Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
As the discussion of corporate media’s complicity in the creation and maintenance of the current status quo moves further away from the realm of the tinfoil hats, one need look no further than the front page of today’s New York Times to see that this complicity is leavened with a heaping measure of pure laziness.

Soyuz with unbuilt "logistics module and upper stage" performing a transluner injection burn...Additional images

According to the Times, a private Arlington, Virginia-based company, today, will announce an agreement with Russian officials to send 2 people on a 10 to 21 day, $100 million per ticket voyage around the Moon in a future, equipment-crammed 7.2’ X 8.5’ Soyuz Orbital module.

The Soyuz solid and liquid waste funnels

What a great time to be a billionaire with a limited travel wardrobe and a hankering for cramped sanitary facilities, huh kids?
But, in a report heavy with would’s and could’s, space-faring rich people will have to cool their jets until “as early as 2008” for reasons not altogether specified by the wide-eyed and search engine-incapable Gray Lady.
After two or three finger-tiring Googles, my e-sleuthing unearthed several reports from 2004 detailing pretty much exactly what the Times reported so breathlessly this morning…private company, $100 million, Russians, blah, blah, blah.

The Soyuz descent module and the spacecraft's tiny porthole window

An August 2, 2004 story on says the Soyuz Moon flight hinges on a yet unbuilt “logistics module and an upper stage” placed into a near International Space Station orbit by a yet unbuilt or unmodified launch vehicle:

The linchpin…is…a spacecraft that doesn’t yet exist…the logistics module would be a simple cylindrical module with docking interfaces at either end…equipped with a docking radar and communications system…food, water, and other supplies needed for a manned circumlunar mission, and provide additional habitation volume…[including] a new toilet.

I’m wondering if the Times, our paper of record for imaginary front-page facts, simply chose not to include this dry but relevant information or if, as with Judy Miller-style reporting, they just gullibly took the statements of an obvious self-promoter at face value?
Of course, I’m hardly suggesting that an exaggerated Moon flight for billionaires packs the same Constitution-threatening wallop as the Times’ complicity in Mr. Bush’s phony drive to war.
I for one enjoy the idea of a billionaire paying through the nose for the privilege of crapping in a funnel while seated in a shoebox, observing the Moon through a tiny fogged window and absorbing large doses of radiation.
However, with all imaginary Moon flights aside, it seems that hyped, fake or poorly researched hard news and feature stories, while having no legitimate use in traditional, non-compromised journalism and in some cases a direct threat to our national security, will grow more and more common thanks to the spearheading efforts of the New York Times.
It is, without doubt, a tragic state of affairs.

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