Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Little traveler

By Capt. Fogg

I was a 12-year old radio nut on October 4th, 1957, but all I had available at the time was a two tube Knight-Kit Ocean Hopper of antiquated design that refused to operate at all with the coil I wound for 20 MHz. I had to rely on other people's recordings of the magic of Sputnik. That beep-beep changed America perhaps as much as had the attack on Pearl Harbor 16 years earlier. For many of us it was the end of the fatuous feeling of superiority; for others the beginning of paranoia, but for all of us it was the beginning of the turn toward science and technology and education that propelled 12 men to the moon and spun off enough byproducts to propel us into an entirely new world that included Teflon frying pans and the integrated circuits that made computers smaller than apartment buildings possible. Like the World War, the technology race of that period of the Cold War led us to new levels of strength.

I wonder where we would be if the Russians hadn't had us to kick around? Within the year, my Junior High School science class was covering things deemed too advanced for High School the year before. New teachers were being recruited from industry; many of whom were the best I encountered in my school days. Within few enough years the US had overcome the advantage
Sergey Korolyov's big rocket motors gave the Soviets and our electronic technology was decades ahead. The dominance of American science and technology in subsequent years owed a great deal to Sputnik and the Space Race and it still does even now that our educational system has invented other priorities and our government is held by the crushing death grip of history hating, hairy hominid "conservatives" suspicious of science and steeped in simian superstition.

Last Thursday, on the 50th anniversary of the launch of mankind's first earth orbiting vehicle, Google, as is its custom, included a cartoon image of the satellite in the logo for the day. They might just as well thrown a soccer ball into the gorilla cage, for the flag waving apes of the American Right are
flinging dung and screaming "liberal" at the affront to their fabricated self image. It's an insult to mention history that does not orbit around us as the center of the universe. It's an insult to acknowledge the achievements of mankind that didn't originate from God's own ape-house: the United States. I'm not surprised that Google refrained from acknowledging Columbus yesterday, since not only wasn't he an American, he represented Spain, with which we fought a war for reasons yet to be determined.

It's hard to avoid using the metaphor of apes in a cage when discussing modern American conservatism although the metaphor fails in that the apes aren't there voluntarily and the apes would hardly try to drag more apes into its confines much less prevent an escape from it, but the plight of the ape and the human condition are really so similar, it's hard to avoid it. Gorillas and chimpanzees are almost as close as we are to transcending the smallness of our minds and vastness of our limitations.

(Cross-posted at Human Voices.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home