Probably the only thing more irritating than shits that necessitate multiple wiping trips* are people who hate space. They'll get up in your face (especially if you've got a camera and just asked them what they think about the moon landing or other NASA stuff) and say things like "Why are we spending all this money to launch smart people off the planet, when there are homeless/hungry/stupid people on the planet." Then they'll smirk into the lens like Yeah, that shut you brainiacs up not accounting for the fact that OF COURSE NOBODY IS GOING TO RESPOND TO YOUR DUMB ASSERTION THROUGH THE CAMERA, THAT IS NOT THE WAY THAT CAMERAS WORK.
Here are a few of the most glaring problems with the whole "Let's fix the planet before we head into space" argument:
-First and most pressingly, space is awesome. There's no gravity and it makes your blood vessels explode inside your skin. Just getting up there once requires enough explosives to tragically firebomb over 1,000 Dresdens. If science isn't your thing, have you at least seen this astronomical picture of the day shit they've got going on over at NASA's website? Show me a photo archive of hungry people getting fed and clothed that can induce a daily whoa from stoned college kids for 14 years and counting.
Even boring physics type shit can be made entirely interesting just by dint of being shown in space. Case in point? Check out all these little videos astrotourist Richard Garriott made from the International Space Station. Shameless VBS tie-in maybe, but you are lying to yourself if you don't think that little floaty water droplet is at least pretty excellent.
Admittedly not everything that goes into space is worth getting psyched over (Skylab), but just keep in mind that even the lamest, most bug-ridden satellite is either a Crypto-Masonic plot for Aryan domination or bringing us one step closer to stepping out of a moon-pod and shaking hands with some sort of repulsive slime monster who says "Oh, see these rocks we wipe our ass with? They cure cancer." Man are you going to look like an asshole when that happens.
-Secondly, are you even listening to yourself? We have to fix the entire rest of the planet before we get to hang out in space? What kind of grade-school communist bullshit is that? Do we also have to wait for Craig to put both of his hands on his desk before we can eat?
How about this: Those of us who've had our hands on our desks this whole time go eat (travel into space) and when Craig (Bangladesh) is done "clowning off" (having successive socio-economic crises) he can come meet up with us in the lunchroom (Mars). That's why we have things like countries in the first place, isn't it? When Bangladesh decides to simmer down a little and stop disrupting the rest of the world with their antics, maybe they can have their own space program to play with.
-Third, NASA helped perfect and smallify the microwave oven, which basically created the entire concept of contemporary poor-people cuisine (same with velcro and dumb-people shoe culture). Oh that's not enough? Well guess what?
Solving world hunger and building people houses isn't rocket scientists' job. Making rockets is. Space critics assume that just because you're insanely intelligent in one area you can just transfer those smarts over into a completely unrelated discipline, but that's not the way brains work. Lars Ulrich is really good at tennis and coming up with double-kick-drum parts--that doesn't mean he can replace the transmission in your Hyundai. Dude can't even write a decent song and that's his goddamned field!
Simply put, you can't expect a brain that's spent 50 years training itself to chew up $20 billion and shit out the Apollo program to suddenly switch gears and start shitting a billion people some corn. On top of that, it's rude to even ask. You're basically walking up to somebody who has given up a lifetime of getting wasted and laid to understand things that you will never comprehend a fraction of and saying, Eh, I'd be more impressed if you respackled my bathroom.
But maybe you don't begrudge the scientists and astronauts for doing their thing. Maybe you just think the government has its priorities out of wack for giving them so much money instead of funneling it into "fixing the rest of the country." That's a fair enough point, except...
-The government already spends over twice as much on housing and urban development as it does on NASA. Same with education (actually that one's more than three times as much), welfare (shit that one's almost 20 times as much), and healthcare (oops, 35 times as much).
$17 billion seems like a lot of money on its own, but it represents less than 1% of the total federal budget. Even if you strip away all the ridiculous shit like the $500-odd billion going to the military each year and focus solely on social programs, NASA is still raking in pennies on the Federal dollar.
Do you realize how absurd it sounds suggesting that this money is somehow keeping us from fixing all our problems on earth? You might as well try to tell me that the quarter of a million pounds My Bloody Valentine spent recording Loveless wouldn't have sank Creation if Alan McGee had dropped Swervedriver. Outrageous.
*According to a friend of mine.