Sputnik, Chou En-Lai (Zhou Enlai), Bridge on the River Kwai

Ah, back on the horse. Honestly, I suspected the lag to be longer and the finish to be more distant when I picked back up. So count this as a Pinter Pause and move forward.

Sputnik translates into English as “traveling companion” which reminds me of the following (with reverse translation by me) Paul Simon lyric from “Graceland”:

My Sputnik is nine years old. He is the child of my first marriage.

Maybe that doesn’t really work.

I remember my father telling me the story of his father waking the family up so that they could listen to the beep of Sputnik on the radio. Maybe they even watched it’s orbital track? Not sure on that.

Chou En-Lai (Zhou Enlai) attended a religious school in Japan, swung through France to pick up Communism, and ended up as Mao’s slightly less bumbling Dan Qualye. He’s also responsible for Nixon going to China. So thanks for taking him off our hands for a week or so. Writing this is making me feel exceptionally ignorant about everything outside of my small world. I did actually finish reading a whole entire book written primarily for adults recently:


It was fiction, about Japan, and interesting. I bought it in an airport.

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a novel written in 1952 by Pierre Boulle. The movie is better known than the book. The Music Section in the Wikipedia article provided me much amusement upon reading. Mostly because it lead me to the song “Hitler Has Only Got One Ball” (Spotify link).

1 thought on “Sputnik, Chou En-Lai (Zhou Enlai), Bridge on the River Kwai

  1. David Pankratz

    Yes, Matt, we did observe the orbital track of Sputnik. On a chilly, crystal clear and starlit night in October of 1957, your dad, your grandpa, your great-grandpa, and I went out to the 80 near town. We were told that if we looked towards the south, and about 45 degrees up, at a certain, specific time in the evening (around 9:00 pm, as I recall), we would see the Sputnik traveling from west to east.

    I also remember hearing the beeping on the old RCA radio in the living room. There was great concern and a moderate level of alarm in the U.S. about this event, because the USSR was a closed, secretive, and shut-in superpower at that time. Also, we had not successfully launched a rocket yet; all attempts had exploded on the launch pad.

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