Chapter #55: 2006 Midterm Elections, Revisited - February 28, 2008

Firing an explosive round at a defenseless marine mammal, Japanese whale hunters say, "It's a blast" (http://jamesmcgillis.com) 

The 2006 Midterm Elections Revisited - Remembering Sputnik and "The Space Race in the 1950s"

November 9, 2006
Now that the midterm election is over, we can all relax and just enjoy the play-out of the new energies.  Will anything "really" change?  Probably not much will change, at least on the visible surface.  There will be some old familiar faces on TV - Carl Levin, Charlie Rangel, even that flaming liberal, Henry Waxman.  That should be fun. 
Just yesterday, #43 reached again into #41's old bag of advisers for a new Secretary of Offense.  Still, his pig-headedness and "take the fight to the enemy, even if we don't know who they are or where they live" will keep the lid on change at any easily accessible level (Faux News, etc.).  #43 has become sort of like Ariel Sharon (brain dead, to be sure), but always predictable in his use of force, in a "Dick Cheney" sort of way.  Rover tried to "lean 'em to the right" one more time, but a small majority of the electorate was more afraid of leaving #43 in unchecked power than they were of the "San Francisco-Liberal", "Tax & Spend", "Soft on Terrorism" Democrats.
The "fight" is not over, except for those who realize that "fighting" gets us nowhere.  The Democrats should run Jackie DeShannon and their theme song should be, "Put A Little Love in Your Heart".  On the other hand, wasn't she British, thus ineligible for the presidency?  While you are reading the rest of this article, let us all think of an American woman for whom we would vote in a presidential election.  OK?  You will find my choice at the end of this diatribe, but no fair peeking.  You have to think of at least one of your own.
The only problem, if there is one, is that we never seem to get (back) to the future.  By the time that we all have heated & cooled cup holders in a car that can parallel-park itself (comfort and practicality, all in one package); we laugh, shrug and simply accept it as normal.  If something transported you back to 1958 and visited the Auto Show at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in LA, you would be impressed with such new technologies as "Power Steering", which was brought into play because automobiles were becoming as heavy as the hydraulically-control jet fighters that they were meant to emulate.  You may have noticed that SAAB has brought back their jet fighter lineage recently, proving that there is nothing new under the Sun.  
To continue our theme, do you remember the Rocket OldsmobileYou do not hear much about rockets anymore, unless they use 5000-year-old Chinese guidance technology, as fired by Hamas No hydraulic boost needed there!  Of course, do not forget the high-tech Israeli rockets that seem to reprogram themselves to take out apartment buildings full of (formerly) extended families in Gaza.  Is this the "Revenge of the Rockets" or perhaps the ultimate extension of the 1950s MidEast Crisis?
Original 1950's USSR Sputnik Satellite on display at the Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, New Mexico - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com) 
Do you recognize this "Old Friend"?  Yes, Sputnik is the one that started it all - the "Space Race in the 1950s" that is.  It is one of six spare Sputniks, left over after "bigger, better, more, longer, lower, wider" (kudos to GM for their last original concept) satellite technology took over.  We traded with the Russians (did we not call them the "Ruskies" in the old days?) for two Russian names to be placed in the Rocket Science Hall of FameIronically, she is not much bigger than the now infamous Michael Jordan-signed basketball that Madeline Albright supposedly bounce-passed to Kim Jong Il as an enticement for him to give up his nuclear arms if not his missile ambitions.  She (Sputnik, not Madeline) still looks good, after all these years.  Is anyone out there old enough to remember the fear that she (Sputnik) struck in the hearts of Americans?  We dreamed about stainless steel basketballs falling on us from the sky.  It was scary enough to have millions of us school kids doing drop & cover drillsBe sure to cover your eyes so that you won't be "blinded by the light" as you are vaporized.
For whatever reason, I did not take any pictures of the bent/spent, rusty/trusty German V-2 Rocket engine that they had dug up out of the White Sands of New Mexico, but you would be amazed to see its gyro-controlled, vectored-thrust, multi-nozzle rocket engine.  This is not bad for 1938 "technology".  You gotta love the German sense of style, in those days.  Their WW-II (The Big One) combat helmets became the stylistic prototype for Darth Vader's "hat" in Star Wars (Episodes 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9, but not 2, 4, 6 & 8, where he sported a French Beret).  Sorry, I did not mean to bring up the French.  For those who are still hoping we find WMDs in Iraq, I know it is a sore subject.
X-7A Ramjet, built by Lockheed Corp. as a test vehicle for ramjet engines utilized in anti-aircraft missiles is on display at the Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, New Mexico(http://jamesmcgillis.com) 
The Lockheed X7A Ramjet test-bed pictured here was recyclable, unlike the multi-billion dollar single-use rockets we continue using to build Ronald Reagan's International Space Station.  Is anyone out there old enough to remember Ronald Reagan?  Let us talk about the subject of "Make Work".  One re-supply mission to the aging boondoggle "Space Station" probably costs more than Hoover Dam and the Lend-Lease of the Marshall Plan, put together.  Those references are for you WW-II fans, who find it odd that we could beat the real Axis Powers in about four years, but cannot remember exactly who the "Axis of Evil" includes...  Let us see; would that be North Korea, Iran...  Darfur? Afghanistan?, Nicaragua?, Venezuela?, Syriana?
Back to our yellow and black rocket:  After exhausting its fuel, this little jewel would parachute down and the spike on the nose would act like a dart, penetrating the sand, leaving the missile intact, to fly another day.  For those of us who grew up in Burbank, the name "Lockheed" on the tail makes for a wistful sigh(t).  For fans of jet fighter technology, our little yellow "bumblebee" seems to have the wings and tail of an F-104 Starfighter designed and built by Lockheed.  During the 1960's and early 1970's, the F-104 was our main defense against "The Red Menace".  NATO pilots, many of whom were Germans (didn't they used to be the enemy?) called it a "manned rocket".  Now we know why.
Four different US Missiles from the 1960s and 1970s on display at the Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, New Mexico (http://jamesmcgillis.com) 
From the Saturn-V Moon-rocket motor on the right (note the full-sized adult next to it), to the early Nike Missile, shown in elevated (firing) position.  Later, the design morphed into the Japanese whale harpoon, used to blast the ocean's whales into submission and near extinction in what they called a 'fair fight'... the blubbering whales being reduced to a bumper-sticker-defense, as in "Nuke the Unborn Gay Whales"), to the forward-theater, nuclear-capable missile on the right (deployed in "Western" Germany, with red-blooded Americans ready to fire us all into Armageddon, if we so much as lost a single foot race in a USA/USSR dual track meet).  We can see how enamored of missile technology we really were in the 50's & 60's.  It makes you wonder how we made it out of "that life" alive.
Reflected in a window, a test rocket appears to blast off from a static display, Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, New Mexico (http://jamesmcgillis.com) 
I shot all these pictures at the Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, NM.  It is a mere thirty miles from the "Trinity Site", named for "ground zero" of the world's first nuclear blast, which occurred there in 1945. That event caused many witnesses to see "The Father, The Son and an image of their own Holy Ghost" rising to heaven on a mushroom cloud.  All of that aside, you can imagine how shocked I was to look out the window, only to see this ancient rocket achieving lift-off from what was supposed to be a static display area.  I caught this one-of-a-kind, ground-shaking event on camera, for you to see.
Meanwhile, back here on Mother Earth, and especially in Iran and North Korea, what will the "real future" bring?  (After six years with #43 as president, can you say, "Bring 'em on" with a straight face?) 
As Doris Day so aptly sang, "Que Sera, Sera...  What will be, will be.  The future's not ours to see.  Que sera, sera".  For you Arizona residents, please pardon the use of the Spanish language.  As of the time of this writing, your Official Language is English (the King's English?) and don't forget it.  However, back to Doris; any woman who can single-handedly land a DC-6 at San Francisco Airport on only two bounces has my vote for president (hometown girl Nancy Pelosi and New Yorker(?) Hillary Clinton, eat your hearts out).  With it being too late in the game to have Rock Hudson as her VP, is Tab Hunter still available for a draft as Doris' running mate?
The late, great actor, Gabby Hayes (http://jamesmcgillis.com) 
As Gabby Hayes used to say, "Yep". 

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