Future Monogatari

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Google translate ga yoku nata

It’s true, two years ago it couldn’t handle idioms, now it changes ‘raining cats and dogs’ to ‘heavy rain.’

It speaks too

in a train tannoy voice

but it’s better than nothing.

Okay, I typed too soon. Google translate is still weak. I just tried something more difficult, an idiomatic phrasal verb, and it did not go well.

‘The killer took him out’ became ‘the killer brought him [somewhere].’

A bit harsh as there’s not much context to that phrasal verb. The killer could’ve taken him out somewhere, it’s not impossible and, far as I know, google translate is the sum of its programmed database, not intuitive AI, so I gave it a bit more to work with:

‘The killer took him out with one bullet.’

Again, it translated as:

‘The killer, with one bullet, brought him [somewhere].’

It’s interesting, how would you programme common sense into an online translator that has no experience of our perceived reality? To google translate, it might be completely normal for killers to take people somewhere while carrying a bullet.

Maybe the only answer is AI?

That or the elimination of all idioms from every language?

The next problem: how to understand an episode of Naruto. I tried last week, Episode 216, but the first scene was insanely fast. Even when I slowed the speed down to half, it was difficult to pick anything up. Or you can pick it up, but you don’t know what it means. Do children really understand this? Continue reading

The Expanse season 1 [Spoilers]

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Plot: a group of ice haulers from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter go from ship destruction to ship destruction, pinballing themselves into a conspiracy, possibly a web of it, to start an inter-planetary war.

War between?

Mars, Earth and the Belt, which are all probably representative of specific nations on Earth, not sure which ones.

I suppose Earth might be the US, Mars might be China/Asia and the Belters are the entire third world.

Or it might be real world politics simplified into three groups.

Though what does that make Russia?

The OPA [Outer Planetary Alliance]?

Characters:

Holden the unofficial ship captain [Does most of the talking, so much of it that other characters just start looking towards him whenever they need to make a decision]

Naomi the vice captain/possible former OPA operative. Has a British accent, but is not from the usual crop of rich kids e.g. Daisy Ridley, Keira Knightley, Felicity Jones.

Amos the muscular, pragmatic grunt. Not homophobic and at home in sleazy bars cos that’s where he grew up.

Alex the pilot, who flew for Mars and gets a costume out of it in episode 3.

Chrisjen the UN rep who will defend Earth and deliver lines badly at all costs.

Miller the working class cop who has only ever killed one person before episode 8, and about 23 people two episodes later. Continue reading

Bakufu era Japan = Klingons

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I’ve heard this said a few times before

that Klingons in TNG and onwards were basically samurai with head bumps

but I only ever believed it on the surface level

e.g. code of honour, warrior govt

However, now I’ve read a book called ‘The Bakufu in Japanese History’ I realise that Ronald D Moore probably did read the same book before starting work on his first Klingon episode.

The house system is the same

This wasn’t unique to Japan, but in the era of Bakufu [1185-1868], which I think translates as a govt led by military guys, your house represented the power you had to a huge level. It chopped and changed a lot, and varied between different bakufu, but basically there was the bakufu [military] and two other powerful groups, Monks + aristocrats [including the Emperor], owning land and dividing power. However, by the time of the final Bakufu [Tokugawa 1600-1868?], the military and regional houses had dealt with the monks and nobles and had total control.

Don’t monks usually get slaughtered in history?

Later, yes, but not during the first two Bakufu.

In fact, it’s quite funny how the monks operated in some areas, specifically how they made their cash. Medieval Japan was quite a superstitious place, so the monks would take a portable shrine, drop it in someone’s house then sit and wait for that person to pay enough for them to get rid of the ‘evil spirit’ within the shrine. No one would challenge them as only the monks had the power to perform the task; even the samurai wouldn’t touch the portable shrines.

The noble samurai?

Ha, about as noble as old English knights. A lot of those fuckers were just thugs with swords who switched sides if the price was decent, and what’s worse, the Muromachi Bakufu made them cops in Kyoto too. Or the equivalent of cops. The rest of the samurai could just do what they pleased as long as they didn’t do it close to Kyoto. And they did. Continue reading

The Savage Curtain

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One of those season 3 episodes of Trek which went for high concept and floating historical person in space over pacing and logic.

No curtains either, savage or regular.

Any good?

It’s memorable, but mostly for the ‘good vs evil’ battle element. I can’t say it’s bad, I don’t skip any parts when watching, but it is resolved in a depressingly expected way compared to other episodes, like ‘The Corbomite Manouvre’, where the resolution is clever and ultimately the alien enemy is not a bad guy, he’s just lonely.

Also, unlike ‘The Spectre of the Gun’, there’s nothing distinctive about the scenery.

It’s simply good guys vs bad guys.

But then the more I think about it, the less sense it makes.

The biggest problem I had when re-watching it was the use of Kahless as a representation of ‘evil’. In TNG and DS9, the Klingons revere Kahless and see him as a liberator from tyranny. His eating of his enemy’s heart is very much in line with Klingon customs, so that’s not really evil, and he established the ‘honour system’, which has some dubious elements i.e. the punishment of the father’s sins on seven generations of that family, but is basically a worthy code.

Therefore, the fact that Kahless is featured at all, raises two questions in my mind.

i] The aliens took the historical figures from the minds of Kirk & Spock, so did they know a lot about Kahless, or was it their general dislike of Klingons that caused him to pop up here? Continue reading

Star Trek Beyond

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It starts with Klingons cos you’ve gotta put them in somewhere and there’s no room in the rest of the film so that’s where they are, in the first seven minutes, and

ZOOM IN

…the Enterprise is flying at warp 10 out of Klingon space, chased by three birds of prey, each one captained by Kang, Koloth and Kur [sic for all 3], and they’re almost out of petrol and their ship’s taken a pummelling and

INT. ENTERPRISE BRIDGE

…it looks like this is it, this is the end before it’s even begun, and the computer confirms it, saying hull integrity at 0%, and Sulu saying, Captain, one more hit and we’re dust, and Kirk looks at Spock and Spock looks at Kirk and McCoy sandwiches himself between both of them and

ZOOM OUT

…the three Klingon ships hang back and wait for the moment to stretch and then when it’s stretched to breaking point, Kang says fire and a torpedo leaves the ship and heads in a zig zag line to the hull of the Enterprise which still has zero integrity and

CLOSE UP – KIRK’S FACE

Kirk waits until the torpedo is almost on top of them or under them then clenches his fist and says

now, Spock!

but it’s no good, Spock is the science officer not the gunner, so

Kirk has to say now, you, and point to

the extra who could be a star in 5 years, but right now is

nothing compared to Chris Pine so

the extra doesn’t speak, he fires

and the deflector shield activates and sends some

green energy at the torpedo and

thanks to Kip Pardue and his 20 years of Physics study

the torpedo is picked up and redirected back at

the Klingon bird of prey and before Kang can

charge up his own deflector shield

the torpedo hits their hull and the ship flips sideways

knocking the other two ships into another part of space

with a planet nearby so there’s some visual

frame of reference and

they don’t explode, cos those guys are canon and

canon never dies, it just sits in the corner

and waits like an elderly racist

for nothing to change

cos if anything changes, we’re all

doomed and

CUT TO – ENTERPRISE BRIDGE

Kirk is looking at the three Klingon ships on the viewscreen and

Spock is standing behind him like a bully’s sidekick and Continue reading

Gateway // Frederik Pohl [thoughts + spoilers]

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Book: Gateway

Author: Frederick Pohl

Plot: A guy living next to some mines on a depressing near future Earth wins the lottery and uses his cash to fly up to an ancient alien asteroid space station called Gateway. His choice: to fly one of the thousand or so ships left behind by the long dead aliens to god knows where and potentially make a lot of cash or stay still for a few weeks, drink, fuck, gamble, and then go back to the mines.

Or fly one of the ships into a star going supernova and die like whats-his-face in disney’s the black hole i.e. differently.

Subplot: A robot psychologist tries to get the main character to realise that he’s a bit of a twat.

Subplot 2: A female instructor on Gateway falls in love with the main character because his first name is ‘Main’. She later regrets it when he beats her for no reason, but is forced back into his arms by a mysterious god like entity called ‘Pohl’ who commands her to ‘close the narrative’.

Subplot 3: A Black Hole sucks as hard as it can to pull in that spaceship cos it’s lonely and sad and has been marginalised by the Tories.

Notes:

I’m torn between writing about Gateway and the Foundation books, but I’m also torn a third way as what I really wanna get back to is Babel-17, mostly because it’s all to do with language and the workings of it and specifically an alien language so weird and unfamiliar that no one can understand it, which is similar to Darmok and the Children of Tama in Star Trek TNG, but Delaney wrote his one first and I’ve read the first 40 or so pages of Babel and it seemed okay, but it didn’t reel me in enough, the writing wasn’t as strong or brilliant as other people said, but then it usually takes me a while to get into a book, the first page is always tedious, too descriptive, bland word choice etc.

Gateway had the same effect, took me two years to get past the first chapter even though it was quite well-written…

I think the main problem was the same problem that most old sci-fi had: the characters were too sharp and too smart.

Goddamn it, Siegfried and other lines like this and

there’s swearing later too, which I didn’t expect from someone like Pohl, but then

what can I expect when I know nothing about him? Continue reading

Psycho Holosuite #Issue 1 [Out Now]

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Zine: Psycho Holosuite [Issue 1]

Pages: 80 [print version], 90 [e-version]

Contributors: Berit Ellingsen, Frankie Sachs, Soren Melville, Thomas Stolperer, Marc Horne, Tyson Bley and me [Oli].

Release date: Now

Notes:

Well, after printing this thing 5 months ago and watching it sit in a box in the corner of my living room doing nothing ever since, I can finally say, man, it’s out.

By ‘out’ I mean available for order in stripped down e-form on amazon, and on its way in glorious zine form to the following places:

Atomic Books [Baltimore]

The Coming Society [Hong Kong]

Sticky Institute [Melbourne]

Housmans [London]

Book Thug Nation [NYC]

Molasses [NYC]

Quimby’s [Chicago]

There are still 4-5 places we’re gonna add to this list, but you can find out more about these confirmed stockists here.

All of them are decent and well stocked with zines from all kinds of people, so even if you don’t like our one, you probably will like at least one zine there.

Also, if you want to order a copy, just e-mail us and we’ll see if there’s any left.

What’s in Issue 1 of this zine?

Well, there’s: Continue reading