BAN #37: Booking Kierkegaardashian, Venus’s mysteries, is Earth special?

August 20, 2018 Issue #37

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I recommend

Something I think you’ll like

In general, I tend to follow people on Twitter whom I either know personally, who are scientists of some sort (or have other informative opinions I’m interested in), or who make me laugh.

I’ll leave it to you to determine why I follow Kim Kierkegaardashian.

This person (I’m assuming it’s some ill-fated science experiment gone awry that has physically merged Søren Kierkegaard with Kim Kardashian) has mastered the art of the perfectly crafted tweet, pithy and funny and using contrasting phrasing to such perfection that the Universe itself weeps, for there can be no more achievements left for God’s mind to conquer.

See how that works? Except Kim Kierkegaardashian is far better at it than I. The tweets mash up the philosopher’s viewpoint with the life of the famous-for-being-famous entrepreneur, and do so charmingly, cuttingly, and most importantly humorously. 


Everyone looked so great on the red carpet, like captive beasts walking round in their cages, or measuring the lengths of their chains.

January 12, 2015
So I was pretty happy when I heard a book, “My Beautiful Despair”, was coming out based on the Twitter feed. And I got one thanks to Ms. Kierkegaardashian herself!

This book is really, really funny. From the intro, written in the style of a mid-century narrative article by a member of the intelligentsia, to the tweets and tweet-like declarations gracing the rest of the pages, it’s both lough-out-loud and disquietingly existentialist. 


Cleaned out my closet. But I am still a burden to myself.

October 10, 2014
I highly recommend this book. I laughed all the way through it, as did my wife who saw it and started reading it randomly, as well as a visiting friend who did the same, stopping only long enough to point out something particularly good to me.


Dressing for fall can be tough. Even a go-to sweater can't insulate you from despair.

November 8, 2015
The book is available on Amazon (affiliate link) and at other fine establishments. Buy it so that your eyes will really pop over your mascara even as they drown in inevitable tears of complicity in the entropy of the Universe.

Upcoming Appearances

Where I’ll be doing things you can watch and listen to

While I was at SpaceFest 9, I recorded an interview with my old friend and astronomer Seth Shostak. We talked about the possibility for life on other planets, and what makes Earth special (or not so special). It’s an unusually lucid interview by me so you’ll enjoy it. He interviewed lots of other scientists too, and the whole thing is pretty interesting (my part starts around 41:30 into it). 

Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI

Monday, August 6, 2018: NASA launches a probe to study the most dangerous star in the sky: The Sun 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018: The last place to look for planets: Omega Centauri

Wednesday, August 8, 2018: Long-standing astronomical mystery solved! Albireo is NOT a binary star (I am very proud of this one)

Thursday, August 9, 2018: A bright spot on the Moon

Friday, August 10, 2018: Two billion years ago, Andromeda ate the Milky Way’s sibling

Astro Tidbit

A brief synopsis of some interesting astronomy/science news that may be too short for the blog, too long for Twitter, but just right (and cool enough to talk about) for here.

Of all the planets in the solar system, Venus gets closer to Earth than any other, yet in many ways we know less about it than Mercury and Mars, the two other terrestrial planets. Enshrouded in a thick atmosphere, surface features are hidden from earthbound telescopes and are difficult to map even from Venus orbit. We have limited data from landers sent in the 1970s (they didn’t last long, unsurprisingly, given the conditions there), too.

This is a problem. We have enough data to make guesses, but not enough data to know which ones are more likely to be correct!

[Credit: JAXA / ISAS / DARTS / Damia Bouic via The Planetary Society]

On The Planetary Society’s blog, astronomy PhD student Adeene Denton has written a solid article about the problem with our evil twin planet. It’s worth your time to read.

As I write this, Venus still hangs over the southwestern horizon after sunset, an intense point of light that beckons like a siren. When will we send the next full-on probe there to unearth (if you’ll pardon the word) its mysteries?

Et alia

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