View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, March 30, 2004

One Of These Days, Alice 

Over the last two days, the illuminati of the US space industry have gathered in Colorado Springs to talk about the future of the US in space - military, civil, commercial, as they say. Five thousand, five hundred of them. They're speaking on Mars, the moon, missile defense, satellite internet, satellite surveillance, mapping, surveying for crying out loud.

They're discussing technologies that will let your car drive itself to the mechanic, and then come pick you up when it's fixed. They're planning colonies on the moon, sending men to mars, blanketing the world with the Internet, keeping you from getting lost. They'll be figuring out how to keep missiles away and how to protect all this cool stuff we're building.

So what does the Denver Post do? Devotes 16 paragraphs of a 19-paragraph story to 12, count 'em, twelve "peace" protestors who are upset that we have nukes and Saddam didn't. They spend precious ink and trees describing some woman who probably was the model for every cranky uber-hip grandmother on an 80s sitcom.

I mean, it's not like there aren't cool stories on the inside. The Post coouldn't have gotten someone inside this thing? Just start with some of the names. They're straight out of central casting from the 1940s pulp machine: the head of the US Space Command is named Lance Lord. Lance Lord! I'll bet you wouldn't have to spend 2 hours paging through old Perry Rhoden back-issues to find that exact name. "The six of us were eyeing the charts nervously, sure that they spelled certain doom for the human race, when in strode General Lance Lord of the US Space Command, confident, sure, ready to take control."

Eugene Jilg, Chief Technology Officer for INMARSAT. "As we entered Dr. Jilg's office, he barely looked up from his calculations to wave us in. 'Over there,' he said brusquely. I started, 'Dr. Jilg, this is very important busi---,' but was cut short by an abrupt gesture."

Mr. J Triplett Mackintosh, who is, what else?, one of Colorado's leading attorneys. How he got here from central Virginia, I'll never know, but they-ah he is.

Look, I love space stuff. I used to work with satellites, and if you know who Perry Rhoden was, you love this stuff, too. I sat through Apollo 13 twice in the theaters and God knows how many times at home, because suddenly I was that 7-year-old kid in 1973 looking through picture books of men in spacesuits knowing, knowing that I was going to the moon someday to visit the colony. When one of the engineers turns to the other, who's just basically made sure that they won't be making a movie about astronaut-cicles, and says, approvingly, "And you are a steely-eye missile-man," that says it all.

And now, we're making our lives here better, and we're getting ready to go back. The Post ought to be reporting on that, rather than on a bunch of aging hippies stuck in a time warp of their own, picking-and-choosing all the wrong parts of the 60s to remember and relive.

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