Monday, July 20, marked the 40th anniversary of the greatest endeavor of mankind since the invention of Cheez-wiz which culminated in the first footfalls of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin upon the lunar Sea of Tranquility. The technological arc of inventions on the short-list that has evolved from this noble enterprise include Velcro, home satellite dishes, smoke detectors, Odor-Eaters and the ever-popular cordless vibrator. Did you know that your hand-held Blackberry has exponentially more memory by a factor of eight than it’s great granddaddy computer from the Apollo command module? How far has your Blackberry taken you lately?
The space program also engendered the phrase, “We can put a man on the moon but we just can’t seem to get a physical specimen of Obama’s original birth certificate.”
I was 12 years old when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. I remember playing outside in my front yard on that summer night with some of my neighborhood friends when my dad called me into the house. I grew up in the legacy of the long tall shadow of Werner von Braun’s Saturn V rocket as my dad had worked extensively on the command module for the Apollo program over at the old North American Aviation plant in Orange, Calif.
There’s a Best Buy there now.
Many folks that came to our house for dinner and late night, beer-fueled pinochle games worked in California’s legendary aerospace industry where the term “rocket scientist” was a testament of their occupation and not a school yard pejorative from the current dysfunctional playpen of the SMMUSD.
It’s so sad to see California burn up on re-entry.
On that night, I knew that my dad, a country redneck from Kentucky, was watching epochal history that he helped create, unfold as an archetypal achievement that rivaled only with the building of the pyramids of Egypt in scope and breadth. Funny, my dad has never thought that his contribution to the space program as anything more significant than being just an average guy with a very expensive toolbox and an eclectic education. Everybody may remember “King Cheop’s pyramid” but who remembers the grunting ground-pounder who put the damn thing together?
Over the decades, however, the space program has also spawned a throng of conspiracy-minded chuckle-butts who have spewed with frothing indignation that the moon landings were nothing more than a series of oogedy-boogedy government hoaxes and that they “… will not let this aggression stand, man.”
Let me get this straight. Conspiracy theorists can’t believe Buzz “Bust ‘em in the Chops” Aldrin walked on the moon yet then further believe that Al Gore can save the polar bears by commanding the weather?
Obviously, these nimrods need to put down the pipe, as they seem to be smoking a bad batch.
These pirates adorned with tricorn tin foil hats also embrace the alleged intrigues of 9/11, the Priory of Sion, Bigfoot, chem-trails and the joint Bavarian-reptilian Illuminati demonology. What’s the big deal? Aren’t we all going to be dead by 2012 anyway? I just saw a movie trailer about 2012 last week right before the new “Harry Potter” movie.
Hanlon’s Razor stipulates: “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by your own stupidity.”
Is it an inconvenient truth that allegedly grown-up New Age noisegeeks who dismiss the astrophysical achievements of the men and women with “The Right Stuff” are the same Area 51 gas bags who dress up like Yoda for a frollicking night of “War Hammer,” Red Bulls and downloadable porn in the basement of their mom’s trailer? Let me guess, we’re supposed to pay for their healthcare too, right?
I was raised around astronomy maps and telescopes. I’m still trying to con my dad out of his classic Celestron 8 much to my repetitive dismay. I don’t have a problem reconciling “God” with “science” either. I look at the night sky and see both. I was trained by Jesuits to recognize the difference.
Space is cool.
As a demonstration of humility within the ordered magnitude of universal Big Bang-iness, try this exercise. But please spare me, however, from the noxious notion that you are some one-of-a-kind “snowflake” training to be a psychic channeler of ancient alien races from the planet Tampax. Remember that “snowflakes” have a tendency to melt under combustion.
Pick out any point in the night sky along any azimuth and declination you choose. Within that “point” in the sky there are approximately 200 galaxies of approximately 100-200 billion stars each. Now multiply that by the other 64,799 points in your night hemisphere. Please notice that you’re looking at an awful lot of untaxed real estate outside of 90405. Further notice that your effect upon it is quintessentially irrelevant.
Now sit back and ponder over your Tang-flavored martini straight as to when are we going to get up off this rock to go meet the neighbors.
Steve Breen always wanted to be a spaceman to colonize a conservative red planet and is still “the best looking mailman at the U.S. Post Office.” He can be reached at email@example.com.