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Musings, Page 2

Stuff that just crossed my mind

I was perusing the Wikipedia List of Female Astronauts.

Something I noticed from this: if you remove U.S. women astronauts, the list is really short. Of 56 women who have made it into space (out of 530 total space travelers as of Jan. 2013), US=45, rest of world=11 (USSR/RUS-3; CAN-2; JPN-2; UK-1; FRA-1; KOR-1; CHN-1). It shifts slightly if you consider mixed citizenship: IND/USA-1; IRN/USA-1.

Interpret this as you will.

Mudskipper: To Mars and Beyond

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks and months about various schemes to get people to Mars. Some are suggestions for an orbital flight while others talk of landing and/or building a colony of between a few people and several thousand. As visitors to this site are aware, I have also thought about this; my solution was the Mudskipper. Here are some details:


What language you use can matter in a tech society. On twitter, 140 characters divided by 6 (average 5-char word length plus space) equals about 23-1/3 words max per text — emoticons notwithstanding. However, if you write in Chinese logograms, you can achieve up to 140 words (well, more if you are clever with linguistics and don’t punctuate) in a single tweet. Up to 6x more! That’s a few paragraphs for most people.

Similarly, a picture of a sunset or of kittehs being all lol-catty has more meaning in a single expression than a book of words could adequately convey. So, in a way, LOLcats (and pics of cute animals in general) are more profound than you might initially suspect.

Heart outlines, one red one pink, intertwined

What to Call Unmarried Couples?

There was a recent article in the New York Times that asks the question: “What to call two people who act as if they are married but are not?” While some of the conventions of our society have changed, our language has been a little slow keeping up. Since I’m hardly shy about my willingness to try out new word usages (witness my never-ending push for a genderless pronoun class), I thought I’d have a bash.

Turning a Mayan calendar page from 2012 to regular January 2013 page

Tolling Out 2012

The 366th day of the year 2012 (it was a leap year, remember?) is about to ring its last. Here at the casa it’s felt like a year of transition and reevaluation.


In Praise of Emoticons

This week marks the 30-year anniversary of emoticons. Some purists hate them, but I think they’ve been a wondrous addition to our written language. Honestly, even a writer doesn’t always want to exert the effort to write and re-write a phrase so that it is clearly nuanced.


Mudskipper: A Mars Colony Ship

To boldly go beyond Earth’s orbital neighborhood is the next level of courageous, crewed exploration. To make it to that step, we’ll need a spaceship purpose-built with the idea that that crew will be gone for protracted amounts of time and will likely set up camp somewhere else.


Rediscovering the Fountain Pen and Penmanship

I’ve missed using a fountain pen. After decades of longing, I finally bought another one…an inexpensive one. To go along with that, I’ve also been practicing to revive my long-abandoned skills with cursive writing. In a way, it makes me feel more “writerly”.


Space Shuttle Discovery’s First and Last Landings

OV-103. The space shuttle Discovery. Twenty-seven years of service. Thirty-nine times it lifted off and thirty-nine times it landed safely. All told it spend a year in space and traveled over 238 million km (148 million miles). That sort of use leaves its mark after a while.


Happy 15th Anniversary to CJCS.COM

On April 2, 1997, I was issued the domain. It was in the neighborhood of the millionth domain, depending on how you choose to reckon these things; more than likely it was a smidge over that. In the fifteen years that have followed, this little domain has seen a lot of data get posted and read. It seems a good time to reminisce about it a little.


Humpty Dumpty – A Good Egg?

Just about every book of nursery rhymes with the Humpty Dumpty poem shows an anthropomorphic egg sitting on an imposing partition before ending up as a shattered shell and soon-to-be-omelet at the foot of the wall. Lies!


Susan Cain: The power of introverts (TED)

I think it’s safe to say that I’m an introvert. I’m very thankful for fellow introvert, Susan Cain, who is forced out of her introversion to speak before the audience at TED. Her message that it’s OK to be quiet and thoughtful is welcome and important.


Those Sexy Rockets

I’m a bit of a life-long space nerd. (I know!) Obviously, over the years, different launch vehicles have caught my eye. Much like worthy media celebrities, these rocket stars are more than just a pretty face…but the pretty face helps.


An Idea For Naming Planets, Stars, and Galaxies

I agree with the idea that we need a new way to name celestial bodies that helps the public feel a bit more in touch with the cosmos. We have two major problems with that now: the vast number of objects, and the limited number of thematic names we’ve traditionally used.