Born Under the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Despite the fact that I grew up a few miles from NASA’s Space & Rocket Center in Alabama, I knew appallingly little about Neil Armstong before learning of his death yesterday afternoon, apart from what every grade school student hears. But even so, his death has weighed on me in a way other celebrity deaths have not.

I’ve since discovered that Armstrong was an incredibly smart, lucid, humble man, who — in addition to being the first person on the fucking moon — was a professor of astrophysics and just an exceedingly nice human being by all accounts. For starters, this was his self-description:

I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer—born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow. As an engineer, I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession.

And this video (via Ryan Cooper) of him describing the terrain of the moon and how distances appeared distorted is absolutely surreal and delightful.


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Trailer Park: The Sessions


I recently came across the trailer for the upcoming film The Sessions, which looks promising. It features a strong cast, starring the excellent John Hawkes as well as Helen Hunt and William H. Macy. The plot of the movie is strange but fascinating–The Diving Bell and the Butterfly with a sprinkling of The 40 Year Old Virgin, I suppose–and, accordingly to the trailer, based on a true story. My curiosity piqued, I did some research. What I found was more powerful and profound than the premise for an unusual sex comedy, albeit a touching one, as the trailer might suggest.
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Oh, Reel-y: Asian Americans Abroad in Asia, Alliteratively

Shanghai Calling
2012

Shanghai Calling hits all the cultural discord notes of the American abroad storyline, but adds a “homecoming” spin. Sam is a successful Chinese-American attorney in New York on the cusp of making partner when his superiors send him to Shanghai. While he initially can’t wait for his three-month tenure to end, he slowly finds a sense of community with the expat population there.
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