This is Elon Musk to Major Tom …
Elon Musk doesn’t do things small, and that includes space exploration. This week, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX revealed at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico his plans to not only fly humans to Mars but also build a self-sustaining city there. It sounds fantastic, but a lot of people are skeptical of the plan, including Bill Nye the Science Guy. He doesn’t think anyone wants to live (and die) on the Red Planet.
Musk says that the first colony ship will be called Heart of Gold, which is the name of a ship in the Douglas Adams classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Lily Magnum, P.I.
I’ve been waiting for a Magnum, P.I. movie for a while. Years ago, Tom Selleck hinted there might be one, maybe even a big-screen adventure written by Tom Clancy; it never came to be.
But we might have a Lily Magnum coming to television. That’s the name of Thomas Magnum’s daughter, and ABC is readying a sequel that will feature her as the lead character trying to solve the mystery of what ended her military career. (The original Magnum, P.I. aired on CBS.)
At first I thought this was a terrible idea, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. It’s better than a full reboot of Magnum, P.I. because then we’d have someone else playing Magnum and the other characters from the original, and it would be updated. As approximately 400 TV show reboots have proven, it just wouldn’t be as good. But with his daughter being the focus of the new show, that means this sequel will actually take place in the same universe as Magnum, P.I., which means the events of that series did happen, and it opens the door for Selleck and his co-stars to make an appearance.
Hopefully, it will be filmed in Hawaii, or what’s the point?
Wait…I’m a Taurus Now?!?
In other space and sky news, everything you believe about astrology (you believe in astrology?) is probably wrong.
NASA freaked everyone out this week when it announced that our astrological signs aren’t the same as they were centuries ago because the constellations have changed, which means that we might not have the astrological sign we thought we had. Also, there are actually 13 zodiac signs. For some reason, we’ve been ignoring Ophiuchus all these years.
But if you believe in and follow astrology, NASA says not to worry. Nothing has really changed. If you’ve always been a Capricorn, well, you can continue to be a Capricorn. In fact, be the best Capricorn you can be!
This isn’t even a new story; it’s only coming around again. I remember this same exact story 5 or 10 years ago, and it caused a hubbub then, too, and everyone was talking about it. I don’t know why repetition of news stories like this irritates me, but as a Gemini, I’m not supposed to get along with Pisces, Cancers, Virgos, or Scorpios, so maybe that has something to do with it.
Here’s a side effect of global warming you might not have thought of: the disappearance of Lucky Charms.
That’s the finding of scientists who say that global warming is happening 5,000 times faster than grasses like wheat, rice, barley, and rye can adapt, and in the next 40 years or so, we could see them gone. This would affect the production of cereals. Of course, these grasses are used in a lot more foods than your breakfast cereal, so it could become a major problem worldwide.
Fortunately, it won’t happen until around 2070, so Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t have to freak out.
RIP Agnes Nixon: 1927–2016
I’ll tell you something if you promise to keep it a secret. I watched Guiding Light from 1980 until its final episode in 2009.
Agnes Nixon passed away this week at the age of 93. She wrote for Guiding Light from the late ’50s until the mid-’60s — long before I started watching it — and later went on to create both All My Children and One Life to Live (two other shows I watched because my mother watched them, but they weren’t as good as Guiding Light). She also created Loving and its spinoff The City and produced and wrote for Search for Tomorrow, Another World, and As the World Turns.
There aren’t many soaps on TV these days. They used to rule the daytime, but now only four remain: The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital, and Days of Our Lives. The networks got rid of the soaps to fit in more programs like Dr. Phil, The Talk, and those shows where people throw chairs at each other.
RIP Phone Calls
According to Slate, the phone call died in 2007. Which must mean that it’s ghosts or time travelers who keep calling me.
In a piece about what’s lost when telephone calls go away in this age of texting, email, and social media, Slate says that phone calls still live on “in roughly the same way swing dancing lives on, or Latin declension, or manual transmission.” Now, maybe I’m living in a bubble (one where I don’t know what Latin declension is), but have people really stopped making and receiving phone calls that much? (Also, there are plenty of cars with manual transmission.)
Nielsen says that in 2007, the average monthly number of texts was more than the average monthly number of phone calls. And those text numbers are probably even greater in 2016. Everyone has a mobile phone now, and many people have gotten rid of their landlines. If you’re in your 20s, there’s a very good chance you’ve never even had a landline. And if you notice, a lot of people don’t actually make phone calls anymore on these devices; they’re just texting. Texting, texting, texting, texting, texting all day long.
The Slate article is worth reading, though, especially the section where the writer talks about how phone etiquette has changed, how our expectations regarding phone calls have changed, and how these new rules affect our relationships in ways we might not even think of.
Is it weird that I don’t think I’ve ever sent or received a text and that I still love and use an answering machine? I still have my landline too, and I plan to keep it until the phone company comes and rips it out of my wall and arrests me for communication nostalgia.
This Week in History: First American Newspaper Published (September 25, 1690)
Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick — which would make for a great album title — was the first multipage newspaper published in the United States (before that, newspapers were one page). It was edited by Benjamin Harris and was launched in Boston, Massachusetts.
This Week in History: George Gershwin Born (September 26, 1898)
The writer of songs like “Rhapsody in Blue” and “An American in Paris” and the opera Porgy & Bess was born in Brooklyn, New York. He was only 38 years old when he died, and it’s rather amazing what he did in such a short time.
The Arnold Palmer
In honor of golfer Arnold Palmer, who passed away this week at the age of 87, here’s the recipe for the drink he invented in 1960 while playing at the U.S. Open in Denver, Colorado. Palmer liked it this way: three parts unsweetened tea mixed with one part lemonade. A lot of people like it with half tea and half lemonade, and if you do it that way it’s called a Half & Half.
National Homemade Cookies Day
Saturday is National Homemade Cookies Day. Here’s a recipe for Cherry Oatmeal Cookies, and here’s one for Cream Cheese Cookies. Hallmark Channel has several recipes for the day, including Pumpkin Walnut Cookies.
If you just don’t have the time to make them yourself, you can always buy some Girl Scout cookies. You can even find out which one pairs best with your astrological sign — unless your sign is Ophiuchus.
Of course, it says my favorite cookie should be the Tagalong. Oh please. I’m a Samoa guy all the way.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
Supreme Court term starts (October 3)
Cases the Court will be looking at this term involve Apple, service dogs, religious schools, and cheerleader outfits.
Customer Service Week (October 3–7)
Yup, this is the week we honor all those who help us, so call up a customer service rep on the phone and talk to them for 30 or 40 minutes.
Vice Presidential debate (October 4)
Governor Mike Pence and Senator Tim Kaine square off this Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. The moderator is Elaine Quijano of CBS.
It’s the kind of email no one wants: “Hey Buddy, I think you’ve been hacked.” Forwarded with this message was an email from “me.” It was a promotion for phenomenal weight-loss pills complete with a website for easy ordering.
Of course I had never sent this message, and I was at a loss to know what to do. When a Google search revealed that my email provider had been victimized by “criminal spammers who lived in the Russian Federation,” I panicked. Fortunately, a couple of hysterical phone calls later, I learned that changing my password would probably stop the spam.
In the coming hours, I got dozens of messages, all similar to the first one. Some beneficiaries were amused, some annoyed (as I certainly was)—only one person (a shrink!) believed I was actually endorsing this miracle diet cure. But as with so much else in our Internet age, one experience morphed into another, and I began looking forward to see who else from my past got the bogus email. Some I had forgotten. Many I couldn’t recall at all. And then, a name that jolted me.
“Peter, I’m so glad to hear from you, even if just with a miracle weight-loss notion—I think of you often and am sad that we’re so out of touch.” We had been close, working together for decades, but as happens too often, had gone in different directions and our closeness had evaporated as visits, then phone calls, and finally emails had dwindled away. I guess we hadn’t been such good friends.
Except the joy I felt proved that the friendship was still there. The words brought back so many memories, a warmth and excitement that—as he told me when we met a few days later—he had also felt when seeing my name, only to be deflated when he realized it was spam. “But,” he said, “I figured why not just write back? It’s only email.” And we toasted the evil creeps lurking somewhere behind the former Iron Curtain who unknowingly had reunited us.