George W. Bush. I can see him right now, looking through a picture book — maybe Goodnight Moon.
“Wow,” he sighs, “it sure would be fun to go to the moon in a rocket ship and have adventures!”
I generally think it’s a mistake to underestimate the intelligence of Bush, because by portraying him as a bumbling idiot we overlook the fact that he can be a right sneaky bastard some times. But with the current dilemma over the NASA budget, it’s the only image that continually pops into my mind. Scientists in lab coats stand behind the President, pleading with him to give more funding to research — research that will help find other habitable planets, search for life on Europa, or finally discover what the hell dark matter is.
“No,” Bush pouts, “I wanna go to the moon.”
Earlier, Bush had appointed a 24-year old college dropout creationist to stifle NASA scientists. Had this little insult to science been allowed to continue, I’m sure it wouldn’t be long before NASA’s official position changed to say space is a flat black blanket with sparkly buttons, and God just hung the moon there to test us.
So now this. NASA needs funding, but Bush wants to give it all to the new Moon Mission. Because you know, we just didn’t get the full experience the last time we went. Sure, Bush promised that no actual SCIENCE would be cut in favor of strapping people to a rocket and firing them into space, but I guess that was just what we call “pillow talk,” baby.
I just checked in on the Bad Astronomer’s blog, and of course he’s covering the story, and he’ll know a lot more about it than me, so check it out here. He’s so cute when he’s angry.
In case you forgot what astronomy gives us, I’ve included an Astronomy Picture of the Day above. According to APOD:
Explanation: From afar, the whole thing looks like an Eagle. A closer look at the Eagle Nebula, however, shows the bright region is actually a window into the center of a larger dark shell of dust. Through this window, a brightly-lit workshop appears where a whole open cluster of stars is being formed. In this cavity tall pillars and round globules of dark dust and cold molecular gas remain where stars are still forming. Already visible are several young bright blue stars whose light and winds are burning away and pushing back the remaining filaments and walls of gas and dust. The Eagle emission nebula, tagged M16, lies about 6500 light years away, spans about 20 light-years, and is visible with binoculars toward the constellation of Serpens. The above picture combines three specific emitted colors and was taken with the 0.9-meter telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA.
According to me:
This is what it would look like if you reached up into space and tore the blanket open to see what lies beyond it.