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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

SWITCHING CHANNELS

       robert mangold



The landing was successful of a VW-sized super-hi tech vehicle on Mars, a star in the sky. These vehicles our space people are putting on Mars are robots of such advanced technology that the information they convey back to Houston or South Florida is considerable. The math of directing the spacecraft's trajectory from one star to another star and it landing on the precise spot intended can only be named genius. It's like a car race without a wreck. The best driver with the best car actually wins by out-driving everybody else. A gathering of advanced engineering minds with advanced engineering programs in unlimited computer capacity, a whole lot of precision engineering of parts, a great number of degrees from universities with the most advanced engineering programs. The vehicle made it all the way without a glitch, a case of the equipment was equal to the calculations.


In the past it would be said, "great minds" created this incredible event of slinging a Volkswagen-sized object through space and landing it on Mars, on the very spot they aimed for. If it were one man's mind that did it, he would rate a face on Time magazine. But it was not one man. Or one woman. It was a cooperation by thousands of people, probably hundreds of thousands, considering the people working in factories making the parts of every variety from nose-cone to wires, every detail designed and custom made for the project. No shade tree mechanics among the people putting all the parts together.


In London, Usain Bolt outran the others spectacularly. Three Jamaican runners, that I know of, taking medals. Hooray for Jamaica. The Jamaican people need at least something to make them feel like they exist in the bigger world, their representatives outrunning everybody else in the Olympics. Pictures I see of the Jamaican throngs look like it's a big party everywhere celebrating. The Jamaican woman who won her race did it by .003 sec, a narrow margin. I wonder how that close a call would have been judged before digital clocks. That was when they stretched a tape across the track for the winner's chest to break. And there was photo finish. If the clock can measure thousandths of a second, I wonder if it can measure to the nanosecond. Probably not the one used at the track, but I would imagine such a clock exists somewhere. I love the name Usain. I've seen that he is flamboyant about his speed. It's a good name for somebody who stands out, Usain Bolt. An easy name to remember.


Sunday, I went to watch the race with some friends. The track was Pocono. After sixty-some laps the rain stopped the race. During commercials with the race, we'd switch to the Olympics channel to see the women's volleyball between USA and Turkey. The Turkish girls were good, but the American girls dominated them. I saw several horses run the jumping course, spellbound by the bond between the horse and rider, wanting all of them to make a perfect run. Beautiful horses so practiced at running the course, jumping the bars, they could all do it without the rider. The competition is about horse and rider together. I'd like to see Plains Indians riding their horses inside a stampeding herd of buffalo, hanging on by legs only, using both hands to shoot the arrow accurately while riding full speed. That's about the height of horse and rider skills I can think of. Polo is a great horse and rider sport. I've never heard of anything to do with polo at the Olympics. Seems like polo would be a good Olympic sport. Maybe they do it and I don't know it.


I'm not captivated by the Olympics, though it is a spectacle to behold. The production people in London did it right, according to how it looks and what I've heard on BBC news briefs I hear on 90.7 FM, Charlotte at night. BBC makes me think of the time before Reagan, in Carter time, when NPR was getting going. They had foreign correspondents and were able to fund a staff of some good people. Then the Reaganistas targeted NPR liberal, gotta go, taxpayer dollars wasted, like making a multiple billion dollar bomber and crashing it is not wasting taxpayer dollars. Who ever said good sense had anything to do with anything? That's where I've missed it all along. I erroneously believed after much schooling that good sense had something to do with the way things are. LOL What more can I say? It wasn't until I stepped off the treadmill that I finally got it, that it's not about good sense. For such a great part of my life I believed good sense had a place in this world. I felt like the last kid in school to get it that Santa Claus is a lie when I finally caught on that good sense is not what it's all about (Alfie). It makes much better sense now.        


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