Another Failure in the Age of Mediocrity

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Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface at “Tranquility Base”, July 20, 1969

The recent “flop” by the Odysseus lunar lander in the lunar south polar region is being celebrated as a brilliant success. It landed and literally fell over on its side – it flopped.

Of course the celebration, since the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris and the White House have characterized this failure as a brilliant success on their respective Twitter (X) pages.

Because anything that almost works these days, or even fails, is a “success”.

We’ve become accustomed to mediocrity in this country, in our educational institutions, in our elected officials, in just about every facet of our lives.

Plummeting Academics

Over the decades, the standards have continuously been downgraded. It started about 30 years ago in the primary and secondary schools and then eventually creeped up to the university level. I know, I was a part of this later phenomenon. I was on the receiving end of high school graduates, new college freshman, who were unable to read a clock! Literally, they (most) never learned how to read a clock!

The City University of New York, in unison with New York’s Governor at the time, Andrew Cuomo, and the New York State Education Department, downgraded the graduating requirements for CUNY institutions starting with a watering-down of most science courses. As an example, a 4 credit Physics or Astronomy course with a laboratory requirement was downgraded to a 3 credit course with reduced mathematical rigor and no lab requirement. Why, you may ask? The plummeting graduation rates. Why were the graduation rates plummeting? Easy answer: the incoming freshman WERE NOT PREPARED for college. They’re still not (prepared) and its getting worse. Too many video and computer games, easy access to and proliferation of “Smartphones”, too much “Googling the answer” with the corresponding lack of any meaningful enforcement of academic integrity on school-administered exams and a celebration of mediocrity in the run-up to high school graduation.

A “Failing” Strategy

Rather than drop out and as a means to keep them in school, poorly performing students were encouraged to remain in by celebrating their mediocrity with the mantra played loud and long “no one is a failure, everyone is a success” even when their work and performance was as poor as it could be.

Some of these students eventually graduated [high school], some didn’t. Very few of them went on to college and those who did, some dropped out, some finished but very few of them amounted to what anyone would characterize as a success.

This strategy did nothing to help these students but only disenfranchised them. Failing students were passed along to the next grade rather than leave them behind to complete the necessary classes/courses they needed to function in a civilized and increasingly technical society. In most states -I can speak only of experience in New York State- state law requires that all be educated up through the graduating year corresponding to their 21st birthday. Whether or not they graduate by this time, the state has fulfilled its obligation under the law.

Some of these people went on to run businesses, some, adept at playing video and computer games, went on to form “start-ups”, much like the company whose lander has now flopped over on its side at the lunar south pole.

And now you know the rest of the story

It will only continue and get worse as these people (mostly millennials), now adults, continue to permeate all levels of society. The generation coming up now is an order of magnitude worse. When these individuals eventually grow up (not in the physical sense either since they’re already biologically mature) and become assimilated into society, this country will be unrecognizable to what it is even today, never mind what it used to be when we put men on the moon -my generation.

The Apollo Lunar Program, A Real Success Story

Neil Armstrong made his historic descent down the ladder of Apollo 11 to the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. I know, I was in Florida for the launch of Apollo 11 and watched the rest of the EVAs, as they were called, on BW TV. I’ve met and spoken with Dr. Buzz Aldrin (companion to Neil Armstrong) and Commander Fred Haise of Apollo 13. None of it was faked. It was all real; we did land on the moon 6 times between 1969 and 1972. This all happened almost 60 years ago.

We sent a lander with 2 astronauts in it to the moon’s surface and one to orbit the moon beginning 55 years ago, 6 times, ending with Apollo 17 in 1972. With the exception of Apollo 13, all were a spectacular success. Even in its failure (to land on the moon, since it did have to orbit the moon once to return to earth), Apollo 13 was a spectacular success in its failure. Today, we can’t even set a single, unmanned lander down on the lunar surface without it TIPPING OVER!

The Use of A Slide Rule as a High School Graduation Requirement

There is more computing power today in a pocket calculator than there was in the Apollo landers. Today with super computers, “Smartphones”, AI and an allegedly “technically adept” society, we can’t do today what was done almost 60 years ago with what amounts to a slide rule by comparison. Yes, a slide rule, the use of which was a requirement to graduate high school! Give a slide rule to a college freshman or a graduating high school senior today and they’ll look at you as if you’re an alien.

Needless to say, there are no images available of the lander as it is now. For those interested in following this story, you can do so here:

What Happens Now?

Since the US Government is the primary funder of Intuitive Machines, the US Taxpayer will bail them out much like they did on numerous occasions when the banks failed (using customer deposits to fund risky investments – when the investments fail, as they often do, the public, the taxpayer, are left holding the bag. Under Glass–Steagall this practice was illegal). As an aside, the following stories should not come as a surprise:

Intuitive Machines slumps as moon lander likely has 10-20 hours of battery life left

and this

Intuitive Machines Set to Lose Moon Landing Gains on Fresh Drop

Welcome to the 21st century of ineptitude!

A quick, interactive web-based version of Stellarium is available here Tonight's Sky. When you launch the application, it defaults to north-facing and your location (on mobile and desktop).

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