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2/08/2003

 

1000th career assist





locdog congratulates le magnifique on becoming only the tenth player in league history to bag 1000 assists




2/07/2003

 

saddam terror connection deeper than first thought



should anyone be surprised by this? the standard response to rumors about saddam/terror connections is that the hussein regime, which is secular, and terrorist groups like al qaeda, which seek theocratic rule, are at crossed purposes. fine. now go read a copy of sun tzu. both of these groups hate america more than enough to overlook their political differences, and besides, it's not like saddam would be afraid to harbor them for fear of american military reprisals.

locdog considers them a match made in hell




 

religious lunatic accosts bush



an uninvited guest recently crashed a presidential prayer breakfast to hand deliver an 8 page "message from God" concerning iraq to president bush.

according to the washington post, a reverend richard reaver claimed to have been sent by God to warn the president that "there will be 50,000 casualties and a six-month war" if the united states doesn't "repent" of plans to invade iraq. not mentioned is whether or not the Almighty had any predictions on the amount of casualties which would occur if we did not invade iraq. also not mentioned is whether or not reverend reaver, reportedly a non-denominational minister, is secretly working for the pope. no dates were reported for the rapture, nor were any clues given to the identity of the anti-Christ, making this all in all a rather unsatisfactory bit of buffoonery.

locdog thinks it's clowns like this that give the rest of us Christians a bad name




2/06/2003

 

another blogger haiku



archives have returned.
today, joy lives in my heart.
tomorrow, terror.

locdog thanks you again




 

pontiff pans powell's presentation



you've got to be kidding me. are you catholics out there seeing this?

In an interview with Reuters, Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Vatican's justice and peace department, said the pope was deeply saddened by the recent turn of events.

He also stressed the Vatican's stand that it could not consider any U.S.-led action against Iraq a "just war" and that there were perhaps economic reasons behind the conflict.

"I wonder why those who want to make war do not take into account the serious consequences," Martino said.

"The reaction in the Muslim world will be enormous. Acts of terrorism will increase dramatically," said Martino, who served as Vatican representative to the United Nations for 16 years.

"Even if it is a two, three-day strike, what about later? What about the consequences inside and outside Iraq?

"I'm afraid that a war would completely affect the whole area of the Middle East...and will increase refugees, terrorism and endanger the environment," he said.


as josh claybourn has asked, why isn't any thought given to the consequences of not going to war? well put, josh. i'll humbly *cough* add to your question one of my own:

what does a just war have to do with consequences, anyway?

that statement is part and parcel to the "end justifies the means" worldview, not the Biblical worldview. it starts with the assumption that war is an intrinsic evil and goes down hill from there. for it then posits that even evils like war can be justified if the "consequences" are good enough. consider this quote by archbishop martino

The pope has said that war must always be a last resort. If there is a war we have to see if 3,000 bombs or missiles will strike only military targets without killing civilians, or if they hit power plants. Then hospitals don't have electricity. The entire population will suffer, the sick, the poor, children.

first of all, how much more "last resort" than ten years of defiance--defiance that continues even now in the face of imminent u.s. military intervention--can you get? second, why doesn't the pontiff concern himself with saddam's weapons as much as he does with america's? if saddam came out tomorrow and laid down his WMDs, there wouldn't be any war. isn't that what he was supposed to do ten years ago? but those two objections are incidental. the real question i have is this: can war ever truly be a "last resort"? isn't there always one more round of negotiations or one more u.n. resolution? isn't there always one more diplomatic visit or oil-for-food deal? we could never exhaust all possible recourses. sooner or later reason needs to take hold and alert us to the fact that saddam has never responded to anything but force, and while we are hashing and rehashing diplomatic long-shots, his people are being brutalized in ways that would have done pol pot proud. but then, if war itself is evil, then we can construct any nightmare scenario we like for our consequences (we'll make more terrorists, we'll make the arab world hate us, etc.) and our case for a just war goes down the crapper...along with the hopes of the people of iraq.

contrast all that with the Biblical worldview in which government has been given the sword to serve the purposes of divine justice here on earth. in a Biblical worldview, it is the motivation behind war, not the consequences that make it good or bad. that doesn't mean that war is to be entered into lightly, but it does mean that there's certainly nothing a priori unjust about a war to eliminate arguably the most unjust regime on the planet. if war against saddam hussein isn't justified, then what war could be? just tell me this, you catholics, if you were an iraqi citizen suffering under hussein's rule, who would you want bush to listen to: colin powel or the pope?

pope john paul the second seems to have bought into the wordly myth that peace, not justice, is the higher ideal. well when you place peace ahead of justice, you get neither.

locdog wonders how many of you catholics agree with the pope on this one




 

a blogger haiku



my archives are gone.
capricious blogger judgement.
the blog gods hate me.

locdog thanks you




 

religious discrimination or just good science?



the pittsburgh post-gazette has an editorial today defending a texas tech university professor named michael dini who is refusing to recommend students for postgraduate studies unless they "'truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer' to the question of human origins."

the pg editors believe that dr. dini is acting within his rights to make such a decision since "his reluctance to write a letter of recommendation is based in science, not in prejudice." after all, as dr. dini has said, "The central, unifying principle of biology is the theory of evolution. How can someone who does not accept the most important theory in biology expect to practice in a field that is so heavily based on biology?"

dr. dini is wrong, but despite that i find myself in the uncomfortable position of supporting him, rather than the Christian lawyers who are demanding the justice department investigate for bias. dr. dini is a private citizen. he ought to have the right to recommend whomever he pleases for whatever he pleases, based on reasons that seem good to him. indeed, if dr. dini sincerely believes that evolution is the acid test for a good scientist, then would he not be acting irresponsibly in consciously advancing the careers of scientists who fail that test? as Christians, we need to be very, very careful in invoking the law, because if we say that dr. dini hasn't the right to deny young earth creationists advancement in science, then who's to say a year from now some atheist won't be suing a church for not allowing him to become a minister? believe me, most biologists would argue that belief in evolution is every bit as essential to being a good scientist as belief in God is to being a good pastor.

and that's to say nothing of the whole principle of the thing. do i or do i not, as an american citizen, have the right to make bad decisions? you might not agree with me. you may even believe that my motivations are unconstitutional--and you may well be right--but regardless of that, can i not still choose to make a bad choice? say i'm a barkeeper and someone comes into my place loudly praising saddam hussein. say my family was killed by saddam. say i throw him out on his duff. haven't i acted unconstitutionally? wasn't my motivation to deprive him of his right to free speech, at least in that sphere over which i exert influence? maybe, maybe not, but it's my bar, and in it, i am a tyrant. furthermore, wouldn't it be an even greater tyranny if someone then came into my private establishment and forced me to serve this person, and to endure his taunts? dr. dini should be free to make his own recommendations. now it may be that texas tech is at least in part a state-funded institution, it may be that some portion of dr. dini's salary is paid by the taxpayer. that would complicate things on the constitutional front, but even so, i have always taken "congress shall make no law" very literally just to avoid these same types of intrusions into religious life, and i see no justification for stopping now other than my own desire to do so.

ok, i've done my best to make a principled case for why the justice department should keep out of this mess. i'm glad that's over. now i want to briefly make the case for why dr. dini is wrong, and how any true advocate of science might attempt to convince the university that employs him to fire his bigoted behind and get a real scientist in there.

in their defense of dr. dini, the post-gazette editors discussed the concept of cognitive dissonance to pay lip service to the other side of the story. this means that it is possible for people to believe in their hearts that one thing is true, while acting outwardly as though the opposite were true. the example they gave was the catholic church's suggestion to galileo that he conduct his science as though the earth revolved around the sun, but not explain it publicly as fact. in other words, students who refused to affirm evolution for reasons of faith could still be good scientists as long as they didn't allow their personal convictions to compromise their scientific objectivity, or, as mark twain once said "faith is believing in what you know ain't so."

while the cognitive dissonance defense might help these students get their recommendation, the scientific rationale behind it goes much deeper than simply believing in things they know ain't so. it goes to the heart of what a scientific theory is all about. dr. dini is asking students to affirm that darwinian evolution is philosophically true, but as you will see, that goes way beyond the pale of science.

scientific theories are based on hypothesis (best guesses) designed to explain an observed set of facts. a hypothesis is then verified by experiment and becomes a working theory. but if one measly experiment were ever to falsify a theory then it would be scrapped--indeed, science holds that it must be at least possible to falsify a theory for it to even be worthy of consideration. the more well-established the theory, the more rigorous would be the examination of the falsifying experiment, but if the experiment could withstand the scrutiny then it would have proven in the end that the theory it tests is wrong. for this reason, scientific theories can be proven false in a philosophical sense, but never true.

a scientist may personally believe, as dr. dini evidently does, that a theory is true in a philosophical sense, but his belief is irrelevant. it is merely one of his opinions, one which makes him no better or worse than a scientist who doesn't happen to agree. what matters is whether or not a scientist understands the theory, knows how to examine the predictions it makes, knows how to apply its conclusions, etc. an A student is an A student, a skilled surgeon is a skilled surgeon, whether he believes that we literally share a common ancestor with the apes, or that it's simply the best theory we have at present. in fact, no scientist could ever legitimately demand anything more of a student than to be able to understand and apply a theory, and recognize that, at present, it is the best we can do since no valid theory is ever safe from falsification. as a physics undergrad, i learned all about newton's laws and their application. at no point did i believe that they were philosophically true: indeed, a famous experiment named after the scientists michaelson and morley disproved them around the turn of the last century. but even though i knew for an absolute fact that newton wasn't "true" in a philosophical sense, i still depended on an understanding of his ideas and an application of his equations for solutions to real-world problems. indeed, whenever einstein rewrote the physics books, one of the tests that his equations had to pass was that under normal, every day circumstances they reduced to newton's laws, because in those cases we knew newton's laws worked.

i wrote before that most biologists would argue that belief in evolution was as essential to being a good scientist as belief in God is to being a good pastor. i hope you can now understand the injustice of that viewpoint. it isn't a scientific viewpoint at all, it's a chauvinistic one. it's one that holds one group's opinion as superior to everyone else's, with no regard given to who is actually the better scientist where the rubber meets the road. in fact, i would argue that dr. dini's position is, or rather, that it ought to be, anathema to science. requiring students to swear loyalty oaths to darwin is to defy everything science stands for. it insults the scientific method to its very core, and makes a mockery out of the ideals of the university. professors who dogmatically adhere to darwin and demand the followers in their little cults of personality do the same may as well be locking them in towers and forcing recantations. universities in general and science in particular are supposed to be about objectivity, about freedom of thought, about avoiding at all costs the arrogance which has so many times reduced the triumphs of science past to the follies of the present. we make our students learn lessons about the dangers of proclaiming theories true, about the stagnation that occurs when people are unwilling to think beyond the university walls, and in the same breath we require them pledge their allegiance to charles darwin?

locdog thinks dr. dini is in the wrong line of work: he should have been an inquisitor





 

just what is a smoking gun, anyway?



Without a smoking gun to demonstrate that Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Powell's strategy was to make as comprehensive and detailed case as he could to demonstrate a pattern of Iraqi deceit.

that's from a new york times analysis piece on powell's presentation to the u.n. security council.

maybe i missed the day "smoking gun" was taught in school, but is there some sort of archetype powell is failing to conform to? is there some established rule for what does and does not constitute a "smoking gun"? or is this just one more meaningless buzzword that media wags trot out at every opportunity to impress their friends (think "gravitas" during the last presidential election)?

adlai stevenson holding up U2 photos of russian missile installations seems to be the norm. i'm sure powell would be happy to oblige but for the fact that saddam would as soon blast an american U2 out of the sky as look at it. notwithstanding that, what would any hypothetical set of spy pictures need to show to qualify as "smoking" hot? my own personal preference would be saddam wearing a black cloak and top hat with his famed moustache drawn into a handlebar tying a helpless young lass to the railroad tracks while a pot of anthrax simmers nearby. that or anna kournikova sunning herself outside of one of saddam's palaces. talk about smoking.

while powell's presentation may have failed the snidely whiplash test,



i found it just as tantalizing and titillating as anything stevenson or kournikova could have cooked up...well, better than stevenson anyhow.

after all, powell did show us photos of active chemical gas bunkers. now perhaps that lacks the sex appeal of short range nuclear missiles luxuriating in the warm cuban clime, but is it any less damning? the russians denied having nuclear weapons in cuba. saddam has denied having chemical weapons in iraq. the fact that the latter lacks the drama of the former doesn't make it any less compelling--could any photo we might take in iraq revive the emotional satisfaction of those we took in cuba? i think not. different era, different enemy, imminent threat of global nuclear holocaust...but at their core, the photos accomplished the same purpose. what's more, powell offered two things that stevenson did not have access to: eye witness testimony of weapons production facilities and the goings on there, and intercepted phone conversations of iraqi agents scurrying to hide the cigarettes before mom and dad get home. combined, this sort of evidence would win you a conviction in any court in the land, except, perhaps, the media-driven court of public opinion, and of course the league of united nations.

since the media is unwilling to hash out a positive definition of a smoking gun, i'll build from inferences and offer a negative one: a smoking gun is that which the bush administration needs to have wage a just war against iraq, but which the press will never give him.

locdog thinks he'll do fine without it





2/05/2003

 

why powell's speech shouldn't matter



imagine that one day an infamous drug kingpin is arrested for producing illegal substances in his home. he's a known trouble-maker who has waged ruthless gang wars in which innocents were routinely killed and frequently targeted in a pattern of harassment, bullied and even executed those from his turf foolish enough to stand up to him, and frequently associated with other high-profile criminals in sundry nefarious schemes. the police who raided his house find stockpiles of synthetic drugs manufactured in a basement lab, but the judge in the case is rather a softy, one of those who feel that education and treatment, not punishment, are the solutions to crime, and the police were severely limited in what they could do. rather than violating the drug lord’s privacy by imprisoning him and seizing his current supply of drugs and lab equipment, the judge instead sentences him to ten year's probation, and orders him to destroy the drugs and equipment himself.

in periodic appearances before the judge, the now-convicted felon assures him that he is cooperating fully with the probation officers and that his drug production facilities and supply have been completely eliminated, although he can produce no evidence to that end. probation officers continuously complain to the judge that they have gotten zero cooperation, have been barred from fully searching the premises, and have even been forcibly ejected and denied admittance on several visits. this continues throughout the probationary period, until at the end of the decade the police, frustrated with the criminal's continued defiance and brutal tactics, appear before the judge and ask to arrest the man once more.

"why," asks the judge dubiously. "what evidence can you give me that he still possesses or is producing drugs?"

"what do you mean 'what evidence can we give you'? he was supposed to give evidence to you that the drugs had been destroyed. instead he has defied you and your probation officers and given you no evidence at all. now you demand proof from us?"

the search for the smoking gun has been and always will be a joke. it was never the responsibility of weapons inspectors to find saddam's chemical and biological weapons--as though the potential deaths of hundreds of thousands of people were an occasion for an international game of hide and seek. the responsibility has always been on hussein to comply, and he has never complied. if powell hadn't given one scrap of evidence, not one phone call or satellite photo or eye witness account, the justification for eliminating saddam hussein's regime would remain nonetheless overwhelming. as it stands, powell provided a case for war that would have been compelling had the world never even heard of saddam hussein. why did he need to?

it is degrading to the dignity of the united states of america--a nation which has fought for and saved those who are now most loudly demanding it defend itself from the asinine allegations of a rogue state and infamous dictatorship--to have to produce evidence to refute the lies of saddam hussein when the u.n. knows saddam is covering something up. it is an insult to everything the united nations supposedly stands for that colin powell should have had to give this presentation today. the blind eye the united nations has cast towards saddam hussein, the farce of an inspections team it has assembled, burdening them with the impossible task of finding that which saddam doesn't want found in a nation the size of california, the pattern of overlooking saddam's contempt of the united nations itself cannot be excused. it is a body which has come to stand for a de facto defense of tyranny and which has, through its demands for patience and diplomatic resolutions, enabled the slaughter of millions of innocents and world wide, campaigns of genocide in rwanda, yugoslavia, iraq, cambodia, that the u.n. either completely overlooked or was drug into kicking and screaming by the united states.

the united nations ostensibly exists to preserve the ideals of libertarian freedom and democracy throughout the world. it has instead become a bastion of anti-americanism, anti-semitism, socialist/communist propaganda, and self-serving bureaucracy. i fail to see we should have a united nations when it is the united states and like-minded allies on our own continent and across europe who will eventually end up doing all the dirty work anyway.

locdog is done with this argument: on to iraq





 

smoking gun? powell is giving them a full broadside



watching powell's presentation to the u.n.

he's already played intercepted phone calls where sites scheduled to be inspected are warned to make sure all forbidden items have been evacuated, now he's showing satellite images of active iraqi chemical weapons bunkers...through it all he is rigorously establishing a pattern of iraqi deception and obfuscation and hammering home iraq's total unwillingness to cooperate with weapons inspectors. he's probably said "this violates [u.n. resolution] 1441" twenty times.

this gun is red hot. prepare for french and german meltdowns.

--not that any of this matters. more on that in a bit.

locdog considers this pointless, but fun

update: powell showed satellite photos of terrorist camp in north-eastern iraq specializing in poison, specifically, the toxin risin. revealed intel on terrorist leader al-zarqawi's base of operations in baghdad, which has been operating freely, says powell, for eight months. detailed iraqi based al-qaeda cell plans against europe. not overwhelming, but nothing to sneeze at.




2/04/2003

 

mel gibson's no-english, no-subtitle Jesus slasher movie



the following was originally posted in the comments to this post on josh claybourn's blog. i haven't mentioned gibson's new project yet, although i've been meaning to. seems like as good a time as any.

from what i understand the film is going to be extremely graphic.

crucifixion was a bloody enough business, but particularly so after the floggings that Jesus sustained. i've been a little uneasy about the rumored depiction of that violence in gibson's film, but can't really judge until i see it myself.

what worries me is that the american movie-goer, who demands ever more graphic and personified violence ("the cell" with jennifer lopez comes to mind) will go to see it simply out of a salacious interest. the cross of Christ was veiled in darkness, ought we to be shining camera lights on it?

i remember reading the medical accounts of the crucifixion offered in lee strobel's "the case for Christ" and some of those passages were so unsettling i had to put the book down and compose myself. i'm not sure i want popcorn munchers gawking with ghoulish glee at the big screen version.

that said, i can also see a tremendous upside to gibson's project. people don't really understand the suffering of Christ. of all the faiths, Christianity offers the most compelling answer to the problem of evil. in our faith alone did God become a man and experience evil in a way none of us could ever even comprehend, both by the great extent of His suffering and by the fact that it was completely undeserved. Christianity is unintelligible without the sufferings of Christ. maybe gibson's depiction of pain will be the megaphone to rouse a morally deaf world, to borrow c. s. lewis' famed metaphor.

don't know if you ever listen to hank hanegraaff, but yesterday a woman called in asking how God could allow the columbia seven to die. the response was rather intellectual and had to do with the reality of evil as necessitated by human free will. the woman wasn't buying it. some people can't be made to understand the philosophy of it all, but anyone can understand the cross of Christ. anyone can see that we have a God who is not oblivious to human suffering, but Who has suffered more than any of us, over came that suffering, and is coming back to set things right in the end.

locdog supposes he'll just have to wait for the movie





 

do balanced budgets matter?



a new york times analysis piece praises the president's ambitious new budget, but bemoans a lack of what democrats would call "fiscal responsibility", that is, bush's budget isn't balanced, and it doesn't care.

should we?

i've got to admit, on a wholly puerile level, i really dig a bad boy president who all but slaps a window decal of a grinning boy urinating on a balance on the front of his budget proposal. you know what that infamous bush smirk is for now, baby.

but then come the democrats and their willing accomplices in the media with their talk of "responsibility" and we know it's time to grow up and get down to serious business. i mean, who is bush kidding? billions in military and homeland security build-ups on one side while he wants to slash taxes on the other? we'll have sky-rocketing deficits. we'll be running in the red. that's just got to be bad, doesn't it? i mean, when i manage my own budget, i make sure i'm taking in more than i'm paying out. deficits produce debt, and being in debt is disastrous after all...well, except of course for when i needed to start working and got my first car loan thus going into debt in the short-term to enable financial well-being in the long run. or that time i had to sign my life away to the bank to buy a home, casting myself tens of thousands into debt to escape rent, acquire some equity and substance, and build a spring board towards a bigger home. come to think of it, any time i've ever made any financial progress at all in my life, it's been the result of taking a calculated risk and incurring some debt. some dead white guy used to have a word for that...i think it was "capitalism". something like that.

i need to give this some more thought...

let's see, this is the government we are talking about here, not me, joe sixpack. things are different there. more complicated. and another dead white guy, keynes, or something, said that debts were bad. he said they'd cause interest rates to go up. let's suppose he's right. let's suppose interest rates go up if bush incurs a debt. not a good thing, high interest rates. could lead to economic stagnation. better avoid that. i mean, our military has been gutted and our homeland security program is a joke, but at least we'd have low interest rates. i feel safer already.

but then...we already have economic stagnation now, so it seems like interest rates should be the least of our worries. and besides that, reagan ran a deficit all throughout his administration and interest rates plummeted compared to where they were during carter. and while bush's deficits will be the largest ever in terms of dollars and cents, in terms of a percentage of the GDP they'll actually be smaller than reagan's by a couple of points...doesn't sound so bad at all. ok, forget keynes.

so let's see. where are we, economically speaking? we need to make ourselves safe at home from terrorists and be able to stand up to the evil regimes that back them abroad, but we are also facing economic stagnation. can we get out of this without incurring a debt? doesn't seem very reasonable to me. doesn't seem like we can have our cake and eat it too. i mean, i don't see how we can address the national defense issues without more spending. most people would agree there, i think. but cutting taxes is the best thing a government can do during an economic slowdown, that is, it can get the hell out of the way. even some democrats will admit that on their better days. JFK did. they know that taxes are just the price of doing business in the american economy, and so lowering taxes (even for those evil stockholders) is like having a sale on economic activity. that's why businesses have sales. they don't lose money by giving 50% discounts on wonder-bras and wrinkle cream, that's for sure. the increased activity more than offsets the profit cuts on each individual sale and--hey...wait a minute.

now this is starting to click. by cutting taxes in the short term, bush runs a deficit thus incurring a moderate debt. essentially what he's done is he's taken out a loan with the american people, which is exactly what i would do if i was in desperate need of repairs but didn't have the cash. so bush takes out a loan, and makes some repairs on the military and beefs up our homeland security to protect us from terrorists. but in the meantime, he throws a big "sale" on economic activity. sure he's temporarily cutting into his "profits", but as time goes on the increase in activity will offset losses and even exceed the revenues originally brought in under the higher "prices". long-term deficit projections and dour forecasts can't take that into account, after all, but looking back at reagan and kennedy, it's been shown again and again that tax cuts will, in the long run, up revenues. so by taking out a loan, bush will provide for immediate needs while ensuring long-term financial health. gee, you'd almost think this guy knew what he was doing.

locdog wonders if this could be related to the fact that he's the president of the united states





 

need a good laugh?



check out dennis prager's latest over at townhall.com in which he offers an unsolicited revision of the state of the union address, based on what the rest of the world would have had bush say.

locdog only wishes he would have thought of prager's idea first




2/03/2003

 

the blame game begins



president bush appears to be the early favorite in the inevitable columbia blame game. ideology-driven british rag the guardian demands to know why bush ignored the warnings of a former NASA engineer who pleaded with the president to halt the shuttle program amidst mounting safety concerns. a more reasonable british paper, the times, also mentions the engineer story but balances it with criticisms of congress and NASA chief officials. the american papers aren't yet at liberty to indulge in blame-fixing, but dark clouds are on the horizon as this tame-by-comparison washington post article would indicate. howell and the boys are playing it cool thus far, but as the weeks go by we'll see plenty from them implicating the bush administration.

in some ways it's justified. the president is ultimately responsible for what goes on during his watch. in some ways it isn't. the president makes decisions based on the evidence he has available at the time. if one ex-NASA engineer is telling him scrap the program while all of the current NASA brass are telling him things are fine, who is he to believe? i'm not exonerating the president since i don't honestly know what information he had access to at the time, but usually when things like this happen there's more than enough blame to go around.

i suppose that if i had to fix blame at all, i'd pin it on the american people. we either have a space program or we don't. we need to insist that our representatives fully commit to NASA, or that they scrap it. lukewarm support and slow-death budget cuts get people killed.

locdog is calling for renewed support




2/02/2003

 

further thoughts on columbia



the sunday morning news shows were full of senators promising to increase NASA's funding, which, in case you hadn't heard by now, has been cut by over 40% during the last decade. the senators’ sales pitch involves the benefits NASA research has bestowed upon the american people in the past. without NASA, for instance, we wouldn't have velcro or tang, our computers would be slower (if we had them at all), our microwave-safe cookware programs would have been set back by decades. in adopting this misguided defense of NASA, our political leaders are dooming our chances at space exploration.

i'm not attempting to belittle the contributions that NASA has made over the years, but i have absolutely no qualms whatsoever with belittling the principle that NASA funding should somehow be linked to spin-off benefits which may or may not ever materialize. part of the point i was trying to make in my last post is that while NASA has certainly produced a lot of swell advances over the years (that memory foam they're making beds out of now is supposed to be fantastic), this should never be america's main expectation. we don't pour billions into NASA in the hopes that someday they'll invent a better mousetrap, we do it so that someday, some american will be the first human being ever to set foot on mars, or to leave our solar system, or to colonize a distant world.

some readers took great offence to my earlier observations that NASA was "'worthless'" and that it wasn't "about anything practical." perhaps my attempt at irony didn't come through quite clearly enough, but all the same your ire is entirely misplaced and quite counter-productive. NASA funding has been slashed so dramatically precisely because people began to demand results--not setting foot on mars or deploying the hubble space telescope. nobody cares about that. no, people wanted flying cars and nuclear-powered toasters, and when NASA couldn't deliver, funding was shifted to programs we hoped could.

columbus came to the new world looking for an improved trade route, and cortez wanted cities of gold. perhaps exploration has always been tinged with the commercial, and, as an ardent capitalist, i don't necessarily think that's a bad thing: most of it probably would not have occurred otherwise. but let me ask you one question. suppose you were president and you had access to the top-secret government time machine. suppose you saw that the moon is a worthless hunk of rock and mars is a desolate wasteland of no real value. suppose you saw that for the billions we've poured into NASA to get GPS satellites and dehydrated ice cream, we could have gotten a ten-fold return elsewhere. would you go back, erase the moon landing, take that money and shift it to more practical locations?

i didn't think so.

locdog thinks we need to remember why we have a space program