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[snip] Park the space shuttle already, argues Maciej Ceglowski at idlewords.com. It's expensive, dangerous, and pointless, while comparatively cheap unmanned probes of Mars, Titan, and various comets are making valuable scientific discoveries. NASA clings to its mission of "exploration," citing the European voyages of discovery 500 years ago. But as Ceglowski notes, "The great explorers of the 1500s did not sail endlessly back and forth a hundred miles off the coast of Portugal, nor did they construct a massive artificial island they could repair to if their boat sprang a leak."

[snip] "While popular culture is obsessed with fashion and style, fully two-thirds of American adults have abandoned conventional ideas of attractiveness by becoming overweight," writes Daniel Akst in the Wilson Quarterly. "Nearly half of this group is downright obese." That leads Akst to suspect that "we as a culture have engaged in a kind of aesthetic outsourcing, transferring the job of looking good--of providing the desired supply of physical beauty--to the specialists known as 'celebrities,' who can afford to devote much more time and energy to the task."

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