Thursday, July 21, 2011

WeCan Put a Man on the Moon...Not...and Ultrarunning

Later today, if all goes according to plan, the space shuttle Atlantis will coast safely to earth and the U.S. manned space program will be effectively over.

Being an explorer rather than a warrior (see here for that explanation) this cost-cutting move is both short sighted and just plain wrong.  We have the money, we just choose not to use it for reaching out into space with manned flight.


Today, I read yet another angry article on the continuing death spiral of the American economy, which ended with what has become a rather stale cliché:

We can put a man on the moon, but…

Actually, no. We can’t put a man on the moon. We might have been able to do it once upon a time, a long time ago. But today? In this technologically overloaded era, we can chat with friends and rellies on the other side of the planet, we download half the Library of Congress on our Kindles and Kobos, we can tweet what we had for breakfast in California to the twittering lunchtime crowd in New York, we can play on-line video games with sophisticated graphics and total strangers, and we can blog about it to the entire world. But we cannot do what we once did with not much more than a slide rule and the completely insane self-confidence that we as Americans could do anything we set our minds to. Failure was not an option.

Gene Cernan [the last astronaut to walk on the moon] has long been a genial ambassador for America’s space program, but lately has become an outspoken critic of what he considers a deliberate agenda to destroy what NASA has achieved. It’s not just about the end of America’s space shuttles. ‘The agenda is to dismantle America’s space program, Cernan said. ‘There’s no objective. There’s no timetable. There’s no goal. And there’s no mission. We’re retiring America’s space program. We’re out of the business.’

In our rush to cut back all the ‘unnecessary’ programmes, such as Medicare and Social Security along with NASA, in order to ‘balance the budget,’ we will continue this long, not-so-slow slide down into irrelevancy and endemic depression. Where we had a Kennedy who could galvanize the American spirit and bring out the best in us, this administration, hounded by the jackals on the right to cut everything to the bone (unless you’re an oil company or a multi-billion dollar bank, that is) is not only allowing us to fail, but helping us along. With a poke in the eye for good measure.

We can put a man on the moon, but we… well… can’t put a man on the moon. How sad is that?

These are the money quotes.  If you have not done so, click over to Crooks and Liars and read the whole thing, and be sad.

Oh, and I guess I already made the nexus to Ultrarunning.  If you're an explorer, you understand.

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