Monday, July 20, 2009

It Was 40 Years Ago Today

It's my first memory of the world outside our little house in Pomona -- sitting on my father's lap and watching the Eagle land.

Who'd have believed, 40 years ago, that those Apollo missions were an aberration, and not the beginning of a new era of space exploration for the human race? With a fraction of the money being spent on military adventures and cosmetics, the human race could have had a permanent presence in space today. But we don't, and on this one, all ideologies have failed us. Private enterprise hasn't gotten us there (and maybe couldn't have); our government could have, and hasn't.

Today is a bittersweet day.


Steve Perry said...

We were living in L.A., my wife and I and our two-year-old son, Echo Park. We hadn't owned a TV set, but we knew this event was coming up, so we bought a tiny, old B&W model from my karate instructor at the time. Set it up with the rabbit ears, and watched the landing.

I thought that was a high-water mark for mankind, to leave footprints on the moon.

Too bad they didn't keep going.

Dave said...

I was six years old, sitting on the couch in our house in Santa Monica, watching the whole thing on TV. The moon was a family business then. My mother worked on the Explorers and the Surveyors, and my grandfather worked on Apollo.

I grew up believing I'd visit the moon myself one day, and now it seems the closest I'll ever come are the pieces of Surveyor 3 that Uncle Pete brought home from the moon. You can see them resting in the Smithsonian, gathering dust like holy relics from a different age, and reminding Americans of a time long past when we as a nation dared to be great.

Anonymous said...

My family was on its way to a Disneyland vacation and we had stopped to stay the night at a friend of my parents in Sacramento. I remember my father making me come inside from playing and watch the moon walk. Boy am I glad he made me do that.

Joe Wheeler

RedDwarf said...

I'm too young to have seen it live, but I believe that private enterprise may bring us back to Moon sooner than NASA will (i.e. XPrize, SpaceShipOne/Two, etc). Interesting article on possible future of private space exploration here:

Anonymous said...

Turns out, there wasn't much on the moon. The ability to make the journey was the principle scientific achievement (aside from some moon rocks to help us with the age of the solar system).

In the end, there just isn't any scientific or commercial reason to be there.

Mars now, that could be cool.

Anonymous said...

"In the end, there just isn't any scientific or commercial reason to be there."

Development of technology to travel the solar system and eventually to the stars? Mineral resources mined from the asteroid belt? Zero-G manufacturing and industry? Simple tourism? There are more scientific and commercial reasons for space travel than my poor mind can come up with.

Sure, you can't sell the 1st footprint on the moon ... you can't mine it ... you can't cure cancer with it ... but it broadened of the scope of the human condition in a way that nothing else in the history of the human race has.

The sad truth is that there are too many exploitable resources at hand to worry about the intangible benefits of a space program.

Anonymous said...

"There are more scientific and commercial reasons for space travel than my poor mind can come up with."

I was referring to reasons to be on the moon, not space travel. Other than tourism, I can only think of a single good reason to be up there, which is a telescope on the far side. Getting there was great, staying there not so much.

Space travel elsewhere could be and is fantastic. But we never stopped that. We just stopped sending people past orbit, since robots and satellites don't have to worry about coming back.

Doc Nebula said...

Very sorry to hijack your threads. I'm desperately worried about the friend mentioned in this post, and am putting it up everywhere I think there may be compassionate eyes:

Back in September of 1979, I was wandering aimlessly on the third evening since my family had helped move me into the dorms at Syracuse University. I heard music coming from the quad, and drifted over. A band with a female lead singer was playing AMAZING rock and roll, so I sat down at the periphery and listened. I caught the name of the singer after a few more songs, and a week later, bought her self named debut album at a local campus record store.

Along with the first two albums by The Cars, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' DAMN THE TORPEDOES, Blue Oyster Cult's SECRET TREATIES and AGENTS OF FORTUNE, and Carole King's TAPESTRY, that self titled debut album, CAROLYNE MAS, became a vital and permanent part of the musical backdrop of my adulthood. I've always thought it was a great pity that Carolyne Mas never caught on; she had a fantastic voice, was a wonderful guitar player, and a terrific songwriter. A few years later I managed to find her third album and snatched that up, too. It wasn't as good as the first, but it still had a lot of really solid tunes on it.

Fast forward to last summer -- I came across an article online about Carolyne Mas, about how she'd never quite made it in rock and roll and was currently, in her early 50s, running a shelter for abandoned animals in Florida. I put up a blog entry lamenting the unfairness of a world in which hack non creative types become incredibly successful while genuinely talented artists languish as unknowns.

Fast forward again to a few weeks ago, when that blog entry got its first comment... from Carolyne Mas. She thanked me for the entry, said she loved my writing style, and suggested I help her write her biography.

That began an email correspondence, the latest installment of which is below (in response to a note I sent on Monday, asking if she was doing okay, as I knew from a phone call on Friday she was heading into a rough weekend):

"We're not okay...I have been desperately trying to raise money. I have no money for cat food, dog food, and now people food. No matter how many times I post my plea on FB or MySpace...we are all on the verge of starvation. I am trying to make sure my mother and my son have something to eat. There is a place that gives free meals on Sundays, so we will be able to eat then, all of us, if we can get the gas to get there. I am worried about the cats and dogs, too.

I have sent this letter to all the production and publishing big shots I have known, who are all wealthy, with no response. When you are poor, no one wants anything to do with you. It's a sick world, especially the entertainment business...if you cannot serve them in some way, you are invisible.

Here is a link to my letter...]

Hope I can hang on long enough for you to finish this...

Love, Carolyne"

This is not a joke or a hoax. This is a real person who is really at the end of her rope and has no idea where else she is going to turn, or how she's going to eat, or feed her husband, or the hundreds of abandoned animals in her care, past this Sunday, assuming they manage to get to a food bank and the food bank actually has any food.

If you check out and scroll down a little, you will find a lot of information about Carolyne's life and career and current undertakings and desperate situation, and you will also find a PayPal link. I'm sure Carolyne will be deeply grateful for any contributions whatsoever that may come in. As will I, for whatever that may be worth.

If you have blogs, or access to websites, or can think of any other way to get this message out there, please consider reposting it.

Thanks for reading this,

D.A. Madigan

Joe Wheeler said...

Hey how about more AI WAR...How about sellng it for electronic versions with you disemination rights...

Steve Perry said...

Time to post something new, Dan'l ...