Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lego Man In Space: How Much Has Changed

This pretty is pretty viral, so you likely have seen it, or read the story: Canadian teens Mathew Ho & Asad Muhammad spent five months and $400 creating a jury-rigged platform - using a weather balloon, some Styrofoam, a few Canon cameras, and Asad's mom's sewing machine - with which they sent a Lego man, holding the Canadian flag, into outer space. And precisely calculated the trajectory of the landing so that all the material was recoverable, and postable online:

This is the kind of ingenuity American kids used to be famous for, right? Seems like our youth are more interested in making videos of people getting the sh*t kicked out of them then actually doing anything more...inventive.

Starting this past September, the duo spent their Saturdays at Ho’s kitchen table in Scarborough, drawing up plans and building the balloon.

What? Not playing Halo online? Why, that's positively un-American!

Exactly, some would say.

Two other things jumped out at me from the Toronto Sun piece linked above:

The two met in middle school. Muhammad’s family had just immigrated emigrated from Pakistan, and he spoke no English. When other students were ignoring him, Ho walked up and made friends.

Didn't talented people used to come from foreign lands to America in order to have a chance for themselves and their families to succeed? Sure, we get plenty of Mexicans, I suppose, but one gets the feeling more and more of them are coming here for the blue-state welfare checks and food stamps than to actually build a better life as Americans.

And then there's this - a little delay in (literally) launching  the project due to a less-than-friendly neighbor:

The pair discovered a website that calculates a weather balloon’s estimated landing spot based on input launch coordinates, prevailing winds, and balloon specs...

The site kept spitting out Rochester, N.Y., as their balloon’s final landing spot. Muhammad and Ho didn’t like their chances with U.S. Homeland Security.

But one Saturday morning, Ho tried again, and saw the balloon would land near Peterborough...

What would Homeland Security have said if an Asian kid and a Muslim kid named Muhammad had tried to scamper across the border to pick up an object with cameras that had shot through the Earth's atmosphere? The story of their intellectual ingenuity would never have gotten out, nor the video, or the photos, nor they - from some type of maximum-security lockup.

Look at how we are perceived. Look at what we've become. Look at who we are, and what wastrels our youth is becoming.

Used to be that Lego man whould have proudly been holding an American flag...

How much has changed.


Anonymous said...

I'm a Canadian and it is sad to say that I agree with your commentary.

Standing from outside, I believe a large part of the world is surprised that America stopped dreaming.

Not corporations, or universities, but the government as representatives of the people and the embodiment of the nation.

I think the last time you saw that was really the moon landing, where the nation organized priorities and resources to achieve something spectacular.

You're right. Too much Halo. Why dream with a pen and paper and spend 16 Saturdays building a science project when you can spend all day immersed in a computer-generated fantasy land?

The JerseyNut said...

Well said. Good luck with your new status as a super-power (seriously - how many nations have had oil riches and human capital, as Canada now does?); you will find you may need it...