Friday, February 2, 2007

To Infinity and Beyond!

When I was a kid I used to think Americans were just great. They were the top bananas of the world. I couldn't have cared less that behind the scenes they were just as a big a bunch of dingbats as they are now, I just considered them THE people to be.

Why? Because of the Space Race. Which they won. Comfortably.

It was a two horse race. The Yanks vs. the Ruskies. We got all the anti communist propaganda, sure, but that didn't matter in the end, because the Americans actually did win. Their men stood on the Moon.
This picture of Buzz Aldrin was stuck on my bedroom wall for years.

To me it represents a massive achievement, and if you read about the landings in any depth, you'll discover it was a considerably more dangerous exercise even that it appeared at the time.

(I can heartily recommend Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth if you're interested.)

The thing was, the Yanks were doing it for no 'nasty' reason. It was all good. How you could fault them? Okay, it was a propaganda exercise on their big enemy, the Russians. But there was no (apparent) great military advantage to their quest. It was simply exploration, pushing the boundaries, seeing what could be achieved.

And they achieved it.
Seems to me their problem of late is that no-one seems to like 'em any more. Clearly the Muslim world have got a beef, and it doesn't much matter what it is, they have, and it would be tough to explain some of America's recent actions to their biggest fan without starting to feel a bit uncomfortable.

But say they were preparing to go to Mars. Just for the heck of it. Lots of media coverage, lots of excitement, lots of reasons to admire those Yanks. Young men sitting in bedrooms around the world, making models of the spaceships and glued to the telly-box, watching, fingers crossed, as the astronauts do their thing.

Preferable to them watching CNN and planning their next terrorist attack.

Give us all something to admire you for again. It worked before. It would work again.

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