July 20, 2019

"Anyone old enough to remember the moon landing, fifty years ago today, is also old enough to remember what was said about the moon landing while it was happening."

"At the time—the very height of the Vietnam War, when the establishment that had sent up the rocket faced a kind of daily full-court-press rebellion, from what had only just been dubbed the 'counterculture'—the act of sending three very white guys to the moon seemed, as Norman Mailer wrote at the time, like the final, futile triumph of Wasp culture... Mailer’s book on the topic, 'Of a Fire on the Moon'... was the usual mid-period Mailer mix of eight parts bullshit to two parts very shrewd observation... The Apollo 11 mission was, he insisted, chilling in its self-evident futility, its enormous orchestrated energy, and its ultimate pointlessness. We went there because we could go there, with the strong implication that this was also, to borrow the title of another Mailer book, why we were in Vietnam; the Wasp establishment had been restless since it got off the Mayflower, and was always seeking new worlds to conquer for no reason. What is easy to forget now is that it was a summer balanced between two equally potent national events: the Wasp triumph of the moon landing, answered, almost exactly a month later, by the counterculture triumph of Woodstock...."

From "Between the Moon and Woodstock" by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker.

I'm old enough to remember the moon landing and not only do I remember what was said about the moon landing while it was happening, I remember having the same opinion as Norman Mailer.



From a review by Steven Achilles Brown (at Medium):
Throughout ["Of a Fire on the Moon,"] Mailer returns to a recurring question: is the moon landing a good and noble achievement of America, or is it an errand of the Devil?... ... Mailer seems ambivalent until the very end, when he writes
the expedition to the moon was finally a venture which might help to disclose the nature of the Lord and the Lucifer who warred for us . . . probably we had to explore into outer space, for technology had penetrated the modern mind to such a depth that voyages in space might have become the last way to discover the metaphysical pits of that world of technique which choked the pores of modern consciousness — yes, we might have to go out into space until the mystery of new discovery would force us to regard the world once again as poets, behold it as savages who know that if the universe was a lock, its key was metaphor rather than measure.
This quotation discloses much about Norman Mailer. He had a degree from Harvard in aeronautical engineering, yet as a writer in this technological age, had roots in 19th-century romanticism; he wished that all men, including astronauts, be poets and philosophers. Throughout the book, indeed throughout most of his career, Mailer was preoccupied with one central theme, that God was an embattled vision: good and evil fight each other for possession of the souls of humankind....

264 comments:

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Paul said...

Tonight I'm with myself again
I'm talking with my mind
These last three months we've talked a lot
And found we're in a bind

Not that we're different
We don't think we're unique
But the answers we're questioning
Are those we've heard you speak

We haven't decided you're wrong
For experience has a function
But my mind is at the crossroad
And I think I'm at a junction

You sent us here to join you
And to fight your distant war
We did, but even those who make it home
Carry back a scar

The answer that we question most
is one we've heard you say,
"You owe it to your country, boy,
It's the American Way"

We haven't decided you're really wrong
For experience has its function
But my mind is at the crossroads
And I can't find the junction

We haven't decided you're wrong
For experience has its function
But you've thrown us out here on the backroads
And we're gonna find the junction

Wounded Medic
Surgical Ward
U.S. Army Hospital, Zama, Japan

JackWayne said...

Norman Mailer? Good Grief!

chuck said...

IIRC, the feat made Mailer feel inadequate down there. Poor guy.

JackWayne said...

The question is: Do you still have the same opinion?

Daniel Jackson said...

I, too, remember the words and the event; but, Mailer?

JackWayne said...

He would have been more prescient if he had predicted that the Americans elite would be ashamed of being first to the Moon.

FullMoon said...

The moon.
Woodstock
Chappaquiddick

Paddy O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beasts of England said...

'...I remember having the same opinion as Norman Mailer.'

🙄

narciso said...

He was strikingly wrong about most everything, now the space race might have arisen out of a competion over military dominance, somewhat like the early race among the European powers to reach the east indies, but it was about the need to explore,

Phidippus said...

I have no idea what Mailer was trying to say, but it sounds like bullshit to me.

Chris Lopes said...

As Mike Collins observed in "Carrying The Fire", if you sent poets instead of pilots into space, they'd never make it back. Space exploration is a professional's job that requires an engineering mindset to accomplish. Poets would be to busy pontificating to remember to fire the service module engine for the return trip home.

Sebastian said...

"good and evil fight each other for possession of the souls of humankind"

Or at least, for possession of the soul of Norman Mailer. Guess which one won?

"Chilling in its self-evident futility"?

Futile in what sense? Self-evident, as in needing no empirical evidence? Chilling, why?

The fact that the moon landing pissed off the progs of 1969 made it self-evidently non-futile.

But the big Apollo documentary did include a whole lot of PR nonsense spouted at the time, so I can see that Althouse would have been skeptical.

Paddy O said...

Having an opinion doesn't make one right.

The symbol of the moon landing was something that resonated with a majority of people but so many others, including semi-gnostic pseudo-philosophers don't quite get because they're not as in tune with humanity as they think. Going on and on about dysfunctions and problems leads to obsessing over them, and the problems, anger, frustrations only grow. Finding a point of unity, whether in hope or in tragedy, brings people together and in being together there's a new way of life forward.

I am not in any way a supporter of JFK, but he got this point right on. The moon was a symbol and a goal, a way of "conquering" without requiring either oppressed or oppressors. It was an ethically perfect response when humanity had typically only been able to assert dominant unity through colonialism.

It was a cooperative effort that brought out the best of the best, and reminded us how much we can do, what we can get done, with a shared vision.

The trouble is that this vision became lost in Mailer's misguided extroverted guilt issues.

john burger said...

Mailer was a good writer. Observant and cynical. Were the moon landing or the space program lessons in Wasp Futility? Time will tell.

As for Woodstock, that is hardly a crowning achievement. Some good music but a net negative for the culture.

mikee said...

I remember a lot of things said about both the war and the moon landing that were absolutely ignorant, incorrect and indefensible.

The first manned missions to the moon are one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity and will remain so.

Efforts to belittle the feat of the moon landings and their safe returns to earth, and besmirch those who accomplished them, can go to hell.

Of my Vietnamese acquaintances, none regret fleeing their homeland as the communist army moved south. Nor do those who fled Russian, Eastern European, and Chinese communism.

It is easy to be critical of amazing accomplishments and to praise the unpraiseworthy, and harder to achieve such accomplishments or escape the effects of those nasty folk being praised.

BUMBLE BEE said...

A friend's father told us we'd see tv from the moon. No small feat either. BTW what was mailer's class ranking? The moon shone bright round here that wonderful night.

Dan in Philly said...

In the 20th century, mankind...
Walked over the south pole
Landed on another planet
Split the atom
Discovered the secrets of many sicknesses
Cured polio and smallpox
All but ended widespread famines
Mastered air flight to the extent flying is viewed more as a nuisance rather than an impossible dream
Developed computers
Ended childhood death to the extent most know of no one who has lost even one child
Created mass produces automobiles which empowered billions to be able to be mobile for the first time in history
Launched satellites into space to enable mass communication

Many more of course. Some admittedly were darker and resulted in mass deaths, but taken as a whole the 20th century was the most remarkable in terms of human achievement ever. If it all ended tomorrow we will have accomplished far more than our ancestors ever dreamed.

BUMBLE BEE said...

%80 bullshit? Left hasn't changed much, has it?

Rob said...

I'm old enough to remember well the landing on the moon, and unlike Gopnik and Ann, the circles I traveled in didn't perceive it as "the act of sending three very white guys to the moon" or regard it as "the final, futile triumph of Wasp culture." It was an uplifting moment, even though in retrospect, especially in our abandonment of the moon after only a few additional landings, it seems more like a competitively-motivated stunt than a serious scientific endeavor. Still, I'm glad we went, and--oh, screw it--proud that it was Americans who pulled it off.

Freder Frederson said...

Of my Vietnamese acquaintances, none regret fleeing their homeland as the communist army moved south.

But how about the 3 million that died in the war? Do they regret that they died for a cause that was lost (for the defenders of dictatorship) from the very beginning.

Francisco D said...

Mailer’s book on the topic, 'Of a Fire on the Moon'... was the usual mid-period Mailer mix of eight parts bullshit to two parts very shrewd observation...

With Mailer, you were really hoping for a pony, but never found one.

This was just before my junior year when we moved to the burbs and I changed high schools. I only had a passing interest in the moon landing. Lots of my fellow leftists were disappointed that Nixon was the POTUS when it happened.

narciso said...

From his earliest work, he seemed to disdain the need for the pacific campaign, he was with Wallace in 48, the closest to the Kremlin's candidate, he was naturally disdainful of communist infiltration, he hated the bourgeois institutions that made his lifestyle possible, this conjoined with a somewhat sociopathic personality, that made him kin to jack henry abbott, He thought kennedy would liberate the people from that repression, which is properly discretion and restraint, and had the most pedestrian notions about Vietnam,

Chris Lopes said...

Woodstock was where a bunch of counter-culture types turned a farm in upstate New York into a 3rd world country. Near the end, the organisers were spending all their time trying to rediscover civilization.
L

Michael K said...

I was also an aeronautical engineer although I never got my degree. I went to medical school instead.

Kennedy suggested the moon mission, partly as a response to Sputnik, which was a big shock at the time. I can remember the disbelief in the size of the payload. 180 pounds seemed like a decimal point was off. Anyway, the purpose was political but the Vietnam War had nothing to do with it. It was for American morale after Sputnik. Especially among engineers.

Original Mike said...

How pathetic. At the VERY least, lunar samples have been instrumental in our understanding of the formation of the solar system.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

Norman Mailer was just good at slinging the bullshit. He could convince the boobs that up was down and black was white. Just in case anyone forgot, Mailer stabbed his wife, and got a killer released from Jail, whereupon he killed an innocent Co-worker. According to Mailer, that was worth the sacrifice because Abbott (the released murderer) could write well.

And then there's the fact that Mailer was a Communist in the 1940's and always had a lot of weird cultural and political opinions. But with his super-IQ could always make the shit sandwich seem like roast beef to those stupid enough.

In 1969, the Left wanted to denigrate the Moon landing because it was made by the USA under Nixon. They've always hated American "bourgeois" Patriotism. If the USSR had made the first Moon landing, Mailer would've written about how wonderful it all was. I'm totally serious about that.

Jim at said...

Good lord. Mailer couldn't be more tedious if he tried.

Hagar said...

There are only a handful of books I have started to read and could not finish. One was by Norman Mailer. Something about heaving a woman over the railing from a NYC high-rise penthouse. Pretty revolting stuff.

Andrew said...

A much better commentary (including observations about the liberal counter-reaction) is here:
https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2019/07/the-moon-50.php

I never watched the actual descent until now (included in the above link). What an amazing and suspenseful video. Watching it, I couldn't help fearing that so many things could still go wrong.

A magnificent accomplishment. "America was never great" my ass.

Roger Sweeny said...

There is a relatively straight line from the moon landings to the peaceful collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. That is a great achievement, improving life for hundreds of millions of people, and worth many billions of dollars.

But the moon landing itself did little (and is doing little) for people. (As Charlie Brown said, "I love humanity. It's people I can't stand.)

Most people will never go. It will never be economically mined or settled. It will never be a place people can run to to escape oppression or to start over. Physics, the coldest of sciences, prohibits it.

narciso said...

My understanding is we might have gotten into space before sputnik, if the Navy hadn't proffered it's Vanguard program, over the Army's Redstone effort, which came from the former Peenemunde group, Michael Chabon seems to follow some of Mailer's philosophy in Moonrise,

rcocean said...

I used to enjoy mailer AND hunter Thompson when i was a teenager. They seemed so smart and edgy. Now, i find them both unreadable. What juvenile Bullshit. Just two Con artists, leftists, and male chauvinists posing as "Rebels" and "Wild and Crazy Guys".

Michael K said...

Do they regret that they died for a cause that was lost (for the defenders of dictatorship) from the very beginning.

I'm sure they did along with the million who died after we left.

Fortunately 500,000 escaped the "workers paradise" that followed. Jerry Brown tried to stop them from immigrating to California because he knew how anti-communist they would be, Like all who escape communism,

rehajm said...

The ultimate pointlessness is to revisit such a cynical view. He was a fucking drugged out prick that said things to fuck chicks then maybe stab them.

narciso said...

more useful contribution:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/apollo-engineers-discuss-what-it-took-land-moon-180972580/

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

"...the act of sending three very white guys to the moon seemed, as Norman Mailer wrote at the time, like the final, futile triumph of Wasp culture."

"Seemed". Well, I guess it might seem so to a small subset of Americans obsessed with their own ethnic resentments.

I'm old enough to remember the moon landing very clearly. Don't recall anybody in my neck of the woods viewing any aspect of it through the frame of "Wasp culture".

"We went there because we could go there, with the strong implication that this was also, to borrow the title of another Mailer book, why we were in Vietnam; the Wasp establishment had been restless since it got off the Mayflower, and was always seeking new worlds to conquer for no reason."

As the establishment has become less WASP it has hardly become less interested in foreign wars. So much for counterculture anti-Waspism.

rcocean said...

Neil Armstrong was a real war hero. A lot of the astronauts were. Just the sort of guys you want piloting your manned space craft to the Moon. Sadly, after the Space program ended, some of them went into politics or tried to be "wise men" giving speeches about the life, universe, and everything. Which they didn't know anything about. John Glenn for example was a complete Jackass - as a politician.

exhelodrvr1 said...

White privilege. It's all white privilege.

The Godfather said...

The summer of 1969 I was in Army Basic and Combat Support Training (I was a Reservist, so unlike most of the guys I trained with, I didn't expect to go to 'Nam). That was the summer of the Moon Landing, the Manson Murders, and Woodstock -- or the "Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". I saw the Moon landing on the TV in the Company Day Room. I thought it was a GREAT achievement! The disappointment came later, when the Space Program devolved into low Earth orbit shuttles and satellites, and only unmanned (unstaffed?) missions to the really interesting places. At age 26 I took it for granted that humans would have settlements on the Moon and Mars within my lifetime. I now think that's unlikely unless I reach Methuselah's age. Still, the Moon Landing is the one positive thing that Kennedy can fairly be given credit for in ages to come. Mailer is pretty well forgotten even now.

RBE said...

Oh good lord...what a crock!! Going to the moon was a masterpiece of human achievement. I feel sorry for people like Norman Mailer who couldn't see the magnificence of space travel. What small minded overwrought thinking. Every time I see the picture of earth taken from the moon...WOW.

rcocean said...

All the critics of the Moon landing in 1969, seem like small-minded lilliputian critics today. Like someone back in 1492 crabbing about all that money being spent on the Santa Marie. Why are we giving all that money to Christopher Columbus? Think of all the Irrigation Canals we could be built with that money!

Freder Frederson said...

I'm sure they did along with the million who died after we left.

Listening to the monkeys flying out of your butt again? About 400,000 were sent to reeducation camps, but a million killed? Please provide the source of this number. Unless of course it is the monkeys flying out of your butt. I really don't want to see that.

Fortunately 500,000 escaped the "workers paradise" that followed.

Fortunately?! I thought you hated refugees and non-white immigrants.

traditionalguy said...

Mailer invented “frigging” to get past censors. You have to admire him for that. He certainly was at war with the P in WASP culture. But he was ignorant about the magnificent actual accomplishments of the Protestant Work Ethic. Those men invented everything needed to make the Moon Shot on a strict time limit and it all worked perfectly.

Trump has re-introduced that WASP work ethic. And every one on earth is jealous of it again. That ethic invented a brand new mini-computer using integrated circuits in a suitcase size needed. It replaced 3 refrigerators sized IBM in use until they did it.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

Another great moment in astute counterculture criticism of the Apollo program.

rcocean said...

I can only remember the Moon landings AFTER 1969. I can remember that Moon flights on TV in the early 70s. They were pretty interesting to me, but everyone older seemed bored.

Eleanor said...

The first step in doing something is believing you can. The Apollo missions taught a lot of young people to believe. It launched a whole generation of scientists and engineers- a great many of them women and minorities. Kids who were to too invested in doing important things to give a rat's ass about Woodstock. The space program might have had its birth in the need for military superiority, but it brought us giant leaps forward in telecommunications. The medical field benefitted from technology created for space travel. Materials science. It's hard to think of a branch of engineering that wasn't moved forward faster through the needs created by sending humans into space. Without a manned space program, there are common everyday things we take for granted that probably would still be waiting to be invented by our grandchildren or great grandchildren. Mailer was a jackass.

Beasts of England said...

'But the moon landing itself did little (and is doing little) for people.'

Other than the extraordinary technological spin-offs. Try to make it a single day without using those technologies, e.g., materials, data processing, manufacturing, communications. Here's a hint: you're not doing it now.

cronus titan said...

The Apollo 11 mission was an extraordinary human achievement. Sad to take no joy in anything. There are a lot of terribly unhappy people in the world. Sad.

rcocean said...

"But he was ignorant about the magnificent actual accomplishments of the Protestant Work Ethic."

Mailer wasn't "ignorant" about anything. He was pure 100% Marxist.

rcocean said...

In 1969 it was the "Counter-Culture"

Today, it IS the "Culture".

Shouting Thomas said...

You’ve got to be kidding, Althouse.

Really?

Mr. D said...

I'm old enough to remember the moon landing, but Norman Mailer wasn't part of my understanding of it. Of course, I started kindergarten a few weeks after Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins made their journey. What I remember is, at least at Jackson Elementary School in Appleton, astronauts were nifty and cool and all of my fellow kindergarteners, boys and girls, wanted to be one. As a group we went about 0/25 on that aspiration.

I also remember Woodstock, or at least watching reports of it on the CBS Evening News. My dad didn't like it much.

Daniel Jackson said...

Woodstock resulted in Altamont.

Moon Landing resulted in calculators and what we use now to communicate, especially on this blog.

Mailer resulted in "frigging?"

Go figure

Shouting Thomas said...

Near the end [of the Woodstock Festival], the organisers were spending all their time trying to rediscover civilization.

After that, they collected an enormous pile of money.

I was Mike Lang’s next door neighbor for 10 years in Woodstock. He owns the Woodstock Festivals.

He became very very rich off the proceeds of the record albums of the first two festivals.

BJM said...

"I remember having the same opinion as Norman Mailer."

She types on a computer carried on DARPA created Internet and stored in NASA's Open Stack cloud. Perhaps dictated on a voice activated system and/or a hand held communication device with GPS.

NASA spinoff technologies

However at the time we had no idea how the "space race" would benefit and touch our everyday lives. We went there for the same reasons our forebears sailed into a vast void; for political dominance, treasure and because we could.

Vietnam poisoned a generation of thinkers, educators and leaders...a blow to the body politic that our system may not yet survive.

rcocean said...

"Mailer invented “frigging” to get past censors. You have to admire him for that."

Writers had been doing that for about 30 years - in 1969. But continue to worship him for saying "Fuck" in a roundabout way.

rcocean said...

tang. The breakfast of Astronauts.

Szoszolo said...

Ralph Abernathy led a protest at Cape Canaveral against the "misplaced priorities" he felt Apollo 11 represented. This protest is being remembered in articles all over the Internet.

But for some reason, they all seem to be leaving something out. When the mighty Saturn V took off, Abernathy was so impressed that he said, "I was one of the proudest Americans as I stood on this soil. I think it’s really holy ground."

I was lucky enough to land in Tokyo the day Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the moon. Everyone was waving little American flags and cheering. It was a great day for everyone because it was an extraordinary human achievement. But it was especially nice to be an American abroad that day.

Ice Nine said...

Well dang me...who knew that skin color was a significant factor in the genesis and execution of the Apollo missions?! That idiotic notion goes way beyond Mailer's 80% bullshit allotment.

As to why we went to the moon, there was one overriding primary reason way out in front of all the secondaries, and it went *something* like this: On April 12, 1961 the Russians put a man into orbit in space - while we fiddled around with our second-rate space program. The next day, the Joint Chiefs were in Pres. Kennedy's office saying, "Sir, we've got a little situation here..." A month later Kennedy announced that we put a man on the moon before the decade was out.

It wasn't to satisfy scientific curiosity and it wasn't to invent Tang and Velcro and honeycomb composites. Nor to jack up WASP culture (good god, I can hardly get myself to repeat such nonsense). It was to be able to throw nasty things at the Russkies from way up high. Nothing more, nothing less.

Shouting Thomas said...

In some extraordinarily peculiar way, Althouse seems to still consider herself a member of something called “the counter-culture.”

She just retired from a career as one of the gate keepers to a potential multi-million dollar career in corporate law.

Dylan has a net work in the neighborhood of half a billion dollars.

What in the hell is she talking about?

mesquito said...

Í was án American kid overseas from 1967 to 1978. No teevee. No memory of Apollo. Happened to be in n the states when Nixon resigned though.

Ken B said...

It matters what a culture valorizes. For too much of history we have have lauded mystics, scolds, preachers. For a while we lauded engineers, inventors,scientists. Or some of us did; not Mailer and not Althouse.

People forget too one of Kennedy's goals: prestige in the Cold War. Winning the Cold War was not a foregone conclusion, and prestige and aspiration matter in such things.

The odd thing is that the culture that self-styled “poets” like Mailer would have given us would have been infinitely less poetic.

Paco Wové said...

I'm old enough to remember the first moon landing; in fact, it is the earliest memory of a public event that I have. I was about 6 and a half at the time. As far as I was concerned, it was the coolest thing imaginable.

Paco Wové said...

Fifty years on, Neil Armstrong is so much cooler than Norman Mailer. What a dreary little scribbler!

narciso said...

Indeed, and the R 7 booster, was a signifier that the Soviets could wipeout our advantage, of being separated by oceans, of course kennedy came to power in large measure because of the snafu that enabled sputnik, and the nonexistent 'missile gap' that was hidden by classified info, failsafe and 'red alert' which later became 'Strangelove' suggested a futility of the notion of fighting the cold war aggressively,

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

Paco: Fifty years on, Neil Armstrong is so much cooler than Norman Mailer. What a dreary little scribbler!

I thought a lot of dumb things when I was young, and admired "cool" writers who a few years later I would recognize for the fools and frauds they were.

But one thing I can credit my dumb young self with: I always knew that Neil Armstrong was way way cooler than Norman Mailer could ever dream of being.

LYNNDH said...

I really don't remember much if any about the landings. I was aboard ship, might have been at sea even. No TV's then, or computers.
This idea that it was done because it was there is a Human trait. If not for that trait we would not have civilization. Not the computers, or chips, or most of what we eat. Nothing.

Seems like that is what some want now, to go back and undo civilization.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

In fact, there wasn't anybody at NASA in those days who wasn't cooler than Norman Mailer.

Beasts of England said...

And now you'll have to excuse me, as I'm headed back to 'Rocket City USA' for a series of parties in commemoration of the greatest accomplishment in history. Hopefully the clouds will pass and we'll have a clear view of the moon in the shadow of Saturn / Apollo flight hardware on static display at the Space and Rocket Center. Godspeed.

Rabel said...

Paglia was right.

wholelottasplainin' said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tommy Duncan said...

...he wished that all men, including astronauts, be poets and philosophers."

The classic ideal young Greek man could fight a battle, debate public policy, toss a discus, write a poem and intelligently discuss the meaning of life. Such toxically masculine men would be lost on today's college campuses.

stevew said...

Who contributed more to the depth and breadth of human experience: the folks that got astronauts from here to the moon and back, or the thinkers, like Mailer, that published complaints about it? Evidence from the last 50 years indicates it is the former.

Michael K said...

I thought you hated refugees and non-white immigrants.

No, just commies like you. I don't hate you,. I just laugh at you trying to be a big boy, Nobody knows how many died under the NVA after 1975 but it was a lot and all the fault of the 1974 Democrats who whooped and hollered as the NVA rolled over people we had promised to support as we left.

CWJ said...

This is perhaps the most content dense Althouse post I've read. I may repeatedly come back to comment further, but I'll just begin by saying that any suggestion that the moon landing and Woodstock deserved the slightest equivalency is obscene. Both important in their separate ways, yes. Both significant, yes. But to imply any sort of equivalence, even countervailing equivalence, is shallow social signalling.

Ralph L said...

On a recent TV show about rockets, the chief Soviet scientist was having trouble getting funding, so he created some fake news that they were launching a new program. Ike responded with his own announcement, which the Soviet leaders saw. He got his funding, and everyone got ICBMs to worry about.

I would think that story would have been more famous, so I don't know if it's true, but I doubt we'd ever have sent men to the moon without the Cold War.

LuAnn Zieman said...

I associate Mailer with The Executioner's Song, which I thought was well written. But then there was the Jack Abbott affair, which showed a lack of judgment on Mailer's part, especially as there had been signs previous to Abbott's release from prison that he was a risk. Separating the writer from the man is sometimes difficult. I guess it's the same in politics.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Andrew said...
A much better commentary (including observations about the liberal counter-reaction) is here:
https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2019/07/the-moon-50.php

I never watched the actual descent until now (included in the above link). What an amazing and suspenseful video. Watching it, I couldn't help fearing that so many things could still go wrong.

A magnificent accomplishment. "America was never great" my ass.
**************

Agreed. I still marvel at detractors who say that Aldrin and Armstrong didn't do much, that they were largely there for the ride.

Watch and listen to that descent. See Bill Whittle's video annotating the events as they happened. It was touch-and-go all the way, with only the astronauts capable of making the quick decisions needed to change course, get to the surface and be able to take off again.

Two utterly superb pilots and engineers brought that fragile thing down, despite all sorts of problems.



The bullshit about Russia winning the space because "diversity" is just that--ignorant bullshit. Their astronauts needed far fewer skills than ours, because their hardware was largely controlled from the ground. The Russkis were much more "Spam in a can" on ALL their early missions than Alan Shepard considered himself to be on the first Mercury launch.

I ask: how many such test pilot/engineer American wymyn were there back then?

As for Miss Ann thinking it was a waste back then: say what? If Apollo hadn't happened we would not have laid the foundation for advances in many branches of science and technology, from astronomy, to weather satellites, computers, deep space probes, advanced telecomms, the Internet and GPS.

And notice that most of those inventions were developed and put into place in the WEST, not in the USSR.

Some "waste".

Snort.

Freder Frederson said...

No, just commies like you. I don't hate you,. I just laugh at you trying to be a big boy, Nobody knows how many died under the NVA after 1975 but it was a lot and all the fault of the 1974 Democrats who whooped and hollered as the NVA rolled over people we had promised to support as we left.

So in other words, the million figure did come from the monkeys flying out of your butt.

Maybe if you hadn't left the fighting in the Vietnam to those who couldn't get themselves into the Reserves, it would have turned out differently.

Michael K said...

When the mighty Saturn V took off, Abernathy was so impressed that he said, "I was one of the proudest Americans as I stood on this soil. I think it’s really holy ground."

NASA has lost the plans for the Apollo V booster and it has been reverse engineered so another could be built.

The decision to use a pair of solid rocket boosters for the Space Shuttle instead of liquid-fueled engines like the F-1 had been partly technical and partly political. Solid fuels are hugely energy dense and provide an excellent kick to get a spacecraft moving off of the ground; also, selecting solid fuel boosters allowed the government to send some available contracting dollars to companies involved with building intercontinental ballistic missiles, leveraging that expertise and providing those companies with additional work.

But solid boosters have several downsides, including an inability to stop combustion. Without pumps to switch off or valves to close, solid boosters work a lot like the "morning glory" sparklers my dad used to buy on the Fourth of July—once lit, they burn until they're done. Solid rocket booster design decisions, specifically in regard to containing combustion, contributed to the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger and the death of its crew (though Challenger's destruction was more a failure of NASA management than of technology).


A group of young engineers are trying to reverse engineer the F1 booster using a museum example.

ALP said...

The primary reason I think all space travel research/effort is important is that we'll need to employ much of what we discover/develop to survive what we've done to the earth. We are developing technology to leave the earth, but we'll use it to help us stay here.

I am guessing Mailer wasn't much for engineering, and also knew little about how scientific knowledge/developments are used for completely different purposes than the original intent.

Bay Area Guy said...

Mailer was a fucking idiot. Tons of talent, tons of skill, but no wisdom, and warped values.

Michael K said...

Maybe if you hadn't left the fighting in the Vietnam to those who couldn't get themselves into the Reserves, it would have turned out differently.

I'll be glad to compare DD 214s with you. Of course a Field Marshall ranks far above the EM is was on active duty.

Ken B said...

It is the early thirties. A man, very smart, who could be useful in building block house for the poor, or running a soup kitchen for the poor, or building cheaper furniture for the poor, wants to be paid to write technical papers about his new idea. What idea you ask? Making marks on an infinitely long strip of paper that has been divided into squares. With an imaginary machine.

Can you justify spending money on these paper fantasies when that money could help the poor?

PS The man is a WASP, in case it matters. As to some it seems to.

whitney said...

Mailers another Jewish person that hates white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Some things never change

gilbar said...

What was this 'woodstock'?
Was that one of those fake 'free ' things that they put on to sell a movie and a soundtrack?

gilbar said...

Oh wait! That was the pilot of the Sha Na Na show , right?

Birkel said...

Freder Frederson thinks a lowball estimate of only 3% of a country's residents killed is no big deal.
Sure, that seems reasonable.

I assume the 10 million people Freder Frederson thinks can be acceptably killed in America would be just a few eggs broken to make an omelette.

Molon labe, Freder Frederson.

buwaya said...

This was an almost religious point among the engineers I have known.

Oh, forget the almost. It was and still is a religious point. It is the human purpose as given by God, embodied in human craft. It is the biblical "go forth", it is Magee's "put out my hand, and touch the face of God". To solve these problems, and thereby to get to the heavens, is the most profound sort of worship.

It is, in their eyes, the reason we are here, and those that can work directly at this, the human edge, are the luckiest of all men.

There are still believers in this religion. In Hawthorne, CA, in the form of Elon Musks rocket factory, they have a cathedral, and it is full of those of the faith.

Michael K said...

One small attempt to describe the carnage after 1975 in Vietnam.

The estimates are about 500 thousand boat people died. Another 500 thousand got to the US, most to California where I met many of the physicians who had settled in Orange County. It was interesting. Many villages reorganized themselves and physicians would have many of the same patients. The next generation has done very well.

Ignorant leftists wish that the carnage of communism would be forgotten. A million dead after we left would be a conservative estimate, no matter what the "Field Marshall" pretends. Even Joan Baez apologized for her predictions of peace and prosperity after SV fell.

Ambrose said...

I'll take "Grossly Over-Rated Writers for $1000" Alex.

Birkel said...

And I love the way Freder Frederson's citation is to Wikipedia.
Leftists lowballing death numbers from commies (i.e. other Lefties) for fun and profit.

Freder Frederson said...


I'll be glad to compare DD 214s with you. Of course a Field Marshall ranks far above the EM is was on active duty.

I don't claim to wallow in the glory of our post WWII military adventures, nor do I criticize those who thought it was a stupid war.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Doc Mike SPUTNIK!!! I remember setting up a telescope in the front yard to watch it cross the sky! We had 50x binocs to watch it as well. Mystical experience. Later, my oldest brother was in USAF mobile communications which set up tracking coms throughout the early Apollo program.Damn straight I was thoroughly enrolled!
The American troops won every battle they engaged in. The politicians and MSM lost the war. The anti war "leaders" were just attention whores.

Freder Frederson said...

The estimates are about 500 thousand boat people died. Another 500 thousand got to the US

The article you linked doesn't support this assertion (in fact it says 300,000, not the 400,000 I cited, were sent to reeducation camps). And with my challenge, you have already slashed the number of dead by half. But this revised number apparently is still sourced from the monkeys flying out of your butt.

Otto said...

See, i told that Ann is a 60s liberal. Interesting that she hated WASPs as much as Mailer.
Like Mailer she was a malcontent of our customs and traditions.
But hey she is now a retired professor with a hefty pension , a nice home,an Audi in the driveway and using the internet ( technical achievement) for her amusement and existence. Only in America.
The cold war was real, i lived it working for defense contractor from 1959 until my retirement. Going to the moon was a cold war tactic. I may be biased but the technical advances of Military avionics outweighed those of the space program except for materials.

Past Tense said...

Moon landing was numero uno; Chappaquidick ended the Kennedy mystique. Then the Manson Murders consumed the news in August of ’69 and beyond, and marked the end of the Sixties mentality in many ways. Woodstock became a sort of joke. A family friend was involved in the Manson case and the successful effort to prevent his parole.

MB said...

The US weren't performing the part assigned to them, of passive and corrupt foil to the spartan and idealistic Soviets, who had, after all, already put the first man into Earth orbit, solved the problem of poverty, and were building socialism in their country.

Was any of those young idealistic Woodstock Americans objecting to the Soviet space program? No, because the Soviets were on the right side of history. The Democrats, who are all in favor of the most extravagant government expenses, found one they could sincerely object to. Everyone understood that American space exploration was just a publicity stunt, while the Soviet kind was the genuine article, driven by the disinterested pursuit of knowledge.

Still, Americans being the first on the Moon must be deemed an embarrassment by the new Democrats, a bit like Joe Biden is. As history is being rewritten by a new generation of revisionist historians, we'll be told that the party put the first man on the Moon, just as it invented the helicopter. "Hidden Figures" is probably just a first step.

As the history of WWII is being rewritten so that the only good guys are the Soviets again (what a coincidence!), so is the history of the Moon conquest, until the good guys will have won.

Communists' resentment has no end.

buwaya said...

Woodstock was a sign of the growing decadence, even as you were entering the heights of glory. Woodstock was an early symptom of your cancer.

This cancer is far along now.

Consider this -

https://www.nctm.org/equityandsocialjustice/

nctm - National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
This is not unique, this is not just some tight group of wankers, this is literally every professional organization involved in your schools, they are in this mode, uniformly. You have no idea of the extent of your disaster.

I mean you really don't have any idea, because few commenters here have been plugged into your K-12 systems recently. Your K-12 is corrupted beyond redemption, and beyond your comprehension. It takes a direct slap on the face with this reality to make most understand.

CWJ said...

Dan in Philly @ 4:36,

Yes, but in the 21st century we developed talking emojis so we have that going for us.

The 21st century has some amazing tech achievements, but the contrast between the liberating nature of the 20th vs. the navel gazing selfi nature of the 21st is stark.

rhhardin said...

I watched it standing in the lobby of the Reef hotel on Waikiki Beach. I didn't notice anything negative. America seemed to be doing okay, as far as everybody there was concerned.

AAT said...

“Wasp triumph of the moon landing, answered, almost exactly a month later, by the counterculture triumph of Woodstock....”

Ooookaaaay.

Anthony said...

James Hogan wrote a piece in 1990 on that very topic.

Not sure I agree on all of it, but it really made me think about it differently.

Narayanan said...

I remember TV show Salvage.
How realistic is that choice of fuel and the slow boost?

Bay Area Guy said...

At the time, I was too young to understand the moon landing. Tom Wolfe's classic - The Right Stuff - talks about the space race in the context of the Cold War. But he stops short of the moon landing. "Weaponizing Space" absolutely freaked people out. We did not want the Commies to have space missiles aimed at us.

Josephbleau said...

I wish I could find the source of a quote I can’t place:

I always knew I would be alive to see the first man on the moon, I never dreamed that I would be alive to see the last one.

In so many words. To me google is not intended to give you the result you want to find.

A future Gibbon will debate why we descended into savagery.

buwaya said...

The causes of this destruction are from the 1960's.

The linkages are interesting.

Its fascinating how obvious some of these things are, such as that one of the more important players in the destruction of content and standards in your K-12 was ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers, who reinvented himself as an education reform guru, supported by the Annenberg foundation. The Annenberg family and the purposes its foundation have been put to have not been particularly well examined, btw.

Kevin said...

Apollo 11 lifted humanity. it united the planet and challenged people to dream and achieve far beyond what they knew to be possible.

Ask 100, 1,000 or a billion people to name mankind's greatest achievement.

Do you think even one would seriously choose Woodstock?

Kevin said...

I like how Ann chooses to occasionally troll her readers.

Unlike the NYT, she actually puts some thought and originality into the effort.

Woodstock?

Pffffft.

Birkel said...

Freder Frederson continues to argue 400,000 people (lowball estimate) murdered and a half million dying at sea plus the ones who were starved is... no big deal.

Make no mistake, Freder Frederson would be a mass murderer if he had the opportunity.

Yancey Ward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
narciso said...

indeed buwaya, as the invisible serf's collar blog, relates, the provenance of these constructivist, non knowledge based learning systems, is interesting and disturbing,

now this children's crusade that disdained the sacrifices of an earlier generation, was also present in Wilson's uk, degaulle's france, and late stage adenauer germany, but it seemed more pronounced here,

Yancey Ward said...

Freder wrote:

"And with my challenge, you have already slashed the number of dead by half."

Actually, reading the thread just now, he did no such thing. Learn to read with comprehension, Freder. Not all the Vietnamese who died did so at sea.

narciso said...

oh gosh, salvage, I thought I was the only one who watched that show, monohydrazine was the fuel, I'd have to ask beasts when he gets back how feasible that is,

I Callahan said...

So in other words, the million figure did come from the monkeys flying out of your butt.

JFC. Who cares? The point is that rat bastard commies are murderers. Even THEY look at the actual number as just a statistic (remember Stalin’s quote).

Otto said...

While we were always a step ahead of the Russians militarily we were light years ahead of them in technology. But interestingly what won the cold war was not our military might or our technology . What won the cold war was our economic might. All through the cold war our defense budget never went over 10% of the GNP. Not even during the vietnam war. The average was about 6%. Meanwhile the Russian defense budget was always near 20% of their GNP. This caused many shortages of consumer products for their citizens. When Reagan upped the anti it was too much for Russia to bear in matching an increase in their defense budget. The Russian people became disgruntled with their government and Gorbachev sensing their unrest killed communism.

narciso said...

the fall of the czar lead to 20-30 million dead, the rise of mao, probably twice that, year zero, a third of Cambodia's population, 1.5 million, nothing to cheer about,

AAT said...

“But how about the 3 million that died in the war? Do they regret that they died for a cause that was lost”

Maybe they are pissed that the Russians chose to start a war there. One of many the Soviets initiated across the globe. Would there even have been a Viet Nam war without Russian weapons?

Narr said...

Hard to follow so much meaty commentary, but here goes.

Mailer's an over-rated putz. I struggled through N&D but never managed another one; that he bashed WASPdom and women is pretty irrelevant to my judgement of his writing.

I watched the moon landing with my uncle Fred and cousin Tommy in Alexandria VA, where I was spending the summer while working at the CFSTI in Springfield. We were grinning and laughing like kids.

A species that wouldn't try to reach such a nearby satellite deserves to go extinct. The idea that the effort was senseless and the result paltry is about as blinkered as it gets.

Narr
Solzhenitsyn said the line between G and E lay in every heart

buwaya said...

The Annenbergs have been very influential in funding many things, including much of education "reform".

The origins of the family fortune are not often spelled out. The founder of the fortune, Moses Annenberg, was a crony of Al Capone and Meyer Lansky. Like Capone he was indicted for tax evasion, but unlike Capone he had the funds to pay his fines.

All else flowed from there. The Annenberg fortune is the whitewashed fruit of criminality. But the purposes to which their money has been put is worse than its origins.

tcrosse said...

At the time I was participating in the Cold War effort to deny the Soviets first-strike capability. In that context, Apollo 11 was a great triumph. As for Woodstock, the people I know who were actually there (millions claim to have been) all turned out to be dentists, accountants, real estaters and suchlike.

AAT said...

Afghanistan was a decent place before the Soviets decided that they needed to take it over. It wasn’t the Americans who fomented a coup, and then sent in their army to put down the reaction to it.

Narayanan said...

Will there be Moon Landing questions in 2nd Debate coming up?

What odds? Positive and Negative sentiments about it?

Trump pushing Mars Mission!

AAT said...

Did. they mention 1968 and Czechoslovakia I wonder?

Naah! Woodstock was more important than rolling Russian tanks!

AAT said...

The Soviet Union was a slave seeking empire on the march at the time. There is no getting around that. 100 million dead due to. communism. Fuck Norman Mailer.

CWJ said...

"Vietnam poisoned a generation of thinkers, educators and leaders...a blow to the body politic that our system may not yet survive."

Agree with the premise, but not the conclusion. Vietnam turned out to be more self congratulating excuse than revelation. Older boomers went from skepticism of government to embracing its solutions. Vietnam should have taught us to be eternally skeptical of our "betters" the "best and the brightest." Yet as my age cohort aged and got its share of the spoils, we became every bit as credulous of government direction from the elite as the generation we chastised. Now that we were in charge, we'd be different, yeah right.

narciso said...

certainly looks like that:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/on-apollo-11-anniversary-pence-announces-that-orion-capsule-for-manned-moon-missions-is-ready-for-debut-flight/ar-AAECqak

Chris Lopes said...

It's possible to see the Vietnam War as a colossal waste of lives and money and also see the North Vietnamese communists as the blood soaked totalitarians they were. The cruelty and brutality of the NVA and Viet Cong can not justify the loss in lives expended in the venture. There is enough blood to go around.

chuck said...

> continues to argue 400,000 people (lowball estimate) murdered

Forget the murder, famine killed ~400,000 when the North collectivized agriculture. Farming is a technology the communists never mastered, far too advanced for the puny Marxist mind.

Mark said...

Apollo 11 lifted humanity. it united the planet and challenged people to dream and achieve far beyond what they knew to be possible.
Ask 100, 1,000 or a billion people to name mankind's greatest achievement.
Do you think even one would seriously choose Woodstock?


Why not? Some people shit all over it, so why wouldn't someone choose Woodstock. And they are serious about shitting all over it, they express some kind of pride in it -- they're not trolling.

wildswan said...

The Americans were the first to land on the moon. The Communists said they had the better system, Krushchev shouted "we will bury you" at the UN, the Communists got a satellite up first in orbit. But then Kennedy rallied America for an effort and we, the leaders of the free world, were the first to land. That was very important in the historical context but it will always be a thing that is true. Mankind won't land on the moon for the first time, a second time. The country that did it wasn't in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America. It was in North America and it wasn't Canada. It was the USA. It was and is such a unique triumph that we feel like silly boasters glorying in it or even mentioning it. It isn't something like food or art or music or a technological achievement or an economic system about which other countries can make a matching boast. We said we were exceptional and then we landed on the moon. We said a free people was capable of greater achievements than the cowed subjects of authoritarian rule and then we landed on the moon. And the PC crowd, if they were to take over, would never, never match that achievement. They can't even do the regular cultural stuff: run a university, write great books; or the regular government stuff: keep rats and disease out of the city, maintain the subways and the power grid. They can't win an election without cheating and they can't even lose an election the right way. No, they cry and lie for years. They hate America, they hate Americans, they hate it that Americans landed on the moon first. And damage to themselves and to this great country from that hatred is their achievement. But we who are a unity not because we look alike or think alike, we who are a unity because we love America and want to realize the dream, we the people, we brought back democracy as a system of government and we landed on the moon first and we will make America great again.

chuck said...

> The cruelty and brutality of the NVA and Viet Cong

A friend of mine recalled visiting a friendly village while on patrol. As they approached they heard a strange keening sound. Turns out the communists had taken all the children, cut off their hands and feet, and laid them out in the village center, the sound was the village mourning.

Yancey Ward said...

By the way, Here has been NASA's manned space program since the last space shuttle flight in 2011. If you had told an American on July 20th 1969 that the US would, in 40 years, spend a decade dependent on the Russians to send Americans into space, no one would have believed it. No one.

Paul Zrimsek said...

"That's one small step for a man, but at least it got me a quarter of a million miles away from Norman Mailer."

Chris Lopes said...

"A friend of mine recalled visiting a friendly village while on patrol. As they approached they heard a strange keening sound. Turns out the communists had taken all the children, cut off their hands and feet, and laid them out in the village center, the sound was the village mourning."

That sounds fairly typical. The Marxist mindset tends to see people as disposable objects on the way to "paradise". The terror the Viet Cong perpetrated had a specific political objective. They needed to teach other villages not to resist. If a few non-enlightened children had to die, so be it.

rcocean said...

"That's one small step for a man, but at least it got me a quarter of a million miles away from Norman Mailer."

Ha.

Hari said...

Before we sent white guys into space, we sent monkeys, because it was too dangerous. After monkeys, we sent white men into space. White guys died on the launch pad before white guys went to the moon on Apollo 11. On Apollo 13, three white guys almost got a chance to die again.

Shouting Thomas said...

“He did it!” said my little granddaughter.

“No, she did it!” cried my little grandson as he stomped his feet.

“Mommy, mommy, he’s lying!” granddaughter insisted. “He did it!”

“Why do you always have to believe her?” grandson sniffled.

“It’s a lie! It’s a lie!”

And so it goes.

rcocean said...

Looking back from 2019, its incredible we could fight a war in Vietnam with 500,000 men AND land a man on the Moon AND have a rip-roaring economy with relatively low inflation. I can't remember the numbers off the top of my head, but the budget deficit wasn't that massive either.

rcocean said...

Sadly, very few women were involved. If only we'd had less misogyny we could have landed on the Moon in 1959.

AAT said...

“The cruelty and brutality of the NVA and Viet Cong can not justify the loss in lives expended in the venture. “

Except for the fact that they were part of a Soviet military move on the world that easily rivaled Hitler.

AAT said...

If men had gotten out of the way, womyn would have us on Mars by now.

chuck said...

> but the budget deficit wasn't that massive either.

Guns and butter. IIRC, Johnson put the social security contributions into the general fund to offset expenses. We have been spending it ever since...

gerry said...

Gramscian damage. For both Mailer and Althouse.

Quaestor said...

But how about the 3 million that died in the war? Do they regret that they died for a cause that was lost (for the defenders of dictatorship) from the very beginning.

Mostly they regret not being able to tell the puerile Freder, whose futile life is evident to all but himself, to speak for himself.

Bay Area Guy said...

"I don't claim to wallow in the glory of our post WWII military adventures,"

This is s funny way of saying, "I opted out of the Cold War, and let the real men fight it"

Birkel said...

Hey, lowercase chuck, I mentioned the starvation.
And the dead boat people.

Freder Frederson doesn't care about those dead people.
He would have pulled the trigger himself.

Shouting Thomas said...

And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

James K said...

Yes, Wolfe had by far the better take on the space program. I don’t think so many people paid attention to Mailer.

As to Vietnam
“they died for a cause that was lost (for the defenders of dictatorship) from the very beginning.”

Not sure what this is intended to mean, but the war against the North Vietnamese was all but won when the US lost its will and ultimately betrayed the South Vietnamese people. Stopping the spread of Communism was a noble cause, and it’s only now with hindsight that we know Communism doomed to fail on its own.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Send Althouse back!

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Who the hell is Norman Mailer? Did he write All in the Family?

But he was right. The moon landing was a big nothing burger and pointless. Maybe if we had followed up with Mars colony. But there was no plan what to do after the moon.

rcocean said...

IN 1969, Federal Spending 20% of GNP. 43% for Defense. 2019 - Federal Spending 21 percent of GDP, with 15% for military. Budget surplus in 1969 = .3 percent GNP. 2019 Deficit = 3% GDP.

rcocean said...

"The moon landing was a big nothing burger and pointless."

Yeah, we should have spent the money on welfare. Think of all the immigrants we could have made happy.

Birkel said...

According to well connected Vietnamese I have heard speak from direct personal knowledge, the NVA was going to sue for peace after three straight days of a massive air bombing campaign but on the fourth day Secretary McNamara called off the air strikes.

The NVA were confused why their enemy would give up initiative.
And that was the moment they knew they could win.

From plans to surrender to knowing they would win within hours.

rcocean said...

LBJ never tried to win the Vietnam War. His sole desire was to not lose it. He couldn't even define what "winning" was. He wouldn't even mine Haiphong harbor! Nixon just tried to clean up the mess without having to betray the South Vietnamese.

Birkel said...

Bill, Republic of Texas:
You are wrong. The space program generated a lot of tech we take for granted. Engineers solving specific problems found solutions that were scalable and broadly useful.

12 Americans made it to the moon.

Narayanan said...

@Buwaya said ... The origins of the family fortune are not often spelled out. The founder of the fortune, Moses Annenberg, was a crony of Al Capone and Meyer Lansky. Like Capone he was indicted for tax evasion, but unlike Capone he had the funds to pay his fines.

Thanks. Did not know.
Q: could Moses have helped Al with loan?

Q: Joseph Kennedy fortune : how similar or different?

Biff said...

Has any poem inspired as many people as did Apollo 11? I'd argue that Apollo 11 had more spiritual heft than just about anything spewed out of the humanities departments of the last 50+ years.

rcocean said...

According to my parents Ted Kennedy only became a Vietnamese War "Dove" after Humphrey lost. I bet that's true of lot of DC Pols.

Bay Area Guy said...

LBJ never tried to win the Vietnam War. His sole desire was to not lose it. He couldn't even define what "winning" was. He wouldn't even mine Haiphong harbor! Nixon just tried to clean up the mess without having to betray the South Vietnamese.

I agree with every word of this.

I would only add -Nixon used the Vietnam War as a bargaining chip to open up China to drive a wedge between it and the Soviet Union.

In 1969, nobody predicted that the Soviets would implode and Red China would become a quasi-capitalist success story.


steve uhr said...

I guess I was in the sweet spot. 11 years old. Clearly Remember watching the landing from uncle’s house in Atlantic City. Politics not on my radar

readering said...

Living in London and just graduated from primary school, I remember the Apollo 11 but not Woodstock or Norman Mailer writing about the space program. As a Yank, very proud. Never occurred to me it might fail.

Narayanan said...

Blogger AAT said...
If men had gotten out of the way, womyn would have us on Mars by now.

Q: would not womyn choose Venus! And try bomb Mars on the way?

narciso said...

LBJ had tried to walk away from Vietnam since dien Ben phu, but likd banquos ghost it followed him

Fen said...

"Communism doomed to fail on its own"

Communism did not fail on it's own.

Communism failed because Ronald Reagan challenged it.

Republicans should have learned from that.

William said...

The moon landing has aged better than Mailer's reputation. I had some mixed feeling about the expenses prior to the landing, but the landing itself was such an enormous and awesome achievement that it made your reservations seem petty trifles. We had done it. Fifty years later it's still awesome. Perhaps even more awesome in that it has not been duplicated or surpassed.....People are more apt to quote Fitzgerald than Mailer when they talk about the moon landing. "Something bright and alien flashed across the sky....and for a moment people set down their glasses in country clubs and thought of their old best dreams." Mailer didn't enunciate the poetry of that moment. He enunciated the doubts of those who did not see the poetry of that moment.

caplight45 said...

I’m four hours into five hours on the entire moon project from the fifties all the way to Apollo 11. Great memories. Loved it then. Love it now. What Paddy O said works for me.

Fen said...

Who was the Soviet genius who thought they could outspend a capitalist country?

Like challenging Bret Farve to a passing contest.

narciso said...

It's been unlearned Fen, e pleb nista.

Miami was the front line of the war against communism in Latin america, the usual suspects were in favor of the sandinistas and the Salvadoran guerillas

Birkel said...

Like Mayor DiBlasio, narciso.

William said...

"It is fitting and sweet to die for one's country." That old Roman sentiment is met with considerable derision. Perhaps deservedly so, but the people who who mock it the most are the people most likely to glamorize and sanctify those who die for a revolution. The record of those who died for the French, Russian, and Chinese revolutions is perhaps more benighted than those who fell at the Somme. Che was a bigger fool than Kitchener. Maybe someday that's how history will remember him.

narciso said...

Yes he and Sanders, chuck Todd's future employer Tom Harkin (living in kendall he still didmt get a clue)

Bay Area Guy said...

"Communism doomed to fail on its own"

Says the moral/physical weaklings who lifted not a finger to fight the Soviets....

Narayanan said...

Ayn Rand distinguished people into 2 views:

Benevolent Universe Premise : that achievement possible with Reason, Science and Technology : All Individualist attributes.


Malevolent Universe Premise : rejecting all the above.

AAT said...

Some people only approve of US military efforts when we were fighting with Uncle Joe to increase his empire of slaves. Once fighting against his brutal form of expansionist communism, they seem to have lost all enthusiasm for war.

CWJ said...

I've now read the Adam Gopnik article. He has a mind like an unmade bed. For all his talk of the moon landing, Norman Mailer, Woodstock, Vietnam, and selling underground newspapers on a street corner at the time, he was all of 12 years old when Armstrong walked on the moon. He had no skin in the game, no real danger in his life, but I suspect he desperately wanted the revolutionary counter cultural excitement that the "big kids" had. And from the quality and substance of his writing today, it seems that he's never gotten over just missing the big parade.

AAT said...

"Communism doomed to fail on its own”

Leaving behind fascism.

William said...

Here's another quote from Fitzgerald that captured the glamour of that moment: "...man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder."

Michael K said...

But this revised number apparently is still sourced from the monkeys flying out of your butt.

I don't know how old Freder is but he sure has never grown up.

madAsHell said...

Yeah....the moon shot was a boondoggle.......until it becomes a good idea again.

This is why we pay fighter pilots to practice combat maneuvers. This is why we pay soldiers to shoot silhouettes at 600 yards, and we pay firefighters to retrieve kittens from trees.

We need to be good at this shit!!!

Narayanan said...

https://courses.aynrand.org/works/apollo-11/

William said...

Kennedy lucked out in that his Chappaquiddick event happened at the same time as the moon landing, but now it serves as a handy way to remember the anniversary of Chappaquiddick. I don't think posterity will remember Kennedy or Mailer kindly, but I suppose that's better than being forgotten.

Michael K said...

I'd argue that Apollo 11 had more spiritual heft than just about anything spewed out of the humanities departments of the last 50+ years.

Yup and it is sad. I went back to college to do premed in 1960. I had been doing engineering for the two years before that. Working on the Nike Zeus program. The school financial aid office told me I could not get one of the new "National Defense Student Loans" because premed was not thought to be a valuable major. So, I became an English major for a year. It was great. I still remember the classes with good memories. Nothing like the crap now.
My last semester, I took 28 units, about 12 of English, the rest organic chemistry, etc.\

I would not let a kid of mine major in English, or at least I would not pay for it.

Narayanan said...

Ayn Rand practices journalism.

madAsHell said...

I've heard Norman Mailer was an engineer educated a Harvard.

Who knew Harvard had an engineering school?? Mailer was a fucktard.

Michael K said...

This is why we pay fighter pilots to practice combat maneuvers.

A buddy of mine in medical school was an ex-fighter pilot. The Astronaut program tried to recruit him for the program.

Nothing doing. He had enough flying and did not want, like Chuck Yeager, to be "spam in a can."

madAsHell said...

the rest organic chemistry,

I think organic chemistry is the great med-school shake out.

You have to memorize organic chemistry. There is NO over-arching theory modeled by mathematics. I hate memorization.

My frat brothers showed me some engineering texts.......and I learned that you can get paid for makin'-n-breakin shit!! Where do I sign up??

Ralph L said...

Wasn't Walter Annenberg one of Reagan's early funders and friends?

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Gopnik referencing Mailer regarding Apollo 11.

Do you see the absurdity and it’s irrelevance not merely to the moonshot but to any any endeavor from opening a hot dog stand to curing cancer?

Really, this got us Trump. And a whole bevy of iconoclasts waiting in the wings. Armed with “fuck you, Establishment” spewing fire hoses. Shit like this makes me realize Trump is just the beginning regardless the party in power.

Bay Area Guy said...

I really don't like the Commies. They were as evil as the Nazis.

Richard Aubrey said...

Couldn't get through or far into anything Mailer wrote. I recall he and Buckley shared a Thing. Each found a literate murderer whom they managed to get out of jail. Each killed again.
I don't know what he was thinking when he wrote, but I suspect part of it was, "How do I get them to the next paragraph?"

James K said...

“Communism did not fail on it's own. Communism failed because Ronald Reagan challenged it.”

Well yes. My point was that it didn’t require WWIII as people had feared. But there was no real way to know that I’m the 60s, so Vietnam was not pointless. It was a noble cause that the feckless and evil Democrats gave away.

Michael K said...

I think organic chemistry is the great med-school shake out.

Yup. I took inorganic by exam. I had already been accepted and needed it so the prof let me study the text book and take the exam. I had already had Engineering but not P Chem. My lab partner in first year had a PhD in P chem. He flunked the first Biochem quiz. The prof asked him about it and realized the student know more than he did. The guy went on to other subjects,

He later went into pathology but worked summers for Aerojet General. He and a co-worker had developed solid rocket fuel.

Some people just like Medicine. I have a cardiologist who has an MIT Phd in astrophysics. Her dissertation was on orbital dynamics. Then she went to medical school.

Mary E would not understand that,

madAsHell said...

"spam in a can."

As I kid I wanted to be an astronaut, but then I played high-school football, and discovered that I did not have the "Right Stuff". I think your friend, as the rest of us, couldn't drink THAT Kool-Aid.

Narr said...

I knew a guy on campus who was married to a Russian whose father had been pretty high in the Soviet space program. The old duffer would always critique the US space effort as over-engineered and risk-averse, and claim the Russians did things cheaper, and then, needing a smoke, start looking for his flint and steel.

Narr
Maybe an exaggeration?

Fernandistein said...

"Moonstock"

Supposedly the purpose of the manned space flights is to supply "human interest" to generate funding for boring scientific projects.

narciso said...

Those were just the downstream impacts, for an alt history look




https://www.amazon.com/Ministry-Space-Warren-Ellis/dp/1582404232/ref=asc_df_1582404232/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312061149484&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=11465344291035378167&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9011523&hvtargid=pla-432418617246&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=61851652453&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=312061149484&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=11465344291035378167&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9011523&hvtargid=pla-432418617246

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Wasnt Alice Kramden going to be the first woman on the Lunar surface?

"One small step for Man, One giant leap for bored white guys"

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