When man first walked on the Moon, this Motown song was #1 on the US R&B chart. Kenny G and others have covered it, but no one can seem to beat the opening saxophone of the original.

Johnny Bristol was one of the songwriters on this. This is now the fourth song to appear in this space where he was one at least of the songwriters (links to the other three below). He definitely needs a post of his own.

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What does it take
(What does it take)
To win your love for me?
(To win your love for me)
How can I make
(How can I make)
This dream come true for me?
(Had a dream for you)
Whoa, I just got to know
(Have to know)
Ooo, baby ’cause I love you so

‘Gonna blow for you’

I tried, I tried, I tried, I tried
In every way I could
(Anyway I could)
To make you see how much I love you
(See how much I love you)
I thought you understood
(Thought you understood)
So, you gotta make me see
(Make me see)
What does it take
To win your love for me?

‘Gonna blow, again for you’

This is what they showed on television in Australia and New Zealand when man first walked on the Moon. They had a better picture than the US for the first three minutes, but otherwise it was what some 530 million people round the world saw exactly 50 years ago (to the minute from when this post went up).

The pretty colour pictures appeared later, though they were taken during this moonwalk, the only one Apollo 11 had.

It was the largest live television audience up to that time, though more people would later see Muhammad Ali light the Olympic torch in 1996 and Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997.

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Robert Goddard (1882-1945) was a US rocket scientist. He launched the first successful liquid-fuel rocket in 1926, the core technology of the Space Age. Thanks to him we can now leave the world – and end it in a rain of nuclear missiles.

On October 19th 1899, at age 17, he was sitting in a cherry tree cutting off dead branches when:

“I imagined how wonderful it would be to make some device which had even the possibility of ascending to Mars, and how it would look on a small scale, if sent up from the meadow at my feet.”

He was a huge fan of H.G. Wells, especially “The War of the Worlds” (1898), which had just come out. He was also a fan of Jules Verne and Scientific American.

Unlike most fans, he set about to build a spaceship, at age 17, and spent his life doing it.

How to build a spaceship: He loved setting off rockets on the Fourth of July and had a thing for gyroscopes. Both would prove important for reaching Mars, but at first he was thinking of using a sort of perpetual motion machine:

“It seemed to me then that a weight whirling around a horizontal shaft, moving more rapidly above than below, could furnish lift by virtue of the greater centrifugal force at the top of the path.”

He filled notebooks with ideas like that. And became a professor of physics.

In 1914 he had worked out how to reach Mars: it would take a multi-stage rocket using liquid oxygen. He filed his ideas with the US patent office, available to anyone for 10 cents.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in Russia, a fellow Jules Verne fan, had come up with pretty much the same ideas – in 1903! Unfortunately they appeared in The Scientific Review, little read outside Tsarist Russia. And he never tried to build such a device. Goddard did.

In 1920 the New York Times said:

“That Professor Goddard, with his ‘chair’ in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react — to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”

In 1926,at his Aunt Effie’s farm in Auburn, Massachusetts, Goddard launched the first successful liquid-fuel rocket (pictured above).

During the 1930s he tested his rockets near Roswell, New Mexico. Stuff that became familiar in the 1960s – rocket towers, countdowns, slow lift-offs, parachute landings, etc – were all there at Roswell (the scene of a UFO sighting two years after his death).

The first step: His rockets only got about 2.6 km up in the sky (space begins at 100 km), but they were the first step towards the stars.

In 1969, a day after Apollo 11 left for the Moon, the New York Times printed a “correction”:

“it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.”

Apollo 11 leaves for the Moon, July 16th 1969.

– Abagond, 2019.

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John Fea: Believe Me

“Believe Me” (2018) is a book by John Fea subtitled “The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump”. Fea is a historian who wonders how in the world his fellow White Evangelical Protestants wound up voting for someone so clearly immoral as Donald Trump for US president – and at record levels. Trump got 81% of their vote. That is more than George W. Bush, an actual White Evangelical Protestant.


“Evangelicals may have carried Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016, but we should probably see his success among these voters as part of a last-ditch attempt – a kind of Pickett’s Charge, if you will – to win the culture wars.”

Culture wars: White Evangelical Protestants see the US as “their” country. They are, in effect, White Christian nationalists (Fea leaves out the “White” part despite quoting their racist rhetoric). Anyone not White or Christian is pretty much a threat. They are “losing” “their” “Christian nation”, their Promised Land, which has been going downhill morally since the 1960s. Make America Great Again!

It has been going downhill since the 1960s ever since the 1600s:

  • In 1800, for example, Thomas Jefferson, then running for president, was the great moral threat to the nation – he was a Deist. In the 1990s it was Bill Clinton – he lied under oath about being unfaithful to his wife.
  • In the 1850s it was Irish and German Catholics coming into the country who were going to destroy it. Now it is Muslims and Mexicans.
  • In the early 1900s beer and wine were the great moral scourge of the nation. Since the 1980s it has been abortion.

Notice the constant fearmongering. That sets the stage for a strongman.

Abortion: In 1973 when the US Supreme Court allowed the killing of unborn children in Roe v Wade, White evangelicals saw it as a Catholic issue. To them the big threats were equal rights for women and being forced to go to school with Black people.

Not till the 1980s did abortion become a huge issue for them, as it has been ever since.

Putting all your eggs in one basket: There are many ways to fight abortion, not all of them political, but White evangelicals have pretty much pinned their hopes on just one: elect presidents who will pick judges for the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v Wade. Even if said president lacks moral character!

Machiavellians for Christ: Christianity is not a political religion. Politics is about power and power usually corrupts. It has turned some White evangelical leaders, like James Dobson, into Donald Trump’s bootlickers right before our eyes, causing untold damage to Christian witness. In Scripture holy men do not lick boots. They speak truth to power. It can be done:

A better model: Fea says evangelicals should be about humility not power, hope not fear, history not nostalgia for a past that never truly was. A great example of all that was the Civil Rights Movement as led by an evangelical pastor – Martin Luther King Jr.

– Abagond, 2019.

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Tucker Carlson of Fox News wrote about Ta-Nehisi Coates, among other things, in his book “Ship of Fools” (2018). Here is some of what he said:

“His father was a member of the Black Panther Party who had seven children by four women.”

“Coates was an introverted boy who loved comic books. He failed eleventh-grade English but nevertheless was able to enroll in Howard University. He attended for five years but failed to graduate, in part because he failed classes on British and American literature.”

On Coates writing style:

  • “leaden” writing
  • “tremendous length” – one of his essays was 16 pages long!
  • “a meandering structure that never quite gets to the point”
  • “everything is about white racism”

On Coates’s most famous book:

Between the World and Me is an unusually bad book: poorly written, intellectually flabby, relentlessly shallow and bigoted. No honest reader with an IQ over 100 could be impressed by it. …

“It’s a measure how thoroughly the diversity cult has corroded the aesthetic standards of our elites that the book was greeted with almost unanimous praise, which is to say, lying.”

On Coates’s essay about Trump’s racist appeal as the first White president:

“In fact, Trump outperformed Mitt Romney with black and Hispanic voters. Coates does not address this.”

On Coates’s appeal:

“Elites feel like good people when they read Ta-Nehisi Coates. It’s exactly the kind of book you’d like to be seen bringing to the beach. What they don’t want is to change their lives in any meaningful way. Coates doesn’t ask them to. Admit you’re bad, Coates says. Gladly, they reply. Nothing changes except how elites feel about themselves. Coates is their confessor. His books are their penance”

This bit is a Black reaction, or, at a stretch, a White progressive one. It is a point that Cornel West and John McWhorter made.

White conservatives like Carlson, by definition, would be against such change and would hardly decry its lack. Instead, seeing the social order as more or less just, they would tend to see Coates as eaten up by an unreasonable hatred for White people and his writing as deepening the divide in the country, threatening said social order. And in fact, Carlson went on to make just those points.

For example, in “Between the World and Me” Coates at one point talks about a White woman pushing his son on an escalator. After that Coates says:

“The plunder of black life was drilled into this country in its infancy and reinforced across its history, so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting to which, likely to the end of our days, we must invariably return.”

Carlson’s reaction:

“This is nutty. It’s also dumb. But more than anything, it’s hostile. Coates despises White people. He doesn’t hide it.”

and later:

“there’s no question that irresponsible rhetoric like Coates’s, and the equally irresponsible response it received from elites, was inflaming racial tensions in America. Yelling about imaginary racism was making people hate one another.”

– Abagond, 2019.

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Tucker Carlson on Ilhan Omar

Tucker Carlson, a White man who has a television show on Fox News in the US, is against racism:

“This show, more than any other show on television, has taken an aggressive position in favor of color-blind equality and against racism, particularly the casual racism of the modern left.”

Ilhan Omar is a Black Congresswoman who came to the US from Somalia as a child. She is also against racism. But when she points it out, she is an Ungrateful Darky:

“Our country rescued Ilhan Omar from the single poorest place on Earth. We didn’t do it for the money, we did it because we are kind people. How did she respond to the remarkable gift we gave her?

“She scolded us, called us names, showered us with contempt. It’s infuriating. More than that, it is also ominous. The United States admits more immigrants more than any other country on Earth, more than a million every year. The Democratic Party demand we increase that by and admit far more. OK, Americans like immigrants, but immigrants have got to like us back.

“That’s the key, it’s essential. Otherwise, the country falls apart.”

White paternalism is the name for this: White people are kind and helpful and know best. Everyone else is a threat to the nation, should know their place and shut up. That is racist, by the way.

It gets worse:

“It’s not about race. But, of course, Omar and her friends already know that. Nothing they say on the subject of race is sincere. It’s all the hustle designed to get them what they want. Omar has made a career of denouncing anyone and anything in her way as racist. That would include virtually all of her political and personal opponents. It includes even inanimate objects like the border wall, that’s racist.”

Racial grievance industry: Omar was taught to imagine racism:

“Omar may be from another country but she learned young that crying racism pays. The bigger question is, who taught her that? She didn’t arrive from a Kenyan refugee camp announcing people as bigots for a political campaign. She wasn’t always a professional victim. That is learned behavior.”

He thinks Omar secretly agrees with him about racism – just as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez secretly agrees with him about climate change.

Just for the record, as someone who has been accused of “crying racism”, I am not making it up. There might be particular cases where I got it wrong, but even then it was an honest mistake, not a cynical ploy. I gain neither power nor money by writing about it under a pen name on a WordPress blog. Nor am I and millions of others just imagining it:

Science, that thing Fox News seems allergic to, has shown that both racism and man-made climate change are matters of fact, contrary to Carlson. And, given that the US power structure was built on racism and fossil fuels, it stands to reason that it is not the scientists who are in denial.

– Abagond, 2019.

Sources: Google Images, Fox News.

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David Bowie: Space Oddity


Also known as “Major Tom”, this song came out on July 11th 1969, just five days before Apollo 11 blasted off for the Moon. It made his name. It is still his most famous song. It went to #1 on the pop chart in Britain and to #14 across the Anglosphere as a whole (weighted average).

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Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills
and put your helmet on

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Liftoff

Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown,
engines on
Check ignition
and may God’s love be with you

This is Ground Control
to Major Tom
You’ve really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it’s time to leave the capsule
if you dare

This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating
in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do

Though I’m past
one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much
she knows

Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit’s dead,
there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you….

Here am I floating
round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do.

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