Archive for the ‘what came before’ Category

Former NASA Engineer’s Comments on a Very Old Story

January 22, 2010

Old, but relevant, to me and many others my age. I remember watching this happen, and it turned me off becoming an astronaut forever:

“Well, the question was, did the cold weather (because it was a very, unusually cold day) affect the performance of the O-rings? Everyone was saying, “No, no, no!” because they were covering their rear ends. Richard Feynman, who was the Nobel Prize winner in physics, was on this commission. He took an O-ring and he stuck it in a glass of ice water, took it out, and snapped it. Then nobody could deny it. But all up the line, the management had just ignored the evidence. The reason is because Ronald Reagan was supposed to be doing his State of the Union speech that night. He wanted to be able to say, “We have civilians in space!” There was a lot of pressure to launch it. So they said, “We’re going to go ahead and launch it even though the weather’s too cold.” So, they went ahead and launched it, and it blew up. I felt like we had blown those people up—like we at NASA had failed those people. That completely took the wind out of my sails.”

I get so angry when politics trumps coming fucking sense.


First, they come for…

October 27, 2009

“I was Jewish. There was no doubt in my mind (what would happen). I left in 34. Hilter had taken over in 33. A girl… and a physicist… and Jewish. Well, that’s a combination that had no chance! (laughs) That was clear.”

-Hilde Levi, refugee physicist from Nazi Germany (from here)

Women in the Fight

October 26, 2009

Images of Women in WWII.

(via Elizabeth Bear)

Why We Love Stories About Sparta

April 30, 2009

With key Greek city-states in submission, Philip of Macedon turned his attention to Sparta and sent a message: “If I win this war, you will be slaves forever.”

In another version, Philip proclaims: “You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city.”

The Spartan ephors sent back a one word reply: “If.”

(from here)

White Phosphorus Used in Gaza

March 29, 2009

These jelly-fish cloud bursts are about what I imagined Nasheenian/Chenjan bursts would look like in God’s War.

As noted in the video, it’s illegal as per the Geneva conventions.

Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect

November 17, 2008

It really is going to be just like FDR’s fireside chats.

In fact, if you start to read some of those FDR transcripts above, you’ll see an interesting parallel, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama used them as templates.

It’s so awesome to have smart people in charge of the country again. Win or lose, at least I can be proud of them.

They Came For…

October 24, 2008

“They came for the Communists, and I

didn’t object – For I wasn’t

a Communist;

They came for the Socialists, and I

didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Socialist;

They came for the labor leaders, and I

didn’t object – For I wasn’t a labor leader;

They came for the Jews, and I didn’t

object – For I wasn’t a Jew;

Then they came for me –

And there was no one left to object.”

Martin Niemoller, German Protestant Pastor,


Guns of All Sorts

August 31, 2008

Guns, quirky.

Speaking of Non-Tudor Women

August 7, 2008

“Hassani’s statements came after two Kurdish feminists in Iran were accused of being members of an armed rebel group and of carrying out subversive activities threatening the security of the state.”

It’s a good thing that all women are naturally passive, submissive and obediant, then. See, this is what I’m talking about. I want more stories about real women (whether or not the accusations are true is a whole different issue, but also interesting).

The Tudors

August 6, 2008

Showtime’s version of Rome is… well… It has Jonathan Rhys Meyers, so it can’t be all bad?

It’s pretty, and there’s politics, and, Jonathan Rhys Meyers? But holy hell, man, all the women in this story are sex bunnies used and abused by their respective male owners. You’ve got the Bolyn girls’ father basically selling them out for sex to the King (there’s a huge difference, I’m sorry to say, between a woman deciding to advance herself by seducing the king and a woman seducing the king cause her daddy tells her to).

I get that sex and women’s bodies are historical commodities, but I just can’t buy into a show that shows so many women as completely passive vessels. Where are the powerful matriarchs and scheming wives and willful daughters (Did Rome spoil me? And that’s the sad thing, right, there were still way more male characters in Rome than female, but hot damn, the women charcters *didn’t suck*)? One of the most dispicable lies in history is that women were just always passive slaves to men. That, historically, women had no power and no voice and contented themselves with their lot in life. If that was true, nobody would have burned witches, there would have been no laws against women owning property or having jobs, nobody would have considered wrapping up women’s bodies or binding their feet or cutting off their clits.

You know why you make laws and powerful social mores that enslave a group of people? Cause they scare the living shit out of you. Because they have a lot of power. Because they are people too. And those people do what people do, and they often do it by whatever means necessary and whatever they have in their power.

Yes, women were confined by the restrictions of the times and societies they lived in, but you find ways to negotiate power and get want you want even with the worst of restrictions. You make it work. You play the game (a la Dangerous Liasons). There are always women with voices and women who get shit done. Not just the daily living stuff, but the deliberate work of kicking your husband’s ass so he makes something of himself, getting your kids into worthwhile matches and positions, political backstabbing through gossip and rumor (and fashion!!), and whatever the hell else you have at your disposal. You use it because those are the only tools you have.

The tragedy of so much film and television and history books is pretending that these women never existed.

It makes me want to puke.