Saturday Morning Sci-Fi Open Thread: Mars Needs Believers!

Even as a very young hardcore sf reader, I knew I would never be part of a one-way space mission, because I can barely stand to spend a long weekend trapped in the house with a handful of people I love, much less a bunch of random strangers. (And, yes, I did not rate my chances of appealing to a quorum of those strangers, either.) But Murphy the Trickster God bless the… idealists… who are willing to share their dreams of Martian colonization with all the world and the Boston Globe:

When the initial tingle had passed and the idea had been given time to marinate and settle, Peter Degen-Portnoy said his family split into camps regarding his decision to commit to a one-way trip to Mars.

His sons think it’s cool.

His two oldest daughters stopped speaking with him.

And his wife left him.

Three years ago, Degen-Portnoy, a 54-year-old father of five from Stoneham, was one of 100 semifinalists chosen for Mars One, a wildly ambitious Dutch-led project that ultimately seeks to colonize Mars, beginning in 2032, with 20 permanent, never-to-return-to-Earth settlers. The plan has been controversial from the moment it was announced in 2012, with serious questions about the technological feasibility, as well as the plan to fund much of the mission.

Mars One organizers say the project can be accomplished for roughly $6 billion; critics say that is preposterous, as is the plan to raise much of that through corporate sponsorship and the sale of television rights.

The mission is currently far, far away from becoming a reality — millions of miles and millions of questions remain about how they will get there, how they will survive on Mars and build a self-sustaining colony, and of course how they will survive the trip. The current plan involves sending supplies ahead, then sending crews of four crammed into spaceships the size of a tour bus for the 18-month journey. When solar flares erupt, they will retreat into a bathroom-sized pod, surrounded by water for protection, for several claustrophobic days at a time.

While space experts and keyboard cowboys continue their debate, Degen-Portnoy and the three other semifinalists from Massachusetts have been dealing with the very real impact on their personal lives that comes when you make a commitment to a one-way trip to outer space.

For whether they go to Mars or not, “the 100,” as they call themselves, are the first humans to actually experience the terrestrial repercussions of making such an extravagant extraterrestrial commitment…

But there’s also a love story! Much more at the link — along with a full-sized version of the video clip at the top.

139 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    Hmm No Bic Sci Fi.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    I can barely stand to spend a long weekend trapped in the house with a handful of people I love, much less a bunch of random strangers.

    Yet here you are, trapped in here with us.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    @raven: How is Freedom + 1 for the bride?

  4. 4
    WereBear says:

    I get where his family is coming from. He wants to leave and not come back.

  5. 5
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    What’s preposterous is that Degen-Portnoy, who will be 68 when the mission starts, got selected at all. I wonder if he is helping with the financing? I smell a grift somewhere in here.

  6. 6
    HeleninEire says:

    Well, we did it. The 8th amendment to the Irish constitution was repealed yesterday. By a 70/30 margin. Abortion will now be legal in Ireland. WOOT!!!!!

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    @HeleninEire: Congrats! Are there any restrictions left?

  8. 8
    HeleninEire says:

    @Baud: The vote was to repeal the amendment that gave a fetus the same rights as a woman. Now the negotiations begin as to what, exactly will be allowed. No clue what the outcome will be, but with such a large margin, I think the law will be relatively liberal. The Irish, despite (or most likely because of) church rule, are a liberal lot.

  9. 9
    Amir Khalid says:

    I don’t have a Boston Globe account, and they won’t let me read the story in a private window. So eff’em. Then I looked up Mars One on Wikipedia. What I found there makes me doubt that these starry-eyed would-be settlers will ever see Mars except through a telescope.

  10. 10
    raven says:

    @Baud: We’ll see. Saturday I go to the bakery, farmer’s market and hardware store and she stays in the rack. So far our conversations about what’s what have been in the form of discussions with other people when they ask. I figure the drive to the beach will be a good time to get going in earnest.

  11. 11
    raven says:

    @HeleninEire: So it’s not just exit polls?

  12. 12
    Baud says:

    @HeleninEire: It’s nice to see a country moving in the right direction.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    @raven: Good luck.

  14. 14
    p.a. says:

    If there’s tv rights and something does actually get in the air it will basically be Faces of (High Tec) Death.

  15. 15
    Cermet says:

    No one is going to Mars any time soon; in recent animal studies the exposure to Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR) would lead to dementia in five or six months. The long term hazarded to the massive neutron flux from the Mars surface by the CGR, while never really tested, would likely be fatal in a few years, Every three years one would receive a the max allowed lifetime radiation dose – how long that could be tolerated, again, not fully known, but would be again, be likely fatal within ten years or so. Mars surface dust is looking highly toxic because it may very well contain Perchlorates, besides it other bad aspects (extremely reactive to organics and very abrasive nature.)

    These issues must be addressed and because the staggering cost to put every kilogram on the surface, not easy to address. I have studied these issues (and many others) for a long time; they and other safety issues can be over come but not using any approach currently out there.

  16. 16
    HeleninEire says:

    @raven: No. They started counting at 6 this morning. The votes are following the exit polls precisely. The most conservative box they have opened so far was 50/50 down south, but places like Dublin are coming in at +70 for repeal.

  17. 17
    raven says:

    I’m reading “The Retirement Maze” and it is very informative.

    Millions of baby boomers are just beginning to retire, and in doing so many are likely to run into adjustment problems, such as loss of identity, deterioration of marriage and social life, and feelings of disconnectedness to the world. Studies have found that as many as 40% of retirees have difficulty adjusting, and even those who claim to enjoy retirement may experience some uneasiness as they adapt to a life lacking in structure and direction.

    This book investigates the struggles faced by retirees in building a new life outside of the workforce. It provides an honest assessment of retirement, based on the not-always-acknowledged fact that it is a difficult transition with pitfalls and obstacles to be overcome.

    But along with uncovering problems, the authors also propose solutions to enable both current and future retirees to be better prepared, allowing them to avoid being blind-sided by unexpected situations. By reading about the experiences of their peers, current and future retirees will come to understand that others share their difficulties adjusting, and that tactics are available to improve their comfort level in retirement as well as their overall well-being. Retirees and those planning for retirement will find in these pages what they need to make retirement successful and enjoyable.

  18. 18
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Steeplejack (phone):
    That’s a sign of poor mission planning. Per Wikipedia, the launch date has been pushed back from 2020 to 2022 to 2027 to 2032, and the age cutoff should have shifted with it.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    HeleninEire says:

    @Baud: Yes. GDPR (enhanced online privacy rights) kicked in yesterday and we’ve all been getting emails for a week from everyone who has our email or credit card info asking for permission to keep the info, as is required by the law. A friend asked me why she wasn’t hearing from American companies who have her info. I GUFFAWED. Told her that America is going in the opposite direction; gutting regulations!

  21. 21
    David Evans says:

    Their first manned missions are planned to land in 2032. I expect Elon Musk’s BFR to be there by then. Possibly with more people and a return capability.

  22. 22
    raven says:

    @Baud: Also, I should point out that I have been in what is traditionally more of a women’s role more than once. I moved here 33 years ago when my then-wife completed her doc and took a faculty position. I went back to school for my masters and then went to work. In this situation it is me who has been at home alone for the past 13 years and she who has gone to work. In looking at adjustment issues in the book the person who has been at home often experiences difficulty in the new situation so, even thought I’m going to keep working from home, I expect “issues” to arise.

  23. 23
    Baud says:

    @HeleninEire: Lots of U.S. countries are complying with GDPR, but otherwise you are correct.

  24. 24
    Baud says:

    @raven: I can’t wait until I can retire. It actually might be sooner than expected if things keep going the way they are.

  25. 25
    raven says:

    @Baud: I have such tremendous flexibility in my job (and faculty football tix) that working for another year is not all that bad for me.

  26. 26
    SectionH says:

    @HeleninEire: Yes! So Yes! It was inspiring, dammit. 70-30? (Fuck it, let me round up in a minor way, comparatively).

  27. 27
    HeleninEire says:

    @raven: I have a great friend here who retired a few weeks ago. 65 years old and had been working for 50. She was afraid of exactly what that article says. This morning she got on a plane for Bairittz, France. She will walk the entire Camino de Santiago. 500 miles!

  28. 28
    Baud says:

    @raven: I should be happier where I am. It has a lot of benefits. But my ego is too big to be satisfied with my current situation.

  29. 29
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    build a self-sustaining colony,

    That right there says they don’t have a clue of what the realities truly are. A self sustaining colony would take hundreds of years to build if even then.

  30. 30
    Chet Murthy says:

    @David Evans: I wonder what the rocket equation has to say about that.

  31. 31
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    @raven: I’m on of those boomers and I “retired” last year. I knew about myself that I needed structure so I’ve got lots of plates spinning in the air. I also knew I had no interest in spending all my days golfing or fishing, especially since I’ve never done either. I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to spend my energy on and I’m pretty much doing it.

    Can’t survive without replacement income forever, but I need a lot less than I did. I have no plans to be anyone’s employee again. Not that the last job was bad, it was actually quite enjoyable. Except for physical stuff like getting up at 4:30 am and working in a place with about 1/4 of the bathroom space they needed.

  32. 32
    TS (the original) says:

    @raven: As a retired baby boomer – I love being retired – as does Mr TS – although he can’t stop himself working 1 day a week (and I quite enjoy that home alone day). We do what we want when we want – sleep in, get up early – dine out – dine in – visit family – stay away from family – whatever.

    Marriage is fine, social life is fine, not disconnected from anything – except going to work. Anyone who has difficulty adjusting to having time to smell the roses needs to rethink their priorities and think about all those things they never had time to do.

    Life is good – except for the politics.

  33. 33
    NotMax says:

    Now, when they’re looking for volunteers to make the journey solo, you’ll find me at the head of the line.


    and feelings of disconnectedness to the world

    Feature, not a bug. Indubitably and absolutely.

  34. 34
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    Hmm. Until today the site always remembered my nym and email on the phone. Looks like I’ve joined the ranks of those who have to fill it in fresh each time.

  35. 35
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:


    A self sustaining colony would take hundreds of years to build if even then.

    And Mexico will pay for it.

  36. 36
    Baud says:

    @NotMax: I’ve been there for a while now.

  37. 37
    TS (the original) says:


    Huge cheers from Yes campaigners as the final tallies are announced by tallymen for a number of constituencies, writes Marie O’Halloran. Most of the constituencies well into the 70s for Yes. Some areas touching on 90 per cent Yes.

    I shall henceforth be exceedingly proud of my 25% Irish heritage. Bless ’em all.

  38. 38
    NotMax says:


    By a 70/30 margin.

    Would have been 71/29 absent that darn Russian meddling.


  39. 39
    Raven says:

    I love all this input!

  40. 40
    NotMax says:

    Stretched out earlier, shut the eyes and listened to a half dozen or so episodes of old time radio’s Vic ‘n’ Sade. Arose rested and placid. Better than a vacation.

  41. 41
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Nice profile of Chelsea Clinton:

    Just 12 when she moved into the White House, an awkward adolescent jumble of frizzy hair and braces, Clinton was 18 when the father she idolised confessed to an affair with Monica Lewinsky. Two hundred and fifty journalists covered her arrival at Stanford University, where she was criticised for keeping a low profile, hidden away in her bulletproof dorm, but then criticised again for partying with celebrities when she moved to Oxford for an MPhil in international relations. She tried working for management consultants McKinsey, and then a hedge fund, but her heart wasn’t in it; as she has said, “I tried to care about things like money. I just didn’t.”

    Following another master’s in public health she became a special correspondent for NBC, but was widely panned, one critic describing the decision to hire her as “journalistically bankrupt”. New York magazine ran the headline: “Chelsea Clinton at NBC: When Nepotism Goes Wrong”.

    The caution with which she parses my questions is therefore unsurprising. Now vice-chair of the family foundation, she seems to have found a public voice and role that fits, campaigning for girls’ empowerment, early access to childhood education and global healthcare initiatives – but even so, for the first half of the interview she sounds more like a policy paper than a real person.

    For instance, I ask if we’re now living through the best of feminist times, thanks to #MeToo, or the worst, thanks to Donald Trump, and her answer is at once impressive and thoughtful and mindnumbingly clunky. The heavily abridged version goes: “I think progress is possible and I think we should always feel a responsibility to that mandate in some ways, but that it’s not inevitable, and that it has to be both protected and advanced at every moment,” before digressing into a wordy, wonky lament about “the restrictions on a woman’s reproductive agency, and also on her ability to access reproductive health services that she thinks are right for her and often for her family, [and] that right is certainly not secure in our country.”

    And then, quite unexpectedly, something changes. Feminist opinion is divided, I observe, between women who feel we should seize this #MeToo moment and go all out to tear down the patriarchy, and those who fear our rage will alienate support. Does Clinton still believe we should go high? She gazes at me in silence, as though making up her mind whether or not to become present, and when she opens her mouth it feels as if she is suddenly here.

    “For me, maybe because I’ve had so much vitriol flung at me for as long as I can literally remember, people saying awful things to me even as a child, I’ve never found it productive, personally, to engage in that way. To retaliate with crass language or insult someone personally – I just don’t think I’m built that way.”

  42. 42
    NotMax says:

    Also too, actively avoiding TCM’s weekend war-a-thon. Queued up stuff on both Netflix and Amazon Prime in advance when realized Memorial Day weekend was approaching.

  43. 43
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Then I looked up Mars One on Wikipedia. What I found there makes me doubt that these starry-eyed would-be settlers will ever see Mars except through a telescope.

    Nor will they see their money again.

  44. 44
    glaukopis says:

    @TS (the original): I’m another baby boomer who retired two years ago. I moved to the Midwest from California to be near grandchildren, worked on Hillary’s campaign, joined a knitting group and a ukulele group, just started autoharp lessons, and took Spanish classes before a trip to Spain last Fall. I’m going to Edinburgh this summer and hope to go to China next year. I’d do more, especially gardening, but my body is complaining a bit about being old. It’s a sad irony that just when we’re free to do all the things we wanted to do, the body starts to betray us.

  45. 45
    HeleninEire says:

    @TS (the original): Thank you for that link. Very informative.

  46. 46
    NotMax says:


    NY Mag don’t understand what the word nepotism means very well, do they? It could be dubbed favoritism but AFAIK neither Bill nor Hillary works at NBC, much less in a position involving decisions regarding hiring there, so not nepotism.

  47. 47
    Raven says:

    @glaukopis: I’ll really be urging an upgrade of exercise for the princess. We have a fami;y Y membership but she doesn’t care for it. We walk a couple of miles in the am and she gardens like mad but additional cardio is necessary. Plus, she’s only 60!

  48. 48
    MomSense says:


    Have you watched The Durrells in Corfu? I’m halfway through the second season and thoroughly enjoying it.

  49. 49
    Raven says:

    @NotMax: We liked the 1st season of Bosch.

  50. 50
    SectionH says:

    @Amir Khalid: IDK, possibly they’re stupid? Well meaning stupid in this case, but damn.

    (edited because I totally got into a rant about US morans. Sorry.

  51. 51
    Baud says:

    @MomSense: I didn’t read about your surgery until after the fact. Hope you are feeling well.

  52. 52
    Baud says:

    @NotMax: If you’ll remember, people also forgot to look up the meaning of “dynasty” in 2016.

    Some people deserve Trump.

  53. 53
    NotMax says:


    Recommendation noted. One of those things always see listed which also always gets put on the mental secondary, ‘maybe later’ list.

  54. 54
    Jeffro says:

    45 comments in, and no one has grabbed the low-hanging fruit about folks they’d like to put on a one-way trip to Mars (be it Dolt45, a family member, a Kardashian, all of the above)?

    I’m impressed, folks.
    Happy Saturday!

  55. 55
    Baud says:

    @Jeffro: This blog respects Martians.

  56. 56
    glaukopis says:

    @Raven: yes, exercise is essential, especially for me since too many of my favorite activities are done sitting. I tore my rotator cuff slipping on ice my first winter here, but the PT said there were clearly long term problems from sitting at a desk for years in my IT job. I’ve had to do a lot of specific exercises for the injury & belong to a club, but really prefer walking myself.

  57. 57
    rikyrah says:

    Good Morning Everyone 😄 😄😄

  58. 58
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @NotMax: Yeah, I caught that too. Somebody needs a dictionary.

  59. 59
    Baud says:

    @rikyrah: Good morning.

  60. 60
    rikyrah says:

    Bravo 👏👏👏

  61. 61
    NotMax says:


    Most especially the ones wearing tennis shoes and an armor tutu.

    (What happens in the clip is his own fault for focusing in on Floriduh.)


    Also noted. Currently have a lengthy list of B pix, mostly British, from the 30s and 40 lined up on Amazon. None of which air on TCM.


  62. 62
    oldgold says:

    The loss of identity associated with retirement is a real fear of mine.

    I know a lot of “professionals” who share this fear. Perhaps it is a stupid and vain concern, but it is real.

  63. 63
    tobie says:

    @MomSense: I love that show and I hear the book on which it’s based (My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell) is even funnier. I think I’ll read all his autobiographical memoirs over the next year. There’s something so good-natured about the show–it’s balm to the soul right now.

  64. 64
    Amir Khalid says:

    Maybe they think that NBC hired Chelsea because of Bill and Hillary’s fame, or so that Bill and Hillary would owe NBC access. The first would be silly, the second a rational but probably wrongheaded calculation. Neither would be actual nepotism.

  65. 65
    SFAW says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    What I found there makes me doubt that these starry-eyed would-be settlers will ever see Mars except through a telescope.

    As the saying goes “It’s certain to succeed — what could possibly go wrong?”

  66. 66
    NotMax says:


    Read the book a l-o-n-g time ago (1950s or maybe very, very early 1960s). Unable to drag up any specifics aside from a positive feeling about it.

  67. 67
    MomSense says:


    Thanks. I think I underestimated how long it would take to feel better. I’m lucky to have the long weekend to rest.

    I think you will love it.


    It really is balm for the soul. I’ve been thinking of getting My Familyand Other Animals, too.

  68. 68
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Life and death on a superyacht: ‘If something goes wrong, they can just raise the anchor and leave’

    In 2010, Robin Black received a call from the captain of the £15m sailing superyacht Burrasca, on which Black’s son Will was bosun, or officer in charge of crew and equipment. At the time, it was moored at the Monaco yacht show in Port Hercules, the annual beauty parade held in the industry’s global hub. The captain told Black that Will, 28, hadn’t been seen since the night before, when the rib he was piloting (a small boat used to ferry passengers to and from the yacht) collided with another boat. He thought Will may have been knocked overboard.

    By the time Robin, Will’s mother Judith and his sister Rosanna, now 37, arrived in Monaco to join the search, the yacht had left. “The captain said: ‘Don’t worry, we threw some flowers over the side and gave his belongings to the police,’” Rosanna says, fighting back tears as she describes “the worst days of our lives”. “I couldn’t comprehend that the boat had gone before Will was found and before we got there,” she says. “How could they just leave a family to deal with the death of one of their crew, and the police and paperwork and everything? I can’t believe that if something goes wrong – if someone dies – they can just raise the anchor and leave.”

    The family don’t know who owns Burrasca, though he is thought to have been a Russian billionaire (owners do not have to declare themselves). He was not on board at the time of the accident. The yacht did not request divers to look for Will’s body, leaving the captain of another superyacht, who was a friend, to pay for search and recovery divers. But they were unable to find Will, who had not been wearing a life vest.

    Will’s life was not insured. “But it’s not about money,” Rosanna says, “it’s about respect for another life.” She says that the owner didn’t and doesn’t seem to have cared. A spokesman for the yacht’s management did not respond to the Guardian’s requests for comment.

    If something goes wrong on a superyacht, it can be incredibly difficult for crew and their families to understand which laws and rights apply. Vessels are often operating in international waters, their day-to-day operations run by management companies on behalf of often unidentifiable owners; their yachts are registered via offshore companies in places such as Panama or the British Virgin Islands.

    To add to the confusion, superyachts can be registered with another country and fly their flag, even if the yacht is not based there. At the time of Will’s death, Burrasca was registered in St Vincent and the Grenadines. There was no British inquest, and local authorities recorded this report of the accident: “Mr William Black was on tender duty between the mothership at anchor and the shore. The anchorage was very crowded. Returning to the mothership, the tender hit an unattended vessel that was anchored in the bay. The tender was found drifting with no one on board… Mr Black’s body was not found.”


    It’s shorts, T-shirts and deck shoes weather at the Monaco yacht show, as I weave my way through champagne receptions, passing Ferraris and Aston Martins for sale on the quayside. This year’s display of yachts is collectively worth more than £2bn; the combined annual spending on the world’s 6,281 superyachts could wipe out all developing countries’ debts.

    There are so many superyachts docked for the show that Top Shop boss Sir Philip Green’s £100m Lionheart has been forced out of its mooring into the Bay of Monaco. The 110-metre Jubilee, which was built for the late emir of Qatar, is on sale for $300m.

    On board the six-cabin St David, which is on sale for just under £20m, Zimmerman is preparing canapes for a party. He says the industry keeps many people in well-paid employment, adding that he can’t envisage going back to work on land, as “the pay cannot compare. I have three children, and working here pays for their education.” But, he adds, newbies have to decide early on whether they can sit by and watch their billionaire bosses spend vast amounts enjoying themselves, while appearing not to care about those around them. “It’s a compromise that everyone has to make – can you accept it?”

    Liz Brasler, 29, is chief mate, or second-in-command, of one of the yachts in the harbour. She won’t say which but “it’s one of the bigger ones”. She has worked her way up the ranks from deckhand since 2006. “It can be great fun but it’s also exhausting, delivering the highest standards invisibly, magically, with no apparent fuss,” she says. “Owners expect the best in the world. They want to go wherever, whenever, and demand the highest standards without delay. Money is not a problem for them.”

    For most of her career, Brasler, who is South African, bunked with colleagues in small cabins; now she has a cabin of her own. But while she has more privacy, she says she can’t remember the last time she had seven hours’ sleep while on charter or at sea.

    Has she ever woken up to find an A-list actor on board? “Oh yes, quite often. You can’t get all excited every time you see Tom Cruise. It is a glamorous life. I’ve met some of the most famous people you can imagine. [But] they pay to be invisible – the richest of the rich are sometimes the most discreet.”


    Meanwhile, chief mate Liz Brasler is wondering what job she might do next. She says that while working on superyachts has been fun, it can be difficult, demoralising and sometimes dangerous. Friends have been injured and she knows of others who have died. “We’re insured, but it doesn’t cover everything. I know the price of my life,” she says. “And it’s less than my parents think.”

    And people wonder why I sometimes say “First thing we do, let’s kill all the rich.”

  69. 69
    SectionH says:

    @MomSense: Second season? Yay! Yes, I watched the first season. Kinda regretted I’d bought it, but I couldn’t resist. It wasn’t terrible, but way too much Mother behind the scenes. Because the book was about the boy. I wanted the book Moar critters.

    I started with the Durrells reading Larry, but then there was Gerry, and fuck it, critters. So I’ve read and loved everything Gerry wrote, and have been to his “Zoo” on Jersey, the Wildlife Preservation Trust he created, and it’s wonderful. So yeah.

    Larry could write too, of course. But if you want to have fun, go look for his Dip books, Esprit De Corps and Stiff Upper Lip – they were as funny when I read them years ago as they must have been when they were published, and I bet they’ve aged just as well.

    Also too, dammit, hope you’re recovering .

  70. 70
    NotMax says:


    Now that think on it some more, recall that book holding a (relative) place of prominence in the house, permanently available in the upstairs bathroom as the only reading material ensconced there. So I probably read through it sporadically over the course of several years.

  71. 71
    MattF says:

    No one’s mentioned Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) which is entertaining and (probably) gets the Mars science more-or-less right. Of course, a lot of very unlikely things happen in the books, but it’s fiction, after all.

  72. 72
    debbie says:

    @Steeplejack (phone):

    Or, knowing his age, that they won’t have to worry about getting him back to Earth?

  73. 73
    debbie says:


    I heard even the more conservative, rural areas voted for repeal. Nice!

  74. 74
    SectionH says:

    @tobie: There are 3 Corfu books. My Family is the first. Fauna and Family is another one, and I’ll try to remember the 3rd one. I think Beasts in the title. But don’t stop there. Go find his book about filming in New Zealand. It’s…educational.

    eta or A Zoo in My Luggage…his Mum does come into it there a bit.

  75. 75
    MattF says:

    @HeleninEire: Good news. And, I’m guessing that the truly awful history of Catholic rule in Ireland had a lot to do with it.

  76. 76
    NotMax says:

    First time came across a blatant plug inserted as subtitles, displaying something totally different from the audio track, just this week.

    During the opening credits was this (paraphrasing):

    “Whether you like or don’t like this movie, check out the other 12 films director [his name] has made. You’re bound to like at least ONE of them.”

  77. 77
    Walker says:

    @Steeplejack (phone):

    Everyone selected for the mission is helping with financing. Mars One is a notorious scam. Gizmodo pointed this out three years ago:

    Mars One is broke, disorganized, and sketchy as hell

  78. 78
    Lapassionara says:

    @Raven: She can get a cardio work out gardening, if she does it the way I do. I am constantly hauling wheelbarrows full of mulch or compost, which I buy in bulk from a supply store nearby. This sort of thing is a daily activity for me, weather permitting. In winter, I use the Y, which is boring, so gardening is great both physically and mentally.

    And way to go, Ireland!

  79. 79
    debbie says:


    There’s a woman in my neighborhood, somewhere in her late 70s or early 80s, who exercises every single day regardless of the weather. She alternates between power walking and biking. She’s a bit stooped, but that hasn’t slowed her down. My back won’t let me walk with a lot of speed, and she blows by me whenever we’re out at the same time. I pretty much know her circuit, and I’d bet it’s somewhere around five miles, if not more. That’s what retirement does, it gives you time for what you like doing. And it’s clearly helping this woman.

  80. 80
    NotMax says:

    re: above

    Another perennial on the maybe later list on Netflix is Cable Girls. Look intriguing enough (even If soapy) but somehow never get around to it. Anyone sampled it?

  81. 81
    David Evans says:

    @Chet Murthy: I haven’t looked at the detailed design of the BFR, but Musk’s Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy do exactly what he said they would do. I was amazed to see his first stages landing back on the barge – my instincts said it couldn’t be done. I would not bet against Musk doing anything he says he can do, given the money.

  82. 82
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    @MattF: Read them long ago, can’t remember details except that IIRC they terraformed Mars.

    More recently read Ben Bova’s planetary exploration books. In “Mars” he puts the cost of the mission at $250 billion, and it only happens because one dedicated rich guy spends 20 years cajoling most of the nations on earth to kick in with money and resources. That struck me as a probably-realistic view of what it will take.

  83. 83
    Gretchen says:

    @raven: I retired in January. I haven’t missed work for a minute. It helps that I hated the people I worked for and am happy to be rid of them. I go to the gym in the morning, take care of the grandson in the afternoon, garden in the evening. Working got in the way of living.

  84. 84
    NotMax says:


    If you haven’t yet seen it, you might like Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (Amazon Prime). The years have dulled none of the shine of Gena Rowland’s talent. Unpretentious and enjoyable little dramedy.

  85. 85
    tobie says:

    @SectionH: Thank you for all these recommendations! I leave tomorrow for a six week trip so need to fill my kindle with good reading material for my travels. I think I’ll take a crack at Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, too.

  86. 86
    A Ghost To Most says:

    I retired in January as well. Working with “those people” broke me. We are poorer but much happier.

  87. 87
    HinTN says:

    @Raven: Six years ago when I began looking at 60 I read up on the advantages of light (emphasis on the light) weight work as an antidote to potential osteoporosis. So I started doing just a little bit, and 10 minutes on an elliptical-like (Arc Trainer) machine to warm up. Never pushing too hard so I didn’t burn out. Just a steady dose three days a week. It really made a difference and I’m still at it. Nothing fancy, just a routine. FWIW

  88. 88
    Elizabelle says:

    Good morning, all.

    Still rather taken with this green orb; happy to explore it further. Mars: for someone else.

  89. 89
    MattF says:

    @David Evans: Musk is very good at some things. I wouldn’t bet, though, on his talents for mass production of cars. See, e.g., this company‘s teardown of a Tesla. It’s… ugly.

  90. 90
    Kay says:

    We’re going kayaking on the Pere Marquette River. It’s an easy river-slow. One year I saw 3 women out there in a canoe that looked like a gondola- all curliqued and elaborate- with one of the three sitting in the center on a kitchen stool, like a queen.

    I guilted our 15 year old into going because his father’s birthday is Monday.

  91. 91
  92. 92
    Citizen_X says:

    @Chet Murthy: BFR is supposed to do in situ refueling on Mars, making methane from Martian water and CO2. THAT part is realistic, at least.

    I think Mars is going to end like Antarctica—a MORE HOSPITABLE place—with a population of a couple thousand or so researchers. Maybe the site of the Mars One tragedy will be a place of history and a warning unto others.

  93. 93
    rikyrah says:

    What if…
    44 had hired a spy firm to investigate and get dirt on Republicans?😒😒

  94. 94
    different-church-lady says:

    So, uh… how long can someone retire on $8000?

  95. 95
    NotMax says:


    Apparently he has seen the light.

    “Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.” Source

  96. 96
    Baud says:

    @different-church-lady: Depends. Is it in bitcoins?

  97. 97
    Gretchen says:

    I’d gotten used to the idea that some things were beyond me now at age 65. I tried to teach the grandson to skip and couldn’t get off the ground. I signed up for a boot camp class at the gym which kept asking me to do things that were a little beyond me. One class had a skipping exercise. I was ready to say I can’t do that but was surprised to find that I now can. Take those gym classes!

  98. 98
    Gretchen says:

    @Kay: He’ll enjoy it. He just won’t be able to admit he enjoyed it. It sounds fun.

  99. 99
  100. 100
    debbie says:


    I guilted our 15 year old into going…

    Yep, you’re a mom! ;)

  101. 101
    Kay says:


    It’s nice. I love the greeny light on rivers.

  102. 102
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    @Citizen_X: I think we’ll end up with some scientific infrastructure (GPS, comms satellites, deep space support for fuel, repairs, emergency supplies) whoever ends up going to the surface, even if just robots. In fact I think some satellites were already up there supporting the rovers.

    DARPA some years back had a program for “delay-tolerant networks” to figure out how to make a Mars based network participate in the internet. Not sure what came out of that program, but it’s a sign that serious engineering is being done for Mars.

  103. 103
    Kay says:


    I listened to his alternative music selections for 3 hours in the car as a kind of trade. He and his friends all follow this site- “Bandcamp” so he’ll say things like “this band is where punk was in the 90’s” and then I need remedial help so I have to say “where was punk in the 1990’s?” Where. Exactly. :)

  104. 104
    zzyzx says:

    I completely changed my body in my 40s. I got diagnosed with diabetes and started doing 30 minutes of exercise at a brisk pace. That became running and now I’m gearing up for another half marathon as an early 50th birthday celebration this fall. My original goal was to be able to run .2 miles, not 13.1.

    It depends on your personality, but once you start, it can take over a bit. I still hate going out every morning, but once I get into it, it’s usually OK and I feel amazing when it’s over.

  105. 105
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    @HeleninEire: Funny, I walked the 500 miles of the Camino after I retired too. One of the greatest experiences of my life. I hope your friend has a great time.

  106. 106
    SectionH says:

    @tobie: I hope you can find them, or some. The Quartet isn’t light reading, but very worthwhile in the long run.

    Have a great trip!

  107. 107
    Jack the Second says:


    Maybe the site of the Mars One tragedy will be a place of history and a warning unto others.

    Ought to be good for a Doctor Who episode at least.

  108. 108
    kindness says:

    Why would one want to live on Mars? It has no large magnetic field to protect inhabitants from gamma rays & other harmful radiation. There is barely an atmosphere and it isn’t oxygen. And with current technology, it’s a one way ticket with no guaranteed re-supply.

    Yea, no. Sounds pretty dumb to me.

  109. 109
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @raven: My aunt ( who passed away 5 years ago at age 99, God love her) never worked outside the home from the day of her wedding onward. Then my uncle retired. A month later she went out and got a job. Way too much togetherness for her.

  110. 110
    dmsilev says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym:

    In fact I think some satellites were already up there supporting the rovers.

    Sort of. The satellites we have orbiting Mars all have their various primary missions of photography and other instrumentation, but some of the newer ones have as a secondary mission the ability to serve as a communications relay for landers. You can put a bigger radio dish and more solar panels on a satellite than can easily be crammed into a lander or rover, so the surface craft typically have a low-bandwidth direct connection to Earth and then a higher bandwidth/short range radio that talks to the satellites which then relay the pictures etc. back to us.

  111. 111
  112. 112
    MomSense says:


    Ooh, that sounds great.

  113. 113
    zzyzx says:

    @kindness: That’s why it’s not the kind of place to raise a kid.

  114. 114
    Elizabelle says:

    Free Fred! Item in full, from the LA Times:

    Giovanni’s Fish Market in Morro Bay, Calif., makes its money by selling seafood, but owner Giovanni DeGarimore made news this month when he bought a 70-pound octopus — and set it free.

    DeGarimore told the Tribune of San Luis Obispo that he’s had a change of heart about selling or consuming octopus after learning about their intelligence and an experience he had playing hide-and-seek with one while scuba diving in Fiji.

    So when his dock manager called last week to say a local fisherman was selling an octopus that had been
    caught in a crab trap, DeGarimore couldn’t bear the thought of it being cut up.

    He says he bought the octopus, named it Fred and temporarily kept it in a tank at his market, then released it.

    Here’s the original story, from the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

  115. 115

    Dr. Guido Sarducci once wrote NASA a well and soberly written, yet ludicrous request that they calculate how much fuel he would need to make a round trip ticket to Mars. They replied with a soberly written yet ludicrous letter of their own, which ended with everyone at NASA wishing him a “bon voyage”.

    I think $6 billion dollars could buy a lot of psychiatric help.

  116. 116
    HinTN says:

    @zzyzx: When I first moved beyond cardio and weights my goal was one (1) situp. That took less than the year I gave myself to get there, but it wasn’t a cake walk.

  117. 117
    MattF says:

    @No Drought No More: Father Guido Sarducci. Please.

  118. 118

    I got my jury questionnaire. It has the most peculiar questions.

  119. 119
    MattF says:

    @Elizabelle: Octopods are quite amazing. Their only apparent drawback as pets or pals is their short lifespan.

  120. 120

    Guess what guys DHS is a subsidiary of T’s business. DHS has issued additional 15,000 H2-B visas this year, the kind Mr Combover uses for his golf clubs and the like.

  121. 121
    Elizabelle says:

    @MattF: Didn’t know that. How old would a 70 pounder like Fred be?

    They are intelligent enough to solve puzzles. The more you learn, the more concerned about eating (big) octopi and, of course, pigs, delicious as they be.

  122. 122
    MattF says:

    @Elizabelle: Intertubes say octopi die shortly after reproducing. Otherwise the ‘giant’ types will live up to five years.

  123. 123
    germy says:


    Father Guido Sarducci. Please.

    I thought he wrote those old letters under a different name. Lazio Toth or something?

  124. 124
    germy says:


    The more you learn, the more concerned about eating (big) octopi and, of course, pigs, delicious as they be.

    I wonder if future generations will eat only lab-grown meat, and look back at our era in disbelief that we could consume animals with faces and feelings.

  125. 125
    Cermet says:

    @Citizen_X: LOL; first off, generating fuel with very questionable materials isn’t gonna happen until we’ve been on Mars for some time. The dust hazard and especially radiation issues make living there problematic – one can’t. Going underground works but the energy required – please. Mars is not a place anyone should consider as a place one can live. We have a great planet here and we can’t even fucking take care of it. Mars bullshit is exactly that.

  126. 126
    MattF says:

    @schrodingers_cat: There are lots of possible reasons for that. Defense lawyers are unhappy when they discover that you have a law-enforcement officer in your family– one of my FBI-agent cousin’s duties is to keep me off juries.

  127. 127
    Jack the Second says:

    @Elizabelle: Eh, a lot of pigs are assholes, just morally reprehensible. Xenophobic, greedy, bullying anyone weaker or smaller than they are, cannibalistic if the opportunity presents. I mean, #NotAllPigs, but in my experience statistically you shouldn’t feel too bad.

  128. 128
    MattF says:

    @Jack the Second: So, ‘tasty’ is just a bonus.

  129. 129
    r€nato says:

    if anybody has covered this already, apologies in advance… but re: the Mars colony… other than the already-covered issues regarding drastically life-shortening effects of exposure to galactic radiation, how long do these fools think they will live without the availability of a modern medical infrastructure? I would think they’ve planned for a medic (maybe…), but once you get past anything much more complex than setting a broken limb, you’re fucked. I don’t know what they’re going to do for food, either. You probably can’t grow crops in that soil, even if you establish a base near a water source.

  130. 130
    germy says:

    @Jack the Second:

    Eh, a lot of pigs are assholes, just morally reprehensible. Xenophobic, greedy, bullying anyone weaker or smaller than they are, cannibalistic if the opportunity presents.

    Wait… there are republican pigs?

  131. 131
    Citizen_X says:

    @Cermet: LOL what? I said research stations, not colonies. Like Antarctica. (Again, nobody’s moving there.) And sure, go underground, into lava tubes. We’ll need to develop that capacity for utilizing lava tubes on the Moon, too. And power? Use a reactor. All these technologies, including in situ utilization for fuel, water, and construction materials, are the subject of ongoing research and development.

    Are you serious about living on Earth? Then that will require understanding this planet, which requires understanding others. And that requires human researchers, picking up where the robots leave off and doing far more than they can do.

  132. 132
    JimV says:

    When my friend Mario retired, several years ahead of me, for the first week or so when his wife went anywhere he went with her. Then one day as he was sitting in the living room, his wife walked in, in her coat and carrying her purse, and announced, “I’m going to the hair-dresser and then shopping and I’m going ALONE.”

    The biggest change for me was that, aside from an attack by a bee hive when I was six and annual checkups at the GE clinic, I had never been to a doctor. Since going on Medicare (fortunately) I have had two operations and it’s one darn thing after another, plus five pills a day. I don’t expect to see much more than 75, but expect I’ll be glad to go, when the time comes. If I get a chance on my deathbed, I might tell all my Republican/conservative/evangelical family that damn it, they should have listened to me. Or not, it probably wouldn’t do any good.

  133. 133
    tybee says:

    @germy: …all pigs. or the converse.

  134. 134
    Elizabelle says:

    @Jack the Second: LOL.

    @germy: Good point about the lab-grown meats.

  135. 135
    Brachiator says:


    No one is going to Mars any time soon; in recent animal studies the exposure to Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR) would lead to dementia in five or six months.

    Wow. Missed a lot of this fun morning Mars discussion.

    I agree with you. Colonization, apart from more robot landings, is very unlikely.

    On the other hand, I think there will be a lot more creativity in the design and deployment of robots.

    The next Mars mission will deploy a drone designed to fly in the weaker Martian atmosphere.

  136. 136
    J R in WV says:

    I retired 10 years ago, at the end of 2008. I loved my job, but it was frustrating and tiring. I was a software developer that graduated from coding to analysis and design into project management and then manager of the software development group.

    Since middle management of the agency wasn’t particularly interested in good clean data it was a battle implementing software requirements to keep data in sync with the regs and law. We did have FOIA requirements, which meant we provided data to everyone who asked.

    People who are scientists feel like they can develop software and databases for their research produced information, and in some ways they can. But when they use a database like MS Access, which is NOT intended for serious support, and then spend years filling it with way way more data than it is able to handle…!! So that was a battle hard won and unappreciated.

    And I liked many of the people who cared about the job, even some of the people who were less than committed to the mission were nice people, fun to work with. So I miss the people. I miss the fulfilling parts of the job. But I love sleeping in after reading until 2 am.

    We live in the woods, and see the wildlife out the windows. The neighbors are old friends, since the 70s !! Some helped us move into the old farmhouse we rehabbed for shelter.

    Retirement is good.

  137. 137
    cleosmom says:

    His sons think it’s cool.

    His two oldest daughters stopped speaking with him.

    And his wife left him.

    The women were the adults in the room.
    As usual.

  138. 138
    JaneE says:

    @Steeplejack (phone): His age was the first thing I thought of. Most astronauts are younger, and don’t have 18 months in space, and will come back to earth where they can get support and medical care and everything else they might need. He will be pushing 70 when they arrive and need to “establish” their colony. The second thing I thought of was Roanoke.

  139. 139
    Original Lee says:

    @Amir Khalid: A friend of a friend is one of the 100, and we had a chat about it last summer. (His comments about The Martian film adaptation were pretty amusing.) Apparently there is no real age cutoff – the criteria so far are more about being healthy and retaining mental flexibility and being compatible with your team. He was surprised to have made it as far as he did, since he is middle-aged, but he must test well on the personality and adaptability tests they are using, and he’s in pretty good shape. He says he is matched up with a team and that the next hoop to jump through is a series of situational evaluations with his team. The 25 teams will be ranked based on a number of criteria, and obviously, the top team will go first. His wife was pretty pissed off with him when he applied, but she has gradually come to the conclusion that he will never actually go before he dies, so she’s mostly OK with it now. His kids get apprehensive when he goes in for another round of testing, but I guess the timeline extensions are making them feel better.

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