One of the many pleasant surprises for this year’s Ohio State basketball team has been the play of Aaron Craft. Craft, a freshman, typically comes into the game about five minutes in to play the point. He brings the ball up, doesn’t seem to get rattled by pressure, can drive the lane and dish, and has made some great passes as the Buckeyes have moved into the Sweet Sixteen.
What really distinguishes Craft, however, is his defense. Although a few opponents have had great games against him, for the most part he has been a terrific defensive player. Opposing point guards seem to wear him like a shirt. He is always there, right in front of them, moving when they move and letting his lateral quickness get him to the spot before they do. It must be incredibly frustrating to be guarded by Aaron Craft.
Craft’s uncanny ability to seemingly always be in front of the opposing point guard reminds me of a classic episode from the original Star Trek TV series. The Enterprise is minding its own business, boldly going where no man has gone before, when suddenly a giant hand appears in front of the ship. The Enterprise tries to get away from it, but wherever it goes the hand is there, until finally the hand catches the ship and the crew learns that the hand belongs to Apollo. Mayhem ensues.
I imagine that the frustration felt by opposing points guards who have to deal with the pesky, ever-present Craft is similar to the frustration felt by Captain Kirk when he could not escape the giant hand of Apollo. I’m not suggesting that Aaron Craft wears a toga in his spare time or can hurl lightning bolts from his fingertips, of course.
Today is being celebrated as the 40th birthday of the internet. Forty years ago today an intrepid team of researchers at UCLA succeeded in getting one of their computers to “talk” to a distant computer — which promptly crashed after the first two letters of a three-letter word were transmitted. Obviously, the internet has come a long way in 40 years, to the point where pointless blather like the Webnerhouse blog can be easily prepared and made available to any bored internet traveller, anywhere in the world, who might be inclined to visit and see what we have to say.
Coincidentally, this year also is the 40th year of the first Apollo program lunar landing. Although the internet has progressed tremendously during that 40-year period — going from a clumsy method that crashed before even a single word was transmitted to a communications medium that is found in millions of households and allows for instantaneous access to undreamed off amounts of information — the same cannot be said for the space program. Indeed, one could argue that manned space exploration has regressed as far and as quickly as the internet has progressed during that same 40-year span.
Since the Apollo program has ended, there has been no serious manned space exploration, and none is on the horizon for the foreseeable future. Imagine for a moment, however, what might be the reality if manned space exploration had progressed to the same extent as the internet has progressed in the 40 years since 1969. Where would humans find themselves? Living in Martian colonies? Conducting mining operations on Titan? Aboard spacecraft visiting Alpha Centauri, or the nearest solar system with planets deemed capable of supporting life?