It’s been an absolutely mental few weeks here with overseas trips, job interviews, TV opportunities, interviews, school bookings, writing articles and editing books. This month ahead is looking even crazier though: just as all the work I’m doing starts to come to fruition right when we’re expecting to hear from Mars One on the next selection phase, I’m kicking off a month-long tour visiting schools by heading to WOMADelaide for events with the University of South Australia, Australia’s Science Channel and the WOMAD Planet Talks!
In among all the madness though I’m still managing to do a little reading and watch the odd show or film too!
Truth be told my Mars One study has slowed a lot since last month: I’m still reading Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman when I can, although most of my reading this month has been either articles or rereading some of my favourite pieces of writing:
Andy Warner’s article “500 Days to Mars” is easily the best introduction to the psychological challenges of a human Mars mission that I’ve ever read. Besides sharing some unique stories about humans in space that are really discussed outside space psychology circles, it strikes a perfect tone acknowledging what sending people to Mars for years may do to them psychologically, without flalling around in hysterics like most popular science articles about the psychology of space exploration do.
Simon Driver makes a compelling case in “Why it’s time for Australia to launch its own space agency”. The fact that we don’t doesn’t just put us behind most of the rest of the world, it’s also costing us an extraordinary amount more than it should because different government agencies that need foriegn satellite data (much of which is coming through Australian tracking stations already) individually need to buy it, rather than it being purchased by a single agency that then distributes it.
“Why Explore Space?” is a beautiful letter I found years ago written by Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger – former associate director of science at the Marshall Space Flight Center – in response to a Zambia-based nun who had written to him asking how billions of dollars could be justified on space exploration while children still starved on Earth. It hits at the very core of why space exploration is vital to our continued progress as a species, and is the perfect response to an argument I regularly face.
And if Dr Stuhlinger’s letter isn’t enough to remind me what I’m doing is worthwhile, then rereading a letter/death threat sent to me several years ago by a friend is certainly enough motivation to stay focused on making humanity a dual-planet species with Mars One!
As you’d expect, there is NOT a lot of TV going on at the moment. That said I did manage to watch the season 2 premiere of The Expanse a few days ago, but was distracted and will probably need to go back to watch it again at some point. Arrival has just come out on the Google Play store too, so naturally I’ve already rewatched it.
Passengers – I was stupidly excited about this before it came out – it’s set in set in space and held an absolutely incredible premise. When it came out I heard a few mixed things, and between everything else going on I didn’t end up seeing it till a few days ago. There was a lot that felt off, however generally the first 2/3’s of the film wasn’t too bad… the final act had me rolling my eyes in frustration, and I literally stopped watching what was going on in the final few minutes. Amazing potential screwed over by lame plot devices and an overly-soppy love story.
Hudson Hawk – Now THIS is one of my favourite movies of all time. Hudson Hawk rightly flopped at the cinemas: billed as a Bruce Willis action film released on the back of Die Hard, no one expected an absurdist nonsense comedy about Leonard Da Vinci, alchemy, and everyone in the CIA using candy bars as codenames. It’s 100% not for everyone, but definitely an occassional favourite.
With everything going on I’ve still been using voiceless background music while I work – especially the “Atmosphere” app to produce a thunder and rain forest soundscape with the occasional frog that’s fantastic to work to. With my running music though I’ve been venturing out into both new and old territory.
American Idiot by Green Day – Taking the title single out of the equation, this entire album is some pretty incredible rock opera. I haven’t listened to it for years, and relistening has brought up a lot of old memories from 10 years ago that blended a really positive sense of excitiement, hope and direction… even if that direction wasn’t a particularly good one. There’s a couple of slower songs that need to be skipped during a run, but for the most part the tempo is perfect and that sense of excitement for the future is ideal for burning yourself out on a treadmill.
I Hate My Hair And Want To Die by the Goons of Doom – I found this when one of it’s tracks wound up in my “Discover Weekly” playlist on Spotify. It’s had several plays through so far, and while there’s a couple of really entertaining track I haven’t worked it out as an album yet. They’re an Aussie punk rock band and the album comes with a solid language warning, so it’s definitely not for everyone, but worth checking out if you’re a fan of cheeky and bouncy punk.