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Why is it so hard to do something that I really want to do, technically have the time to do, and doesn't actually take that much effort? I do want to write, and I do want to keep a blog that's alive. Still, I keep leaving the laptop at home and then spend my daily hours on the train wording thoughts without recording them.

One of the things that's been on my mind lately is the space shuttle program, or rather, the reactions to the end of it. Especially those of my friends who take an interest in science fiction have been melancholy. To them, the space shuttle took reality one step closer to fiction, and they're sad to see the gap widen again.

My own interest in space travel has been sporadic. I wanted to be an astronaut at the age of six and read a biography of Yuri* Gagarin at twenty, but there wasn't much between those events. During my deepest obsession with Star Trek, I was disillusioned by real astronomy, real astrophysics and real space travel, and I've written about it before: Seeing the immense effort it took to launch a space shuttle pushed fiction several steps away from reality in my mind.

This means that, despite my love for Star Trek, A) I hardly know anything about space travel, and B) I'm not sentimental about the space shuttle era being over. The way I understand it, the space shuttle was a sci-fi idea that was forced into realisation despite the fact that the technology to make it work the way it was meant to didn't exist, and the result was an expensive and dangerous means of transport. Like steam-powered train engines and vacuum tubes, it represents a passing phase in technical development.

I understand the nostalgia that this triggers, in the same way that I understand nostalgia related to 1950s cars and sailing ships and old Nintendo games. What worries me is the wide-spread idea that this is the end of all human exploration into space. One Star Trek fan friend of mine expressed her sadness that we'll just stop trying; as of now we won't be getting any closer to First Contact. This puts the spotlight on one of the big problems with Star Trek: it fools us into thinking that we're taught tolerance, openness and the importance of collaboration and equality between all humanity, regardless of appearance or gender, but what's really implanted into our minds is a view of the future where space is explored primarily by American English-speaking, white men. To the brain steeped in Star Trek, a view of the future where, e.g., space ships have Chinese names and warp drive was invented by an Indian woman, isn't right. That's not because anybody involved in Star Trek either as a professional or a fan has anything against Chinese, Indians or women, but we haven't been taught to imagine it that way. It's important to realise that Star Trek doesn't automatically make us better and more tolerant; it does open parts of our minds, if we want it to, but it simultaneously closes others, possibly without us noticing.

The International Space Station will still be manned. As far as I'm aware, it's business as usual for the Russian, Chinese and Indian space programmes, as well as for the European Space Agency. The two crazy Danes of Copenhagen Suborbitals ( relentlessly press on with their small-scale project, funded by donations and by lectures given by the two of them. There's no stopping humans, once they've got their minds set on something. 

* I hate English transcriptions of Russian names, but that's beside the point.


Jun. 11th, 2011 10:04 am
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Some two weeks ago, I began to suspect that I was pregnant, and about one week ago it was confirmed. It's a bizarre experience, but I'll expound upon my general feelings towards the whole concept - prospect, now - of pregnancy and childbirth another time. Today I just want to note one of the weird little insights that go with it: I have a couple of half-emptied bottles of vitamin and mineral pills sitting in the kitchen, since I intermittently worry about things like calcium and vitamin B12. On an impulse, I took a calcium pill, and as I swallowed it, I thought "after all, I'm growing a new skeleton". The words came first, and then the insight: fucking hell, it's true. There's going to be a diminutive, coiled skeleton in my belly; cranium, vertebrae, little bones of the hands and feet, tiny, tiny bones of the middle ear. It's exceedingly weird.

ruysch skeleton w strings

(Image from a work on anatomy by Frederik Ruysch (1638 - 1731). Google him, but be careful what you click on.)

Green Tara

May. 18th, 2011 07:46 pm
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My blog muse, Fresca, has a talent for finding things that look like other things (look: look like other things). She's especially good at finding Star Trek related things that look like not directly Star Trek related things (of course, to the connoiseur/euse, anything can be seen to be indirectly Star Trek related). For my introductory post, I'll make a humble contribution to the field:

(Star Trek screen caps from


The Cloud Minders



Interesting facts about the last photo )


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Bride of the Atom

July 2011

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