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Dispatches The Buzz

The news that China is launching a manned space mission has brought focus to a long-running blog debate over America's own manned space program. According to Gregg Easterbrook (, "the United States space program continues to spend vast amounts-more than is spent on space by all other nations combined-to accomplish little, owing to dependence on the space shuttle." His recommendation: "Shut down the shuttle program-while keeping astronauts in training-and over 10 years, $30 billion would be freed up. Thirty billion dollars would be enough to develop a new, safer, cheaper, more reliable means of flight to space. Then grand goals such as a return to the moon might become possible. Or at least we could stay ahead of the Chinese."

Another frequent target of bloggers has been long-on-emotion, short-on-fact columnist Maureen Dowd of The New York Times. Andrew Sullivan ( points out a disparity between a panicked Ms. Dowd during the anthrax attacks of 2001 and a Ms. Dowd disdainful of the biological weapons found in Iraq. Mr. Sullivan: "She sure has recovered, hasn't she? You won't find a better example of 9/11 amnesia than Ms. Dowd, a self-described 'spoiled yuppie who desperately wants to go back to a time before we'd heard of microns and milling, aerosolization and clumps in the alveoli.' Didn't take her long, did it?"

Blogger Tacitus ( is suspicious of the huge marketing blitz behind the unveiling of the new $20 bill, a campaign that is costing the government $33 million: "I'm all for making sure that merchants are aware of this, to spare tellers/clerks/cashiers the agony of deciding if they're on the receiving end of a fantastically bad scam. But $33 million? That's a bit excessive, I would think. Especially given the track record of the last currency marketing blitz. Oh yeah, I use the Golden Dollar all the time."