In an era of cynical greed, Apollo 11 still inspires

As America celebrates the fortieth anniversary of its first visit to the Moon, it seems reasonable to reconsider the broader significance of this event. On one level, the 1969 moon shot was the ultimate in hyper-expensive vanity projects, a bright, bold move that inspired the country, impressed the world, and resulted in untold scientific advancements. It's hard to quantify the intangible benefits of the program; even now, for a certain segment of the populace, part of the wonder of the moon lies in the fact that it holds a wire-impregnated American flag that is eternally flapping in a nonexistent breeze.

On the other hand, exploration of the moon conclusively proved that it is neither a nice, nor particularly interesting, place to visit.