Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Sunday, July 20, 2014

One Giant Leap For Mankind

(Reprint of my July 20, 2009 post)


"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." - Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969, 8:17PM GMT (3:17PM EST)

This video shows highlights of the live television coverage of the Apollo 11 mission.

Checking with a U. S. Naval Observatory site on Sun and Moon data (hat tip to Chicago Boyz contributor Jay Manifold), it appears that the moon was visible in all the lower 48 states at the time of the landing. Somebody with enough foresight could have pulled off the ultimate photo-op - a photo of someone's living room with the moon visible through a window, with the TV turned on at the time of the landing.

[UPDATE: If the moon was just rising over California, that means it was setting, or close to it, over the Baikonur Cosmodrome. How's that for timing?]

John Derbyshire posted the opinion of a "long-time correspondent" - a former Soviet citizen - on Apollo 11's impact on the Cold War:

The space race, however, provided a clear-cut competition. And the Moon was the Big Enchilada, since poorly educated people are not much impressed by low Earth orbital stuff, but even African tribesmen are well aware of the Moon, can easily grasp the concept of walking on it and intuitively understand that it's not an easy feat.

The simple fact that the Americans walked on the Moon and the Soviets did not made both the elites and the populations question Soviet claims of their superiority and boastful promises of the inevitable victory in the Cold War.

One cultural legacy of the 1960s space program was the Major Matt Mason astronaut toys. I owned two action figures and Mattel's concept of a lunar rover - the red tractor-like Space Hauler and accompanying Space Bubble, visible at the top left on this page.

The History Place's Apollo 11 page is a worthwhile visit. For those of y'all with lots of reading time, this site has transcripts of all the Apollo 11 communications. The Air-to-Ground Voice Transmission transcript should generate the most interest.

Following are reprints of my 2003 post on this historic moment, and the images from the following year's 35th anniversary commemoration.


July 20, 1969. The Apollo 11 mission was the first live news coverage of an event I remember watching on TV. I was eight years old and living in Gulf Breeze, a town on the southern edge of Escambia Bay across from Pensacola, Florida. My mom still has a 1969 issue of (either Life or Time, I think) featuring this image on the cover. (Other images available here.) Jay Manifold has some musings here.

I recall someone recently commenting that for the 20 minutes that Michael Collins piloted the command module behind the moon as the LEM was on the surface, he was the most alone that any human had ever been. May there come a day within my lifetime when space travel is far less solitary.


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Friday, July 04, 2014

Odea To Liberty

Original posted July 4, 2002. Most years a change is made:

2003 Original image of WTC replaced with mini-collage of WTC, Liberty Bell, and the flag raising on Mount Suribachi.
2004 Image of young girl celebrating the liberation Iraq; LOTR quote.
2005 Iraqi girl image replaced by Iraqi voter; Cathy Seipp quote via Samizdata.
2006 Viktor Frankl quote
2007 Oriana Fallaci quote
2008 William F. Buckley quote
2009 YouTube video, scene from "John Adams" miniseries
2010 Tea Party protest sign
2011 YouTube video essay of the Battle of Yorktown

The scene from "John Adams" shows the meeting of the Second Continental Congress, at which the vote for independence from Great Britain is conducted, and (at 3:07) the public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration formally proclaimed our independence - the Battle of Yorktown won it.

 photo UnitedWeStand.jpg Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I've watched all your suffering
As the battle raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms

Dire Straits, "Brothers in Arms"

"Then I will live in Montana, and I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck, or possibly even a recreational vehicle, and drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?"

Vasili Borodin (played by Sam Neill), The Hunt for Red October

"'We hold these truths to be self-evident... That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights... That among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness... That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men ...'. And this paper that from the French Revolution on the whole West has copied, from which each of us has drawn inspiration, still constitutes the backbone of America. Her vital lymph. Know why? Because it transforms the subjects into citizens. Because it turns the plebes into people. Because it invites, no, it orders the plebes turned into citizens to rebel against tyranny and to govern themselves. To express their individualities, to search for their own happiness. (Something that for the poor, for the plebes, means to get rich). The exact contrary, in short, of what the communists used to do with their practice of forbidding people to govern themselves, to express themselves, to get rich. With their practice of installing His Majesty the State on the throne."

Oriana Fallaci, The Rage and the Pride

"With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."

Martin Luther King
"There is an inverse relationship between reliance on the state and self-reliance."

William F. Buckley
"The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden - that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time."

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 photo IraqiVoter.jpg"Funny that the same people to whom diversity is a holy word so often bemoan diversity of opinion as divisive. But in a democracy, politics are naturally divisive: you vote for this candidate and someone else votes for that one; you vote yes (or no) on a proposition and other citizens disagree. What's not divisive? Saddam and his 99.96% of the vote. That's how it went during the previous Iraqi election -- an illustration of the Latin roots of the word fascism, which actually means a bunch of sticks all tied together in one big unhappy unified bunch, and not (despite what many assume) any variation from p.c. received-wisdom regarding gay rights, affirmative action, bilingual education, etc. This election was different because it was divisive, which means it was better."

Cathy Seipp (Samizdata quote of the day, February 01, 2005)

"It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn't. Because they were holding on to something...That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."

Sam Gamgee (played by Sean Astin), Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

"[W]e recognize that we are living in the middle of the most overwhelmingly successful experiment in human history. Not perfect. Just the best place in the world to live in, that's all."

Jay Manifold

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered! My life is my own."

Number Six (played by Patrick McGoohan, "The Prisoner" TV series)

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."

Theodore Roosevelt

This Tea Party protest sign illustrates Roosevelt's musings on patriotism - and the powers of the citizen as exercised via the ballot box:

 photo WeCanSeeNovember.jpg

"So this Jefferson dude was like, 'Look, the reason we left this England place is 'cause it was so bogus. So if we don't get some primo rules ourselves - pronto - then we're just gonna be bogus, too."

Jeff Spiccoli (played by Sean Penn), Fast Times at Ridgemont High

"Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

Alexis deTocqueville, Democracy in America Vol. 2

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way"

Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning

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