Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dave Itzkoff and the Politics of Planets

Last Sunday, The New York Times columnist Dave Itzkoff wrote a humorous article, "Planetary Politics," in which he suggested jokingly some sci-fi readings for each of the 2008 presidential candidates. Two of Itzkoff’s suggestions stand out:

Candidate Rudolph Giuliani might consider reading The War of the Worlds, by H. G .Wells (1898): “During a cataclysmically destructive event, an observant bystander happens to be in the right place at the right time and thereafter never stops talking about it.”

Potential candidate Michael Bloomberg might consider reading The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut (1959): “The richest man in America travels to the farthest reaches of outer space, where his wealth cannot shield him from the human race’s ultimate insignificance in the universe.”

Beyond Itzkoff's election year humor is this memorable presidential piece from one of our heroes:
... I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Thank you
-- President John F. Kennedy, excerpt of address delivered at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort, September 12, 1962.

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