Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, June 16, 1999

One small screwup
for mankind

YOU can't believe everything you read these days. Like my last column, for instance. I suggested that people should go to the trouble of learning the names of the only 10 human beings ever to step foot on the moon, one of mankind's greatest achievements. How hard could that be?

Apparently it is a little harder than I imagined, considering there actually were 12 moonwalkers instead of 10.

I could blame my mistake on the book I was using as a reference, but that wouldn't be right. Wait a second, yes it would. What kind of a book publisher would put out such a poorly researched book, knowing that it would be used by lazy columnists to hornswoggle readers into believing they have a depth of knowledge on a variety of subjects? What good is a book of "amazing facts" if the "facts" aren't factual?

Art Why even list the names of the the moonwalkers if you aren't going to name them all? Why not just have a sentence in your blasted book that says, "Yeah, a buncha guys walked on the moon. But, you know, it wasn't that big of a deal. It wasn't important enough for us to list their names. Well, we'll give you a few names. There was a guy named Buzz and someone named Alan, we think. Don't sweat it. The moon's still there."

If they did that, then you'd know not to use the book as a reference. But no, they decide to pretend to be a reference book and publish incomplete information in order to make people look like complete idiots.

It's unfair, really. I mean, if I want to look like a complete nincompoop, I can do that on my own. Looking stupid is easy. But apparently to look really stupid, you need help. You need the help of a big, old stupid book. A book that tricks you into believing you are learning something when you're really just learning enough to look really stupid.

THEN, if you are a columnist, you flaunt your stupidity to the world or at least your five or six loyal readers; readers who trust you, who look to you for guidance because they think you are really smart, insightful, wise and handsome (for someone of a certain weight class). But their trust is smashed on the rocks like an empty whiskey bottle when they discover they have been led astray on something as important as the number of humans ever to walk on the moon.

And this, after you lectured them, ordered them, actually, to memorize the names of the 10 people who walked on the moon when all along there were 12 moonwalkers. You told them to clip the column and put it on their refrigerator and leave it there until they memorized each and every name on that list. You made them feel like they would be incomplete human beings until they learned those 10 names.

So now I say to you loyal five or six readers, go to your refrigerator and take that newspaper clipping in your hand. Rip that clip into pieces! Tear it to shreds! Throw it in the rubbish can where it belongs! There. Don't we all feel better?

Now, clip out this column and place it beneath the refrigerator magnet of honor. And don't leave the house until you've memorized the names of the 12 who walked on the moon.

Their names (I'm fairly certain) are: Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., Charles Conrad Jr., Alan Bean, Alan Shepard Jr., James Irwin, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, John Young, Charles Duke Jr., Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

or send E-mail to or

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