Readers Write: Moonshots, Abortion, Internet Fairness, Mustaches

Readers Write: Moonshots, Abortion, Internet Fairness, Mustaches

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


A St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial, reprinted in the Nov. 21 Star Tribune, asks why America is reverting to what is a “big, cold rock in space.” Why indeed?

NASA 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 from living and working on the moon will help us.”

What we already know about 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 oxygen concentration in Mars’ atmosphere is 0.16%.

The projected total cost of Project Artemis via a planned 2025 moon landing is $93 billion, according to PBS NewsHour. The first phase took twice as long as planned, with significant cost overruns. Will an alliance with SpaceX help reduce costs? Probably, but that belies the central question.

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

John F. Hick, St. Paul


The editorial blithely discusses Project Artemis, which will bring astronauts back to the Moon and eventually Mars. He notes the technological advances that have resulted from the space program. Yes.

However, the Artemis project will cost nearly $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.

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

Nic Baker, Roseville


“New Frontiers on Abortion” (front page, November 20) describes what, in a way, looks like a minor inconvenience for the Red River Women’s Clinic, formerly from Fargo but now relocated to Moorhead, due to the reversal of Roe by the United States Supreme Court. c.Wade. But it’s like the tip of the iceberg that sank the Titanic, or the faint cough of someone stepping off a transpacific flight in early 2020 – except this problem portends a catastrophe far worse than a sunken ship or a pandemic.

The Supreme Court’s irresponsible decision, combined with the continued irresponsibility of our dysfunctional Congress, is an iceberg that could destroy the United States. Not just a ship bearing the name of our nation – our nation!

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

his return to Fargo. Not only that, but employees of the clinic now in Moorhead could be arrested and charged with crimes the next time they shop or dine at West Acres Mall. This is not a reasonable scenario, but quite plausible.

US Senator Lindsey Graham recently introduced a draft National Abortion Policy allowing abortion before 15 weeks, but banning abortion after 15 weeks – with certain exceptions. Graham’s proposal died quickly, shot down by extremists on both sides of the abortion debate. I don’t often agree with Graham. I suspect his mid-September proposal was more an effort to salvage the Republican Party’s medium-term chances than to preserve the nation, and I’m not suggesting that his proposal draws the line in the right place, or makes the right exceptions.

Yet a national abortion policy is exactly what we need. No compromise will ever satisfy abortion extremists on both sides, but the alternative is chaos – likely leading to the breakup, peaceful or not, of the United States. Anyone interested in preserving our nation should write to their senators and representative in Congress demanding a national policy on abortion.

John K. Trepp, Minneapolis


The Nov. 20 Minnesota section’s lead story — “Red line, now victims of internet inequality,” which suggests residents of black neighborhoods are intentionally overcharged for internet access — is likely to make more problem solving difficult, not easier.

The basic economic fact is that it is more expensive (per megabyte) to provide Internet service to a poor or rural neighborhood than to an affluent urban neighborhood. Indeed, the cost of laying the cable or optical fiber to bring the signal to the neighborhood depends only slightly on the total amount of bandwidth provided.

In a rich neighborhood with high subscriber density, the cost per subscriber or per megabyte is lower than in a neighborhood with low subscriber density.

I think it’s a good idea for people in these affluent neighborhoods to subsidize basic internet service for poor neighborhoods because it promotes socio-economic mobility by making education and connectivity more accessible to everyone. I think most people in these affluent neighborhoods would agree and be willing to pay such a subsidy through their internet bills if advocates explained it that way.

If proponents base their arguments on demonizing service providers through “redlining” comparison, which ignores basic economics, it will be much harder to sell.

Pieter Visscher, Falcon Heights

The author is a retired physics professor.


The Nov. 20 Minnesota section included a photo of Birdy, a smooth collie, being prepped for the All Breed Dog Show at the Canterbury Park Expo Center (“Going for a more attractive look”). The photo showed a woman wielding scissors trimming the whiskers from the hapless dog’s muzzle in preparation for the show.

Anyone who cares about dogs would understand the importance of a dog’s whiskers. Muzzle whiskers are essential for communicating information to a dog’s nervous system, giving it the ability to sense its surroundings, determine distances, as well as help it find food and water. They are also one of the ways a dog is able to display emotions. Whiskers are essential to a dog’s well-being and their removal causes enormous stress to the animal. Please do not trim your dog’s muzzle, eye or chin whiskers! The Minneapolis Kennel Club would do well to end this practice immediately because it is just another form of animal cruelty.

Vicki Sinha, Eden Prairie

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