Discover more from Bad Astronomy Newsletter
Yeah, I’m done. Elon’s just awful.
September 12, 2023 Issue #616
This is about Under Alien Skies, isn’t it? Yes. Yes it is.
You may not have heard (I’ve barely mentioned it) but I wrote a book that came out in April called Under Alien Skies. It’s been a minute since it was released (ATKTDMSSITM*), but it just got a SUPER favorable review by Clive Cookson in the Financial Times!
He reviews two other books (by very popular authors), but picks mine as the one he recommends the most:
All three authors distil [sic] fine books from the bucket of astronomical information available today, with their travel theme adding an edge of excitement that lies beyond more conventional science writing. But if I had to choose one new guide to the universe, I would go for Under Alien Skies, because Plait communicates most vividly the awe and wonder that a traveller would surely experience on an interstellar tour.
It’s really nice to see it getting such wonderful reviews. If only I had a simple and easy link which you could click/tap to find where you could order a hardcopy, e-book, or audiobook (narrated by me)!
* As the kids these days might still say I think maybe?
Piece of mind
I have opinions. I try to base them on evidence.
Welp. I’m done with Twitter. I mean X. You know what? I’ll just call it Xitter*.
Longtime BANners know I left Facebook back in 2018, because it became so awful I couldn’t take it anymore. For Xitter, same.
I stop posting regularly there around the end of May, but this decision was baking for months before then as well. Things there had been problematic even before Musk took over, but his reign has been so foul, just so truly disgusting that I can’t rationalize being on it any more.
Every decision he’s made has been awful, both for business and for just humanity in general, making Xitter worse with every change. It’s all been to either maximize profit at the cost of usefulness, or to push his now-obvious über right-wing (and racist and antisemitic (oy the antisemitism) and anti-vax and anti-trans and anti-democracy) agenda. He let Trump back on, he let Nazis back on (and promotes white supremacist tweets relentlessly), he let far-right provocateurs back on… even as we see more outright politically motivated right-wing terrorism all the time. It’s grotesque.
And he makes decisions based on thin-skinned reactions to anyone doing anything to defy him, even in the slightest. The fiasco with the blue checkmarks really put that on display for everyone.
If you subscribe to BAN, thanks! You can upgrade your subscription if you please (and please do) by entering your email below and checking out the subscription levels. All the cools kids are doing it (as well as exodussing Xitter).
I can’t bear it anymore. Twitter is now wall-to-wall doom and gloom and Nazis and crypto bros and fetid decay. I downloaded the database of my tweets just so I have it, but I’m leaving the account alone. Not long ago Musk announced that inactive accounts will be deleted, so it’s possible that will happen to mine. That’s a terrible and maddening decision but par for the erratic course he’s taken**.
My own decision does not come lightly. I’d been on Twitter since April 14, 2007 — 16+ years. I made a lot of friends there, broadened my horizons, learned from people different than me, and of course it helped my career beyond measure. I was able to share my love of astronomy, puns, and writing to hundreds of thousands of people, and also make my voice heard politically during these very rough past few years. It was a huge platform from me, and walking away from it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
In some ways it’s easy (see all the stuff about Nazis above). But in others… a lot of my friends are still there, as well as colleagues. I got a lot of news from Twitter, and keep up with people I love. Closing that off is difficult. The emotional inertia is high.
But the emotional and ethical toll is also far too high. So it’s done. I’m done.
I’m still on other social media, though! Here’s where else (besides Substack, of course) you can find me:
Spoutible (though I rarely use or check it at the moment)
And I recently joined Blue Sky, a Twitter-ish service that for now is invite-only. I don’t know when it’ll open up to the public, but I’m there with the handle @philplait.bsky.social. At the moment that’s what I use the most.
* Pronounced like the Maya X.
** Perhaps if someone writes a bot that autologs you in every, say, 28 days, I could keep my account active in that sense, and if Elon manages to wriggle out from underneath the massive mess he’s incurred, and someone else with even a modicum of common sense takes over, I can start things up again. But I’m not hopeful Xitter will survive this, and hoo boy would it take a massive goodwill campaign for me to even consider going back.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!
Bad Astronomy Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.