Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Blog of the Week - 6 November 2013

The blog of the week for today is Peggy Noonan's at the Wall Street Journal. In this post she remembers astronaut Scott Carpenter, who blasted off for the last time recently. Typical of her writing, she spans the decades to show us how we have changed as a society:

But what an era of dynamism, of breaking through, of pushing out, of daring. The space program gave us a forward-looking attitude, a sense we could do anything in any area. Especially if you were a kid, as I was, age 11, when Carpenter flew. What a gift it was to be young then-America blasting off, the Yankees or the Dodgers always winning. No one cared about government-what bliss-but to the extent we had one it seemed to work. Respectable people like Dwight Eisenhower were in charge, and then, in '61, the glamour of the Kennedys. People were getting TVs. A whole new way to waste time! But also something else, our culture showing itself to itself, and it didn't look so bad, especially, again, if you were young.

But the point is the era. It was big, expansive, it was pushing against limits, even against gravity. Now we have shutdowns, ceilings, chained CPIs-it's all limits. The head of NASA talks about greenhouse gases.

Our children aren't told by our culture that we can do anything, they're taught to be afraid by people who are afraid-the future can harm you, hunker down, shelter in place. Really, that phrase captures the mood of our time: "Shelter in place." Don't go anywhere interesting, like a planet.

We don't talk greatness now, we talk problems; and we don't solve them, we set up processes to address them down the road.


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