January 27, 2017

50 years ago today: Apollo astronauts Virgil Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee die in a fire that breaks out inside the command module during preflight testing.



"We found the problems. We fixed them. And as a result, the first time we attempted to put astronauts on the moon, and get them back safely, we did. And so, from my perspective, I think that the Apollo 1 crew would be good with that."

The crew entered the command module at around 1 p.m. There was a bad smell, which put the rehearsal countdown on hold but was later found to be unrelated to the fire. There were also communication problems. “How are we going to get to the moon if we can't talk between two or three buildings?” one of the three can be heard saying in a recording from the capsule.

At 6:31 p.m., cries began: “We have a fire in the cockpit!” That's also captured on the recording, along with a scream. Those watching on a video feed saw White appear to reach for the handle of the hatch. The command module “ruptured,” according to a NASA summary, and flames and gas spilled out.

“The burst of fire, together with the sounds of rupture, caused several pad personnel to believe that the command module had exploded or was about to explode,” it states.

It took personnel about five minutes to open all the hatches into the capsule. And once they could get inside, they could barely see anything at all....

95 comments:

mccullough said...

A lot of bravery in our astronaut programs.

Original Mike said...

Remember it vividly. Was a big follower of manned space flight when I was a kid.

Oso Negro said...

We are not the country we were then. I believe the Apollo program was the peak of American civilization. Certainly, I cannot imagine the United States government ever exceeding that accomplishment.

Unknown said...

If you want your day ruined, over at Ars Technica they have a feature story on the Apollo 1 disaster, including audio of the fire and deaths of the astronauts from their communication channels.

I didn't listen.

--Vance

Chuck said...

Ann do you remember the University of Michigan placing a memorial to them near the Engineering Arch when you were an undergrad? White and Chaffee were from Michigan and White had a UM masters degree.

Achilles said...

In those days our country spent it's time and capital trying to get to the moon and building things.

Now we give baby boomers a bunch of money and free health care.

I would be embarrassed if I was a part of the greediest and most coddled generation in the history of the world.

surfed said...

Me-thinks a reread of the Right Stuff by Mr. Wolfe is on tap...

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann do you remember the University of Michigan placing a memorial to them near the Engineering Arch when you were an undergrad? White and Chaffee were from Michigan and White had a UM masters degree."

No. And I must say I was an opponent of the Apollo program. I associated it with Nixon and considered it arrogant — showing off... of a piece with Vietnam and nuclear weapons.

I'm sure I thought that the astronauts dying was an indication that we should not have this program at all.

When the moon landing happened, I barely glanced at it on TV. I found it disgusting.

Big Mike said...

@Achilles, FUCK YOU! Stronger message to follow. If I live into my 90s I will get back less money in monthly social security payments than if I had invested my social security taxes reasonably wisely in a diversified portfolio instead of giving it to the government to blow. In constant dollars I would have done even better.

I would have liked to see you, you slime-sucking mother****er wearing OD and marching around the jungles of Southeast Asia toting a rifle that would probably jam if you ever needed to use it. Did you demonstrate for civil rights? Is the world a better place because you were in it?

I busted my ass for more than forty years contributing the social security maximum every years since 1981. I've earned what I get.

Ann Althouse said...

"In those days our country spent it's time and capital trying to get to the moon and building things. Now we give baby boomers a bunch of money and free health care...."

My view at the time was that we should be using the money to take care of the real human beings on earth and not to prove we could get to some soulless place beyond earth.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, if Nixon had canceled JFK's visionary program you'd have been upset about that, too.

Ann Althouse said...

Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose. Let the paperwork show how much money it would cost. Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth.

Ann Althouse said...

"@Althouse, if Nixon had canceled JFK's visionary program you'd have been upset about that, too."

What is that based on? I didn't like JFK and I sure as hell hated LBJ. It wasn't about Democrats and Republicans back then.

traditionalguy said...

Methinks The Professor is not that excited to see money poured into a misson to Mars which is a complete and total insanity...even if it is a High Speed Trip starting in Wisconsin.

Lucien said...

Ann's comments sound like cousins to the old "If we can put a man on the Moon why can't we . . ." trope. Sometimes purely technological challenges are easier to conquer than humans ones and when you look back at how much has been spent on Great Society flavored programs it's hard to think that a serious person would really believe that more progress would have been made if only there had been no Apollo Program. Of course, Ann is not necessarily revealing what she believes now, just remembering what she thought about 50 years ago.

One can also make the argument that the space program -- maybe even Apollo -- spurred development of very large scale integrated circuits, so that without it, the personal computing revolution, and its progeny, would not have come as quickly.

Unknown said...

JFK set the goal in September of 1961. Less than 8 years later, on July 21 1969 (so close to 8 years, but not quite....) we landed on the moon.

In 8 years, the highest goal of the Obama administration was achieved: Putting a man in the women's restroom.

And that's considered "progress."

Funny, isn't it, how if you ask a far leftist/feminist, all men are rapists/predators. Until one puts on a dress, then you should accept and let your daughter shower with him. That's perfectly fine.

Again, this is considered progress.

I wish we could go back to the days of the Apollo program; when America was the best country in the world, and both sides agreed that was the right thing, instead of today when one side blames America for everything wrong in the world and cheers when we fail at something.

--Vance

Robin Eatmon said...

Didn't Obama say we could do more than two things at once? LBJ's great society and the space program were of the same era and provided hope our country was striving for true greatness. My mind is boggled that anyone would think the space program was not worthwhile.

Clayton Hennesey said...

It's not surprising that someone habituated for a lifetime in the relatively vegetative universe of tenured academia would find the space program costly and foolish adventurism.

And that's really the dividing line across all humanity right now, those who find it humanity's destiny to live out its remaining species life in the lucid lotus-dreaming of cyber inner space like Google and social media, and those who understand that if humanity never manages to diversify its future out in the stars it will sooner or later die out with a pathetic whimper, and deservedly so.

SayAahh said...

I made intellectual errors as well 50 years ago. I regret some.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, you are the first Boomer female I've stumbled across who doesn't get all dreamy-eyed over JFK. You are nearly unique in that regard, as I'm sure you're aware.

Tell me, in the intervening 50 years have you learned that simply throwing money in the general direction of a social problem only exacerbates it?

rehajm said...

I'd like to see the moonshot where we all work together to balance our checkbook.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Oso Negro said...

"We are not the country we were then. I believe the Apollo program was the peak of American civilization. Certainly, I cannot imagine the United States government ever exceeding that accomplishment."

In 1988, an economics professor told me that he thought history would show that the USA had peaked in 1967. The statement resonated with me and as the years have passed, now close to thirty years, the evidence is stronger that he was correct. I think maybe the moon landing would be the perfect historical marker.

Michael K said...

When the moon landing happened, I barely glanced at it on TV. I found it disgusting.

The hippie chick.

The moon landing was a triumph of American technology, so great that some other countries still doubt we did it.

Manned space flight beyond that is probably not a good ROI. The Voyager vehicles are another enormous technical triumph. They were launched over 37 years ago.

It is so ironic to me that Ann leads with a post about girls and technology, then follows with a post about how she opposed the moon landings.

Personally, I think we have far too many lawyers and would be far better off with more engineers.

madAsHell said...

Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth.

When will you be done helping? People are poor because they make bad choices. You're not going to help someone to make better choices.

On the other hand, the space program spawned a wave of innovation. The velcro in Apollo 1 was one of those innovations.

Gahrie said...

When the moon landing happened, I barely glanced at it on TV. I found it disgusting.

Repeal the 19th Amendment.

RNB said...

Yesterday, Google's opening page celebrated the 125th birthday of Bessie Coleman, first African-American woman to be a licensed airplane pilot.

Today: *Crickets*

John said...

"Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose."

How would that thinking have worked for the founding fathers? Here's our Declaration of Independence (proven on paper), see ya later England.

Sometimes you actually have to DO something - not just write or talk about it.

The Drill SGT said...

The Apollo 13 (movie) launch scene is just awe inspiring

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt4yL_8fnWA

Original Mike said...

"I would be embarrassed if I was a part of the greediest and most coddled generation in the history of the world."

You don't strike me as being embarrassed by anything.

Ann Althouse said...

"Tell me, in the intervening 50 years have you learned that simply throwing money in the general direction of a social problem only exacerbates it?"

You're question assumes a fact not proved. In fact, I never favored throwing money at problems. I'd rather just save the money than throw it around. I'm big on the proposition that doing nothing is the default position. Also: First, do no harm.

As I said, I was never for JFK (I was 9 when he was elected) and I never liked LBJ (I always loathed him). I was also not for Nixon in 1968.

I've basically never liked any of the Presidents. The first President that got into office that I supported when he was running was Bill Clinton.

Original Mike said...

"Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth."

Yeah, because all that money we have spent on the Great Society programs has accomplished so much.

Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...
Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose. Let the paperwork show how much money it would cost. Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth."

On earth? Do you think we were helping people on the moon?

The money spent on all the programs...Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo...helped people and it's technological "great great grandchildren continue to today.

Danno said...

Big Mike said..."Tell me, in the intervening 50 years have you learned that simply throwing money in the general direction of a social problem only exacerbates it?"

Well said. One of the reasons we are almost $20 trillion in debt (U.S.) and why Althouse sees Madison property taxes of ~$17,000 per year.

Ficta said...

One thing I hadn't realized until read Apollo by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox was how much the Apollo program was a major front in the cold war, and it was one that did not involve building a weapons system. So there's that. There's a fascinating story in the book (which is really good and focuses on the management and systems engineering of the Apollo program):


“Kennedy found himself confronted with three choices,” as Wiesner summed it up later. “Quit, stay second, or do something dramatic. He didn’t think we could afford to quit, politically, and it was even worse to stay second. And so he decided to do something where we had a chance of really beating the Russians.” But the merits of the decision continued to bother him. At a state dinner for Tunisia’s president Habib Bourguiba the day after Shepard’s flight, Wiesner was standing in a corner chatting with Bourguiba when Kennedy joined them. “You know, we’re having a terrible argument in the White House about whether we should put a man on the moon,” Kennedy said to Bourguiba. “Jerry here is against it. If I told you you’d get an extra billion dollars a year in foreign aid if I didn’t do it, what would be your advice?” Wiesner watched as Bourguiba stood silent for several moments. Finally Bourguiba said, “I wish I could tell you to put it in foreign aid, but I cannot.”

DanTheMan said...

>>Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose. Let the paperwork show how much money it would cost. Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth.

... said Queen Isabella to Columbus. Let's fix all the problems here in Spain before we go sailing over the oceans.

Curious George said...

"Danno said...
...and why Althouse sees Madison property taxes of ~$17,000 per year."

Yeah, but not one red cent (pun intended) is going to space exploration.

Original Mike said...

@Ficta: Excellent book. I've read it at least three times.

David said...

Of course the space program has been a huge benefit for people on earth through numerous technical advances and scientific discoveries. That was one of the early arguments in favor of the space program, and it turned out to be correct. A decent argument can be made that all of these advances could have been made by a space program that was not directed for a decade or more at going to the moon. But without the lunar (and military) arguments to bring the public along, the program might never have been as successful.

My wise Nana, who had been a teenager at the turn of the 19th century to the 20th, and was nobody's fool, was joyfully enthusiastic about landing on the moon. To her it was something wonderful, like a beautiful painting or lovely music. And it was wonderful for everyone, if they chose to wonder over it. I think Nana had it right.

exhelodrvr1 said...

"Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose. Let the paperwork show how much money it would cost. Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth."

Let's do that with climate change, too!!

harrogate said...

The pushback against Achilles' ludicrous comment on this thread was impressive to see.

Lance said...

My view at the time was that we should be using the money to take care of the real human beings on earth and not to prove we could get to some soulless place beyond earth.

From 1961 to 1972, Apollo cost $25.4 billion. The U.S. spent $30.6 billion on the food stamp program from 1969 (when it was overhauled) to 1978*. From 2009 to 2016 we spent $574 billion on food stamps and $145 billion on NASA.

I think you got your wish.

* Sorry a quick search isn't finding numbers for pre-1969.

mockturtle said...

Me-thinks a reread of the Right Stuff by Mr. Wolfe is on tap..., suggests surfed.

One of my favorites. I confess I've always been more interested in the Yeager-type achievements than those of astronauts.

BTW, I'm reading a terrific book about Pancho Barnes. My biggest regret in life is not taking up flying.

mockturtle said...

Just remember, Ann...The poor we will always have with us. Sometimes money is well spent on big achievements. These achievements often define us as well as unite us.

Original Mike said...

"The moon landing was a triumph of American technology, so great that some other countries still doubt we did it."

My taxi driver in Sydney a couple of months ago told me he doubted it happened. Incredible.

There's a claim that the Apollo 1 fire was actually NASA offing Gus Grissom because he was about to spill the beans that the Apollo program was fraudulent. Read it on the internet so it must be true.

Original Mike said...

"One of my favorites. I confess I've always been more interested in the Yeager-type achievements than those of astronauts."

Spam in a can.

Unknown said...

Althouse - "What is that based on? I didn't like JFK and I sure as hell hated LBJ. It wasn't about Democrats and Republicans back then."

So your life has been pretty much like Bernardine Dohrn's, just without the bombs and convictions?

The Cracker Emcee said...

That capsule audio is horrifying. Impossible to listen without visualizing the fire spreading in that tiny confined space.

mockturtle said...

By the way, Yeager was an asshole.

I don't deny that. Many of those whom I admire were assholes.

Roughcoat said...

Somebody's got a bad case of the Mondays. On Friday, no less.

Bad Lieutenant said...

If I told you you’d get an extra billion dollars a year in foreign aid if I didn’t do it, what would be your advice?” Wiesner watched as Bourguiba stood silent for several moments. Finally Bourguiba said, “I wish I could tell you to put it in foreign aid, but I cannot.”



That is a great man for you, too. Thank you, President Bourguiba, wherever you are. It must have been humbling for you.

...

Bozhemoi, Ann. Words fail (though "troglodytress" just bubbled up), so let me just leave it at that before I get myself banned.

Bad Lieutenant said...

And to the Aussie cabdriver and his kind: Nigga pleez, if the moon landing was a hoax, don't you think the Russians would have ratted us out to the world?

Rocketeer said...

Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose. Let the paperwork show how much money it would cost. Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth.

Well, if nothing else this comment proves you're no engineer or economist.

Or philospher, for that matter. Thank God the responsible decisionmakers decided it would be more fruitful to spend that money on the space program than trying to immanentize the eschaton.

Original Mike said...

"Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose."

Practical problem. Who's going to fund that?

Ken B said...

After all these years the truth comes out: "When the moon landing happened... I found it disgusting."
THAT is when McCain lost you!

Ken B said...

"Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose. Let the paperwork show how much money it would cost. Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth."

When you apply the logic to your next vacation, let us know.

mockturtle said...

"Ann Althouse said...
Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose. Let the paperwork show how much money it would cost. Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth."


I suppose you think that taking a 'virtual' tour of Florence is just as good and a lot cheaper than actually going there. As I recall, you dislike travel so maybe you do.

Josephbleau said...

Randall Munroe composed a proof that we did go to the Moon, arguing the if NASA had successfully faked a spectacular success like the Moon Landing in 1967 they certainly would have faked another. Sorry that Ann hated the Moon shot, no GPS for her!

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"Now we give baby boomers a bunch of money and free health care."

Oh, you mean Social Security and Medicare? I believe the baby boomers paid for these services with their decades of payroll deductions from their pay for work.

BTW, I'd hardly call even the most generous monthly social security stipend "a bunch," and Medicare isn't free health care, given all that isn't covered under it.

I think any sane citizen would see "free" (i.e., taxpayer paid-for) healthcare as a good thing. So many tens of thousands of fewer annual deaths for lack of insurance, and so many tens (or hundreds) of thousands of fewer annual personal bankruptcies caused by medical costs that cannot be borne by working Americans, many who have health insurance.

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"@Achilles, FUCK YOU! Stronger message to follow. If I live into my 90s I will get back less money in monthly social security payments than if I had invested my social security taxes reasonably wisely in a diversified portfolio instead of giving it to the government to blow. In constant dollars I would have done even better."

I agree with your refutation of Achilles, (see my own comment above), but you wouldn't necessarily have more money if you had "reasonably wisely invested" in the stock market. For one, the stock market is basically gambling; any stock can drop unexpectedly or fail ever to grow as expected. For another, even the wisest--or luckiest--investors, those who accrue a handsome portfolio, can be wiped or have their investments grievously devastated by a market plunge. And plunges will always occur. Especially now that protections put into place in the years after the Great Depression have been eliminated or neutered.

This is why efforts to "privatize" Social Security--i.e., hand it over to the same parasites and vultures who run Wall Street--are a dangerous blow to and betrayal of Americans' futures, (and working histories).

Robert Cook said...

Oh, and Washington "blows" our tax money most on our war machine and spying apparata. Better it be "blown" on and for the benefit of the Americans who provide the funds.

mockturtle said...

Cookie says: This is why efforts to "privatize" Social Security--i.e., hand it over to the same parasites and vultures who run Wall Street--are a dangerous blow to and betrayal of Americans' futures, (and working histories).

I'd have to agree with you here, Cookie.

Robert Cook said...

"My view at the time was that we should be using the money to take care of the real human beings on earth and not to prove we could get to some soulless place beyond earth."

Some real-world applications of innovations developed for the Nasa programs. Our everyday world is a very different one today than it would have been if we had not spent a decade of intense development of and investment in NASA missions.

Here's a BUSINESS INSIDER summary of space-age tech in our everyday lives.

Robert Cook said...

"Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose. Let the paperwork show how much money it would cost. Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth."

How much money has been spent on NASA programs, particularly manned missions to space and the moon? It may be far less than you think, and far far less than we blithely accept being spent on our life-killing and world-ruining war department and its programs of extermination.

Robert Cook said...

"People are poor because they make bad choices."

Um. It seems you've cracked the age-old question of why people are poor.

NOT.

Robert Cook said...

">>Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose. Let the paperwork show how much money it would cost. Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth.

"... said Queen Isabella to Columbus. Let's fix all the problems here in Spain before we go sailing over the oceans."


That certainly would have been better for the masses of humans living on the American continent.

Achilles said...

Blogger Big Mike said...
"@Achilles, FUCK YOU! Stronger message to follow. If I live into my 90s I will get back less money in monthly social security payments than if I had invested my social security taxes reasonably wisely in a diversified portfolio instead of giving it to the government to blow. In constant dollars I would have done even better."

Sure. You are totally a victim of social security. Your parents sucked the life out of your generation and now it is your turn to get a piece of your kids.

"I would have liked to see you, you slime-sucking mother****er wearing OD and marching around the jungles of Southeast Asia toting a rifle that would probably jam if you ever needed to use it. Did you demonstrate for civil rights? Is the world a better place because you were in it?"

Southeast Asia is one shithole I didn't deploy to. I didn't go to South America either or central Africa. I missed out on the jungle deployments. Sounds rough. I hope you feel better now though.

"I busted my ass for more than forty years contributing the social security maximum every years since 1981. I've earned what I get."

I am going to do my best not to contribute to SS. It won't be there in 24 years. That's a mathematical certainty.

And I totally look forward to the stronger message. Watching baby boomers indulge themselves is fun. You should realize that there are usually some people in a population that are worthy even when many aren't. But as a whole the baby boomer generation has been disappointing.

Achilles said...

"Ann Althouse said...
"Why not simply prove on paper that we could go if we chose. Let the paperwork show how much money it would cost. Then take that money and spend it on helping people on earth."

Accomplish great things? Fuck that let's not and say we did!

It is also fun to watch a retired professor who made a living dumping debt on younger generations talk about helping people here on earth.

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"...as a whole the baby boomer generation has been disappointing."

As a whole, every generation has been disappointing. In other words, the baby boomers, for the most part, are no different than any other generation past or pending. Human foibles and the problems of human societies are as old as our history and as contemporary as today's headlines. They're the same in every era or epoch or millennium.

Peter said...

Apollo 8, launched on Dec. 21, 1968, was a high-risk mission that was done sooner than planned due to fears the Soviets might send a crew around the moon first.

The Saturn V rocket that launched it was designated "SA-503," where the "3" denoted that this was the third Saturn V ever built. And had Apollo 8 had the same problem that occurred on Apollo 13 its crew would not have survived, as the Lunar Excursion Module ("LEM") that Apollo 13 used as a lifeboat was not aboard Apollo 8, as it wasn't ready to fly yet.

And, Apollo 8 is where that famous Earthrise photo came from. Presumably a contemporary American astronaut (if we still had that capability, of course) would be savagely criticized if he or she were to read a passage from the Bible (Genesis) on a public broadcast (especially one that was seen by perhaps a billion viewers).

The classic space-race launches were seriously risky, so much so that one must conclude we were lucky that only three astronauts died. Or, as Samuel Butler put it, "as luck would have it, providence was on our side."

The Cracker Emcee said...

Not many generations anywhere or anytime had what was handed to American Boomers on a silver platter.

"You fucked up! You trusted us!"

The Cracker Emcee said...

"Blogger Robert Cook said...
"People are poor because they make bad choices."

Um. It seems you've cracked the age-old question of why people are poor.

NOT."

Well, as someone who's spent a lot of time volunteering with the poor, yeah, bad choices figure rather prominently. Not entirely, as true bad luck undoubtedly exists, but in America at least, sheer arrant stupidity seems to be prevalent.

Big Mike said...

I agree with your refutation of Achilles, (see my own comment above),

I thank you for that, Cookie.

but you wouldn't necessarily have more money if you had "reasonably wisely invested" in the stock market. For one, the stock market is basically gambling; any stock can drop unexpectedly or fail ever to grow as expected. For another, even the wisest--or luckiest--investors, those who accrue a handsome portfolio, can be wiped or have their investments grievously devastated by a market plunge. And plunges will always occur. Especially now that protections put into place in the years after the Great Depression have been eliminated or neutered.

Which is why I emphasized the need to be diversified. A properly designed portfolio can cope with stock market crashes, bond market crashes, anything that doesn't involve a total collapse of the American economy.

Robert Cook said...

Sure, many poor people do make bad choices, just as do many people who are not poor. (People who are not poor often have the resource to mitigate the short- and long-term consequences to them of their bad decisions.)But to reduce to "bad choices" the reason people are poor is to ignore the complex real world, including "bad luck," yes, but also adverse social or educational conditions that are the direct result of policies made in the seats of government or by the financial elites.

Big Mike said...

On the other hand, Cookie, the primary reason for a person being poor really is bad decisions. Teenaged girls barely old enough to menstruate dropping out of school to have kids might seem at first glance to be unlucky and at second glance to have brought on their bad luck by eschewing birth control. But the truly scary thing is what teachers who teach low income students have told me -- that these girls deliberately set out to get pregnant. Children having children by choice? Yup. That's what they tell me happens. Bad decisions? The word "bad" doesn't begin to cover it.

Robert Cook said...

"Which is why I emphasized the need to be diversified. A properly designed portfolio can cope with stock market crashes, bond market crashes, anything that doesn't involve a total collapse of the American economy."

Yet, how many people have the knowledge to know how to create and manage a "properly designed portfolio, or the resources to seed and maintain the portfolio?

Big Mike said...

@Cookie, you answered me before I posted? Or did I answer you?

As to governmental policies, someone did a study in Fairfax County, Virginia, which I just moved out of. Turns out a family of four (father and mother not married) would have to earn an after-tax income of nearly $60,000 before they are better off than making absolutely zero. Talk about adverse results based on government policies. The amazing thing is that anyone works at all in Fairfax County.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...When the moon landing happened, I barely glanced at it on TV. I found it disgusting.

Wow, that's almost incredible. Thank you for sharing that but it's really difficult to imagine!
Have you watched anything on the Apollo program in the years since (Ken Burns' documentary, or the Apollo 13 movie, etc), and if so did you feel differently/have a different emotional reaction?

Michael K said...

"That certainly would have been better for the masses of humans living on the American continent."

Yes and the Neanderthals would have been better off if the modern humans had stayed in Africa.

Cookie, you are too virtuous for life.

Big Mike said...

Yet, how many people have the knowledge to know how to create and manage a "properly designed portfolio, or the resources to seed and maintain the portfolio?

If you have a job then 7 1/2 percent goes to Social Security. That's plenty of seed money for a portfolio, assuming we don't pay Social Security. If you're going to assume we pay the Social Security tax anyway, then it's easy enough to get in the habit of saving via an IRA or a 401K. For many years I worked for firms that didn't have pension plans but did have 401K plans with matches up to a certain limit (usually 3%). You can save three or four percent if you maintain discipline.

If you're undisciplined you're going to die broke, even if Daddy was a billionaire.

mockturtle said...

Well, as someone who's spent a lot of time volunteering with the poor, yeah, bad choices figure rather prominently. Not entirely, as true bad luck undoubtedly exists, but in America at least, sheer arrant stupidity seems to be prevalent.

Yes, bad choices are probably the principal cause of poverty in the US. Some cultural norms influence these choices, too. But the question remains: What do we do about those who have made stupid choices? Sink or swim? Education is obviously not the answer. Nor do I have an answer.

I really believe that there is a huge difference between those with an internal locus of control and those with an external locus of control. But I'm not foolish enough to believe one can change into the other.

Big Mike said...

FWIW when the moon landing happened I was pulling KP duty. Did I ever mention how much I hated the Army?

The Cracker Emcee said...

" direct result of policies made in the seats of government or by the financial elites."

Covered under "arrant stupidity". A huge bureaucracy with a vital self-interest in promoting dependency is unlikely to lift many out of poverty.

I know it's anecdotal (and will sound Victorian) but so many of the lives in shambles that I see are directly attributable to a lack of self-control. Even in an age of diminished opportunity almost any healthy American citizen with a modicum of self-discipline can list themselves out of true poverty. But, yeah, you have to stop fucking up.

Bad Lieutenant said...

What would you know about choices, Cook, you're a trust fund baby.

Rance Fasoldt said...

Reading comment by Ficta (11:00 am), I ordered the book on Ann's portal. Out of print, and $36.21, but the quote from Habib Bourguiba sold me.

Rance Fasoldt said...

See comment by David, 11:16 - Our Nana (1882-1972) had the same appreciation. She would marvel about going to bed by candlelight and living to see man walk on the moon. Her 12 grandchildren still look to her as the reason our children and their children all know each other, and third cousins know great-great aunts and uncles. Born lame in England, brought to America at 8, where she saw two brothers and two sisters pass away and lost her youngest son at Anzio, she nevertheless brought joy and wonder to all of us.

Robert Cook said...

"What would you know about choices, Cook, you're a trust fund baby."

I wish I were.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Come on now, how else can you afford to live in Manhattan? All the wild-eyed, Pie in the Sky, Rage against the Machine types like you I've ever known have had inheritances or lawsuit paydays or just rich relatives. Maybe a lucky investment, you bought Polaroid at 3 or the like.

What do you do? What's your salary? Where do you live? What kind of apartment? R/c, r/s - or do you own? Actually I appreciate that for the sake of your privacy you wouldn't care to answer those questions, but as a fellow New Yorker I know just what you can and can't afford.

Original Mike said...

"Yet, how many people have the knowledge to know how to create and manage a "properly designed portfolio, "

Total market index fund. Couldn't be simpler.

"or the resources to seed and maintain the portfolio?"

Anybody with an income.

Original Mike said...

"Yet, how many people have the knowledge to know how to create and manage a "properly designed portfolio, "

Total market index fund. Couldn't be simpler.

"or the resources to seed and maintain the portfolio?"

Anybody with an income.

Original Mike said...

"Yet, how many people have the knowledge to know how to create and manage a "properly designed portfolio, "

Total market index fund. Couldn't be simpler.

"or the resources to seed and maintain the portfolio?"

Anybody with an income.

Original Mike said...

"For one, the stock market is basically gambling ... even the wisest--or luckiest--investors, those who accrue a handsome portfolio, can be wiped or have their investments grievously devastated by a market plunge."

Investing regularly over your lifetime removes the risk. Even if you retire during a downturn, you're still ahead.

Bad Lieutenant said...

You see what I'm saying, Cook? (Not likely.) You obviously don't understand the first thing about finance. Yet you maintain your existence in the most expensive city on earth - even if you do live in Harlem. What kind of job could you possibly have? What could you be worth to anyone else? What good or service could you possibly provide anyone?

So, how could you possibly sustain your lifestyle except by receiving aid? For which you are obviously ungrateful, as it must have come from bad people, bad, because they have money, and you can't have money without being bad, which is why you don't have money, because you're SOOOOO good.