We're just returning to The BRAD BLOG Universal News Headquarters from a couple of weeks on the road with family, during which we spent much of our time off the political grid, trying to look the other way, and otherwise hoping our brain might heal a bit in the bargain following an exceedingly grueling year.
Lots to catch up on before we're back at full speed, but if the news out of the White House was always this much fun perhaps this work wouldn't be so difficult in the first place.
Recently, the petition calling on the Obama Administration to "Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016," crossed that threshold.
There is no word on whether Dick Cheney was the one who filed the original petition, but the official response from Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is awesomely geek-worthy and follows in full below. Among other observations, he astutely asks: "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?"
The Force is strong with Mr. Shawcross...
OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO
Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.
This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For
By Paul Shawcross
The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
- The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
- The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
- Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
However, look carefully (here's how) and you'll notice something already floating in the sky --- that's no Moon, it's a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that's helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts --- American, Russian, and Canadian --- living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We've also got two robot science labs --- one wielding a laser --- roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.
Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo --- and soon, crew --- to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.
Even though the United States doesn't have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we've got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we're building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.
We don't have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke's arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.
We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country's future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.
If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget