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Friday, November 04, 2005

Mars!

Joe Snedeker, a local meteorologist who gained national attention a few weeks ago when his usual banter with one of the morning anchors touched off a debate over the rights and responsibilities of working mothers, was this morning bemoaning the fact that Mars is it its brightest and best for backyard observation in years, that we have not one but two rovers running around on its surface taking pictures, that anybody with an Internet connection has incredible access to the latest images from the surface of Mars - and for the most part, nobody cares.

Maybe I shouldn't say nobody cares. But vastly more people care about what's going on with Paris Hilton or what happened on the latest episode of "Lost" or "Desperate Housewives" than care about the fact that we are currently exploring another planet.

Why? It would be too easy to fall back on Douglas Adams' three reasons to explain this sort of attitude:
1. Ignorance,
2. Stupidity, and
3. Nothing else

But that only accounts for 90% of the people. What about the rest? Perhaps they've had local events like war and terrorism and Supreme Court nominees and the leaking of the identity of a covert operative as payback to her husband by a corrupt administration for speaking out against the use of phony documents and trumped-up intelligence as justification for going to war weighing heavily on their minds. Maybe they've been scared witless by having a Lame Duck issue a dire warning on the possibility of an Avian Flu pandemic when they know damn well that just a little while ago he didn't know the meaning or even the spelling of words like "pandemic" or "avian" or "flu."

Well, that ends here. Go to the official Mars site from NASA and use it as your jumping-off point for learning more. Go to Jack Horkheimer's site and get the latest. Tonight, go outside about two hours after sunset and look up at the Red Planet rising in the East. And forget about the goings-on on Wisteria Lane for a while.

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