The Daily Dose/January 19, 2017
By Gaylon Kent
America’s Funniest Guy
UP…UP…AND AWAY: Gene Cernan, famously known as the last human to set foot on the moon, died this week. He was 82.
Cernan’s death means half of the twelve men who have walked on the moon are now dead and the six that remain aren’t getting any younger. The youngest is Cernan’s shipmate Harrison Schmitt who is 81. The oldest is Buzz Aldrin, the second human to set foot on the moon, who will be 87 Friday. The time is coming when the world will have no one alive who can tell us what it is like to walk on another heavenly body. Our loss.
And Still Heavyweight Champion of the World: Cernan, frankly, is likely to retain the title of Last Human To Set Foot on the Moon for quite some time. Even if America dropped everything and tried to send someone back to the moon as soon as possible, it would probably take us a decade to get back, itself a sign of how far our country has fallen.
Get Out Your History Books: Recall that in the 1960’s America started from nothing and went to the moon in less than a decade. In fact, we did it in just over eight years, 2,983 days to be exact, from the time President John F Kennedy set the goal before Congress on May 25, 1961 to the time Neil Armstrong took man’s first step on the moon on July 20, 1969.
Dry, Technical Matter: Cernan, Harrison Schmidt and Ron Evans left for the moon on December 7, 1972 and returned to Earth on December 19. Cernan and Schmitt become the last humans to depart the moon on December 14.
Return To Earth: Anyone familiar with Cernan knows his role as the last human to walk on the moon moved him deeply. He called it the great moment of his life and fretted that nothing he’d ever do would measure up to that. He also fretted that his final words on the moon would not be up to the moment.
Cernan fretted needlessly. His words as he left the moon were as momentous as Neil Armstrong’s “one small step” line, which had heralded man’s arrival on the moon. Cernan’s quote remains one of our favorites:
America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow.
Great words, one of those rare instances in human history where the right person had the right words at the right time.
Fly In The Ointment: Unfortunately, America has taken a pass on her destiny of tomorrow. Not only have we not been back to the moon, not only have we not been to Mars, we can’t even send anyone into space anymore!
Not going back to the moon, frankly, isn’t really important. We are still the only nation to put humans on the moon and doing it again isn’t going to make that much of a difference.
Not going to Mars, though, boy, we should all be hanging our collective heads in shame over that one. We failed. By not following-up in the successes of the Apollo program, we failed the world, we failed History and most of all we failed ourselves. Had we wanted to, we could’ve had men on Mars in the 1980s. Don’t doubt that. Spurred on by Apollo’s momentum, good old American innovation and Fate’s general approval that is issued whenever someone or something tries to better themselves, being on Mars could’ve been routine decades ago.
It is reasonable, though not definite, to suppose the innovation required by this effort probably would see us leading substantively better lives than we do now.
Our Loss: Today, instead of having a colony on Mars, America is mired in war and debt and domestic violence. Later this week a misfit named Donald Trump will become president and America is on her way to being tossed aside History’s scrap heap if we don’t do something in the next generation or so.
CAN SOMEONE LEAD US IN A REBEL YELL, PLEASE?: Georgia secedes from the United States on this date in 1861, joining South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama, who had seceded earlier. In April the battle of Fort Sumter would begin the Civil War and, ultimately, eleven stataes would secede and form the Confederate States of America. After getting their keesters handed to them by the North in the Civil War, all would rejoin the Union.
Can Somebody Please Turn The Lights Off When You Leave A Room?: Thomas Edison’s system of providing electricity from overhead wires goes into operation, in Roselle, New Jersey, for the first time on this date in 1883.
Edison built the system to show that large areas could be provided electricity. A nearby steam generator sent electricity to wires that went to a store, the train depot, 40 homes and 150 street lights.
Fly The Friendly Skies: Noted recluse Howard Hughes sets a new record by flying from Los Angeles to New York in seven hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds on this date in 1937. Hughes broke the record of 9 hours, 27 minutes set by Howard Hughes a year earlier.
FunFact: The first cross-America record recorded came in 1911, when Calbraith Perry Rogers flew from Sheepshead Bay, New York on September 17, 1911 and arrived in Pasadena, California on November, 5.
Oh Jesus H: The current record is 64 minutes, held by the supersonic Sr-71 Blackbird, which did it in 1990.
The Long And Winding Road: Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie is arrested in Bolivia on this date in 1984.
Barbie had an illustrious career as a war criminal, earning the nickname The Butcher of Lyon for his torture and killing of French prisoners in World War II. He also gained notoriety for sending 44 Jewish orphans to a concentration camp. After the war, he had been employed by the CIA to help with anti-communism efforts in Europe. Barbie eventually settled in Bolivia, where he lived comfortably, at least until the new government decided to have him arrested.
Barbie refused to acknowledge the legality of his extradition to France, and spent most of his trial in his prison cell. He was convicted, sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 1991.
Thought For The Day: Enriched by a singular event that is larger than life, I no longer have the luxury of being ordinary. – Gene Cernan
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: The first NFL team to change cities were the Decatur Staleys, who moved to Chicago and became the Bears in 1922.
Today’s Stumper: Gene Cernan is one of three people to fly to the moon twice. Who are the other two? – Answer next time!