Perhaps someone is asking the wrong question

I expect that everyone is aware of the just past 40th anniversary of the Moon Landing. I hopped in my car to go have dinner with some friends and caught the tail end of some news story and thus missed the name of the speaker being interviewed. All I heard was he said that he many years ago when he went into schools many hands were raised when he asked how many students wanted to be astronauts. Now he says there are just a few and thus he is concerned.

It seems to me he is asking the wrong question; why not ask "How many are interested in living for 10 or 20 years or more on the Moon or on Mars or on a space colony?" and see how many hands are raised. I do not know for sure how many will be raised but at least it shifts the frame of the discussion. It appears to me the one of the reasons the astronaut question gets such a low response is that there might be a perception of not much change over the decades and that the space program is stagnant.

Plus consider the limited number of astronaut slots. But there are obviously going to be a lot of colonists slots. But will NASA be in the lead in establishing human colonies off earth; not likely because that is not what NASA has been directed to do. And NASA is probably not the proper organization for space colonization. Actually I think the most likely way for it to happen is for the private entrepreneurs like Scaled Composites to lead the way. Maybe they know the questions to ask.


Bruno - A movie review - Contains spoilers

On Saturday I had nothing scheduled for the evening. On an email list I am on there was a discussion briefly touched on the movie Bruno before going off on something else. I decided to see the movie. I had previously seen Borat which is the previous movie by Sacha Baron Cohen so I generally knew what to expect however I had not read any reviews so I did not know much about the details of the movie.

An over-aching aspect of the movie which is bothersome is that the movie plays on stereotypes of gays. I would hope that people would be intelligent enough to realize that the depiction of gays in the movie is not accurate. These stereotypes are much worse that I had expected and actually made the movie less funny rather than more funny. GLAAD has issued a release about the issue.

To me the movie started off rather slow and plodding. In most scenes Cohen and the other actors are not all that funny. Sometimes a bit of humor but not much. The movie gets a bit more interesting when people who are not actors get involved. These are people that know they are being filmed yet have not picked up that this is all a spoof. The part of the movie which is most widely commented on occurs near the end with the cage fight in Arkansas. When the cage fight audience in Arkansas realized that the interaction between Bruno and Lutz had changed from anger and violence to love and affection the audience vented their rage and demonstrated stereotypical redneck, homophobic and low class trashy behavior and attitudes. It should be pointed out that beer was available for $1 per cup at the event and likely contributed to the outcome. Cohen had set up a situation where a bunch of clueless people could demonstrate just how sad they really were. It would be better if there people had more enlightened views. I wonder if seeing themselves in the movie will change any of them?

It is sad that people in Arkansas have that kind of reaction but when it was shown on the movie screen the biggest laughter of the movie erupted in the theater; that patronizing laugh of condescension. It is important to remember that not everyone who has ever lived in Arkansas is a homophobic hick. And not everyone in California is a modern hip sophisticate. Stereotypic depictions should not crowd out clear thinking.

So is ridicule a useful tool for change? Perhaps in some situations but I am doubtful if the movie Bruno will be one of them.

UPDATE: I have been thinking about this for a few more days so I am going to add a couple of comments. Obviously the primary motivation of making Bruno was not change the behavior of racists and homophobes. And likely not the secondary or tertiary or ... well you see my point. But it is worth reflecting on what kind of movie would be useful. If ridicule is the tool to be used then it seems to me that the ridicule needs to be directed at behaviors and opinions and not at people. Particularly not at people who are just over the line; it might be good to give them some room to improve their behavior and say "Oh I am not like that" and then hopefully their attitudes will change also. But this kind of change can take a long time.


A Simple Delight

I have been so busy the past couple of weeks I have not written anything here but I do want to take a few minutes to pass on a simple tasty delight.

Obtain a box of Red Oval Farms Stoned Wheat Thins (Lower Sodium) crackers. Be sure to get the Low Sodium because the regular ones taste too salty. Each cracker is about 6 cm. by 6 cm. square and designed to be split into two pieces. I purchase the crackers at either Safeway or SaveMart but sometimes they are out of stock so whenever I see them I buy a couple of boxes.

Obtain a container of Jimtown Fig And Olive Spread; this is the Jimtown version of a Mediterranean olive tapenade. I get mine at Whole Foods; however they are often out of stock because it sells so fast. There is a webpage for the Fig and Olive Spread.

Obtain a 5 ounce package of Laura Chenel's Chevre Chabis Pure Goat Milk Cheese. The cheese is packaged in a clear plastic bag with a label on it. I can usually find this cheese at either Whole Foods or SaveMart. The way to dispense the cheese is to cut a very small opening at one corner of the plastic so that when you gently squeeze the cheese will extrude in a ribbon about 0.5 to 1.0 cm wide.

Preparation is simple. Take one of the 3 cm by 6 cm cracker pieces and spread with the Fig/Olive Spread. Then on top squeeze a thin ribbon of cheese for the length of the cracker.

Take a bite and enjoy.

I had enjoyed all three of these products individually in the past and one day was inspired to combine them. It tasted good to me. I make some from my friend Nancy and she said they were really good. So now I am sharing the idea with the world. Enjoy.