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Submission + - Sex in Space Book Creates Controversy

An anonymous reader writes: Sex in Space Book Creates Controversy

A new book called SEX IN SPACE by science journalist Laura Woodmansee ( is causing controversy in NASA circles. The author wrote about it for NASAWATCH and blogged about it here:
Sex in Space: the Official Blog:

Sex in Space: Bizarre Reactions
by Laura Woodmansee
[Originally posted on and on 30 October 2006]

I am amazed how many people in the United States are so intimidated by the word "sex" and are unwilling to discuss its consequences. My latest book, Sex in Space, tackles both the fun and serious sides of this currently neglected topic. It's not just my opinion that the possibilities of sex in space need more attention. This is the recommendation of a 2005 report from the US National Academies of Science. Yet I have encountered all sorts of bizarre problems when bringing up the topic of sex in space. Apparently, some people just don't understand that the book is intended to spark the public's interest in space exploration, settlement, and tourism. To illustrate my case, here are some examples.

Sex in Space was sold at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) store for the first month after Apogee Books released the book. It was doing very well, so the store manager invited me to do a book signing. The trouble began as soon as a cheery book-signing announcement was emailed to all personnel at JPL. Unbeknownst to me, the store simply isn't allowed to do book signings because JPL can't be seen as endorsing a commercial product. The JPL store personnel simply made a mistake by booking my signing. However, what happened next is ridiculous. First, a liaison to the store e-mailed an announcement to all personnel — thousands of people at JPL — citing "ethical reasons" for the cancellation of the signing. This, of course, prompted many people to contact me to ask exactly what it was that I did wrong.

The implication is that I did something unethical. I've done nothing wrong, which the JPLers involved have assured me of via several telephone conversations. A simple clarification sent to the same distribution list (all personnel) as the previous announcement would have fixed things. To date, no such email has been sent. Second, those involved ordered my Sex in Space books pulled from the store. Apparently the title "Sex in Space" is just too racy. Perhaps I should have titled my book, "The Possibilities of Human Reproduction Beyond Earth." Oh, yes, the general public would have been so interested.

Unfortunately, my experience with JPL isn't unique. My publishers told me that all of the other NASA centers, as well as several space museums, are unwilling to carry Sex in Space. These are the same stores that stock and restock my other two books, which are aimed at young women (Women Astronauts, and Women of Space: Cool Careers on the Final Frontier). Fortunately, regular bookstores are stocking Sex in Space.

In addition, I have been kicked off a space tourism discussion panel because the seminar sponsor, a conservative California space organization, doesn't like the title of my new book. I wasn't even asked what I would be presenting about on the panel. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not one to discuss graphic details or use vulgar language. I'm not that kind of journalist — or woman, for that matter.

In Sex in Space I cite other cases in the past where people — even NASA scientists and engineers — have received strong criticism, and were even silenced, for bringing up the topic of "sex" in the context of long-duration space missions. It's an important topic that certain people and organizations are not willing to face. This reaction is childish and shortsighted.
I hope that my little book makes the people who are working on space exploration, settlement, and tourism really consider the consequences of the nature of humanity. Let's face it, sex is the way we humans reproduce. The Universe created us to be this way. So I find it very sad that certain people feel they need to repress this natural part of being human.

I'm a wife, a mother, and a concerned journalist who is trying to open people's eyes to what is turning into a very serious problem of the not-so-distant future. To ignore the sexual and reproductive issues surrounding people in space will not make them go away. Future long-duration space missions and the possibility of space tourist couples in the next decade make the topic more urgent than ever. My fear is that the first serious look at sex in space will occur when birth control fails (because drug absorption in space is less, or maybe fluids behave differently in space) and we have a radiated fetus in space in danger of having horrific birth defects. Now is the time to study the sex in space topic seriously and shed our Puritanical ignorance.

The book is for sale on Amazon and bookstores everywhere.
The Courts

Submission + - UK police packing helmet-cams

Sunil Mahara writes: Police in London are using helmet-mounted cameras to record the street-loitering transgressions of delinquent youths. The damning video evidence is then served up in court to expedite the granting of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (so-called ASBOs) — a particular policy crutch of the Blair government.
United States

Submission + - UCLA tasing incident, another side to the story

not already in use writes: The UCLA tasing incident is certainly a touchy subject, and anyone who has seen the video witnesses what could be considered police brutality. Unfortunately, the video doesn't present the entire story. There have been eyewitness reports that the tasered student was looking for a fight, and refused requests by the campus patrol (who are students) to leave the premises, all before the police were called in. A quote on the students FaceBook page is reported to have said "I like to find the most difficult solutions to the simplest of problems" before it was taken down following the incident.

I think it is important to remember that, to the police, he wasn't a student because he was unable to present ID. What if, for the sake of discussion, he had intended to cause harm and the police didn't act with force? What would the headlines be saying then? Read the eyewitness report over at the Tucker Max forum.

Submission + - The Viral Marketing of Borat on YouTube

eldavojohn writes: "There's a pretty entertaining article about how Sacha Baron Cohen exploited Google before his movie Borat hit theatres. From the article, "The virtually free viral marketing campaign surrounding the movie — much of it available on YouTube — has taken full advantage of the web buzz. The sheer number of video clips related to Borat on YouTube (which Google owns) is over 2,000, with comments running somewhere in the six-digits." Before I saw the movie last weekend, I watched around 6-7 minutes of footage of it on YouTube. This worked so well that I think all movies & shows should "leak" two minute clips to YouTube instead of demanding they be taken down."
Operating Systems

Submission + - Charity shuns open source code

brown-eyed slug writes: "The BBC has an article explaining Christian Aid's decision to use Microsoft software in preference to Linux. It re-opens the classic debate about the total cost of ownership, highlighting the wider availability of Microsoft skills, as well as the beneficial pricing policy of the Seattle giant.

From the article
" of the things that we find is that Microsoft is viewed as the big, bad organisation — but they've actually got some good corporate social responsibility. If you're a charity or an educational institution, you pay pence in the pound for the licence, compared to what a major bank might pay."
Linux Business

Submission + - Linux desktop is dead... say IT bosses

An anonymous reader writes: The Linux desktop is dead in the water according to in fact Mac OS X stands a better chance of wisespread adoption, they say. They've also spoken to a group of UK CIOs who pretty much all say the same.

The CIO of Betfair said: "At the moment there are too many options for the Linux desktop to support mass market tools. A more likely Unix on the desktop is Mac OS X."

Submission + - Ballmer, Ozzie share MS plans for Web domination

celcxo writes: "Ben Worthen at just posted a detailed article that delves into Microsoft's intention to reinvent itself — and the serious hurdles it faces in the process. From the story: "[MS VP of Server and Tools Marketing] Lees introduced the concept of supporting applications built on non-Microsoft platforms by saying that's "what's called interoperable," as if no one in the room had ever heard the term before.""

Submission + - Nuclear weapon blueprints available on Internet

An anonymous reader writes: New York Times reports that the www site congressional Republicans wanted to be set up to make confiscated documents from Iraq available on the Internet has been distributing detailed information on how to build nuclear weapon firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs. The old papers are from time prior to the first Persian Gulf War. Could the Republican Logic be as follows: "We have to start a war against a country so that their nuclear designs do not fall into wrong hands. Then we post them onto the Internet for the whole world to see." /03documents.html?ei=5065&en=9b92b000e0a064e6&ex=1 163134800&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print
United States

Submission + - Stealth Fighter Retires From Service

Lev13than writes: The Toronto Star reports that the F117A Nighthawk stealth fighter has been quietly retired from active duty. The plane was honoured with a discreet "Silver Stealth" ceremony this week at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. As the world's first operational stealth aircraft, the F117A was an impressive technological achievement. However, advances in stealth technology and radar detection have effectively rendered the 25-year old plaform obsolete. Of an estimated 55 F117As built, only one was lost in combat (shot down in Kosovo by, ironically, a partially laser-guided missile). The Nighthawk will be replaced by the F22 Raptor.
United States

Submission + - Pentagon Fears Combat Software Hacked

PreacherTom writes: Pentagon officials report that "maliciously placed code" could compromise the security of the Defense Department and, ultimately, hurt its ability to fight wars. The culprits: offshore programmers. While the Pentagon has stepped up its vendor screening and software testing of late, it's becoming more difficult and costly to test every line of software code on increasingly sophisticated weapons systems. The task force assigned to this issue will be soon presenting its report, and most likely will determine that offshoring presents too great a risk.
Wireless Networking

Submission + - FCC strikes down Logan's ban on private Wi-Fi

An anonymous reader writes: FTA: A two-year effort by Logan International Airport officials to shut down private alternatives to the airport's $8-a-day wireless Internet service was decisively rejected yesterday by federal regulators, who blasted airport officials for raising bogus legal and technological arguments. /2006/11/02/fcc_rebukes_logan_says_continental_can _offer_wifi/
Once in a while, government agencies actually do the right thing...

Submission + - Compound in red wine reverses fatty diet's effects

AgentPaper writes: "A recent study from the Harvard Medical School indicates that resveratrol, an antioxidant compound found in red wine, significantly reduced the effects of a high-fat diet on mice, as well as significantly extended their lifespans. The catch? The mice were dosed with 24 milligrams per kilogram of the stuff — and since the average red wine contains 1.5-3 mg of resveratrol per liter, that equates to consuming 560-1120 liters of wine a day in the average 70-kg human. Bottoms up!"

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