Friday, 2 May 2014

drive me to the moon

The moon is about a quarter of a million miles away. Good thing too. If it rolled onto your foot, it would hurt. A lot.

I've been teaching people to drive since 2005. For one reason and another, it's a high mileage sort of job. Now that I'm busy, I'm doing almost 30,000 miles a year. When I was struggling for work, I'd take clients who lived a fair old drive away from home, because I needed the work. Although I was struggling to make ends meet, I was still putting in a lot of miles.

Point being, that at some undefined time, I will have traveled a distance equivalent to driving to the moon in the course of doing my job. I reckon that's some time about now, although those miles include driving that has nothing to do with teaching.

Robert Heinlein, in his book, Job: A comedy of Justice, sets his protagonist washing dishes in a Mexican restaurant, to pay off a debt. The guy works out the combined height of the dishes and plates he's washed, and when they reach the height of the local lighthouse, he celebrates.

Mazatlán lighthouse, in the book, is a monumental edifice. It's destruction, in an earthquake (2 earthquakes really) is a potent image. In reality, it is poised atop a high promontory, but is in itself, not particularly impressive.

It may be that Heinlein intentionally made the lighthouse an imposing structure to increase the vividity of the imagary when it was destroyed, but it may be he never visited Mazatlán. It looks as if he fell victim to a common misconception.

After learning that the Mazatlan lighthouse holds the title of highest in the world, visitors often start searching the coastline for a magnificently tall structure and after finding none, wonder where the lighthouse is. In fact, the ranking comes from the lighthouse’s high elevation atop a nearby hill.

So if a poorly researched work of fiction can triumphantly trumpet an arbitrary achievement, I reckon I can announce, with equal  validity, that in the course of my work, I have now driven a distance equivalent to driving to The Moon.

I'm now working on driving back again.

driving lessons in North Wirral? learn to drive in Hoylake? driving instructor in Birkenhead?


Pete said...

I do not believe the Americans went to the moon. I think the whole thing was cooked up in a studio somewhere.

Jim Bliss said...

I'm willing to give credence to a lot of conspiracy theories (though fewer than I once was), Pete, but the "fake moon-landings" one is a non-starter. Even during the 90s when I was an acid-fried paranoid loon who considered 'The X-Files' to be a Reality TV show, that one made absolutely no sense. It's not even that the theory is full of holes... in truth, there's a lot more "hole" than theory there.

Pete said...

Have another look. Particularly at what has been achieved (or not) since (technology-wise) and the presentation of the events at the time (tv pics, etc.). I think it (the theory it was a huge lie) still has legs. Think of all the money that was sunk into it, they couldn't come up empty-handed and say it was not possible. I'm telling you. We, the public, have no idea of how much in public money is re-appropriated and redistribued and the means by which that is achieved.

I am not saying it is so. But I certainly believe it is very possible (can you tell!)

My final point, the bigger the lie, the more likely you are to get away with it.

Paul said...

I think it's important to include the context.

There are two major world powers, in opposition, saying to each other,

"Hey! Look! We've got these big powerful rockets that could put a massive payload anywhere we chose"

They didn't do it just so that they could get some pretty pictures and a non=stick coating for frying pans.

Pete said...

It was for the cheese. ;)

Jim Bliss said...

I could write reams and reams about the sheer improbability of the moon landings being a hoax. In order to believe it was a hoax, one has to believe so many weird things about the world that just don't make any sense. Chief among them, you have to believe that in 1969 either:

a) The USSR and China colluded in the hoaxes in order to give the USA a huge PR victory over them. Or:

b) They did not have the technology to detect the hoax and expose it.

I'm pretty confident that Soviet technology was sufficiently advanced to work out whether a global broadcast was originating from the moon, or from Texas. And to detect and track near earth rockets if the trajectory has been published well in advance.

On top of that, most of the so-called photographic "evidence" turns out to be people who simply don't understand enough about photography to understand how photographs taken on the moon with a single light source *should* look.

And finally, this chap has a very convincing point to make about relative levels of technological advancement...