M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

The predictive space powers of Linda A Langworthy

November 28, 2018
MThomas

Apollo-Soyuz_Test_Project_patch.svgI’ve made good progress on my mother’s high school manuscript — up to Chapter 9 (out of 15). Taking notes while I type, particularly about cultural references and language usage, I came across one interesting prediction:

“The space program of the two major nations [US and Russia] were joined after the moon project because it was cheaper to outfit; also, with the world’s greatest minds working together, better vehicles could be built.”

This was written a full 9 years before the joint Apollo-Soyuz (or Soyuz-Apollo) Test Project in 1975 that basically ended the “space race” started by the launch of Sputnik.

Written by a 17-year-old in 1968. The reality was more complicated, but still, heck of a prediction. Go, Mom!

Old-fashioned letters: Wow, what a fossil

October 16, 2018
MThomas

stationerySince I don’t have access to a printer for a while (on a research stay in Montréal for a while), I decided to write a letter.

You know, on paper. With lines. That stuff made from trees that you can still find everywhere although nobody under the age of 25 ever uses it any more.

I hadn’t written an actual handwritten letter since probably before 1995. It felt…oddly satisfying.

Of course, I rambled on for 12 pages before I realized it. But imagine that; imagine no email, no tweets and posts and shares, and actually writing a letter that *only one other person will ever see.* (My mother in the hospital, in case you’re wondering.)

Can kids these days even conceive of such a thing, let alone actually write one?

Just think: You who are born into the digital age, you will never know the frustration of constantly confusing “stationary” with “stationery.”

‘Cause, what’s “stationery” again?

Oh, yeah. That stuff made from trees.

Old fossil. Jeez, get back to writing about SF already. (Getting there, getting there. Family comes first. Gimme a break.)

Why I’m leaving Facebook (and why you should, too)

April 28, 2018
MThomas

facebookAbout ten days ago, I started a countdown on my Facebook “wall.”

Some of my “friends” asked if I was going to send something into space.

When I “commented” that I was leaving Facebook as of May 1st, they begged me not to.

The system will police itself, they argued. User complaints and the #deletefacebook movement/backlash would force Zuckerberg & Co. to change their policies.

Hardly. Instead, they’re doubling down.

In fact, Facebook has been terrified for years that its users would eventually find out that  it’s nothing more than an online marketing tool for greedy companies – and that Facebook has sold them out.

It took me a while, but finally I decided enough was enough.

I’m leaving Facebook. Here are a few reasons why I hope you will, as well.

Continue Reading

Technology and control: The Eye in the Sky/I

March 25, 2018
MThomas

It’s been a few days now since the “big reveal” that a social science researcher sold information from 50,000,000 Facebook users to a third party company (which used said info for various campaign purposes, but that’s another topic for another blog….).

Somehow, we all managed to be surprised by this. What about our right to privacy? How dare our personal information be used without our permission!

How did we all get so naïve about technology and its control over us?

Continue Reading

Starving the smartphone addiction

March 10, 2018
MThomas

It’s been six weeks since I decided to take a break from Facebook. Back in mid-January I took a screenshot to show students how to figure out which apps they used the most (Line, by far, in case you’re wondering, followed by YouTube… not surprisingly, since my students are all Japanese).

It was a little shocking to see that I was spending over 8 hours a week on FB on my iPhone. My train commute is about an hour and a half each way, and I go to campus four days a week. So basically I spent 2/3 of my train time looking at FB posts.

Yuck. What a waste of reading time. Continue Reading

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