January 19th, 2004

flavored with age

Far-Out Space Nuts

So James "Shaddap, Pax" Lileks is on a big outer space kick lately. He wants to go to Mars, he thinks God put us here to leave, he wants the Gnat to grow old on Proxima Centauri VII where there are no dusky Allah-grovelers to threaten her grandchildren, etc. And today, in response to an editorial cartoon by Tom Toles featuring a little girl in a wheelchair saying “They want to spend how much to go into space?”, he writes what is generally a sensible column – pointing out that there’s lots of other rich countries that can work on medical research while we go into space, and correctly noting that if we don’t go into space, that doesn’t mean all the money will go to research for kids in wheelchairs; it’s not an either-this-or-that scenario.

But, just when you might think that ol’ Jim is thinking rationally these days, he ends with this bizarre speculation:

"Just thought of something: What holds the paraplegic in their chairs? What keeps them from shooting around the room, stopping their progress with a finger, floating from desk to desk?"

"Gravity."

"And gravity isn’t a big issue . . . where?"

So…what you’re saying is, the best way to help cripples is to shoot them into space.

Also, in defense (yes, DEFENSE) of going to outer space, he makes this remarkably ill-thought-out analogy:

"Space is to humans what Beethoven is to dogs."

I’m inclined to agree with this, although it leads me to an entirely different conclusion than it leads James, who needs to lay off the blackberry schnapps.