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Moonshots, abortion, internet equity, whiskers

Editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters of readers online and in print every day. Click to contribute here.

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A editorial from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reprinted in the Nov. 21 Star Tribune, asks why America is returning to what is a “great cold rock in space.” Why indeed?

NASA’s administrator, Bill Nelson, replies in a PBS NewsHour segment: “We don’t have the opportunity to go to Mars. What we’re going to learn by living and working on the moon will help us.”

What we already know about both the moon and Mars is that their atmospheres do not support life as we know it. Oxygen on the moon is buried in the rocky surface, and the oxygen concentration in the Martian atmosphere is 0.16%.

The projected total cost of the Artemis project via a planned lunar landing in 2025 is $93 billion, according to PBS NewsHour. The first phase took twice as long as expected, with significant cost overruns. Will an alliance with SpaceX help reduce costs? Probably, but it belies the central question.

Isn’t it about time for Congress to ask, “Is Artemis actually a self-preservation project for NASA?”

John F. Hick, St. Paul

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The editorial gleefully discusses the Artemis project, which will return astronauts to the moon and eventually to Mars. It takes note of the technological advancements resulting from the space program. Yes.

However, the Artemis project will cost nearly $100 billion. Considering what other countries are spending on their own projects (such as China building a space station and sending a crew to the moon), the costs are staggering.

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Wouldn’t it be better to use the resources to tackle the immediate crisis of climate change?

Nick Baker, Roseville

ABORTION

“New Boundaries for Abortion” (front page, Nov. 20) describes what, in a sense, sounds like a minor inconvenience to the Red River Women’s Clinic, formerly of Fargo but now moved to Moorhead, as the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. But this is like the tip of the iceberg that sank the Titanic, or the slight cough of someone stepping off a trans-Pacific flight in early 2020 – except that this issue portends a far greater disaster than a sunken ship or a pandemic.

The Supreme Court’s irresponsible decision, combined with the continued irresponsibility of our dysfunctional Congress, is an iceberg with the potential to destroy the United States. Not just any ship named after our nation – our nation!

There have always been slight differences in the laws from one state to another. When I was a kid, you couldn’t buy margarine in Minnesota. Such differences, such as North Dakotans crossing the Red River for a medical appointment, create discomfort. But the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade brings us down the path where a Fargo woman, who visits Moorhead for legal proceedings in Moorhead, could be charged with a misdemeanor charge of

her return to Fargo. Not only that, but employees of the now-in-Moorhead clinic could be arrested and charged with felonies the next time they shop or dine at the West Acres Mall. Not a reasonable scenario, but a very plausible scenario.

US Senator Lindsey Graham recently proposed a national abortion policy that allows abortion before 15 weeks, but prohibits abortion after 15 weeks — with certain exceptions. Graham’s proposal died a quick death, gunned down by extremists on both sides of the abortion debate. I don’t often agree with Graham. I suspect his mid-September proposal was more an attempt to salvage the Republican Party’s chances in the interim than to preserve the nation, and I’m not suggesting that his proposal draws the line in the right place, or the right exceptions makes. .

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Yet a national abortion policy is exactly what we need. No compromise will ever satisfy abortion extremists on both sides, but the alternative is chaos — likely leading to the breakup, peaceful or not, of the “United” States. Anyone interested in preserving our nation should write to their senators and congressional representatives demanding a national abortion policy.

John K Trepp, Minneapolis

INTERNET INEQUALITY

The November 20 Minnesota section editorial – “A defined, now victim of internet inequality,” suggesting that people in black neighborhoods are deliberately overpaying for internet access – probably makes it harder to solve the problem, not easier.

The basic economic fact is that it is more expensive (per megabyte) to provide Internet service to a poor or rural neighborhood than to a wealthy, urban neighborhood. This is because the cost of laying the cable or fiber to bring the signal to the neighborhood depends only weakly on the total amount of available bandwidth.

In an affluent neighborhood with a high subscriber density, the cost per subscriber or per megabyte is lower than in an area with a low subscriber density.

I believe it’s a good idea for people in those wealthy neighborhoods to subsidize basic internet services to poor neighborhoods because it promotes socio-economic mobility by making education and connectivity more accessible to everyone. I think most people in those wealthy neighborhoods would agree and be willing to pay such a subsidy through their internet bill if lawyers explained it this way.

If advocates base their arguments on demonizing service providers through the “redlining” equation, which bypasses basic economics, it will be a lot harder to sell.

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The writer is a retired physics professor.

WHISKERS

The November 20 Minnesota section featured a photo of Birdy, a smooth collie, being prepped for the All Breed Dog Show at the Canterbury Park Expo Center (“Looking for a more catchy look”). The photo showed a woman brandishing a pair of scissors and cutting off this unfortunate dog’s whiskers in preparation for the show.

Anyone who cares about dogs understands the importance of a dog’s whiskers. Muzzle whiskers are vital for relaying information to a dog’s nervous system, giving it the ability to sense its surroundings, determine distances and help it find food and water. They are also one of the ways a dog can show emotions. Whiskers are essential to a dog’s well-being and removing them causes immense stress to the animal. Do not cut whiskers from your dog’s muzzle, eyes or chin! The Minneapolis Kennel Club would do well to end this practice immediately as it is just another form of animal cruelty.

Vicki Sinha, Eden Prairie

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