Archive for the ‘geekery’ Category

I am not a man.

Posted: 23 July 2010 in geekery

Wyllow: I got us a small shop vac.

Comhradh: um, ok.

Wyllow: Did you not want me to get the shop vac?

Comhradh: No, it’s OK.
It’s just that you’ve torn my scrotum clean off my body and made a purse out of it by purchasing what is essentially a power tool.

Wyllow:
would it make you feel better if i told you it was pink?

Comhradh: Absolutely not.

Wyllow:
I didn’t get a very big one, It’s actually one of the smallest ones

Comhradh:
I now have to urinate in a seated position.

Wyllow:
But It’s so cute

Comhradh:
I can imagine at this very moment it is chewing on the shredded remains of all of my sports jerseys like a poorly-trained and angry Labrador.
My shame will be evident to all who encounter me.
Men will avert their eyes, as if refusing to see my fate will ward off a similar one for them.
Women will make very little attempt to hide their amusement and contempt.
They will high-five you behind my back.  Possibly even in front of me.

Wyllow:
Would you mind if i shared this conversation?  Your humor should be shared.

Comhradh:
Yes, announce my shame to the internet.

Posted: 15 March 2010 in geekery

If you’re not a hockey fan, feel free to skip this, because this is solely about hockey.

Hockey is a dangerous sport. Yes, there’s only been one player and one fan who died from injuries sustained during an NHL game in the history of the league, but it’s not an injury-free sport. Well-muscled men skate upwards of 50mph up and down a 200+ foot sheet of ice, throwing themselves into each other, wearing razor blades on their feet and carrying carbon-fiber sticks which they use to propel a chunk of frozen rubber up to 110mph at a net guarded by a guy who gets paid to get between said rubber and the back of the net, and frequently, players start throwing punches at each other. If you can’t see the immediate propensity for danger there, you are a sociopath.

Now, knowing that it is a dangerous sport, the league has taken a number of precautions to keep players healthy and uninjured. “Not dying” is not a good baseline – “not suffering a career-ending injury” seems to be, but realistically, “doing everything possible to keep the game fun while keeping players from missing time due to things we can prevent by rules or equipment” should be the league mantra. For the most part, it is… with a few notable exceptions.

The one that most concerns me is what the league does when a player is a safety concern. Hockey has always been known as a rough-and-tumble sport with its fair share of dirty players. Sometimes, these dirty players get out of hand. Take Alexander Ovechkin. A Russian wunderkind who truly is worth the price of admission to watch, even if he’s annihilating your team. He is a phenomenon in all hockey respects – a future hall-of-famer. He’s also a dirty player. Knee-to-knee hits, hits from behind, boarding… he’s done them all and been fined and suspended for them. Just a clarification for those who continued reading past the first sentence with no hockey knowledge, knee-to-knee hits are pretty much a guarantee of injuring another player, hitting from behind is a good way to give a guy a concussion, and boarding is a good way to break a guy’s neck. All of these will warrant an ejection from the game and a possible suspension, but the point of this post is that I don’t think that goes nearly far enough.

These events are not actually commonplace. We’re not talking every game, we’re talking once a month maybe (out of 100-200 games league-wide). What we do see, however, is that when someone gets drilled from behind, boarded, or takes a knee-on-knee hit, 9 times out of 10 you’re wondering if it’s a repeat news story because you’ve heard the offender’s name before. Obviously, the threat of suspension isn’t even enough to keep one of the league’s best players (and the captain of his team!) from reining himself in, so there needs to be a more severe punishment. Four game suspension? Pittance. Forfeiture of per-game salary? Who cares when they’re making millions?

What I’m talking about is indefinite suspension. Once there’s a pattern (like, the second time), the suspension shouldn’t be a fixed length of time. It should be, to be completely fair, as long as the player that was injured is out for. Brooks Orpik broke Erik Cole’s neck, ending his season. Orpik should have been off the ice until Cole came back. Cole recovered very quickly and was back in action the next season, but Orpik could have killed him or ended his career. Why should Orpik be given what amounts to a slap on the wrist while Cole laid in traction?

I think that such a system would effectively eliminate players who make a habit of dirty tactics that have high rates of injury. When you deliver an illegal hit that knocks a guy out for two months, and you’re gone for two months, you’re going to think twice about delivering that hit again. And if you don’t, I can guarantee that the General Manager is going to think twice about tossing a roster spot at someone who might bench themselves for indefinite amounts of time.

Now, to be perfectly clear – I’m not talking about players like Scott Stevens or Rob Blake or even Mike Richards who deliver devastating but legal hits that injure players. Stevens didn’t get ejected when he plastered Ron Francis, Eric Lindross or Paul Kariya, because those hits were all perfectly legal open-ice hits.

People may say that they watch NASCAR for the crashes and hockey for the fights, but no one watches hockey in the hopes of seeing a player strapped to a board and carted off the ice. The league needs to get real about players who repeatedly and maliciously injure other players.

Realism v. Reality

Posted: 27 September 2009 in geekery, media

I love Fringe. It’s got a great balance of cerebral and comedic element, and is more than a worthy successor to the X-Files.  The last episode, however, smacked me upside the head with something that really irks me.

Don’t get me wrong, the episode was great, but for this one detail.

It starts off in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, which happens to be quite close to me and was, for two years, my address.  So, I know a thing or two about what Lansdale looks like.  What I was seeing on the screen was not Lansdale.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think that the film crew is going to jaunt off to every small town that they reference just to get the authentic shot, but this was completely different.  This wasn’t just not-Lansdale, it was not-even-close-to-Lansdale.

Our scene starts with miles and miles of corn fields intersected by a train line.  OK, maybe I can buy that this is somewhere just north of Lansdale.  But then, a frieght train of massive proportions bearing the logo of CANADIAN NATIONAL comes barrelling down the tracks.   This should be blatantly obvious that we’re not in Pennsylvania anymore, folks.  The train itself was completely inconsequential to the story, which was even more annoying.

Then, as the episode progresses, we see more of “Lansdale.” We meet the Sherriff of Lansdale, headquartered in his country shack.  We meet some of the townsfolk, living in their remote farmhouses.  Nowhere do we see anything that resembles the real Lansdale.  Nowhere.  Not even a hint

The worst part of this is that they could have picked any of hundreds of towns in Pennsylvania, many even a quick drive from Lansdale, to use this setup without being inaccurate.  But they didn’t.  They chose to represent suburban Philadelphia as a backwater hick-burg.  What’s more disturbing is that this is a fairly regular occurence.  If one’s only exposure to addresses in Southeastern Pennsylvania was this episode of Fringe, a few episodes of X-Files (one which mangles my hometown), and the movie Signs, one would think that Philadelphia ends at the Philadelphia County line and thus begins Kentucky.

But this isn’t just me kvetching about the treatment of my area, it’s a larger complaint.  What else are they getting wrong?  When I see a show taking place in some suburb of Atlanta, am I being fed a wildly inaccurate description of that place?  And if so, what was the point of naming it in the first place?  Couldn’t we have just gone with “Southeastern Pennsylvania” and created some fictional town that represents a hodgepodge of local possibilities?  If I’d been told that we were in Denfield, PA and clued in that it was an hour or two outside of Philly, I would have been satisfied that they were where they needed to be geographically and were representing a possible PA town.  They didn’t do that.  They chose to beat up my suspension of disbelief by attempting the appearance of reality without actually getting anywhere near it.  The effect was basically the same as holding up a red pen and referring to it as blue.  Sorry, but you lost me at CANADIAN NATIONAL.

So, I’ve had raging debates about the way that novels are portrayed in film, and what constitutes a good adaptation, a bad adaptation, and a new concept altogether.  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a good adaptation.  Starship Troopers is a bad adaptation.  2001 is a new concept altogether.  For the purposes of this discussion, however, we’re only going to deal with the good and the bad, because at no point was a Harry Potter film going to attempt to be something other than an adaptation of the novel for which it is named.

So, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.  Here there be spoilers!

(more…)

Sarah Palin: “I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on… hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left Trig. Marooned for all eternity, in the center of a dead party. Buried alive… with John McCain.”

Republicans: “PAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLINNNNNN!!!!!!! (paaaaaalllllinnnn!!!!)

Now that's reasonable.

Posted: 19 June 2009 in geekery, religion

I don’t believe in the supernatural. At all. Nothing supernatural exists.

I believe in the natural. Everything is natural. Science can, given enough time, explain everything rationally without the need for some supernatural force.  Anything that is as of yet unexplained is simply a reflection on our lack of knowledge, not on its unexplainability.

This is my grand indictment of all religions: Science and Reason can explain anything. Miracles? Science and Reason can explain them (either they’re hearsay and fabrications, or there’s a scientific explanation for them). Ghosts? Science and Reason can explain them.

Here’s where I’m going to cop out of a complete explanation: Dark Energy. Physical cosmology posits that 22% of the universe is comprised of dark matter, 74% is dark energy, and only 4% is ordinary matter. Scientists admit that 96% of the universe exists in a state that they simply don’t understand. I don’t need to believe in an all-powerful deity, because Science tells me that I still don’t understand practically anything. I don’t see that as a reason to fill that void with a god.  Not understanding something does not mean it cannot eventually be understood.  When I was five I didn’t understand algebra, but that doesn’t mean that algebra is some metaphysical unknowable (even though I may at one point have believed that)

Let’s take Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

That last one is the driving force in my personal worldview.

Let’s say, for instance, that you’re in the basement, changing a blown fuse, and suddenly you and your flashlight are whisked off to the year 1387. You meet a villager, who marvels over your flashlight. You explain to them that it’s simply two batteries and a light bulb. Do they, even after years of explanation, accept your simple explanation?

Nope, they burn you at the stake for harnessing demons in little metal cylinders.

We stopped burning people at the stake in the early 1800’s, but the concept is still there. Claiming to be able to explain the afterlife? Don’t try getting that paper published. But why can’t science explain the afterlife? Like I said, 96% of the Universe is a mystery.

So, does your god exist? Maybe, but at some point, science will be able to measure, quantify and categorize it to the point that while it’ll be powerful, it won’t be, well… godly. Not any more than a man is to an ant.

So where does all that other stuff from the title fit in? Let’s tackle prayer. People have posited that prayer has power. That their deity answers prayers. There’s scientific evidence that people in surgery that are prayed for fare better than those that aren’t.

Science can explain it, and it doesn’t need to use E=MCGod to do it. It’s a basic matter of energy transference. It is the same thing as magic: the willful manipulation of reality. “God” just becomes the focus, the conduit. Prayer, in my mind, is the biggest argument against an all-powerful deity. Why would an all-powerful deity even need lowly humans to pray for anything? Wouldn’t he/she/it just do it? “Please save my dog, God!” “Well, I wasn’t going to, but now that you’ve asked!”

Prayer is a self-fulfilling prophecy. “I prayed, nothing happened, God has a plan”. “I prayed, it was answered, God is looking out for me”. I reject that. Prayer is magic. It’s the willful manipulation of reality. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Eventually, I am confident that science will be able to explain it. When that happens, prayer will become more powerful, because then we’ll know exactly how to do it right.

LOST ramblings

Posted: 5 June 2009 in geekery

Something that’s been bopping around my head for some time:

Richard Alpert is Anubis, the guardian of the afterlife.
Smokey McMonster is Ma’at, the judge of the dead.
Jacob is Osiris, lord of the gods.
his enemy is Set, who kills Osiris for his throne.

Someone we possibly have met is Isis, wife of Osiris who brings him back so he can sire Horus. (Ilana?)
Someone we possibly have met is Horus, or will become Horus, who is Osiris reborn. (Jack?)

Jacob resides beneath a statue of Tawaret, who is Set’s concubine who was once evil but changed her ways and now holds him back on a chain after he kills Osiris. Tawaret is also the guardian of pregnancy. Notice she’s not around anymore.