NASA's Guinea Pig 

Letters published March 29, 2006

Down for the count: A friend of mine pointed out the article "Guinea Pig Gang" [March 22] and told me that I beat them all. I'm currently participating in the NASA-sponsored bed-rest study, and so far I haven't been out of bed in five and a half weeks. (The entire study runs 12 weeks.) I am on complete bed rest, and my feet haven't touched the ground in over a month.

They're studying bone-density loss and muscle atrophy in periods of extended weightlessness; in short, they're trying to figure out how to keep astronauts in space for longer periods of time. I'm also recording the whole thing at http://stardustholiday.blogspot.com.

Thought I'd give kudos on the well-written piece.

Erin Peterson
Human Guinea Pig Extraordinaire

It's Been Done
Universal draft makes for lousy soldiers:
Scott Dotson's recent letter [March 8] suggested that we should have an immediate resumption of an unqualified universal military draft.

We had something close to that during WWII, and it was a disaster. Large numbers of Beetle Baileys and Sad Sacks were drafted that no officer wanted to ship over to Europe. Sixteen million men were inducted. Twelve million served. The four million who were kicked out of the service were unusually bad.

Several studies were made of the poorly performing troops. If memory serves me, the military wanted to dump another four million, but the Democrats would not permit it. A large number of divisions were kept in the States and were constantly cannibalized for their better-grade troops. The better troops were sent overseas.

The partisan politics of what to do with unwanted soldiers can be followed by going over newspapers and newsmagazines from 1940 to 1946. The military was so overburdened that it had to take in third- and fourth-rate officers to command the bad troops. This led to numerous incidents, such as when one group of troops shot up downtown Phoenix.

A draft today most likely would be of recent college graduates, starting with advanced graduate students who don't have solid jobs. I know this because I was at a NATO planning conference during the Kosovo War. The Europeans feared the war might expand. I was there to express the opinion that the U.S. did not want even high school graduates anymore, as we were dumbing down the weapons to suit them. Many of the current weapons employed in Iraq and Afghanistan are slimmed-down versions. A draft of college graduates would also most likely increase suburban ferocity toward Muslims.

The attitudes of middle-class relatives of troops in wartime tend toward a vehement and persistently irrational militarism. A study of France, Great Britain, Germany, and the U.S. from the Napoleonic Wars until now will bear me out. The middle class is known for sticking things out to an extreme point.

As a side note, lower-class blacks were not drafted as frequently as many liberals think. Fewer were sent to Vietnam, and their portion of battlefield fatalities was lower than in the general population. Check out the statistics.

Franz Zrilich

Up in Smoke
Gambling cigarette fiends got no reason:
Did I read correctly? Someone actually gets paid to sit on his or her butt surfing the web ["Herding Sheep," March 22]? At my college, we call that "lab monitoring," but at least it's legit. How could Irizarry not see that something was wrong here? This "Stormclicks" sounds like the softest of desk jobs, too soft to be true! I could sympathize with her plight -- that is, if she weren't squandering this "easy money" on cigarettes.

Y'ask me, the sheep in your story were rightfully fleeced of their money.

Kelley Gaines

Could be the tip of the iceberg: Kudos to you for telling -- for the most part -- both sides of the story. However, it is a common belief and possibly true that 12DP never missed a payment till Stormpay froze its account.

Also, why did Stormpay freeze the accounts of other websites that were not under the scrutiny of the SEC? I'm inclined to agree with the subject in your story. I think the real players go much deeper.

George Waring
Apopka, Florida

Got Milk?
Just say no:
As usual, First Punch has painted the appropriate face on state government with its summary of the big milk caper in Millersburg [March 8]. What a breakthrough technique! Must be their take on the new accountability in the public sector. Next step is to get Arlie to roll over on the big fish in the operation.

Maybe these same boys could do double duty at ODOT by posing as expediters in need of "special" project management.

Jim Webster

Double-Dipper's Delight
Your tax money at work:
It is truly amazing that our educators keep screaming that they need more money, when all they do is line their own pockets ["Golden Years," February 22]. Why, when all private companies are doing away with pensions, are public servants fattening theirs? This goes for all public servants. Why not do an article that shows the unbelievable discrepancy between the public and private sectors?

Michael Zaleski


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