Moonshots, abortion, internet equity, whiskers

Opinion Editor’s Note: The Star Tribune publishes Opinion letters From readers online and in print every day. To contribute, click here here.


An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reprinted in the Star Tribune Nov. 21, asks why the U.S. is turning to “a big cold rock in space.” Why really?

NASA’s administrator, Bill Nelson, responds in a PBS NewsHour segment: “We don’t have the capability to go to Mars. What we’re going to learn to live and work on the moon will help us.”

What we already know about both the Moon and Mars is that their atmospheres do not support life as we know it. Oxygen on the Moon is buried in its rocky surface, and the concentration of oxygen in the Martian atmosphere is 0.16%.

According to PBS NewsHour, the estimated total cost of the Artemis project through the planned 2025 moon landing is $93 billion. The first phase took twice as long as expected, with huge cost overruns. Will alliance with SpaceX help cut costs? Perhaps, but that ignores the central question.

Isn’t it time to ask Congress: “Is Artemis basically a self-defense project for NASA?”

John F. Hick, St. Paul


The editorial gleefully discusses Project Artemis, which will return astronauts to the Moon and eventually Mars. It notes the technological advances made by the space program. yes

However, the Artemis project will cost about $100 billion. When we consider what other countries are spending on their own projects (like China building a space station and sending a crew to the moon), the spending is truly mind-boggling.

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Wouldn’t this be a better use of funds to address the immediate crisis of climate change?

Nick Baker, Roseville


“New Frontiers in Abortion” (Front Page, Nov. 20) describes what, in some ways, seems like a minor inconvenience for the Red River Women’s Clinic, formerly of Fargo but now relocated to Moorhead, because the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe. v. Wade. But it’s like the tip of the iceberg that sank the Titanic, or like the little cough that came out of a trans-Pacific flight in early 2020—this problem portends an outbreak far worse than a sunken ship or an epidemic.

The irresponsible decision of the Supreme Court, along with the ongoing irresponsibility of our dysfunctional Congress, is an iceberg that has the potential to destroy the United States. Not just a ship named after our nation – our nation!

There are always minor differences in laws from one state to another. When I was a kid you couldn’t buy margarine in Minnesota. Such differences, like North Dakotans crossing the Red River for medical appointments, create inconvenience. But the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade puts us down a path where a woman from Fargo, visiting Moorhead for legal proceedings in Moorhead, could be charged with the above crime.

He returned to Fargo. Not only that, but employees of the now-in-Moorhead clinic could be arrested and charged with a crime the next time they shop or eat at West Acres Mall. Not an ideal scenario – but an entirely possible one.

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U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham recently released a proposed national abortion policy that would allow abortions before 15 weeks but prohibit abortions after 15 weeks — with some exceptions. Graham’s proposal died a quick death, fired by extremists on both sides of the abortion debate. I often disagree with Graham. I suspect that his proposal in mid-September was more an attempt to save the Republican Party’s chances in the midterms than to save the nation, and I am not suggesting that his proposal draws the line at the right place or makes the right exceptions. .

However, a national abortion policy is what we need. No deal can satisfy abortion extremists on either side, but the alternative is chaos — possibly leading to the breakup of the “United States,” peacefully or not. Everyone who wants to save our nation should write their senators and congressional representatives to demand a national abortion policy.

John K. Trapp, Minneapolis

Internet inequality

The Nov. 20 Minnesota column’s lead article — “A Redlined, Now Victim of Internet Inequality” that suggests black neighborhoods are deliberately overcharged for Internet access — could make solving the problem harder, not easier.

The basic economic fact is that it is more expensive (per megabyte) to provide Internet service in a poor or rural neighborhood than in a wealthy, urban one. This is because the cost of laying cable or optical fiber to bring a signal to a neighborhood depends weakly on the total amount of bandwidth provided.

In an affluent neighborhood with a high density of subscribers, the cost per customer or per megabyte is lower than in an area with a low density of subscribers.

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I believe it’s a good idea for people in those rich neighborhoods to subsidize basic internet service to poor neighborhoods, because it promotes socioeconomic mobility by making education and connectivity available to all. I think most people in those affluent neighborhoods would agree and be willing to pay for such a subsidy through their internet bills if advocates interpreted it that way.

If advocates rely on arguments that demonize service providers through “redlining” comparisons that ignore basic economics, it will be a much harder sell.

Peter Vischer, Falcon Heights

The author is a retired professor of physics.


The November 20 Minnesota section included a photo of Birdie being prepared for an all-breed dog show at the Canterbury Park Expo Center (“Going for a more fetching look”). The photo showed a woman wielding a pair of scissors trimming the unfortunate dog’s snout in preparation for the event.

Anyone who cares for dogs will understand the importance of a dog’s whiskers. Snout whiskers are important for communicating information to the dog’s nervous system, helping with its ability to perceive its environment, determine distances, and find food and water. They are one of the ways a dog is able to display emotions. Whiskers are essential to a dog’s well-being and removing them causes great stress to the animal. Please do not clip any whiskers from your dog’s muzzle, eyes or chin! The Minneapolis Kennel Club would do well to end this practice immediately, as it is another form of animal cruelty.

Vicky Sinha, Eden Prairie


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