"One small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind" was a prepared statement to be said upon completion of the first boot print pressed into the Moon's surface material. Neil Armstrong was selected for that first effort, as the one most likely to pull it all off, there sometimes being unknowns happening when doing something for the first time; Neil was picked to take on that job, as the one most likely to achieve it and to pass on whatever he learned in doing so. Safely landing a flying vehicle is usually the most dangerous part of flying, and making a first landing of strange experimental flying vehicles was something Neil had achieved often before, as a test pilot. He also had proven able to handle an emergency in an orbiting vehicle spinning dangerously; he related to vehicles and their motions and interactions of complex systems, and carefully utilized the control systems to get things to work as intended, even when those responses were best-guesses of all concerned in the preparation. As an engineer he was not long on words; and leaving out the little "a" word while doing the verbal thing after the physical complex feat of space-suited in 1/6 gee first time testing all sorts of things all at once in a hard vacuum at 200º temperature then also switching from the doing-and-responding mode to the verbal-announcement mode - not a usual task for a test pilot - the "a" somehow did not quite get in there.
The as-spoken announcement was heard by hundreds of millions of viewers and the resulting message missing the "a" part of "a man" I think confused people ever since. It was obvious to me that the "a" was an intended part of it, but I too have Aspergers and the verbal stuff's unintended missing parts can be figured out in retrospect, lots of experience with that. But the media and public did not.
The original "One small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind" was intended to put that historically significant first step onto the Moon in context. It was a single human being, making one of many steps of a lifetime and was done as directed by others as part of the assigned task. It was "a man" doing it, not a superhero, in other words. And that was part of the second part: "one giant leap for mankind" acknowledging that the jump from Earth surface to Lunar surface, was done as an achievement of an enormous team, the Mercury-Gemni-Apollo space project team, yet also using the scientific knowledge and engineering and manufacturing principles accumulated by mankind throughout the development of civilization up until then. It was an achievement of all those people, essentially all of mankind having had a hand in it its doing, living or passed away.
The placard on the spacecraft itself, to be left behind, also said something similar "We came in peace for all mankind." The designers of the project and vehicle were not totally sure that when landing there, that they would not get accosted by the Soviets waving weapons, or even bug eyed space alien monsters who would declare the Moon belonged to them. By the time of this first landing in the Cold War Space Race, those things were considered not likely but also still possible. The ever-on-task Neil Armstrong was clearly considered the most likely person to be able to efficiently deal with those kind of things too, if they happened.
The stress accumulation of such self-controlled life function had a price to Neil, the coronary blockages, and the surgical inadequacies that the medical system has not fully learned to always deal with adequately, took his life yesterday, something that North Korean warriors, wild test aircraft, Lunar landing Soviets or space monsters there, had not been able to do.
The Engineer's mind - and that was what Neil Armstrong considered himself to be, totally a simple Engineer who had a lifetime fondness for piloting aircraft - is not lacking emotional feelings like all other people do; their behavior is just are not ruled by those feelings. Yet, the feelings are there, and people who crave to hurt others through their emotions, know that. I wonder if added severe stress to Neil came about from the suspiciously timed events: most recently and after the surgery, that the similarly-named marathon cyclist Lance Armstrong was accused of using drugs for better performance, by a faceless nameless panel of people saying they were "drug monitors" and Lance had no interest in tangling in these people battles. Then this faceless panel not only took away the race trophy of supposedly a bad test result, but all the prior six marathon winnings too; how incredibly unjust it would seem to the Engineering mind, that does not have the mental wiring for such people games. Were they blood related as well as name related, Armstrong?
And some months back, shortly before the sudden need for the surgery, the highly publicized fracas where a small army of highly weaponized guys hunted down a lone young man who was accused in shooting two people who were objecting to the marijuana farm the young man farmed. Now, the badged folks merely captured mass murderers of liberals, Loughner and Breviek for example, into prison unharmed, but for this young man the bunch of camouflaged and assault weaponed men climbed into trees and waited for the young man to wander past down the path, and they shot him dead seven times, no effort to capture him, hooray the heros. The photo of the "suspect" now dead near Ft Bragg, CA, was astonishing to me: he had the very distinct features of a young Neil Armstrong. And when in a very short time Neil Armstrong himself suddenly appeared out of decades of reclusiveness in the news after that, not looking happy at all, the connection seemed a bit more likely. Then the 4-bypass heart surgery no doubt caused by a sudden worsening of the heart condition, likely time on a ventilator also stressful, then the Lance Armstrong faceless-group-ripoff of a huge record of outstanding achievement, could easily make an outstanding man decide he was no longer interested in staying here to further help this kind of mankind.
As I have often said before, "people-stuff is complicated." And, the craving for drama seems to generally rule their ways. And I wonder, as part of the pattern of recent, a swapping of "hero" status from the superhero individual overcoming the gang of harmful bullies, to now the bully-led group hunting down overpowering and destroying the lone non-conformist who would not submit to the rule of the bully-led group. When great adventures requiring exceptional individual capability are no longer of mankind's interest, then it seems to me that what happens is descent into total concern with who-gets-to-do-what-to-whom, whoze boss here, kind of interactions to create a huge org chart of bullyhood.
Well, my older generation of people who grew up seeing outstanding achievement of some kind or other, as the ideal, are fading away pretty fast. As an high-functioning Aspergers man, who ever has had to endure the frequent crop-up of harassment - for no apparent reason at all - by some bully-led small group, over and over again throughout life; yet I still sought to provide some very helpful things for mankind and civilization and the planet, such as my kestsgeo concepts, "do good even to those who hate you," I can understand the decision under pain and high pressure, to say, "OK humanity, you are now on your own, do it without me from now on, since that is the way you want it."
Neil Armstrong, thank you for being here among humanity; and farewell.
Labels: Neil Armstrong