Monday, April 26, 2010

Barbarian at the Gates

Onward Unto Pluto!
with Dr. Harry Spangler

Hello, this is Dr. Harry Spangler, and I'm here from NASA to tell you about the latest nonsense that is threatening our great agency. Of course, I'd much rather be telling you about my pet project, the glorious New Horizons mission to Pluto, but with the cutback in staffing dollars, these days I'm forced to address pretty much any penny-ante concern that NASA pulls out of it's rear end. However, I think that you'll agree with me that this is a matter of great significance.

When President Obama recently spoke to NASA in Florida, my heart was filled with the joy of limitless possibilities as he talked of missions to the Asteroids, Mars, and beyond. Surely there was the possibility of a manned mission to my beloved Pluto within my lifetime! Just two months earlier he had called for an end to our foolish flirtation with The Moon, and now he was focusing on the full Universe.

Sadly, a gaseous cloud has obscured that universe, and that cloud is named Stephen William Hawking. Yes, Stephen Hawking, celebrity physicist, and writer of books even I can't understand. I once tried reading a copy of 'Information Loss in Black Holes' on the recommendation of a colleague and before I got halfway through it I wanted to put a black hole in my head. And what am I? A rocket scientist, thank you very much. (My colleague later told me that he had recommended the book as a joke, and I retaliated in kind by telling his supervisor that he was downloading internet porn on his NASA computer. Sadly our professional relationship turned sour after that when my clever response turned out to be true.)

I have always feared Hawking, with his mechanized voice and impenetrable theories of space-time. And now he has moved to frighten the world at large by warning of the dangers inherent in space exploration. Making contact with aliens is just "a little too risky", Hawking warns in his Robbie the Robot drone. "I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans."

On the other hand Mr. Hawking, may I remind you that it went smashingly well for the Europeans, as well as for many of the Native Americans who were able to adapt to the infinitely more advanced civilization that the heirs of Columbus would within a few centuries bestow on them. And yes, the Europeans benefited as well, with bountiful new offerings such as corn, turkey and tobacco, although I say with some sadness that my present employers require me to go outside to a secluded area in order to enjoy the latter of these gifts.

You sit there smugly on your prime time TV show displaying shocking pictures of peaceful herbivores lazing under a foreign sun being brutally attacked by flying yellow lizards and expect us to not respond? You, sir, are a brute and a fear-monger. You may have your own show on Discovery, but NASA has it's own cable channel, although it pains me to admit that our ratings are currently in the toilet.

Two short weeks ago, the future for NASA was so bright that we had to wear protective eye goggles, but now one man dares to try and turn the nation against space exploration with the laughable concept of alien domination. Stephen Hawking, your words come too late, and we will shout that message from the rooftop, which at NASA headquarters is rather high up.

Our flag is planted on The Moon and our robots crawl upon the faraway surface of Mars. The Voyager probe is now in interstellar space carrying it's golden record with the sounds of whale songs and Johnny B Goode, and our radio transmissions are on their way to distant stars. And yet no scary beasts invade the planet Earth. It's too late to turn back now, Robot Boy. As far as NASA is concerned, it's onward unto Pluto. We have nothing to fear but Stephen William Hawking.


  1. Yesterday I didn't know what a Harry Spangler was, nor was I afraid of anyone confined to a wheeelchair; but today I join him in fear of the three-eyed Hawking, a gaseous nightmare cloud if I've ever seen one. (I haven't.)

    Thank you Harry Spangler; looking forward to seeing you live on the surface of Pluto before your oxygen runs out.

  2. Now I know what a Harry Spangler AND a Hairy Palmer are. Thanks, Mark!

  3. Dr. Harold SpanglerApril 26, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    Terry, beneath the surface of Pluto there is an enormous reserve of water in it's solid form, so I'm sure that by the time our plasma rockets are operational, there will be little problem with continuous oxygen supply.

    Fearguth, I am considering signing all future posts with my given name of Harold.