Nice Rocks

Today is a big day for me personally. It is the 40th anniversary of my first conscious memory... The Apollo 11 moonlanding. Others have tried to tell me that I only "remember" it because it has been on TV so often subsequently, but no... I remember the TV coverage vividly... It was not "the greatest week in history since the Creation..." as Richard Nixon hyperbolically claimed at the time... But it was certainly a significant summer in my life, because, sadly, the next conscious memory that I have is of the TV coverage of the riots surrounding the Civil Rights marches in August that year... One was an image of hope... The other a portent of things to come... The sad thing is that the latter has shaped my life and the subsequent history of Northern Ireland more than the former, and all too soon the hope wrapped up in the Moonlandings petered out into the cynicism of the latter years of the Nixon regime and the Vietnam war...

But what we sometimes forget is that the moonlandings were not all greeted with unalloyed joy... there were many protests against them, notably by Christians, both of the conservative ilk, who thought that to travel to the moon was against the created order of things... and others from a social justice perspective who thought that the money could be better spent...

My musical hero, Larry Norman, captured the latter in his song Readers' Digest from the album "Only Visiting this Planet" (a song which he later, admittedly, derided, however as being too topical and cynical... specifically in its reference to Paul McCartney) where he said:

"We need a solution, we need salvation
let's send some people to the moon to gether information...
... they brought back a big bag of rocks
only cost $13 billion!
Must be nice rocks!"

It now appears that recent talk of moon and mars landings will be shelved because of lack of money in a post-credit crunch world... So there won't be any more "nice (expensive) rocks" for a while, though whether cost savings will be spent on addressing the needs of the poor is dubious.

Meanwhile, our screens in Northern Ireland have been filled with scenes of rioting again... with more nice rocks and nice petrol bombs!

I hope that this does not herald a new era of hopelessness here...


gadgetguy said…
Everyone knows that the real reason for not returning to the moon was the discovery that it was not, in fact, made of cheese. The first landing, even though they brought back proof, (in the form of rocks), was not enough to convince the ground crew. This is why multiple trips were taken with different crews. But ultimately, the facts could not be denied, and the pursuit of cheese on the moon was abandoned.

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