Do you ever get to wondering about stuff? Such as: PUTTING A PERSON ON MARS. Why do we want to do that? How can the USA or any nation justify the enormous expense and risk of sending one or more astronauts to Mars and then bringing them home? And if this feat is achieved, what lasting good will come of it, not just for the scientists, but for the ordinary working stiffs who have helped pay for it? Scientists quickly remind the stay-at-home advocates about the many beneficial discoveries made during the run-up to our moon landings. But the ready-made response to that argument is this: is it likely that similar advances would come from a Mars adventure? Does the average distance to Mars (140 million miles) guarantee that we’d be that much wiser than we were after soaring only 240,000 miles to the moon?
Then there’s the moss-covered argument that goes “Why do people want to climb Mt. Everest? Because it’s there.” That answer isn’t good enough for the Mars trip. Mt. Everest is peanuts in comparison. And once we get to Mars, you can bet your behind that going to Venus or Uranus will be the next adventure on the scientists’ bucket list. The universe is infinite in its size, complexity and unanswered questions, but Earth and its inhabitants have constraints that must be heeded.
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. We were able to put men on the moon, but we still haven’t learned how to legally execute a condemned man without screwing up the process, at least part of the time. The July 23 horror show in Arizona featured incompetent and unidentified hirelings administering unnamed drugs for 90 minutes before Joseph Rudolph Wood stopped gasping and gave up the ghost. This travesty triggered morbid suggestions that further drug-related executions be performed by a qualified veterinarian, or by any well-rounded heroin or meth addict who could probably tell exactly how much of a drug overdose is needed to dispatch an adult.
The agonizing irony of all this is that capital punishment simply doesn’t work, except to satisfy the compulsion for vengeance that lies within most of us. The risk of being executed seldom deters persons intent on committing a capital crime. The cost of maintaining Death Rows is enormous. The record shows that from time to time innocent persons are mistakenly executed, leaving society no option except to say “Oops! Sorry about that.” What a testimonial to our justice system.
HOW TO SETTLE THE ISRAELI-HAMAS DISPUTE AND THE UNDOCUMENTED HISPANIC CHILDREN PROBLEM AT THE SAME TIME. My suggestion: swap them. Both of these controversies are tough ones. The Israelis and the Palestinians have hated each others’ guts for 6,000 years, and today their leaders do not show any signs of changing their attitudes. Both sides blame the other guy. In the U.S. Congress, liberals and conservatives seem deadlocked about what to do about the thousands of Hispanic children who are illegally crossing our southwestern border. Most liberals say, “Let them stay; we’ll find a way.” Conservatives say, “Sorry, kids. Ain’t no more room at the inn.”
I say this: Let’s bring Israeli boss Netanyahu and the Hamas leaders to Arizona and force them to solve the illegal immigrant problem. At the same time, send Congressional leaders to Israel and assign them the task of bringing peace to that region. Both delegations should be delighted to be given a fresh set of headaches, and therefore should be able to come up with new ideas.
If this idea doesn’t work, let’s turn both controversies over to Dr. Phil. He is an expert at dealing with immature, selfish, narrow-minded, hateful human beings (many of them teen-aged junkies). His ultimate solution would be to send the Israelis, Palestinians and Congressional leaders to rehab centers in Idaho for a few weeks. It might not work, but it surely wouldn’t make things any worse than they are.
FEMALE WAR CORRESPONDENTS. I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that most of today’s TV reporters covering the hot spots in Israel, Gaza, Ukraine and other war zones are women. Many of them appear to be young, intense, competent and fully prepared to risk injury or death in order to get the story. Is this an indicator that the glass ceiling for women journalists is cracking? I’d like to think so.
Bob Driver is a former columnist with the Clearwater Sun. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.