Dispatches > The Buzz

Blog Watch: Lost in Space?

The news that China is launching a manned space mission has brought focus to a long-running blog debate over America's own manned space program.

Issue: "John Paul II: In memoriam," Oct. 25, 2003

The news that China is launching a manned space mission has brought focus to a long-running blog debate over America's own manned space program. According to Gregg Easterbrook (tnr.com/easterbrook.html), "the United States space program continues to spend vast amounts-more than is spent on space by all other nations combined-to accomplish little, owing to dependence on the space shuttle." His recommendation: "Shut down the shuttle program-while keeping astronauts in training-and over 10 years, $30 billion would be freed up. Thirty billion dollars would be enough to develop a new, safer, cheaper, more reliable means of flight to space. Then grand goals such as a return to the moon might become possible. Or at least we could stay ahead of the Chinese."

Another frequent target of bloggers has been long-on-emotion, short-on-fact columnist Maureen Dowd of The New York Times. Andrew Sullivan (andrewsullivan.com) points out a disparity between a panicked Ms. Dowd during the anthrax attacks of 2001 and a Ms. Dowd disdainful of the biological weapons found in Iraq. Mr. Sullivan: "She sure has recovered, hasn't she? You won't find a better example of 9/11 amnesia than Ms. Dowd, a self-described 'spoiled yuppie who desperately wants to go back to a time before we'd heard of microns and milling, aerosolization and clumps in the alveoli.' Didn't take her long, did it?"

Blogger Tacitus (tacitus.org) is suspicious of the huge marketing blitz behind the unveiling of the new $20 bill, a campaign that is costing the government $33 million: "I'm all for making sure that merchants are aware of this, to spare tellers/clerks/cashiers the agony of deciding if they're on the receiving end of a fantastically bad scam. But $33 million? That's a bit excessive, I would think. Especially given the track record of the last currency marketing blitz. Oh yeah, I use the Golden Dollar all the time."

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