Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just As I Suspected

Scholars, I've blogged before about the troubling misconceptions my fellow Americans hold about our national space agency. But this demonstrates that the trouble goes even deeper than many of us had feared.

When asked to estimate NASA's allocation of the national budget, people respond with amounts averaging 24%. TWENTY-FOUR PERCENT. Scholars, if NASA got 24% of the national budget, I would be writing this from my moon condo. And I wouldn't be typing on a keyboard, I would be using nanotechnology to blog using only the power of my thoughts.

It's telling that NASA was the part of the budget on which people overestimated most wildly. I hate to blame the media, because it's such a cliche, but to hear the mainstream media talk about it, you'd think NASA was burning up all our money on their pointless toys. In fact, they do quite a bit with very little.

For the record, NASA's allocation is 0.58%.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

MLD in Five Chapters!

I have a story this week in Five Chapters entitled "Lives of the Great Baristas." Five Chapters is a cool online journal. Check it out!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Female Pioneers in Space

Scholars, I'm happy about this sort of thing, of course. As noted last time, Commander Melroy (still in space as we speak) is the second Feminine American to command the space shuttle, and it's a nice coincidence that she's meeting another of her gender commanding the International Space Station. But I'm a bit troubled by this kind of coverage.

"Melroy and Whitson are showing it doesn't matter whether someone is male or female," according to Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the Space Shuttle. And that's true. Yet we have a contradiction here because this kind of coverage--the inspiring of the Girl Scouts and so on--insists that it does matter. Otherwise why cover it as such?

I've written about this contradiction before with respect to the first woman to play professional baseball, and I still don't really have my story straight: It bothers me that these women's accomplishments get filed under Women's Accomplishments rather than under Accomplishments, yet I get choked up when little Girl Scouts are inspired to become daredevil pilots by seeing big girl pilots.