(1) OUT TO LAUNCH. The Planetary Society is trying to raise $100,000 for its LightSail project. They have raised $22,000+ so far.
LightSail: Help Us Get to the Launchpad
The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft is getting ready to make space exploration history as the first to demonstrate controlled solar sail flight of a CubeSat.
Known as the people’s spacecraft, together we’re ushering in a new era—the democratization of space—but there’s still so much to be done and we need your support to do it.
“We have lingered for too long on the shores of the cosmic ocean; it’s time to set sail for the stars.” — Carl Sagan
We’re kicking off the final phase of preparations for the upcoming launch of LightSail 2 into space aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket. We need your help to get there.
When you make a gift today, your contribution —and your impact on the LightSail mission—will be boosted by a $50,000 matching gift challenge issued by a generous Planetary Society member!
(2) TOUCHING SPACE. Some of the remains of the late Hugh Daniel, known to fans as “Doctor Destructo,” are scheduled to fly to the edge of space on the next Celestis mission.
Starseeker, the eighth Celestis Earth Rise service, is scheduled to launch from Spaceport America, New Mexico on November 15, 2017. Your loved one’s flight capsule – containing a symbolic portion of cremated remains or DNA sample and engraved with a memorial message – will launch into space, experience the elegant dance of weightlessness, and return to Earth for recovery and return to you as a flown keepsake.
The Celestis flight capsules will be flown aboard an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket, on a mission sponsored by the NASA Spaceflight Opportunities Program to conduct microgravity experiments and technology demonstrations for NASA and affiliated researchers.
You can read about Hugh Daniel at the link.
It seemed Hugh’s love of space and all things science began at birth, helped by regular dinner conversations, open houses at the University of Michigan (UofM) telescopes, Star Trek, Larry Niven, dozens of SciFi Conventions, endless conversations with amateur and professional astronomers, and many nights at the Lick Observatory. He assisted with a friend’s meteor work on Antarctica, attended private rocket launches, and even did some contract work for NASA. He always dreamed of the opportunity to make it into space himself, but he wasn’t counting on being reduced to 1 gram for the trip! Hugh didn’t believe in any form of “afterlife,” but in tribute to a warm and generous friend and beloved family member, we send a piece of him Ad Astra!
(3) IT’S THE VERSE. SPECPO brings us the “Armadillocon Poetry Thunderdome 2017”.
But what is a Poetry Thunderdome? First crafted at Comicpalooza, Thunderdome brings together a group of speculative poets to duke it out in front of an audience in a LIVE writing exercise. Audience members participate by yelling out prompts and poets are given a short period of time to write a poem in response. Hilarity ensues….
By the second round, the audience was feeling feisty. It chose “AitheistJackalope,” “Egypt,” and “Third Eye,” as the topics for our poets writing delight.
In response, Michelle Muenzler gave us this gem:
it’s not the third eye that gets you
that one has all the knowledge after all
it’s that fourth eye
the one that sees the jackalope in the corner of the bar
drinking whiskey and whining about his in-laws
just flown in from Egypt
and maybe it’s the drink talking now
but as far as you knew
there were no jackalopes in Egypt
…then again, somebody had to build the pyramids
(4) PUTTING OUT A CONTRACT. On Facebook, Heikki Sørum has photos of Eemeli Aro signing a solemn agreement to give Finnish fandom a 90 day respite before be gets them involved in his next fannish scheme. Aro was the first one to appear at a Fannish Inquisition and talk about holding a Helsinki Worldcon.
(5) LONG LIST ANTHOLOGY. David Steffen’s latest Diabolical Plots newsletter says he will produce a third Long List Anthology.
On Friday was the Hugo Award Ceremony announcing the winners of this year’s Hugo Awards, and with the nomination numbers posted after the ceremony, starts the planning of the Long List Anthology Volume Three. If you’re not familiar with the previous two anthologies, it’s an anthology of short fiction from the longer Hugo Award nomination list–more stories that the Hugo voters loved. Queries have been sent out and there is enough author interest to go forward, and I’m sure I’ll get more responses over the next week or so, (especially with international WorldCon travel). I am aiming to launch the Kickstarter in early September, so the next newsletter might get sent out a bit early to coincide with it. The anthology will have stories by the following authors and more included in the base goal or stretch goals:
- Joseph Allen Hill
- Yoon Ha Lee
- Seanan McGuire
- Ian R. MacLeod
- Sam J. Miller
- Sarah Pinsker
- Cat Rambo
- Jason Sanford
- Caroline M. Yoachim
(6) THE SURVIVOR. The upcoming sci-fi indie short film The Survivor: A Tale From The Nearscape, which centers on a young boy as he does whatever it takes to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.
In a post-apocalyptic world where the air is toxic to breathe and oxygen is a precious resource, a young boy embarks on a perilous supply run to obtain water and medicine for his ailing mother. With just his toy robot as a companion on his journey, he faces many obstacles, but the real danger is waiting for him back home.
(7) TRIVIAL TRIVIA
Polyphemus was the name of the cyclops Odysseus and his crew encountered in The Odyssey.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
- August 15, 1977 — On duty at the Big Ear Radio Observatory at The Ohio State University, Dr. Jerry Ehman heard radio noise that lasted 37 seconds and came from the direction of a star nearly 220 light-years away. The signal traveled at a frequency whose use is prohibited by international agreement and that is unlike those of most natural radio sources. It is known as the Wow signal and hasn’t been heard since.
- August 15, 1984 — The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension first screened in theatres on this day.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRLS
- August 15, — Bjo Trimble
- August 15, 1990 – Jennifer Lawrence
(10) COMIC SECTION.
(11) CAVNA. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Ian Jones-Quartey, creator of the new Cartoon Network show O.K. K.O! Let’s Be Heroes because the show is a fictionalized version of Jones-Quartey’s home town of Columbia, Maryland — “A new Cartoon Network show finds inspiration in Columbia, Md., the animator’s home town”.
“OK K.O.!” centers on a boy’s adventures at friendly Lakewood Plaza, where his kick-butt mother runs a dojo and fitness center, and where he helps out at a bodega that supplies equipment to heroes — all across Route 175 from where villainous Lord Boxman runs his big-box retail monstrosity, which sells weapons to baddies.
(12) THE GOOD OMENS SCOREBOARD. Carl Slaughter, after reading that Neil Gaiman is showrunning a screen adaptation of his and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, found more reasons to be proud of the collaborators:
“Good Omens” is #68 in the BBC’s survey of 750,000 readers. The 67 books preceding it on the list include “Pride and Prejudice,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “1984,” “Jane Eyre,” “Wuthering Heights,” “Great Expectations,” “Little Women,” “War and Peace,” “Gone with the Wind,” “Grapes of Wrath,” “Emma,” “Animal Farm,” “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Crime and Punishment,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “A Christmas Carol,” and a slew of B list classics.
Plus “Lord of the Rings,” “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” “Dune,” “Watership Down,” “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” “Harry Potter,” “Alice in Wonderland,” etc.
#69-200 includes, “Vanity Fair,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” etc.
Pretty impressive list of competition for a comedy sci fi writer!
(12) BEWARE SPOILERS. Business Insider interviews Conleth Hill: “The actor who plays Varys on ‘Game of Thrones’ explains how he’s making ‘a better world for everybody else'”
Kim Renfro: On the second episode, “Stormborn,” Varys had a confrontation with Daenerys over his loyalties. What was it like filming a conversation with Emilia Clarke?
Conleth Hill: That was very exciting. Had you not done that scene people would have gone ‘well why did she take him on her team so easily?’ And we couldn’t do it in Meereen because she was off with the Dothraki and I was off, according to some people ‘mermaiding around’ with Olenna and the rest, so it was nice that we had it as soon as we got there — where she was born.
Renfro: You brought up ‘mermaiding around’ — are you sick of people asking you if Varys is a merman?
Hill: Yes. I don’t get it. I really don’t get it. I mean I’m not annoyed or anything, I think it’s funny, but I really don’t know where it comes from. I think someone got too stoned one night and came up with it.
(13) DIY. And just to make sure no customer is left behind, IKEA has published diagrams showing how to turn their rugs into Game of Thrones capes – Bored Panda has them: “IKEA Releases Instructions How To Make ‘Game Of Thrones’ Cape After Costumer Reveals Actors Wore IKEA Rugs”.
Being a member of the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones doesn’t sound like much fun. Constant threat of danger and death at the hands of Wildlings and White Walkers. Vows of celibacy. Freezing your ass off constantly. There really is very little about their job that you’d actually want. They do however have some pretty cool capes, and you don’t need to be a Brother to get one. All you need is a $79 SKOLD IKEA rug, because believe it or not, that’s what the tough guys of the Night’s Watch have actually been wearing on their backs this whole time.
(14) PLAY PASSWORD. The NIST also approves of less-painful passwording: “Forget Tough Passwords: New Guidelines Make It Simple”.
The organization suggests keeping passwords simple, long and memorable. Phrases, lowercase letters and typical English words work well, Grassi tells NPR’s Audie Cornish. Experts no longer suggest special characters and a mix of lower and uppercase letters. And passwords never need to expire.
“We focus on the cognitive side of this, which is what tools can users use to remember these things?” Grassi says. “So if you can picture it in your head, and no one else could, that’s a good password.”
While these rules may seem suspiciously easy, Grassi says these guidelines help users create longer passwords that are harder for hackers to break. And he says the computer security industry in both the public and private sectors has received these new rules positively.
Chip Hitchcock adds, “I suspect this is a readable version of guidelines issued in June and linked to in the previous story; anybody want to dig through the bureaucratese to find out?”
(15) GAZING. London’s Great Fire monument was also intended to be a telescope: “The secret lab hidden inside a famous monument”.
Robert Hooke was a man of many passions, who applied his enquiring mind to subjects as diverse as chemistry and map making, at the sober end of the scale, and folk beliefs about toads and his own bowel movements at the other. In his day, he had a reputation as lofty as the pillar itself, variously described as “England’s Leonardo” and “certainly the greatest mechanick [sic] this day in the world”.
Today his name has largely been forgotten, but his contributions have endured. Among other things, he coined the word “cell” to describe the basic unit of life (they reminded him of Monks’ rooms, or “cells”), devised Hooke’s law of elasticity – arguably not particularly exciting, but useful – and invented mechanisms still used in clocks and cameras to this day.
After the fire, Hooke tried his hand at architecture too, designing hospitals, civic buildings and churches across the city. He didn’t get a lot of credit, partly because most of his achievements were signed off by, and mistakenly attributed to, Wren – and partly because some of them weren’t very good.
(16) DINO NEWS. Martin Morse Wooster advises: “In the Washington Post, Travis M. Andrews writes about how Britain’s Natural History Museum discovered a fossil they thought was a crocodile was actually a new creature, which they named Lemmysuchus obstusidiens after the late heavy metal rocker Lemmy Kilmister. This critter partied all night and fought all day, specializing in crushing turtle shells with its mighty teeth. The painting by Mark Witton is very cool.” — “Meet the brutally violent prehistoric crocodile named for Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister”.
They had a new species on their hands, and it needed a name. The creature’s brash, aggressive nature brought to mind the hell-raising British heavy metal band Motorhead, known for songs such as “Killed By Death,” “Born to Raise Hell,” “God Was Never On Your Side” and “I Ain’t No Nice Guy.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Karl-Johan Norén, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]