Friday, February 28, 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sadly, the sign on the Godzilla busting nuke in the latest trailer is very believable

Unless you were living under a rock yesterday, you saw the second Godzilla trailer launch online and then deluge the entire internet with speculation over new monsters by kaiju-crazed nerds (raises hand). The one thing that stuck in my craw though was this screen cap of a Godzilla-busting nuke. Yes, that's a sticker on it that basically says "this is to kill Godzilla."

Folks we live in a world where peanut butter has a label on it that says "this product was made in a factory that handles peanuts." And yes, we live in a world where "hot coffee" has a product warning on it saying that "contents may be very hot." So is it really a stretch to imagine a world with a Godzilla running around in it where weapons like the one above, might draw some confusion by those using it?

Just imagine the dialogue:

Beffudled American: "Are we supposed to hit ourselves with this, captain?"

Answer: "No, you need to aim it at the enormous creature knocking over the Golden Gate bridge."

Beffuddled American scratches head and says, "Oh. Okay."

One could say it's "tongue in cheek" but with the U.S. ranking 30 globally for students in mathematics, 23 in science, and 19 in reading I can't really argue with this. Sadly, the sign on the Godzilla busting nuke in the trailer is very believable.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Claimed episode of the Walking Dead dropped the one carrot I really want but can I trust it

Has this guy figured out the apocalypse? He did say he's a lot smarter than
his friend Abraham Ford. I guess we'll see.
Of course last night's Walking Dead was excellent. And added to the joy of watching all the shows that I love is the fact that the Nielsen's are paying me to keep a television diary for one week! Squee! Seriously, the Nielsen ratings should just always consult me on what's great and what ain't. But there is something gnawing away at me, and it primarily concerns the "claim" that Eugene (who is a scientist) somehow knows what started the zombie apocalypse.

So can the show actually survive this kind of revelation? I mean, IF the show goes there (and keep in mind that this is what I called a big "IF") will the explanation actually be satisfying? If it's a disease, well we've been there done that. If it's some other thing like the tail of a comet that came close to the Earth and bathed it in weird radiation or a religious explanation like "when there's no more room in Hell the dead shall walk the earth" will we like that answer?

I don't think I will. So the other thing that occurs to me is that this "carrot" that they are dangling in front of me is just a red herring. That something will happen to Eugene just prior to him opening his mouth seems like the most likely scenario. Hmm. Honestly, this show has gone a lot further than I ever thought possible with zombies, and it keeps surprising me at every turn. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next. But this "claim" by Eugene? I'm not sure I can trust it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Does America have a cultural identity problem?

The new Godzilla poster that came out this week makes Godzilla look bigger than I have ever seen him. The tallest skyscraper in the shot barely comes up to his elbow. It makes me ask a couple of questions. The first (and most obvious one) is: Does this poster intentionally mislead its intended audience? I mean, the previous Matthew Broderick incarnation also had a huge Godzilla foot superimposed with cars and that movie's catch phrase was "Size does matter." So everyone that's been making Godzilla movies agrees that at least "size matters" for this particular kaiju film and that "bigger is better." And the 1976 King Kong had Kong so huge he was straddling the World Trade Center while holding a jet fighter. But we all know that Kong was never that big (not to mention that there wasn't a jet fighter getting caught).

The other question that pops up in my mind (again related to size and importance) is this: do Americans suffer from a cultural identitity problem? The gargantuan prominence of "Godzilla" (Japanese icon) in a clearly American city such as San Francisco makes me truly realize how much we borrow from other cultures to create our own kind of absurd take on things.

Let's just take a jaunt around the web to other bloggers (who are American) and see what we find. At Matthew MacNish's place abbreviated the QQQE we discover that Matthew identifies with all things Japanese. If we go over to L.G. Smith's blog, it's the British Isles. I am reminded of the time when Mitt Romney (as the Republican presidential challenger" said, "We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage" and hinted that he'd like to restore a bust of Sir Winston Churchill to the White House (when no restoration is needed because it's still there).

And then we have Katy Perry's new video.
It's tacky, cheesy, and I still love it. We've got the twinkies pyramid, a tattoo-inspired Isis at the end, neon and smurf-colored Egyptians, and it all screams "Bitch, we're fabulous" in volumes. Seriously, you should watch this video.

I guess my point, which really was started by staring at the Godzilla poster, is this: What is American exactly? I have trouble pointing out a distinctly American style because it all seems to be borrowed from something else. On Squawk Box yesterday on CNBC (I watch it in the morning because it has the best stock market news) one of the announcers said that Ralph Lauren is a distinctly American brand. Okay, so does that mean Polo shirts and all things Ralph Lauren are what Americans are supposed to look like?

Or is Ralph Lauren borrowing its fashion designs from some other culture?

When I travel to the southwest, I see a "style" of building that seems to have a very strong Spanish theme to it. When I look at our government buildings, I think "Greek." I mean, our capitol does have a resemblance to the Parthenon in Athens. Louisiana is of course very French. And Las Vegas is well, such a hot mess that it defies description.

Maybe Google's home page is the most uniquely American thing ever. It just says what it is in color and then is surrounded by a blank page. Maybe that's what America is: a blank page. And anyone can color it to be exactly what you want, which is arguably the most fabulous thing ever, but kind of boring too.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Okay so Almost Human is finally getting my attention

A hacker for hire by the name of "Nico" that got arrested in "Almost Human."
This guy was an interesting character. However, I thought the portrayal of
hackers in last night's episode was laughable with eyeliner, light rods straight
out of an early 90's rave, and a good portion of them actually looked hot.
Come on, I know some hackers and they have acne and are out of shape.
Okay, so I'm going to admit now that Almost Human is finally getting my attention. When I first started watching this show, I was surprised at how boring some of the episodes ended up being. But now, things are starting to gel and I like it. Monday night's episode had to do with Smart Home technology, and this is what I do for a living. I have to admit, I never went down the road where Smart Homes could end up killing people, but I suppose it could happen in the absurdly high-tech future.

What I install for a living are environmental controls for people who can't move (quadriplegics). Imagine controlling the thermostat, the television, the satellite, all your lights, cameras, fan, radio, and basically anything electronic with the sound of your voice. Well that technology is right here, right now. I make it possible for someone to look at a camera, see who's at the door, and then open the door from the bedroom to let them in. But all of this is done through Insteon, X-10, and infrared technologies. It doesn't involve a personal hologram that stands in your living room and communicates with you like a human being and has its own artificial intelligence to provide you with all the security and environmental control that you could ever desire.

I suppose that's the next step, right?

In "Disrupt" (the episode that aired Monday night), Almost Human imagined that next step and then took it to the dark side by posing the question: What if a hacker who hates you killed you with your own house?

Right now, the technologies to do this kind of anonymous murder don't exist. I don't even think they exist in Bill Gates' house. But who knows, it could be a different story twenty years from now. Maybe we will have houses that are so hermetically sealed that they can have all of the oxygen sucked out of them to put out, say, a fire. A hacker (as the one in the show) just makes it so the house doesn't see anyone living in the house before doing this and voila, asphyxiation by vacuum while standing at the dish washer.

I found particularly horrific the death of the woman that got trapped under the pool cover while swimming. This pool cover was made of some kind of unbreakable plastic. It didn't even crack when the husband pounded on it with what looked like a fire extinguisher. The Smart Home just covered her up with the transparent top while she was swimming and she didn't even notice it was happening. How awful, right?

Now don't get me wrong. I haven't become a raving fanboy of Almost Human overnight, but I am intrigued. I want to see what's over the Wall (Dorian's creator fled there at the end of one episode). The existence of the Chromes has raised all kinds of ethical questions in my mind (which has been good for tabletop discussion). And the world development has finally reached a point where I get it and am starting to care for some of the characters. So yeah, I'm actually starting to hope it might be renewed. It's still no Sleepy Hollow though. That show just knocked everything out of the park.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A lightning bolt to the top of the world's tallest building reminds us how cool it is when heaven and earth collide in violence

Click to EMBIGGEN!
Photographer Michael Shainblum named this picture "Tesla Tower" and said he stood out in the rain four hours trying to get it. I'd say, "well done." It's the most spectacular picture of this kind I've ever seen. I guess a lightning bolt to the top of the world's tallest building reminds us how cool it is when heaven and earth collide in violence.

May lightning strike for you too this Valentine's day. I'll be back next Wednesday as Monday is a holiday.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

If I were in charge of Hollywood, every one of Hickman and Weis' books would be made into a movie

I have never met Tracy Hickman or Margaret Weis, but I've read the trilogy that kicked off Dragonlance and then the whole War of the Twins plotline. I've also read the trilogy that includes Rose of the Prophet. Based off this alone, I'd turn all of their stories into a movie. Io9 got me thinking about this with their article published yesterday (READ IT HERE), and I agree with most everything that's been said regarding Dragonlance. 

But I guess I'm not in charge of anything. However, I can add my voice to the silent multitude that asks, "How can you not look at this painting of Takhisis and Raistlin and not think OMG THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER!!??"

Seriously Hollywood, stop making Vampire Academy movies and give us fantasy lovers out here what we really desire: a story much different than "The Lord of the Rings" that's part of the fantasy zeitgeist. We will shower you with greenbacks if you do.

At least I will. I cannot speak with regard to my readers out there.

Have a great Wednesday.

And isn't that picture just the most awesome thing ever? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Michonne finally gets her episode and it was incredible

Now that the season has started again, who is going to survive the fall of the prison?
Last night's Walking Dead episode called "After" took us into Michonne's mind, and I absolutely loved it. It's been a couple of months since the mid-season finale, and we knew that life wasn't going to be the same following the destruction of the safe haven that was "the prison" at the hands of "The Governor" and his new lackeys. But I had no idea they were going to give us what the show probably needed most right now through the eyes of a brilliant character like Michonne.
Michonne having to revert to her most basic form of surviving the world of
zombies is a fate and a road she never wanted to walk again. The weight and
emotion of her having to make these tough choices really struck a chord
with me and I sympathized so much with her. I'm glad she made the most
courageous choice by accepting her vulnerability and drawing strength from it.
Michonne for me is the touchstone for the entire concept of humanity in a world full of zombies and the survivors (who you may not be able to trust). She is so incredibly scarred (post traumatic stress disorder comes to mind) but somehow finds the strength to still remain human. In one of the best scenes in the episode, she looks around at the other zombies in a herd she's traveling with and you can see that she's choosing not to be one of them (which she is in a real danger of becoming because of her state of mind). That's when she whips out her sword and starts killing them by the dozen. And when it's over, she screams, returns to the tracks in the mud that she found, and tracks down the people that she'd grown to care about.
This is more than just Carl leading zombies. It's Carl proving to himself that he
can survive this world without anyone's help. But what does that prove in the end
other than "You're alone."
I loved that the Walking Dead also gave us a glimpse of her past. We got to meet Mike (her boyfriend) and his best friend who were seated at the breakfast table. And we even saw their little boy, and it brings to mind the question of "what happened to him?" I suppose not knowing his fate is preferable to actually seeing a child grow to adulthood in this world. We're seeing that in Carl, who said to his unconscious dad, "I would be okay if you died." Sure, there's some father/teenager angst going on there. But the coldness in which Carl utters it sent chills down my spine because it means he truly views himself as being alone in this world (with no one to count on), and he's okay with that.

Apathy, not caring, and loneliness are the things that make people into zombies, not whatever the disease is that actually causes the plague. In this episode both Carl and Michonne manage to wrestle and overcome those demons and show us that humanity is worth fighting for. "After" was probably the best episode of the season. Did any of you get to watch it? If so, what did you think?

Also, I'm kind of glad we are away from the prison. That was starting to get old. Huzzah for the return of The Walking Dead!

Friday, February 7, 2014

I wish people in the United States supported art more so that artists didn't have to go to companies like Wizards of the Coast to survive

The latest Magic: the Gathering expansion called "Born of the Gods" is set to be released soon, and as usual I'm seeing art that really doesn't belong on cards. These panels that I've picked out deserve better treatment. But people in the United States don't support art very well, and people with non-science degrees and majors are often treated like their discipline is a penny stock. Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments below.

As usual, click to EMBIGGEN :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Confidence is silent.

It needed to be said. 

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Read about it HERE and have a great Wednesday.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Would you rather own Facebook or Disney in its entirety?

It's possible that I will never truly understand people. What seems like a logical choice to me is illogical to other people. What seems to be a "clear cut case" is in fact severely obfuscated. Take for example Facebook. It's a free social network that allows people to argue politics and play Candy Crush and join the ranks of "humble braggers" who post only the best parts of their lives for others to view so as to make others think that their lives are worthy of celebrity.

Well just last week, Facebook reached a market cap so huge that if liquid, the fortune that is Facebook could buy both Boeing and Eli Lilly and have money left over. Boeing is an aerospace giant that makes commercial and military aircraft that entire nations cannot live without. Eli Lilly is an American global pharmaceutical that goes a long way to combating diabetes with its drugs. So how is it possible that a social network (which I deem rather useless if you must know) is worth more than these companies combined based upon ad revenue?

And as of the close of the market on Friday, Facebook could buy Disney in its entirety. I asked a friend this question: If you could choose a company to own completely, would you own Disney or would you own Facebook? His response: Disney by far.

Disney now owns Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Marvel, and Pixar (not to mention its huge and very fun theme parks).

Hands down, I'd want to own Disney over Facebook too. I actually loathe logging onto Facebook. However, you can bet that I'd love to go to Disney World and then post all my pics to Facebook. Afterall, isn't that what Facebook is for?

I guess I'll never understand why people put such value in Facebook. Maybe that's why I'm not rich. I just find it all mildly frustrating because I don't think Facebook deserves its market valuation. It's entire product is smoke and mirrors. Ah well. /shmuck out