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VINNIE BLESI ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM
Nolan,READER INQUIRY ON SNUFFY SMITH CHARACTERS
While I love and respect your romanticized view of the Space Shuttle program (Re: story on this issue's frontpage --N), I think it is time we realize that this program is a terribly outdated and unsafe program that is a big waste of tax dollars. The Shuttle is not even a spaceship, it is a orbiter, meaning it is only meant to orbit the earth, and they can't even do that safely anymore. The U.S. has no real manned space exploration program as far as I am concerned, falling behind the sleeping giant, China, and even private companies. I am much more excited about NASA's robotic exploration of Mars and other experiments like the recent asteroid collision. Seeing our recent ineptitude with the Space Shuttle makes me wonder if the Moon shots were really faked in the desert like many a conspiracy theory suggests.
I would love to see space travel a reality, however due to lack of vision and funding with our government, I don't believe we will see this in our lifetime. Hopefully we will some dynamic breakthrough in the private sector, that will make space travel more than a pipedream, before China colonizes the Moon.
Unfortunately we are caught between a third rock and a hard place with the Space Shuttle, as it was supposed to be integral in supplying the Intl. Space Station, which is also just another piece of Space soma, so we can continue to live our sci-fi dreams instead of having to concentrate on problems on old planet earth.
The currently embarrassing and ineffective Space Shuttle program is indeed scheduled to be decomissioned (or whatever they call it) permanently by 2010. I believe it's at that time if not before they will unveil the next generation of Shuttle craft.
Perhaps it is a "pipedream", but the shuttles were always intended to render space visits a cheap and effective way to supply the space station (and eventually return to the Moon), but it just never worked out that way. To me, I thought the whole point was to keep a toe-hold in space so that we could return to full-time exploration, mainly manned missins to other planets. Of course, my naiveté is showing again, that we could live that great dream like we did in the '60s. President Dubya announced his intentions of a manned Mars mission, but of course that was so he could have something noteworthy to say about it, Kennedy style.
The recent private sector triumphs of getting into space made the government programs look like the bloated, wasteful pep-rally fooder they really are, the science accomplished hardly seeming worth the expense and danger.
When one of our probes lands on, say, Mars without crashing we do get some useful science out of it without endangering human lives, true. I don't see how a private sector company can take that on, let alone manned missions, but I'd love to see them try. However....to go to another planet is EXPENSIVE. I can't help but feel it would take the resources of a nation to mount a serious mission to another planet where we explore and stake our claim, a la the Moon missions (and yes, we really went. That was an era with a brighter future.)
Christopher Columbus didn't ask to send a probe to America. He knew he needed the Queen's support and money to get here. The Vikings before him threw caution and many lives to the wind to get over here. In both cases there was a known danger that many of them may not make it alive or come back without casualties, but the allure of the adventure and treasures and discoveries of a new land outweighed those concerns. The trip over on The Mayflower resulted in our first permament colonies. I equate the space program with those explorers, but hopefully we can do it more safely.
Your warning about China is extremely relevant---we will lose the next space race if we don't focus on our priorities. (I often think we could've been halfway to Mars or returned to the Moon by now for the $300 billion we pissed away in Iraq). ---Nolan
As a child I was referred to as either Poody or Lucifer Barlow,
which were the names of characters in the Snuffy Smith comic strip
back in the '40s - '50s. A web search has not found any information
on these characters. Request any assistance you can provide in locating
information, and hopefully a picture of the comic strip characters
Poody and Lucifer Barlow.
Thank you for your time,
Battle Creek, MI
Willie, thanks so much for writing!
I myself am also unfamiliar with the characters you mention.
With the death of strip creator Fred Laswell and having lost contact
with one of his sons, Danny, I have no communication with the family at all.
However, I will run your letter in this week's edition of my online newsletter
and see if it gets any response. ---Nolan
To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com. Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan