Mark Twain was one of the most astute commentator’s on the loveable American psyche. He suggested, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” The Mark Twain for Boomers, Johnny Carson, perfected the art of criticizing politicians on television. Watergate, Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew all came together as a sort of comedy windfall for Carson. Yet, it gave American’s a way to look at ourselves as our most revered leaders were exposed by investigative journalists. Carson was funny, and understood American’s are smart. We needed to laugh, which also helped us cope with the newness of the downfall of a President.
Watergate was a unique time in our country for investigative journalism. The job of tracking down crooks, and making the case in the newspaper has led to Pulitzer Prizes for the Washington Post, for the work of investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Burnstein. Recently New York Time reporters, were awarded the Pulitzer for their reports on how Wal-Mart used widespread bribery to dominate the market in Mexico. Mexico is fertile ground for investigative journalists. Their reputation is built on fact finding, and their style of journalism is essential to a democratic society’s need for truth, accuracy, and information. Put the facts out there, let the bull chips fall where they may. Investigative journalism should not be confused with other types of journalism or commentary like this column. A critical consumer has to look at the source. Published one line anonymous zingers are not credible as news, not to be taken as fact either mainly because we do not know the source.
Las Cruces is a small town where change comes slowly, which may be the point of living in a small town for some. Len Sugerman loved this small town. Today I saw a document he left me. It was a facsimile of the original contract between the United States Army and the Wright Brothers Company, signed by Wilbur Wright in 1908. The world was so unimpressed by the Wright Brother’s initial flying machine flights that newspapers refused to send reporters to witness the early flights. Tomas A. Edison was ridiculed when he announced the perfection of the incandescent light bulb. You get my drift here?
There have been 20 launches from the spaceport from the vertical launch area at the spaceport. NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program (FOP) is now buying flights from UP Aerospace, the first lease paying operator at the spaceport. UP is the only private company NASA FOP sending experiments to space right now. The initial investment by NMSU and the State of New Mexico in the vertical launch facility at Spaceport America enabled commercial companies and the Air Force and Space Grant to invested in the Up Aerospace SpaceLoft rocket. These organizations were the early adopters. The U.S. Army was an early adopter desperately needed by the Wright Brothers Company.
Taking a risk on the future is possibly the best use of a small fraction of our tax dollars. I have never taken a cruise, although I’d like to. I do not ridicule people who do. If I lived in Orlando Florida, I certainly would not ridicule the people who take cruises because they bring much needed revenue into the state. The State Legislature has arrived at a budget. Fortunately, there is continued support for Spaceport America. The facts, well presented by Rick Holdridge, on the use of residual bond money for spaceport operations dispelled the misinformation around the use of those funds.
There is a continuing need for better more equitable distribution of a portion of the tax, the governing county ordinance indicates the original intent of those funds was to support workforce development through support of “Spaceport related programs.” It was never intended to be a windfall for the public school district only. And now, as the discussion and facts are being discussed, more work will have to be done.
Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and NASA have people living in our community now who can periodically provide input as to who they are hiring and why. A quote from the Virgin Galactic.com/careers website indicates, “We only want the world’s most talented people and have attracted some of the best and brightest to our offices in Las Cruces.” There is no mystery, they are looking for engineers with experience in propulsion, materials, electronics, all subjects we teach here at NMSU.
Last Mark Twain quote: Never argue with stupid people they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.