According to both The Associated Press and The New York Times, the nation's school science fairs are in danger. The recession has forced corporate sponsors to make drastic reductions in the funds they contribute for entry fees, transportation and other expenses.
Join me in campaigning for the funding to be restored as the economy improves. Businesses need to see the value of fostering the next Jonas Salk, Bill Gates, Alexander Graham Bell, or Leonardo da Vinci. (The latter was in the news just recently, as researchers have found sketches not only of a personal flying apparatus but also a prototype of the Popeil Pocket Fisherman. No wonder the Mona Lisa was smiling; she expected to enjoy a luxurious mani-pedi while her husband was out communing with the bass.)
That kid who gets shaken down for his lunch money might be America's next outstanding engineer, chemist or botanist. If a junior astronomer proves the existence of intelligent life on our planetary neighbors, mind-boggling practical applications will emerge. And if he proves conclusively that there is NOT intelligent life on other planets, MTV will have a new reality show: "Martian Shore."
An innovator in nanotechnology could revolutionize elder care with robots too small to be seen by the naked eye. Of course this revolution would be dependent on Medicare payments too small to be seen with the naked eye.
I'm a history and political science geek myself, but I'm tired of the science geeks getting the short end of the stick. As Thomas Alva Edison might say today, "Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration...No, wait. That's not perspiration -- someone gave him a swirly. Ewwww!"
The science whiz kids deserve some recognition. These are the visionaries who think it's a good idea to make garbage decompose faster, a good idea to make Internet search engines more efficient, a good idea to brainstorm renewable energy sources. Alas, the lion's share of the accolades and scholarships go to the athletes who think it's a good idea to sustain multiple concussions.
I fear that our lack of support for research and development will cause other countries to make fun of us. ("Ha ha! Your military threatens to bomb us back to the Stone Age, but you've already bombed yourself back to the Seventies!") Fortunately, we also lag behind in learning multiple languages, so we probably won't understand their taunts.
The science fair situation is disturbing but does not reach crisis levels, so I would like to see sponsorship remain dependent on the private sector and elbow grease fundraising. Alas, some deficit-defying politicians like to stir up hysteria; but it's a delicate matter. They have to be careful with demagoguery about the dead-end jobs your underfunded children might wind up in, because many of their constituents are proud of those jobs. ("If we fall behind other nations, your children will be forced to become ...uh, moustache wax packers. What? There's actually a moustache wax packers union? Oh, man!!!")
Yes, we must resist those self-serving "progressives" who would like to see taxpayer-funded cradle-to-grave science education. ("I know your optical nerves haven't formed yet, but no womb is complete without this telescope. It will last you a lifetime. It should still be functioning when you go before the death pan--er, when you attend the festive end-of-life chatfest.")
©2011 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.