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Sunday, September 24, 2006


Breasts In Space!

The recent breast-blogging flame war (summary and links here) was a real blast from the past -- from a time when women and their breasts were seen as so provocative and seductive a distraction they had to be kept away from men with serious work to do.

Little more than a month after Richard Nixon resigned, Time magazine published a letter to the editor from science fiction writer and visionary Arthur C. Clarke, agreeing with astronaut Mike Collins on an important matter of public policy.

Collins had told Time that women could never be in the space program, since in zero G a woman's breasts would bounce and keep the men from concentrating. Clarke proudly claimed he had already predicted this "problem." In his novel Rendezvous with Rama he had written, "Some women, Commander Norton had decided long ago, should not be allowed aboard ship: weightlessness did things to their breasts that were too damn distracting."

A certain blogging law professor would have been in her twenties back when NASA suffered from its hang-up about breasts. The space program has moved on since then. Too bad she hasn't.

Immediate stream of consciousness reminded me of an exchange between ground and Apollo 8:

068:53:17 Carr: Roger, Frank. The custard is in the oven at 350. Over. [Pause.]

068:53:30 Borman: No comprendo. [Pause.]

[An explanation for Jerry Carr's rather cryptic remark comes from Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8 by Robert Zimmerman. In his account of the flight he explains how the remark was a message from Frank's wife, Susan Borman, to her husband. It was meant to reflect her understanding of their relationship; that while he flew the jets, she would cook the custard. It was meant as a message to reassure him that she was the supporting wife, standing by him and looking after the home while he was flying his exotic machines.]

In the HBO mini From the Earth to the Moon, they expanded the custard comment background and made Michael Collins the CAPCOM, presumably because they'd never introduced Gerald Carr as a nod to the economy of characters.  Anyway, I thought the whole context was kinda funny.  YMMV.


September 24, 2006 in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink


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