Apollo Anniversary Thoughts

Nothing has happened since the fortieth anniversary to change my opinions in the long essay I wrote last summer.

Four decades have passed since the first small step on the dusty surface of our nearest neighbor in the solar system in 1969. It has been almost that long since the last man to walk on the Moon did so in late 1972. The Apollo missions were a stunning technological achievement and a significant Cold War victory for the United States. However, despite the hope of observers at the time—and despite the nostalgia and mythology that now cloud our memory—Apollo was not the first step into a grand human future in space. From the perspective of forty years, Apollo, for all its glory, can now be seen as a detour away from a sustainable human presence in space. By and large, the NASA programs that succeeded Apollo have kept us heading down that wrong path: Toward more bureaucracy. Toward higher costs. And away from innovation, from risk-taking, and from any concept of space as a useful place.

As I wrote, Apollo was a magnificent technological achievement, but in terms of opening up space, it was not only a failure, but the false lessons learned from it have held us back ever since.

Nobody Does Similes

…like Lileks:

…the power stayed on, damn the luck. In fact the entire storm skirted us – 60 MPH winds downtown, but here at Jasperwood we just got gusts and downpours, the far edge of the mayhem. I was stupid enough to put fresh batteries in one of the lights, too. Now they’ll be useless the next time I need them. They will sit in the lantern for a year and quietly drain themselves, like old men peeing in their pants while they sleep.

There’s a lot more where that came from.

[Update a few minutes later]

I know, I say to read the whole thing, and I didn’t before I posted this. So farther down, I found this:

And must we start with a rap song? Must we? It was like the trailer for “Nanny McPhee Returns,” which have “Everything Little Thing She Does (is Magic)” by the Police to remind you that, you know, Nanny uses Magic. Nevermind that it seems to take place in England in the 30s. I doubt it’s in the movie itself, but when they stick in the Obligatory Pop Song it not only takes you out of the world they’ve constructed, you feel like you’re being treated like a fool. Don’t worry! It may be set in the past, icky icky, but it’s hip as all hell! Here’s a 25-year-old pop song to prove it!

I watched a dumb Jennifer Aniston flick on the plane yesterday (captive audience, not enough seat pitch to use the laptop), and one of the annoying things about it was the occasional rap in the soundtrack. Is there anyone who would not go to a movie if they knew there wasn’t rap in it (other than a movie about rap, that is)? Because I know at least one person with exactly the opposite opinion. Why do they feel the need to do that? What value does it add?

The History And Future Of Space Exploration

I missed my connection to LA, and am stuck in Chicago until I can find a flight some time tomorrow. It’s kind of late, and I don’t have much time for blogging, and many of you may have already seen it, but Glenn Reynolds has a piece on space exploration in the Journal tomorrow. And of course, Tuesday will be the 41st anniversary of the first steps on the moon. It’s not too late to plan a party to celebrate. I and the co-author, Bill Simon, will be on The Space Show that evening. We may even do a live version of the ceremony, though that’s still TBD.

Continued Light Blogging

We’re back in a (presumably) termite-free house, but it needs to be recombobulated, and we’re leaving first thing in the morning for a family reunion in Michigan, and won’t be back until Monday. So expect less bloggage than usual.

[Update late Saturday night]

Just checking in. Had a party at my brother’s house on a lake in Linden, with long-lost relatives, burgers and Koegels hot dogs, cole slaw from cabbage fresh from the garden, and abundant beer. Blogging will continue to be light.

As Dave Weigel Was To Conservatives

So is Steve Pearlstein to businessmen.

I heard that interview in the car, and was just shaking my head. How is it that someone this clueless about business and businessmen covers them as his beat? Just another reason that the legacy media is going down the tubes. As one commenter noted, that interview could have come right from Atlas Shrugged.

Via Instapundit, and yes, Amity Shlaes’ history of the Depression makes a hell of a lot more sense to me than any others I’ve read of it.

No Hicks Need Apply

Apparently in the interest of “diversity,” being a member of the 4H Club (and don’t even think about it if you’re a leader of such an organization, reduces your chances of getting into many private colleges:

what Espenshade and Radford found in regard to what they call “career-oriented activities” was truly shocking even to this hardened veteran of the campus ideological and cultural wars. Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student’s chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. “Being an officer or winning awards” for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, “has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions.” Excelling in these activities “is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission.”

Espenshade and Radford don’t have much of an explanation for this find, which seems to place the private colleges even more at variance with their stated commitment to broadly based campus diversity. In his Bakke ruling Lewis Powell was impressed by the argument Harvard College offered defending the educational value of a demographically diverse student body: “A farm boy from Idaho can bring something to Harvard College that a Bostonian cannot offer. Similarly, a black student can usually bring something that a white person cannot offer.” The Espenshade/Radford study suggests that those farm boys from Idaho would do well to stay out of their local 4-H clubs or FFA organizations — or if they do join, they had better not list their membership on their college application forms. This is especially true if they were officers in any of these organizations. Future farmers of America don’t seem to count in the diversity-enhancement game played out at some of our more competitive private colleges, and are not only not recruited, but seem to be actually shunned. It is hard to explain this development other than as a case of ideological and cultural bias.

I’d love to hear their explanation for this.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!