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Letters: New Orleans, Buzz Aldrin


It's Tuesday and time to read from your comments. Last week we spoke with two doctors on how they discussed imminent death with their patients and patients' families.

Leila, a doctor, emailed us: Sometimes patients or families project their denial onto us as doctors. Some maybe more focused on honesty and others on optimism, misinterpreting honesty as pessimism, and they may blame us, the physician, for their selective listening. Sometimes all one can do is feel one's way through the conversation.

We also talked with former NPR correspondent Gwen Thompkins and musician Trombone Shorty about Jazz Fest and the future of New Orleans.

Kris Coleman(ph) from Atlanta sent us this postcard of New Orleans about a gospel tent at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church: My husband and I were moved and somewhat amused by the throngs of folks carried away by the music. Then the final solo that started her song, modestly building to: Was it so? Was he actually going to try to sing "I Will Always Love You," Whitney's song? Oh, this was going to be awful, we thought. But oh, my Lord, that lady brought down the house. She crushed it, lifting that high note over and over, saving souls, escalating the crowd to a virtual frenzy. It was amazing and such a gift. That and crawfish beignets to boot - a heavenly weekend.

On Thursday we spoke with Buzz Aldrin about his new book, "Mission to Mars," and his hope for Americans to continue to lead in space exploration.

Nate Farrington in Syracuse wrote: I question the purpose behind this grand idea for several reasons. First, we can't even seem to treat the planet we currently inhabit well enough. What gives us the right to take the domineering culture anywhere else? To what end and for what purpose? Second, we can't treat one another very well. There are too many examples to count. But when situations like Cleveland, Ohio and the Boston bombing stop, I'll be more happy to hear about space exploration.

Third, I work in an inner city teaching children in an after-school program. We can't even get enough money to hire staff, provide quality food and offer activities. Where does the money for the Mars mission come from? I just don't see the need for this now or, quite frankly, ever.

Jeremiah Stilson(ph) wrote with another view: Why go into space? The reason is to instill wonder and excitement in the minds of citizens everywhere. If you're going to question the value of going to Mars, then question the value of every other endeavor on Earth: sports, entertainment, et cetera. What's the point of any of it? What about science? What about the amazement of setting foot on another planet in our solar system? Doesn't that hold any value? At our core we are exploratory, curious and extremely wondering animals. To deny that sense of curiosity and wonder just because there's no tangible value seems wrong.

If you have a correction, comment or question for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is talk@npr.org. Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. And if you're on Twitter, you can follow us there, @totn. And speaking of astronauts, here's a cut of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield covering David Bowie's "Space Oddity" from orbit. Here he is aboard the International Space Station.


CHRIS HADFIELD: (Singing) Ground control to Major Tom, the time is near. There's not too long. Can you hear me, Major Tom? Can you hear me, Major Tom? Can you hear me, Major Tom? Can you - here am I floating in my tin can, a last glimpse of the world. Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing left to do. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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