Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
If you had to whip up a too-good-to-be-true story for the right-wing pundit class to freak out over, what elements would you include? There would have to be, of course, an element of command-and-control socialist-fascist invasion and regulation of the most private parts of our lives, in the name of some spurious “common good.” But that alone is a little pedestrian nowadays, so you’d want to add a nice dollop of male sexual neurosis to really kick it up a notch. Then add just a hint of racial fear and beat to a froth.
What are we talking about here? Officials at the Centers for Disease Control, showing touching naiveté about the current political environment, are weighing an initiative to encourage male circumcision, with the idea that there are probably some minor health benefits. Says Dr. Peter Kilmarx, the head of epidemiology for the H.I.V./AIDS Prevention wing of the CDC, “What we’ve heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.”
Seems straightforward. Sure, there are reasonable people on all sides of the general arguments about circumcision, but if the CDC takes a rigorous look and decides to encourage the surgery, what harm can they do?
Only a little bit, it turns out, but in a place where it really hurts. Ed Morrissey of the conservative blog Hot Air writes, “If the CDC — which is part of the same government that will control health care — decides that circumcision is beneficial and cost-efficient in the long term, that same mechanism would create pressure on doctors and patients to perform them.”
Morrissey’s argument has the same basic flaw that animated the “death panel” fears: an inability to distinguish between advice and force. If this CDC proposal goes into effect, it, like the now-dead end-of-life counseling proposal, would make available some valuable medical advice. There’s nothing on the table to penalize doctors who don’t circumcise newborns, or parents who decline the procedure. To have a “mechanism [that] would create pressure on doctors and patients,” you need, well, a mechanism. Morrissey can’t come up with one.
But when was the last time that stopped these guys? Two days ago, Rush Limbaugh claimed, “It is President Obama who wants [to] mandate circumcision … And that means, if we need to save our penises from anybody, it’s Obama.”
So now that we’re talking about Limbaugh’s penis, all of a sudden, we’re in a world where the tiniest measure of government suggestion about sexual health equals a full onslaught against privacy. Expect to see the radio talker at the next march to protect abortion rights with a “Keep your government hands off my private parts” sign.
Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.More Gabriel Winant.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.