Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Night Bullets

  • I took Tony for a bike ride.  I took him all the way out to the canal near the Hui Shan Big Bridge.  The canal has brick walls on its' side.  I let Tony walk down a slope leading the the canal's wall bank but I made sure to hold him tightly when he stood on the edge.  From the canal, we went back to the apartment complex and all three of its' playgrounds.  I am more and more confident of Tony being able to sit on the swing.  I also witnessed Tony play on a see-saw for the first time.  The kid can jump now.  And if you say "dance" to him, he will grab you by the hands and jump-dance with you.
  • I can't remember if I have reported this, but Tony likes to watch Pee Wee's Playhouse.  Unaware of Paul Reuben's notoriety and disgrace, Tony finds the show compelling.  This morning, he watched two episodes in a row without leaving his chair.
  • How do Chinese grandparents feel about Modern China?  I asked some students this question in an afternoon class.  To a girl, for the class was all girls, they said that while their parents often pined for the simple times of thirty, forty years ago , things are much today, although people are often too busy.
  • It being the fortieth anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing, I feel like saying something about it.  I have read a few comments from conservatives about how the fact that nothing much has happened in the space program since the moon landings.  Some see it as proof positive that Socialism doesn't work.  Some lament that the Apollo Space program represented the end of the American can-do spirit.  As John Derbyshire observed the time between JFK's pledge to put a man on the moon and the actual accomplishment of it was about eight years - a fact which can be contrasted with the non-construction of anything to replace the towers of 9/11 which were downed nearly eight years ago.  The inability to have something built on the World Trade Center site is a sad testament to the bureaucracy that now runs rampant in America.  Derb suggests, with depressing plausibility, that America 2009 could not put a man on the moon.  Think of the environmental impact studies that would be done and the worries about having a proper ethnic balance on the Moon Landing crew.  America would not stand for Buzz Aldrin being a black man and there being no woman on the crew.  Neil Armstrong couldn't get away with talking about man and mankind.  The American Flag would be too nationalistic - the U.N. flag would have to be put on the moon instead.  One could also say that the Apollo landing was an example of government waste - as an investment, the missions yielded nothing.  No colonies were put on the moon.  The moon has not been used for raw material extraction and there are no plans to do so.  The technological benefits may at best have been an acceleration of already existing breakthroughs.  Combined with the Great Society programs of the Johnson Administration, the Apollo program may have lead to the economic malaise of the seventies.  America did manage to conquer and occupy a country in the middle-east in 2003 which was a feat of American can-do but the end result of it was a lose of will comparable to the decision to continue the space program with the Space Shuttle.  I would suggest that the American space program would best have been run by the private sector.  The Americans putting a man on the Moon was a great accomplishment of Civilization like the Pyramids of the Egyptians and the Great Wall of China.  But the price paid for the grandiose public projects was too much.  What would have happened to the personal computer, if Ronald Reagan had declared it the mission of the U.S. government to develop a computer fast that a 386?  I probably wouldn't be writing in the blog entry in China now if he had.

1 comment:

Orient Express said...

I remember the day of the Moon landing. They set TVs up in my high school, but the picture quality wasn't good at all. Yet, it was a marvellous time; the "Age of Aquarius".
Ted Kennedy? Ten year's ago I was on a shuttle flight between LA and San Francisco. My fellow passenger, for reasons I can't recall, told me how he'd once had been a helicopter pilot in the National Guard, and had the "honour" to fly Ted Kennedy somewhere. I couldn't resist asking him (with my tonque firmly in cheek!) "if he'd let Senator Kennedy do any of the driving?" !!!
Needless, to say, my quip went-down badly.
Chappaquidick was overshadowed by the bigger things happening at the time, such as the Apollo Mission, and of course, the ongoing conflict in 'Nam.
But it always amazed me that the man held onto his seat in the Senate.