Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Vlog Series - Star Wars Trailer


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Big Fat Quiz 2014

Vlog Series - Deep Space Dance with the Devil

Friday, November 07, 2014

Rule of Life #16

Rule #16: Freedom is a paradox.

The assumption of freedom is that a person has at least two substantive[1] options from which they can choose.

The thing is that even if you have ten options, you still choose only one. Even if you can synthesize a “both or more” option, priorities have to be set and you can't ever choose all options.

The paths not taken expose the oppresive paradox of linear time; yes, freedom and choice, but only one. Even the wisest of us can't know the eventual consequences of our every choice. I've had too many chance encounters to believe otherwise.

So obsessed are we that our fiction has desperately spawned the idea of multiple universes, which allow us to justify or bemoan our exercise of feedom up to this point. Fighting with our alternate selves tends to justify our decisions, because in the end there's nothing else we can do but accept them. Also, Home Universe Bias should totally be a thing.

Anyway, I'm just bitching because the broad vistas of all our futures have to be fed through the eye of the present's needle and I'm the sort of guy who always wants more.

---
[1] "Substantive" because being beaten with black versus white billy clubs doesn't ring as "freedom," really.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Rule of Life #15

Rule #15: We only know through perception.

Cogito ergo sum is a bit of a no-brainer to include when describing paradigms of human existence, but its a good one. Even deduced information is drawn from data gathered through ordinary perception.

If Rule 14 is the “what you see is what you get; deal with it,” of existence, Rule 15 is the rider that says, “yeah, but you might just be a brain in a jar.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rules of Life #14

Rule #14: Illusion uninterrupted is no illusion.

Sometimes, people ask whether or not we exist in a simulation. It's a valid academic question, but I consider taking the questions raised by a mission to Mars or a survey of Io to be more important. Look, quantum computers and the limitations of the Universe's computational abilities are critical areas of knowledge, but...The Matrix isn't shutting down anytime soon.

Debating the nature of reality over a glass of Delightful Buzz Red might be a fine excuse, but it's not going to peel back the curtain.

Maybe it is all fake. Cool. Now bring back hard evidence, or else it just doesn't impact my life the way that fish-eating spiders do. The same largely applies to aliens, government conspiracies, and religion. They're all fine theories and I enjoy learning about them, but I don't take them any more seriously than this season of Doctor Who.

Okay, slightly less seriously than this season of Doctor Who.

So long as an illusion lacks any seams[1], it isn't any less real than...reality[2]. 

People work much the same way. Someone who is perfectly compassionate and empathetic, but always acts like a jerk is actually a jerk. Someone who's an asshole on the inside, but who is always kind, understanding, and helpful towards others is not an asshole. They're a person with asshole tendencies that rises above them every day. It's--y'know--




---


[1] Any. At all. None. Zero. Zip. The Matrix's dejavous? Interrupted. Total illusion.


[2] For non-illusory universe. These non-illusory definitions get recursive real quickly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rules of Life #13

Rule #13: Change is death.
 
Change, like death, is inevitable. What is will not endure and whether what is to come is better or worse depends in some part on your actions.

It will probably be worse if you don't work to make it better.




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Klickstein, Phil Robertson, and the PC Police

So, last week Nickelodeon alum Mathew Klickstein had an interview with Flavorwire. In it, he talks about how Pete & Pete was the best show in Nickelodeon because it was a white, male cast, how Clarissa Explains it All was only successful in hindsight because of Melissa Joan Hart and "feminist bloggers," and how Sanjay and Craig's Indian lead is unnecessary and equivalent to blackface.

I don't know much about Pete & Pete, but Clarissa Explains it All was an objective success, and there's no need to justify a non-white character created by a multicultural staff in a multicultural country. Reasonably, folks have been angry at him. The result is that the event he was promoting, "Nite of Nickelodeon Nostalgic Nonsense!" was scuttled. The rest of the attendees scheduled a new event without Klickstein. He cited "PC Police" in his cancellation notice. But is there such a thing as the PC Police?


Friday, October 10, 2014

Hatsune Miko on Letterman



So, this happened. The singer is Hatsune Miko, a popular avatar from a singing synthesizer program. Some you might know that David Letterman is stepping down soon (in favor of Stephen Colbert), so we can only assume that he either no longer cares or his long-repressed interest in holographic characters representing singing gynoids representing 16-year-old girls can finally be indulged.


My limited research into her hasn't yielded who owns her, who "manages" her, and who creates the story behind her. My first response was negative; I don't think anyone will be surprised when I refer to 16-year-old female characters designed by straight guys as "dick accessories."


Thursday, October 09, 2014

King Dome

The blog I wanted today isn't quite ready to post, so here's a video of Seattle's Kingdome exploding.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Leonard McCoy & The Prime Directive

So, in Star Trek IV: The One With the Whales, Dr. McCoy is in a late 20th Century hospital. He passes a woman who's on dialysis and gives her a pill. She regrows a kidney. It's a short, two scene gag that reverses the fish out of water comedy of the rest of the movie.

The Prime Directive states that The Federation should not interfere in the internal affairs of a less-developed culture. In "Symbiosis," Picard notes that such interactions are invariably disastrous for the less-developed culture. Given that Star Trek pulls from a Western tradition, it obviously pulls from European interactions with Native American (and perhaps even African) cultures.
Reality doesn't bear that out. Disease and superior systems of applying force are not the same as having a "superior culture."

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Good old Admiral Ross. How I hate him!

I know content has been a bit sparse lately. I'm sorry. The stuff I want to talk about is either Star Trek related or based on the shit happening in places like Ferguson, Hong Kong, or Japan. I don't want to get social-justice warriory or become completely up-my-own-ass Star Trekky, so I haven't had much to work with.

So with that in mind, I'm going to bitch about a character from Deep Space Nine, Admiral William Ross.

Oh fuck Ross.

ADM Ross: “Ben, I can’t be bothered to plan retaking DS9, the most important location in the war with The Dominion. You do it.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

Houma Movie Club: Phase 7 and the future

If you hadn't noticed, I haven't put up a Houma Movie Club since Hook. Google started phone authentication for Hangouts On-Air and since I try to reasonably limit the personal information I give to capricious slapped-together, social media platforms, we're done with using Google Hangouts.

We're just doing some regular chats right now, but if we can all get Skype together I'll probably start recording them and putting them up either as podcasts or as videos with some still photos over them. Open to input.

So it's time for Phase 7. As we do, there is no theme aside from a minor, voluntary "spooky" theme because it's October. Standard rules apply: on Netflix, released in the past five years, 90 minutes, and no more than one of us can have seen it already.

Voting is open. Two votes per person. The voting results are also going to be hedged a bit. Last phase Josh worked on the weekend we did his movie and that's weak so in the future if someone who chose a movie can't make it, we'll try to swap movies or skip a week.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010, 89 minutes)
The premise of Tucker and Dale vs Evil is that the real monsters are photogenic college kids with mediocre acting skills spending a weekend in the woods. And if think about it, that kinda shakes out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rules of Life #12

Rule #12: A prophet can't lose predicting disaster.

Speaks for itself. You might note that horoscopes neatly sidestep this by telling folks what they can or should do. No fatalistic predictions, just you failing to be exceptional enough so it's all your fault when the stars give you a once over.



obligatory

So, a good corollary might be, “If everyone gets angry at your disastrous predictions, predict it is their responsibility to prevent disaster.”

Of course, all of this assumes “prophets” can't really see the future.

If you are a prophet who can see the future, this is still helpful info because even the truth needs a good angle if you want people to believe it.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Edere Vir: MtG Implementation

So a few weeks ago I started talking about a monster type I made called the Edere Vir. Originally envisioned as a part of the World of Darkness, they were humans that preyed on other humans for power and advantage within society. I'm still turning the idea over, specifically for Magic.

For Magic, it's a bit tougher. They feed on the dead (mostly), improve themselves, sabotage others, and manipulate technology. They also have the preys-on-like theme. You could put them into a tribal set as a tribal hoser. Watch a single Edere Vir elf decimate an elf deck, might be a fun concept, but I don't think it does them, elf decks, or Magic any favors. 



Monday, September 08, 2014

Houma Movie Club: The Survivors & Gamergate stuff


Survivors is a 1983 comedy starring Walter Matthau, Robin Williams, and Jerry Reed. I think I spend most of this chat convincing everyone that it's a bit deeper than it seems at first glance.

The first hour is the movie and the second hour is Derek and I bitching in the presence of others about the gamergate stuff I've been bitching about for the last week.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Rules of Life #11

Rule #11: To limit oneself with codes and honor is counter to achievement of anything but adherence to codes and honor.
Corollary: This includes The Rules of Life

My favorite long one. It's not a condemnation, The Rules of Life aren't meant to provide judgments (as if their milquetoast phrasing wasn't enough of a clue). Rule Eleven is more about giving a choice; getting shit done efficiently or guarding one's own morality. The two options are not always exclusive, but when they are, it happens quickly and time ensures that most of the thoughts we devote to the decision come after it is already made.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Edere Vir: WoD Implementation

So a few weeks ago I started talking about a monster type I made called the Edere Vir. Originally envisioned as a part of the World of Darkness, they were humans that preyed on other humans for power and advantage within society. I'm still turning the idea over.

As a WoD monster, there'd be a point value assigned to each body part which they could use to power their abilities. Eyes would cost something like one, legs would cost four, etc. An Edere Vir would only be able to store 10 or so points as a starting character unless they got a meta power.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Louie Gohmert: The 5 Most Impish but Professional Adventures of the Representative from Texas' First District Part 2

Previous

Fighting for Rational, Mature Discourse on Capitol Hill
Whenever Michele Bachmann took aim at Hilary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, Gohmert hopped on board and demonstrated that rational, mature discourse on Capitol Hill is not dead. In a series of letters to the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the State Department, Bachmann, Gohmert, and three others linked Abedin to a conspiracy that placed Islamic Brotherhood sleeper agents in the highest levels of government with the goal to enact Shiara law across The United States.

It might be true that those letters were based on evidence gathered by Frank Gaffney, a man who has seen Islamic conspiracies including conservatives like John Bolton (the US Ambassador to the UN under George W. Bush and FOX News regular) and Grover Norquist (who opposes all taxes forever). Even though many of Gaffney's claims had already been investigated and dismissed by the FBI as baseless, and even though he's been condemned by the American Conservative Union for his assertions, Gohmert has stood by him in an act of integrity and commitment that surpassed common rational thought. 


Now, spamming the national security apparatus doesn't smack of "rational discourse," but the response to the letters accused Gohmert and others of McCarthyism. Even conservatives, like Senator John McCain of Arizona came out against him.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Nature of the Beast

Maybe the last thing on this gaming shit for the time being. I know it's getting old. I know the theft and spread of Jennifer Lawrence's nude photos is the hotter story right now (no pun intended).

Folks are talking about models of behavior. Devin Farici has been pretty compassionate in his depiction of gamers as mislead teenagers. I think that's fair to remember, but I doubt that most of the hate here is coming from socially put-upon nerds. 
This bit was in response to Farici empathizing with these guys.
But check out that twitter. He has 22 replies. All of them are replies to other people, 20 of them have been made in the last week, and a half dozen are just him tweeting the same video to Zoe Quinn over and over again like a completely sane adult.

Jimquisition: Social Justice Warriors

Monday, September 01, 2014

The Spectrum of Views on Gamer Identity

I didn't think up the idea that the identity of The Gamer is dead (I probably wasn't even the first one to come up with that title). I just seized on it when other folks brought it up because it stuck a chord of truth.

Dan Golding wrote "The End of Gamers." In it, he briefly describes the origins and definitions of Gamers before explaining why that definition is disintegrating as video games progress. Video games in the future—the near future—are universal and cannot be owned by any one group, no matter how filled with hate, fear, and bile.

Louie Gohmert: The 5 Most Impish but Professional Adventures of the Representative from Texas' First District

So Louie Gohmert has been making some headlines lately because he's been cheekily photobombing other people around Capitol Hill. The representative from Texas' first district is such a fun, whimsical character.

As it just so happens, he's from the district my grandparents vote in. I know Louie Gohmert. I've seen his fliers. Some cynical, stuffed-shirt politicians might claim that these kinds of childish behaviors are not fit for a member of the US House of Representatives. 


I differ. Not only with the assumption that there is any standard of behavior for members of The House, but that these behaviors are in any way unbecoming or inconsistent with representing the United States of America as a professional lawmaker.

So here are five other completely professional, if whimsical, actions of Representative Louie Gohmert.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gamers Are Dead. Long Live Video Games.

In The Academy, I had a great history teacher. Captain Veggeberg, USMC. He brought knowledge and a personal interest to the subject. You ever see a story about an ageless history professor who's described as talking about history "like he lived it" and then thought, "no one describes anyone like that"?
 

Captain (now Lieutenant Colonel[Congratulations!]) Veggeberg talked about history like he lived it. He infused every class with passion and his description of the Battle of Midway is indelibly etched in my mind. Maybe that's why I think about The Battle of Camden to this day, especially lately.

Rules of Life: #10

Rule #10: To control perception is to control.
Corollary: This is untrue.

Rule 14 covers this a lot better. Sometimes, y'all will see gaps in the Rules of Life. Some numbers get removed because they suck. Other gaps exist because of the lack of a single set of Rules early on. During that time, rules were added according to an Um numbering system, “This is um...Rule 35, right? 34 was the last one? I know we're in the thirties. Definitely.”

From here to the twenties there are one or two numbers, like ten, missing because they didn't stand the test of time and pithiness. After that, the gaps are usually from forgetfulness. Certainly, I can't remember which is which.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Edere Vir: D&D Implementation

So a few weeks ago I started talking about a monster type I made called the Edere Vir. Originally envisioned as a part of the World of Darkness, they were humans that preyed on other humans for power and advantage within society. I'm still turning the idea over.
 
As a D&D monster, they wouldn't be a monster so much as a template applied to a species already found in the Monster Manual. A few regeneration abilities, a severe bite attack limited to members of their own race, and an attack or two that induces a status effect would probably be enough.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ferguson for My Family


On August 9th, in a Missouri town of about 21,000, a police officer stopped 18 year-old Michael Brown and his friend. It was one of 5,400 stops the Ferguson Police Department conducts every year, but at the end of it the unarmed Michael Brown was dead, shot several times by Officer Darren Brown.

Accounts vary. According to the Ferguson Police Chief, Brown lunged for the officer's gun and was shot in the ensuing struggle. Dorian Johnson, Michael Brown's friend and the only surviving witness says that the officer attempted to choke the victim and proceeded to shoot him when Brown pulled away.

Locals were upset after Brown's body was left in the street for four and a half hours. No ambulance was called. Detectives weren't even called to the scene for over an hour. That night, police armored up, assuming the worst from passionate, public protests. The next morning it became obvious that the meager trust between the police and the community was thinning. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Houma Movie Club: Carlos (2010)

We watched the 2010 movie Carlos this week.

By the end, we were all rooting for cancer.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Houma Movie Club, Phase 6

So Phase 6 is upon us. We've decided to do a Robin Williams theme. Given the sparse selection available on Netflix and Hulu, we've waived the originality requirement. Richard has indefinitely bowed out, so we're down to four participants and four movies.

Remember, everyone gets two votes, whether you're in the club or not. Poll closes Monday, so vote quickly.

The Fisher King (1991, 137 minutes)
Robin Williams supported homeless causes. In one of those things you see going around the internet, there was a rider in his contract stipulating that when he was hired for events, a certain percentage of the staff had to be homeless folks. 

It's not surprising that he opted to positively portray homeless folks in The Fisher King. I always thought it was something like Good Will Hunting, so now that I know it's an uplifting comedy, I'm excited to watch it.

Hook (1991, 147 minutes)
I saw this as a kid, but I'm looking forward to it because allegedly Bob Hoskins and Dustin Hoffman played Smee and Hook as gay. It apparently made Steven Spielberg livid, so I'm looking forward to it.

The Survivors (1983, 107 minutes)
My dad's mom had a lot of movies on VHS: Support Your Local Sheriff, Blazing Saddles, Smokey and The Bandit, and a few others. I never really got around to watching them until after she died, but The Survivors was one of them and it's surprisingly good.

The Birdcage (1996, 117 minutes)
I love Nathan Lane in The Producers. Watching him don high heels and savagely kick the line between homosexual and transsexual makes me anticipate puking. I've never seen The Birdcage all the way through but I hope Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Gene Hackman, and Ally McBeal can mitigate the worst of the damage.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rules of Life #09

Rule #9: No one can be known.

A social twist on my poor understanding of philosophical zombies goes something like this: there is no external difference between a real, thinking human in a social environment and a human which simply learns and mimics behaviors beneficial to them in a social environment. I don't mention it to insinuate that someone or anyone is a beast imitating mankind, but to show the ocean of vague qualities which comprise every real human person you've met.

Much as our own planet's oceans remain “mostly charted,” we're rarely privy to our own deepest trenches, much less that of others. Have you ever noticed how condescending people become once they think they have someone else all figured out.

Or hey, maybe that's just me.
 
Far more likely is that we think we have someone figured out. People go deep, even when it seems they don't. We like to believe tha tothers are something we can identify, type, and know the minute we see them. That's why racism and bigotry exist; believing every black teenager you meet is a dangerous criminal provides a weird kind of security because it comes bundled with a set of feel-safer actions which give the racist in question a sense of security and control in an otherwise unremarkable but potentially ambiguous social situation.

Even when we innocently write someone off as an idiot, it denies not just the fact that they have just lived every moment of their own lives—every second just as we have—but the truth that they've experienced these seconds. They've interpreted and emotionally reacted to them. They've connected them to earlier events and experiences. The lives of others aren't a series of energy exchanges occurring in a haze of visual agnosia, force applied, and chemical reactions taking place over a delta-t; they see and feel events just as we have done and they've done it and will do it far outside of the tiny window where we're around each other.

The thought that we could know someone else—really know them—should be a punchline, not a common assumption.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Red Letter Media: Best of the Worst: High Voltage, Death Spa, and Space Mutiny

I really like Red Letter Media. From Mr. Plinkett's Star Wars and Star Trek reviews to Half in the Bag to Best of the Worst.

Best of the Worst is like Cliff Notes for Mystery Science Theater 3000. It's pretty good.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Edere Vir: Powers

So two weeks ago I started talking about a monster type I made called the Edere Vir. Originally envisioned as a part of the World of Darkness, they were humans that preyed on other humans for power and advantage within society.

What could the Edere Vir eat and what could they use those body parts to do?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Rules of Life #08

Rule #8: We don't want what we want



"You may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true." Spock, "Amok Time"

The things that some of us strive for are not the things we're working towards. Others strive for something only to gain it and realize it is not what they desired. Time is cruel in that we never know until we've climbed the mountain if the view is worth the cost.

If life is the journey and not the destination, it's a good thing indeed. On the other hand, there's something to be said for loving the one you're with.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tabletop: Dixit

Tabletop is a pretty good series. I kinda trailed off after Wil Wheaton started losing it in the D&D game. Dixit may not be the most exciting episode, but it looks like a pretty cool game.

The Last Night on Earth episode is great because I'm pretty sure Felicia Day is trolling by the end of it and that's beautiful. There's also the Shadows Over Camelot episode with the Penny Arcade guys.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Edere Vir Part 2

So two weeks ago I started talking about a monster type I made called the Edere Vir. Originally envisioned as a part of the World of Darkness, they were humans that preyed on other humans for power and advantage within society. I tried to adapt them to a D&D mileu without success.

Initially. In D&D, the Edere Vir would be the town baker who finds a wounded traveler with a broken leg and is overcome with a taboo desire. They give in and find their old bum knee is healed. Much to their own horror, they feel neither revulsion nor remorse.

Time passes and their small village sees travelers savagely attacked. The local mayor--a former baker--reluctantly calls the party in. The adventurers eventually discover the baker-cum-mayor has been quietly trying to cover the entire business up. That the limping baker is suddenly more than fully ambulatory is a surprise. That they can bite through the fingers of their fellow elf as though they were made of butter[1] is downright shocking to the party.

The party triumphs and the baker is publicly hung by the neck until dead and interred with all appropriate rituals. The party calls it a side-quest and rides off into the sunset.


Monday, August 04, 2014

The Rules of Life #07

Rule #7: Trust compliments from enemies and criticism from friends.
Corollary: Regardless of the source, good advice is good advice.

Some things are hard to come by. People tend to spew compliments pretty easy as social lubricants. O'course, as soon as the chips are down, most of those same folks will vomit forth a lot of criticism. No judgments (okay, some judgments); people sit on a lot of toxic shit to make civilization work.

The result is that honest, compliments and objective criticism are hard to find. Now, friends can tell you all about your strengths and foes can monologue about your shortcomings. There's no rule against either one.

Once they each break type and start the real talk, it's worth listening though[1].

The corollary is perhaps truer, if less useful. If advice is good, it's by definition worth taking. Odds are pretty good that if you could recognize a good idea as such, you'd want to use it anyway. But humans are humans and a reminder that the source shouldn't stand in the way is worth posting.

---
[1] Always listen to your friends.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Rules of Life: #06

Rule #6: If it's so interesting you can't look away, it's probably a diversion.

Man, another cynical little gem from a guy who lives with one foot out of his own life. It's true that maintaining a certain amount of situational awareness is important. Not becoming totally engrossed in every sensory experience does have some merits.

Maybe though--just occasionally, Kris--it is okay to really drink in a moment.

No, "The End of Time" does not count!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Bjelland Brothers

Man, this song is so stuck in my head and it gets re-stuck every time I see apple juice.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Edere Vir Part 1

So last week I put some some Magic card based on some monsters I made up called the Edere Vir. Well, not monsters. Monsters in the sense that anything from White Wolf's World of Darkness is a monster.
 
The Edere Vir are based on a very simple idea. You ever hear something on the other side of a glass door, look over, and see nothing? The Edere Vir are based on the monster that's invisible until you open the door to see what's out there.

It was just a little concept until Terry ran a mixed supernaturals, classic World of Darkness campaign. I wanted to use the Edere Vir. Good monsters represent parts of the human psyche. Werewolves are our primal instincts. Ghosts are the summation of our deeds undone and wrongs unavenged. Vampires move around a lot, but they're done everything from repressed sexual desires to the thin, empty veneer of civilization to doing the whole "mutant and proud" message True Blood tried for.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Rules of Life: #05

Rule #5: Listen to your elders. Give them respect until they no longer deserve it and you don't have to give it to them.

Ugh. Not one of the better rules. It's wordy and clearly written after dealing with some elder person who spend their prime grinding dumbass points instead of actually learning anything worthwhile.

Instead of pretentiously meditating on this slow pitch Rule, can we talk about how great it is to blow off idiots who try to waste your time teaching you obvious shit, or their own facile world view? They're all, "What you gotta know about women--" and you can just get a cup of coffee and shuffle back to your room before they can even realize how little you care?

Like, they can't comprehend someone wouldn't give a shit about their speech even though they care so little about you as a person they don't even recognize you're 100% into this coffee and -7561% into their bullshit.

Yes, very aware of the irony.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The New Doctor Is gonna be a Badass,

and that's okay. 
Remember my first blogspot blog? At that time, I’d seen most of Series 1 of the new Doctor Who on the Sci-Fi channel. I liked it and accepted a lot of the campiness as an integral part of the series.

Anyway, then there was this new guy they wanted to be The Doctor. 

I hated him. He was nothing like The Doctor! All…handsome and fighting people. Mr. No-second-chances-I'm-that-sort-of-a-man.


I’m sorry; Doctor No-second-chances-I'm-that-sort-of-a-man.


But while the Ninth Doctor played by Chris Eccleston will always be my Doctor, his successor, David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, is my favorite. Perhaps even more than Nine, Ten bore the scars of The Last Great Time War, which appeals to me personally for a lot of reasons.

After that, we had Eleven and I didn’t like him either, but I knew that was an unfortunate side effect of having a good Doctor just prior. So I waited for Matt Smith’s Doctor to win me over and moment by moment, bit by bit, that didn't happen. There I was at the end of “The Time of The Doctor” waiting for the love to come even as The Doctor went.

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's the...ah crap I forget

It's the...mumu?

It's the...momo?

It's the...mudkips?

I got it, It's the Magic!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Onion's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" Review

My internet kung-fu is not strong enough to embed it, so here's the link, but it's golden.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Rules of Life: #04

Rule #4: The universe does not recognize the impetus of success.
"Past Performance is no indicator of future success."

"What have you done for me lately?" is our slient universes's favorite question. We like to think that past vicotries count for something. that our work accumulates. Builds to a climax or a final, cathartic win.

It doesn't really.

About 3 days without water, 3 hours without heat, or 3 minutes without air and it's all gone. Sure, you climb up the social ladder a way, but but you only get back a fraction of what you give up.

Whether it's cold physics or a fickle society, you're always tossing pieces of yourself down a hole to get back scraps.

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Rules of Life: #03

Rule #3 People believe what they want to believe

This is probably the first of the really important rules. I like one and two. I repeat them to myself a lot, but three is just painfully true.



It's not the roots, but more like the lower trunk of Western intellect that's rooted in a form of science implied by priests reasoning backwards to make the natural world "prove" the existence of their god. The Scientific Method is built on that foundation even as it tries in vain to move past it.




That's how we bill the thing that will radically alter our civilization.



The ability to dispossess ourselves of what we want and admit truths we do not is an important part of a human cultural change that is even centuries after The Englightenment, still struggling to take hold.



Generally though, I express Rule Three with a shrug and a sigh. Nothin' I can do to help those who can't handle truth.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tom Cruise: Career on the Edge of Tomorrow

So Edge of Tomorrow came out last week and I'd recommend seeing it. I probably won't get the chance, but you should.

In case you didn't know, Edge of Tomorrow is Groundhogs Day meets Starship Troopers. Groundhogs Day is one of the best movies made by a human and Starship Troopers is a campy, Verhoevensque action romp that's indisputably fun.

Those unquestionable facts aren't a hard sell on Edge of Tomorrow though. Tom Cruise is. Most people think of him Maverick. Fair enough. His dramatic roles from '86 to '96 are his most iconic. A glance back at the last fifteen years shows a different trend though: Tom Cruise is one of the most essential science fiction actor of our time. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Deep Space Dance with the Devil, Part 03

So I've been wanting to talk about the morality of Deep Space Nine for a while now. I'm finally launching into it, but before I get started, I wanted to take a few moments to establish some fundamentals of Star Trek morality. 

The thing about Star Trek is that right makes right. They run into so many primitive species is because we need to see that even though the crew of the Enterprise can do a thing, it does not necessarily follow that they must do that thing.

In fact, let us redefine that quote to clarify that just because we can do a thing, we desire to do that thing, and there are no consequences for doing that thing, it does not necessarily mean that we should do that thing. Principle is restraint in the absence of law and The Federation is a government of principle.

The reason we see so many omnipotent energy beings in Star Trek (Jesus Christ, someone tell me there were omnipotent energy beings in Star Trek: Enterprise.) is because they represent something that cannot be overcome by brute force. It's up to the intelligence and integrity of the crew to "overcome" them. They're sort of like the Mr. Mxyzptlk of Star Trek.

I mean, has anyone noticed that despite how angry he acts, most of Q's interactions with Picard are focused around pushing or revealing his integrity?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Rules of Life: #02

Rule #2 A fallen object cannot fall.

Have you ever taken a pen and instead of laying it on its side, stood it up on its end? I have. It's not terribly efficient. It usually ends up on its side somewhere else and you can't be sure in advance which one or where.

Energy suffuses every system. If it doesn't, it's not much of a system. If that energy can be released, you should be aware of where and how.

If your system is deenergized, you'd also want to know.

It applies to folks too. I mean, a person's life can always sink a little bit lower, but generally speaking, you can only fall so far. After a certain point, there's simply nothing left to lose, materially, physically, personally. There comes a point at which people and systems hit rock bottom.
 

There's a lot of space above that too, and it can be a long, hard fall.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Rules of Life: #01

The Rules of Life are something I've had since before I was at the Academy. I don't know when I started them or when I committed them to paper, but I do know that they've been a source of wisdom and amusement to me over many years.

I had originally thought I'd lost all copies of them, but when I was moving away from San Antonio I found some hard copies. It wasn't the full list I wrote in the inside of a textbook cover I gave to some friends over some long-forgotten leave, but it was rather comprehensive. I spent a few minutes in Los Angeles typing them up for posterity and I eventually sent the hard copies to a friend of mine.


I've always wanted to do a blog series on The Rules of Life--now, they're really more of guidelines, but marketing. No one's going to pay money for a blog series named "Some Guidelines of Life."


Rule #1: Plans relying on faith, luck, hope, and divine intervention aren't good plans.

You'll have to excuse me if most of these sound really obvious. Then again, it is alarming the number of plans that the average person will jump into, assuming that good fortune will carry them out.

I consider myself, despite everything else, to be a pretty lucky guy. That said, I tend to make plans that don't rely on what would be a plot contrivance in any other context to work.

Sure, I can take chances. I can even take calculated risks. Sometimes, the variables you need to shift around to preserve the rest of your operational parameters don't allow for absolute certainty. Those aren't good plans, but they're usually the best plans you have. Let their shittiness serve as proper inducement to explore other options before you proceed. At the very least, let it help you weight your planning for failure.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Deep Space Dance with the Devil, Part 02

So I've been wanting to talk about the morality of Deep Space Nine for a while now. I'm finally launching into it, but before I get started, I wanted to take a few moments to establish some fundamentals of Star Trek morality. This week I'm talking a little bit about Starfleet captains as moral exemplars. 

"Where Silence Has Lease" is a Next Generation episode where the Enterperise gets sucked into a whole in space run by a puppy-nosed omnipotent energy being who isn't Q.

He thinks killing a third of Picard's crew is a worthwhile scientific endeavor and Picard responds by activating the ship's self-destruct mechanism. Picard will kill everyone on board Enterprise just to save a third of the crew.


You see, for Picard none of his crew is expendable. Sure, Starfleet officers have to take risks and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, but for Captain Picard it's not a matter of treating lives like math problems. His attitude comes across as more an "assault on some is an assault on all" perspective.


And his crew backs him up. While Riker in particular is a bit hesitant, he agrees. Nagilum is forced to fabricate imaginary members of Picard's crew in a futile effort to dissuade him.


Remember in one of the good Troi episodes, "Night Terrors," the ship is caught in an anomaly of the week and no one can sleep? Folks start going crazy and plotting mutiny and Guinan is forced to lay down the law. In "Where Silence Has Lease," everyone gets it. No one on board tries to overthrow the captain, deactivate the auto-destruct, and take their sixty-seven percent chance.


Picard doesn't impose his decision to destroy the ship on his crew; he makes it on their behalf. That's a pretty big distinction.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

And the Deep Plays On

My internet access for now is spotty. My laptop has developed some (probably physical) problems I can't fix. I can't find funny YouTube videos. I can't alter images. I can't tumbl my tumblr (not that I have time). If all of my related skills haven't atrophied, I can prepare some simple texts posts and put them up when I have time.

I want to talk about Deep Space Nine. For those of you who have been paying attention, I've been thinking a lot about the morality of my favorite series named Star Trek. Mostly, it's the actions of Captain Benjamin Sisko, but there's a streak of cynicism in the series as a whole that I take some small issue with.

That will all come later. As with so many other things in life, definitions are important. Did you ever see City on the Edge of Forever? It's an Original Series episode where Kirk and Spock have to go back in time to fix some things that Doctor McCoy breaks in the near-future of the past.

The character of Edith Keeler is important. She's a pacifist who believes that--I can't really look up the exact quote these days--that one day all of the resources we currently dedicate to warfare and harming others will be used to feed, shelter, and care for others. She believes that humanity will get better in the future.

I submit that Star Trek believes that the good of mankind is a choice humankind makes; not the result of material surplus brought on by technology.

Kirk is proof of that. He and Spock arrive destitute in the past, but through hard work and education, they quickly make reputations for themselves.

I submit that the triumph of intellect, hard work, and sacrifice is a principle Star Trek is built on.

How about you guys?

Next time I'll try to talk a bit about how Starfleet captains exemplify the morality of Star Trek and how Star Trek believes in doing the right thing regardless of the circumstances (Where Silence Has Lease).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Morning

I guess it wouldn't surprise all of you to know I'm not returning to Louisiana. 

I'm leaving for a bit. I'm going to try something different. "Work a little harder work another way," as it were.

I don't anticipate being in contact much. I don't know if I'll be back.

I might be pretty hard to find, but I might not be. Either way, I'm not missing and please don't look for me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Jimmy and The Muppets

From Jimmy Fallon's last late-night show before taking over The Tonight Show.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Houma Movie Club, Phase 5

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't been updating a lot lately. My job situation is getting critical and I moved out here to Los Angeles for two weeks to see if I could fare any better than I was in San Antonio. Spoilers: I did not. 

Anyway, I've been trying to make the most of my time here (job-wise; trying not to get too much of this reverse Sarlacc Pit on me is something of a secondary goal) and I've been pretty twisted up, so there hasn't been much writing getting done.

Moving onto the business at hand. This week, the Houma Movie Club is back on our regular rules: no more than two of us have seen it, has to be on Netflix, and it can't have been released more than five years ago.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Houma Movie Club: C.H.U.D.


Not much to add. We're voting this week so I'll be putting up more about that (trailers, descriptions, etc.) on Wednesday.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The USS Merlin

Okay, so I happened across this thread. For those you who don't go to reddit ever, it's about the difference between the Trills introduced in The Next Generation episode, "The Host," and the Trills represented in all of Deep Space Nine.

In "The Host," Odan can't use transporters, The Federation doesn't know anything about his race, and the Trill wear standard, nose-based appliances. In Deep Space Nine, Dax uses transporters all the damned time, she negotiated the Khitomer Accords as a member of The Federation, and she's just a pretty human with spots.

Star Trek is full o' this shit:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Essential DS9: Season 4

You know I love Deep Space Nine. Not everyone has the time to invest in a new show, and DS9 has a rough introduction. To help some people get into it, I've compiled a list of five episodes from each season of Deep Space Nine that focus on essential stories and character moments of the series. I've also added a few supplemental episodes that are very good, but don't quite make the cut.

Way of the Warrior, Parts I & II (4x01): Hey, it's that Worf guy. Way of the Warrior is the first episode to get those big, epic fights DS9 becomes known for. The buildup to the fight and the fight itself at the end do a great job of keeping everyone busy, working characters, and keeping the action going. It is the best fight scene in Trek, hands-down. That title is sort of like winning a snail race, but it's still a win.

It's a repilot that clearly marks the point where the show hits its stride. This isn't a ratty, abandoned station with a crew that's trying not to kill each other. This isn't three runabouts, a commander, and two-dozen Starfleet officers thrown at a floating sprocket with a vague missive about "not fucking it up" that's faintly heard over the sound of an admiral's ship entering warp. This isn't those same officers bitching about being "in the middle of nowhere;" it's their home. 

This is Deep Space Nine, commanded by Captain Ben Sisko, home port of the USS Defiant, Gateway to The Celestial Temple, the quadrant's first line of defense against The Dominion, and an ass-kicking dispensary open 26/7, willing to serve Klingons, Cardassians, Jem'Hadar, Romulans, and Breen free of charge.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Houma Movie Club, License to Drive



Man, this was a rough one. We had some personnel problems and technical problems too.

It's all up from here though.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Force of eWaste

So, if you've been following along with us, you're probably aware of the jarring, random scene from Steven Seagal is The Force of Execution that served as inspiration for this.

Otherwise, I'm sorry.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Essential DS9: Season 3

You know I love Deep Space Nine. Not everyone has the time to invest in a new show, and DS9 has a rough introduction. To help some people get into it, I've compiled a list of five episodes from each season of Deep Space Nine that focus on essential stories and character moments of the series. I've also added a few supplemental episodes that are very good, but don't quite make the cut.

The Search, Part I (3x01): Meet Defiant, Starfleet's first warship. You'll have to watch the second part on your own time. ;)

Supplemental: Civil Defense (3x07): Just good times with DS9 itself and Dukat being Dukat. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Houma Movie Club: The Prophecy


The Prophecy's only crime was in not being great. At least expectations are low for License to Drive next week.

Friday, April 11, 2014

So a while back I wanted to run a Battletech Strategic Game. I set it in the "distant future" of 3087. The Battletech timeline has since moved on 31...something? I'm not in a blogging mood recently, but I did find some of my old fiction for it. Each piece covers a different faction. This one is a fiction piece about a commander in the expanded Clan Ghost Bear space.
 
2701st Regiment (Bloody Maw) Headquarters
Irece,
July 3086
            Unni Ghostbear adjusted the collar of his uniform, making sure the SLDF-style Colonel patch on his collar-immovably sewn-on was it was-- sat correctly. His chest, adorned with only his Galedon V campaign medal and his mechwarrior qualification medals paled in comparison to even some of the 2701st Lieutenants. He wasn't even technically qualified for the hot-drop that landed him in the Bloody Maw's frontlines two months ago. The Maw had reformed and repaired on Irece, and now, finally, stood at full strength again.
            Ghost Bear occupation had curtailed much of the paperwork which had plagued the Inner Sphere's military structure as well as the use of adjutants, which Unni suspected was much like having one's own personal lower casteman for lazy commanders. None the less, it was Merchant Ty who had done a bulk of the work necessary to adapt Unni into a unit filled with spheroids and second-rate freebirth warriors[1].
            "Colonel Unni?" Ty peered into the commander's office, "They're playing you on."
            Unni scowled, every inch the reluctant Clansman to outsiders, griping madly about ceremony, about formality, about an Inner Sphere unit, and an immediate lack of someone to shoot, kill, or destroy outright.
            His quarters adjoined his office, and he cut through there to the main corridor just inside of the admin building's main entrance. He walked calmly up to the platform, with a gait just too lively to make it a march. The band--a collection of loud brass instruments--played through the song for probably the tenth time, it was a generic military fanfare that was probably old when the Star League fell apart, and undoubtedly got less tolerable with every iteration.
            He mounted the steps and before him stood the entirely to the Ghost Bears 2701st Regiment, the Bloody Maw. Mechwarriors, vehicle crews, and infantry-basic and armored, were arrayed in orderly ranks before the stage. He approached the podium, and the tired music faded gracefully. No part of Clan warrior training taught warriors how to give speeches to a unit when you took command. It was not necessary, a new commander appeared, orders were given--
            He was a different warrior now, and he resolved to give the best address possible, regardless of however strange it may seem to him,. To adapt was the way of the Clans.
            "For gods sake," Ty had suggested when Unni had mentioned the oddness of it to him, "don't drone on. Believe it or not, a lot of you trueborns are in love with your own voices; just say something nice about the unit, outline some expectations, and don't talk about trueborn or freeborn, or even how you got here." Unni had nodded then, and nodded again as he adjusted the microphone.
            "I was impressed with what I saw on Galedon V, and with what I have seen since. You are warriors of Clan Ghost Bear; do not forget it."
            Without a further word, he turned and left the stage, hardly noticing the surprised faces of his Majors or the sound of his XO's improvised dismissal of the troops.

            Colonel Unni was satisfied; waiting in his office was a technician with a patch identifying him as a low-level worker in the Irece HPG facility[2] and a clearly-identifiable orders package marked with the insignia of the Khan.

---
1: There is a distinction made between between freebirth Clanners and spheroids within the Caste system. Freebirth Clanners tend to know their place.
2: It makes sense that within the Clans, there would be a clearly-identifiable structure to allow others to know their place. Seems like it would save time on trite introductions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Essential DS9: Season 2

You know I love Deep Space Nine. Not everyone has the time to invest in a new show, and DS9 has a rough introduction. To help some people get into it, I've compiled a list of five episodes from each season of Deep Space Nine that focus on essential stories and character moments of the series. I've also added a few supplemental episodes that are very good, but don't quite make the cut.

Necessary Evil (2x08): Necessary Evil looks back at the occupation and challenges the usually airtight relationship between Odo and Kira. It is 100% character and it positively sizzles.

Supplemental: Rules of Acquisition (2x18): You learn about Ferengi society, grand Negas Zek and The Dominion. A good Quark episode.
 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Battletech 3087: Dragoons Pact Turn 1

New Earth
January, 3087
Connor McArty grinned. He wasn't going to win this battle, but he'd qualified almost six times over. Black Hand had seen a bit of action, just enough to get him into the thick of things and drop a Crescent Hawk Mateaus and one of two Fleas painted in ComStar colors. Unlike the commander of the similarly-painted Daishi in a ravine to the north, he preferred his command unit to play the back of the field; mobile and capable of leaping on any opportunity that presented itself instead of wading into the middle of battle.
Of course, the Daishi's plan had worked. The Dragoon command platoon had broken down into lances; one supported the pressed forces to the north while the other, faster, two circled around (McArty's lance to the west, Major Kim's to the east) to press the opfor flanks with hit and run attacks. With any luck, their forward elements would break off to regroup when surrounded. McArty couldn't make a win with it, but if he could slow them down, most of his company could avoid (simulated) destruction and escape.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Essential DS9: Season 1

You know I love Deep Space Nine. Not everyone has the time to invest in a new show, and DS9 has a rough introduction. To help some people get into it, I've compiled a list of five episodes from each season of Deep Space Nine that focus on essential stories and character moments of the series. I've also added a few supplemental episodes that are very good, but don't quite make the cut.

The Emissary (1x01): This is the pilot and introduces the larger conflicts and characters of the series.

A Man Alone (1x04): This episode explores Odo and his place in society. In addition, it marks the beginning of Keiko's school and the friendship of Jake and Nog, one of the series' most important friendships. 1x03, Past Prologue, is really great too, but there are better Kira episodes.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Houma Movie Club: Stand Up Guys



So Houma Movie Club happened this weekend. Stand Up Guys was really good. My final estimation for this round is:
1) Cabin in The Woods
2) Stand Up Guys
3) Europa Report
4) Stephen Seagal is the Force of Execution

Anyway, our viewing order for the next round:
1) Hellraiser
2) The Prophecy
3) License to Drive
4) Planet of the Apes
5) C.H.U.D.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Battletech 3087, The New Year: Dragoons Pact

So a while back I wanted to run a Battletech Strategic Game. I set it in the "distant future" of 3087. The Battletech timeline has since moved on 31...something? I'm not in a blogging mood recently, but I did find some of my old fiction for it. Each piece covers a different faction. This one is a news clip giving an overview of The Dragoons Pact, a mercenary nation-state that sits around Terra.

Harlech, Outreach, Dragoons Pact
            While other parts of the Inner Sphere and Terra have already celebrated the New Year, on Outreach, the party is just beginning. However, the proud parade of battlemechs and the procession of war heroes, government leaders, and celebrities are not the most remarkable New Year’s events here.
            On Outreach, every holiday sees Harlech’s main boulevard, Outreach Avenue, shut down, and the bustling traffic replaced with peaceful, but passionate protestors.
            The city’s 3072 redesign, one of the first public acts of the Dragoons Pact, saw government buildings with no discrete side or rear entrances, no private garages, and no rooftop helicopter pads, all fixtures of modern government architecture--even reported Clan designs built on a central structure of classical stonework. On days like this, constabularies form the only barrier between protestors and government officials making their way to and from their offices.
            Protestors in the capitol city, and across the Dragoons Pact, speak out against a variety of causes: the mercenary work performed by the Pact, the prominence of the war industry, official policies on the prohibition of technology exports, the blockade of Terra, and both excessive and anemic expenditures on public assistance programs, depending on who you ask. Others still lobby for aggressive action against what they see as totalitarian or chaotic states; the Mercenaries Alliance, the Jade Falcons, the Federated Hellfire Territories, or the Capellan Confederation, though it is hard to find a nation that isn’t the target of at least one protestor.
            While other states and pundits scoff at security issues, citing the 3073 assassination attempt against New Earth proxy Chase Fe, rigorous security measures, friendly and omnipresent constabularies, growing national pride, and above all else, trust between the citizens of the Dragoons Pact and their government, have kept major incidents of violence from erupting.