Shutdown cuts science out of Mars rover trek

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The federal funding impasse is even felt even up on Mars, more than 220 million miles from Washington D.C.

NASA's $2.5 billion Curiosity rover is continuing its 100-yards-a-day march toward Mount Sharp — but it will likely skip scientific measurements and photography along the way, said space scientist David Blake, who created a key tool aboard the rover and is one of NASA Ames' few scientists still working at the Mountain View lab.

"Curiosity is safe and moving forward, but we will probably not make any measurements with the arm — things that are science-intensive and require staffing," said Blake, senior scientist at NASA Ames in Moffett Field, near Mountain View.

"We won't miss much early on, but if it goes on for a long time, we will be less and less able to do stuff," said Blake, from a science conference at the California Institute of Technology. Blake designed the instrument called CheMin, short for chemistry and mineralogy, which analyzes soil and rock samples.

Written By: Lisa M. Krieger
continue to source article at mercurynews.com

19 COMMENTS

  1. Sedition is defined as conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.

    It seems to me much of what the Tea Party does and says fits that definition. I presume it is illegal, but the authorities always seem to look the other way.

    When I pointed this out on the CBC website, they rremoved my post.

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      Sedition is defined as conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.

      It seems to me much of what the Tea Party does and says fits that definition. I presume it is illegal, but the authorities always seem to look the other way.

      When I pointed this out on t…

      Sedition is speech that encourages people to disobey the government. It is absolutely protected under the US constitution. In the early days of the Republic our second president passed the Alien and Sedition act. Although most historians think John Adams was a good to great president (I think so as well) most agree his passing that act was the low point in his career. Fear of the British led him to pass a law that is now seen as going against one of the fundamental guarantees in the Bill of Rights.

      If sedition were against the law, I could have been jailed plenty of times. I’ve encouraged people to disobey the US government and disobeyed it a few times myself, sitting down on Market street to block traffic and protest before the Iraq war.

      None of which means I have anything but contempt for the people shutting down the government. I just don’t want people to confuse what they are doing with the very legitimate protests that people have made in the past.

      I don’t think what they are doing strictly speaking violates the law but it still violates basic principles that until the last decade were NEVER violated even during the most extreme circumstances in US history. And I think that is the problem, it’s one more example (the second amendment is another) of how a constitution that was one of the products of the Enlightenment doesn’t always work in the modern world. Until recently there was always the assumption that regardless of political differences anyone elected to congress had a certain degree of basic honor and respect for the rule of law which these people do not. All they care about is winning and they will do anything to win. What is scariest is that “winning” for them isn’t even passing laws, it is essentially pleasing their base who are by any rational measure insane (seriously out of touch with reality). So they are causing all sorts of pointless suffering and crashing a fragile economy that was slowly but steadily recovering all so that they can look tough and get re-elected to do more of the same. Sorry, I’m rambling on a bit, this issue works on my nerves.

      • In reply to #3 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #1 by Roedy:

        Sedition is defined as conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.

        It seems to me much of what the Tea Party does and says fits that definition. I presume it is illegal, but the authorities always seem to look the other way.

        Wh…

        Do you really think that these Republican idiots will be re-elected by the American people? If so, idiots usually get what they deserve. “The decline and fall of the American empire.”

        • In reply to #10 by AlGarnier:

          Do you really think that these Republican idiots will be re-elected by the American people? If so, idiots usually get what they deserve. “The decline and fall of the American empire.”

          Good question. On the one hand the American people can be incredibly stupid sometimes. It still amazes me that after four years of George Bush we elected him again. The man was obviously an idiot, his handlers tried to make sure he never spoke without a script but when he did it was obvious, he couldn’t put together a coherent complete sentence. I’m not talking about gaffes, anyone who speaks a lot in public is going to have those but just even the basics of communicating coherent thoughts, that was obviously beyond him. Not to mention allowing the only attack on the US mainland since the 19th century to happen, and the more we learned about 9/11 the more obvious it was that for once the intelligence people actually did get some things right. People were doing the equivalent of screaming that an attack was pending (there was a memo titled “Bin Laden determined to strike in the US”) and the response from Bush was (these were his exact words to one analyst) “alright you’ve covered your ass now”.

          Also, for the people in Congress the GOP has so gamed the system it’s really difficult to get them out. If you look at some of the congressional district maps they are truly bizarre, weird shapes that are obviously simply based on demographics and designed to keep certain groups marginalized.

          On the other hand this is hurting not just average citizens like me (and it is real for me, my mom has a pending claim with the VA that is essential for her healthcare) but some very powerful people where it hurts most. The US Chamber of Commerce recently came out against the shutdown and they are usually guaranteed to go along with the GOP no matter what. And polls show people are massively against the shutdown. So I’m hoping this may be the death knell of the GOP. I would love to see a true Libertarian party take it’s place, a party that really cared about personal liberty and had consistent policies about not intervening and starting wars, the right to abortion, ending the “drug war”, etc. I can dream.

          One last thing, I don’t agree that science education plays a big role here. I’m all for getting better science education for everyone and getting better educated people into government but I think it’s a fairly minor issue. IMO, one of the biggest problems is the US media. They long ago abandoned (there are a few exceptions) their role of actually reporting on things. It used to be if a politician lied he would get called out for it in papers like the NY Times. More and more the journalists just see themselves as reporting on some sports match. “Dems said X Repubs said Y” and that’s it, no mention that Y has been shown to be a complete lie. (BTW, I have no love for the democrats either, it’s just at least they are mostly in touch with reality compared to the other side).

          • In reply to #13 by Red Dog:

            On the one hand the American people can be incredibly stupid sometimes. It still amazes me that after four years of George Bush we elected him again.

            Yeah, it also amazed exit pollers. Of course Rove had an explanation, vast left-wing conspiracy which would create exit-poll fraud… which is a bizarre idea on many levels. Either Rove is right, or US federal elections are rigged. Exot polls disparities have been the basis of virtuous revolutions and attempts, but people dismiss it in the US without valid reasons. There is evidence federal elections are rigged, no evidence they are not, and UN voting inspectors have faced threats of arrest for attempting to monitor US elections. Based purely on evidence, faith in US elections is irrational. Wanting the elections to be fair means nothing.

          • In reply to #17 by This Is Not A Meme:

            In reply to #13 by Red Dog:

            On the one hand the American people can be incredibly stupid sometimes. It still amazes me that after four years of George Bush we elected him again.

            Yeah, it also amazed exit pollers. Of course Rove had an explanation, vast left-wing conspiracy which would create exit-…

            I think Bush probably stole both elections. Florida probably should have gone for Gore with an accurate count and in the second election Ohio probably would have gone to Kerry. From what I’ve read Florida is the one where there is more evidence of tampering and a changed outcome but they are both highly suspect.

            But I don’t let the American people off the hook that easy. IMO letting that idiot get close enough that he could steal two elections is almost as bad an indictment as if he won them fair and square.

            Based purely on evidence, faith in US elections is irrational. Wanting the elections to be fair means nothing.

            I don’t have “faith” in elections. I know they can be rigged. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to vote and I think anyone who doesn’t vote for that reason (not that you said that but for anyone who comes to that conclusion) is just copping out. When people steal your vote the rational response is not to throw up your hands and say “oh well the system is rigged”. It’s to fight that much harder and make it harder for them to steal votes the next time.

            In fact when you look at the effort that people in foreign countries (including Muslim countries) will go to, people putting their lives on the line, just to get the chance to have any kind of elections I find it extremely pathetic how many intelligent people in the US feel all smug and superior because they are too lazy to even bother voting.

  2. We tried that sedition crap already with the Aliens and Sedition Act in 1789 and the sedition Act of 1918. Let’s not get all hot and bothered here, losing freedom of speech is a hell of a lot more harmful than the prattling of pretentious windbags.

  3. I’m remnded of Authur C. Clarck’s 2010, political stupidity on Earth interferred with science out by Jupiter.

    This is deeply troubling. Why is science not applied to government?

    • In reply to #5 by This Is Not A Meme:

      I’m remnded of Authur C. Clarck’s 2010, political stupidity on Earth interferred with science out by Jupiter.

      This is deeply troubling. Why is science not applied to government?

      Perhaps because politicians are generally very poorly educated in science?
      I wonder what is the ratio of scientists to lawyers in and outside of government departments?

      • In reply to #7 by Billy Joe:

        Perhaps because politicians are generally very poorly educated in science?

        Really good point, Billy Joe, except that it’s quite possible for a lawyer (or any non-scientist) to be well informed about science. The problem here isn’t the lack of diversity (though that is a problem) or scientific education among politicians, it’s simply the surfeit of imbeciles.

        I imagine most of them are ill-informed about most things, and not just ill-informed but incurious and so motivated by their own piddling self-interest that they’d be incapable of making a good decision even if they had all of the relevant information.

      • In reply to #7 by Billy Joe:

        In reply to #5 by This Is Not A Meme:

        Perhaps because politicians are generally very poorly educated in science? I wonder what is the ratio of scientists to lawyers in and outside of government departments?

        They’re all lawyers. Non lawyers in US government are a complete anomoly. It’s the way in.

        It’s a completely irrelevant education to the tasks at hand, economics, ethics, history, sociology, urban planning, security, etc. There are scientists and engineers for each of these fields, but we don’t vote amongst the qualified, just the popular. My question is rhetorical and jaded. A government based on science is not based on consensus. It is not a democracy. Whether or not a thing should be done is not determined by vote. Should gays be allowed to marry? What are tollerable pollution levels? Healthcare. Tax levels. None of these are lawyer tasks. Lawyers are supposed to be assistants enabling the talent. Imagine Hollywood with no actors, artists, or wtiters, just agents and producers. Imagaine how much those movies would suck. That’s the state of our government.

        Democracy is better than all the other pre-science forms of government because it precludes certain horrors. There simply are no scientific forms of government yet. I believe they’d work a lot better.

    • In reply to #5 by This Is Not A Meme:

      I’m remnded of Authur C. Clarck’s 2010, political stupidity on Earth interferred with science out by Jupiter.

      This is deeply troubling. Why is science not applied to government?

      I guess the term “political science” has become an oxymoron while, the Republican Party are been scientifically outed as hapless morons.

  4. US public services are being shut down because its politicians will not agree a budget, and because they put their partisan political dogmas before the public interest!

    If a public company had directors who behaved like this, the shareholders would sack them. The business would also be likely to be taken over by people in another company who knew how to run a business!

    Ironically many of these US politicians are sending out armies to tell other states how to supervise and run their affairs!

    Some of the best scientists on the planet laid off by some of the most inept politicians!

  5. As long as I’m getting on my soap box a bit I want to say one more thing. It’s fun to come here and vent and share our opinions. But for any US citizen reading this who is also sick of the GOP I want to strongly encourage you to, pardon if I say this a bit crudely, Get off your Ass! Don’t just comment about how bad things are but get involved. Especially these days there are all sorts of Internet tools you can use from various groups so you can do things like call people from home to help get out the vote. Or even better go help staff a phone bank or go door to door. And of course donating $$ always helps. As the more enlightened people in the population I think we have a responsibility to do more than talk about problems we should all be more involved in helping to fix them. (Cue inspirational music) Even just doing a small amount of work and donating a bit really adds up if all of us do it.

    I’m saying this as much to motivate myself as to motivate others. I do some of this but not as much as I should but when the next significant US election comes up in 2014 I plan to be very involved in doing some grunt work to help people that can make a difference.

    • In reply to #14 by Red Dog:

      I’m saying this as much to motivate myself as to motivate others. I do some of this but not as much as I should but when the next significant US election comes up in 2014 I plan to be very involved in doing some grunt work to help people that can make a difference.

      Very commendable!

      Some years ago I worked on a campaign which selected an electronics engineer as a successful candidate, who was then elected as an MP.
      He went on to be instrumental in setting up the and chairing UK parliamentary ICT committee, pushing the technology forward.

      It is amazing how few people make a personal effort to help select and support worthy candidates.

      There are of course plenty who complain nobody has done it for them.

  6. A bit more on vote stealing. The GOP is putting a concerted effort to make it harder for people to vote. And I think this is one example of how their strategy can backfire over the long haul. In previous comments I was haranguing people to get more involved. In the last presidential election one thing I did was to do “get out the vote” calling from my home. Many people that I talked to were also disenchanted with the democrats (which I can completely understand) but the one thing that I found very likely to motivate people was talking about voter suppression. Nothing makes people want something like trying to take it away. And I was working with groups that were specifically designed to counter the voter suppression and fraud techniques of the GOP. IMO that is the rational response to voter suppression, not to just give up because you don’t have “faith” in the system but to work to make the system better and fight those who are trying to corrupt it.

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