Charles in space

by Eszter Hargittai on April 7, 2007

with Charles Simonyi Few people with an interest in space travel have the resources to make that dream a reality. In a few minutes, Charles Simonyi will be one of those people. He’s among the few space tourists who’ve paid the $20-$25 million for the experience. He has been chronicling his adventures at, an interesting and informative Web site where users can get answers about the various aspects of his preparation and travel. (You can watch the launch live here or click on the link above to choose your preferred player.)

I had the opportunity to meet Charles Simonyi last October when I was in the Seattle area giving a talk at Microsoft Research. I consider my experience a classic case of cultural capital at work. Both of us having grown up in Budapest – and it turns out just a few blocks from each other, although a few decades apart – likely was not enough of a reason for him to bother responding to my email. Rather, I suspect it was our shared interest in the Hungarian artist Victor Vasarely that prompted him to invite me for a tour of his house. It was super fun, Charles Simonyi has some wonderful works by Vasarely and others, and I very much enjoyed the opportunity to see his collection.

We also took a brief tour of his library in which he has some interesting original documents related to space travel. His passion for the topic is obvious and contagious. I look forward to the updates on his site about this amazing adventure.

In the above picture, I stand next to Charles Simonyi (he’s holding my father’s book The Martians of Science) with a Vasarely sculpture behind us. Photo credit goes to Marc Smith who kindly invited and hosted me on this visit to MSR.

Goodling Friday

by John Holbo on April 7, 2007

Over at TPM, much bemused shaking of heads at Monica Goodling’s Friday resignation, and possible Easter symbolism accruing thereto. From her letter to Gonzales: “May God bless you richly as you continue your service to America.”

And suddenly it hits me. In 2008 the seemingly moribund Republican party needs to look, for inspiration, to Corinthians, chapter 15, for spiritual mediation of the apparent contradiction between Christianist principle and cronyist practice. The GOP: “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption.” (Of course, reading on from 42 to 50 complicates interpretation. Still … )

UPDATE: Oh, I just can’t resist (click for larger version)