Five at 8 – 7/20/09

You know it. I know it. The only reason to open an eye on Monday is for the Monday Rouser.

Let’s Rouse:

1) I was a little disappointed with last evening’s documentary on Walter Cronkite. Having a few Hollywood celebrities to pep up the tribute seemed completely unCronkitey. Miles O”Brien, the former CNN anchor, has a multi-part story of when he coaxed Cronkite out of retirement to help cover John Glenn’s return to space. Start here.

Jeff Dvorkin, the former NPR ombudsman, also has a personal story about Cronkite to share.

2) This is, you’ve probably heard, the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. Lane Wallace has the look back for techno geeks.

The Apollo computer was digital, but it had a whopping 36KB of memory. Think about that. We went to the moon on 36K. A simple email message today can take up more computer space than that. On the plus side, the computer had a mean time between failures of more than 70,000 hours. (This reliability led NASA to later use the computer to control the first digital fly-by-wire aircraft without any mechanical back-up.) But because of the limited memory, the interface of the Apollo computer (shown below) was primitive. Every word command had a code number. So, for example, to open a valve, the astronaut would hit “verb,” then the number for the word “open,” then hit “noun,” then the code for the valve he wanted open, and then hit “enter.”

If you’re an “extreme geek,” you can build your own Apollo computer. A person recently uploaded all the schematics you’ll need — about 1,000 pages worth.

Last week we wondered weather footprints and the stuff we left on the moon are still there. The BBC has photos from a spacecraft that shows they are.

In our commentary section, U of M astronomy professor Roberta Humphreys says Hubble is the crowning achievement of our post-Apollo world.

Charles Apple at looks at some of the best Sunday papers special sections honoring the Apollo mission.

3) Family plot. The West Central Tribune has the story of a mix-up in which a woman’s body was interred in the grave reserved for her brother. The cemetery says it’ll fix things but the interesting nugget is the revelation that there’s an etiquette in these kind of things:

Handt said the traditional practice in cemeteries is to bury the deceased daughters to the right of their mother’s body and sons to the left.

4) Alright, look, this is getting serious. Vacations are for vacationing, not sitting in parking lots late at night in some far-away locale checking in on work. What’s the matter with us? Discussion point: When was the moment — and where were you — when you realized you had to disconnect from your laptop?

5) Web Site Story. There’s an earworm or two here:


After turmoil this spring and summer over the Metro Gang Strike Force, the state of Minnesota on Friday shut the unit down. Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion said the task force had lost all credibility. Do gangs pose such a threat that the metro area needs a special unit to fight them? How much of a problem are gangs in your community?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – A few weeks ago, doctors and nurses got together in the UBS Forum to discuss health care. Does the need for reform look different on that side of things? Second hour: Classical musician Christopher O’Riley listens to alternative rock and hears the classical bones within. He talks about how he builds his interpretations for piano and performs his latest work.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: University of Minnesota planetary scientist and Apollo adviser Robert Pepin on the 40th anniversary of the moon landing to discuss what was learned. Second hour: The late Walter Cronkite speaking in 2005 at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The rules of assassination. Second hour: A controversial new program promises to find and capture terrorists

— not for the CIA; for TV. Does “The Wanted” go too far for ratings?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Chris Roberts reports on the rise of art blogs and how they’re affecting the arts landscape. A lot of people who work for NASA were inspired by Apollo. So a lot of people who work for NASA are getting long in the tooth. NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce will have that story. Daniel Zwerdling has the story of teenager daughters of men who went to war. How they lost — and found — their bearings.

  • kennedy

    I notice an unusual dearth of replies to the question of the day. Are people so uncomfortable with gangs that they won’t even blog about them? Or is there some other reason? Or am I seeing something that isn’t there?