Monday, January 16, 2017

Last Man On The Moon

Gene Cernan, the last man that landed on the moon has passed at the age of 82.  This is sad in several ways.  First off, the obvious, he was well liked and my condolences go to his family.  But on another aspect, it shows that no one has been on back to the moon for over 40 years.  I had hoped we would go back again, but after the Space Shuttle program was canceled without a replacement, I don't think we ever will if things continue on their current path.  And that is a shame.

It is a shame because we learned a lot during the Apollo missions, and the missions before it.  About our planet, about the moon, and much of the everyday technology we now enjoy came out of those programs.  Our computers would never have advanced to the level that we have now, freeze dried foods wouldn't have been developed, and even scratch resistant lenses came out of the Space Race.  But there is so much more.

I realize manned space exploration is dangerous and extremely expensive.  However, we also get a lot out of it.  Some may say that there are more important issues here on Earth.  While I agree, you need look at all the benefits we use each and every day that came out of our conquest of space.  In the end, it all comes back and we are better for it.

As a science fiction author that dreams about the future, Cernan's passing feels like we ran into a large sign saying DEAD END.  While our stories will never stop, I think we as a race need to take up the gauntlet once again and do the impossible.  Go back to the moon, then after we get that down pat, expand from there.  To simply put, nothing worthwhile happens unless you try.  The choice is ours, and I hope we chose wisely.

Don DeBon is the author of Red Warp, Time Rock, Soulmates, and The Husband. Currently available on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and other retailers.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ringling Brothers To Close After 146 Years

I recently came across that Ringling Brothers circus is to close down this May.  At the moment I am left dumbfounded.  I never thought there would be a day where the circus was extinct.  Heck, how many science fiction stories used it to tell of a time in the far future where people still enjoyed a traveling circus?  Many I know.  Even quite a few television series have used the theme.

Ringling Brothers cite several reasons for the closing (high cost, traveling issues, animal rights groups, change in public interests), and while I understand them it still a shock.  I am sure the largest issue is the change in the latest generation of children.  The circus used to be a wonderment to be hold for a child, where the seeming impossible happened.  Now it is "ho-hum" pushed to the side by intensive games and movies that are available on their tablets with the tap of a finger.

I have seen children with tablets as young as three.  While in some respects it is giving them a head start on technology, it is also contributing to the problem of diminishing attention span.  Kenneth Feld, the CEO mentioned how the whole show is 2 hours 7 minutes with the longest segment being a 12 minute tiger act.

"Try getting a 3- or 4-year-old today to sit for 12 minutes," he said.

I knew there was a problem with attention span in today's children was bad, but not to this extreme.  To me, 12 minutes happens in a eye blink.  The average animated (cartoon) show is 20 minutes long (without commercials) and they can sit though that without issues.  Well at least most will.  Some kids won't sit still no matter what, and this was occurring long before tablets and video games.  But then again, if they are addicted to tablets or other screens, that is a different situation.

Personally though, I would much rather see the show in person than on a screen.  Although I have to admit, if you don't bring binoculars, the views from a video with a strong focal magnification is going to seem better in some respects than a live show.  But you can't turn your head and see other aspects.  The movement of the other performers as the hurry to get into place, or prepare for the next segment.  It is such a different feel that I still have difficulty seeing a child not enjoying the show, if they would actually go.  No animal on a screen can replace one lumbering up in front of you.  But as Feld mentioned, the challenge to maintain an affordable ticket price had become increasingly difficult.  I am sure this is the largest factor in the decision.  In the end, it all comes down to no longer being a viable business.

The closure of The Greatest Show On earth enters in another era, and I can't say it is an improvement.

Don DeBon is the author of Red Warp, Time Rock, Soulmates, and The Husband. Currently available on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and other retailers.