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Littering, asteroid mining and more in Tuesday's Forum

Staff Report • Aug 1, 2013 at 10:25 AM

I just wanted to comment on Jim Mullen’s column (The Village Idiot) in Friday’s edition on littering. It is a very good and well-written piece, but will not shame the people who litter into changing their behavior. The Village Idiots who throw trash out the windows of their cars and use the world as their ashtray do not read the newspaper.In 2010, I took a trip to Germany and was amazed at how clean it was. World Cup soccer was being played in South Africa, and I went to an outdoor viewing of a soccer match in which Germany was playing England. There were thousands of enthusiastic Germans enjoying the game, much food and beer was being consumed. After Germany won the game and everyone finished celebrating and headed for home, there was nothing left on the ground. Not a scrap of trash could be seen.These people have something we Americans lack — pride in their country. We say we are “proud Americans,” but our behavior when it comes to litter does not reflect any pride at all.JOHN FRIEDRICHSPiney FlatsCommon CoreAs a teacher who just came into this profession two years ago, I do believe that the Common Core Curriculum is the correct path to take for success. It will be difficult for both teachers and students alike, but rigor and intellectual flexibility are desperately needed. Students need to have in-depth knowledge of mathematics and a fluid comprehension of complex text to compete internationally for employment — jobs that exist today, and those not yet here.I do, however, find it a bit disconcerting that while the demands on teachers and students continually increase, the state of Tennessee (more specifically, state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman) finds new ways to undercut the classroom in favor of educational chicanery. Gov. Bill Haslam has given undue credit to a man who had nothing to do with receiving Race to the Top funding, and who has erroneously used this money on more bureaucracy, paying huge testing companies and done everything in his power to undermine teachers’ esteem and hard work.This profession is already beleaguered (long before I arrived) from years of spiteful political tactics and unfair media bashing, but it seems that these indignities must continue to satisfy Huffman’s need for “change.” Out of a half-a-billion dollars, how much of that money has gone to actually improving our children’s education? ANDREW BAXTERJohnson CityAsteroid miningI’m writing to tell you about an interesting subject that I found. A company called Planetary Resources, formerly known as Arkyd Astronautics, is going to start mining on asteroids to bring the resources from space down to Earth.They are using three types of self-developed probes to help. There is the ARKYD 100, which is a commercial telescope. There is the ARKYD 200, which finds the asteroids that ARKYD 100 sees. And there is the ARKYD 300, which plans the approach and determines if the asteroid is worth mining.After using these, the company will fly in and mine the asteroid. It will mine the asteroid by enclosing it in a large spacecraft. Then, robots will drop onto the asteroid and dig through the surface to the resources to mine them. They are hoping to find high concentrations of nickel, iron, platinum and other resources.There is a very useful purpose for going to all this trouble to mine an asteroid. For example, one asteroid may contain more platinum than ever mined on Earth. The resources will add tens of billions to the gross domestic product per year. They are pushing to be the first commercial business to pursue asteroid mining. I thought that this was a fun concept that was worth sharing. JOE NAGY Johnson City

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