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Top 10 Letters

"The Passion," "Lost In Translation," chopped steak, Nasa, really long words, and more.

11:00 PM, Feb 29, 2004
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THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.


Given the hysteria "The Passion of the Christ" is causing, it is ironic that Larry Miller, a Jewish humorist, would offer the most intelligent perspective I have seen thus far (Passions).

The reaction to "The Passion" begs the question--what is likely to happen when the actual Second Coming (or, first, if you happen to be Jewish) takes place?

(1) Matt Drudge will break the story, while the mainstream media sit on it.

(2) AOL will run a poll: "Do you think this fellow is 1) The Son of God 2) A fake 3) No opinion." The "no opinion" group will total 70 percent.

(3) Gideon Bibles will go missing from hotels--either that or the Book of Revelation will be torn from the binder.

(4) If it happens on Bush's watch, Kerry and company will characterize it as one more attempt on the part of the president to deflect attention from the horrid state of the economy. Somebody will undoubtedly claim to have seen Jesus having lunch with Dick Cheney in the Halliburton cafeteria.

(6) When the "judging of the dead" commences, the ACLU will launch a lawsuit claiming that the sinners were not properly warned, the Bible is not sufficiently clear relative to proper behavior and the consequences of living a life of sin.

--Charlie Talmadge


Velcro? Tang? Indeed the fact that so few people understand how pervasive and important space technology has become is one of the key challenges in generating support for space exploration. (Larry Miller, To Boldly Go . . .) The mythology of Velcro and Tang trivializes what has, in fact, been a key engine of innovation and discovery fueling our economy for the past 40 years.

Had I, upon reading Larry Miller's column, suffered a heart attack and fallen to the pavement, I would hope that a passerby would flip open their cellular phone to call for help. If so, they would be using a communication device powered by a monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) computing chip which came from the space program, and placing their call over cellular and terrestrial networks that depend upon space systems (GPS satellites) for the precision timing necessary to operate. The 911 operator would dispatch an Emergency Medical Services crew, which in many cities would use space-based satellite navigation systems to get to me as quickly as possible.

Once on the scene, the paramedics might get my heart beating again using an automatic external defibrillator whose high-capacity discharge surfaces came from space technology. Once my condition was stable they would hook me up to a blood-oxygen monitor that was developed to fit in the glove of Apollo astronauts, and take my temperature using an infrared "in the ear" device developed from NASA technology. In many instances the paramedics would hook me up to a harness of medical monitoring devices, invented by NASA for the Apollo program, and beam my medical vital signs back to a team of doctors at the hospital. If they worried about me slipping into shock on the ride to the hospital, they might put me in an anti-shock suit, again developed originally by NASA for astronauts.

Back at the hospital (we raced there safely thanks to anti-lock braking technology pioneered by NASA), doctors would probably want to take an image of my heart using a space spin-off technology like a CAT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). If they found my ticker needed regulating, they might give me an implantable pacemaker--again, a NASA spin-off technology. If things were more serious, they might need to implant a ventricular assist device (VAD), better known as the NASA-Debakey heart pump; invented by NASA engineers and famed heart surgeon Dr. Michael Debakey, the VAD is based upon space shuttle main engine turbo-pump technology and is expected to save some 30,000 lives each year in the United States as it takes its place alongside so many other NASA technologies in our nation's medical centers.

Space technology is absolutely everywhere, ubiquitous, and the technologies developed or derived from human space flight programs are essential to our quality of life and standard of living. Miller's inability to put his finger upon anything more serious than Velcro or Tang highlights one of NASA's biggest challenges in advancing the new space vision articulated by President Bush--the trivialization of the vast technology benefits of space exploration by the arrogant or misinformed, and the poor job that the space agency has historically done of communicating the vast benefit of the NASA enterprise to all of us on Earth.