Culture: February 2016 Archives

Space Access '16 Conference Information

"Space Access '16 is Space Access Society's twenty-third annual conference on the business, technology, and politics of radically cheaper access to space, this year with a strong sub-focus on policy decisions and technology directions needed for Beyond Low Orbit: The Next Step Out."

Keith's note: Unless I have made an error not a single speaker at the upcoming Space Access Society's event is female. It was like this last year too, etc. etc. Yet another space advocate meeting where the speaker demographics simply do not reflect reality and are seemingly stuck in another era. Hardly a way to address topics that affect future generations.

Keith's update: As expected, I made a mistake. One of the speakers in 2016 is female and two in 2015 were female - on agendas with over two dozen speakers. Like I said 'unless I have made an error'. My point still stands. These agendas are totally skewed disproportionately toward males.

NASA PAO has provided this statement: "NASA's Johnson Space Center does not prohibit the use of any specific religious terms or names in employee newsletters, or other internal communications. The 'JSC Today' daily electronic newsletter has cited numerous religious themes and holiday events throughout its history. A May 28, 2015, 'JSC Today' posting for the Praise and Worship Club was cited by some employees as proselytizing and an inappropriate use of federal resources. However, the newsletter has continued to make postings that have been religious in nature for both the Praise and Worship Club and other organizations, and on multiple occasions have cited specific references to the name 'Jesus.' There is an exceptionally strong sense of community at Johnson and across the agency, which is why NASA is consistently rated among the very best places to work in the federal government. Johnson's leadership has fostered that spirit of community and mutual respect over the years, and believes it is a crucial contributor in achieving mission success."

- Excerpts from JSC newsletter (PDF) (Compiled by NASA PAO)
- Complaint About NASA Banning Someone's First Name, earlier post

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2016/iss.silent.jpg

Silent Running on the International Space Station (with pictures and video)

Keith's note: I was looking at Scott Kelly's Flickr page today and was immediately struck by several photos that were hauntingly familiar. More flower pictures. I am a biologist and spent a lot of time studying (and teaching about) plants in college and grad school so I like to look at things like this. In particular the close-up, high resolution pictures of his zinnias really caught my attention. Then I realized why this looked so familiar. "Silent Running" - a cult classic film released in 1972. I first saw the when I was at the impressionable age of 16 and it has been stuck in my head ever since. Decades later it inspired me to build a spacecraft-inspired green house on a remote arctic island. Look at these two pictures - and then watch the opening of the film. Scott Kelly was most channeling his inner Freeman Lowell.

NASAWatch's Keith Cowing is The Agency's Biggest Critic and Most Obsessed Fan, Inverse

"Despite the small staff, the website pushes out content daily, and a lot of it ... it has a small but influential audience of NASA employees, policy makers, and the requisite amount of fellow space geeks. ... [with regard to critics] These types of scuffles, to Cowing, are "junior high sort of stuff," yet owns up to having his share of detractors. "I assume 50 percent or more don't care for what I do a lot of people who read my stuff would be terrified to be seen talking to me in public," he tells me. "Everybody is critical of me, to be honest." For the most part, It's not what Cowing says that bothers people; it's how he says it. The polarization around his online persona is likely due to the website's balance of solid watchdoggery and irreverent, sometimes abrasive commentary, that even for non-space nerds, is highly entertaining stuff."

Keith's note: Of course when you write a profile about someone, a good writer seeks to get contrarian points of view. That said, its funny how Rand Simberg (who is quoted) thinks that I am afraid of guns. This picture of me shows me engaging in polar bear defense target practice on Devon Island (located 800 miles from the North Pole) in 2003. I am actually a rather good shot and, as a Mac user, I rather enjoyed putting shotgun blasts into that Dell PC cardboard box with a target painted on it. I could have done that all day. Also, its funny how Ethan Siegel says "I've considered blocking him multiple times". Well, Ethan, since I do not follow you on Twitter (or anywhere else), block away - I can guarantee that you'll feel better for having done so.

NASA bans the word 'Jesus', Fox

"The name of Jesus is not welcome in the Johnson Space Center newsletter, according to a complaint filed on behalf of a group of Christians who work for NASA. The JSC Praise & Worship Club was directed by NASA attorneys to refrain from using the name 'Jesus' in club announcements that appeared in a Space Center newsletter. "It was shocking to all of us and very frustrating," NASA engineer Sophia Smith told me. "NASA has a long history of respecting religious speech. Why wouldn't they allow us to put the name Jesus in the announcement about our club?" Liberty Institute, one of the nation's largest religious liberty law firms, threatened to file a federal lawsuit unless NASA apologizes and stops censoring the name 'Jesus'."

Keith's note: Right. The name "Jesus" is being censored at NASA. Go to people.nasa.gov and type "Jesus" in the first name search box. Look at all the results. [Larger image] If this loony claim is real then any time any of these employees named "Jesus" is quoted in the newsletter or wants to place a want ad, etc. they will have to do so under a false name. And when they write technical papers, they will have to use a false name too. I wonder what happens when it comes to the name on their pay checks. Do the people who write these opinion pieces ever bother to think before they hit 'send'?

Keith's note: NASA PAO sent me the following statement: "NASA does not prohibit the use of any specific religious names in employee newsletters or other internal communications. The agency allows a host of employee-led civic, professional, religious and other organizations to meet on NASA property on employees' own time. Consistent with federal law, NASA attempts to balance employees' rights to freely exercise religious beliefs with its obligation to ensure there is no government endorsement of religion. We believe in and encourage open and diverse dialogue among our employees and across the agency."

Food For Thought


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This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from February 2016.

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