Monthly Archives: March 2017

En Sabah Nur

“Always the same, and now all this. No more stones. No more spears. No more slings. No more swords. No more weapons! No more systems! No more superpowers. You can fire your arrows from the Tower of Babel, but you can never strike God!”

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Two and a Half App Ideas

Gamification of Safe Driving
Gamify car dashboards, or an app itself on your phone, that rewards safe and efficient driving, accompanied by a small social media framework. There can be badges for keeping your vehicle on its eco-efficiency setting, days without a ticket or accident, for not speeding up or braking suddenly, for taking more fuel-efficient routes, for marking out speed traps, etc.. The Waze app performs some of these functions already.

Speed Tracker
Saves a record of your speed and GPS coordinates for, say, an entire trip, which can be kept or discarded afterward, to be used to protest speeding tickets…or get out of them completely. There will probably be no support from policing or court bureaucracies, since speeding tickets, etc., are money-making schemes and have nothing to do with maintaining traffic safety.

Ending Traffic Light Stupidity
Not really an app idea but really just stating a desire to overhaul the system. Traffic like software seems over-engineered; I know this because a green light will turn red when there’s no presence of any cross-traffic. There’s probably a simpler way, but that probably has more to do with regulatory factors than effective traffic control.

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Larry’s Got Charm

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

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Attn: Restaurants That Serve Breakfast, Please Take Seriously and Enjoy this Unreasonable Rant

tl;dr – I don’t want bread

Stop with all the sandwiches for breakfast. Not everything has to be in sandwich form; you’re not leaving some moral culinary duty unfilled if you don’t serve sandwiches all the time. If you really must have sandwiches on the menu, the very least you can do is offer normal platter items, or an a la carte option so I don’t have to feel like such a dick in public when I have to say out loud “CAN YOU PLEASE HOLD THE BREAD? I’M NOT GLUTEN SENSITIVE I’M JUST ONE OF THOSE JERKS WHO’S INTO LETTING EVERYONE HERE KNOW THAT I DON’T WANT A GRAIN RIGHT NOW K?” Poor Chinese orphans have mobile phones with the power to make a random person fart on the other side of the world, but you can’t put one breakfast item on your menu that doesn’t have dry, tasteless sponge-slabs on it? Save sandwiches for lunch, like a true American establishment in the post-Quest For Food™ years—especially you, that one independent deli near work that has no excuse for not taking my special snowflake requests. I’m about to tie my colon into some Boy Scout knot so that whenever I eat your bleached enriched inflammatory white flour slices of conveyor belt gluten that you have forced upon me, you’ll have to deal with the projectile linguine-blast of regrettable disgust that comes out of me.

PS – Vegans and vegetarians constitute 0.000000000120001% of your customer base. They don’t need specific menu items. Make them feel like the special snowflakes, not me.

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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.

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Third Person Dreams Means I Have Disassociative Issues

They forced him into a blind date, claiming that her fetish for chefs would warm her to him. She was described as a Kirsten Dunst lookalike, which in his mental filters was synonymous with “looks like Kirsten Dunst plus 50 lbs,” or “looks like Kirsten Dunst with severe exotropia,” or “looks like Kirsten Dunst with paraplegia.” As a group they went to the restaurant. She came in and he moved his jacket so she could sit next to him on the bench seat. Instead she sat one person over and put her coat and purse right where his jacket was. She ignored him and immediately began speaking intermediate French excitedly to the girl across from her. He immediately thought her a bitch—actually visualizing the writing of the word on the insides of his skull—but his distaste wore off some as the night continued. She was cute but not excessively so: not so much that she’d have astronomically high expectations from being handed the best of everything since birth, but not so little that she’d be obstructively self-deprecating and self-focused. Didn’t look at all like Kirsten Dunst from any of her movies. She never talked about her boring job and she looked sympathetic enough to find slapstick baseball bats to male crotches unfunny. His steak was average. They all went across the street to see Rent and he fell asleep. It was a half of a blind date, that half-commitment shared in varying degrees by the both of them. He went home and cooked a burger for himself before bed to make something about the night go favorably.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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