As I mentioned before, my friend said that he enjoyed watching movies while playing the space trucking portion of his video games. He had me sit down and experience the whole “movie in the corner of the VR screen” thing while I was going back and forth between places and he put on 1979’s Alien for me. (I only made it around 10 minutes or so before I needed a break.)

But there was something that I *IMMEDIATELY* noticed in the opening scene. Here, I’ll show it and you can see if you catch it. (If you’re worried that it’s too scary for a Sunday morning, don’t worry. It’s the first 100 or so seconds. There aren’t any aliens in it. No people either, for that matter. It’s just the spaceship turning itself on.)

Alien Movie Opening

Did you catch it? Go back to 0:58. See that there in the lower left hand corner? It’s an ashtray.

Over the course of the next few minutes, we go on to see the astronauts waking up from hypersleep (oh, my gosh! John Hurt is, like, 20! Harry Dean Stanton still looks like an old man, but he looks like a very young old man!) and they sit around the table in the common room and half of them are smoking! In outer space! (There was also a scene where we see Ian Holm at the table grab a gallon of what looks like milk. I suppose that’s something that could be submitted to “r/moviedetails”. Take that if you care to. Free karma for you.)

And that got me thinking about how that’s one heck of a future that seemed plausible enough for 1979 but, today, I know is downright absurd. I mean, I laughed out loud when I saw the ashtray. I laughed and told my buddy “Oh, the futures we used to have!”

And then they found the eggs on that one ship and I needed to take a break.

So… what are you reading and/or watching?

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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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34 thoughts on “Sunday!

  1. I’m reading Global Crisis: War, Climate Change, and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century by Geoffrey Parker. The thesis of the book was that the 17th century was a very tumultuous time across the entire globe with the family conflicts like the English Civil War and Thirty Years War in the West and the Great Enterprise in China or the destabilizing of the Ottoman Empire in Asia. Geoffrey Parker argues that at the root of all these conflicts was the Little Ice Age. The climate cooled enough to really endanger food supplies locally and this led to a very bloody century. What this says for modern day politics will be left to the reader.


  2. Caught up on all our super-hero movies… between 2x 11-hr flights and weakness of will we saw:
    1. Black Panther
    ~ (ok, I’m ready, are we going to talk about this or what?)
    2. Thor Ragnarok
    ~ (Best Thor ever… I’m 100% onboard the ironic/sarcastic/self-referential nonsense train)
    3. Infinity Wars
    ~ (Did not like; too much Pew Pew; and, see above)

    Also finished Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed… and re-read Michael Pollan’s Cooked… and re-skimmed parts of Dreher’s BenOp.

    Did I mention the 2x 11-hr flights?


  3. I figured the obsolete thing was Tom Skerritt’s name being spelled “Tom Scerrit”. But who’s to say that smoking won’t come back? Who’s to say that the United Federation of Planets won’t encourage 1960’s haircuts and miniskirts? For that matter, how do we know that’s an ashtray? Maybe it spins around in a game of chance. Maybe it’s the most important device in an Alien detector, and the fact that it’s sitting on the console instead of installed in the Alien detector is an early spoiler. (I’m pretty sure they did smoke in the movie, but I like the Alien detector idea. Hey, they’ve done worse to the Alien mythos.)


  4. Thanks for showing that clip. The credit where they show a helmet with reflections on the glass faceplate seemed like a reference to “2001: A Space Oddysey”, too.

    I dunno, I think people might smoke in space. I know people who still smoke. I don’t think there will ever be zero people who smoke. It sort of places the crew in a particular socioeconomic place. But then, I am older than you, and spent a lot of time over the course of my life around people who smoke. Try living in Virginia for a while…


      • Will they dip… in space?

        Oh, hell no. Spitting and free fall just don’t mix. Nicotine transdermal patches, maybe. Given the cost per pound to even LEO, though, I suspect even patches are too expensive a habit for space in the foreseeable future.


          • It’s my favorite complaint about most space fiction in movies and TV: directed synthetic gravity is an enormous theoretic and engineering breakthrough, and they don’t do much more with it than keep liquids in open-topped containers. For me, it’s the biggest suspension of disbelief hurdle. The power systems may be going down, life support may be failing, but the synthetic gravity never even blinks.


              • Yep. Gravity, inertia, conservation of energy and momentum, pretty much all of physics that has an m in the equations, out the window. Taking college physics up through special relativity ended up with me putting most space opera in the same category with fantasy: How does it work? Magic. Once I got that mindset, I could enjoy it again.


      • Yeah, “The Expanse” has managed to hit notes of “working class” and “seedy” without smoking, if I recall correctly.

        Still, people will have their bad habits in space. What will they be?


          • I’m pretty sure people ingest drugs and alcohol in the Expanse (at least on Earth and in the Belt). They just don’t seem to ingest by inhalation. (or maybe there was some kind of hookah bar in season 1, I can’t quite remember)


            • I make distinctions between differently sized ships and, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure that I should.

              A giant space city (think: DS-9 or Babylon 5) would allow for stuff like hookahs and booze, booze, booze. A somewhat smaller city (think: the enterprise) would probably allow for booze but not cigarettes. (Remember the no smoking signs on the bridge in Star Trek II? Good times.)

              A ship about the size of the Nostromo? (I’m assuming that the majority of the Nostromo is unusable cargo space.) I can’t imagine recreation that isn’t immediately droppable.


          • It was right in front of me the whole time. VR.

            Aka, ultimately, the holodeck. Combine with variations on Te7 in this morning’s technology links, and we can all see where this is headed, probably sooner rather than later. Long ago at Bell Labs, when those of us who did “futurist” sorts of thinking were getting serious about PCs and data networks, a couple of psychologists did a presentation (that filled the Holmdel auditorium) on the thesis that new media succeeded or failed on the basis of whether they supported sex and/or violence.


            • You know, there are essays that could be written about the former part of that “and/or” you mention above.

              I’m tempted to write one but… ah, jeez. There are so very many things that could go wrong… even taking into account that the essay would be written with the assumption that we want this to be a mostly family-friendly blog.


    • Many years ago, when I first moved to Colorado, I was quickly spoiled. The building I worked in was smoke-free. Stapleton Airport corralled smokers into small areas equipped with exhaust ducts. For a while business required that I make regular trips to New Jersey. At that time they still allowed smoking anywhere in the terminals at Newark. Getting off the plane was like walking into a wall of smoke, both from people waiting and from all the ones lighting up after the four-hour flight from Denver.

      I know people here still smoke because I see them occasionally buying cigarettes or smoking in cars. But public smoking has very largely disappeared.


  5. I’m reading Seeing like a State, but I’ve only just started.

    Also I finally got around to watching What We Do In the Shadows. I really enjoyed it, though Infound it really weird watching something that was shot in the city I live in.


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