Saturday, January 14, 2017

Watching the Watchers: Wars vs. Trek, the Getting Too Real Edition

Manu Saadia writing for "The New Yorker" gives some thought to the implications of Peter Thiel's choice in the Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate. Given the primacy of the entrepreneur in certain areas of business and society, it makes for an interesting illustration of values.

Thiel's full quote on the matter from the "New York Times" is, "I like “Star Wars” way better. I’m a capitalist. “Star Wars” is the capitalist show. “Star Trek” is the communist one. There is no money in “Star Trek” because you just have the transporter machine that can make anything you need. The whole plot of “Star Wars” starts with Han Solo having this debt that he owes and so the plot in “Star Wars” is driven by money."

As a final aside, I'll head off a nerdy dismissal by anyone who says he doesn't know what he's talking about because he confused the replicator and the transporter with the even more nerdy note that the replicator was based on transporter technology.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Today's lesson in the internet and computer programming: I was perusing garfield minus garfield (a thing to see if you haven't), and had a lark to see what the original corresponding strip was. So I go to the garfield web site. It want's me to verify my age. To read blinking garfield. So naturally, I selected 1/1 and the year at the bottom of the drop down list, which was 1908. The site comes back with "the year must be at least 1917". Ctrl-F4

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The U.S. of Death Race 2050

The red band trailer (nsfw) for the new Rodger Corman movie Death Race 2050 has some wonderfully over the top hints at the state of the U.S. in it's twisted timeline. For starters, it's now known as the United Corporations of America and the stars on the flag have been replaced with dollar signs. The east coast is Onepercentia, the south Pharmatopia, the rust belt Upper Carcinogena, the southern border is Gasarcana and El Avion, The upper midwest is the Call Center Territories and Caucasia, the desert is the AmaZone. And the west coast is split into the Digital Zone and Guugleplex. Smaller annotations on the map (cities?) include Zukerville, Data Mines, General Utilities, Merchandiseland, Deadtroit, and New Jerusalem.

It's a nice reminder that not every dystopia in entertainment is a dark and serious thing, they have a long history of being campy too. And the most ironic apocalypses are the ones we make for ourselves.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Bookworming: 2016 Summary

Bolstered by some shorter reads, my total for the year stands at twenty. No fives or ones this year, but the only non-fiction title I read managed a four. What I didn't list are a bunch of game books which I don't rate because I don't currently have a group to try them out with. So it has been the best reading year since the start of the bookworming category.

My rating scale:
* I didn't care for it.
** Meh
*** Good for those who like that sort of thing.
**** Just plain good, likely to be read again some time.
***** Destined to be a personal favorite, likely to be read over and over again.


Locke & Key Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez
Locke & Key Vol. 5: Clockworks, Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez
Locke & Key Vol. 6: Alpha & Omega, Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain
The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
Virtual Light, William Gibson
The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Brandon Sanderson

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
Dark Force Rising, Timothy Zahn
An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir
Envy of Angels, Matt Wallace
The Island of Dr. Moreau, H. G. Wells
Farwell My Lovely, Raymond Chandler
The Last Command, Timothy Zahn
Wytches Vol. 1, Scott Snyder, Jock, Matt Hollingsworth, Clem Robbins

The Aeronaut's Windlass, Jim Butcher
East of West Vol. 1 The Promise, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, and Frank Martin
East of West Vol. 2: We Are All One, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, and Frank Martin
Specter of the Past, Timothy Zahn
Spook Country, William Gibson


Bookworming: Specter of the Past

Specter of the Past, Timothy Zahn, **
The first in a two-book follow up to the Thrawn trilogy, Specter of the Past makes many of the same mistakes the Lucas prequels did when compared to its parent trilogy. It has relatively uninteresting villains, and the primary movers are politics and some deus ex Force. It is steeped in the continuity of the Expanded Universe, which is jarring for someone not familiar with it. Also unlike the Thrawn trilogy, this book does not have a self-contained conclusion. It is entirely setup for the next book. While the writing itself is as good as you would expect from Zahn, the book commits the cardinal sin of not resolving anything it sets up.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Renewables Rising

Solar and wind power together surpassed all other forms of power generation for new installations last year, according to the International Energy Agency.

Google announces they will be powered solely by renewable sources by the end of next year.

Over 50% of Sweden's energy comes from renewable sources, and Costa Rica is up to 99%.

Solar City promotes glass roofing shingles with embedded solar cells saying, "Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and  by the way  generates electricity?" If those promises hold, they have the potential to make a real impact.

So while the energy politics of this country are regressing to the previous century, the world at large and technology at home are relatively quietly seeing some real movement on the power generation front.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

State of the 'Blog 2016

Another year's end comes rushing toward us. My blog output continues to shrink year-over-year, and the content itself would make it appear to have turned into a book review site. The demands of work and life continue to constrict my output for several reasons. The state of the news has made it either uninteresting or depressing to try and pluck out things of interest. It's not that they aren't still there, it's just that I spend less and less active attention on it. The same is true of programming and amateur art, in spite of my best intentions. The relative ease of social media, and the corresponding lack of interoperability, absorbs many of the quick-link posts that I used to store here. Even the book reviews are more accessible over on Goodreads. And yet, I remain as unwilling to give up this spot as I am to put more work into it. And without me paying much attention I have surpassed the 1000 post mark. I do not really see things changing much next year, but you never see the big changes coming, so who knows. Safe journeys until we meet again.