But seriously, NASA...

I was surprised to learn on NASA Watch today that NASA has posted a solicitation seeking speechwriters to help the space agency communicate.

I thought NASA was pretty good at communicating. Well, at least some NASA officials know and use that sure-fire trick to connecting with the public: work into your speech as many lawyer slams as you can.

A recent example: I breezed through
The Vision for Space Exploration: New Opportunities, the speech delivered at the International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles earlier this month by NASA Ames Research Center's new director Dr. Simon P. Worden. (Speech transcript courtesy of SpaceRef).

Good speech, and in it, Dr. Worden, the newly-minted ARC director, who earned his doctorate in astronomy, used the time to officially share his feelings about -- yick -- lawyers.

First, after quoting Edward Teller who said space is "where you could pretty much do as you liked," Dr. Worden noted with apparent approval, "[i]n short the moon doesn't have an EPA or any other regulatory agencies - or any lawyers."

Then, raising the topic of ownership of lunar real estate, he concluded that the issue "will certainly be argued by far more lawyers than I ever care to deal with - I guess that's not many because even one lawyer is too many for me."


(By the way, some conference attendees may have assumed the ARC director was referring to government lawyers here, since it's probably not in the job description of a federal official on government time to discourage or discount working, taxpaying members of the private sector. Even if they are lawyers. However, others will happily appreciate the NASA official's words as a condemnation of all lawyers. Bless America.)

Well I enjoy this sort of thing, as most folks do. And let's face it, lawyers, at least space lawyers, do love and admire astronomers. But apparently there's no problem of co-dependency in this relationship.

So in support of NASA's quest for better communication skills, and at no charge, I thought I'd offer more lawyer joke material Dr. Worden and other NASA leaders might work into their next speeches.

For example, NASA can say ...

Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope we have amazing images of distant galaxies colliding. Of course, astronomers have known about colliding galaxies for quite some time, but with the unprecedented sharp optical images provided by Hubble, we can actually see the lawyers rushing to the scene.

Or how about...

Did you hear NASA interviewed an astronomer, a doctor and a lawyer for a seat on a one-way trip to Mars? The first applicant, the astronomer, was asked how much he wanted NASA to pay him for the mission. "A million dollars," he answered, "and I would donate the money to M.I.T." The next applicant, a doctor, answered the same question. "Two million dollars," she said. "I would leave one million for my family, and donate the other million for the advancement of medical research." Finally, the lawyer answered by whispering in the interviewer's ear, "three million." "Why so much more than the others?" asked the interviewer, perplexed. The lawyer explained, "you give me three million, I'll give you one million, I'll keep one million, and we'll send the astronomer to Mars."

(Hey, I don't write this stuff, I find it on the Internet, or on the bathroom wall at the local planetarium...)

Yes sure, sometimes lawyers tell NASA jokes in their speeches, but the material just doesn't pack the same zing. ("Have you heard about NASA's new restaurant on the moon? The food is good, but there's just no atmosphere." See? By the way, send your better jokes to me -- can't get any worse than these -- and I'll happily post 'em.)

Jokes aside, congratulations to Dr. Worden on his job at the space agency. Good luck to NASA in finding their new communicator. And finally, remember, Pete, law school was just "plan B" for otherwise decent folks who, try as they might, could not pass astrophysics ;).

Have a communicative weekend, everyone ;).

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(Image credit: Cartoonstock.com)

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