Tag Archives: anniversary

The day we forgot

On this anniversary of 9/11, one reporter notes how much we have forgotten about that day, and what it demanded we do afterward.

Fourteen years later, it is astonishing the degree to which these and other lessons of that day have been forgotten, rendered moot, or cast aside.

Shocking as it seems, America didn’t learn much at all from 9/11. It was not a particular moment of cultural or political change in American society. No generally held assumptions were overturned. No historical watershed was reached. It yielded no great art or literature. The monuments to the dead are for the most part defeatist, not expressions of resolve. What was baked into America’s future on the 10th of September, 2001 was still there on the 12th of September, 2001. The nation did not change.

I disagree with him strongly on one point. The nation did change, but for the worse. Instead of aggressively committing ourselves, all of us, to an effort to eliminate the evil in the Middle East that allowed 9/11 and many other horrible violent attacks to occur, we instead attacked ourselves, limiting our freedom by allowing the government to pry into our private communications, perform offensive strip-searches of us at airports, and impose restrictive security measures on our lives.

The result is that 14 years later, our political leadership now bows down and surrenders to Iran, agreeing to give them billions while allowing them the ability to develop nuclear weapons. This leadership is so terrified that any opposition to Islam might cause offense, they are thus willing to crap on the dead bodies of Americans who were killed by these vile fanatics.

Fifth anniversary fund-raiser

In celebration of Behind the Black’s fifth anniversary, I am considering ending the automated Google ads that presently appear on the site. To I remove these ads, however, I need to replace that income. I am therefore asking that my readers consider contributing to the website, either with a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right.

So far the response has been gratifying. My heart-felt thanks go out to all who have contributed.

Scroll down for new posts.

Looking Forward

In the past week there must have been a hundred stories written celebrating the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11. Here’s just a small sampling:

These articles try to cover the topic from all angles. Some looked at the wonders of the achievement. Others extolled the newspaper’s local community and their contribution. Some used the event to demand the U.S. do it again.

None of this interests me much. Though I passionately want humans, preferable Americans, back on the Moon exploring and settling it, this fetish with celebrating Apollo is to me becoming quite tiresome.
» Read more

Why we must remember

I wrote these following words three years ago on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. I think they are worth repeating again, especially considering the confusing debacle of this administration’s Syria policy these past few weeks, and the continuing violent and oppressive behavior of the Islamic revolutionaries in that country.

My words on September 11, 2010:

The President has asked us to consider today “a national day of service and remembrance”. Though the sentiment seems reasonable, I must respectively disagree.

September 11 should not be turned into a day to celebrate volunteerism or service or American charity. Though these values are profound, important, and an expression of much of what makes our nation great, they are not why we remember September 11.

We remember the evil acts committed on September 11, 2001 in order to remind us that there is evil in the world.

We remember these evil acts so that we will have the strength to fight that evil, with every fiber of our being.

We remember those who died in order to prevent future attacks and further deaths.

We remember so that no one can ever try to make believe these events did not happen.

We remember so that no one can spread the lie that the perpetrators were something other than what they were: Men who had decided to kill in the name of Islam, based on what they believed their religion taught them.

And finally, and most important, we remember the horrible events of September 11, 2001 so that those innocent murdered souls — whose only crime that day was going to work — will not have died in vain.

Third Anniversary

This past weekend Behind the Black celebrated its third anniversary. I did it by posting very little, as the news in space, to my mind, has been very quiet, while the news in politics and culture has been very depressing, something I am growing tired of reading. It seems to me that freedom is dying, both in the United States and worldwide, being chipped away bit by bit until no one alive knows what the word means anymore.

Moreover, on July 4 Diane and I will head north to the Grand Canyon (our third trip together to the bottom) for ten days vacation, so expect posting for that time period to be very light or nonexistent.

I do intend to post until then and once I get back. If you have liked what I have written and posted these past three years, then please consider the idea of contributing to the website. The tip jar is in the right column, near the bottom.

And if you really want to find out the moment I believe American society began to die, you might want to consider reading the new ebook edition of my first book, Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8. The book tells the story of one of our country’s grandest achievements, and how that triumph ironically ended up teaching an entire generation all the wrong lessons.

The 2000th show

Tonight David Livingston will air the 2000th episode of The Space Show, what has become the world’s leading media outlet for the discussion of space exploration and the aerospace industry.

The Space Show began in June 2001, and in the ensuing dozen years David has interviewed almost every single big mover in the business of space exploration. I myself have been honored to appear on his show more than thirty times, a fact for which I am deeply grateful, since there are people far more important than I in this field.

It is difficult to measure the significance to space of David Livingston’s effort during these past twelve years. When the Space Show began, SpaceShipOne had not yet flow, the X-Price had not yet been won, and the idea of private space and space tourism were considered wild and absurd ideas. Twelve years later, these ideas are now common knowledge and are likely to be main path for the human race into space. By giving a forum to supporters of commercial space, the Space Show under David’s leadership made this paradigm shift possible.

Thank you David! When the solar system is finally settled, the colonists should remember that without his important contribution their journey to get there would have been far more difficult.

Second Anniversary Bleg

Today, July 1, Behind the Black celebrates its second anniversary. Though I began posting a day or two before that, I consider July 1 to be the official premiere date. Since then I have published more than 6,200 posts, about 8.5 posts per day, focusing on issues relating to science, technology, politics, and space exploration. In between I’ve also added a sprinkle of popular culture and entertainment, for both my and your pleasure.

For those who have contributed to the website, either with intelligent comments or with financial donations, I thank you. I especially appreciate the quality of the comments, even from those who frequently disagree with me. We might disagree, but in general people have kept the discussion on a rational basis, with very few personal attacks. This is how it should be.

It is my hope to continue this blog for as long as I can, assuming I can afford to do it. Of course, the more donations I receive from my loyal readers, the more likely I will be able to keep it up. If you are a regular reader and would like to help keep this blog going, please consider giving a donation. The tip jar is located at the bottom of the column on the right.

And if you have already donated, thank you again. I can’t express how much it means to me as a writer, working alone in my office, to be recognized by others in this way. Not only does it help pay the bills, it helps juice the soul, making the daily grind easier to take.

John Glenn – the first American in orbit

An evening pause: On the fiftieth anniversary of John Glenn’s orbital flight.

After putting a chimpanzee into orbit in November, NASA finally felt ready to send a man into orbit to answer the Soviets and their two manned orbital missions of Gagarin and Titov the previous year.

After Glenn’s mission and for the next few months, it looked like the U.S. was catching up with the Soviets in space. That would change before the year was summer was over.

The video below gives a nice summary of key moments in Glenn’s flight, though the special effects of the “fireflies” is poorly done. And we now know that the “fireflies” were nothing more than frozen particles of condensation coming off the capsule.

The 1960s space race: The US orbits its first living animal, Enos the chimpanzee

An evening pause: Fifty years ago today the United States succeeded for the first time in placing a living animal in orbit, four years after the Soviet’s launched the dog Laika into space. On November 29, 1961 NASA orbited a chimpanzee named Enos as a dress rehearsal for John Glenn’s orbital flight, then scheduled for early in 1962. See this article for some details about Enos difficult flight.

Since the flights of Gagarin, Titov, Shepard, and Grissom earlier in 1961, the 1960s space race had seemed in abeyance as NASA geared up for its first orbital manned mission, while the Soviets were typically silent about their plans. Yet, for those like myself who were alive at that time, the suspense never abated. What would happen next? Could the U.S. beat the Russians to the Moon? Only time would tell.

The Pilgrims arrive in New England

An evening pause: Three hundred and ninety one years ago on this day the Pilgrims first sighted the shore of New England. Knowing that they soon would disembark and attempt to create a new society in this New World, they gathered and signed what we today call the Mayflower Compact, what might be called the first ever consciously written social contract in human history.

Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

This idea, that society is formed from the consent of its members, still forms the bedrock idea of America. And woe to us if we ever forget it.

A day to express the value of justice

Updated and bumped: I wrote the following last year on September 11. Sadly, nothing has changed since then. President Obama is still trying to sell the idea that this day should be used as a day of service, something that misses the point so completely as to almost be despicable.

So, I think it is worth repeating what I wrote on September 11, 2010:

The President has asked us to consider today “a national day of service and remembrance”. Though the sentiment seems reasonable, I must respectively disagree.

September 11 should not be turned into a day to celebrate volunteerism or service or American charity. Though these values are profound, important, and an expression of much of what makes our nation great, they are not why we remember September 11.

We remember the evil acts commited on September 11, 2001 in order to remind us that there is evil in the world.

We remember these evil acts so that we will have the strength to fight that evil, with every fiber of our being.

We remember those who died in order to prevent future attacks and further deaths.

We remember so that no one can ever try to make believe these events did not happen.

We remember so that no one can spread the lie that the perpetrators were something other than what they were: Men who had decided to kill in the name of Islam, based on what they believed their religion taught them.

And finally, and most important, we remember the horrible events of September 11, 2001 so that those innocent murdered souls — whose only crime that day was going to work — will not have died in vain.

The 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s spaceflight

I am on the road today, so posting will be light. Though I have many things to say about today’s historic anniversary, fifty years after the first manned spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin, I simply won’t be able to post them. However, I plan to express some of my thoughts on the John Batchelor Show at 11:30 pm (Eastern time) tomorrow. Listen in live, or on his podcast posted shortly after the live show.

The ironies, however, are amazing, and quite depressing. On the same day we celebrate the start of manned space exploration, NASA administrator Charles Bolden will announce where the United States’s three retired shuttles will be put on display. Note also that he does this on the thirtieth anniversary of the first shuttle flight. It is almost as if the Obama administration’s desire to kill the American government space program is so strong that they have to rub salt in the wound as they do it.

I say this not so much because I am in favor of a big government space program (which I am not) but because the timing of this announcement once again illustrates how astonishingly tone-deaf the Obama administration continues to be about political matters.

Challenger accident, 25 years ago

An evening pause: Twenty-five years ago today.

The final words in Reagan’s speech come from a poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ing there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle flew;
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.