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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


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    NASA budget hardly rivals defense spending

    I understand Shane Ham’s complaints about NASA (“”In space, no one can hear you scream””) seemingly being a money pit. After all, according to NASA, in the fiscal year 2007, NASA requested a budget of $16.8 billion from the U.S. governmet. Of that, $6.23 billion is for space operations (space shuttle, space station, and space flight support). Which does seem like a heckuva lot of money.

    Of course, when you look on the flip side, $10.5 billionÿwas then appropriated for space and aeronauticsÿscience and research. Which is of note because the budget fluctuation that Shane then refers to in his article as aÿcontrast to space research, is the research for global climate change.

    It was NASA research, along with the agency’s collaboration with other federal research programs, that are directly responsible for providing the evidence that scientists have been able to bring to the foreground to prove human impact on global climate change.

    If foolish, soulless taxpayers hadn’t been following the Borg of NASA for all these years, global climate change would still be spun by Big Oil (and others) as a radical idea by sensationalist scientists. If you really want to look at a bloated budget, leave NASA alone. Do you know how much was spent on the defense just last year?ÿ

    $420 billion. Yes, $420 billion,ÿas in “”NASA’s budget is just 1.4 percent of $420 billion.”” So chill out on the NASA-bashing, crack open another Bass Ale and focus your writing on the criticizing of that wild defense turkey.

    Jon Van Lew
    UA alumnus

    Students not just customers

    After reading Janet Lancaster’s letter (“”Profs: Consider students paying customers””), I felt compelled to write. The title alone should be enough to give any sensible student pause. Yes, the majority of students pay a considerable sum to receive an education. Those who receive financial assistance in the form of grants, scholarships, or assistantships should consider themselves lucky.

    However, it seems to me that students who choose to adopt Janet’s line of thinking often seem to be the same individuals who possess that sense of entitlement for which our generation is so famous. I might liken it to a friend of mine getting what he considered an unwarranted traffic citation from a police officer, and saying: “”This is ridiculous. I’m the one paying your salary, you know? “”Professionals in any field just love that argument.

    I’m also shocked by this letter for the arguments Janet offers. For example: “”Reading the newspaper didn’t hurt anyone, except the professor’s pride.”” Believe me, I certainly am not advocating putting professors, or any instructor, on a pedestal. But to claim that reading a newspaper doesn’t hurt anyone is an extremely shortsighted point of view.

    To be certain, there are large lectures where a student reading a newspaper in the back of the room would go unnoticed. But what happens when it’s not a large lecture, or when it’s a smaller, discussion-based course requiring more participation? What if, instead of one person reading the newspaper, there are five, eight or 10?

    If we consider the classroom experience a dynamic one where students and instructors feed off of each other’s desire to build knowledge, then it seems clear how such blatant disrespect and, indeed, disinterest can hinder the ability for class sessions to be effective.

    Ask yourself how you react when you look around a lecture hall and see everyone reading a newspaper. Does it motivate you to sit up straight and pay close attention to your instructor?

    Janet says: “”I hope that as long as we are paying to take a class, the professors will treat students with dignity and respect.”” Does the fact that you’re paying tuition give you license to disrespect an instructor while expecting their respect toward you in return?

    I am a teaching assistant in the German department. I have seen many instances where disinterested students who were reading newspapers or sending text messages were not ready for group activities because they had no idea what my instructions were. Clearly, such behavior is disruptive.

    So maybe your dime is paying for that class, Janet. I just hope you (and anyone else reading this) don’t go through college with the attitude that you can do whatever you want in class because you’re paying for it.

    Steven Randall
    Second Language Acquisition and Teaching doctoral student

    President-elect Bruce likely to revitalize ASUA

    This is in regards to the ASUA presidency. It might be me, but I am still waiting for the current ASUA president to fulfill her campaign platform. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath. For another year, we had to endure an inept leader, who allowed controversy and status quo to run the ASUA.

    I believe that the new ASUA president, Tommy Bruce, will bring tenacity and leadership that will revive the ASUA. I have personally worked with Tommy; even though most of the time we were butting heads, I know for a fact that he will make a difference!

    Miguel Cuevas
    pubic management and policy sophomore

    Religious hypocrisy, not religion, is the problem

    I am writing in response to Jared Pflum’s excellent column “”In defense of religion.”” While I would certainly like to congratulate Mr. Pflum on his ability to balance opinion with actual fact, a well formulated argument and a great deal of writing ability – a skill often lacking in the opinions section of this particular newspaper – I have to respectfully disagree with his analysis.

    The negative views of religion he pointed out are most certainly false and unfortunate; I do not wish to argue that, but I think Mr. Pflum has missed the point. I believe that the growing distaste for religion – certainly this has influenced my own opinions on the subject – arises from the hypocrisy practiced by countless religious institutions and individuals throughout this nation and the world.

    People who attend church on a regular basis call themselves “”good Christians,”” but then instead of practicing Christian charity or leaving judgment for God, indiscriminately hate entire groups of people – homosexuals, atheists, and the Vagina Warriors to name just a few. Priests, the supposedly holy religious leaders, molest young children, while both extremists in the Middle East and our own president wield religion as a weapon and a cause of war.

    The problem is not religion itself. The teachings of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. are wonderful tenets by which we all should live. The problem is the mounting hypocrisy of organized religion, that is to say religious institutions.

    The problem is the tendency of religious leaders and parishioners alike to ignore the teachings they claim so fervently to uphold.

    Ultimately, the distaste Mr. Pflum mistakenly applies to religion is actually aimed at hypocritical religious institutions, where I think we can all agree it is well deserved.

    Emily Denison
    theater production senior

    Non-engineers ‘engineered society’

    As someone who takes himself so seriously, I feel that I must respond to Antony Mills’ latest letter “”Engineering more ‘useful’ than liberal arts.”” I feel the books that Mr. Mills has been reading to make himself “”culturally literate”” have done a poor job of doing so.

    While the physical things of our civilization might have been built by engineers and technicians, the foundation of society itself has not. Our civilization is built on ideas dating back hundreds and even thousands of years. Some ideas came from people like Plato and Alexander the Great, people that were taught by others and were not necessarily scientists.

    How many of the Framers of the Constitution, the basis of our society, were engineers and scientists? I might be taking it a bit too far, but would I be wrong to say that these non-engineers “”engineered”” our society? I would also like to point out that many of the physical things that we use today were first invented by people that were “”self-taught.”” The people that harnessed fire, invented the wheel and thought up the spear were self-taught and never took an engineering class in their lives.

    The great thing about our society is that it is dependent on people of all fields, even those who don’t go to college. No one degree is “”the core of our society.”” Who would be publishing the paper for us to write our opinions in to if there were no journalism majors? Who would be passing the public policy to give defense contracts to engineering companies without political science and public policy majors? How would the history, philosophy and music appreciation information make it online without professors to research it?

    Everyone at the university takes general education classes, no matter what their major is. Liberal arts majors take their science general education classes, NATS, just like engineering majors take their general education classes, TRADS and INDVS. So, Mr. Mills, while your major might be more technical than others, in an interdependent society such as ours, no one major is the best.

    Jesse Cornia
    criminal justice administration senior

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