Monday, November 15, 2010

We choose to go to the moon and do the other thing...

Driving home this evening I was listening to Radio One's Zane Lowe, who had discovered the new king of hip hop, the savior of rap. Sorry, I've forgotten who that was, but I'm sure I'll be reminded in short order. The first track he played was, in the words of Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, "needlessly messianic" but fairly catchy, and was introduced by a long sample of one of the most inspiring speeches of the 20th Century, the "We choose to go to the moon" speech.

Which Zane Lowe, with an awed shiver in his voice, described as "Nixon's moon speech".

Not quite, but it does throw out a number of ideas for an alternative history. The speech in question is from 1962, and is JFK's...which I thought everyone knew but you can't take things for granted these days.

(You can watch the awe-inspiring full speech here.)

Remarkable stuff. I can't imagine a modern president - Obama included - who could speak of progress and science and exploration as a great endeavor we should undertake because we have a calling. I'd be surprised if a modern president could pull off a halting speech inspiring the rebuilding of a crumbling bridge. Speeches about how we have to take our clothes off in front of strangers in order to avoid being massacred by beardies living in caves, we got 'em.

I miss the 20th Century.

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