Anoop Sarkar SFU Computer Science

Do the other things

If you have watched any documentary on the Apollo space program, you’ve heard (and seen) the following excerpt from John F. Kennedy’s address delivered at Rice University, Sept 12, 1962.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

What does “the other things” refer to?

The answer is clear from watching video footage of the entire speech (also on YouTube):

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard …

So it seems that the referent for the other things is the set: { "climb the highest mountain", "fly the Atlantic 35 years ago", "Rice playing Texas" }. Apart from the last item, it is quite easy to grasp Kennedy’s comparison. The same set is also presumably the referent for the second case of anaphora: one which we intend to win, and the others, too. Climbing the Everest and transatlantic flight are clear analogies for going to the moon, but the "Rice playing Texas" item requires some further explanation.

Here is what Bill Little has to say about the Rice-Texas football rivalry in an article published on Sept 24, 2004:

It began 90 years ago, when Rice, playing in only its third football season, lost to a Texas team that included six players who would enter the Longhorn Hall of Honor after it was started more than 40 years later.

They were legendary names, folks like Louis Jordan, the team captain, and Gen. K. L. Berry, Pig Dittmar and Clyde Littlefield. And that was only the beginning.

A year later, Rice and Texas met on October 16, 1915, in the Longhorns’ first game in a new league alignment called the Southwest Conference. For 82 years, from that beginning season in 1914 through 1995, the two schools played every year. In its time, it was longest continuous streak of any Longhorn opponent.

Texas controlled the series in the early years, but the fledgling Owls did post a notable win in 1924 under their new coach, a guy named John W. Heisman (for whom the famous trophy is named). But beginning in 1930, the series between the university on South Main in Houston and the guys from the Forty Acres in Austin was second only to Texas A&M as the Longhorns’ biggest rivalry until the mid 1960s.

In 1937, Texas hired D. X. Bible, and Rice followed in 1940 with the hiring of Jess Neely. Heisman not withstanding, the two coaches brought credibility and respectability to both the game and the coaching profession that was unsurpassed.

From 1930 through Neely’s final win over Texas in 1965, Rice actually held the edge in the series, 18-17-1. In 1957, Darrell Royal took the Texas job, and he would go on to become the fourth member of the prestigious College Football Hall of Fame to coach in the series.

Royal was the winningest coach in Southwest Conference history. Neely finished tied for second in a career that spanned 26 years.

For years, the Rice-Texas game was the social event of the football season, and when the Owls opened their state-of-the-art stadium in the mid-1950s, it was usually packed with 70,000 folks for the meeting with Texas.

The series also took on an unusual quality. From 1954 until the Longhorns snapped the string with a victory in Houston in 1964 and Rice returned the favor by winning in Austin in 1965, the home team won. The only exception was a 14-14 tie in 1962, when a heavy underdog Rice team knocked Texas from its spot as the No. 1 team in the nation. Otherwise, Rice won in Houston, and Texas won in Austin.

But beginning with Neely’s final season of 1966, Texas reeled off 28 straight victories until Rice ended the streak on a rainy Sunday night in Houston in 1994.

Presumably, the comparison of the Apollo program to a Rice-Texas football rivalry was due to the unlikely outcome of the Owls-Longhorns game in 1962. If you watch the entire video footage closely, you will notice that Kennedy, every bit the accomplished public speaker, gets the loudest applause just after his line: “Why does Rice play Texas?”.

On the video footage, watch closely for the cigar smoking man just to Kennedy’s right for a good example of the crowd’s reaction to Kennedy’s comparison of the Moon missions with the Rice-Texas football rivalry.