Archives for the Month of September 2006 on Through the Magnifying Glass
Fear has become a dangerous weapon
According to the Seattle Times - Man forced off plane by fellow passengers article, Pablo Gutierrez Vega, a Spanish university professor with a long beard and dark complexion said Thursday he was briefly forced off an airliner during a layover on the Spanish island of Mallorca by passengers who feared he was an Islamic terrorist.
Apparently, three German passengers approached him on the Air Berlin flight and asked to search his carryon luggage. After realising that the passengers were NOT undercover officers, the professor refused.
The pilot spoke to the professor in private stating that the small group were fearful because they think he looks like a terrorist.
Usually, the passenger at the center of the incident would have been removed from the plane, detained by security, questioned, then put on the next plane.
However, the pilot actually asked the professor if he wanted the three German passengers expelled from the aircraft, or place his carryon luggage in the cockpit to pacify the other "fearful" passengers. The professor chose the latter.
NAACP Accuses NY Jewish Clinic of Discrimination
For crying out loud! JTA.org reports that NAACP has filed a complaint accusing a New York dental clinic of religious discimination because it is closed on Shabbat.
It was filed September 6th with the NY State Division of Human Rights (wow, I did not realise there was such a divison) accusing the Ben Gilman Medical and Dental Clinic in Spring Valley, NY of "imposing" its religious beliefs on others by remaining closed on Saturdays.
Score 1 for idiocy at the NAACP.
All Barberton High students should stage a WALKOUT!
As mentioned in Quick and the Dead blog about Homeland Security at Barberton High, 20 students were suspended for trying to plan a walkout in support of teachers.
The article states that the students wanted to express their displeasure at the labor dispute between the district and teachers. They were planning to distribute a flier calling for a demonstration on October 9 @ 10am at their school gym.
Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli argued that the students could have done a "passive protest" by wearing buttons or making posters or speaking their mind, but no walkout or promotion of said walkout. She even tried to play down the punishments by saying that the suspended students could have been penalised up to 10 days instead of the one to two days that were given.
I am actually quite skeptical about the passive protest idea. Who knows what "dress code" could be enacted to prevent students from stating their position on the labor dispute, regardless if it was passive or active. Just by using the excuse of overzealous school safety and the light punishments, suggesting that the students use passive protesting is pretty much bollux. I would not be surprised if students were suspended for putting up posters or wearing t-shirts in support of the teachers.
Just imagine: Barberton students suspended over posters - school's excuse: they did not follow procedure or the posters did not meet the required measurements. Or getting suspended over the buttons - school's excuse: the pin attached to the button could be used as a "dangerous weapon" or it did not fit with the school's dress code.
We now live in a world where you need to file paperwork and follow extraneous procedures just to stage a protest. The amount of red tape actively discourages official planned demonstrations. Certainly, these are rules are justified for cities or large towns, but they require flexibility and a bit of common sense for these types of gatherings.
Or is it that administrators are just too worried about their young "pupils" being active in politics occurring at the "adult" level?
In any case, I find it unnerving that the school chose to enact swift action to punish these "active" students. If they so concerned about student safety, then how about every Barberton student choose not to go to school for one day? Honestly, all Barberton students should just stage a "sick day".
What can Superintendent Lolli do? Suspend everyone?
UK Speeding Ads More Serious
Here's one example of an ad that shows driving 30 mph and hitting a pedestrian gives the person 80% chance of survival, instead of likely fatal 80% death at 40 mph.
I do promise on my next Case visit to stop by the "wall" behind Thwing Center. I'll do an analysis, take a few photos, then make a concrete opinion about it.
It seems to some that I am advocating some sort of suppression of freedom of expression.... a rhyme! It is just strange for some to misinterpret my views as being anti-free speech. I thought I did quite a lot to advocate student activism during my time, but I was more along the lines that the idea was just stupid. How can the wall be different than writing chalk on the sidewalk? It's just the same thing except you're looking straight instead of down.
Maybe we can use paint now or we got more space to "express" ourselves. I don't know. Honestly, people will get tired of it and who knows... it will get removed without any fuss, or perhaps when the new student center gets built, the "wall" would not come back when the construction's all done. Unfortunately, I don't think that will happen in the next 5-6 years.
Oh yes, I have to stop by the Spirit Rock too. Maybe some brothers would be interested in doing a paint over while I'm there.
I heard Blackwell is going to get creamed this November, maybe DeWine too.
$448 Billion for Defense
Since everyone does not want to be seen as being anti-military, the defense spending bill passed with a large bi-partisan majority (394-22) in the House. It will authorise $448 billion, the largest ever so far.
* Will include $70 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (running total so far is $507 billion). It is expected that another $40 billion will be needed later this year. It costs about $8 billion a month in Iraq.
* Includes $86 billion to support 482,000 Army soldiers and 175,000 Marines. Military pay increase of 2.2 percent.
* $120 billion covers operations and maintenance
* $81 billion to buy new weapons
* $76 billion for R&D
New equipment is falling on the wayside as Congress continues to cut the number of new purchases, thereby increasing the manufacturing cost per unit. There is only enough money to build two DD(X) next-generation Navy destroyers, and two Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighters next year.
I was under the notion that the F-22 and F-35 were supposed to replace the F-15, and eventually the F-16 jets. If this keeps up, it will take a decade to replace only a small percentage of our current active Air Force.
F-14, entered service in 1972. Retired from Navy on Sept 22 2006. Did you know that the Iranian Air Force is the only military force outside of the US that still has F-14A jets in their inventory?
F-15, entered service in 1972, the E version was introduced in 1988.
F-16, entered service in 1978. Over 4,000 of these jets have been built.
F-17, prototype lightweight aircraft
F/A-18, entered service in 1983.
Coca-Cola - "World Cup Winner"
Coca-Cola, according to initial research compiled for football(soccer) world governing body FIFA, "won the world cup" in terms of sponsorship.
It was one of 15 official FIFA "partners" at this year's event, but has been a World Cup partner of FIFA since the 1970 tournament in Mexico.
Honestly, Coke is the best...time to switch! =)
BBC News - Coca-Cola "wins sponsor World Cup"
US is now 6th in world competitiveness
According to the World Economic Forum's report released today, the United States is ranked sixth (6th) in the 2006 global competitiveness rankings, ceding the top spot to Switzerland.
The report cited Washington's huge defense and homeland security spending commitments, plans to lower taxes further, and long-term potential costs from health care and pensions. It also cited a low savings rate, record-high current account deficits, and worsening of the US net debtor position.
Above the US were Switzerland (1st), Finland (2nd), Sweden (3rd), Denmark (4th), and Singapore (5th). After the US, Japan (7th), Germany (8th), Netherlands (9th), and UK (10th).
Washington Post - US Drops to 6th in world competitiveness ranking
Common Sense: Protect Voter Integrity
Opinion polls show more than a majority of Americans support the need for photo identification when turning up to vote. Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006 by a vote of 228-196. It would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot in federal elections beginning in 2008. The legislation aims to prevent election fraud, especially voting by non-citizens.
It seems to make perfect sense. During USG elections, each student must present their Case ID and sign their name before casting his/her ballot. Why would this be difficult for people to accept in our federal elections? Even after registering to vote, you do need to prove who you are when you go to the polling station. With a photo ID, we can make sure that Mr. John Doe is actually Mr. John Doe.
However, the ACLU believes this requirement imposes an unnecessary and undue burden on the exercise of the fundamental right to vote who are eligible, registered, and qualified to vote. Their reasoning is based on the premise that the photo ID requirement is a poll tax which disadvantages racial and ethnic minority voters, elderly, voters with disabilities, and certain religious objectors.
They cite the Department of Justice's (DOJ) conclusions that imposing photo identification as a prerequisite for voting would have an adverse impact on black voters. In 1994, the DOJ found that African-American persons in Louisiana were four to five times less likely than white persons to have drivers' licenses or other picture identification cards. In addition, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) noted in its 1997 report to Congress that photo ID's entails major expenses, both initially and in maintenance, and presents an undue and potentially discriminatory burden on citizens in exercising their basic right to vote.
Now let's see if I want to get a photo ID in the state of NJ. The drivers license would cost me $24 initially after taking the examination and road test. It would cost me $24 to renew. If I wanted a non-drivers photo ID, it would also cost me $24.
In Ohio, a new license would cost $23 (if 21 or older) and renewal would be $24. The Ohio ID card would cost $8.50 for initial and renewal.
A US passport equivalent would cost you $97 if it's a new application. Renewing your passport would cost $67.
The reasoning seems justified since not everyone could afford the cost of attaining a photo ID from their respective state or country. Could it be possible for Congress to enact a law where getting your photo ID (non-driver) is "free" to all US citizens? Of course we would pay in order to get that drivers license or permits, but the standard ID card should be complementary. I wonder if this is sufficient enough to allay the concerns of the ACLU and the Democrats.
Republicans are advocating preserving the integrity of our elections. Democrats are more concerned about accessibility to vote in the elections. Why can't we merge these concerns and provide an "actual" solution?
Already, Republicans and conservative groups are accusing Democrats of wanting illegals to vote. Democrats reasoned that the new legislation would hurt racial and ethnic minorities who are unable to afford a photo ID, and these groups tend to vote Democratic, so they accuse Republicans of trying to reduce their voter turnout.
So how should we solve this problem?
It is definitely true that a person coming in to vote must prove who they are, and are eligible to vote for that specific constituency and federal election. It is also true that the person must be able to attain a valid identification with relatively little or no problems. At the basic minimum, each state must be able to provide a photo ID to a resident having proved the basic identity requirements without charge.
Las Vegas DVD
Over the weekend, I went through the entire Season 3 DVD of Las Vegas. I just keep on hating to miss an episode during the season (no TIVO or DVR recorder handy). Season 4 starts Friday, Oct 20. This kinda sucks since I go out Friday night. Looks like I need to buy a DVR recorder pretty soon.
Next time to remember: avoid mixing Patron tequila, champagne, and beer together. =)
Forbes US Richest - My Recommendations
1) Those that inherited their billions should be left off the list
2) The Waltons should just merged themselves into one category, I do not really care if they occupy 6th, 7th, 9th, and 11th in the rankings. Just merge their fortunes (minux their inheritance), and give them first place.
3) Those that hold most of their billions in stock (on paper), example Bill Gates, The Google Twins should get a penalty.
4) Those that have done unethical or illegal things should be dropped off the list (example #140 - Nancy Walton Laurie; her daughter was found to pay her USC roommate $20,000 to do her homework - U Missouri dropped her daughter's naming rights from the basketball arena)
Forbes.com - The 400 Richest Americans
The "graffiti" Expression Wall - Part Deux
As you can see above, Delta Gamma is the first group to "advertise" on the expression wall with their upcoming event Anchor Splash.
I was mentioned in the Observer's September 22 edition about the wall expressing my skepticism to the idea. You see, I am more supportive of the original intent of the Spirit Rock. The idea was pushed forward during my last year at Case and a petition was submitted to Student Affairs with several hundred signatures. Of course, it was not until 2004 when a rock was finally located and installed outside the Silver Spartan.
The picture above is evidence suggesting that the installation of this "wall" was not fully discussed or planned out. The wall reaches 13 feet at its highest point, so a ladder would be needed. The ground at the base of the wall is not level, so a catwalk needs to be set up. Plus, there is space between the "expression" wall and Thwing so someone or something could be hidden behind it. The solution removing the bottom panels of the wall is only a short-term fix at best.
It is not a permanent fixture and it is certainly obvious that the wall is not fire-resistant and eventually, it will slowly degrade over time. Plus, when Thwing gets rebuilt, the wall will need to be taken down.
It would have been great to see the Spirit Rock located in the KSL Oval, but because there is a parking lot below ground, it cannot support the weight of the Rock.
The "wall" is just an unoriginal idea. I understand the intent of the idea, but can we just be a bit more creative? It's a billboard!
Passport Required when travelling to Canada - Deadline Extended
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative proposed rule will require citizens of the US, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda to present a passport to enter the US when arriving by air or sea from any part of the Western Hemisphere beginning January 8, 2007. Originally, the deadline was December 31, 2006.
For land border crossings, the proposed deadline for passport usage will be January 1, 2008.
Fewer than 30 percent of Americans have a valid US passport. I guess people are just not interested in international exploration.
However, according to the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL), 50-65 percent of passengers on long-duration cruises possess a passport. Only 30-40 percent of those who take short cruises have passports. The ICCL and the Travel Industry Association of America have been lobbying the government to postpone the deadline until June 1, 2009. So far, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an amendment to that effect, but the ultimate outcome is yet to be determined.
People complain about the potential backlog of passport applications, but I think you have procrastinated long enough, and you got ample time before the land crossing deadline, and a good amount of time before the air/sea deadline. So how about clicking HERE, and get started on your new passport.
Religion and Alcohol: Homer Simpson
Homer Simpson's favorite quote:
"To alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."
Now we do need to replace the word alcohol with religion. Yes, there are those in the world that use religion to advocate violence, and there are some that believe that it will bring salvation to everyone. I consider it a catch-22 pretty much.
Pope Benedict XVI's comments on violence with the Muslim faith were definitely taken out of context, but who is really paying attention to that fact. Regardless of his apology, extremists groups are just busy using this as an excuse to launch a jihad ("holy war") against the West and Christianity.
Yahoo AP - Iranian leader urges more papal protests
My question to all of you: Is it possible that religion could spark a fundamentalist revolution in America and give rise to ultra-evangelicalism as a defense against the Islamic extremists?
It is time - WTC Memorial
Republicans - Scaremongers
Gosh, I am still a registered (centrist) Republican in my county in Jersey. Given that I am living in a "red" county in North Jersey, I am confident of the performance of the local government. However, that changes with regards with the national and state positions.
I find it quite ridiculous that with seven weeks until the midterm elections in November, Republicans are concentrating on scaring the public about terrorism and the need to fight them in Iraq and Afghanistan, and soon enough, Iran. They think that scaring the public to keep them in power is more important than domestic issues such as balancing the budget, reform entitlements, lower energy costs, and immigration.
While it is important to maintain democracy in Iraq and combating terrorism, we, as voters, find it also important to see a government balanced budget, better health care, lower taxes and energy costs. Yes, Republicans were successful in scaring the public in 2002 and 2004. But not in 2006.
Stop with the scare tactics. We got Social Security going bankrupt, failing dikes surrounding New Orleans, unnecessary pork barrel projects, corruptive lobbyists, and a overstressed military.
The Geneva Conventions: A Bush Annoyance
President Bush on the need to re-interpret Article III of the Geneva Conventions:
"It is very important for the American people to understand that in order to protect this country, we must be able to interrogate people who have information about future attacks," Bush said. "I will resist any bill that does not enable this program to go forward with legal clarity. If there's not clarity, if there's ambiguity, if there's any doubt in our professionals' mind if they can conduct their operation in a legal way, with support of the Congress, the program won't go forward and the American people will be in danger," Bush said.
However, the other 192 countries do not see any need to re-define this convention document.
We ought to thank Republican Senator John McCain (Arizona), Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Senator John Warner (Virginia), and Senator Susan Collins (Maine) for approving alternative legislation that would protect US troops and maintain the standard for treating war prisoners and detainees.
Yes, terrorism must be eliminated. This should not mean we should re-define a treaty which the US has ratified to support our own agenda. We are expected to abide with the rules of the Geneva Conventions. If we wish to change something, then it must be done within the framework of the Convention, not through unilateral action.
Bush has countered that "active duty personnel in the Pentagon, the [Judge Advocates Generals], supported the concept that I have just outlined to you." However, the military lawyers to whom the president referred had initially supported the McCain version of the anti-terror legislation.
Yahoo News (Reuters) - Bush argues terrorism case after Republican revolt
It's time for smart New Jersey people to act
There are only two states in the country where it is illegal for you to pump gas to your own vehicle.
Oregon and NEW JERSEY
Only gas station owners or employees can pump gas in your vehicle. In 1949, New Jersey passed the law restricting customers from this because it was assumed that it would be too dangerous having untrained people dispensing such a flammable liquid. This was the ORIGINAL INTENT of the legislation.
Why does the law need to go? Honestly, the time it takes for a gas station attendant to pump your gas at a busy station takes precious time from the motorist. One gas station I visited had the ability to support fueling for 12 vehicles, but it only had two attendants. It is time to be sensible and let convenience triumph over inefficiency. It is also surprising to note that this statute has stood up to several challenges.
For some reasons, proponents believe the ban create jobs and customers like full service. They rather believe that customers would like to stay in the comfort of their vehicle while the gas station attendant does the dirty work.
First, you can have customers that prefer full-service but you will have customers that prefer the ability to pump their gas quickly and get out of there as fast as possible.
Second, it defeats the purpose of "Speedpass" used at Exxonmobil gas stations where the customer can just wave their speedpass device at a scanner at the pump, and it would deduct the payment from the customer's account. Plus, the ability to pay by credit card right at the pump without going inside the gas station store to pay for it.
Bill Dressler, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline Retailers Association, is an adamant opponent of self-serve. He reasoned that NJ had the "foresight" to see the dangers of inexperienced motorists trying to operate fuel pumps. He even contends that motorists not only pay less for gas, but are spared the "inconvenience of getting out in all kinds of weather."
I did not believe that New Jersey folks are "cowards" in the face of snow, rain, sleet, or cats and dogs falling out of the sky. I like to self-serve my vehicle, thank you very much.
Other arguments about customers not knowing how to top-off their vehicle, not wanting to get the smell of gasoline on your hands, the time it takes to go to the conveience store and pay for your gas purchase are all moot. When was the last time an explosion at a NJ gas station was attributed to a topping-off spill? Can the smell really be a turn-off? Plus, we got pay-at-your-pump technology or is NJ really that backward?
In Oregon, the other state that does not allow self-service, Steve O'Toole, executive director of the Oregon Petroleum Marketers Association, stated "in certain states people just want to do things certain ways."
In May, Governor Jon S. Corzine attempted to put forth a proposal to bring self-service gasoline pumping to the NJ Turnpike and at some local stations. His office received 1,400 calls and e-mails of complaints against the measure. Lawmakers said they were not convinced that self-service was a good idea. Senior and disabled citizens would complain about it. So what about everybody else?!?!?!
I am completely fine with full-service but I want the choice of being able to pump my own gas. This is common sense. Stop DENYING my right to fill my gas tank!
A Waste of Taxpayer Time and Money: Example
In 1992, the British-built Slingsby T-3A Firefly was selected to replace the T-41 trainer aircraft. The US Air Force grounded them in 1997 after three fatal crashes.
Our wonderful Air Force discovered that fixing the planes was cost prohibitive. There was no maintenance since the grounding, and many of them were damaged by storm elements.
This past Monday, after 9 years, the Air Force has agreed to pay a metal-recycling company $12,000 to get rid of the planes. The scrap metal value would be used to offset the disposal cost. It will be finished by September 25.
The cost of the aircraft program to the taxpayer: $42 MILLION, plus another $10 MILLION in failed fixes.
It took 9 years for them to decide that the T-3A plane was no longer airworthy.
Thank you, US Air Force.
9/11/01 - Remember
Today, September 11, 2006 marks the fifth anniversary of the attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.
Nearly 3,000 lives were lost on that day.
Four moments of silence are being planned today across the nation:
8:46, 9:03, 9:59, and 10:29
Each time when jetliners struck each of the twin towers and when each tower fell.
There is also moments of silence set for 8:46 am in the American and United terminals of Logan International Airport in Boston.
As evening falls, two giant beams of light symbolising the collapsed towers will illuminate the Manhattan sky. A candle-lit vigil is planned at Ground Zero.
In Respect - James Chang (Class of 2000), stood along the Jersey City waterfront near work and watched both Twin Towers collapse. I did not get home until 3-4pm that day.
US ban on Internet gambling unjustified
Two stories have come to light due to the US ban on Internet gambling.
BBC News - Gaming Shares hit by US Charges (18-Jul-06)
BBC News - Sportingbet chairman held in US (7-Sep-06)
Another Man Taken Off Plane for Praying
In reference with the post by Quick and the Dead: Moslem Prayers on the Plane not such a good idea, it seems that an Orthodox Jewish man was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight from Montreal to New York City last week.
As the airplane was heading towards the runway at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, eyewitnesses saw the Orthodox man began to pray. It appears he was saying something, not loud enough for other passengers to hear, but was lurching back and forth. Though the action did not seem to hurt anyone, a flight attendant approached the man and told him his praying was making other passengers nervous.
The plane returned to the gate, and the man, who spoke neither English nor French, was escorted off.
Jazz spokeswoman, Manon Stewart, stated that "the crew had to act in the interest of the majority of passengers."
Jewish leaders in Montreal criticised the move as insensitive, saying that flight attendants should have explained to the other passengers that the man was simply praying and doing no harm.
So the situation is a double-standard. It seems that with a Moslem praying, he is considered to be a security risk, but to an Orthodox Hasidic Jewish, it is normal. Maybe a man practicing his Budda prayers is also a danger to the whole plane. First off, it would have been appreciative of the Jewish passenger to ask his neighbor or neighbors if it was alright to do a prayer. Also, it would seem ill-timed to do his praying just when the plane is about to take off.
I do not find it insensitive. Air Canada Jazz crew did what was necessary to protect the lives of its passengers and the plane. Perhaps Rabbi Ronny Fine should exercised some common sense and pick the right time to conduct his private prayer.
CBC News - Jewish man removed from airplane for praying
A Waste of Money example
Exactly who paid for this? Could we find this person and give him a smack on the back of his or her head?
Are you telling me that a regular crosswalk was too difficult for everyone to notice? Inserting a brick walkway was to do what? Improving the aesthetics of Euclid Avenue?
What's next? Putting painted advertisements on it? That's one way to increase accidents.
Wall of "Expression"
It is assumed that the wall was set up to be similar to the "Spirit Rock" turned Doc Oc memorial near the North Residential Village. Further evidence has been obtained from a construction worker that the wall is intended as a "graffiti wall" for students.
Here's the picture (thanks to Andrew Witte)
How unoriginal! Did we happen to have some extra building materials left around, and just decide that a "expression / graffiti" wall was in the best interests of the University community? I honestly could believe that parts of the wall could be devoted to commerical advertising, you know, just to add a bit of cash flow to our strapped fiscal budget. Or maybe we just wanted to prevent people from vandalising the back brick wall of Thwing?
I am quite concerned that this was done without any student input whatsoever. This is probably the one difference between this "wall" and the Spirit Rock. But look at it! It is just like a bulletin board, but bigger! I don't even believe it can ever be a permanent fixture. Can the sheeting survive in a winter storm? Remember master plan? New student center? Right, let's go back to the reason why a Spirit Rock was created in the first place. (BTW, the Spirit Rock is located at Juniper and 115th, next to the Silver Spartan.) The Rock was not only there to advertise about group events, student government elections, and Greek parties, but to be used as a platform for free speech and the power of expression.
While it is memorable to see the Spirit Rock remain "in memorium" for Doc Oc, we do need to move on. As an example, Carnegie Mellon's version was the Fence. On September 11, 2001, the Fence was covered in names of loved ones with unknown fates in the attacks on our country. Out of reverence, no one would paint over it. It was weeks until the student government finally took the plunge and blanked the Fence. Every year since, the Fence has been painted in some memorial fashion.
Why do we argue about painting and blanking out Doc Oc's memory on that rock? He is really inside ourselves, in our hearts, and no one can take or erase that from us. He instilled his sense of energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to teaching thousands of students that have taken his chemistry classes. We remember him as an active member of the community, serving as a celebrity judge on Mr. CWRU, and Hudson Relays coach for the first-year class.
Let the Spirit Rock fulfill its original goal. It has dedicated itself to a fine and beloved professor for more than a year, and it's time to move forward. Already, Housing has removed the posting rules for the Spirit Rock, assuming that the Rock is no longer in use. This is a mistake.
The "expression / graffiti" wall is just boring. Any college or university can put up a wall and call it like that. What a nice, boring way to define our University spirit to everyone else.
Please, Tear down this wall!
It looks like some students have repainted the Spirit Rock in memory of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, who was killed by a stingray during filming yesterday. May he rest in peace.
One idea for a permanent Doc Oc memorial. It must incorporate the Hudson Relays rock that is in front of Adelbert Hall. As the first-year coach, he strived so hard to push every class to win the Relays race during their first year.
Space: What low expectations we have
If you have watched 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick, we see a PanAm "Orion" shuttle docking with an Earth-orbital space station which has a Hilton hotel, complete with a Howard Johnson's restaurant. That was the prediction of how 2001 would be like when the film was produced in 1968. Today, we have a partially-completed ISS space station, but no hotels or restaurants. The history-making SpaceShipOne has started the effort to develop space tourism. There are still no manned moon bases.
In the 1960's and early 1970's, the US embarked on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions to beat the Soviets on the race to the moon. Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the Moon left a plaque on the ladder of the descent stage of Challenger, the lunar module, which said:
Here Man completed his first explorations of the moon. December 1972AD. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind.
The last man to walk on the moon was Eugene A. Cernan, Apollo 17 Commander.
"As I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come - but we believe not too long into the future — I'd like to just [say] what I believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."
Eugene A. Cernan was born March 14, 1934 and is the author of Last Man on the Moon book. If Bush's outlook holds true that the US will return back to the Moon in 2015, Eugene will be 81 years old.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The US Space Shuttle programme was the next-generation spacecraft after the capsule series. It is launched vertically, can carry 5 to 7 astronauts and up to 50,000 lbs of payload into low earth orbit. It is the only winged manned spacecraft to achieve orbit and land. It was only designed for a projected lifespan of 100 launches or 10 years' operational life.
Six shuttles were built. Enterprise was the first prototype, but was never retrofitted for actual spaceflight. Columbia disintegrated during re-entry on February 1, 2003. Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986. Only Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour are still operational.
Its replacement was supposed to be the X-33. It was supposed to flight test a range of technologies such as SSTO (Single stage to Orbit), metallic thermal protection systems, composite cryogenic fuel tanks for liquid hydrogen, aerospike engine, unmanned flight control, rapid flight turn-around times, and lifting body aerodynamics. Unfortunately, the program was cancelled by NASA in 2001 where the construction of the prototype was some 85% complete. About $912 million was invested in this program by NASA and about $357 million by Lockheed Martin.
It was felt that at the time, this next-generation spacecraft was not viable.
Now, President George W. Bush has unveiled a new space vision for America. Yes, we will return back to the Moon by 2015. However, the current space shuttle programme is obsolete and should be replaced. The cornerstone of America's space effort will be phased out by 2010. Mr. Bush proposed to develop a new spacecraft to take Americans to the Moon, which would be used as a "stepping stone" for a manned mission to Mars and across the solar system.
Today, NASA announced that Lockheed Martin, the same company that help developed the ill-fated X-33, will enter into a multi-billion dollar contract to build a new generation of spaceships capable of carrying astronauts to the moon. It will be known as the Orion crew vehicle (pretty much like Apollo but with steroids).
Instead of thinking forward, it is looking backwards to the old Apollo program, and developing a new vehicle based on the 1960's model but with some "upgrades." The reason why the US has such low expectations is a quote by Lockheed Martin Vice President John Karas.
He said his company will succeed with Orion compared to its failure with X-33 because "we're not shooting as far... I'd say it (Orion) is within reach."
Quite a declaration of confidence, don't you think?
Shall we take a bet on whether:
1) Will Lockheed Martin develop and test an actual Orion spacecraft in the next 5-7 years?
2) Will it be able to launch a full production spacecraft by 2014? Will it meet Bush's goal of a manned mission by 2015? It was mentioned that a human landing may not occur until 2020.
3) How much in cost overruns? (X billion dollars?)
4) What are the chances that the next US President will mention about launching a spacecraft to the Moon by 2020, or 2025, or perhaps 2030? (Whoops, sorry America, got a technical glitch here, need to delay it for a few more years)
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Honestly, why don't we just surrender space? Let's just give it up because our government lacks the "real" inspiration to develop a productive spaceflight program.
How about we start asking the Chinese if we can lease some cargo space from their Shenzhou spacecraft? It just seems to me that we have lost our creativity and our will to create new and better spacecraft. The ISS space station should have been completed already. It could have been used as a launching point to deliver heavy cargo to High Earth Orbit or to the Moon. It seems that we need some crisis just to jumpstart our space program.
The Times (UK) got it wrong when it said America's dream of putting men on the Moon took a giant leap forward with Lockheed Martin.
Supposedly it will take 8 years for the first Orion launch. Another 6 years for a actual human landing on the Moon. By the time we get there, the Chinese or the Russians will have a docking platform ready for us.
The NASA contract is estimated to be worth $4 billion dollars. So far, it has not estimated what would be the overrun cost. I am just curious that it will take EIGHT YEARS to make it more efficient, more reliable, and more affordable. American productivity at its best!