Saturday, July 20, 2019

First Humans on the Moon: 07.20.69

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle (20:17 UTC, July 20, 1969). Some six hours later (02:56:15 UTC), Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon, whereupon he uttered the immortal words: "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin joined him on the lunar surface a few minutes later, while the third NASA astronaut on the  Apollo 11 mission, Michael Collins, remained in orbit around the moon. A vast archive of the entire spaceflight, including 11,000 hours of Mission Control audio and other original historical documentation, is available at Apollo 11 in Real Time.

The Sixties in America were an especially tumultuous period of social protest by many constituencies, so it is not too surprising that the moon landing itself was also the subject of criticism. Indeed, no less a figure than the highly accomplished space scientist Dr. James Van Allen [1914-2006] of the University of Iowa objected throughout his career to the vast resources that were expended on manned space flight as opposed to other more economical and efficient means of exploration and research.

On the cultural front, poet, musician, and activist Gil Scott-Heron in 1970 composed and recorded the song, "Whitey on the Moon," which contrasts the poverty and medical expenses of the song's protagonist to the fact that astronauts are now going to the moon. The lyrics raise poignant questions about how society allocates limited resources to fundamental needs such as health care. And in what is perhaps a reference to the air mail stamp that was issued in 1969 to commemorate the moon landing (pictured above), the song concludes: "I think I'll send these doctor bills, airmail special (to Whitey on the moon)." Various versions of this song, as well as Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" are available on YouTube.

The last man on the moon (and all twelve NASA astronauts that walked on the moon were male--and white) was Eugene Cernan, who commanded the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. His parting words as the lunar module left the celestial body closest to Earth were: "We leave as we came and, god willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind."

Friday, July 19, 2019

Moon Hoax Not

Moon Hoax Not by S.G. Collins of Postwar Media is a short video describing the technical implausibilities and impossibilities that would have been involved in any attempt to fabricate the visual documentation of NASA's moon shot in 1969. Extensive original documentation of the actual mission to the moon is available at Apollo 11 in Real Time.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 489

116th CONGRESS 1st Session H. RES. 489

Condemning President Trump's racist comments directed at Members of Congress.


July 15, 2019

Mr. Malinowski (for himself, Ms. Jayapal, Mr. Ted Lieu of California, Mr. Garcia of Illinois, Mr. Carbajal, Ms. Omar, Mr. Krishnamoorthi, Ms. Mucarsel-Powell, Mrs. Torres of California, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Ms. Tlaib, Ms. Pressley, Mr. Raskin, Ms. Jackson Lee, and Mr. Espaillat) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary _______________________________________


Condemning President Trump's racist comments directed at Members of Congress.

Whereas the Founders conceived America as a haven of refuge for people fleeing from religious and political persecution, and Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison all emphasized that the Nation gained as it attracted new people in search of freedom and livelihood for their families;

Whereas the Declaration of Independence defined America as a covenant based on equality, the unalienable Rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and government by the consent of the people;

Whereas Benjamin Franklin said at the Constitutional convention, ``When foreigners after looking about for some other Country in which they can obtain more happiness, give a preference to ours, it is a proof of attachment which ought to excite our confidence and affection'';

Whereas President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, ``Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists'';

Whereas immigration of people from all over the Earth has defined every stage of American history and propelled our social, economic, political, scientific, cultural, artistic, and technological progress as a people, and all Americans, except for the descendants of Native people and enslaved African Americans, are immigrants or descendants of immigrants;

Whereas the commitment to immigration and asylum has been not a partisan cause but a powerful national value that has infused the work of many Presidents;

Whereas American patriotism is defined not by race or ethnicity but by devotion to the Constitutional ideals of equality, liberty, inclusion, and democracy and by service to our communities and struggle for the common good;

Whereas President John F. Kennedy, whose family came to the United States from Ireland, stated in his 1958 book ``A Nation of Immigrants'' that ``The contribution of immigrants can be seen in every aspect of our national life. We see it in religion, in politics, in business, in the arts, in education, even in athletics and entertainment. There is no part of our nation that has not been touched by our immigrant background. Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.'';

Whereas President Ronald Reagan in his last speech as President conveyed ``An observation about a country which I love'';

Whereas as President Reagan observed, the torch of Lady Liberty symbolizes our freedom and represents our heritage, the compact with our parents, our grandparents, and our ancestors, and it is the Statue of Liberty and its values that give us our great and special place in the world;

Whereas other countries may seek to compete with us, but in one vital area, as ``a beacon of freedom and opportunity that draws the people of the world, no country on Earth comes close'';

Whereas it is the great life force of ``each generation of new Americans that guarantees that America's triumph shall continue unsurpassed'' through the 21st century and beyond and is part of the ``magical, intoxicating power of America'';

Whereas this is ``one of the most important sources of America's greatness: we lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people -- our strength -- from every country and every corner of the world, and by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation'';

Whereas ``thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we're a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge'', always leading the world to the next frontier;

Whereas this openness is vital to our future as a Nation, and ``if we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost''; and

Whereas President Donald Trump's racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) believes that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger, and that those who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as American as those whose families have lived in the United States for many generations;

(2) is committed to keeping America open to those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from violence and oppression, and those who are willing to work hard to live the American Dream, no matter their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin; and

(3) strongly condemns President Donald Trump's racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ``go back'' to other countries, by referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as ``invaders,'' and by saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants (or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants) do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

We the People Have the Power

Patti Smith and Fred "Sonic" Smith [1948-1994] are shown here performing "People Have the Power," a song they co-wrote and which was included on Patti Smith's 1988 album, Dream of Life. The official music video for the song is viewable here.

Of related interest on the Fourth of July are Mark Twain's Independence Day Peroration and the Declaration of Independence, which is housed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The parchment document is thought to have been engrossed by Timothy Matlack, and although it is dated July 4, 1776, it was not signed by members of the Continental Congress until August 2, 1776; additional delegates later signed it, for a total of 56 signatories.