Friday, 17 July 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

by johnofgwent

I just posted this on and I thought some of our regular readers might like to get a glimpse of what life was like when we had a country worth fighting for, and a dream that was able to spur one on to greatness.

I was eleven years old when, depending on your point of view ....

  • America pulled off its biggest con EVER way way WAY beyond the lies that would come later that Vietnam would be over by Christmas and Iraq had WMD .....
  • America stunned the world by meeting JFK's pledge to put a man on the moon and return him safe.
It was the first time I stayed up until the early hours of the morning with my face glued to the brand new telly in the living room, acquired from dad's quarterly bonus for the express purpose of watching this event, and if I remember right it was our first colour telly - i am SURE I remember seeing the Saturn Five go off in colour - and boy oh BOY were we pi55ed at the yanks when we found the images at the other end were black and white (!) but at least James Burke wore a white suit for his piece to camera explaining the spring in the flag that allowed it to appear to flutter in the breeze on an airless moon (where's that tinfoil hat icon gone when i need it ?
EDIT ah yes here it is (!)
But over on the BBC News Web Site this morning I saw a most awesome page revisiting the wierder aspects of those times. Including the special Rope Copper Memory used to hold the Lander's programming instructions. I will never be able to laugh at the "Shreddies Knitted By Nanas" advert again.

The page is IMO a truly awesome tribute to the mood of the time.

To those of you reading this who weren't there to experience it for yourself, waste five minutes of your life reading this BBC Web Page and understand why I for one weep at the way Blair and Brown turned the dream inmto the nightmare of this country today.

Footnote: Like all technology, it failed at the critical moment. Almost thirty years after these events I screwed the covers back on my brand new 486DX PC having just installed the SCSI interface and mounted within the newfangled artifact called a CD-REWRITER acquired at a cost of over one thousand pounds so I could distribute my software updates to my clients in a world where the fledgeling internet could give you 19.2k baud at best.

Amongst the demo and bundled software supplied with this amazing technology was a copy of the Grolier New Media Encyclopaedia and one of its video clips was an edit of the film of the lander's descent. Edited, yes, but not so censored as to remove the fateful words '1201 alarm' about a minute and a half before the touchdown at Tranquilty Base.

For those who did not watch the Horizon Programme broadcast at about the same time a decade ago, in which the meaning of those words was revealed, 90 seconds out from the surface the navigation computer failed. The words 1201 Alarm .... Roger 1201 Alarm are cleary audible on the soundtrack. I heard them age 11 not knowing their meaning and heard the CAPCOM reply "Houston GO" not udnerstanding its terrible meaning either. For those words were the order to land the beast on the moon manually - a task until then thought impossible and the reason for that LEM lander computer in the first place - or die a heroes death trying. Abandoning the mission and returning alive was not an option.

Not for the first time, and hell not for the last would the American President, through his various agencies, instruct men to go to certain death for nothing other than to give the President the edge over his political enemies on the world stage.

Armstrong and Aldrin were the lucky ones. They survived the death sentence.