Until recently, one might well have assumed that the technological white elephant that is the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)1 was as pass頡s A Flock of Seagulls and white suits. However, like Bon Jovi and parachute pants, it's back—big time.
This is terribly unfortunate for everyone involved, except the defense contractors whose advanced hoodwinking skills have thus far netted them more than $100 billion.2 These folks should probably be given an Oscar for their collective performance, considering that just about every credible scientist not in their employ thinks that SDI is about as feasible as, say, threading Oprah through the eye of a needle or staging a successful MC Hammer comeback.
However, the existing Powers That Be are less than concerned with these silly pinko criticisms3 and are proceeding full-bore with their supposed missile defense system, lest those people who are out to get us4 succeed in their nefarious venture. In this way, we can be secure that we are all living out the legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan: keeping the world safe for our continued dominance over a bunch of stuff that we barely understand.
1. While the space program has brought us a panoply of useful and delicious products (see also: "Tang," "Velcro," "Ice Cream, Dehydrated"), the primary product of SDI research so far seems to be a bunch of euphemistic acronyms. In military-speak (the same dialect that brought you such faves as "collateral damage" and "friendly fire," which begs the question of what friendly is, anyway), acronyms serve roughly the same purpose as a protective cup. Variants of SDI are also variously called BMD, TMD, ABM, NMD, and (a special favorite) THAAD. Say what you will about the program; at least it has its own charming vocabulary. Only in the context of SDI will you hear the words "multimegawatt," "burrowing warheads," and "penetration aids" used in a positive way.
2. OK, deep breath—that's $100,000,000,000.00. Bypassing the usual "if you stacked it end to end, it would fill 50 Grand Canyons" comparison, consider just for a moment how many people that money could feed and house and care for. Eds.>
3. Ref. Charles M. Schulz, Don't Hassle Me With Your Sighs, Chuck. 1st ed. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976).
4. Although the identities of those people are in flux, they usually have at least one thing in common in that they are dusky in color and not particularly wealthy.
Kate Shuster, Contrib.