50 years, a cou­ple of cen­turies ago

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

years ago this week, John Glenn cir­cled the globe. The Rus­sian’s Yuri Ga­garin may have been there first, but our Amer­i­can friend went public, live on TV, with the boom­ing and ex­cited calm voice of Wal­ter Cronkite, de­scrib­ing it all.

To­day, Mr. Glenn is 91, with grand-chil­dren who will never feel the rush of a gen­er­a­tion for whom space was to be con­quered, bring­ing peace and jus­tice to all of mankind.

For jus­tice, well some was dealt with dur­ing the same year. In a dar­ing coup, Is­rael was able to get its hands ul­ti­mately around the neck of Adolf Eich­mann, that most ba­nal of men, re­spon­si­ble for the ex­ter­mi­na­tion of mil­lions of Jews and for putting oth­ers into slav­ery, no other word, build­ing the rock­ets of the Nazi regime.

The sci­en­tists of that project were con­ve­niently sent to the United States where their ex­per­tise was put to good use: build­ing the en­gines that pro­pelled John Glenn into or­bit. Those nasty Amer­i­cans, well, at least they ad­mit­ted it. The Rus­sians, these be­ing com­mu­nist times, hav­ing in­vented ev­ery­thing, for­got their own caché of sci­en­tists. Mind you, theirs were kept in camps; the ones who ended up in Amer­ica be­ing more or less free to move about.

Still, did we pon­der then the moral is­sue of these two un­re­lated events? No.

We didn’t have to. We were the good, and they were the bad and the ugly com­bined. And, as in the Ser­gio Leone spaghetti western of the same name, all sides were truly amoral and less than forth­com­ing with the true rea­sons of our in­volve­ment in the cos­mos. Please note cos­mos and not space. While the of­fi­cial line on space ex­plo­ration was all about the de­sire of mankind to go for­ward where no one had gone be­fore, the real money was on the ex­plo­ration of the cos­mos, not for the bet­ter­ment of the hu­man race but rather to get closer to the ini­tial burst of en­ergy of our uni­verse. They wanted to un­der­stand how the sun and the stars worked, not for the beauty of it but for build­ing minia­ture suns, bet­ter known as hy­dro­gen bombs or its sib­lings. The United States’ then most re­cent dis­cov­ery, the neu­tron bomb, was in­vented in the late fifties and al­most brought the world to World War III in the late sev­en­ties.

A lot more than the bomb­ing of Hiroshima and Ga­garin’s and Glenn’s journies started what is now our world. Glenn’s more so as the Amer­i­can, tak­ing a huge gam­ble, but forced to show the Right Stuff, that they could risk a dis­as­ter pub­licly and show the world that the USA did have what it takes to rule the world. It worked.

The prob­lem with go­ing into space is that the cost of send­ing some­thing there is as­tro­nom­i­cal; shav­ing ev­ery mil­ligram saves tons of money. So the race for smaller com­po­nents was on, and this one Amer­ica won squarely. Mostly on the con­trol side, the Rus­sian rock­ets were still ex­cel­lent me­chan­i­cally but lacked the so­phis­ti­cated elec­tron­ics of the Amer­i­cans back then.

So ev­ery­thing that we take for granted to­day stems from that mo­ment, fifty years ago, when John Glenn cir­cled the globe. Noth­ing was too ex­pen­sive for NASA, which went into a fund­ing binge never seen since; if we could cir­cle the earth we could go to the moon. So to­day, what we could not fathom then, peo­ple on the street talk­ing to them­selves while those around them don’t even see them as ‘nuts’, started for real fifty years ago this week.

The side ef­fect of the arms race, the true ex­pla­na­tion of the space race, has been that a sort of quiet peace has emerged, none of the ma­jor pow­ers will­ing to go to a full-fledged con­flict, do­ing so by proxy in­stead most of the time. While mil­lions have died, bil­lions have been saved. Not too bad a re­sult if we think about it.

“I sup­port the decision by Ver­mont to ap­peal the flawed rul­ing by Judge Murtha in the Ver­mont Yan­kee lit­i­ga­tion. I be­lieve the law is clear that states have the right to re­ject nu­clear power based on eco­nomic and other rea­sons that have noth­ing to do with safety.

“The Ver­mont Se­nate in a bi­par­ti­san 26-4 vote de­cided against re­new­ing Ver­mont Yan­kee’s li­cense. If Ver­mont wants to move to en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and sus­tain­able en­ergy, no cor­po­ra­tion should have the right to force our state to stay teth­ered to an ag­ing, prob­lem­rid­den nu­clear plant.” Dear Ed­i­tor,

This past Satur­day Fe­bru­ary 18, 2012 the hard work­ing par­ents or­ga­ni­za­tion (PPO) of Sun­ny­side El­e­men­tary held a Bingo to sup­port their school Li­brary. Though we had a dis­ap­point­ing turn out, those gen­er­ous souls who came out to sup­port us made all the hard work worth­while. Mr. Bob Shel­don did a great job as our caller and many laughs were shared as dozens of do­nated prizes were won. The hun­dred dol­lar jack­pot was won by Mrs. Robin Bedard of Ma­gog who gen­er­ously do­nated back some of her win­nings to the Li­brary. Hot bowls of soup and dozens of sand­wiches and home­made sweets do­nated by the par­ents com­mit­tee and their fam­i­lies kept ev­ery­one’s en­ergy up as the af­ter­noon pro­gressed and at the end of the day we were able to raise $ 646.00 dol­lars for new books. This would not have been pos­si­ble with- out the won­der­ful women of the PPO and our fam­i­lies who are al­ways there to help us set up, take down , cook, clean up or just watch the chil­dren at home so that we can give our time to raise money to make our school a bet­ter place. Thank you, you are amaz­ing and it’s a plea­sure to work with you. On be­half of the par­ents of the PPO and the stu­dents of Sun­ny­side who will en­joy many new books I thank you again for your sup­port. Sin­cerely

Mrs. Kelly Be­langer Pres­i­dent Sun­ny­side PPO

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