Tag Archives: airlock

Airlocket Sonnet with my Easter Bonnet

Credit: Neil Armstrong/NASA

Credit: Neil Armstrong/NASA

Today I offer a simple space sonnet dedicated to me and you.

Imagine that we are standing together in an airlock. The situation is obvious. Between us and the cold reality of space is a door. And on the wall is a button. It’s the button. You know, the one that controls the door.

Let’s explore the possibilities together. Think of it like a cakewalk in space.

  1. I have helmet, you do not: This one’s a no-brainer. I push the button. I mean, how often does life provide a chance like this? You have to take it. Space is incredibly empty. I hope you enjoy the irony that it’s about to contain your brains.
  2. You have a helmet, I do not: You just love having one over on me, don’t you? Quite simply life isn’t worth living knowing that you have something that I do not. I push the button. I hope you can live with yourself, you helmet-owning bastard.
  3. Neither of us has a helmet: Now this is quite the pickle. What to do, what to do? Ultimately, and don’t take this personally, but I’ll squeak out some famous last words about gooses and ganders and then pound that button with style and flair. Because, you and I are going to be hanging out for a while.
  4. Both of us have a helmet: Sigh. This is all so tedious and pointless, isn’t it? Sure, I could push the button, but so what? What does it matter? Nothing would change. It’s not even worth the damn effort. It just makes me angry. So I’m not pushing anything. Do what you want. I don’t care.

By the way, according to Wikipedia, a space suit costs $12 million USD and has a mass of 47 pounds (21 kg) without the life support backpack, but how much fun is that? That might seem expensive for just one suit but remember: It comes with two pairs of pants*.

*A very old José Jiménez joke.

Now You’re Cooking: An Airlock Prayer

I'm in the sphincter.

I’m in the sphincter.

Admittedly there is at least one major bummer about being an atheist. It’s a pretty big one, too. Quite simply: I’m deprived of a bunch of gods. Dammit. I guess that comes with the territory. So, in self defense, I learned to pray only to the Great Airlock.

“Oh, Great Airlock, please hear my humble plea.”

“I’m sorry, Tom. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

It’s easy to see how the Great Airlock could come in handy. Alas, it never quite works out that way. The Airlock is a cruel god. But you still gotta believe, right?

I’ve pontificated about The Great Airlock in the past. In theory, He represents immutable consequences to choice and action. The origin mythology is exceedingly simple: When the button is pushed the door opens. The door cares not what is on the Other Side. The door cares not if the occupant is ready. The door opens. The results are what they are. Nothing can change that. Nothing. Not even a god.
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Who put the MF in Global?

MF Global adI love things hidden in plain sight and double meanings. They give me a merry tickle. Well, most of the time.

I don’t know anything about investing, but if anyone had ever approached me with an “opportunity” to invest at a company named MF Global I’d probably respond by kicking them in the nards. Opportunity, indeed!

“Mother Fucker Global?” I’d most likely say. Whomp! Nards.

Now that’s a portfolio that holds my interest.
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Short Story: Spacewalk This Way #BlogShorts

Spacewalk This Way
by Tom B. Taker

Ransoon had been lax and cutting corners.

Performing routine maintenance in the airlock without a suit – in violation of regs – she bumped … something.

It never crossed her mind to apologize.

This post is part of the BlogShorts challenge. June 2011 – 30 stories – 30 words – 30 days.

Hyppo and Critter: Roofies

I don’t get the party scene. Somehow I got through my youth without ever having the urge to attend one. All I know about them is what I’ve seen in movies. I don’t get the appeal.

But I do know this. If I was a woman living in today’s world I wouldn’t accept and ingest a drink from anyone without vetting how the drink was prepared. Ever.

Once again I find the lowest common denominator of human behavior prompting me to call for bystander laws with more teeth.

We live in a world where young people think it’s not only acceptable but fun to do things like date rape women. A world where roommates think they can stream a young man’s private sexuality from within his own home right onto the internet. These young people don’t know the difference between right and wrong. No big surprise there – they’ve learned from the best.

It seems to me there are two kinds of criminals. One variety is the sociopath. The other new emerging variety is the overly “me” oriented idiot who thinks “if it feels good do it” and views other human beings as personal consumables to be expended in the name of fun. I’m not sure which kind of criminal is worse.

Normally I generally feel that most people deserve second chances after most mistakes. But anyone who rapes a person they’ve drugged needs to be made into an example. Our society needs to send an unequivocal signal that certain behaviors will never be tolerated and will result in extreme and unwavering punishment to those who engage in them.

Will that happen? Somehow I think not. We’re compromising our way into oblivion. The road to hell is paved one brick at a time.

Human behavior needs an airlock but unfortunately we don’t have the wherewithal do that to ourselves.

Airlock Time: Dudley Enright

Oh great airlock of space and time, hear my plea! We need you down here on earth today!

An act has been committed. Now comes time for the whining and begging and the attempts to shank all responsibility. Oops. Freudian slip there.

Meet Mr. Michael Enright, the man of the hour. This young man, age 21, apparently asked a New York taxi driver if he was Muslim, and when he got confirmation that was indeed the case, uttered the fateful words, “Consider this a checkpoint” and opened up with his Leatherman on the man’s neck, forearms, face, and hand.

So what are the pertinent facts in this case?

  • Enright was drunk. Oh, so sorry, old chap. I didn’t know. Uncuff him immediately. He’s free to go.
  • He’s only 21. Yep, never mind. It’s ok to slice and dice humans up like a true master of Ginsu.
  • He’s a college student. Duh. Where do you think he got his training?
  • He did volunteer work in Afghanistan. This little bit of info is so important that media places it prominently in the lead frickin’ paragraph. As if it means something.
  • He greeted the driver in Arabic. What’s this supposed to prove? It takes one to know one?
  • He’s an honors student. Ooh, we should go easy on him. He’s a good person!
  • He lives with his parents. True, that does explain a lot. Another gerbil on the rampage.
  • He volunteered with a group that promotes “interfaith dialogue.” Welp, I guess it’s safe to take that off the list of shit that’s helpful, eh?
  • He volunteered with a group that “involved veterans.” Media sure didn’t miss this important fact, whatever the hell it means.

Please don’t let the airlock be denied. Powerful forces will ally to prevent this young man from being sucked out into space, but in the end, I sincerely hope and pray that the airlock will prevail.

Some people say we don’t need hate crime laws. I say this is a textbook case of why we do. Without the Muslim hating component this attack would have never occurred.

In other news, shouldn’t everyone carry a Leatherman in their pocket when they are out drinking? Damn those are handy versatile little suckers.

In the name of the most holy Airlock, amen.

Human behavior needs an airlock

Houston, I am now ejecting myself out of the airlock without a spacesuit. My beggings will commence in 5... 4... 3...

In space no one can hear you be a dumbass…

“To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
–Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion (loosely paraphrased)

Of course Newton’s Third Law says pretty much diddly squat about human beings!

Let’s say you are in space and you wish to be a dumbass. What is something dumb you might do? Well, you could load yourself into the airlock, forget to bring your spacesuit, then punch the “open the pod bay door” button.

If you ever get the chance, give it a try. I highly recommend it. Don’t forget to document your results! Should be interesting.

The point here, one that is alien to most of us in America these days, is that actions have consequences. Well, they should. But once you involve those frisky humans consequences can become a quite murky thing.

The thing about the airlock example above is: It is absolute. The situation doesn’t allow for compromise, remorse, begging, forgiveness or anything else. There is no higher reality or force with which to lodge your request for something like a second chance. If you punch that button without a suit you will be sucked off into outer space and die. (Some of you might point out that “sucked out” might be a better choice of phrase. I can only say, “To each their own!”)

There’s a wonderful short story that illustrates the concept of choice and consequences when it is absolutely absolute. It’s called The Cold Equations and it was written by Tom Godwin back in 1954. I first encountered it in a book called The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, which is an incredible anthology of science fiction short stories.

Here’s the summary of The Cold Equations from Wikipedia:

A starship makes the rounds of Earth’s colonies, adhering to a schedule from which it cannot deviate. When reports of a fever outbreak on the frontier planet Woden reach the starship, it drops off an Emergency Dispatch Ship, a space vessel of limited range, with a pilot and the serum that will cure them. The pilot discovers a stowaway, an 18-year-old girl named Marilyn who wants to see her brother, a colonist on Woden. The girl believes that she will have to pay a fine, but the situation is far more serious. The ship only has enough fuel for the pilot and his cargo. Her additional mass will cause the ship to run out of fuel before it can land, dooming both the pilot and the sick colonists. The pilot tries frantically to come up with a solution, but there is no way around the “cold equations”; he does not have sufficient fuel. The best he can do is to alter the ship’s course enough to give her a single hour’s reprieve before she must be jettisoned. In that time, she writes letters to her parents and her brother, talks with the pilot about death and, in the last few minutes, is able to speak with her brother on the radio, allowing them to say their goodbyes. When the horizon of the planet breaks up the radio contact, the girl enters the airlock and is ejected into space.

Now that is the kind of consequence I’m talkin’ about!

That sort of thing, however, is totally and utterly alien in the world of human behavior. In the vast majority of cases boorish human behavior goes completely unpunished and unchecked. There are, in these cases, absolutely no “consequences.”

In some cases, a person may actually be held partially accountable for their actions. (I consider this outcome exceedingly rare.) You’ve heard the expression, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.” That is this concept in a nutshell. Whine, beg, show remorse, make deals, pray, etc. Do whatever it takes to slither off the hook either complete or partially.

I find myself thinking a lot about this concept after a friggin’ asshole who wouldn’t obey the rules on an aircraft became the straw on some camel’s back. The “camel” will be dealt with by our system, but what about the “straw?”

When has an airline passenger ever faced “consequences” for the behavior we saw in this incident? I’ll bet it’s more rare than me winning the lotto. (Or almost as rare as me buying a lotto ticket.) Does anyone who disobeys the “remain sitting” rule ever get punished? Banned from the airline? Do they even get a stern look from airline management?

Take a look at the world around you. How often can you see the airlock on human behavior being overridden by indifference, injustice or deliberate unfairness? And what are the consequences of never having actual consequences? Is a society totally devoid of civility the ultimate result?