Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > User Forums > Politics & Society

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 19th Dec 2004, 18:00   #1
RC
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default The Christian Coalition and space TV

This is for Maggie. Dom Stasi is a very interesting guy, perhaps you already know his writing. He never runs out of breath, but it's always heartfelt, and never all opinion, always some factual info that's worth hearing about.

Some remarks there about the moonwalk as well, which may pertain to today's Palimp discussion.

The quote is from a longer article, at www.bushwatch.net/dom.htm

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Moral Victory


Religious Exploitation, and the New American Creed

By Dom Stasi

Our moral perils are not those of conscious malice or the explicit lust for power. They are the perils which can be understood only if we realize the ironic tendency of virtues to turn into vices when too complacently relied upon; and of power to become vexatious if the wisdom which directs it is trusted too confidently.  Reinhold Neibuhr IN THE BEGINNING
I remember it as though it were yesterday. I was a young engineer fresh from a successful and heady seven years in the manned lunar expedition program called Project Apollo.

Along with thousands of other American engineers, scientists, pilots, and technicians, people accustomed to working in relative obscurity, we had found ourselves suddenly at the center of the universe. And though Albert Einstein had already proven that everything and anything can rightfully be considered the center of the universe, Im speaking less prosaically. For a young man in the morning of his career, or an old man at its dusk, and today I can speak with knowledge of both circumstances, Project Apollo was that something we would remember the rest of our days. Physics aside, Apollo simply was for a time the center of the universe of men. Anyone who had the great good fortune and talent to be a part of it, would be changed for the experience, and changed for the better. Such harmless vanity is simply human nature. We are all of us creatures who delight in success however small might be our part in its achievement. Self esteem is critical to our well being as humans. On Apollo it made us all work harder and with more passion than any work Ive known since. Contributing to Project Apollo, and earning the trust and respect of project engineers older and wiser than I, and ultimately that of the astronauts themselves, gave this and so many other young Americans a special kind of self-confidence. Few have had such an opportunity so early in their lives and careers. Fewer still might have accepted it, for failure would have haunted all our days, and with each new moonrise, our nights as well. Its been said that experience doesnt change a person, but make him more of what he already is. Perhaps that is so. Think of the challenges you have faced in your own life. Think of how your responses to them tempered or softened you, contributed to, or somehow affected your social, intellectual, and perhaps, spiritual growth and attitudes. Reflecting upon ones life can be a rewarding or a painful exercise. Yet it is a thing from which we cannot hide. As Socrates observed, An unconsidered life is not worth living. Extreme? Perhaps. But keep these concepts of self top of mind. Remain mindful of self-confidence, self-esteem, and, not incidentally, self-worth as you read on.

Of course, even the best of good things must come to an end. So it was with Apollo. But at its close, when few outside the program really cared about silly-appearing moonwalks anymore, I was one of a relatively small group of Earthlings who had learned the empirical science of orbital mechanics and knew about sending moving pictures home from space. In our seven years of transmitting and receiving them, all of America had seen those pictures. All of the world would see those pictures evolve over time from grainy, hardly discernable monochromatic images to full color, full motion, high resolution renditions worthy of National Geographic. Yet, in the mid-Seventies, and the end of manned missions to other worlds, those of us still with the civilian sector of the US Space Program were developing more pragmatic concerns about its future and our own. Wed all be looking for work soon. As for me and my own future, the ability to send moving pictures back from space seemed an esoteric skill at best, a skill wholly devoid of commercial value and now, with no new worlds on the trip sheet, it was becoming boring as well. I grew restless.

As things turned out, I was one of the lucky ones. I could stay on at the aerospace plant where wed built the Lunar Lander. But with the program essentially over, I would have to transfer back to jets, back to reconnaissance flight test where Id started out, but in 1975, I and just about every other American had had his fill of warplanes. Also, I came to realize that Id lost my young mans taste for dangerous work. I was a husband and father now, and that was a convenient excuse to rationalize my growing yellow streak. I needed a change. I needed another kind of job, and we were in another stupid recession that the equally stupid TV economists never saw coming, yet dished out advice about to the credulous masses. Some things never change. Some jobs dont need a skill or a record of success to prevail. Unlike the unforgiving field of flight test, TV seemed full of such performance-free jobs. But I was an engineer, not a TV economist. Id learned about video technology flying Air Force reconnaissance in the Arctic, transferred it to a civilian career. It was the technology that revealed the Russian missiles in Cuba, and kept tabs on the Russian bombers poised like coils to spring from Siberia if things in Cuba went awry. It was that same video technology in civilian dress that had allowed us to see the moon walks. But in its private-sector application, the application known as commercial broadcast television, video was used shamefully. Commercial television it seemed, was a medium created by our collective genius only to have it exploit our collective stupidityat least stupidity enough to buy the junk they were continuously peddling from its screens. A career in broadcast television engineering held little allure.

I was offered a job with the State Departments Voice Of America propaganda arm, went through all the loyalty and security checks only to turn it down - twice. I tried teaching college for a time, but found myself too young and selfish to be satisfied by teaching others what I still wanted to be doing myself. But where? Who in the world needed a guy whose skill was sending movies back from space?

The answer came in a completely unexpected phone call.

Home Box Office was something Id never heard of before that call came in out of the blue. Home Box Office. HBO? Whats that? I asked the eager-sounding head hunter on the other end of the phone.

Next thing I knew I was sitting in a mahogany clad room high in the Time-Life Building on Rockefeller Center in New York City. This was no airplane factory. Elegant perfect women glided by, sylphlike and intimidating. All the men were dressed in white shirt and tie. I was too, of course. Yet, hidden beneath my jacket, was the only short-sleeved white shirt in the room. How impractical of them, thought I. Its high summer. Why wear long sleeves only to roll them up? Dont these guys get it? Id found another world, it seemed, right here on Earth.

Otherworldly or not, TV and motion pictures was the world in which I would spend the next 30 years of my engineering career. But first I had to get through this interview, or meeting or whatever it was. Eventually, I was led to a private corner office where I was introduced to yet another of the a long-sleeved executives. His sleeves were not rolled, but terminated in silver cuff links: obviously a big shot. To my amazement the guy wanted to send movies  real Hollywood movies - back from space. Looking beyond his obvious lack of industrial fashion sense, I told him he was nuts. Then I told him why he was nuts. He dismissed my unqualified psychoanalytic opinions, but listened intently to my technical ones. To my surprise, he offered me a job. To my further surprise, I took it. So much for lofty ideals and even loftier opinions. I was in the stupid television business, and in it to stay.

Six months later, our antenna hoisted 22,300 miles above the Earth by a converted Atlas Delta missile, HBO, was sending movies back from space. It was an idea that caught on quickly in the private sector. With a single satellite in space, TV signals  in the case of HBO, movies  could be received at every single inch of the United States mainland. There would be no 1500 foot towers (which as a pilot Id always hated), no million watt transmitters, and no 100 mile contour limits of the sort that barricade traditional terrestrial broadcast signals. Nothing of the sort would impede our little 5 watt transmitter in the sky. Borne upon a satellite channel whose power was equal to but that of a night-light bulb, one signal from space could blanket the entire continental US and most of populous Canada. It was pure brilliance on the part of those long-sleeved executives  practical physics and military technology now put to private and peaceful use. No mind-numbing commercials, and no numb-minded censors either. I liked it here. This wasnt stupid. This was cool. This was way cool. Funny, isnt it, how were able to abandon even strongly held opinions when our self interest is better served by forming new ones?

Firmly ensconced in HBOs fledgling engineering department, and with our early successes a matter of technical record, I suddenly found myself being invited to speak at seminars on how to do this TV from space thing. Ironically, I was teaching again, albeit in a different venue. Over the next couple of years I would visit all 50 states. But it was a tutorial for TV execs in the deep South that would remain an event apart from all the others. Though I was a speaker, I was still new to the entertainment business, so I knew no one in attendance. But my talk had gone well, the college teaching experience was paying off, so there would be no problem finding eager dinner companions among so large an audience.

Descending the podium, I had noticed but a single empty chair in the entire room. Taking it, I found myself at a table of strangely egalitarian folk. They were gentle in manner. They welcomed me expansively. They introduced themselves. To my delight, they spoke less of arcane technology than they did of their fellow man and their responsibilities toward humanity that such technology could help them fulfill. I listened, interested, noting that they all had that sort of deliberate not quite real Dixie accent that Id learned to recognize in actors when playing Southern characters before the camera. But why here? Their names - remarkable in retrospect, but hardly noteworthy at the time - were Jimmy Swaggart, Paul Crouch, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Pat Robertson, Robert Tilton, and a guy named Billy Batts. I was present, I know now, at American Televangelisms Big Bang, or if you prefer, its Genesis. Big league Fundamentalist Christian TV Evangelism was born at that table that day.

These seemingly gentle folk were fairly voracious in their acceptance of this new way to spread The Word, nationwide. Worldwide! They were there to learn of a new way to propagate their version of the Gospel Of Jesus Christ. They conversed in Biblical quotes, nodding their heads in profound understanding, Amen, brother, so on. The experience seems a bit surreal now. It was not. They were there to buy satellite antennas and anything else they would need to fulfill their self-proclaimed mission as Christs revisionist vicars on Earth. They each seemed to have a little licensed religious TV station of their own somewhere in the US, and if they hooked that signal to the satellite, they would not only be able, but mandated to have that signal carried by another hot, new medium: cable television. That mandate would come from a little known federal communications law known as the Must Carry Rule. It was little known to you and me, perhaps, but well known to the budding televangelists. These seemingly innocent people, and the equally innocent seeming circumstances that brought us together would change the lives of everyone at that table in the decades to come. And that in turn would affect the world in a way none of us could have imagined. Because, and though I had no way of knowing it, America was about to take its first step on a 30 year journey to the Dark Ages. Today we know it only as the 21st Century. When looking back upon it, history will prove less kind.
  Reply With Quote
Old 19th Dec 2004, 20:11   #2
Maggie
Palimpsestarian
is a palimpsestin' fool!
 
Join Date: 11 Nov 2004
Location: state of Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 543
Default

Thanks R.C.

I hadn't read this. It makes sense given an interview seen recently on televsion. The interview was with a gentleman named Ralph Reed. He was the director of the Christian Coalition. He resigned in 1997 to start working on the 2000 campaign. During the interview he made no bones about the fact that the Coalition wants a strong hold in all of our governing offices, local, state and federal. Their next big thing will be the Supreme Court judges.

Yikes ! We women shall have to become the Stephford Wives :x
__________________
In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900


http://www.flickr.com/photos/79565255@N00/
Maggie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th Jan 2005, 14:50   #3
RC
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

I've just noticed that this topic has but one reply (until now, this makes two) and 686 views! What's that all about? Usually, I've noticed, the ratio is very roughly about one to ten or fifteen.
(Used to be. Looking again I see that it's a little higher now than my old estimate.)
  Reply With Quote
Old 9th Jan 2005, 17:29   #4
NottyImp
the aging anarchist
could do better
 
NottyImp's Avatar
 
Join Date: 16 May 2003
Location: Afloat, also!
Posts: 1,827
Default

Well, you did say it was for Maggie.
__________________
Currently reading: The Way to Bright Star: Dee Brown.
NottyImp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th Jan 2005, 17:33   #5
RC
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Noooooo!! I mean, who are the 686 viewers???
  Reply With Quote
Old 9th Jan 2005, 17:34   #6
NottyImp
the aging anarchist
could do better
 
NottyImp's Avatar
 
Join Date: 16 May 2003
Location: Afloat, also!
Posts: 1,827
Default

Lol - oh, I see. God only knows...
__________________
Currently reading: The Way to Bright Star: Dee Brown.
NottyImp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th Jan 2005, 17:37   #7
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default

The last time that happened it was with JS's first review of Little Mart's Yellow Dog, or whatever it was called, and all the Amis fans poured in to read it.
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th Jan 2005, 17:43   #8
NottyImp
the aging anarchist
could do better
 
NottyImp's Avatar
 
Join Date: 16 May 2003
Location: Afloat, also!
Posts: 1,827
Default

So it must be the Dom Stasi fans, then.
__________________
Currently reading: The Way to Bright Star: Dee Brown.
NottyImp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th Jan 2005, 19:54   #9
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default

Wow, you're right RC, that's pretty amazing. My Yellow Dog review only got so many hits because it was one of the first ones around (done in July 03 I think, courtesy of a free proof copy from a kind benefactor, when the book was published and embargoed until Sep 03) and as a result Prof. James Diedrick who runs the excellent Martin Amis Web found it and linked to it on his site. Which in turn pushed it up the Google rankings (I think at one point Palimpsest was number one result when you googled for "Martin Amis Yellow Dog"). The only other thing that it's happened to - before now - was amner's series of reviews on David Peace's quartet (1974, 1977, 1980 and 1983). Check the book reviews forum but I think they got about 200 hits without any replies. Whether someone on a Peace fan site was linking to them I don't know. Similarly someone must be linking to yours, somewhere.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th Jan 2005, 20:33   #10
Wavid
Administrator
befriends strangers
 
Wavid's Avatar
 
Join Date: 10 Apr 2003
Location: Lincolnshire
Posts: 4,553
Send a message via AIM to Wavid Send a message via MSN to Wavid Send a message via Yahoo to Wavid Send a message via Skype™ to Wavid
Default

Either way, it's probably cost me an arm and leg in bandwidth, so cheers!
__________________
Site Admin | Blog | Reading List | Email | Current Reading: The Sportswriter, Richard Ford
Wavid is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 8:59.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.