The Japanese sent a rocket (Habayusa) to get a piece of an asteroid and bring it back to earth. It just got back. That's freakin' cool, I don't care who you are.
I've been thinking a lot about probes the last couple of weeks. I mean the Star Trek style. Where people in tidy uniforms sit looking at electronic displays and when something is happening in the hostile environment outside their control room they order engineering to send out a probe. A light streaks out across the video screen. And then they get readings on what the conditions are out there.
That's what people expect from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Only probes are people like me. And the act of shooting us out of the Houma version of the Enterprise is not a harmless act of remote sensing. And we don't have telemetry and a data link to return the data instantaneously. People have to physically bring bottles of water back from sea, hand them off to fresh-outs who pack them painstakingly in ice chests to prevent any leaking so FedEx won't put them out on the side of the road. And they go off to a lab in some distant city where they are handled by more actual people.
Now they COULD install remote monitoring equipment with telemetry and a data link that could sit there and send back data without any people burning gas. They could have audio monitoring underwater to gauge the level of biological activity. They could have buoys with conductivity, density and temperature sensors measuring the water constantly. But I suppose it's better for the economy to pay people to do that work? I don't know, I suppose I have no problem with the redistribution of wealth, I'm just annoyed with the spin that claims any of what BP is doing is at all related to preventing harm to the environment.