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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Man On The Moon

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It was 40 years ago this week, when Walski was a wee brat of 5, while KL and Penang (among other places) were still reeling from what happened earlier in May that year, that something truly historic happened.

One small step for Man… and for those fake landing theorists, still a giant leap of faith for Mankind. For the rest of us, however, it was an historic moment.

Personally, Walski doesn’t thing any other song could be more appropriate to commemorate Neil Armstrong’s historic first step, and the inadvertent creation of a cliché, than this lovely ditty by R.E.M.

No, the song has nothing whatsoever to do with actually landing on the Moon, but is, in fact, a tribute to the late Andy Kaufman, a zany comedian whom many Malaysians may not even know of, or heard about.

But Andy Kaufman did have one thing in common with the Apollo 11 mission – both dared to venture into then uncharted regions.    
(Apollo 11, the Moon, and beyond, in the full post)

And still uncharted, or at least, unreached, is much of our solar system. Today, Mars seems to be humankind’s next target, four decades after setting foot on the Moon.

Walski does vaguely remember watching the moon landing on TV, way back in 1969, when he was an impossible kid aged 5 living in Kulim. He didn’t totally understand what the fuss was all about, but does remember it being fascinating for some unknown reason.

And if memory serves him correctly, It was perhaps Walski’s first brush with the realm of science. It also caused him to get interested in things mechanical and electrical.

The Apollo 11 mission was a culmination of a challenge posed to the American people by the late great John F. Kennedy, almost a decade earlier. Inspirational leaders do have a knack of getting folks do the impossible. Makes Walski wish we had some inspirational leaders of our own, thinking about this.

President Barrack Obama, on Monday, hailed all three of Apollo 11’s crew – Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins – as “genuine American heroes”. And perhaps Obama, four decades later, will inspire the current generation to explore space further, something both Armstrong and Aldrin support, calling upon the President to properly fund NASA so that man can return to the moon, and perhaps venture out to Mars.

Who knows… perhaps in Walski’s lifetime, even. Until then, however, humans reaching the Moon, and returning to tell their story, is still something of an achievement.

Definitely a much bigger achievement than the quest to obliterate one another over silly things like power and influence… or, for that matter, bickering over what language to teach Math and Science in.


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