Friday, July 20, 2018

Happy Peak Of Western Civilization Day

Forty-nine years ago today, and just a few hours from now, is the exact anniversary of when 50,000 steely-eyed missile men, crew-cutted geeks with pocket protectors, test pilots, fighter pilots, and hundreds of metric tons of raw testosterone kicked the rest of the world's ass right to the bottom of the heap, going back to the dawn of time, from the moment that Eagle landed, to when this guy's foot stepped off the LEM ladder.

Neil Armstrong, ace X-15 test pilot, and mission commander of Apollo XI, became the first man from earth to ever set foot on the Moon, and if and until we ever get people to Mars, he put every explorer in history, and even every guy to follow, below him on what Tom Wolfe correctly called "the top of the pyramid."

He was there because he and his sidekick, lunar module pilot, and outside-the-box revolutionary thinker Buzz Aldrin

had managed to land the lunar module manually*, off course, and with mere seconds remaining for landing before a crash-tastrophe, because you don't fly 250,000 miles to puss out at the last 12 seconds, just for such piddling concerns as running out of fuel.

Meanwhile, as command module pilot Michael Collins

was searching the Moon's surface from lunar orbit to spot whereinhell (or rather, where in the Sea Of Tranquility) Eagle had actually landed, Armstrong and Aldrin were running through checklists and getting ready for the culmination of the combined effort of tens of thousands of people at NASA (back when they had a purpose, and a clue) and hundreds of thousands of contractors and subcontractors, all accomplished to make the trip possible, less than a decade from Kennedy's speech promising we'd do it.

Because that's what Americans do.

There are countries that use the metric system, and those that have landed on the Moon.

It wasn't until 8 years later, with the lackluster premiere of uber-mediocre science fiction government conspiracy trope film Capricorn One in 1977 (James Brolin and O.J. Simpson as heroes in that movie should have been the tip-off there), after the moon landings had all concluded, that any one of countless hordes of fruitcakes started seriously espousing the idea that we'd somehow magically faked the landings, necessarily including hundreds of thousands of people, from NASA, to the Russians, to every country with a radar, as being somehow "in" on the hokey asstardian imaginary conspiracy suggested, and all agreeing to STFU about it. Until it was cleverly revealed by people showing how they did it, using special effects and video technology completely unavailable anywhere in 1969. Well played, lunatards.
Occam's Razor alone slashes the throat of that nonsense, but some of these former alien seekers, bigfoot hunters, and Loch Ness monster fisherman still cling to their flat-earth retarded psychosis, despite the fact that people were regularly bouncing laser beams off the reflectors placed there in during the Apollo missions to prove the lie of such nonsense,

and the mental illness persists today despite even recent high-res fly-by photography of the lunar surface that has photographed the sites of all the lunar missions, including spotting the astronauts' footprint tracks and the tire ruts from the buggy explorations of later flights, and spotting the pieces of our space leftovers from altitude, right where they're supposed to be.
Because, as news to a previous America-hating president, we built that.

But you can't argue mentally defective lunatics out of a position with reason and logic when they didn't use that to get there in the first place.

The inescapable truth, for those sane enough not to fart simply to smell their own tailwinds, is that we went there, as the only nation that could, and the one that did, and the glory of that belongs to those who did it, for all time.

America haters at home and abroad: This is what it looks like when patriotic geeks
 cut loose and freak out. So you losers can suck it.

But on the day, that summer Sunday afternoon in 1969, when Armstrong stepped out the door to rendezvous with destiny, there wasn't one single car on the streets, anywhere. I was there, and I went outside, and I saw it with my own eyes, kids, from a house just up the street from where Rocketdyne made the Saturn V engines that took us there, again and again. 
Nothing outside moving, anywhere. Not. One. Single. Person.

Every single human on the planet with access to one was huddled in front of black-and-white or color TVs, back when TV had those choices, and each holding their breath waiting for the moment that the cream of 1969 video technology broadcast the shadowy moment to the waiting world.

Not Adidas. Or Nike. But totally made in America, baby.

Of the only twelve men who've ever walked on the Moon, only four remain alive today, including Buzz Aldrin. Neil Armstrong passed away at age 82, nearly six years ago.

But they, the other astronauts (and even cosmonauts) who made it possible, and the other men and women who built the machines and the systems that allowed us to conquer space and take our first steps on another spinning orb, deserve the eternal glory and thanks of the entire world, both that was and that is, for fulfilling such a primal urge, and manifesting the best and brightest of human destiny.

We need to go to Mars, and beyond that, because that's what we were made to do.
We plan, we measure, and we accomplish, because we have minds to think, imaginations to soar, and dreams to fulfill, always beyond that next horizon.
And we're only at our best when we're doing just exactly that.

We came in peace for all mankind.

*{My thanks to Ian for the clarification in comments. -A.}


Anonymous said...

I remember it, I'd just turned six and was still a couple months from entering first grade. Watched it on a little 12" black-and-white TV.

It sticks in my craw that we haven't been back, and further. We haven't put a human beyond low Earth orbit since I was in grammar school. We were supposed to have gone to Jupiter seventeen years ago by now, Arthur C. Clark and Stanley Kubrick said so!

NASA has done great things with the robots we've sent (had a couple spectacular failures too, but stuff happens). Then a bunch of nerds send a space craft to land on a frikkin' comet, and everyone gets their knickers in a twist because the head-nerd was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a scantily clad woman on it. And of course NASAs mission became to make Muslims feel good about their contributions to science. Bah.

Still, raise a glass because the only footprints on the moon have "Made in America" stamped in reverse from the soles of the boots that left them.

Mark D

SiGraybeard said...

Linked back from my place.

I also watched it on a black and white TV, this time on our family's summer vacation. I like to compare and contrast Apollo 11 to the big event that happened not far from where I was. Woodstock.

The first was a tribute to hard working men and women: engineers, technicians, assemblers, and tens of thousands of hard working people who undertook a task that many viewed as impossible. "To land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of this decade". It was hard work, it was risky work. Men died: outstanding men you'd be proud to have known or worked with. It was a triumph of intellect, done with slide rules and calculators that your Smart Phone out powers by a factor of thousands. Even today, it is thought of as being so hard to do that about 5% of the US population thinks we never did it.

The second was a bunch of kids having sex in the mud while drugged out of their minds, listening to singers and musicians drugged out of their minds.

The first group was dedicated to doing things others can barely only imagine - bending the universe to their will through sheer intellect and power. They are "can do" people.

The second group was dedicated to rubbing body parts against each other with no effort of will and no character. Their entire focus in life is their genitals.

The second group is now in charge of the country.

Anonymous said...

I built models of all of those spacecraft as Mercury and especially Gemini flew. Even as a blasé smart-ass young adolescent I was at the TV that day. My father was one of the slide-rule pocket-protector guys, I am proud to say.
The second group as noted by SiGraybeard WAS in charge of this country - for FAR too long. Many of us who are the progeny of the first group fell for the siren songs and lies of the second before understanding that we have been lied to about many things throughout our lives by that second group. It is imperative that we expose those lies to our own offspring and help them to understand that this country WILL be Great Again; and we must Make It So.
Boat Guy

skybill said...

Hi Aesop!!!,
"10-4!!!!" 'Couldn't have said it better myself!!! Yup!!, The APOLLO XI!!! #11... I was in the NAVY at the time and a couple of months earlier, like MAY... I was on the USS PRINCETON LPH-5 somewhere around PAGO PAGO in the South Pacific looking up at the daybreak clear sky at a "Shooting star" or two, or three and somebody on the flight deck said "Look at 'THAT' one!!" 'Shooting star my eye, it was "THEM!!!!!" Stafford, Cernan and Young!!!!! APOLLO X, Sittin' on a hot seat as the Cap burned off the outside layer of the Heat shield!!!!! Had 'em on deck in 24 minutes!! Fastest pickup to date!! We were back in Long beach for XI!!!
Blue skies-Black Death!!!!*
Audentes, Fortuna, Ivat!!!!!<

(*) What Skydivers yell in the airplane when the wheels break ground.... We know it's a "Risky Business" but we do it anyway!!!
Broken Bones Heal, Chicks dig scars, Pain is only temporary,

J J said...

As the leftists were succeeding in taking over academia, media and government the country’s focus shifted from “what can this country achieve?” to “how much can we give away to those who contribute nothing to the country?” We have squandered trillions of dollars trying unsuccessfully to “lift people from poverty” only to end up bankrupt with the most well off poor people in the world.
Every time I go to the supermarket I see fat lazy people riding around on electric carts filling their baskets with stuff my tax dollars are paying for. When I see entire families riding around together as if they are all too damn good to walk it makes me want to scream.

@Aesop- thanks for the great tribute to those men and women who all had the right stuff to lift us to the moon.

Dinochrome One said...

Amen times Infinity !!! I was in the Navy on that fine evening, watching yet another black&white TV in the TV-lounge of Barracks 17, Treasure Island. I was attending Electronics Technician Class "A" school and was surrounded by fellow fledgling ETs with our eyes glued to the screen. One fellow had set up his little 8MM movie-camera to record the moment for posterity. When Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the Lunar surface, we raised the roof. It's amazing that so many Navy ETs are Science-Fiction buffs and Space Cadets.

Anonymous said...

Not really, not if you know the breed.

Eskyman said...

Wonderful tribute, Aesop!

I was one of the technicians involved, in a very minor way indeed, doing comms at HQ USAF in Europe; lots of the comms traffic came through my shop. With permission from my boss I recorded the whole landing on my 10" R-R tape recorder (my boss did a Sgt. Schultz and saw/heard nothing, as long as he got a copy of the tape.)

It's way past time we go back there!

MMinWA said...

Great piece, dittos on the above comments. There's a few things burned into my brain and the landing, with my whole family watching in our living room, is near the top.

As an aside, Capricorn One is a pretty good flick. Gould was in top form as the joke cracking journalist and the Telly Savalas segment was wicked entertaining. I watch zombie flicks and don't take the story seriously either.

George True said...

I watched it live. I will never forget it as long as I live. I had just graduated from high school that May, and was headed off to college in the fall. At the time it seemed that there was nothing that America could not accomplish if she put her mind to it.

Had our government had the will to do it, we could have landed men on Mars by 1985 or 1990. The Space Shuttle and the ISS were supposed to be the stepping stones to do just that. But then the left started complaining about how 'expensive' the space program was, and how could we justify it when there were still hungry people somewhere in America. So instead we squandered trillions and trillions of dollars on the war on poverty, on the war on drugs, on endless actual wars that gained us nothing, and on bringing tens of millions of useless eaters from the turd world here and paying all their living expenses.

We don't even have the ability to launch our own astronauts into low earth orbit anymore. We have to pay the Russians to do it now. Meanwhile NASA's current mission is to make Muslims feel good about themselves.

The stupid, it really does burn.

James M Dakin said...

I don't want to stop any of the joyous self-congratulatory partying, but stop and think a bit before you blame lefties or welfare pukes. When we had the bulk of the globes oil, we were able to achieve great things, and when that production stopped growing and then started shrinking, we eventually got to the point we couldn't even be mediocre anymore. It isn't politics or priorities, it is the ability. We lack the ability. And I'd like to request that the Fracking Fags remain silent. Net energy, fracking is total crap. Trying to run a Texas sweet crude economy on ethanol. I was never alive to swill at the punch bowl, but I can imagine it was pretty sweet being alive back then. But just like your frail aging body doesn't produce the hormones it used to, our resource base has shrunk too. Acceptance is the first step. Then, take some of that free cheese Social Security ( which I've paid into for 35 years and won't see any of, so don't play the "we paid for it, it isn't welfare" card ) and prepare for far worse than what those lack of resources have already delivered.

Anonymous said...

Interesting read. It is funny though, the article starts off ridiculing the doubters and then goes on to talk about that "sunny summer afternoon" and how the author went out and there was no one on the streets, no kids playing outside because everyone was inside glued to the TV.

Armstrong set foot on the moon at 10:56 PM EDT according to NASA. That is 8:00 PM in California. Still not afternoon in anyone's book. Memories aren't all they are cracked up to be.

The Gray Man said...

Wait, didn't they make a mpvie proving that the only reason we made it to the moon was because of three black women who got no credit? Lol

Unknown said...

I'd say that at 8pm in late July that it's still light outside, so I could excuse a 49-year-old memory for recalling it as an afternoon event.

Anonymous said...

I remember the moon landing as occurring while I was semi-conscious and vomiting violently as the after effects of over indulgence at a biker party immediately preceding and unrelated to The Event. At least I didn't miss the bucket while the room was doing barrel rolls.

MMinWA said...

As I recall, it was evening in Chicago when we were watching it on the tube. Couldn't tell you about the traffic because we were all riveted.

Aesop said...

@Anonymous troll 9:08A

7:56PM Pacific Daylight Time, which was when it happened out where I live, is still daylight. And when they landed, and before the lunar EVA, it was in fact the exact late afternoon of which I spoke. At 7:56P, I was in front of the TV too.

So it turns out the memory is crystal clear, as are the abilities to both reason, and crack open a calendar and an almanac.

Sunset that day in Los Angeles was at 8:03 PM PDT.
And it's still light outside for nearly an hour after that.

As Casey Stengel used to say,even without the ability to pull up the relevant information in just a couple of mouseclicks, "You could look it up.";118.2;34;-8;1&month=7&year=1969&time_type=1&want_twi_civ=1&want_mrms=1&want_mphase=1&wadj=1

Snark requires just a wee bit more smarts than that.

If you're going to come on my blog and try to sharpshoot the facts, don't pull an Andrew Prine/Pvt. Ransom face-plant moment from The Devil's Brigade.
As William Holden's character noted, "That was a silly-ass thing to do!"
50 points from Slytherin.

Anonymous said...

Was recently back from my draftee stint in the Army in Germany. We were at the home of my brother's in-laws, sitting in stunned silence watching the moon landing on TV, in Santa Barbara. It was still light outside. For as long as I live it will be light in my memory of that day.

Thanks for this post!

Anonymous said...

Aesop, I saw that live too, one day I will never forget as long as I live.
that was a very special time to be alive and I am greatful to have been alive at this specific era , the Space Age.
Like must kids at the time many wanted to be astronauts , me I wanted to be an Aerospace Engineer, I wanted to build the craft that got them to the moon.
One lesson in life my late father impressed into me is never quit and never give up on your dreams .He never completed high school due to the second World War.
like those guys in the photo of "The mission accomplished"
I gave it my all , this September I will turn 60 a milestone on its own.
This September also marks 35 years for me as an Aerospace Engineer.

Never give up on your dreams.


Stealth Spaniel said...

Loved this post! I was in the San Fernando Valley, glued to the tv, along with my mom and several of her friends. It was beyond exciting. To think that this country has traded in that glory, for horse manure pussy hats, soy boys in pajamas, and the likes of Obama. It sickens me to look at the 3rd worlders destroying the US from within. Time to clear the streets and this government-anyway possible.

Anonymous said...

Gulf Oil sold a die cut paper model of the LM you could assemble; I had to get my brother to help me with that. I landed it on the living room floor along with the real one. Then I remember sitting in front of the new, state-of-the-art color RCA, literally afraid to blink because I might miss an instant. My grandparents, my parents, my brother and I watched the landing and Armstong's first steps. There was the palpable sense that time had been divided BC/AD style, into eras before and after the moon landing and that nothing would ever be the same again.

You also knew that America had done this and that we did it for all the right reasons.

Every other member of my family is now dead. My grandparents were born in 1899. In their span they saw the invention of powered flight proceed to lunar landings. Aspiration, optimism, perseverance, respect, achievement and occasional heroism were ingrained and unquestioned American values. America and the world have changed in ways I doubt anyone fully understands, but I'm convinced that if my children and grandchildren see progress like this in their lives, it will be because they relearned what was best from that time and drove forward in that same, uniquely American spirit.

Ian Smith said...

It was Neil Armstrong, not Buzz Aldrin who manually flew the Apollo 11 lunar lander to the moon's surface. The job of the Pilot was to operate the flight control computer while the Commander (Armstrong) manually flew the lander should that be necessary. Aldrin called out altitude and velocity data for Armstrong.

Aesop said...

Thanks for that detail, Ian.
I knew Armstrong had flown the thing in training, even ejecting from it at least once IIRC, but wasn't aware of the crew division of responsibilities at the final moments.
Correction noted.

Ian Smith said...

Armstrong had ejected from the LLRV (lunar landing research vehicle) in training, an act which added to his reputation for coolness under fire. This was a different vehicle to the LM intended only for Earthbound training.
There was only one set of manual flight controls in the lunar lander and they were on the left side at the Commander's position. The title of "Pilot" was a bit of a misnomer for the lunar lander actually. The Commander of Apollo 12, Pete Conrad, also manually landed the lunar lander. I don't know whether any of the Apollo missions landed without manual intervention.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Aesop! Highly appropriate tribute. As with some Gemini and most Apollo launches, my Dad and I drove up from Miami to watch the launch of Apollo 11; I was not quite 15 at the time, and I was the biggest space geek I knew.

I would like to add a slight addendum to your excellent piece. Dad was an MD, ran a rather busy ER in the North Miami area. Back from the Cape and just after the successful landing I saw him wrapping up a shift at the ER to ride home with him. I went to buy us coffee right before he was turning the reins over after 12 hours, and I was still talking about seeing the launch that led to Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the Moon. The man behind the coffee machine in the hospital cafeteria was a negro, as was the older lady checking me out. They asked me "You believe that stuff? Man, no body went to the Moon, dat was a TV stunt. Ain't nobody going to the Moon."

When Dad and I got to the car I told him about this, he advised me that none of the black staff - precisely zero - believed the Lunar landing was real; this included a couple of nurses, all the janitorial staff (who didn't happen to be Cuban) and one of the Lab techs. Fake, false.

YET - Gil Scott Heron got infamous for his rant "Whitey On The Moon," which is pretty amusing now but seemed somewhat threatening to my teenage ears in 1969. So the buzz-kill on apex Western tech did not really originate with the even less believable O.J. Simpson as an astronaut, is was negro dogma as early as the week it happened, 49 years ago.

It was wonderful to be alive then, to see it with my Dad and friends, to watch the later flights. My tech jobs for 40 years were partly due to the enthusiasm of the space race.

Thank you America, thank you Astronauts, thank you technology.

Bill Cthulhu

Aesop said...

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke

This goes double to people who think the moon landings were faked, but believe Wakanda is real.

It's nothing but the easy answer of those for whom such scientific realities overwhelm their simple-minded prejudices.