Live from Moon

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"One small step for man..." NASA hide caption

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In 1973, I stayed up much of the night to watch the fuzzy, black-and-white image from a single camera trained on the tarmac of Clark Air Base in the Philippines, to await the arrival of the first planeload of American POWs released from North Vietnam. (At least I remember the picture as both fuzzy and monochromatic — it might well have been the nine-inch black-and-white Sony TV I had at the time.)

The event was memorable by itself, but I distinctly remember a thrill reading the words on the bottom of the screen, "Live from the Philippines." Luzon seemed so far away that the technology that made all this possible might as well have been magic. It was on a par with seeing the words, "Live from Moon" just a few years earlier.

Then, this morning, before heading into work, I scarcely thought twice about flipping on my substantially larger, flatter and more-colorful TV to watch a couple of innings of the Boston-Oakland baseball game splashed across half my living room in the exquisite clarity of HD. Four years ago, HD signals from the Summer Olympic Games in Athens arrived on these shores a day late. Later this year, live, glorious HD images of gymnasts, swimmers and
basketball players in Beijing will seem like a birthright (no live images from Tienanmen Square, but that's another issue that we'll talk about today with columnist Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post.)

I know the march of technology is a cliche, but it's hard not to marvel at what's happened in the 35 years between Clark Field and the Tokyo Dome, and wonder which previously insuperable barriers of time and space will seem mundane a few years from now. Who knows, we might even see "Live from Moon" again.

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