Ellen Ripley (Alien) & Anna Fisher (NASA) 40 Years Ago

This year is becoming a blockbuster year for celebrating anniversaries in real life and at the movie theater. The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 manned moon landing in 1969, as celebrated in the biopic First Man and the documentary Apollo 11. The 40th anniversary of Alien introduced the kick-ass heroine, Ellen Ripley, in 1979. Six months before Alien became a hit at the movie theater, NASA selected Anna Lee Fisher to be one of six women astronauts for the space shuttle program in 1979.

Did you know that Ripley and Fisher were both moms in space?

My initial idea for this video was about NASA’s first all-female spacewalk with astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch outside of the International Space Station. NASA cancelled the spacewalk a few days later because there was only one medium torso among the four spacesuits on the International Space Station. The other available medium torso was, quite literally, out to the dry cleaners on Earth. The spacewalk went on with astronauts Christina Koch in a medium torso and Nick Hague in a large torso.

After sending 500 men into space, NASA still has problems with women in space.

If that was not bad enough, Vice President Mike Pence demanded from NASA that the first woman and the next man on the moon be American astronauts launched on an American rocket from American soil in the next five years. Never mind that the America First approach to space doesn’t include budget increases for NASA to return to the moon sooner than 2028 and design new spacesuits to accommodate different size astronauts of the opposite sex.

While researching this topic, I came across an essay by Taylor Page about the similarities between Ellen Ripley in Alien and Anna Fisher being selected by NASA in 1979. The two women—fictional and real—redefined the traditional female archetype to become role models in the late 1970s and early 1980s.


They were gender minorities in male-dominated industries. Ripley was an aerospace engineer and one of two women working on the doomed space tug when it came across the distress signal from LV-426 and the nearly indestructible xenomorph. Fisher had a master’s degree in chemistry when only 25% of chemists were woman at the time.


They were both third in command for their space assignments. After the captain and the executive officer, Ripley was third in command as the warrant officer. Fisher was a mission specialist and the third in command on board the Discovery for STS-51-A in November 1984, launching two satellites into orbit and retrieving two satellites from orbit.


Something that the essay revealed was what happened before the events in Alien: Ripley violated “regulations by allowing a natural pregnancy to come to term” and her assignment on the space tug was “a renegotiation of her contract” to spend time with her daughter. Maternal instincts will become a big part of future Alien movies.

Fisher was the first American mom to go into space, having two daughters prior to her spaceflight and taking an eight-year leave from NASA to raise them before returning to the agency as a manager.

For the record, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 was the not only the first woman in space but also the first mom in space.

Alien (1979)

The essay noted that “Ripley served as one of the first non-sexualized leading independent women in cinema” (emphasis added).

*cough* Cheer if you remember the underwear scene in Alien? *cough*

Sigourney Weaver, who played Ripley, initially defended the underwear scene in an interview: “‘Are you kidding? After five days of blood and guts, and fear, and sweat and urine, do you think Ripley wouldn’t take off her clothes?'”After receiving negative fan mail about the underwear scene and seeing how traditional Hollywood scripts were towards women, she would think twice about taking off her clothes for a movie.

Of course, that was 40 years ago and the times are different today.

Science Fiction Women In Underwear

Why YouTube Is Warning Content Creators On Gleam Giveaways

Jay of JayzTwoCents recently made a video on why he will no longer do giveaways on his YouTube channel after giving away $100,000 in PC hardware over the last eight years. YouTube slapped him with a warning for using an external website link in the description of his giveaway video that could have driven traffic to inflate his engagement metrics. The offending external link was for Gleam, a popular contest management service that Jay and many other content creators have used for years.

Gleam, however, was a known problem for several months by content creators who pay close attention to YouTube policy changes. When I expressed my opinion in comments that Jay was responsible for the situation that he was in, I got push back that he had done nothing wrong and YouTube should not have given him a warning. Even big content creators like Jay need to stay current with YouTube and third-party policy changes.

Giveaways are either a curse or a blessing for content creators. Newer channels use giveaways as a way to grow fast at the risk of gaining an audience that cares more about free products than the latest video. Established channels use giveaways as a way to give back to the community and reward long time supporters.

Roberto Blake recommends that content creators should not do giveaways until they have at least 1,000 subscribers. He mentioned in a recent video that a channel with 1,000 subscribers represents the bottom of the top 10% of all channels on YouTube. To put that number into perspective, the top 10% include channels from 1,000 subscribers to 91 million subscribers. The 1,000 subscriber mark is where the remaining YouTube features become available, including monetization and super chats.

About two dozen content creators in recent months got warnings by YouTube for using an external Gleam link in the description of their giveaway videos. TeamYouTube tweeted a response to Erica the Technology Nerd that giveaways are not being ban. The external links that can inflate engagement metrics, such as views, likes and subscribers, are ban under YouTube’s “Fake Engagement Policy” and “Contest Policies And Guidelines.”

It’s unclear whether or not YouTube knows what Gleam does for the community.

Gleam is a popular service for keeping giveaways fair for the viewers and manageable for the content creators. Larger channels like JayzTwoCents can easily have 400,000 contest entries spread out across multiple platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The days of dumping contest entries into a spreadsheet, using a random number generator, and picking the winner from the corresponding row number of the spreadsheet are long gone.

Gleam has many actions for setting up a contest, including asking for views, likes and subscriptions on YouTube. Those particular actions are no longer compliant with YouTube policies. As of March 4, 2019, Gleam is recommending “visit a YouTube channel” as the preferred action for YouTube and let the viewer decide what to do once they are on the channel page.

On March 11, 2019, JayzTwoCents posted his giveaway video with the Gleam link in the description that asked for comments, likes and subscribes on YouTube. Shortly thereafter an asshat reported the Gleam link. YouTube disabled the Gleam link and slapped JayzTwoCents with a warning. The warning itself was a recent policy change in how YouTube handles community guideline violations. Under the old policy JayzTwoCents would have gotten a community strike with serious consequences for his channel.

On March 15, 2019, JayzTwoCents posted his follow-up video on why giveaways on YouTube were no longer worth the trouble. If he had made himself aware of the policy changes at YouTube and Gleam, he could have avoided the warning altogether. Or maybe not. With YouTube cracking down on external links in the video description, using Gleam or any third-party link may no longer be safe for anyone’s channel.

Jay announced his Gleam giveaway link on Twitter and his only YouTube action is to visit his channel. There is no penalty for telling viewers to go to his Twitter account for the giveaway link. For now, at least. By hosting his giveaway on Twitter, Jay will also need to stay current with policy changes at Twitter in addition to YouTube and Gleam.

When Your YouTube Video Attracts The Wrong Kind of Audience

Image by C.D. Reimer

After news broke that pedophiles were using time codes in comments to tag “sexually suggested” content in family friendly videos on YouTube, I kept a close watch on my only video with young children in a musical performance at a public event that had previously attracted the wrong kind of audience six months earlier.

After I saw the initial traffic spike for the video while watching the real time analytics for my channel at 5:30PM on Friday, February 22, 2019, I disabled the comment section for that video as a precaution.

I went to the tech news website that my dedicated band of trolls called home and located the video URL in an anonymous comment for an article about YouTube’s latest child safety problem. Readers were asked to report me as a pedophile because a little boy had his “peewee” hanging out at a specified time code in the video.

The video shows a little boy with his hands over the front of his t-shirt and the waistband of his shorts while running around.

One comment called the anonymous comment a perfect example of the nonsense that the YouTube community is struggling with. Another comment told the troll to get psychiatric help.

After I sent an email to the CEO of the tech news website at 5:45PM, the entire thread got deleted 15 minutes later. The traffic spike ended with 14 new views for the video. Each view represents a person who wanted to see a little boy with his “peewee” handing out, either out of curiosity that such content exist or hopeful that such content was real.

Read the rest of the essay at Medium. If you’re interested in supporting my writing on Medium, become a paid member and I’ll get a referral bonus.