Space, education, and the second half

For those who follow these things, there has been much chatter about s.f. writer Charles Stross‘s blog essay in which argues why he thinks we will never colonize space. He has some good arguments, but I’ve been somewhat disappointed that no one has taken up the other side of the debate. And then I saw today’s Washington Post Parade magazine which contained an essay by Neil deGrasse Tyson called “Why America Needs to Explore Space“. It’s not exactly a rebuttal of Stross’s essay, but it is a good, well-thought argument for why we need to continue exploring space. The most frequently made argument against this is that we have too many problems to solve down here; here is where we should be spending our money. As Tyson points out, we do. 99 cents out of every tax dollar goes to programs other than the space program. Less than a penny goes to space. Even at the height of the Apollo missions, American’s were paying 4 cents of every tax dollar to the space program.

Education columnist Jay Mathews has a novel idea to eliminate homework in grade school in place of an hour of reading each day. Apparently, studies show that prior to junior high school, homework assignments in grade school do little to improve learning or test scores. Attempting to make reading a habit–rather than a chore–during these early years might just lead to other improvements in education down the road. I like the idea, but apparently, there are some parents that would be unhappy with this. I would mean that they would actually have to read to their children.

So much for what I said I was going to do today. I didn’t go downtown, didn’t even do much reading. I sat at home, ordered a pizza (bad idea!), watched a movie, did some quick grocery shopping, and then eventually, watched more TV. Ugh! I feel lazy!