Tranquility Base Here
Thursday July 18, 2019
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- This is Apollo 11 week. Fifty years ago, Saturday, July 20, the lunar lodule - named "The Eagle" - separated from the command module and headed for the moon's surface, about 240,000 miles from Earth. It landed in the area of the moon known as the Sea of Tranquility.
- I was in OCS summer camp with the Ohio National Guard. We had a moment of mutiny when the officers insisted it was time for us to hit the sack.
- We said, in effect, in the 4.5 billion years that the Earth has been in existence there will be only one time that a human will step on another celestial body for the first time, and it would take place that night.
- The officers relented and we got to watch.
- "The date," said Walter Cronkite, "is now indelible. It will be remembered as long as man survives."
- It did not. I had to look it up a couple of weeks ago before the wall-to-wall coverage started on the Discovery and Smithsonian channels.
- The landing was also seen by Cronkite and many others, as a bridge to a new understand of, and by, humanity.
- Those photos and movies taken from the moon looking back at the Earth would, we optimistically sang, would remind us that we are all one species sharing a small, blue ball spinning among the (then) 9 planets of the solar system, within the 250 billion stars of the Milky Way Galaxy, within the incomprehensible immensity of the universe.
- That didn't happen, either.
- For proof we need look no farther than Washington, DC.
- Last weekend Donald Trump kicked off the latest round of school yard finger-pointing and name-calling with a series of ghastly Tweets against "The Squad" - the four freshman Democrats who have staked out far left positions just as the members of the Tea Party staked out the far right positions when they helped the GOP regain control of the House in the elections of 2010.
- On Tuesday, House Democrats unanimously voted a resolution condemning Trump's Tweets and his ensuing remarks. In the run up to that vote, several Republicans insisted that the words of some Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "be taken down."
- The rules of the House frown on ad hominem attacks - defined as statements directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.
- House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer (D-Md) ruled:
"The words used by the gentlewoman from California [Pelosi] contained an accusation of racist behavior on the part of the President. The words should not be used in debate."
- In the end, the House voted (on party lines) not to punish Pelosi, but it did nothing to ease tensions in the Chamber.
- That's just what's going on between the White House and the Capitol - about 1.8 miles.
- Meanwhile, 6,310 miles away we're heading in the wrong direction with Tehran. The Iranians are becoming more and more brazen in their attempts to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz to counter the Trump sanctions against Iran selling their own oil on the world market.
- 6,740 miles in the opposite direction along our one-world, one-people route, the crazy leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un, who apparently has run out of the scented stationary he used to write those "beautiful love letters" to Donald Trump, is threatening to restart nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests.
- On the front lawn of the White House, Presidential Counsellor Kellyanne Conway, talking about the four members of The Squad - all women of color - suggested they represented the "dark underbelly" of American thought. A bad choice of metaphor.
- When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set the lunar module down on the moon's surface, they called back to Houston with the words: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
- After Armstrong and Aldrin rejoined Michael Collins in the command module, the Eagle was jettisoned and sent back to the moon's surface, having performed perfectly.
- We should send a team back to the moon to find it, retrieve it, bring it home to Earth, and establish Tranquility Base here.
- Maybe this time we'll get it right.
- On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: Links to NASA's homage to Walter Cronkite, to a history of the Tea Party, to what "words taken down" means, and the NY Times coverage the House Resolution.
The Mullfoto is a tangle of road signs in New York last week.
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7/18/19 - Tranquility Base Here
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