In defense of NASA: was Re: Wirin' up blinkenlights

From: Don Maslin <>
Date: Fri Jun 9 17:09:44 2000

On Fri, 9 Jun 2000, R. D. Davis wrote:

> On Thu, 8 Jun 2000, Paul Braun wrote:
> > <rant>
> > Absolutely. If you only take a narrow view of life, the internet could
> > look like a tremendous waste of money and time.
> Well, the ARPANET did have a big flaw in it didn't it, I mean, they
> spent all that money, and look what still happened: the invasion of
> the AOLers (no offense to any AOL users here, I'm talking about the
> onslaught that nearly crippled Usenet several years ago that was like
> an infinite influx of first semester students who'd just gotten their
> usernames and passwords in CS101). ;-)
> In all seriousness, the internet, like many other things, is a double
> edged sword. It allows us to communicate more easily, and is
> extremely useful; it's a wonderful research tool. On the other hand,
> the Internet is a great wasy for some people to wasts vast sums of
> time, and, look at how easy it makes things for the government to spy
> on vast numbers of citizens due to the way it's been set up. Is
> the lack of security on the Internet possibly a well designed feature
> disguised as a flaw? Had the ARPANET never existed, isn't it likely

Possibly, but the same criticism can be made of radio, telephone, fax,
and most other modes of electronic communication. It is all monitored.

> that some other, perhaps more secure, form of communication may have
> originated without government intervention and become just as popular?
> > The space program, while costing the taxpayers a sizable amount
> > of money, has produced huge quantities of spinoff projects and
> > technologies that have definitely benefitted mankind.
> Yes, I remember as a child, there was that new orange powdered space
> age drink mix called Tang, which was marketed as a spinoff of the
> space program, the drink of the astronauts, available in supermarkets
> everywhere. :-) :-) :-)
> > If you take the previous poster's comments back several hundred
> > years, the Spanish could have said, "Why should the Queen spend
> > our money on that Columbus guy? He's just some obnoxious
> > "explorer" who only wants to satisfy his curiosity. What a waste!
> > We have everything we need, right here."
> Hmmm... interesting to think about.
> > I've been following the space program for as long as I can
> > remember, and it always irritates me when someone says that the
> > only reason we're doing it is to make some sci-fi geeks happy.
> You may be surprised that I agree with you: there are other reasons
> besides that. For example, the space program also exists so that
> large corporations can make billions of dollars in profits and use
> some of those profits to grant favors to the politicians who helped
> them make the profits extorted from taxpayers.
> More seriously, I know that there will come a day when the earth may
> become uninhabitable, and space exploration may be our only key to the
> survival of creatures living on earth. However, I seriously doubt
> that everyone would be able to leave, and imagine that only a
> relatively small number of carefully selected people and other
> creatures would get to leave and possibly survive, leaving the

May we presume boarding 'two by two'?

> majority of the earth's inhabitants here to perish. What's the point
> in that?
> However, at the rate things are going, we'll probably cause our own
> extinction because of overpopulation and the resulting damage to the
> environment, long before we can find another planet to destroy.
> > Most of the people in the space industry, I would venture to guess,
> > are probably not sci-fi nuts but damn good engineers and scientists
> Unquestionably true, and I have a lot of respect for the skills and
> abilities of such engineers and scientists; however, could not their
> abilities have been put to better use for society?
> > who are gaining a lot of valuable research from NASA and the like.
> Yes, but I wonder how much of this is actually necessary, and if it
> really does do much to improve the quality of people's lives. After
> all, the technology used in building comfortable houses to live in has
> been stable for many years. The automobile hasn't really improved
> much since the 1970s. The field of medicine would probably have done
> just as well, and perhaps better, if the money was spent on it, and,
> who knows, those horrid HMOs may never have even come to exist. Have
> the foods we eat improved as a result of the space program? Have
> people become kinder and more civil to one another as a result of the
> space program? Has the space program had any positive influence on
> spirituality and humanity's relationship with Nature?

Blame it on the Soviets and the rich kid (with the rich father) from
Boston ;-P
                                                 - don

> Yes, I can see how some of the technolgy has benefitted the U.S. and
> it's allies throughout the free world militarily, and has possibly
> been beneficial in that respect, but, again, perhaps a double edged
> sword, not always used for peaceful, or defensive means, a sword that
> can also slice the one who created it. Perhaps it's been useful for
> the strategic defense initiative, but, that's been delayed and our
> most trustworthy and esteemed (<-sarcasm intended) president has
> crawled on his hands and knees to Russia asking for their permission
> for us to implement it! Perhaps he's so used to crawling on his hands
> and knees submitting to Hillary that he just can't help this, but
> that's no excuse, is it?
> I look foward to your answers, and if I'm wrong or am overlooking
> something, I'd very much like to know about it.
> --
> R. D. Davis
> 410-744-4900
Received on Fri Jun 09 2000 - 17:09:44 BST

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