Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Larry’s Got Charm

One of the funniest lines I’ve heard in a video game.

The Epistemology of Large-Scale Distances

Astronomical distances are unfathomable—literally, inconceivable—so much so that we need ultra-instrumentation to calculate them, which in turn dump their data streams into analog displays for these distances can be “visualized.” Imagine yourself traveling through space. Scary, isn’t it? There’s a reason why some of the more accurate depictions of life in space in science fiction media have the protagonist going a little bit crazy…or anything going crazy. Something has to get its wires crossed. Insanity is imbued with the rebellious act of exo-propulsion, away from Earth. But this protag…he has no sense of movement at all, but the instruments of travel constantly blinking their garbage at him are telling him the current events are just the opposite. How can he cope with the discrepancy between his sense of inertia and parallax, and the intake of math? Either by going into cryo-sleep until the destination is reached, or by killing the rest of the crew members in increasingly gruesome ways. Or by getting killed. I can’t see how a creature with biomechanical firmware oriented towards coping with horizon distances at the most, could end up any other way.

The Earth’s Poles Shifted and All You Read Was This Blog Post

“Doesn’t anyone have any more missiles!?”

Nibiru is the real, cosmic, deal. I know this because all of the theories of Internet-connected folks concerning its arrival into the Milky Way don’t posit the planet crashing directly into Earth like two perfect billiard balls. If it was contrived it would be aiming straight into us, right at our equatorial center, Hollywood-style, with only a cockamamie plan from Bruce Willis or Bill Pullman to stop it. Instead, it’s going to just kinda boomerang over and back near Earth’s orbit. Besides the obvious geo-ecological disaster of the shifting poles, the other disasters: 90% of all the land mass being relentlessly sloshed by monstrous tsunamis and tidal waves, most everyone’s death, and Garrison Keillor continuing to do musical tours, unharmed. Maybe a McDonald’s in Kiev will survive as the only modern-age relic. But, cosmically, it’s not even a fart in space. A positive result of all of this will be that not only the raw number of conspiracy theories we’ll have to deal with will be cut down dramatically, but the rate of conspiracy theories will be reduced to something like 2 theories per 1 thousand people. And they’ll be obvious falsehoods, on first blush, because there’s no civilization, at first, to really give it fuel; the theories will just die on the vine, and maybe the actual theorists will, too. When the Quest for Food™ returns, it’ll be hard to scrounge up yhe mental energy requires to speculate about grassy knolls and equilateral triangles with an eye inside them. There’s another good reason for the favorable lack of conspiracy theorists: most of the ones who survive are the ones who believe this Nibiru nonsense and took preparations for its arrival, and it technically won’t be a conspiracy theory because it actually happened.

One Weird Trick for a Worship Band to Make Their Album Go Platinum

Plenty of metal band releases nowadays feature a track, usually in the middle or at the end, that’s a little quieter or more contemplative, probably to break the sonic elephant-gun onslaught of everything else you’re hearing/have heard. If the metal band is Christian, this track is the time to let listeners know you are, in fact, a Christian band by allowing it to become something of a worship song, or at least a song that mentions Jesus. Bonus points if you got some Psalm verses for maximum effect and have one of those borderline funk-slap acoustic guitar intros.

But once, just once, I’d like to see the inverse happen. You’re a squeaky-clean, modern rock worship band, complete with Nashville-studio solid production, and you put a disgusting, minute-long grindcore track in the middle of your latest release. Make sure it has really questionable early-nineties production values where the guitars are just a little too tinny, and make sure the lyrics are about something mundane, like emptying the dishwasher or buying new shoelaces. It kinda doesn’t matter because no one will understand them; the vocals can be gurgled out at random and lyrics written later to match the rhythm, for the liner notes*. You may use a drum machine because your drummer has no idea how to play blastbeats and will have to sell his soul to Satan to learn how.

If not grindcore, because grindcore dudes have no idea how to play their instruments well, you may insert some Covenant-era Morbid Angel death metal. But that’s as accessible as you may go. We’re not trying to sell albums here, really, with this, and the rest of the music on your album is the very definition of squeaky-clean accessible. But this special track is going to be the ne plus ultra of artistic statements, one that would make baby Jesus giggle and clear His colic.

No Nashville A&R rep in a worth his best blazer would ever go for this idea, so this release would have to be independently-funded. But you’d get my admiration, and that may be worth more to you than recouping your advance and getting to pay your phone bill for this month.

* As an option, this grindcore track can still be a worship song. Someone, definitely not me, may suggest that you go the pornogrind route and lift some Song of Solomon verses for the lyrics. You did not read that here.

The Epistemology of Orientation in Space

There’s this video, and then there’s comments I’ve read all over that go something like this:
1) “So weird to see the Death Star upside down,” or something equally as innocent and merely observational. And someone replies with:
2) “you idiot theres no upside down in space its all relative you probably like the prequels and also Hitler”

The second part of that response—not the prequel/Hitler part, about upside-down being relative—is correct, but its relativity not particular to space, or any three-dimensional context. “Upside-down” is relative to any perspective, since it’s based on the perceiver, or a group of perceivers. We refer to someone standing on their head as “upside-down” because the default “down” direction is towards the ground, and “up” is away from the ground. Nearly everyone won’t experience “up” and “down” in any other context since most of us won’t leave Earth, and I imagine any astronaut who has left would still use Earth (or any planet) as reference point. He would refer to his return voyage as going back “down” to it.

So the Death Star really is “upside-down” because, prior to Rogue One, all we’ve seen of it, is its opposite orientation. The “upside-down” designation is an a posteriori instinctual reaction to something that doesn’t “seem quite right,” kind of like when a commenter throws Hitler into a discussion that has nothing to do with the guy or what his opinions are of the prequels.

The Meaning of the Canary in Arrival

The canary represented Arrival‘s Louise Banks and forshadowed both her ability to communicate with the heptapods and forsee the future—just as canaries were used in coal mines to “predict and communicate” death for humans in mineshafts if the air toxins rose to lethal levels.

The canary was a purely narrative device, and not there to be taken literally. It was explicitly mentioned that no toxins inside the shell had been detected, the atmosphere inside the shell was constantly monitored, and everyone was already well-protected. In practical use, the canary is redundant and probably an extraneous risk in that situation. Most explanations you’ll read about the canary get this wrong as they only refer to the its presence as a practical measure.

Director Denis Villeuve purposely wanted us to notice the canary, since there were multiple visual shots of its cage and numerous times when its repeated chirping was high in the audio mix. Notice, too, that in Louise’s visions, her and Ian’s daughter had drawn a picture of her parents with a caged canary for the “my parents talk to animals” school assignment.

Secondarily, the canary is used to throw the viewers off a bit as Arrival is a “first contact” film. We expect the canary to die through contact with the aliens, but it doesn’t, signaling the benevolent intent of the heptapods.

My GitHub Projects

I have four project repositories up on my GitHub account. Check them here. They are unexciting to non-software engineer types, aside from the statesGame one, and even then there’s not a huge, sexy “wow” factor. I put them up because I realized I have hardly any Javascript-heavy examples of anything I’ve done out there, and if there’s anything the Internet needs more of, it’s people talking about how to make more of the Internet.

A Non-PDF Restaurant Menu

I went to a gastropub restaurant called The Yard last night. But before I went The Yard, I went to The Website, AKA: The Yard’s website. And, God bless them, they have their full menu in glorious, responsive HTML format—no PDF funny business in sight.

As a UX bonus, the first thing on their front page is a “make a reservation” form, just below the restaurant concept declaration—nothing useless like the history of the owners or a picture of a giraffe skateboarding over an erupting volcano, the latter of which is very cool but still: useless.

For those wondering, I had a Dr. Dobak grilled cheese on gluten-free bread. I would kill a distant acquaintance to eat one again. Or contract one of those lethal zombie-bacterias that the news is always trying to get us to stress out about, that only seem to infect barefoot Mexican kids who sleep inside pig carcasses. If the news was anything relevant to its viewership they’d just report on the weather and any new laws or taxes. That’s about it. News as it is now is just empathy-entertainment, designed to stimulate the dopamine centers in your brain. You literally become a stupid drug addict if you watch too much of it. This is not an idea or a theory, but very well understood and very deliberate in the industry. I know because it was drilled into me as a communications major, with a TV/radio concentration. Stop watching the news.

Deus Ex Machina Relinquit

“You wanna make a baby?”
“Yes. Yeah.”

It’s not prurient or gratuitous dialogue in Arrival; it’s practically the linchpin for the protagonist’s arc.

It may even be the first movie I’ve seen where the “god” vanishes for no seeming reason, instead of arriving at the last minute for the resolution.

Stare at This Animated World Map for an Hour

What sub-Saharan jungle spirit possesses an Internet-accessing person to organize and produce a video like this? Maybe the same spirit that inhabits people who would sit and watch it? Asking for a friend.