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50th Anniversary of the first Moon Landing

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A few random observations:

(1) I was nine, and have a very clear memory of my grandmother, a refugee from Spanish fascism, sitting next to me on the family room couch in Ann Arbor as Neil Armstrong was going down the ladder, and telling me [in Spanish]: “one day you’ll tell your children that you watched this with your grandmother, who was born the same year the Wright brothers first flew an airplane.”

(2) Remember the scene in Apollo 13 when they realize they need to build a filter of some sort because something on the space capsule isn’t compatible with the analogous thing on the lunar module? Ed Harris, who is playing the launch director Gene Kranz Gene Cernan, looks disgusted and says “tell me this isn’t a government operation.”

That whole movie, while pretty good in its own way, is also pretty reactionary (Look how great “we” were when everybody was white and male! Also let’s take absurdly perverse shots at a program that illustrates perfectly why some things can be done far better by the government than by the Market, blessed be its name).

(3) Some magazine asked a bunch of famous writers what Armstrong’s first words should be when he stepped on the surface. My favorite response was Nabokov’s: “I hope the lump in his throat obstructs the wisecrack.”

(4) Speaking of which, Armstrong always insisted that he had said “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” and that the “a” got lost in transmission. The transmission tape doesn’t seem to bear this out. I bet that’s what he planned to say, since without the “a,” the word “man” is a synonym for “mankind,” but that he flubbed the line.

(5) Why do so many people believe the moon landing was fake?

(6) This was the #1 song in America that week, and for several weeks afterwards. It captures the angst of the zeitgeist rather well:

Feel free to share your thoughts and memories.

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