Tag Archives: history

Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space, dies

R.I.P. Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space, passed away today at the age of 85.

Leonov also participated in the Apollo-Soyuz mission, the first joint mission between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

The obituary notes Leonov’s sense of humor. I met Leonov in 2003 when I was in Moscow interviewing cosmonauts for my book Leaving Earth and found him to be a jovial, friendly, and open person.

He told me one story that I thought was significant. He noted the American practice in the 1960s to openly discuss everything that happened in its space effort worked to enhance our achievements, while the secrecy of the Russians only devalued anything they did. As he said,

The honesty of the American press made [those space achievements] more persuasive, more influential. Every little problem was written about in great detail, so that the image of the American astronauts grew, making them heroes. It was a much more clever approach. [Leaving Earth, p. 172]

Leonov for years would accompany astronauts on the bus on their way to the launchpad, providing encouragement. When Helen Sharman flew in space as a tourist in 1991 he gave her

…a ridiculous-looking, pink, frilly jumpsuit. “I got one of the ladies at the hotel to make it up for you,” Leonov said, his sweet round face lighting up in an infectious grin. “Just for fun.” [Leaving Earth, p. 301]

She wore it the first day in space, to the silly delight of everyone.

In the long endless future of humanity in space, only beginning now, Leonov will always hold an honored place.

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Ulysses S. Grant

In my leisure reading these days I have been very focused on the life and history of Ulysses S. Grant, the man who more than any single person made it possible for the north to win the Civil War in the 1860s..

More importantly, Grant’s unwavering offensive strategy in war, to never retreat, to always take the battle to the enemy, to always demand, as he wrote after winning his first major battle at Donelson, “complete and unconditional surrender,” and to always follow up that victory with grace and mercy, became the central tenet of American military and political strategy for the next eighty years, through the end of World War II. It is for this reason Grant in many ways could be considered among the four or five most influential individuals in American history.

In this leisured effort I have read a number of classic histories, including Shelby Foote’s three volume The Civil War: a Narrative and Bruce Catton’s A Stillness at Appomattox. I also, as I always do when I am trying to learn something about history, read the original sources, and for this Grant’s own memoirs came next. (Historians such as I might try to get things right, but for any non-historian it behooves you to read some original sources as well. This will help you distinguish between the historians who succeed in getting it right, and those who don’t.)

I then followed most recently with Jean Edward Smith’s 2001 biography, Grant. The previous writing had focused only on the Civil War. This book gave me the story before and after.

Grant is a remarkable figure. He appears to have been an astonishngly honest and straightforward man, coldly rational about war and what must be done to win. He also was amazingly unambitious, even as he strove hard to succeed. It was his belief never to aim for a promotion, because he believed that effort would warp his judgment. Instead, he tried to do the best he could at any moment, and hoped that by his good works he would rise.

One story I think not only epitomized the character of Grant, but of the America of his time. After the war and the completion of his two terms as president, he went on a world tour, where he was greeted everywhere with honors and adulation. Upon his arrival in Berlin Chancellor Bismarck immediately invited Grant to come and visit.
» Read more

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New York Mets – September 24, 1969

An evening pause: This pause was first posted by me back in 2011. As tonight is the fiftieth anniversary of that grand moment, I post it again, if only to remind the jaded and pessimistic youth of today that miracles really can happen. As I wrote then,

In 1969 the lowly New York Mets, doormats in the National League from the moment the team was created in 1962, came out of nowhere to win the pennant and the World Championship of baseball. … I and my friend Lloyd attended the game in which the Mets clinched first place in the National League Eastern Division. Below is video showing highlights of the game plus the final out, with the crowd pouring onto the field. Though you can’t see me, I am in that crowd, jumping for joy at this most unlikely sports miracle. There was no rioting, only happy fans chanting “We’re number one!” in exuberant disbelief.

And I still have that small piece of turf from Shea Stadium, collected on that night, proof that the unexpected and improbable is always possible.

The unlikeliness of the Mets championship in 1969 cannot be overstated. Before 1969, the team had never finished higher than next to last, each season losing more games than they won. Then, in 1969 they posted a 100-62 record, while coming from far back to overtake the favored Chicago Cubs for the pennant. Moreover, during that 1969 season all kinds of unusual things kept happening. To give just one example, they won a double header by scores of 1-0, with the pitcher in both games driving in the winning run.

As their first manager and Hall-of-Famer Casey Stengel would say, “You could look it up!”

In 1973 the Mets won the pennant again, following the motto “You gotta believe!” pushed by their relief pitcher Tug McGraw. McGraw was so right. Combine talent, dedication, hard work, and an unwavering belief that all things are possible, humans can sometimes do amazing things.

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Charles Walker: the first commercial astronaut

Charles Walker on the Space Shuttle in November 1985

Last night I attended another one of the monthly Arizona Space Business Roundtable events held here in Tucson to bring together the business-oriented space community of this city.

The speaker was Charles Walker, who had flown three shuttle missions in 1984 and 1985, but not as a NASA-employed astronaut but as an employee of McDonnell-Douglas, making him the first astronaut to fly in space under the employ of a private commercial company.

Walker’s job then was to monitor and maintain a drug-processing unit designed to produce large quantities of pure biological hormones that on Earth were simply not possible. Gravity polluted the process, while weightlessness acted to purify things. If successful the hormone produced could be sold to fight anemia, especially in individuals taking radiation treatments. The image on the right shows him on his third and last shuttle mission, launched November 26, 1985. He is working with a handheld protein crystal growth experiment, with the larger hormone purifying experiment on the wall behind this.

According to Walker’s presentation yesterday, this third flight in November 1985 demonstrated the process worked and could produce as much as one liter of hormone, enough to easily make back the cost of the project and leave room for an acceptable profit. They were thus ready for fullscale production on future shuttle flights, only to have the entire project die when the Challenger shuttle was lost on January 28, 1986. With that failure President Reagan declared that the shuttle would no longer be used for commercial flights.

Their business plan had been dependent on the artificially low launch prices NASA had been charging them for shuttle flights. Without the shuttle there was then no affordable alternative for getting into orbit.

The process is still viable, and the need for these drugs still exists. Whether they could now be flown on the new cheaper private rockets, on board future private space stations like Bigelow’s B330, remains unknown. A new company would have to pick up the pieces, as McDonnell-Douglas no longer exists, having been absorbed into Boeing.

I personally suspect there is real money to be made here, should someone decide to go for it.

What struck me most while watching Walker speak was the same thing that has struck me whenever I have seen or interviewed any astronaut: He appeared to be such an ordinary down-to-earth human being. He could have been anyone you meet anywhere.

What made him stand out, as he described his upbringing and how he became an astronaut, was not his intelligence or any physical attribute, but his clear willingness to stay focused on his goals, to work has hard as possible to make them come true. What made him succeed was an unwavering commitment. He wanted to get to space, and by gum he was going to do it!

Charles Walker on first flight, August 1984
Walker on his first flight in 1984.

For example, he was too young to fly in the initial space race in the 1960s. When he finally was old enough and ready in the 1970s, NASA’s space program was being shut down. That option seemed dead. So instead, he began looking for another route into space, and found it with private industry and possibility of making money by using weightlessness to produce medicines in space that could not be produced on Earth.

Obviously, luck is always a factor. Had his project been a little delayed, only a year, it would have never flown, and he would never have gone into space. Similarly, he needed to be in the right place at the right time to get this particularly job in the first place.

At the same time, “Luck is a residue of design,” as said by Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodges in the 1950s. Walker didn’t give up when the Apollo program died in the 1970s, and thus he put himself in the right place at McDonnell-Douglas when this opportunity arose.

We should all pay close attention. If you have a dream, you need to follow it, with a fearless wholehearted commitment. If you do, you still might not get it as you dreamed, but you will increase your chances, and regardless, you will end up doing far better for yourself and everyone around you.

And you still might end up like Walker, bouncing around in weightlessness out in the vast reaches of outer space.

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The modern academic view of the future

Samsung has just released a new report, dubbed Samsung KX50: The Future in Focus, where the company asked “Six of Britain’s leading academics and futurists” to give their prediction of what the world will be like fifty years hence.

According to the report [pdf], people will be living mostly in very dense urban environments consisting of giant, self-sufficient skyscrapers that grow their own food, huge underground complexes, and even undersea colonies. Travel will be by self-driving pods that can double as hotel rooms on long trips, with travel possible between places like Britain and Scandinavia by aquatic highways. Alongside these will be autonomous air taxis that use rivers as commuter routes, hyperloops, and hypersonic airliners.

Not that there will be much traveling. For environmental reasons, most food will be grown close to home, if not in the home itself. Manufacturing will be equally local thanks to 3D printing. And, thanks to automation and artificial intelligence, most people will work in their self-cleaning homes with most of their professional and personal interactions with others conducted through means of full-feedback holographs.

That means that most people will live very sedentary lives, but they’ll also be monitored by biosensors throughout the day as virtual digital companions assess their health, help doctors to prescribe treatments to keep them at peak fitness, dispense health advice, and even custom tailor diets and medicines. [emphasis mine]

The last paragraph immediately stood out to me. These academics saw no moral or ethical problem with such monitoring and supervision. Nor it appears were they aware of the political ramifications of such technology.

Similarly, the report also envisioned “TV and movies beamed directly to your brain via optoelectronic devices” and “Living forever with our memories uploaded to the Cloud.” And from introduction in the report [pdf] itself:

One of the first things that struck me, reading their submissions, was how much consensus there seems to be between all our futurologists, on matters such as direct brain-to-internet connection being a very real possibility before 2069.

The essays in the report itself confirmed this impression. The predictions of all these academics are all focused on imposing their hot-button leftist agenda, including preventing global warming, allowing gender fluidity, pushing environmental activism, and eliminating of meat as food (to name a few), and doing so by the use of technology that is implanted directly into each human being. The world they envision will have every human a pawn in their interconnected robotic-controlled society, with brain implants eliminating our ability to think independently because we are now part of a kind of hive mind.

Samsung then asked British citizens to rank these predictions by what they would most like to see come true. Self-cleaning robotic homes was by far the most popular prediction at 63%, with “Body implants that monitor our health and translate any language” coming in second at 44%.

This poll however was rigged, as it did not ask anyone if they opposed some predictions. I wonder what response Samsung would have gotten had they asked that question.

Nonetheless, the number of people enthused by the idea of monitoring by body implants make me fear for the future. Today young people are addicted to their smart phones and that hive mind. They see nothing wrong with Google monitoring their lives and even acting to control them. I fear that when more convenient but invasive monitoring and control become technologically possible, future generations will be quick to accept it, while they simultaneously lose their individuality and ability to create uniquely.

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New Russia Soyuz spacesuits interfere with Russia pee tradition

Only in Russia: The newly designed Russian spacesuits for use by astronauts during ascent and descent in the Soyuz capsule apparently do not have a fly that will allow the continuation of a long-standing Russian tradition initiated by Yuri Gagarin on his way to the launchpad for his historic spaceflight.

The Sokol-M prototype suit was designed as a replacement for suits worn during launches to the International Space Station (ISS) on Soyuz spacecraft. … The maker of the suits, the aerospace firm Zvezda, says they will be made of new materials and adaptable to different body sizes.

But the new design makes it impossible to carry out one particular ritual launched by the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, who had to relieve himself on the back wheel of the bus that was taking him to the launch pad in 1961.

The stop has been replicated at every launch from the Baikonur launch pad and, many male cosmonauts and astronauts pee on the tyre for good luck – something that would be impossible in the new suit, according to its maker. Female astronauts are not obligated to participate but some have brought vials of their urine to splash on the wheel instead.

“I’m not sure how they will be able to (carry on the tradition), since we haven’t designed the fly,” said the Zvezda director, Sergei Pozdnyakov, quoted by Russian agencies. “We have the design specifications. They don’t state that it’s necessary to pee on the wheel. The design specifications would need to be adapted.”

I suspect, knowing how important traditions and rituals are to the Russians, that the Russian government will require a design change to allow this tradition to continue.

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Dick Cavett interviewing Orson Welles about famous people

An evening pause: Wells made one of the greatest films ever, Citizen Kane (1941), and then spent the rest of his life failing at finishing almost anything. Along the way he met some interesting people, and in this short clip during an interview on the Dick Cavett Show from July 27, 1970, he tells some of those stories.

His story about Churchill fits the gracious and humorous personality of that man to a “T”.

Hat tip Cotour.

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Jim Radford – The Shores of Normandy

An evening pause: I know this is late for the anniversary of D-Day, but I think it actually expresses well the same determination that made it possible for Americans to go to the Moon. Those men at Normandy, as well as in Apollo, stood for freedom, to paraphrase John Kennedy. And they were willing to die to make sure their friends, families, and nation remained free.

What do you stand for?

Hat tip commodude.

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Off to Huntsville, Alabama

I am about to leave for Huntsville, Alabama to give a lecture: tomorrow, July 25, 2019, at 6 pm (Eastern), at the National Geographic Theater located at the US Space and Rocket Center.

This event is part of their “Pass the Torch” lecture series. My subject: How Apollo 8, not Apollo 11, won the 1960s space race and changed the world

If you are Huntsville or nearby please consider coming by. It will be a great event.

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Christopher Columbus Kraft, 1924-2019

R.I.P. Christopher Columbus Kraft, the flight director for all the Mercury missions and later head of the Johnson Space Center during the 1960s march to the Moon, passed away today at the age of 95.

The techniques pioneered by Kraft and young flight directors who followed in his footsteps, men like Gene “failure is not an option” Kranz, the urbane Glynn Lunney and more, saved the Apollo 13 crew from the brink of disaster in the aftermath of an explosion on the way to the moon that severely damaged the spacecraft.

Once comparing his complex work as a flight director to a conductor’s, Kraft said, ‘The conductor can’t play all the instruments, he may not even be able to play any one of them,’” Bridenstine said. “‘But, he knows when the first violin should be playing, and he knows when the trumpets should be loud or soft, and when the drummer should be drumming. He mixes all this up and out comes music. That’s what we do here.’”

Kraft was part of the post-World War II can-do generation, a far cry from today’s NASA of schedule delays, bad management, engineering errors, and gigantic budget overruns. Kraft and his generation had “intergrity,” as astronaut Frank Borman once said. They had been given a difficult job and short deadline (the end of the decade). Rather than manipulate Congress and the public to give them more time and money so their jobs would be endlessly safe, they rolled up their sleeves and made it happen as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

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Apollo 11 videotapes sell for $1.82 million

The three original 2″ videotapes showing the astronauts on the lunar surface during Apollo 11, purchased by an engineering student as part of a lot of more than a thousand reels in 1976 for just over $200 have now sold at auction for $1.82 million.

The auction house, Sotheby’s, did not say who purchased the tapes. Hopefully whoever has intends to release the visuals, since it appears the quality is better than what we presently have.

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July 20, 1969: “We came in peace for all mankind.”

An evening pause: In honor of the fiftieth anniversary.

The astronauts plant the American flag, after they had unveiled a plaque on the lunar module with the words, “We came in peace for all mankind.”

This was an American achievement, accomplished because our free and competitive society gave us the resources and trained talent to make it happen. We did it for all mankind, in good will, but we did it, no one else.

It is time that we as well as everyone else do it again.

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The Untouched Moon

Montes Carpatus
Click for full image.

In celebration of Apollo 11: Continuing the theme of yesterday’s cool image, where I noted how little of the Moon we have really seen, today’s cool image gives us a breath-taking glimpse of one such untouched region, the Montes Carpatus region.

The photograph to the right, reduced to post here, was released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) science team in March 2018. From the release:

Volcanic rocks are our best window to the deep interior of the Moon, and the Montes Carpatus has no shortage of volcanic landforms: lava flows, pyroclatic deposits, rilles, and more! Lavas are formed as the mantle begins to melt, so by sampling volcanic rocks of various ages from regions across the Moon scientists can reconstruct the range of compositions and processes over time. The Montes Carpatus formed as a result of the giant impact that formed the mighty Imbrium basin, the mountains are actually the raised rim of the basin.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. If you had told anyone involved in that mission that fifty years later no significant further manned exploration of the Moon had yet occurred, they would have scoffed.

It is a terrible condemnation of my generation, the generation that followed Apollo 11, that we did nothing grand like this. I challenge the generations today to reach higher, and do better.

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July 20, 1969: “One small step…”

An evening pause: In honor of the fiftieth anniversary.

Neil Armstrong takes the first steps on the Moon. Note his focus is almost entirely on describing what he sees and experiences. He is doing this for two reasons, first to provide knowledge of the Moon to the world, and second to provide engineers as much information as possible for future missions.

This focus explains why the first thing he does is to get a contingency rock sample, just in case they need to leave the Moon quickly.

Note also that when Buzz Aldrin joins Armstrong on the surface, he is as professional and calm, proving that the way he has been portrayed by some recent movies as as undisciplined jerk is simply a slander. He would not have been picked for this mission if he really behaved that way.

He wanted to be the first, and lobbied to get that chance. After the decision was made he got down to work to make the mission a success.

For a different view of these same events, watch this video.

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July 20, 1969: “The Eagle has landed”

An evening pause: In honor of the fiftieth anniversary.

Note the calm tone in all the voices, even when something is not quite right. To do really great things, one must not let one’s emotions run the show. You need to be cool-headed and focused on the task at at hand. If only today’s adult generation, especially in the world of politics, would do the same.

Just before Armstrong brings Eagle down, you will hear a voice say “60 seconds,” then “30 seconds.” That is mission control telling him how much time they estimate he has before he runs out of fuel.

Below the fold is the same last few minutes of the landing, produced by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) science team using its high resolution images to recreate a simulation of what Armstrong saw in his window. Remember, the view in the original 16mm film was out Aldrin’s window.

» Read more

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Eagle undocks, Apollo 11, July 20, 1969

An evening pause: In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11, today’s evening pause shows the moment when the lunar module Eagle undocked from the command module Columbia. Though this video includes communications with mission control at the start, the actual undocking occurred on the back side of the moon, when the astronauts were out of touch with the Earth.

Near the end of the video, after they have reacquired communications with the ground, you can hear a recitation of a long string of numbers. This is mission control providing the astronauts the numbers that had to be uploaded into their onboard computer so that it could correctly fire the spacecraft engines at the right time and for the right duration.

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A wave on the Moon

A lunar ejector blanket

Continuing this week’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission means we get to look at another cool image from the Moon. The photograph on the right, reduced to post here, was released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) science team in 2016.

What are we looking at? At first glance it looks like a black & white photograph of The Wave in northern Arizona. What it is instead is the pattern of ejecta laid down across the surrounding terrain immediately after the impact that created relatively fresh Chaplygin Crater. From the website:

The delicate patterns of flow across, over, and down local topography clearly show that ejecta traveled as a ground hugging flow for great distances, rather than simply being tossed out on a ballistic trajectory. Very near the rim lies a dark, lacy, discontinuous crust of now frozen impact melt. Clearly this dark material is on top of the bright material so it was the very last material ejected from the crater.

Below the fold is a wider shot of the entire crater and its surrounding terrain, with the rectangle indicating the region covered by the close-up above The dark crust near the rim mentioned in the quote can clearly be seen.
» Read more

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Weird lunar crater

Concentric crater in Apollo Basin on the Moon

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, it is time for another cool image from the Moon. The photograph on the right, reduced to post here, was taken by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in 2013. It shows a weird crater with concentric features that is found within Apollo Basin, a large 334-mile-wide double-ringed impact feature in the southern hemisphere of the Moon’s far side.

Concentric craters have an inner rim whose formation mechanism is not yet entirely understood, but the concentric mounds may indicate that there is a discontinuity, such as layers with different strengths, in the subsurface excavated by the impact.

Or to put it more bluntly, they really have no idea why this crater ended up looking as it does.

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Apollo 11 First Stage liftoff

An evening pause: This was originally posted as an evening pause in 2016. I think that today, the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, it is appropriate to repost it. As I wrote then,

Though the video is more than 8 minutes long, the actual events recorded lasted only about 30 seconds, beginning 5 seconds before T minus 0.

What struck me most as I watched this was the incredible amount of complex engineering that went into every single small detail of the rocket and the launch tower and launchpad. We tend to take for granted the difficulty of rocket engineering. This video will make you appreciate it again.

It is also mesmerizing. A lot happens in a very short period of time.

Tonight’s evening pause begins eight days of pauses dedicated to celebrating, and reliving, the Apollo 11 mission. To the Moon!

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Apollo 11 in real time

Link here. I should have posted this link earlier. As I post this the Saturn 5 has just launched.

Pick your moment. They will be showing the mission in real time over the next week.

Hat tip Steve Golson for prompting me.

Correction: If you go to the link you can either choose to watch from one minute before launch, or click on the “Now” button to see the status at this moment fifty years ago.

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Modern journalism celebrates Apollo 11, badly

Daily News gets Apollo 11 very wrong

The image on the right came from the twitter feed of the Daily News in New York. It has since been removed, and it is also possible that it was a prank. Nonetheless, in less than fifty words this modern epitome of today’s journalism gets practically everything wrong about Neil Armstrong’s first step on the Moon and the first words he spoke.

John Glenn?

“One giant step for mankind”?

The tweet also calls the moon a “planet”, which I can live with since eventually the definition of a planet will include the Moon. Still, an educated person in this context would have used “world” instead.

I can’t imagine the level of incompetent education someone would have to go through to write this and not realize how much of it is embarrassingly wrong. Nor can I imagine how it is possible for everyone at the Daily News to not realize it as well, unless they are equally uneducated.

Tonight I begin an eight day series of evening pauses dedicated to the Apollo 11 mission, showing the key moments, as they happened. Rather than read some bad and often incorrect interpretation of this singular moment in human history, I am going to give you a chance to live it, as I did, fifty years ago.

Hat tip Jeff Bliss for the Daily News tweet. My readers know that I will not have anything to do with Twitter (which likely reduces my webpage traffic and likely my income as well), but I think it is designed to force people to act like a hateful and childish mob. Or exhibit their ignorance, which this tweet does so well.

My ethics will not allow me there. My observations repeatedly confirm for me the wisdom of this decision.

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Frank Sinatra – The House I Live In

An evening pause: Since it is July 4th, and the news is filled with depressing outrages from ignorant social justice warriors who have no knowledge at all about the just and noble roots that founded the United States, I think it necessary to post this magnificent song performed by Frank Sinatra.

Written and produced in 1945, as World War II was ending, the short film tried to encapsulate in one short song the true meaning of the American experiment. This version below includes the lead-in scene to show the context for the song, as sung in the film. Some might find that opening overly preachy, but in the context of World War II and the recent discovery then of the Nazi death camps, it is heartfelt, real, and quite accurate. Please watch it all, and recognize this is what the United States — now being condemned routinely by leftist hate-mongers — is really about.

The song begins by asking, “What is America to me?” It answers it clearly in the final verse:

The town I live in
The street, the house, the room
The pavement of the city
Or a garden all in bloom
The church, the school, the clubhouse
The million lights I see
But especially the people
that’s American to me. [emphasis mine]

And that means all the people, not just those who agree with you.

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1776 – Hatching an Egg

A mid-day pause: Posted by me on almost every Fourth of July since this site was founded, it is time to do it again. From the 1976 movie version of the 1972 musical, 1776. As I said in those earlier posts, “not only did the musical capture the essence of the men who made independency happen, it is also a rollicking and entertaining work of art.”

And as John Kennedy said of himself, ourselves, and these founding fathers. “We stand for freedom.”

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Far right radicals make declaration

A group of far right radicals, some of which had been accused of many crimes against the legal government, today made a declaration that clearly required their arrest for daring to defy the powers-that-be.

From the first two paragraphs:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Without a doubt our country’s corrupt ruling class in Washington finds these words appalling and unacceptable. Some, mostly leftists and Democrats, consider the man who wrote these words evil, and the men who signed it worse.

But then, these fools have never read these words or anything thing else Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers wrote. Or if they have, they weren’t smart enough to understand them.

Happy Fourth of July! And as it says on the Liberty Bell, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

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Apollo landing tapes for sale

An intern who in 1976 purchased more than a thousand surplus 2-inch videotapes from NASA for $218 is now going to auction off three of those reels that show the Apollo 11 moon walk.

Back in 1976, NASA gave 1,150 reels of 2-inch Quadruplex videotape to a government surplus auction. Gary George, a former intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, snapped up the lot of them for $218, in the hopes of selling them to news stations to record over for $50 a pop. He never watched them, but because his dad was a space buff, kept three of the tapes marked as “Apollo 11 EVA” (aka Extravehicular Activity, better known as a spacewalk). When he eventually watched the tapes, he realized that he had one of three surviving copies of one of the greatest feats of human ingenuity, the July 20, 1969 Moon landing. Now, those videotapes will be auctioned off to the highest bidder when Sotheby’s will mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by putting the tapes up for sale on July 20th, at a starting bid of $700,000.

“I had no idea there was anything of value on them,” George said in an interview with Reuters. He started to get suspicious in 2006, after NASA admitted they had lost the tapes, and believed they could have been in the 2,614 boxes of Apollo mission tapes that were sent to a storage facility in late 1969. George got in touch with video archivist David Crosthwait in California, who had the necessary equipment to view the vintage tapes. In December 2008, George played the reels and quickly realized what he had been storing over the last few decades. He contacted NASA about the reels but “an agreement could not be reached,” according to the auction listing, and off to the auction block they go as part of an auction dedicated to Space Exploration.

The saddest part of this story are the tapes George sold to television stations to use to back-up their daily broadcasts. Some of those tapes probably contained historical recordings of the Apollo missions. While I suspect these tapes were not NASA’s only copies, I cannot be sure, which means some of the source material for the Apollo missions was likely lost.

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