NASA wastes billions on trivial projectsAs I read the...

the Forum

December 21, 1993

NASA wastes billions on trivial projects

As I read the article about rats being decapitated inside the space shuttle in order to study the effects of space, I realized how trivial our costly space program is.

All considered, it probably takes over $1 billion to launch one mission. The NASA managers try to launch between 12 and 20 flights a year. Yet as I see the goals of each mission described, it is evident that triviality, not to mention a serious lack of concern for animals, reigns at NASA.

This is equivalent to the $400 toilet seat and the $500 hammer the Air Force bought. It is the same kind of thinking that feels it appropriate to pay $1 billion for a single bomber. That kind silliness has begun to be brought under control, but only because of public scrutiny.

It seems our politicians do not understand the numbers they are dealing with, presumably because of large number of zeros involved. Too many dollars are appropriated for projects with questionable goals, like decapitating mice in space.

Where is the analysis of value for the dollars expended? Congress does not seem to ask for much in return for the dollars it so readily hands out.

The public needs to send a message to our legislators that trivial, billion-dollar projects will not be funded. The impression of NASA has turned extremely negative. It is time to correct the most expensive mistake NASA ever made and retire the space shuttles.

We need to return to unmanned space missions as other countries, with a lot less money but apparently much more wisdom, have done.

Myron Wasiuta

Annapolis

Guns and humans

Regarding the letter from John P. Kimball (Dec. 9) suggesting the banning of handguns and saying that handguns are for one purpose, and that is to kill human beings: He is absolutely right on one aspect, and that is the killing part.

If we lived in a society (or world) where violence did not exist, this would be great, but we do not. If all weapons were banned, man in his infinite desire to annihilate one another would resort back to stones, rocks or whatever other implement he could find.

The facts are that until we overcome the hostilities that we hold against other races, nationalities or religious groups and accept all cultures other then our own, we will continue to decimate each other at the present rate.

The government, short of taking every form of weapon away can license, ban, bar, proclaim or whatever it wants, but it is not going to change one thing until we as a people change inside.

Ed Mattson

Towson

Quality programs

The warning system all four major television networks have decided to adopt is probably the key to retaining quality programs on the air.

Shows containing strong language, violence or sexually-explicit content, including nudity, will feature disclaimers before the show that allow parents to screen what their children see.

Many stations are already boycotting the "worst offender" in all three of these areas, ABC's "N.Y.P.D. Blue," even though the Motion Picture Association of America gave its pilot episode the mild PG rating. "N.Y.P.D. Blue" also has become one of the most critically acclaimed shows of the new season.

"Picket Fences," the show that won this year's Emmys for best drama, best actor and best actress, was not allowed to rebroadcast one episode about bigamy, and was forced to refilm the opening scene of an episode in which the sheriff's daughter questions her sexuality after experimenting with a girlfriend.

Had the warning system been in effect, one of the most powerful episodes of the year might have remained intact.

The network has continued to support the show due to its critical acclaim and sensitivity in dealing with subject matter.

Finally, I would like to commend the Fox network for practicing responsible broadcasting since their first year of operation. They have voluntarily aired warnings before shows such as "Werewolf" and, more recently, "Cops."

It is good to see that quality entertainment is not being sacrificed to fear of offending in our politically over-correct society.

C. Patrick Storck

Glen Arm

Not trivial

I was terribly distressed to see the column headlined ''Kevorkian Is Painkiller For All Occasions'' appearing in a paper here and attributed to Kevin Cowherd of The Baltimore Sun.

In 37 years of ministry I have lost seven persons to the tragedy of suicide, including four persons from the city of Fremont. In addition to these, one of my former superintendents lost two daughters, a registered nurse and a dietician, in the tragedy at Jonestown.

I cannot conceive of a more offensive treatment of such a serious subject. Suicide is not a trivial matter.

Donald Rogers

Fremont, Calif.

Clinton's nightmarish reform

It is time for American women to wake up and ask what the Clinton camp is trying to do to their lives.

Recently, the Clinton camp changed the federal guidelines for mammography. The new age at which it says women should start getting the test has been raised to 50 from 40.

The American Cancer Society strongly disagrees.

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