Friday, September 9, 2011
Here's a little of what happened while I was away.
Rick Perry led a prayer meeting of 30,000 evangelical Christians in a
Houston football stadium last month, calling on Jesus to guide us out of
our national travail. It was billed as non-political. I suppose that's
possible; under the First Amendment God is not excluded from politics, but
if Perry wants to be President he's got to be able to negotiate at every
level. The big question then is, how did God respond? It didn't take long
to get an answer. The crowd had scarcely left the stadium when God set
Texas on fire. Its still burning. In fact, when God sent Tropical Storm
Lee ashore he had it it dump record rains on the other Gulf states, while
leaving Texas parched. This is not a good sign.
At the urging of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Northern Virginia,
thousands of books in the University of Maryland Library sought a lower
energy configuration, moving from the bookshelves to the floor.
Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, ABC, and NBC, high-strung
inmates at the National Zoo like orangutans began to screech and scramble
to higher perches "minutes before" seismographs sensed anything. Like
maybe they had some special sense that humans don't? Or so the media
reported. Were reporters already at the zoo waiting for a quake? Zoos are
always in turmoil. Inmates chase each other, fornicate and have food
fights, except the laid-back types like pandas that just sit on their ass
through it all munching bamboo.
It was a famous victory. Shaken by the 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik, the
US created NASA to wrest the lead in space from the Soviets. And so, 42
years ago, NASA did. The moon landing was political theater at its best.
The Soviet Union is long gone; we are now at war with ourselves -- and
losing. The real victories were the exploration of the solar system, and
the creation of an amazing array of space technologies, ranging from
communications satellites and global positioning systems, to the Hubble
space telescope, which inspired a generation of the world's youth to study
In July a House panel voted to stop building NASA's James Webb Space
Telescope, the far more powerful replacement for the Hubble. Webb fell
victim to budget overruns. Yesterday a report commissioned by NASA says
that with 59 on board the agency faces a dire shortage of astronauts. What
do astronauts do these days? Well, they train on the Russian Soyuz
spacecraft to deliver supplies to the International Space Station, which we
don't own. And what do we get from the ISS? The garbage and human waste
accumulated since the last delivery.