What I think about Obama's proposed NASA budget

Written by Bob McCormick on 2/09/2010 10:51:00 PM

Let me answer by analogy ...  I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.

I now live in east HoustonI used to live in west Houston.  It's no secret that I used to live in Dallas and I've traveled there before

I liked Dallas.  Dallas is not a perfect place, but I think it's a good thing that I could prove that I could live there like I can live in Houston.  Houston is also not a perfect place, but having people in two places is a good idea, because it would be bad if there was a natural disaster in Houston, and people only lived nowhere but Houston. 

I also don't think I need to make Houston a perfect place before I decide I need to go to Dallas, just like I didn't think I needed west Houston to be perfect before I moved to east Houston.

So someday, I'd like to go back to Dallas -  maybe for short visits, maybe to live there. Certainly others will want to go to Dallas, whether I go or not.

Dallas doesn't have everything Houston has, but it does have a few unique things that Houston probably doesn't have.  So, going to Dallas - either to visit for periods of time, or to live there - has its own merit, simply because it isn't Houston.

I'm sure that when I want to go to Dallas, I really want to go to Dallas.  I could go there by going through Austin, San Antonio, Waco, or even out of state.  All those places also have merit, but Dallas has its own unique merit, and I could get to those other places from Dallas as I could from Houston - maybe even easier than from Houston.

When I decide I want to go to Dallas, I have a number of choices on how to get there.  I could drive, I could take the bus, I could fly in an airplane.  Clearly, how I get to Dallas dictates what I can do once I get there.  But the decision on how to get there is different than the decision on going there in the first place.

My current car has high mileage, so it might not be so reliable to get me to Dallas (and back).  But, it will allow me to drive around Houston.  So, assuming I want to go there by car (because going there other ways doesn't allow me to do the stuff I want to do), I might want to buy a new car, or a used car.  If no cars existed that were reliable enough to get me to Dallas and back, I might build a car - or hire someone out who could build me that car.  I'd probably go with the least expensive option.  But notice - I needed to decide to go to Dallas before I could even decide on whether to build or buy a car! 

Whoever builds the car needs certain technologies that assured that I could get to Dallas, do the stuff I want to do while I'm there, and get me back.  This would include good tires, some sort of engine to allow the car to be motorized, heating (and most importantly, air conditioning!  This is Texas, after all) ... the kinds of things that will make it more likely for any car to get to Dallas and back, or allow me to stay in Dallas.  I could test out those technologies by driving my car around Houston (and that idea has merit).  But deciding to test those technologies by driving around Houston, even if they could be used to drive a car to Dallas, is different than deciding to go to Dallas (or Austin/San Antonio/Waco, for that matter)!

In the final analysis, deciding to go to Dallas is the most important decision.  How we go to Dallas, or what technologies to use in our vehicle to go to Dallas ... those decisions are important, but they are not (literally)the driving decision.  Even WHEN I get to Dallas is not tremendously important (especially from the perspective of getting there just to get there ... after all, I've been there before), as long as it is within a reasonable time frame for me to do the new things I want to do when I get there. And if I focused on those decisions, while ignoring the question about what to do with them once they are developed, I would be showing a lack of vision.

Other thoughts here (much of which, I agree with).

P.S.  Another good analogy ... "Operation Overlord Canceled"