To protest a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) on Monday attached an amendment that would require men to have a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication.
"We need some gender equity here. The Virginia senate is about to pass a bill that will require a woman to have totally unnecessary medical procedure at their cost and inconvenience. If we're going to do that to women, why not do that to men?"
She pointed out that there are only seven women in the Virginia senate, and six of them voted in favor of her amendment, along with 13 male senators. Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier County), the sponsor of the mandatory ultrasound bill, voted against it.
"I do believe that erectile dysfunction in this context is different from pregnancy," she said on the senate floor.
The thing is, it's a bigger question than maybe it looks: everyone but China has abandoned human spaceflight. Russia uses its crewed capability to make money from America, at this point. ISS was only lofted as a place for the Shuttle to go, because the Shuttle was such a crocked piece of shit that it couldn't reliably go more than two hundred miles up. And sometimes exploded trying even that.
I'm not pessimistic about Chinese creativity, because if you're starting a space program from scratch, of course you look at what worked for other people. I see combinations of Apollo and Russian technologies, robust and proven gear. Apollo vehicles made round trips of half a million miles and brought 'em back alive even when the gas tanks exploded.
Now, some people will say to you that Virgin space tourism counts as human spaceflight. But to put a bit of perspective on that, what they do is what Alan Shepard did in Freedom 7 in 1961 ----" a suborbital lob of fifteen minutes duration, an order of magnitude below what Yuri Gagarin did a month earlier. So what you can say about Virgin Galactic in 2012 is that it's matched capability with, um, 1961.
[...] You know, it's funny: a couple of years ago, a film producer told me that he thought the opening vista of Kennedy Space Center as an inoperative wasteground, lightly populated by shanty towns, was implausibly grim. In a way, he was right: the place is now so poisoned by spacelaunch byproduct that it's going to take years and millions to clean it to the point where it can be occupied.