succumbing to peer pressure

Monday, July 03, 2006

An interesting comparison

The NY Times has another piece this morning dissecting the Supreme Court's decision regarding Guantanamo and military commissions and recapping the Republican cries of how dare we apply the Geneva conventions! Then in the op-ed section there's a piece about NYC's history as a military jail during the Revolutionary War. American soldiers and civilians were terribly mistreated there and subject to horrible over-crowding, among other things. As a result, just two years after the British left Manhattan, the US entered its first treaty regarding the humane treatment of prisoners and several aspects of current international law got their starting point. The piece concludes:

Of course, even if such guidelines had been in effect during the Revolutionary War, there's no guarantee that they would have been followed. Britain was the world's superpower in those days, as the United States is now, and if King George didn't want to treat "rebel" prisoners humanely, only principle and conscience stood in his way.

It's shameful that our leader seeks to avoid both international law and 'principle and conscience' from standing in his way.

Thank god for the weather

In totally unrelated news, after two weather-related delays, NASA discovered a crack in the insulation of the shuttle's external fuel tank. I admit, I am far from anything even remotely resembling expertise in this area, but how many more times are we going to send (or nearly send) our astronauts into space with shoddy equipment? We did used to be better at this right? What's happened?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: the space shuttle

The answer? Our stuff got old. Instead of disposable rockets, we're using reusable shuttles which age and degrade and have problems. When it comes down to either not going up at all, or taking a risk of serious injury, I can understand why an astronaut might be willing to take that chance.

Heck, I'd probably take that chance if given the opportunity. Everything's dangerous, after all, and going into space is a heckofalot safer than, say, driving in Cleveland on St. Patty's day.


11:07 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I meant somewhat more philosophically what's changed in our attitude toward space exploration. I admit, I have an overly romanticized notion of NASA (probably caused by too many viewings of Apollo 13) but I like the idea of locking a bunch of smart people in a room and telling them they must come up with a solution. Now we're launching shuttles with (potentially obvious) defects and saying things like this (from yesterday's Times):

"A piece of debris that broke off later in the ascent did appear to strike the midbody of the orbiter, NASA officials said. But they added that it probably did not do any damage."

Probably?! Three years after the Columbia disaster we still haven't found a solution to the foam problem? And we lost the Mars rover because someone didn't convert to metric correctly! What are we doing?

11:37 AM  

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