going there? It’s cold and dusty. Possible origins of the earth. But the development gave us a ton of science applicable in materials, computers, aerospace, etc.

    Hubble has done a LOT for science, drastically affecting the fields of astrophysics, all the way down to quantum physics. But, of course, neither of those two fields will make it easier to find a parking spot. So should we abandon them?

    Postponing a mars mission to rebuild of a city of millions that is the backbone of our country’s infrastructure seems like kind of a no-brainer. I’m surprised Bush even got that far. Now, if we could show him the DOD vs. Rebuilding NOLA budget comparison, using some sort of cartoons.

  • 9/22/2005 at 9:08 am

    Nope. True story.

    I also hope that you, Kurt, appreciated my Transparisteel reference. It was just for you.

  • 9/22/2005 at 9:19 am

    I did appreciate it Timmy. Now I thought it was called Plasteel?

  • 9/22/2005 at 9:52 am

    Look….space travel is a bad bad idea.

    Didn’t anybody see “Event Horizon?”

    Sure, some may cast it off as mere fiction, but you never know! Anything can happen. Who wants to end up in a dimension of pure chaos? If you ask me, I’d rather stay in a place where I need my eyes.

  • 9/22/2005 at 10:04 am

    Transparisteel is the glass of the future (well, the past, I suppose). There’s a bunch of ‘steels. George Lucas and his writing goons pretty much throw any word in front of steel and call it a new material.

  • 9/22/2005 at 10:21 am

    Ceramasteel. (as in ceramics)
    Steelasteel. (Double the Strength of ordinary steel)
    Hamasteel. (Great on Rye, Can only be eaten by Jaws – the infamous Bond Villain or the shark.)

  • 9/22/2005 at 11:40 am

    Transparent Aluminum.

  • 9/22/2005 at 2:23 pm

    At twenty-nine posts down the list, I don’t know if this will ever be read, but I’m compelled to write it anyway.

    Why should we keep going out to space, you ask? I think I heard it summed up best in this quote –

    “Because it’s next. For we came out of the cave, and we looked over the hill, and we saw fire. And we crossed the ocean, and we pioneered the West, and we took to the sky. The history of man is hung on the timeline of exploration, and this is what’s next.”

    God (or nature or whatever you want to call it) instilled in us a natural curiosity and a desire to explore. And my bet is that it’s there for a good reason.

    C.S. Lewis once wrote that “thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth.” In my opinion, if mankind is naturally compelled to explore (and history has shown that to be true, no?) then we must explore. It’s what we’re built to do. It’s our mission. If we continuosly seek, maybe someday we’ll find something great. Something waiting for us to find it.

  • 9/22/2005 at 5:03 pm

    Eric: I see your point, however we can’t expect to go out searching to improve our lives with what wonders lie beyond the stars until we first improve our lives here.
    Man had no reason to leave the cave except that he had reached the height of cave living: There was nothing more the cave had to offer, he knew there must be a better way. Likewise, NASA needs to take a back seat to life at home. In 200 years life rocks beyond belief and we’ve done all we can with Earth, I’ll personally send money to NASA to start looking for things that rule even more out in space.

    Aaron: Mike D revoked my posting priveledges, so don’t expect any thought-inspiring conversations anytime soon that don’t involve his own griping about another lame injury or how tasty an apple is (Every post I put up at least sparks a great back and forth, even if Mike D’s facist website tendencies compell him to quell unique or radical ideas that don’t agree with his). Secondly, Hubble is another example of good showing up we didn’t expect. Know what it was designed for? Pictures. Whether it helped advance quantum phsyics, which is itself a field of disputable merit (Einstein thought it was all garbage) which typically yields such “cool” results as new useless isotopes that exist for .00001 seconds or theories involving quarks that nobody reads about in Scientific American, it’s still side effects, not purposes.

    Jon: If they really wanted to develop 20G resistant materials, the same lab would be put to 100 times better use than another failed Mars probe. The technology is fine, but could be put more directly to good use, than waiting for a few items that coincidentally have civilian applications to come out of NASA every few years.

    Ben: I rarely make spelling mistakes, I guess “satellites” isn’t something I type out often. My mistake, good catch.

    Gotta go install a welder…

  • 9/23/2005 at 9:51 am

    Sander – everytime I see your name my mind actually reads “Xander” rather than Sander, and I think of Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I don’t know if you care to know that, but I thought I’d put it out there just in case.

    As for waiting until we make Earth perfect before we reach out further into space, I think you’re wrong, because it will never be perfect. If always waited for the “perfect” time to do something, nothing would ever get done. We’d all be sitting at home watching Buffy.

  • 9/23/2005 at 10:04 am

    Hmmm…point taken. But I still think we got a lot of crap to clean up around here before we go junking up space.

    I’ve heard the BTVS reference before, and people who go by “Xander” should be shot. You’re not special, your name is Alex. I blame rich parents.
    Also, I’m almost nothing like that loser in a perpetual state of needing a haircut. Think Spike, only without the fighting ability, good looks, or cool accent.
    I guess mostly that just leaves me surly and useless…Sounds about right.

  • 9/23/2005 at 10:54 am

    Sander – You know who else was surly and useless? George W. Bush, but look how he turned out! Still useless for sure, but no longer surly. Of course when you give up coke and booze you’re sure to mellow out a little bit. My point is, if your dad is a well-connected WASP you can achieve anything. That should give us all some much needed hope.

    I’ve got to stop reading so much at

  • 9/23/2005 at 3:30 pm

    “If they really wanted to develop 20G resistant materials, the same lab would be put to 100 times better use than another failed Mars probe. The technology is fine, but could be put more directly to good use, than waiting for a few items that coincidentally have civilian applications to come out of NASA every few years.”

    I have two responses to this complaint: one, when great things are invented for use in space, people are constantly looking for interesting ways to put them to use here. Case in point, the posturepedic bed. two, we have a few billion people here… just as some people can work on feeding us and others eat, some can focus their science on the earth and some in space.

    and just get your own blog. We can argue there.

  • 9/30/2005 at 8:08 am

    this is an interesting thread other than a few rants on less than steller authors…

    the real quetsion is.. what do we, america get out of nasa?
    yeah we happen to get a bit of tech accidently being useful in the real world that they develope… but reall the space program provides a few things.

    1. preparing the technology and no-how to possibly spread or move our population away from earth.
    2. observation…. think : hubble, think: seeing what the surface of mars is like with rover-like things…

    this is actually useful in dealing with things on earth, learning how weather affects landscape and various environmental phenominons… quenching our desire to understand a bit more about a small percentage of 1 millionth of a percent of how earth and humans came to be…

    3. creating USA pride… “we were first to the moon…” this is basically a form of corruption in our government, and a result of citizen stupidity. as such i wont talk about it.

    #1 : this is peculiar since i think we all agree no one will benifit from this in our life time. but it caters to a need people think they have to procure a situation of survival for their future genetic line… // interesting and real.

    #2 this is the real immediate, or semi-immediate benifit from our space program, but is it, could it possibly be worth the immense money the government spends?

    well it is a better return on the investment than just about EVERYTHING else the government spends money on so im all for it. (including “fixing” new orleans)
    but , although the above psuedo-sentence was serious, ill get serious for a moment…
    i think its pretty much accepted that #2 alone does not reap enough benifit per dollar spent to compete with alternate places to spend our money….

    if it were, u would see private firms doing it and then making a profit on selling the information they learn to academic and other private institutions… “but they cant possibly afford to buy it to the extent where it would cover all the costs of a space program”… u may be saying to urself… but then id reply… why have a space program if the people who want the rewards cant afford them? hell i want a private jet.

    what u may see is private or public firms getting sponsored by academic institutions… or big multinational companies… advertising seems like a reasonable sensable route to make these missions cost effective… but im not sure… or rather, im pretty sure no one would be willing to pay the amount nasa needs for a mission…

    ive digressed from my structured list but let me add this next bit:

    right now the main advertising beneficiary is USA. Does it need it? think about it seriously… does it give us a leg up that we wouldnt have otherwise had, does it improve our quality of life by attracting businesses here, preserving peace, or generally directing our motivations and values in a more scientific direction?… well… to a large extent, id say yes, but only a small amount. but our GDP is like 12 Trillion$, so the nasa budget is “only a small amount”… (about 0.13% of our gdp goes to nasa | $1 per $750 that you “earn”)


  • 10/30/2005 at 9:04 am

    Butulism for milk and milk products.


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