Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Of Spacewalks, and Debt, and Near Death at the Home Run Derby

I have to confess that as I start this particular piece, I really don’t know where I’m going with it.

It started in response to my cousin Hack noting on Facebook that today is the last American space walk in the foreseeable future; coming as it does on the final mission of our space shuttle program. That lit a spark in me to talk about American genius and spirit, and how we’ve pretty much squandered both as we’ve pissed away being the greatest country in the world for the last sixty or so years.

I wanted to espouse the greatness that was America when I was a kid growing up. The spirit that made us all stare in silent wonder at our television sets on that July night 42 years ago and watch a fuzzy picture of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon. Muscle cars and industrialism and jets and space and wonder and awe and just being winners!

I think I wanted to challenge us to get that back...

And then right in the middle of that, I saw my friend Dean Jackson’s FB post about the idiot at the MLB home run derby last night, who almost died trying to catch his THIRD ball of the contest. Think I’m over-reacting? Check out the perch this moron was on just before attempting the catch…

So let me make clear: I’m drawing a line between this lunacy and the hero firefighter who died last week while reaching for a ball in front of his six year old son. I may be wrong, but I see multiple empty beer cups in the above shot. This is not smart behavior. Ever.

Ok, so the country that was great enough to put a man on the moon is also capable of producing whackjobs that are willing to stand on a small metal table twenty five feet in the air and dive for baseballs in a scenario where only a week before a man lost his life. Not that it would make it worthwhile, but these aren't Derek Jeter's 3000th hit or Somebody Else's Milestone Home Run ball. This ball is one of 95 home runs hit in THIS contest. The guy had already caught two, about two thirds of the way through the event.


And of course in the midst of all this we have a congress arguing over making it legal for us to be $14 trillion in debt…which is nearly $130,000 for EVERY American taxpayer.

Want to blow your mind? Check out this website: http://www.usdebtclock.org/

And so we come full circle to why we can’t afford the space program. Because we’re a country that’s made up of people willing to go $14 trillion in debt, and risk our lives to catch baseballs from a made-up sideshow carnival contest, but we can’t comprehend the vision or wisdom or attitude and spirit that it takes to explore new worlds and expand our boundaries.

Call me nuts, I liked us better 50 years ago.