Fads and Moon Landings

Whenever the country starts acting crazy, kids start new fads. Or at least they think they're new.
by T.J. Nelson


J uly is the most patriotic month. On the fourth, most Americans celebrate their independence, if my neighbors are typical, by setting off small bombs, creating large pillars of smoke on their charcoal grills, and consuming vast quantities of burnt food. That is surely a worthwhile thing. But it always seemed to me that we should celebrate the moon landings today as well, because they represent the best that America can do.

Many years ago, shortly after Neil Armstrong pulled on his boots and stepped off that famous ladder, there was a cartoon in our local paper, the one we called the Era I think it was, showing Earth as a stupid baby trying to hit the moon with a hammer. The caption was something like “Just a little closer and I can give it a good whack!” Neil Armstrong on the moon

I remember this because my relatives thought this expressed a truth about what an evil and destructive species humanity was, what with The Bomb and The War and all, or at least that's what they said. I would like to think, now that they are all gone, that they were only trying to immunize me against the self-hatred that sooner or later infects all societies and turns them decadent.

I don't think it was, but immunize me it did. What kind of person, I wondered, could take the greatest event in the history of mankind and pretend it was something to be ashamed of? As time went on, that cartoon about the proudest moment in American history took on a symbolic importance. Perhaps, I thought, this is the idea that poisoned our great country.

The same sentiment was behind those conspiracy theories claiming we never actually went there. One ‘proof’ was the absence of stars in the photos. But computer enhancement shows that there were, in fact, stars there (see totally un-Photoshopped computer-enhanced picture above).

It's a cliché to say that a great civilization can only be destroyed from within. When a country gets too big, and therefore cut off from its enemies, it is said, the people's hatred is deprived of an outlet, so it turns on itself.

But I've noticed that whenever the government starts acting crazy, kids start doing more dumb stuff. Even dumber stuff than usual, like planking and taking selfies and walking into lamp posts while texting their iFriends. Maybe it's how kids deal. These days they seem to have turned it into a fine art, even surpassing the goldfish-swallowing fads right before the Depression. Just as when the animals all start running to higher ground before a tsunami hits, when kids start acting weird, maybe it's a sign that something is wrong.

In an era when it's dangerous to tell the truth, we revert to the methods used by our ancestors: observing wildlife behavior and tracking them by the scat they leave behind—not on the ground, but on their Tweets and Facebook pages.

Those Tweets, at least the ones that get re-tweeted so much they fall out of the Twittery, all seem to say the same thing in one way or another: mankind is evil, and we should force everyone to think the same thoughts and stop exploring the universe. To Twittercrats it's all new and exciting. But I heard the part about exploring 46 years ago, back when we were actually doing it; and the part about forcing everyone to think the same was old long before I was born.

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