Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To The Moon, Alice?

© 2009 Leighann Lord

A recent article in "The Economist" said that NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is considering sending another manned flight to the moon. My response to this should have been "Woo Hoo." But instead I thought, "Been there done that." I imagine the planet Vulcan is a long way off – and probably not even real – but aren’t we ready to send people as far as Jupiter yet?

I’m a Sci-Fi fan; and I do mean Sci-Fi not "SyFy" the supposedly hip new name of the Sci-Fi Channel. I hear the name was changed to make the network more "female-friendly." Yeah, that double Y ought to have women switching over from Lifetime in droves. Dear God, people, have we learned nothing from the New Coke debacle?

In general, we Sci-Fi fans are an open-minded lot. We can conceive of alternate realities, parallel universes, and believe in a future where science and imagination combine to help us reach our ideal selves. I have no trouble visualizing human beings traipsing around the galaxy through the power of Dilithium crystals, Holtzman engines or even hitchhiking around with a towel. So why am I so not excited about NASA sending manned flights to the moon again? Perhaps it’s because my imagination is burdened lately by more down to Earth concerns.

How can we seek to freely travel through space when we can’t even freely travel our own planet? Passports, visas, armed border crossings and war are proof that we are not exactly a unified species. I can’t even get from one part of my own city to another with paying a toll. Will the route to the moon take E-Z Pass? How can we justify spending money on another moon mission when so many Earth dwellers are hungry, homeless and in poor health?

This is what I get for reading "The Economist." It’s human frailty and foibles boiled down to dollars and cents.

In "Star Trek’s" version of the future there is no need for money. Presumably we’ve evolved past hedge funds. In "Dune’s" gritty future, however, humanity struggles with addiction, superstition, poverty and war. No wonder "Star Trek" is more popular. "Dune" hits a little too close to home.

Maybe I’d feel better if NASA’s reasons for going to the moon again were more lofty: Reigniting America’s passion for science, making space travel at least as fast as Earth travel, or finding the Aliens that keep abducting and probing American southerners.

In "The Economist" Gregg Maryniak, director of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, said, "The moon is rich in energy and materials that could enable further exploration of the universe and potentially save the Earth."

Uh oh. It sounds like the Earth’s trophy planet days are done. Earth was a starter wife, and now that she’s all used up it’s time to move on and exploit the resources of another sweet young celestial body. We can’t reach Jupiter, but we can reach the moon. That slutty little rock is hanging up there all nice and shiny, just asking for it. One small step for man, one giant step for mediocrity.

Thank you for reading Leighann Lord's Comic Perspective

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