Thursday, February 06, 2003

Just in case you missed it the first time. From godofthemachine:

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Korea?

(To the tune of "Maria," from The Sound of Music)

He builds a nuke without rebuke
Then asks for foreign aid.
He thumbs his nose at those who will
Clean up the mess he's made.
Amassing troops at the border,
Dear Leader's not an asset to world order.

He's always breaking treaties,
But his penitence is real.
If things have worked out badly
He'll just make another deal.
I hate to have to say it
But I very firmly feel
Dear Leader's not an asset to world order!

I'd like to say a word in his behalf.
Dear Leader makes me laugh!

How do you solve a problem like Korea?
How do you reason with the utterly mad?
How do you find the words for our Dear Leader?
A cineaste! A communist! A cad!

Four terrorist suspects were arrested this morning in Glasgow and Edinburgh and are being held in Govan Police Station. They're out of harm's way but we've got more terrorists coming to Scotland to keep the numbers up.

Adieu, adieu, to you and you and you

Mark Steyn grinds the UN under his stilletto in the Spectator. The conceptual gap between what the UN is supposed to be and what it actually is is reaching ridiculous proportions now that Iraq is due to chair the UN Conference on Disarmament. Their turn rolls around in May immaterial of the binding resolutions against them, but by then this might not be a problem.

There are good reasons for opposing a war on Iraq but lack of UN approval isn't one of them. If UN representatives were directly represented by the citizens of its member states I might understand the antiwar position's faith in them. However, as it stands the UN is an appointed committee largely representing non-democratic states so it falls desperately short of being the world's moral authority. The UN isn't a democratic institution in any sense other than the rarified fantasy where all nations are equal and have the same say in international affairs. Sorry, but it just isn't so.

Monday, February 03, 2003

But it's not all bad news

...according to the Independent. While the world is united in sympathy with the victims of Columbia (with a few notable exceptions) an enlightened, anonymous writer harnesses his mind-shattering perception to discover an up side:

An event of this kind is bound to give pause for thought about the costs and benefits of space exploration. It is likely to mark a further stage in coming to terms with the limits of human endeavour. Much of that has happened, of course, in the scaling back since the excitements of moon landings – no one seriously imagines now that they were the prelude, in anything but the longest term, to human colonisation of space. The romance is fading.

If that contributes to a subtle adjustment to the American psyche, it is likely to be for the better. There can be no harm, in the present world situation, in the US coming to terms with the idea of limits to its power.

Hey ho, every cloud has its silver lining, eh? I mean, that's the really important factor in all this - America's need to be taken down a peg or two. While the romance may be fading for the timorous writer, there are plenty of people who are still up for it. Lileks puts it eloquently:

NPR had an interview with one of those people who think we should not send people into space, but rely entirely on robots. As I pulled into the parking lot at the mall he casually asked “what can a man do on Mars that a robot cannot?”

PLANT A FUCKING FLAG ON THE PLANET, I shouted at the radio. Pardon my language. But. On a day when seven brave people died while fulfilling their brightest ambitions, this was the wrong day to suggest we all stay tethered to the dirt until the sun grows cold. Are we less than the men who left safe harbors and shouldered through cold oceans? After all, they sailed into the void; we can look up at the night sky and point at where we want to go. There: that bright white orb. We’re going. There: that red coal burning on the horizon. We’re going. And we’re not sending smart toys on our behalf - we’re sending human beings, and one of them will put his boot on the sand and bring the number of worlds we’ve visited to three. And when he plants the flag he will use flesh and sinew and blood and bone to drive it into the ground. His heartbeat will hammer in his ears; his mind will spin a kaleidoscopic medley of all the things he’d thought he’d think at this moment, and he'll grin: I had it wrong. I had no idea what it would truly be like. He’d imagined this moment as oddly private; he'd thought of himself, the red land, the flag in his hand, and he heard music, as though the moment would be fully scored when it happened. But there isn't any music; there's the sound of his breath and the thrum of his pulse. It seems like everyone who ever lived is standing behind him at the other end of a vast dark auditorium, waiting for the flag to stand on the ground of Mars. Then he will say something. He might stumble on a word or two, because he’s only human.

But look what humans have done. Again.

Right. I've noticed some commentators criticising President Bush for the content of his address, clearly wishing that he had expressed a more robust commitment to pushing forward with the Space Program. While I heartily agree with the sentiment, I don't think he would have done anyone any favours by adopting a rousing "we're off to Mars" tenor. Such a speech, though inspiring, may well have come across as unbearably grandiose.

There's plenty of time for that later, once the memorials are over and cooler heads have worked out a plan of action for the next few years. It won't happen tomorrow or next year, but it will happen.

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