Wednesday November 26, 2014

‘One small step’ remembered


View from the Cheap Seats is kind of an extension of the newsroom. Whenever our three regular reporters, Calvin Daniels, Thom Barker and Randy Brenzen are in the building together, it is frequently a site of heated debate. This week: Celebrating the 45th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.

Right idea, wrong reason

I was not yet a teenager when Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, two-thirds of the American Apollo 11 crew, piloted the lunar lander ‘Eagle’ at the Sea of Tranquility site on the moon’s surface.

The year was 1969, July, just months before the New York Mets would pull off a World Series win in a miraculous season which truthfully likely caught my attention more than the lunar landing.

But, even as a nine-year-old farm boy in Saskatchewan I was aware of the landing and more specifically how it seemed to catch everyone’s imagination.

It was a two network TV world back then, but that was still plenty to have the story of the landing told and retold for days.

It was after all an achievement many thought impossible, and others held out the hope it was but a first step to outer space.

It was a momentous achievement, but looking back on it from the perspective of 45 years, it was also something done for the wrong reasons, and with little serious follow up to take us to the stars.

The landing, the entire space race, was a mass spending of money in a political game of one upmanship between the Americans and Soviets.

And once the moon was ‘conquered’ the shine of exploration dimmed, and no colony grew on the moon, no man has been taken farther. It is in many ways the sad legacy of a race ran for the wrong reasons.

So much more should have followed in four-and-a-half decades, yet we remain stuck upon this lone planet looking to the stars and dreaming.

— Calvin Daniels

Just the beginning

Some things are so significant you remember them even though you have no business remembering them. I was just barely six years old in 1969, but I can vaguely recall crowding around our black and white TV watching the grainy images of what to that point in human history may have been the greatest feat of engineering ever, landing people on the moon.

Although I cannot pinpoint that moment as the beginning of a lifelong fascination with space and science, it almost certainly had an impact.

That it happened 45 years ago seems almost unreal. For some people it is, they simply don’t believe it. Thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories aside, however, it remains a milestone achievement in our quest for the stars.

It was just the beginning, of course. Since then hundreds of unmanned missions within the solar system has expanded our knowledge of space incredibly. And ongoing occupation of the International Space Station continue to advance scientific knowledge.

That it was the result of a geopolitical struggle, a proxy in the battle for supremacy between the competing philosophies of capitalism and communism, does not matter any more. As a species we went to another celestial body in the great tradition of exploration whether it is for riches or fame or curiosity or just to prove we can.

It is disappointing that we have not gone back or beyond, to Mars for example, but in many ways that is a function not of technology, but biology.

Space is really tough on we terrestrial beings, but solutions to those problems are in the works and I hope some day soon, we will be off again to explore different worlds.

— Thom Barker

Crazy Ted

Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Neil Armstrong then became the first person to ever walk on the moon in the wee morning hours on the 21st of July.

So… roughly 21 years before I was born.

While my colleagues may remember the actual landing (or at the very least remember being told about it by their parents) I really know nothing about it, other than what my high school history class taught us about it (actually, they never did).

What I do know, however, is that it was quite the accomplishment. The ‘Muricans beat the Ruskies to the moon in one of the biggest races of the Cold War.

I also know that many people believe it never actually happened. They choose to believe that the moon landing, or rather, ‘moon landing’ happened in one of two places. A desert or, more likely, a Hollywood movie set/studio.

So, seeing as my knowledge in this area is just above nothing, I’ll just recount a story of one such guy who believed it was fake.

We called him ‘Crazy Ted’. Crazy Ted lived on the streets in Elephant and Castle, London, UK. He was originally from Somalia so his name was most likely not Ted, however it sounded like that so that’s who he became.

Crazy Ted believed that he was present at the moon landing. But not on the moon. Oh no. According to him it happened in the Sahara Desert and Neil Armstrong wasn’t actually American.

Unfortunately we never asked him what he thought Neil atually was.

Crazy Ted also swore to us that he had picture proof that the moon landing happened in the Sahara desert. He said with certainty that he had over 100 photos of the fake landing in the Sahara in a safe deposit box.

Then again he also survived by eating London pigeons… So we took his information with a grain of salt.

— Randy Brenzen



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