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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Three-Million Dollar Projector

John McCain made a huge deal out of an earmark that Barack Obama requested for an "overhead projector" in last night's debate. Turns out that it actually was a huge deal:

McCain's phrase suggests Obama spent $3 million on an old-fashioned piece of office equipment that projects charts and text on a wall screen. In fact, the money was for an overhaul of the theater system that projects images of stars and planets for educational shows at Chicago's Adler Planetarium. When he announced the $3 million earmark last year, Obama said the planetarium's 40-year-old projection system "has begun to fail, leaving the theater dark and groups of school students and other interested museum-goers without this very valuable and exciting learning experience."

The Adler Planetarium, which I visited on a school trip along time ago, was disturbed enough by McCain's bogus claims that they issued their own statement:

To clarify, the Adler Planetarium requested federal support - which was not funded - to replace the projector in its historic Sky Theater, the first planetarium theater in the Western Hemisphere. The Adler's Zeiss Mark VI projector - not an overhead projector - is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential planetarium experience. The Adler's projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium projector in the Adler's 78 years of operation.

Science literacy is an urgent issue in the United States. To remain competitive and ensure national security, it is vital that we educate and inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Senator McCain's statements about the Adler Planetarium's request for federal support do not accurately reflect the museum's legislative history or relationship with Senator Obama.

It should be noted that Senator Dick Durbin and six Chicago-area Congressman, three of whom are Republicans, also agreed to sponsor the $3 million earmark, which went unfunded anyway. Planetariums in New York and Los Angeles recently replaced their Zeiss projection systems with federal funding. As usual, the right-wing noise machine is revealed as short on facts and long on spin.

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Blogger Parson said...

Don't most conservatives believe the earth is flat and at the center of the universe still?

You can get some more info on the projector here,
Gadget Politics

title="comment permalink">October 10, 2008 6:21 PM  
Blogger Human said...

I bet most of the far right thinks "Planetarium" is an over sized green house.

title="comment permalink">October 11, 2008 11:31 AM  
Blogger Schteev said...

I'm from Connecticut, but I've visited the Adler Planetarium. It was pretty cool, and I remember paying to get in and watch a show. If they need money for a new projector I would suggest first using funds from ticket sales, then using money that is donated to them and finally asking the city of Chicago for funding. My visit to the planetarium was enjoyable and I feel that by paying to visit it I did my part to help pay for a projector. I do not feel that is right that they ask for my tax dollars from Connecticut.

title="comment permalink">October 16, 2008 1:29 AM  
Blogger Nancy H L said...

Exactly. We need to quit spending Federal money as if it is limitless. Rather than raise taxes on anyone, how about if we start living within our means? I love the planetarium, but it should be locally supported.

title="comment permalink">October 16, 2008 8:27 AM  

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