Wednesday, September 18, 2013

American Exceptionalism

We all know, and especially those of us who work in Film and Television, that Americans are better than us. They must be. They’re the only guys you ever hear about on all those Canadian Showbiz magazine shows.

And worldwide, Americans pride themselves on their accomplishments at everything from curing Polio to landing on the Moon. And most of us appreciate those accomplishments and understand the pride.

But the swagger bugs us a little. Because a lot of other places and people also do great things that seldom get talked about, let alone trumpeted to the world –- again allow me to reference all those Canadian Showbiz magazine shows.

Lately, a number of Americans have taken exception with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin for taking up space in the New York Times to basically say it’s okay to toot your own horn, just don’t go around thinking you’re the only guy who’s got one.

Vladimir Putin gifs

Now, much as I don’t hold much affection for Mr. Putin’s policies, I gotta agree with him here. And he may well be basing his opinion on something he learned while heading up the KGB.

For there is a rarely told story from the bad old days of the Cold War and the Russian American Space Race…

It seems that early on, NASA noticed that ballpoint pens didn’t work in zero gravity.

So they spent ten years and $12 Billion dollars developing the Space Pen, which does write in zero gravity as well as upside down, underwater and even on glass at temperatures up to 300 degrees Centigrade -– despite the fact that upside down, underwater and glass at 300 degrees were seldom to be encountered conditions in space exploration.

Russian Cosmonauts, on the other hand, simply used a pencil.

Think of this the next time you see a Canadian TV series being ignored on eTalk.


Clint Johnson said...

The wood and graphite in pencils was a fire hazard in the 100% oxygen environment. Sharpening or breaking the point on pencils created debris that floated around until it was sucked into the air system, was breathed in, or lodged in an astronaut's eye. The graphite was also conductive so would short out electrical equipment if it drifted into the wrong spot. Pencils were, and are, a hazard in space.

That is why Paul Fisher of Fisher Pen Company out of Boulder, Colorado, spent his own personal money to develop a fully sealed and pressurized pen that he then sold to NASA for $2.49 cent each. He also sold it to the Soviet Union.

No American or Russian crewed mission has gone to space with pencils since about 1968, they have all used the relatively inexpensive AG7 ($50 today) developed by an American.

So... uhm... yeah, you gave another example of that damn American Exceptionalism.

Anonymous said...

I just have to point out that Canadians swagger way, way, way more than Americans.

Americans never send around lists of why America is better than Canada.

Upon meeting a Canadian, Americans don't hold forth on everything they think is wrong with the other person's country.

Americans don't insult Canadians to their face and then claim to be "more polite."

Anonymous said...

Yes, I hate it when Putin is right. As he says about Syria: "why do you want to arm al Queda?".