Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Well, There's Your Problem Right There

In a recent interview, NASA Administrator (and retired general and former astronaut) Charles Bolden said that President Obama gave him three priorities:

1. Re-inspire children to want to get into science and math.
2. Expand international relationships.
3. Find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.

See, I'm just an old-fashioned 20th-century guy who remembers when NASA's priorities would have looked more like:

1. Put machines in space.
2. Put people in space.
3. Develop advanced technologies, materials, and systems to put machines and people in space.

Seems to me that if you do those three things right, then at least the first two of Bolden's priorities take care of themselves. As for the third, I think it better to leave Muslim self esteem to the U.N. and State Department, which have more appropriate resources than the slide-rule jockeys at NASA (also, doesn't it sound hugely condescending?).

Slide rules! There I go again . . .

* * *

I'm reading David Sedaris's Naked, published in 1997 but new to me. I've read some of Sedaris's later work, including Me Talk Pretty One Day and When You Are Engulfed in Flames. He's a good, smart, witty storyteller, but man . . . if even one-tenth of the harrowing tales about his family and childhood are true, it's a miracle he survived to be a functioning adult, let alone a successful and relatively sane one.

As a fellow son and human being, I feel awful that young David had such a twisted upbringing. But as a writer, I confess I feel the same twinge of envy I did while reading David Small's excellent graphic novel Stitches: "Sure, it's easy to write great stuff when life hands you such terrific material!" What's a guy with a normal, happy life to do? Write about other people or make stuff up, I guess, all the while brooding because my family was way too loving and supportive. Darn my luck.
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4 comments:

ronnie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ronnie said...

Bah! Typos. I'm with you on the NASA thing. That's the weirdest list of priorities I can imagine for a NASA Administrator. And to do outreach with Muslim nations to "help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering"? That's one of the most patronizing things I've ever heard. Maybe if he had described it as "recognizing their historic contribution..." it would have sounded less condescending. Having said that, I can see no way, shape or form that that should be the NASA Administrator's role. No wonder the space program is in the toilet. (While typing this I keep inadvertently typing NASA as NADA. Freudian slip?)

I guess we now know what happened to the world of tomorrow: mission drift.

Jim O'Kane said...

Brian, I'm really sorry your book title keeps becoming more relevant every day! :(


Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin really laid into the administration today, calling the new goals "a perversion of NASA's purpose."

http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/former-nasa-chief-muslim-outreach-is-perversion-of-nasas-mission-97858404.html

Ugh.

Namowal said...

Seems to me that if you do those three things right, then at least the first two of Bolden's priorities take care of themselves.
Yep.

David Sedaris is a scream. I really enjoy audio versions of his books, as he does the reading and makes his stories even more entertaining.