Pinned toot

Hello and ! I am a newly arrived migrant to these alien lands, but I have been enjoying myself greatly so far. My new friend @voron suggested I write an introductory post.

My name is David. I am an and whose work appears regularly in The New Yorker (including a feature later this month that I think you will love), the New York Times, Scientific American, and elsewhere. I generally cover and issues, though I also dabble in writing.

My latest book, The Mission, is the definitive (and critically-acclaimed, I am proud to say) account of the incredible true story of a team of scientists and bureaucrats who convinced to explore , the moon of . My next book is about the exploration of , including my expeditions there. might find it of interest.

I have been a full-time for 15 years now, and have been very successful. I say this only because I am a credible source in this space, and I would like to help other and achieve their dreams and goals as well. It is a hard business being a or book author, but not an impossible one.

Already, I have been blown away by the kindness of community members who have taken me under their wing here, and I hope to be a positive force and good community member in turn.

In real life, I live in , , the greatest city in . Anyway, thank you all again for the very warm welcome. I feel very happy to be part of this .

(That's a lot of so far, but I hear that's how we roll here.)

I signed up for Threads and the first and only thing I felt was just utter exhaustion with all this.

Things always go well when, in an effort to achieve something, governments embrace a policy of “contraction and simplification, a downsizing of the economy and population, so that Homo sapiens can prosper within the regenerative and assimilative capacity of the biosphere.” Quite well indeed. (To call it "degrowth" is a masterstroke!)

There is an almost Walt Disney World-quality theming that leads to the Tell-Me Bar, my second-favorite (?) wine bar in New Orleans.

This week, The New Yorker published a special digital issue on bottlenecks in the climate crisis. I hope you will read my contribution, about how our anemic ability to monitor methane emissions led the Environmental Defense Fund to build a spaceship and do it themselves.

We are pleased to announce that account sign-ups on are now open !!!

Solar System Social is a new Mastodon instance for the planetary science community.

Any professional working in the field of #PlanetaryScience is welcome to join. If you are a student, postdoc, researcher, engineer, administrator, institution, society, community, academic journal, journalist, science educator, or science promoter, we would be pleased to welcome you to our community!

My entire day is whispering “what the fuck” at computers.

This week, the New Yorker has a special issue devoted to "bottlenecks" in solving major climate change-related issues. It is a magnificent series of probing essays that I encourage you all to check out. Incidentally, my story will appear online on Friday, and I cannot wait for you all to read it.

Does anyone at actually use Google? What the hell is happening there? Pages are taking an eternity to load (this has been a problem for a while) and are now infested with shitty answers to the wrong questions.

For Earth Day, here is my recent story for the New Yorker on scientists studying the "Doomsday Glacier" in Antarctica, and the harrowing expedition we took there in 2022. I hope you enjoy, and please share it if you do!

Anxiety is five editors at the New Yorker working on your story at the same time. I will never get used to it. And they're all geniuses, so with every change, you see your own shortcomings. But I feel such a profound joy and humility and am deeply honored to be part of it all.

This story, on climate change, drops one week from tomorrow!

Studiously avoiding social media until tonight, lest someone spoil the Picard Season 3 finale, which xaps off a story I have waited for since 1994 (!), when I watched "All Good Things..." on my mom's little plastic TV in the living room (which sat atop a giant broken wooden one)!

For those watching the launch this morning, over at Supercluster I have an exclusive interview with the head of Dragon. We discuss its role in a post-Starship world, and how the one enabled the other. Big things are ahead for Dragon, including spacewalking astronauts, and docking with Hubble to boost it and extend its life. I hope you enjoy!

Gorgeous weather + story is off to the fact checkers + a couple weeks ahead without travel = back on the bike 🏍️.

After submitting the behemoth of a draft for my next New Yorker story, I finally got around to watching the first five episodes of Star Trek: Picard. In the interest of disclosure, I have generally been annoyed by all TNG Trek since 1996 (the last film I enjoyed was First Contact), and absolutely all Star Trek since 2005, when Enterprise ended. (Even then, I only loved the first season and absolutely adored the final, Manny Coto-led fourth season.)

Discovery is so abysmally written as to be literally unwatchable with the sound on, at risk of brain aneurysms. Picard Season 1 was a train wreck, and I gave up on season 2. It like both seasons were written by people that someone tried to describe Star Trek: TNG to, but never actually saw it. Under no circumstances was I going to watch Season 3.

But friends whose opinion I respect started suddenly to come alive with talk that this season might be different. So I decided to go for it, under protest.

At the end of the first episode of Picard, Season 3, I was speechless. Not only was it true to the characters, but it was a compelling setup, and filmed with restraint. It felt like Star Trek: TNG! After episode 2, I actually teared up and had a sort of momentary release of emotions that was half laugh, half sob, that gentle, brief convulsion that accompanies a deep emotional relief. (I wasn't weeping or anything. It was just a profound experience.)

Beyond Star Trek stylistically and culturally, I was most profoundly moved by the fact that on television were characters in their 60s or older, written like characters respectful of their advanced ages. I have often found (especially in Picard seasons 1 and 2) that inexperienced or weak writers tend to write "old" characters as brimming with uncontrollable regret at everything they have ever done in life, and lacking entirely the wisdom and comfort that accompanies living a long time. In other words, a 25-year-old writer thinks someone in their 60s will be miserable, and so writes them as either miserable basket cases, or as, well, 25-year-olds with crow's feat.

I'm in my mid-40s, well into middle age, and there are profound things I regret in life—things I know I will never get over. And I do sometimes get melancholy. But I also feel a great sense of joy in comfort at better understanding the world around me, and the nuances of human behaviors, and when losses come along, life has prepared me for many of them. Moreover, I am very good at my work and a master of my craft, and know generally how to handle myself in most situations in ways that do not escalate, and when escalation is required, I know how to do so confidently and respectfully, with empathy for the other person. When I am in an uncomfortable situation, I can always rely on those things, and my wit.

In my 20s and 30s, aging terrified me. But what I have found in recent years has astonished me: I enjoy getting older. It can be an ugly thing, of course—the loss of parents, the failing of one's body—but it is also beautiful. The greatest journey of my life. I have made many mistakes in life, and learned from them. So you can bet that when I make new mistakes, they are at least very interesting!

I say all this—and can say so much more about it, and will, in time—to say that the characters in Star Trek: Picard, Season 3, are older. But they are unapologetically older. I find it so refreshing and moving to see older characters on screen, wrinkles and all, and to see them written with dignity and an earned wisdom. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan did this beautifully, and is probably my favorite film about coming to terms with middle age.)

I hope the season comes to a graceful conclusion with the power, gravitas, and nuance that characterized the first five episodes. It is just beautifully written, with a compelling plot, excellent, character-accurate dialogue, and a Federation that is absolutely consistent with the one Gene Roddenberry left us. I do not say this lightly: Terry Matalas, this season's showrunner, might prove to be Roddenberry's heir.

I am so grateful that CBS finally got it right, and hope that the best Trek is yet to come.

Star Trek: Picard, Season 3 is highly, highly recommended.

Over at Supercluster, I have an exclusive interview with Stuart Keech, the senior director of Dragon Engineering at SpaceX, and man in charge of keeping America in the human spaceflight business. We talk about the future of Dragon, its first impending spacewalk, how it will save the Hubble Space Telescope, and how Dragon helped pave the way for Starship. I hope you enjoy!

Over at Supercluster, I have an exclusive interview with Stuart Keech, the senior director of Dragon Engineering at SpaceX, and man in charge of keeping America in the human spaceflight business. We talk about the future of Dragon, its first impending spacewalk, how it will save the Hubble Space Telescope, and how Dragon helped pave the way for Starship. I hope you enjoy!

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