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Doesen't matter to the machines..

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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 05:45 PM
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Doesen't matter to the machines..
Going to the moon didn't really matter, it turned out.
I say that from the vantage point of my six decades living on Planet Earth, but also because of something I saw not so long ago. It was at Booker T. Washington High School where I watched an official astronaut – a handsome, well-built man in his prime, dressed in a silver space suit with an air of authentic command – try to get the attention of an auditorium full of Harlem teenagers. It was the Board of Education's perfect template for dramatic success – a distinguished black man leading ignorant black kids to wisdom. He came with every tricky device and visual aid NASA could muster, yet the young audience ignored him completely. I heard some teachers say, “What do you expect from ghetto kids?”, but I don't think that explained his failure at all. The kids instinctively perceived this astronaut had less control over his rocket vehicle than a bus driver has over his bus. I think they had also wordlessly deduced that any experiments he performed were someone else's idea. The space agency's hype was lost on them.

This man for all his excellence was only some other man's agent. The kids sensed that his talk, too, had been written by someone else – that he was part of what the Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called the non-thought of received ideas. It was irrelevant whether this astronaut understood the significance of his experiments or not. He was only an agent, not a principal – in the same way many school teachers are only agents retailing someone else's orders. This astronaut wasn't walking his own talk but someone else's. A machine can do that.

It seems likely that my Harlem kids considered going to the moon a dumb game; obviously I didn't verify their feelings scientifically but I knew a lot of them didn't have fathers or much dignity in their lives, and about half had never eaten off a tablecloth. What was going to the moon supposed to mean to them? If you asked me that question I couldn't answer it with confidence, and I had a father once upon a time...and a tablecloth, too.

If the truth were told, in my 30 years teaching in New York City, sometimes teaching prosperous white kids instead of Harlem kids, sometimes a mixed bag of middle class kids, I never hear a single student – white or black – speak spontaneously of the U.S. space program. When the Challenger space shuttle blew up there was a momentary flicker of curiosity, but even that passed in an instant. Going to the moon didn't matter, it turned out, though the government threw 100 billion dollars into the effort.
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jus_the_facts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:10 PM
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1. It never ceases to amaze me that so many today don't even believe...
...we went to the moon...that it was all a great big hoax...fabricated by Hollywood. x(

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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:16 PM
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2. he's right, of course, but I think what turns most off
is the way the whole thing has been militarized and bureaucratized. There is no way for a single person to explore much of anything, it's done by committee and approved by pallid men in uniforms and suits.

That's certainly what did it for me. It has absolutely nothing to do with we the people.
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Sal Minella Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I always did think it was a testosterone-driven, King-Of-The-Mountain
juvenile sort of game -- accomplished nothing worthwhile for anybody. Unless you're really a Tang fan. I'd rather see that kind of money devoted to research on 100% dependable cheap birth control.
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pansypoo53219 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 06:59 PM
Response to Original message
4. but but but
it was a big accomplishment that they were able to decapitate a rat in space.
(in our local paper)
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