- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

COLBERT MODULE?

Amid concern that younger generations are getting most of the “news” from TV comedy shows, NASA has chosen to announce on Comedy Central's “The Colbert Report” the name of the space agency's newest module for the International Space Station that will provide many of the station's life support systems.

The name, which NASA said would not be publicly released until after the program airs at 11:30 p.m. Monday, was selected from thousands of suggestions submitted by the public on NASA's Web site. Comedian and host Stephen Colbert took interest in the census and urged his fans to post the name “Colbert.”

“I certainly hope NASA does the right thing,” Mr. Colbert said. “Just kidding, I hope they name it after me.”

Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington, explained that the poll “took on a life of its own.”

“We received more than a million entries, in large part because social media Web sites and television programs, such as 'The Colbert Report,' took an interest,” he said. “This spread overall awareness of the International Space Station.”

NASA astronaut and space veteran Sunita Williams will appear on “The Colbert Report” to help make the announcement.

BEYOND US

The X-Conference, an annual gathering of hundreds that addresses the politics and implications of the UFO/ET issue - as in extraterrestrial life and the craft they are suspected to fly - kicks off in Washington later this week.

”The movement seeks the formal acknowledgment by world governments of an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race,” organizers state.

Among the 2009 speakers: Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchel, who in 1971 became the sixth man to walk on the moon. However, the astronaut says the most extraordinary and unexpected moment of the mission came during his return to Earth.

As his speaker's biography reads: “As he hurtled earthward through the abyss between the two worlds, Mitchell became engulfed by a profound sensation - 'a sense of universal connectedness.' He intuitively sensed that his presence, that of his fellow astronauts, and that of the planet in the window were all part of a deliberate, universal process and that the glittering cosmos itself was in some way conscious. The experience was so overwhelming Mitchell knew his life would never be the same.”

As the MIT and Carnegie Mellon University-educated astronaut later put it: “We went to the moon as technicians, we returned humanitarians.”

OBAMA OUTREACH

The White House and Family Equality Council wants the world to know that homosexual and transgender heads of families and their children participated in Monday's White House Easter Egg Roll.

Still no official head count on the number of such families who hunted for eggs on the White House grounds, but in 2006 more than 100 LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) families were in attendance. Organizers were touting the same number, if not more, Monday.

“[B]ut this time the White House has specifically encouraged them to participate in this time-honored event,” the council noted, adding that President Obama became the first presidential candidate to openly affirm the equal value of LGBT families in an August letter to council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler.

SHRINK GOVERNMENT

Government bureaucrats take note: There's a new, fun-filled, fact-driven federal employee handbook of sorts (actually, it's better described as a 450-page guerrilla guide to surviving government service) written by federal government veteran William B. Parker, titled “The Agency Game: Inside the Bureaucratic Jungle.”

Mr. Parker, who also toiled for a Fortune 15 corporation, divides federal employees into four categories: “Idealists” (those who believe that they and only they can solve society's problems); “Clock-punchers” (former idealists who have become cynical and are going through the motions); “Hangers-on” (bureaucrats who have reached their career plateau and are hanging on until retirement); and “Power seekers” (those who will do anything without a shred of concern for the public good).

The book has 250 titled chapters, our favorite obviously, “Beltway, Inside The.”

“Also noteworthy, imperial Washington boasts the highest concentration of shrinks per capita of any other major U.S. city,” the chapter points out. “One good thing: Their benefit package pays the tab.”

• John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected] times.com.


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