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There is so much to bring despair in today’s news: deadly pandemics that just keep coming, brutal war that could escalate to annihilation, impending starvation, widespread crime with rampant deadly shootings, an economy in turmoil and a national political dialogue that has turned almost as vicious as it was in 1860. We have a third of our U.S. population, and tens of millions more in other nations, completely divorced from reality or common sense and willing to still support avowed miracle-working despots in spite of the grim historical results. One could surely lose faith that humanity is advancing at all.
Yet this week we saw the first stunning visual results of one of the most astounding creations of mankind (“Behold, the dawn of the universe,” front page, June 12). It’s called a telescope, but it’s really a complex, multifunctional observatory riding on a gossamer parasol as big as a tennis court; a time machine to 13 billion years ago; a window to our universe’s creation; a future courier of insights into our very origins and existence.
This amazing machine was designed by many brilliant and talented visionaries, scientists and engineers. It took 30 years, $10 billion and the efforts of 20,000 people to build it and get it to its home many miles out on the way, way far side of the moon. This massive team populated 300 corporations, universities and government labs in 29 states and 14 countries. A heroic international cooperative effort.
We should all take a pause and marvel at what we can accomplish still when we put our minds and backs to it.
Dennis Fazio, Minneapolis
We can all be proud of all those contributing to the 30-year development and deployment of the Webb Space Telescope, as pictures of the unfolding of the universe through space and time become more clearly understood. Funders of this $10 billion project can also take pride in making such a monumental success possible. Astronomical science has taken a giant step forward to understand what many only dreamed through science fiction, while also advancing the Big Bang theory.
I reviewed Genesis Chapter 1 to imagine the creativity of God providing the heavens and the earth those first four days of creation, and the mystery of God, the I Am, always was and always will be that transcends human understanding. We will likewise never completely understand the universe as we explore a space of endless boundaries, but we can certainly appreciate these tiny glimpses of early creation’s mystery and the miracle of life that followed.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
GENDER, RACE, AGE
Being a white heterosexual male in my late 60s, I was intrigued by the title of the commentary in the July 9 issue, “The predicament of today’s white males — and their response” (Opinion Exchange). But by the time I finished the essay, I realized Sharon Carlson was attempting to spin an amusing campfire “pity party” she held with her brothers … right? What else could it have been?
Carlson writes that her brothers are not part of some anthropological “monolith.” Yet for her argument she creates three monoliths, “1) the white-collar white male, 2) the blue-collar white male, and 3) the unemployed white male.” How is that any better? One doesn’t have to be a white heterosexual male to understand that if you quit school, your employment opportunities diminish significantly. How do the “pressures to succeed” she describes for the white heterosexual male differ from daily pressures facing every other human being on this planet? Doesn’t “rank” matter to everyone at some point?
It seems Carlson’s point of view is attempting to rationalize her brothers’ insecurities, as well as the motivations for those who seek out conspiracies as reasons behind their perceived lack of status. Usually, most men in their late 50s have learned that there will always be some human smarter, more attractive, more athletic, richer, etc., than they are or can ever be. My advice to her brothers: Be the best you can be and leave your ego at the door.
Michael Riddle, Coon Rapids
I was anticipating getting some new insight from Carlson’s analysis but came away disappointed. Without disputing several of her broad assertions regarding the media and the job market, she describes the conditions under which we all try to survive. Her attempt to lay the blame for bad behavior on “expectations” leading to an “obliteration” of ego hints at the underlying issue. White males are brought up to feel they are entitled to something. This expectation is not always explicit but pervasive in our culture. Everyone faces similar threats to status, ego, economic opportunity and other factors, but not everyone reacts by feeling cheated. Once this feeling is validated, all hell breaks loose. Nothing is off-limits in the quest to regain what is “rightfully” theirs. As a white male who has experienced many of the indignities with which life abounds (no more and certainly far less than members of marginalized populations), I, too, can sit around a campfire and complain about setbacks, which itself is a form of privilege.
Equality is a radical concept. The authors of the Constitution (privileged white males all) unleashed this idea yet had no expectation that it could apply to everyone. It puts us in a predicament …
George Hutchinson, Minneapolis
After reading the article “Millennials fret financial futures” (July 13), reprinted from the New York Times, I feel our public high schools need to require financial management courses.
You cannot expect to do well financially if you assume a large debt while pursuing a career as a comedian, podcaster, actor or teacher. It’s not realistic. Not to say you can’t pursue your passion in life, but you can’t assume large student loan or credit card debt in doing so.
I am shocked by how ignorant the younger generation is about credit card and student loan debt. How interest rates work. One of the people interviewed said, “Student loans were easy to get, and no one talked about how they were trapping a lot of our generation.” Really?
Preparing our youth for financial management is as important as teaching them math and English.
Most people do not have parents who can save them. Our federal government is $30 trillion in debt and climbing. So it’s in no position to “save the day” without adding to inflationary pressures.
A financial management class in our nation’s high schools would go a long way in addressing the challenges we saw in this article.
Jim Piga, Mendota Heights