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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.

The United States enjoys a high quality of life and is the technology leader on the planet because of the investments our nation made 40 years ago. The fact that space technology has become so ingrained in our lives that we no longer recognize it when we see it is not necessarily a bad thing. But we do need to consider whether remaining at the leading edge of technology for the next 40 years is important, and perhaps might be worth the paltry less-than-one- percent of the federal budget that we invest in NASA.

--Elliot G. Pulham

President and CEO

The Space Foundation


In Cut and Run, Katherine Mangu-Ward repeats President Bush's recent falsehood when she writes, "For example, in Clinton's last budget, discretionary non-defense spending grew 15 percent. Bush's figures look better."

In fact, discretionary non-defense spending grew 4.7 percent under the FY 2001 budget, the last federal budget proposed by and passed under President Clinton. The U.S. Department of the Treasury, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the American Conservative Union Foundation all agree on this figure.

In his February 8 interview with Tim Russert, President Bush claimed that discretionary spending rose by 15 percent in the FY 2001 budget. This statement was not true, and I have been unable to find any reference to the 15 percent figure that predates February 8. If the president had been misinformed, surely there would be some evidence that he was not the first person to make the 15 percent claim. There is none; the falsehood appears to originate with President Bush. Furthermore, the president claimed that total discretionary spending grew by 15 percent in FY 2001. Yet Mangu-Ward writes that discretionary non-defense spending grew by 15 percent in that year's budget. For both President Bush and Mangu-Ward to be correct, defense spending--which accounts for about half of all discretionary spending--must also have increased by 15 percent in 2001. In fact, discretionary defense spending rose 6.2 percent in FY 2001.

--Scott Rogers


One point of further reflection on "The Passion": God sent Jesus to our world to die for our sins. So the plan was his and the people at hand--who were Jews, as Larry Miller so ably points out--were merely the instruments he used.

For those who truly believe in the teachings of Christ, his life, and God's plan, how can they then blame anyone for what happened? Did the Jews interfere with God's plan, have Christians been deprived of the opportunity for their salvation?

It seems self-evident to me that the people who "blame" anyone, never mind descendants of a group that lived 2000 years ago, are simply acting out on their own bad nature using these ancient events as an excuse.

--Art Keating


Thanks for Larry Miller's column on "The Passion." I don't blame him for being nervous about the movie. There's so much polarity in this world, but I know no Christians who blame Jews for Christ's death. It was supposed to happen, Jesus knew it was supposed to happen, and Christians are taught as much, so I really don't understand the "blaming" part. But, if I was Jewish, with the history of your people in mind, I can't say that I wouldn't be nervous either, especially with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Stay positive--Christians preach love not hate and I believe Christians need their Jewish brothers now more than ever in this scary world of ours.

--Deborah Durkee


In regards to Victorino Matus's Save Our Steak, I am proud to report that the chop steak is alive and well in the world of real men.

How do I define real men? Those who would consider eating in one of the restaurants Matus described as not worth a day's pay. These are guys that don't go hide under a rock when one cow comes down with BSE. They deal with real risks every day, the things that most inside-the-beltway elitists wouldn't know how to handle.

I have an idea for Matus: Poll Republicans and Democrats inside the beltway on whether they eat chop steaks and burgers and I guarantee you will be able to tell which party will win in the Fall. Unfortunately, I am afraid that the current Republican batch in Washington will give the Dems a run for the title of biggest wimps.

--Aftan Romanczak


The Hollywood love-fest surrounding Sofia Coppola and "Lost In Translation" seems inversely proportional to the overly-harsh treatment she received after her performance in "The Godfather III." (David Skinner, A Commoner's Complaint) The Coppola name surely can be used to push in either direction. David Lynch's daughter was soundly panned for "Boxing Helena," but if she were to ever create a masterpiece on her father's level, the praise of her genius would shortly follow.

--James Chisholm


Larry Miller might let his son know that antidisestablishmentarianism ("opposition to the disestablishment of the Church of England") is only 28 letters long (What Did You Say?).

Floccinaucinihilipilification ("categorization of something as worthless or trivial" and the longest word in the OED) is longer at 29 letters. Some claim that pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis: ("the miners' lung disease caused by inhaling silica"), at 45 letters, is longer, but others, including me, say this is merely a contrived, not real, word.

--Fred White


I remember the childhood discussions of antidisestablishmentarianism very well because my father was a professor of English Literature (Caltech) and he had a gay old time explaining it to me. He was right in his element. However, the one word that has stayed with me down through the years since I first heard it is hypersesquepedalianism.

Although shorter by six characters, this delectable word means "The extreme tendency to use overly long words." Does it get any better than that?

--Chris Smith


Another "Old School" coach who has returned to a high-profile coaching job is Bobby Ross. (Ed Walsh, The Greatest Generation of Coaches) A former head coach in the NFL (he took San Diego to the Super Bowl) and the NCAA (Georgia Tech won a national championship while he was the helm there), Ross has taken up the challenge of reinvigorating the storied football at the U.S. Military Academy.

--Scott Belliveau