Sep 13, 2012

gnorts!, mr. alien

I don't get too upset when famous people die.  But I was sad about Neil Armstrong dying. A lot was said of him. Things I agree with. But I liked him because at heart he was an engineer. One of the few that got any recognition for the work he did.  Engineers generally don't fit the mold of other famous people. Many commented on how he was a recluse and shunned publicity. He wasn't a recluse. He gave many talks after the moon landing. And he didn't shun publicity. He just didn't see any value in it. He wasn't in this for the fame and fortune and recognition. True of many engineers. He just wanted to do the best job he could and to do it properly.  He didn't go apeshit after he landed because he was focused on doing his job. The fact that so many people interpret that behavior as being anti-social is concerning.  I'm sure he also realized it took thousands of people to get him there and to act like he was the sole source of that accomplishment would be denigrating to them.  So he did his job.

You can see this attitude in the speech that was supposed to be given if Armstrong and Aldrin died up there.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send one of her sons into the unknown. In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their deaths, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man. In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood. Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But they were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts. For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind. - William Safire's speech written for President Nixon in case Apollo 11 couldn't make it back from the moon.
I just don't think a sentiment like this resonated with Armstrong. And it strikes me as hokey too.  If you want to get a real sense of the grandeur of the moment then I recommend reading How Apollo Flew to the Moon. For all practical purposes an engineer's guide to overcoming the issues of getting people to the moon and back. It's my favorite book on Apollo and the space race and I've read most.

As far as the title goes, it is his name spelled backwards. :)

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