In the scheme of things, it seems like the word, "a" is a pretty non-important word. Evidently, it's more important than I thought.
So I was doing more research on my spy novel, and somehow, I have no idea how, it led me to wonder what the exact quote was when we first stepped on the moon. (So relevant, huh? I love the internet far too much. Whatever random curiosity occurs to me, I go clicking away.)
Anyway, my thought was pretty time-relevant. Evidently, they just did a study on the voice patterns or something, because there's been quite a bit of debate as to whether he said the redundant, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," or the more sensical version, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
The first says that mankind took a small step and a giant leap. Oopsy. The second one says it's a small step for one man, but a giant leap for mankind. That makes sense.
According to Ford, Armstrong spoke, "One small step for a man ... " with the "a" lasting a total of 35 milliseconds, 10 times too quickly to be heard."
The "a" was transmitted, though, and can be verified in an analysis using Canadian sound-editing software called GoldWave, Ford said.
So his "a" was said too quick to be heard, but ... really, what counts is what he meant, right? History gets re-written all the time, and I think this is one case where we can give Armstrong the benefit of the doubt.
Researching my spy novel has been kind of funny, lately. Watching all the news lately has felt more like watching Austin Powers, than reading about Vera Atkins. I read a really funny article that I can't find, that said with quite a bit of horror, that spies were all about uncovering secrets. The journalist wrote this as if it would be a surprise to readers, that spies go out into the world to recruit locals to betray their country. And then he interviewed the CSIS someone, asking if Canada's intelligence officers did such horrible things, and the director evaded and said that they mostly do counter-terrorism work. (Uh, yeah, sure. I believe you. Especially the other part of that "mostly.")
It all struck me as funny. I wish I could find that article again, because it was one big "duh!"
Spying is a funny business. Right now the public seems fascinated with spies, we want spies to save our country, but then we recoil in horror when we discover that spies manipulate, betray, lie, and cheat in order to serve their country. A spy's motto is probably "the ends justify the means." And yet we keep pressing for better intelligence from the CIA, but, uh ... please, let's make the means politically correct.