Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Changing times...

I just got a copy of the September 1965 issue of National Geographic from Amazon. I had this issue 'way back when I was in grade school and last remember reading it on the school bus in the '80s. I've kept an eye out for it since then at used book joints and antique malls, but finally cheated and went to the 'net.

What a different world is on display in this magazine, and how differently it's presented than the current iteration of the same rag!

There's an article on the Alps that mentions the tunnel through Mont Blanc as an engineering achievement and not a horrible symbolic rape of Mother Gaia with blasting charges and boring machines. A couple pages away is a picture of some riders in the Tour de France wending through the foothills of the Alps in their soft brimmed caps and nary a helmet in sight. None of them actually appear to be puffing a Gitanes while they pedal, but you can't see the guys in the back too well.

What I bought it for was the huge article on the U.S. Air Force, complete with a color fold-out of all that service's currently serving aircraft, including the no-doubt-soon-to-be-in-service XB-70 and XC-142. The National Geographic reporter flew along on close air support missions in Viet Nam, describing the Skyraider's rocket runs and napalm strikes in terms that made you feel like you were right there with him, raining fire on godless commies. His plane got holes shot in it from Victor Charlie's return fire. He flew along in missions in KC-135s and B-52s. He saw a YF-12A take off on a test flight and rode in the back of an F-4C.

And before the USAF article is a seven page piece penned by none other than Curtis goddam LeMay, the very thought of which should make the average Nat Geo-subscribing fair-trade hemp-wearing SWPL choke on their half-caff latte and spray it all over their May 2014 special issue on sustainable organic agriculture. You could smell the smoke of GEN LeMay's cigar, mingled with a faint whiff of the ashes of Tokyo, coming right off the page: "Peace Is Our Profession, War Is Just Something We Do For Kicks."

Ah, National Geographic, you always were good at showing us looks into lost civilizations; who knew it'd be one so recent, though?

52 comments:

Cowboy Blob said...

I loved that article and saved the issue until I joined the Air Force myself! Mom probably threw it out.

og said...

I stopped reading when they had a special that talked about how frightened a bunch of wog villagers were that a lion was in the area, and whatever would they do?

What morons. yes, the past is a different country.

waepnedmann said...

A fair number of years ago Nat Geo ran an article regarding an NGO that raised money to buy shotguns for women in (I think Columbia or Boliva).
It seems that rape was a common occurrence.
12 gauges were handed out and the rapes stopped.
I still can not find that issue.

D.W. Drang said...

I remember the article about the ride-alongs in 'Nam, used it as a guide when I painted my model A1-D Skyraider.

SoupOrMan said...

That was the first copy I ever had of National Geographic. It was given to me as a gift from a friend of my dad's when I was 5. Little did I realize that I would later work on one of the planes in that issue.

Gregory Cotton said...

Gotta love 65, the year I got out of high school and joined the Submarine Navy. Got to qualify on a couple of WWII diesel boats and spent the last year on a Boomer!

A different world for sure but good times!

bluesun said...

Oh man. NatGeo. So many things I could say about it, but let's just sum it up as "oh how the mighty have fallen," and I'm not resubscribing, even though I was given my grandpa's 60 year old account after he died and have so many good memories of reading it at his house. Makes me kinda sad.

Graybeard said...

I swear I remember that issue, and would have last seen it in 67 or 68. Probably.

The past is indeed a different country.

Rick T said...

Scientific American died in the mid 80's as well... Nuclear Winter, their fanatic opposition to Reagan's SDI, and firing the man that ran the "Amateur Scientist" column because of his Christian beliefs...

Now its just a cheerleader for the progressive position du-jour...

Daniel Watters said...

That was a brilliant issue, along with the February 1965 issue that was dedicated to the US Navy. I used to have a decent dead tree of NatGeo collection until my basement flooded. Now I'm just content with the CD collection of back issues.

CMonster said...

I fondly recall that article, and the shelves of issues my parents had for me to read when I was a small child. My brother ended up as an AF pilot, and I chased birds. Nowadays it's all ads, it seems.

Karl said...

Did ya know LeMay kept a cigar in his mouth because one side of his mouth drooped and the cigar would hide it?

No doubt he also used that cigar to light the fuses on the incendiary bombs during Operation Meetinghouse...

tailwind said...

If you want to see really gungho patriotic National Geographic magazines, take a look at the WWII issues - articles as well as advertisements.

My grandfather had a collection dating all the way back to about 1920, but for me, the 1940's were the epitome.

RevolverRob said...

"Nat Geo-subscribing fair-trade hemp-wearing SWPL choke on their half-caff latte and spray it all over their May 2014 special issue on sustainable organic agriculture."

Now I gotta get all butt-hurt. I subscribe to Nat Geo. Hell, I've worked on Nat Geo grants before (because you know paleontology is bad ass and SCIENCE!). And even plan to apply to a few more in the future. Why you gotta remind me of those guys?

I know, I know, you said average Nat Geo subscriber, but I know those people. It's bad enough to know that you know them, but them someone has gotta rub your face in it...

Serious-bizness though, I would rather hang out with Curtis LeMay for a day than almost anyone else who has penned an article for Nat Geo. Including the people I know who have penned Nat Geo articles and I consider friends. Because dude - Curtis goddamn LeMay

-Rob


Chase said...

Incidentally, I happen to be an honest-to-Goddess worshipper of Mother Gaia (that is, a Wiccan). And it's always offended me when people assert that some human activity is bad or disrespectful or hurtful to Earth, without being able to describe how it will actually harm Earth.

Building things or digging tunnels isn't wrong. Ants do both, and they're Earth's children just like us Humans.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the citation. I got my first modern aircraft identification training from that issue (which I also treasured).

ca
wrsa

Mike said...

I thought the C-124 was adopted sometime in the '50s...?

Unknown said...

Curtis LeMay. You're gawd damn right. The man that brought us the M-16. At one time the most powerful man on the planet. John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and Curtis gawddamn LeMay. A time when men were men and wimmen stayed in the kitchen making sammiches.

Rabbit said...

My family began subscribing in the 30's. There was a complete bound collection kept at my grandmother's house until it burned in the mid 90's. At least I have the first issue of the complete editions on CDROM. I'll need to get it out and look again through the 50's and 60's.

markm said...

XC-124??? I think Tam meant the XC-142, a tilt-wing transport with 4 turboprops.

Paul, Dammit! said...

First time I lost interest was as a boy when I discovered there were other places to see boobs in print.

Second time was as a college student, when I realized that there was a not-so-subtle shift from reporting and education to opinion-shaping. And that was the end of that.

LCB said...

I think the XB-70 has always been my favorite plan. It looks like it could take off and head for the stars. The surviving plane is at the USAF Museum in Dayton. (Broken record time!) For any of you that haven't been there, it's awesome!

Speaking of prototypes, remind me to tell you my story about the F-15 prototype someday. :-)

Anonymous said...

Bombs away with Curtis Lemay!

Now that man knew how to make some man made global warming.

Gerry

Boat Guy said...

Wistful sigh...
So many of the icons of my childhood have been outright corrupted by those bastard statists. Struggling to think of an exception.
Might be time to get somma them hard-copies between you Tam and Watters, I know have a couple to start with.

Matt G said...

Yeah, Mike raises the point that made my brow crease, too. The C-124 Globemaster, "Old Shakey," had a pretty good run as a working military cargo plane from the '50s. My Google-fu was not strong enough to find the XC-124.

The XB-70 Valkyrie, of course, I knew, as did every good plane nerd kid whose AFJROTC sergeant had regaled the class with tales of how the B-58 Hustler would routinely beat its fighter escorts to altitude, and who thought that the B-1B was a weak sister even to its -1A variant, and who was certain that the day of the Mach 3 super-bomber would come soon.

Tam said...

markm,

Correct. Typed -124 instead of -142. Fixed.

Matt G said...

I just read up on the XC-124. With those performance stats, the Wikipedia page claims that it was "lack of interest" that killed it?!?

Uh, more like reliability problems. All three (four) (five) services would have killed for a working VTOL craft that could move "32 fully equipped troops or 24 litter patients and four attendants" in a combat radius of 470 mi, at a max speed of 431 mph.

NotClauswitz said...

!BAM! Knockout punch.

Stretch said...

I've a complete NG collection going back to Jan. 1950 (less 3 issues). Also most of WWII editions. Oldest is Feb. 1908.

I doubt I'll renew the membership I've had since 1968 (a gift from Grandma). Their latest article on coal is a veritable Greenpeace pamphlet. And their last map of the USA required SEVENTEEN! corrections in the next issue. Speaking of maps; NG issued 6 a year. Now it's 2 or 3.
The ads for cars are a litany of past grandeur: Pierce-Arrow "Ask a man who owns own."; Packard; Lincoln; Cadillac ...
Auto accessories such as Weed tyre-chains for when it RAINS!
And the train ads! Men and women in suits. Ladies wearing gloves. Children seen but clearly not heard.

I miss the country I grew up in.

OldAFSarge said...

Tam, you're pretty good at pointing out what ails our country. This is just another symptom of the same disease.

My wife thought it très amusant when I flipped my lid and began a "rage against the machine" tirade in the living room the first time I heard the term "NatGeo".

Old school, it's what I am. As for Lemay? All three kids attended "Curtis Lemay Elementary" at one point in time. Yup, SAC-trained killer, right here.

Thanks for the memories!

Comrade Misfit said...

I remember the articles on the early Vietnam War. Dickie Chapelle was NatGeo's combat photographer.

rickn8or said...

Haven't read a NG in years, but perusing Popular Mechanics and Popular Science from the 50s-60s' online is a hoot.

Boat Guy said...

Ah yes; Dickie Chappelle. RIP.

Steve Bodio said...

Their "resident explorer" (huh?) has just compared hunting to apartheid and the Holocaust in a Tweet.

I will not throw away my pre WWII ones, but...

Sendarius said...

My teenage daughter wanted a NatGeo subscription for her birthday some years ago.

Bearing in mind that she was in the gullible teenage years where communism sounds good, I had some concerns. To my relief, she specifically asked me NOT to renew.

Since then, NatGeo has spent MANY times what little they could have made on a single year subscription trying to convince her to re-subscribe.

I like to take that as indication that their readership is falling, as it should.

werewife said...

All these mentions of NatGeo collections going back decades put me in mind of this classic from The Journal of Irreproducible Results:
http://www.jir.com/geographic.html
As for me, I gave up on it when they began regularly celebrating the "ancient" and "unique" culture of the "Palestinians."

Dohrmc said...

I canceled my 40+ yr subscription. They are still on the global warming kick. Enough! They won't get me back.

Anonymous said...

I knew a gentleman who asserted to have the most hours in an f-4. He had become a priest after his wife passed. Perhaps at time he had the most hours.

This was in Ct. He was good man as far as I knew. God bless him on Good Friday. He tried to help me. Long story short here.

MC

R Shackleford said...

I have all NatGeo till like 2007 on DVD, I will have to look for this issue tomorrow.

Scott Anderson said...

Blog posts like this get me to thinking: when historians finally get around to marking the rise and fall of the USA, where in time will they mark the end?

wholelottasplainin' said...

My grandmother had a slew of old National Geographics dating back to the 1930's. So when I visited her my parents often found me sprawled out on the floor poring over them, particularly the articles on ancient history, palaeontology/natural history and travels/exploration.

The illustrations were amazing and a times a bit terrifying for an 8-year-old: if a painting depicted a ferocious sea battle between the Persians and Greeks, I just knew that I would have been that unlucky guy writhing in the water with a spear run through him!

Anyway, I grew up with a great love for history, both human and natural.

Sad to see the magazine go all Leftnoid these past 20 years. It's the same with Scientific American, another old fave of mine--doctrinaire leftism, shouting down of non-approved views, and dumbed-down articles.
I leaf through them at the barbershop;my barber Frank (who gets them unsolicited) begs me to take them away!

alanstorm said...

Same thing happened to Smithsonian magazine, once the finest general interest magazine available.

I stopped subscribing after several decades when they began to have articles such as the one that described how a national park was created in Cuba "by the will of the people" (Isn't that a line from the Soviet national anthem, and does any body believe that "the people" could get a national park established w/o Fidel's approval?

Anonymous said...

My now closed-by- consolidation High School had a bound set of NatGeo books- articles from the 40's to the late 60's ..... as a lad in the Reagan era, I read of Matsu and Quemoy, Minoan archeology, life on US Navy subs, and a hundred other subjects, for hours at a time ..... I wonder what happened to that set?

Kevin R.C. O'Brien said...

RE: the XC-142. There is a guy who has researched all those early V/STOL experiments; none of them was that practical an aircraft, but all were valuable learning tools, and they led to the V-22.

http://www.vstol.org/wheel.htm

Enjoy.

Kevin R.C. O'Brien said...

Re: Scientific American
I gave up a few years ago when then dedicated an entire issue to the happy lefty illusion that general intelligence didn't exist, and held up Howard Gardner and Steven Jay Gould as the top researchers in the field.

At the rate they were going, they should be on alchemy by now.

Christina M. said...

So, it's not just me. I grew up with a National Geographic collection that went back to 1915 that my parents found on a trash pile. In 1990, I discontinued my own subscription to NG because it had gotten too Lefty for me.

Diggs said...

Canadian Geographic is worse than that. There hasn't been an article in the mag for years now that doesn't have some hook to Global Warming. None. It can be an article on the science of nanotubes being created at a Toronto lab, and there's got to be a paragraph or two on how this or that will relate to Global Warming.

YerbaMateUberAlles said...

My father and his father had lifelong subscriptions to National Geographic.

Regarding how National Geographic has changed: I read a somewhat recent National Geographic article on Argentina, which mentioned that Argentines resented US support of the 1976-83 junta.

I was working in Argentina during the junta years, and got an entirely different picture.

To his credit, President Carter had spoke out against human rights abuses. The man on the Argentine street was very aware of this. The junta considered Carter's speaking out against its human rights abuses as being "interference" in Argentine affairs. As a result, many Argentines came up to me on the street- a total stranger to them who by what I wore appeared to be a foreigner- to make some denunciation of the junta. They knew that the US government- and by extension US citizens- were not in favor of the junta's abuses.

As such, I didn't have much respect for the more recent National Geographic article.

Clayton Cramer said...

I remember that issue well -- a world that had not gone completely insane.

James E Solbakken said...

NG is post modern liberal crap now, but I highly recommend the CD collection of every NG issue from 1888 to 2008. Answer the quizzes and it is like a college course about the universe.

James E Solbakken
<><
jsolbakken@aol.com
http://www.jpfo.org

Anonymous said...

The XC-142 was a wonder. At some point they even got 4 of them in the air at one time.

Because of the nonlinear backlash in the gears that hooked the 4 engines and 5 propellers together, every single part of the aircraft was stimulated at its very own resonant frequency all the time.

An interesting study of chaos-ignorant engineering.

Hunter said...

My Great-Aunt renewed my subscription every Christmas. She had back-issues going back to the '20s, some of those were the coolest articles I can ever remember reading. Another favorite issue was the following of a Special Forces A-team in Viet Nam, working with the Montagnards in the Central Highlands. Green Berets in the National Geographic.
And as stated up the line here, the WWII issues had ads for tanks, cannon, fighters, and such. I miss the old Cessna ads from the inside front cover.
Another ad, in one of the war issues, was from Holland-America, promoting Alaska cruises under the title "Someday this war will be over".