Thoughts on today’s historical significance.

July 20, 1944.

Today a conspiracy of plotters sought to assassinate Adolph Hitler and overthrow the NAZI dictatorship with a coup. The coup was generated from with Hitler’s own military and nearly succeeded. It is only by chance and a string of unlikely events that Hitler survived this attempt. (I understand there were something like 15 different attempts on Hitler’s life. He had the devils own luck in avoiding these attempts.)

A film which does a very good job of being both entertainment and capturing the events — with some alterations one should always be wary of film as history — is last year’s Valkyrie . This film is tense and dramatic with a top notch cast that give a power performance.

July 20, 1969.

Mankind landed on the moon. Forty years have passed and age has dulled my memory but I do remember lying on a narrow bed (I was nine) with a father in a trailer on one of his worksites and watching the astronauts descend to the lunar surface.
I have always been a space bug. As a child I drew Gemini and Apollo and Mercury capsules. I was six and I would watch and try to understand Star Trek. (I remember asking my sister how the Enterprise could launch, thinking at the time that everything had to go straight up from the ground like an Atlas. She explained how ships may be built in orbit and my horizons were expanded a bit. (At least until JJ Abrams got his hand on the future.)
I loved the space program and I still believe that man’s destiny lies off-planet. It may not be America’s destiny but it is mans.


One thought on “Thoughts on today’s historical significance.”

  1. Heh, when I was kid during the Apollo era, during play time at school I would attempt to draw the LEM with crayons. I would draw craggy lines in a futile attempt to capture the complex shape of the ascent stage, achieving an unintentional cubist affect more than accuracy! That was when 2001: A Space Odyssey was thought a prophetic movie when it filled the movie screen with a huge artificial gravity space station, an underground lunar base, and a manned exploration mission to Jupiter. Back then it seemed all of that was logical to anticipate for the year 2001, as it mirrored the rapid progress already made since WWII. Sigh…

    On this anniversary, there are three things to note, one good, one bad and one troubling.

    The Good is what the new administrator of NASA, Charlie Bolden, said during his first general address to NASA on July 21st. Ex astronaut Bolden wants NASA to send people to Mars. “The challenge for us in the next few months is to figure out what the single most efficient, most cost-effective path is to get there,” he said. Yes! On to Mars!

    The Bad is what powerful congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) had to say on the anniversary of Apollo 11. Frank during the 2008 budget cycle had inserted into the appropriation bill for NASA language which forbade NASA from spending any money advancing any manned mission to Mars. According to USA Today…

    “Manned space travel adds far more cost than is justified in terms of scientific return,” says Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. Frank says he doesn’t want to end the astronaut program but doesn’t want to send humans to Mars or the moon. He’d restrict astronauts to tasks robots can’t handle, such as the recent upgrade of the Hubble Space Telescope by a seven-astronaut team.

    Finally, the Troubling is what President Obama had to say on the symbolically powerful anniversary of Apollo 11, while meeting with the three Apollo 11 astronauts. According to the AP story by Seth Borenstein…

    On the 40th anniversary of man’s first moon landing, the Apollo 11 crew met with President Barack Obama, who used the opportunity to talk about inspiration and science and math education. He didn’t talk about going anywhere in space, not the moon or Mars.
    Obama said he wanted to use Monday’s anniversary of the Apollo moon landing to show that “math and science are cool again.”
    “The touchstone for excellence in exploration and discovery is always going to be represented by the men of Apollo 11,” Obama said. He said their work sparked “innovation, the drive, the entrepreneurship, the creativity back here on Earth.”

    Wow. I’m flabbergasted. That Obama would step all over the glorious opportunity he was here presented with, to prattle on about mundane education is profoundly depressing. It harks back to the early days of his presidential campaign when he was still promising to rip $5 billion from NASA to fund pre-K school education.

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