NASA, save trips to the moon for future Wright brothers

Regarding Dante Chinni's Dec. 9 column "Bush boldly going where we went decades ago": As a graduate student of aerospace engineering preparing to enter the workforce, I couldn't agree more that now is not the time to return to the moon.

On this 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' historic flight, it is timely to recall that they didn't make the effort as part of a massive government pork-barrel spending project. They didn't do it for science or exploration either. Like Christopher Columbus and the railroad barons before them, the Wright brothers were driven by the desire to make a buck.

Our reliance on NASA to open up the final frontier has cost almost 50 years and hundreds of billions of dollars. As of today, launch costs for manned space vehicles are as high as ever and reliability is still elusive. I'm no closer to getting a ride into orbit than my parents were at my age.

The time for NASA's domination of manned spaceflight has passed. It is time to turn the job over to a profit-minded Wilbur or Orville Wright of our day and get on with building vehicles that can take ordinary folks like me into orbit. I'd happily buy a ticket.
Isaac Boxx
Austin, Texas

Privacy vs. morbid right to know

Your Dec. 3 article, "A family's privacy vs. public's right to know" about "whether the public's right to know certain government information outweighs any privacy rights of a dead person and surviving family members" discusses two cases that superficially appear similar.

Two important points, however, distinguish them: First, Vince Foster was a high-ranking government employee in the Clinton administration, and second, his death was ruled a suicide. In contrast, no purpose can be served by releasing race car driver Dale Earnhardt's autopsy photos from his fatal crash. In the Foster case, however, the request to view his autopsy photographs should be granted - no matter how far-fetched the conspiracy theory may appear.
Adrian L. Flanagan
Richmond, Va.

Your description of Allan Favish, the California lawyer who is challenging the government to release the Vince Foster photos, as a "conspiracy theorist" is prejudicial. The fact is, just about everything we do involves conspiracy, whether at the office or in Congress. Some secrecy is essential to many cooperative efforts. This is true in high- profile court cases where lawyers on both sides keep some of their intentions secret.
Charles Palson
Sherborn, Mass.

Democracy, on Russia's terms

Regarding your Dec. 9 editorial "Elections, Putin Style": What Russian people need they clearly showed on Dec. 7.

We want to see our country as strong as it was before, and even stronger. In order to achieve this, stability in economy and politics is required. And it does not matter for us if the United States likes it or not. You are not capable of setting up "international democratic standards" for the people's will in this country, which has the highest educational standards in the world.
Alexander A. Shapovalov
St. Petersburg, Russia

Smart women don't need MBAs

Regarding your Dec. 8 article "MBA? Why many women say no": The one rationale that was not mentioned just might be good sense. The MBA is not the royal road to corporate success that it once was. Indeed, the flood of new MBA programs in the 1990s has devalued the MBA significantly.

Considering the work/cost/reward ratios involved in getting an MBA, many women may simply be too smart to go down this path.
Gary Anderberg
New Hope, Pa.

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