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Heroes are in short supply…40 years Moon Landing

Standing in a grain store in Lebanon, Ohio you could pass by a shortish gentle man with fleck white hair and glasses, he’ll say “Hi” then shuffle out to his pickup truck and head back to his farm, no one really takes a second glance and that is just the way Mr Armstrong likes it, Neil Armstrong, familiar?, “why yes didn’t he go up to the Moon”, he did, and walked into the history books as one on the most famous people to walk our planet (and another one on the side).

To Armstrong it was just a job, another day at the office, he notes that it was just that his crew were picked by the shuffle of rotating teams to do that fateful mission and that anyone of the other crews and pilots could have done the same job, He could be right by that as all of the second group of nine Astronauts were exceptional pilots and were trained to an inch of their life for their complex missions, but in reality I don’t think that Armstrong being the first man on the moon was the result of a shuffle or a pick of one of maybe fifteen commanders that could do the mission, no Armstrong was picked for one reason and one reason only, he was the only one to do the job.

And when the moment came he did what Nasa put him there for, he saved them from failure….in other words “he saved their necks and the moon program”

To look back at the 40th Anniversary of that day on 21st July 1969 and a giant moment in history is that even if they had the most up to date technical edge of the time  it was really very primitive to do something like going to another world, landing and then come back to Earth, but they did, and as Apollo 13 showed how basic their tools were for survival, Nasa never lost any souls in space, three perished in the fire of Apollo One on the pad, and to them as all who ventured into deep space during those missions space is dangerous, it can kill you, but it was extremely successful to execute and delivered a journey so extraordinary they have since never been able to repeat the feat.

But why Armstrong?, well when his Gemini 6 Orbital Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS) went off and sending the capsule into a revolving spin, he pulled the craft apart from the Agena targeting vehicle and engaged the Reentry Control System (RCS) with this he had to come down and so the mission was scrapped which annoyed Armstrong for weeks, but he had saved himself and fellow pilot David Scott from certain death, death again reared its head again with the Lunar Landing Training Vehicles (LLTV) or ‘Flying Bedstead’ which on the the May 6, 1968,was  about 100 feet (30 m) above the ground as it went AWOL and Neil ejected just 0.5 seconds from being to low to fall to the ground, he went to do paperwork straight after as he was behind in them being submitted like nothing unusual had happened, Over Korea, Armstrong flew 78 missions for a total of 121 hours in the air gaining the Air Medal for 20 combat missions, a Gold Star for the next 20, and the Korean Service Medal and Engagement Star, life didn’t get easier being a test pilot either as he was is right-hand seat of a B-29 Superfortress on March 22, 1956, which was to air-drop a Douglas Skyrocket D-558-2. when one engine (no.4) stopped then went windmilling out of control, and on the launch of the Skyrocket it disintegrated and damaged engines 3 and 2, Armstrong landed on only N0 1 engine still working, he was also a famous x15 pilot that on one test the X-15 literally bounced off the atmosphere and back up to 140,000 ft (43 km). At that altitude, the atmosphere is so thin that aerodynamic surfaces have no effect. He flew past the landing field at Mach 3 (2,000 mph, or 3,200 km/h) and over 100,000 ft (30.5 km) altitude. He ended up 45 miles (72 km) south of Edwards (legend has that he flew as far as the Rose Bowl). After finding sufficient descent, he turned back toward the landing area, and barely managed to land, the point is Neil Armstrong is maybe the most luckiest man to have ever lived or the best pilot that ever lived (most military pilots will poo poo that), but the fact is he was extraordinary in moments of crisis, and on that faithful day in July 1969 he again delivered.

At 357 694 km (kilometers) from the earth, and moving like projectile across the lunar surface the 1202 and 1201 alarms went off to signal a processing overflow in the lunar module computer, the small machine had been overloaded will commands and said enough was enough, Armstrong took manual control of the LM, found an area which to him seemed safe for a landing by overflying a crater the size of a football field and touched down on the moon at 20:17:39 UTC, “Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed” was the famous announcement that a man had done the impossible, he had coolly flew a machine in no air over another (planetary) body, and with alarms sounding and their fuel at a critical level (50 seconds of propellant burn time) and with a whole world watching his every movement he did his job to perfection.

All three crew on Apollo 11 made history, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were the true professionals and fulfilled their roles to perfection, for Collins after retiring from NASA and finishing his PR duties he went to the Department of State as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. A year later he became the director of the National Air and Space Museum. He held this position until 1978 when he stepped down to become undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution, his autobiography in 1974 Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journey was one of the best on the Apollo Program and journey to the moon.

Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr (or Buzz) was a stranger tale that shows how different two personalities that can do one thing together as pilots and as Astronauts, but  could  be totally different in perspective in the real world, he was a West Point man and more of a academic than his other crew mates as Aldrin improvised an effective exercise in earth orbital mechanics to rendezvous with a coordinate or vehicle in space and paving the way for two space vehicles to acheive docking which was essential to the Apollo Project, He was confirmed as pilot on Gemini 12, the last Gemini mission and the last chance to prove methods for EVA. Aldrin set a record for extra-vehicular activity and proved that astronauts could work outside the spacecraft.

But all started to unravel before Apollo 11 left on its epic journey, he was totally devastated that the NASA management had selected Armstrong to step first on to the moon, to which Aldrin expected to be a shoe-in, his reasoning was that the commander stayed with the ship and the other goes on the EVA in case anything goes wrong, he was wrong as NASA knew that Armstrong with less ego (as history has proved) would be more competent to go out first and do the right thing by running to the letter what needed to be achieved.

From the moment Buzz returned to Terra Firma something physiological has drove this former calm methodical person to sell himself out as some media junkie, the jokes of “being second is nothing” had taken hold.

Americans by nature loath failure, being 2nd is close to death, there is one winner and everyone else is a failure, and with people in the public eye the effects are magnified beyond reason, it is a fame thing, “if I touch fame I could be famous or get rich” so Americans shun people that are just as brave or just as talented but came 2nd or 3rd and for Buzz he spent the rest of his life being a number 2, he doesn’t help his cause either by trying to play the fame game to be liked and loved, he created a monster in the fact that anything related to that famous flight had to endorsed or sold by him from voiceovers to The Simpsons, pens, books, caps, T-Shirts, Astronaut Dolls, posters and even Rap songs with Snoop dog and co, in fact turn around in any book shop and their is something with his name on it, any documentary and he will be sitting there as though he alone conquered the moon and receives between $30,000-$50,000 per public appearance, but this fame has come at a cost.

Depression and alcoholism, married three time and divorced twice, a Moon hoax theory expert heckled him “You’re the one who said you walked on the moon and you didn’t!” He called Aldrin “a coward and a liar”. 72-year-old Aldrin responded by punching the hoaxer in the face shows that fame has a dark side but remember he went there and sold his soul for the money unlike his crew mates that disappeared to try to live a normal life, Aldrin couldn’t change history so why fight it and be proud of what he had achieved.

For Neil Armstrong he couldn’t wait to drop out of the public eye, hated the whole circus and wanted some peace, his barber of 20 years sold his hair and Armstrong sued him and made him pay $3000 to a charity, but otherwise Neil Armstrong the most most famous man on earth as well as the Moon completely disappeared and rarely showed at any function or benefit in his or NASA’s honor, today his approach is simple “I was a man just doing his job, and that is all I want to be remember for”

But Mr Armstrong has to accept that he was more than just a good pilot, he was an extraordinary human being that cheated death with his shear coolness of attitude and focus did the impossible in an impossible situation in more than one situation , and created history, and to be humble in his approach and believe that he was just like the rest of us made him even more of extraordinary person, Heroes today are very misused in terms and fame, but Neil Armstrong is a the real deal, an out of this world hero, NASA was right to select such a upstanding person to do a giant moment in history, he got them up there and he came home and rest is history.

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Iraq elections.. still doesn’t justify Bush’s decision..

Iraqi Woman votes

The recent elections in Iraq to date are a success with an excellent turnout and clean voting, to many people that will become a flag waver to state that the Blair/Howard/Bush administration’s policy to invade Iraq was the correct one, and with freedom for all and a victory for democracy.

I have stated in numerous earlier journals that the war was the wrong thing to do, a good outcome out of the election still does not justify the decision’s, why because the war was not needed to sort the problems out, if fact it caused more strife than good….in fact it gave Al-Qaeda more victories and success than they ever dreamed of…Bush more than played right into their hands, he gave them a mandate to power and road to fulfilling their ultimate desires.

The great Idea for Iran and Al-Qaeda is for a large Muslim state, a New Persia so to speak, a major force in the middle east that would have been a major power situation, the dream is for parts of Western Pakistan or all of Muslim Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and most importantly Iraq to be all one united state (New Persia), a vocal and powerful Muslim union, against all of the rest of us, so if this union was powerful and strong enough then the rest of the Muslim world might have joined to create a large significant population of sheer faith, and power..the idea is flawed in the fact that a huge percentage of the Muslim world don’t agree or want the severe ethics of the Iranian-Al-Qaeda-Taliban Islamic doctrine..

The flaw for Bush was not going in and stopping quickly this central core of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fundamentalists and their leaders, the same that stuck a severe blow in the lower part of New York City, but by not snuffing out this central candle, it then gave Iran a voice and a power, and the rise of Pakistani radical Muslim groups to arms, but by going into Iraq really gave the New Persians a chance and an opportunity they could only dream of,  first by removing an major adversary to their ideals, Saddam Hussein. His Imposed War 1980 to 1988 where they threw babies at each other had descended into a terrible trench warfare situation, and it had cost both sides dearly, but secondly quickly opened up Iraq to sectarian warfare, Al-Qaeda were very quickly able to gather strength of the promise of a radical Muslim uprising, the ideals quickly took hold by putting the Americans into a rear guard action and creating two war fronts both weak, Al-Qaeda and friends nearly won, the line was very close, Iraq could have become New Persia, or part of it as the country could have been segregated up between the minorities, Shia, Sunnis and mainly the Shi’ite republic with Moqtada al-Sadr as leader which would aligned itself with Iran, so what went wrong..

The Petraeus plan of an “surge” of 30.000 troops was a masterpiece of saving the whole catastrophe from happening, it worked on two fronts, finally slowing down the insurgents, and stopped the mess from slipping into complete failure, its timing was almost too late, finally American armed forces did their job which was be a force to be reckoned with, it worked and it worked brilliantly, but another thing happened as well which turned Iraqis to the polls in numbers, Barack Obama was now going to succeed Bush as the next President, make no mistake, the insurgency knew quickly that Obama would be a very different opponent, why because he is not a blood and thunder type of Commander in Chief, but a wily sniper take you out type, and he will and they know that now Al-Qaeda’s days are numbered, Obama will strike and hard and more efficiently than Bush ever was, Petraeus is already there, working..finding answers, putting his ideas into action, and they know what is coming, The Taliban has already struck Kabul quickly just days ago, making noises that they are ready for the impending action,  Iran has already moved the other way by making noises about opening a line of communicatioto the West, the chips are starting to fall, as when the troops leave Iraq en-mass then they will be deployed into Afghanistan and in the shear numbers to do the job that should have been done 5 years ago.

You will say that with Iraq’s quickly changing situation that this is the reason for Iran’s sudden change of heart, and I am still wrong, the path of history is now going in this direction; which will then change the situation.

but what if..Bush had done the right thing back in 2003 and had hit the Al-Qaeda army and its Taliban Brothers hard, say a conflict of two years, knocking out the core of fanatics, Iran would have been isolated straight away, Pakistan also, taking away the core forces and the rhetoric, It would have been easier for the Pakistani authorities to clean up the remainder and stop the spread of the fundamentalism embedded in the western provences, the threat to the west would have quickly eased, London may have still happened, Bali also, but Spain and smaller threats would have been dissolved, America would also have had more cooperation from Europe in troops and support in that they were doing it their way and not the American Shock and Awe route.

The big question is here is still Saddam Hussein?..well remember he was straitjacketed tight at the time, The first Gulf war had certainly had an severe impact of totally diminishing the strength and the fighting of his forces and that was shown with the second war, there was simply very little resistance to the invasion, Saddam was locked down by everyone, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west, the coalition forces to the south and the United Nations on everything else, his population was starving and his options were getting smaller by the day, If the Amer-Afgan war had been a quick success his options would have been even worse, America could have just sat on his borders and tightened the noose and waited for him to kill himself or his power dissolve down into civil war, which it did anyway.. remember Iraq was a thriving democratic country before Saddam and his Baath party took control, so only a small push would have been needed for him to capitulate to his fate, shear economic loss and his starving population would have fixed his situation, he was already running from palace to palace to stay alive,  still an invasion could have been mounted if the United Nations required one, but unlike the failed one in 2004 it would have ended in Bagdad as the fundamentalism would have no basis to ignite, but the reality was Saddam was finished right after the first gulf war..it was only time till it ended one way or the other…the invasion was not needed..but help and rebuilding the nation would have been offered if the Iraqis had taken over the power of the country, for of course its greatest asset is still it’s oil, the Wests overwhelming number one need, and again the right sort of government would have evolved just like there are in these elections taking place right now and not a puppet government that is aligned with United States interests, again that is not what the Iraqi people want, The Americans say they they were giving them democracy, but it is a Untied States type of forced democracy and not an Iraqi one, in other words.. Imperialism.

The biggest difference if Bush had of quashed the fundamentalists would have been saving of the shear loss of life, In Iraq and around the world, including Pakistan and India, heightening the safety of the world’s populace including Muslims and Arabs and quickly reducing the tension between faiths,

There are still raging fires burning right now, Israel, Palestine, Africa, Kashmir all hard to fix, but it an be easier without Islamic fundamentalist’s rhetoric and violence, they as well as us have to accept we all now live in a Global Society that cannot go back to 1800’s style warlord kingdoms, yes these people have grievances and it is the global communities responsibility to help and fix their problems, by raising their living standards and provide them with basic human rights, that is the work of the United Nations, to speak and act for all of us, so these sort of ethnic and religious differences are attended to and not reduced to warfare and human suffering, we all have to be responsible towards each other’s faiths and respect our differences, most conflicts are created out of loss, suffering and pain and mostly greed of one taking advantage of a weaker situation, it is time to stop and understand that we all have basic rights..respect each other, and that includes the terrorists killing indiscriminately and governments and companies behaving responsibly or irresponsibly, its a big ask but its a start.

Barack Obama is hope for a better world, the Bush route is not acceptable and has proven it can’t work, change the basics and the rest will fix themselves, Obama knows that reducing America’s dependence on Oil can change the world, for the better, his work at home will stop America invading countries like Iraq for their resources, this sort of thinking can change things and stop conflicts, but there are other times there is a need for the hard hit, Bosnia or to stop other maniacs ruling and killing to their advantage, but with the support of the rest of the global community..

..we all have a responsibility towards our own…to do the right thing and at the right time; to give us a home so we all can have a chance to live a fair and safe life, not for our own advantage but for what is right, Some say that the invasion of Iraq was doing this, it was, but at the wrong time, and for the wrong reasons and we all suffered no more so than the Iraqis themselves, while the true monsters ran amok and created the world in their eyes, and world of hatred, pain and revenge for things that simple people leading ordinary lives in other countries with no connection to the hatred are now dead, payed for with their own lives..caught in the crossfire of a clash of beliefs and idealism, they never asked to die or be involved in something that is happening across the other side of the globe,  that is the right from wrong…that is what George W Bush/Blair/Howard  got seriously wrong, they saved the wrong people..