Zombie Redshirt will have his Revenge

How much more blood must be spilled for Dilithium Crystals?

It occurred to me, as things are wont, that the old school monsters are all variations off the same thing: A dead person coming back from the dead.

You've got your zombies, of course, but vampires too - essentially, just smart, sexy zombies. Same thing with Mummies, Frankenstein... wolfman? Did he die first?

Anyways, as always, fear = loss; loss of home, loss of health, loss of wealth, loss of life. Fear is always about loss. The totems to our fears - our monsters, our horror stories, our shadows in the dark - will always be some variation on loss.

Of course, as a Redshirt, once you realize you never had anything to lose in the first place, then, well! Things clear up quite a bit: Why be afraid?

It's a powerful question.


Joss Whedon is My Master Now

Inspired fan art, but is not all fan art inspired? Good is another matter.

If you have not seen the very short Tele-Vision series "Firefly", I highly recommend. Especially if you are a nerd/geek/closet nerd/geek. If you're not, why the heck are you reading this?

But also huge props to Joss Whedon, my favorite Tele-Vision writer/producer person ever. But then, I don't watch much Tele-Vision. Anyways, Buffy, Angel, and Firefly are TV gold and if you've ever been pondering watching anyone of them but hesitated, please do. Witty, funny, layered, and filled with great characterizations. 

Remember why we all love The Story, and it's encapsulated neatly by Whedon's deft writing and use of the anti-cliche/trope.


That was the trouble with tribbles, after all - humans thought them too fecund. But do you think the tribbles thought this to be the case? Doubt it. Another lesson in perspective.

Spoiler Alert (Kepler)!

This is a slide from some scientist's presentation back in July - it raised quite a storm in the community since it's pretty obvious this guy (lost his name) is revealing data from the Kepler Observatory that the Kepler Team themselves are not yet prepared to release - probably in the name of good science.

However, if true - and I strongly believe it is - this is groundbreaking data. Hitherto, every planet we have discovered around other stars has been 1. Huge and 2. very close to its Star. The chart above shows that in fact, it is the small, rocky worlds like Earth that make up the majority of planets around stars.

Which of course leads to the next conclusion (theoretical), which is that these rocky planets are the only known location for life so far, so this greatly increases the chances for life around other stars as well.

I suspect it might be another year or so before the Kepler Team confirms these numbers (owing to the fact they'll want to observe a planet going around another star more than once before concluding it is there, and these orbits can take over a year - or much longer). But, I'm already accepting this data as a given.

Carl Sagan went through this bit in his book "Pale Blue Dot" where throughout human history, science - Astronomy - has been downgrading the importance of humanity, and this is one of the reasons science finds enemies in Churches, and in some States. Essentially, the old idea of the Earth as the center of the Crystaline Spheres has been relentlessly attacked by new ideas since the middle ages - Copernicus landing the first major blow, then Kepler, then Galileo, then Newton, and so on. Each has relegated the Earth to a less and less central place in the heavens, because it's true. 

Finding that earth like planets are a dime a dozen is the next step down, and the final step will be discovering that life blooms wherever it can gain a foothold.

I find these facts exhilarating. The Holy Rollers and God Botherers find it blasphemous. Pretty much sums up much of modern life in America, actually. 

The Regan Revolution

In retrospect, it really was a Revolution. Perhaps my memories of pre-Regan times have been clouded by nostalgia, but I remember a time before Repuglicans routinely gloried in ignorance, hate, and fear. The Regan Revolution changed all that, it's apparent now. But in so many ways - check out this series of charts I got from the Great Orange Satan (forget the poster - sorry!). Above is non-farm wages. IE - your salary.
 But don't worry - the richest among us have been doing fantastically well during this time - remember, trickle down!
 Got to keep up with the Joneses, right? Hence the widespread adoption of "debt-culture" in the USA. And always remember who you owe that debt to - it's the folks in the second chart.
 And it's not just folks - the USA itself has become the greatest debtor the world has ever known, and it's all happened in the past 30 years. 
 And this debt load has greatly inhibited real growth - regardless of the flashy numbers they try and blind everyone by, we've been growing progressively poorer as a nation.
 And not just monetarily - in the "Land of the Free", look at how we've grown to love locking people up.

It goes on and on. To wit - this "revolution" has been the Robber Baron's dream. We now live in a country that has not seen this level of income disparity since the Robber Baron age of the 1880-1910's; it's extreme, to the max. Yet, you wouldn't know it watching the news, which in fact has been turned wholesale into a propaganda channel for these same vested Baronical interests - which is only natural, of course. Why wouldn't the rich look after themselves?

The saddest part to all this is the adoption of this myth by poor white folks we now call "Teabaggers" or, generally, "Repuglicans". Everything about the Repuglican agenda goes completely counter to their real interests, yet they are so deluded, so ginned up on anger, fear, resentment, racism, they ignore it all - all facts, in fact. You could show them these charts and it would mean nothing.

Facts, truth, logic, none of this means anything anymore to the vassals in thrall to this "revolution". They will literally burn down the house at their Master's command - and if you would dare try and put it out, they'll turn on you just as quick.

I recall reading 1984 back in 1984 and while I "got" it, I couldn't quite figure out how an entire people could be convinced to believe one thing one day, and the opposite the next day.

But now I see it in practice, and while I still am baffled that this can happen, I truly "get" it now. Dissonance is a powerful weapon, and the ignorant will go out of their way to avoid confronting it.

Divide them - use a wedge issue like race, sexuality, children, whatever - then exploit their differences to your own ends. I'm sure this is well documented in the Oppressor's Handbook, but hey, maybe YOU didn't know already....


Seeing Data

I'm sure there's a fancy academic word to describe this phenomena, but it's fairly obvious people "get" data a lot better and faster when presented in pictorial form, rather than in the cold hard numbers. Pie charts, graphs, plot distributions, etc - they all can relate complex numerical data in fairly straightforward pictorial fashions. And it's far more effective.

Lookee above - take crime data, plot it on a map, then use 3D modeling to give height to the numbers, and nearly instantly you can see what parts of San Francisco you might want to avoid (or, conversely, might want to visit if you are looking for a particular service). 

But in truth, we do this all the time, every day, every moment. What you're "seeing" right now is your brain's representation of pure data that surrounds us. That is us - we're pure data too. Everything that exists is. Just that our senses have evolved to represent this data to us in specific ways - colors, for example, are just different wavelengths of light. You could represent every conceivable color using a set of numbers, but where's the beauty in that?

I tell you where: Ever further down. Beauty is everywhere, in everything, if you choose to see it as such. Numbers might be the most beautiful thing of all. Maybe....


Data Data Everywhere

This map represents the following: Red dots indicate a tourist photo of NYC; blue dots, a resident; yellow dots cannot be determined, but are more likely to be tourists IMO near the Statue of Liberty, for example, and less likely to be tourists away from noted landmarks.

The gentleman who put this together, Erik Fisher, has a site on flickr with many more examples. Basically, he used other Flickr sites and a date range to estimate who's a tourist, who's not. 

And this is the power of the Internet, combined with the power of the database: The ability to connect disparate data together quickly and cheaply, producing new scales of knowledge - just think what this type of project would have required in 1980, for example. If not impossible, it would be near impossible without massive amounts of manual labor and effort.

Now, just takes a bright guy with some programming skills and a few weekends of time. 

That's the upside. The downside, of course, is that governments, companies, individuals can do the same, and who knows to what end they will use your data - think of what a bank could learn about you simply by putting your ATM withdrawls on a map. I'd dare say they would know pretty much where you spend most of your time, every day. 

Tip of the iceberg.

Your only hope of retaining the barest sliver of privacy in the coming Age of Aquarius: Spread your on-line data out to as many different providers as possible.

But even that will be mostly futile as the machines get faster and smarter.

Resistance is, indeed, mostly futile. But perhaps it's not a question of resistance anymore....


If you're not with the flow, you're against it

Yeah, I know, I know: Times Square is exciting, and there are a lot of bright and shiny lights. However, it's also filled with people. So, tourists of the world, wherever you go, try and remember: You're not Julia Roberts and this world is not made for you. So before you stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk to look at your map, or take a video of a statue (?!), why not first step out of the general flow of traffic, and then do what you have to do? It's really not that hard, and will usually only add a couple of seconds to what you want to do anyways.

Furthermore, and this goes for all Americans: Why not keep to the right, in all situations? We drive on the right; most people in a city will walk on the right - except for those few folks who seem unaware of this general convention, and will happily plow upstream against a flow of people. I always wonder: Do these folks not get that they're going against the general flow, or do they not care?

That appears to be a fundamental question concerning all human behavior: Don't know, or don't care? Seems to me the answer explains most every impolite behavior.


Rightful Vengeance

It's heavily implied that Glinda arranged for Dorothy's house to land on the Wicked Witch of the East - she shows up right after it happens. And really, what are the odds it happened randomly?

So, after Glinda leaves, the Wicked Witch of the West shows up, and why not: It's her sister who's been crushed! Who wouldn't be upset if a house landed on their sister? Furthermore, who wouldn't have a right to vengeance  if someone did it intentionally?  If it's a magical matter, of course.

Or, is there any such thing as a right to vengeance?


Tat Dump

No, I AM Mr. Pink....
 LEAVE BRITTNEY ALONE (please note the blood in her teeth)!
 Otis in the outhouse with a bung (Mulberry Clue).
 COME ON DOWN (to be spayed and/or neutered)!
Here's a happy full sleeve...

Yeah. Coulda stretched this out for a while. Or dumped them. You see I've made my choice!


The Depths of our Devotions

I could go on, but I trust by now you see my point: People have too much time on their hands! And need to understand the proper place of heroes. Which is not on a pedestal. Or on your bicep.



An analogy, if you will: A speck of dirt in an oyster's "mouth" produces an irritation in the oyster which responds my secreting a fluid which encases the dirt over time, removing the irritation. The by product of this is a pearl.

Just so, many specks of dirt got together to form our sun and all the planets, moons, asteroids, and debris rotating around the central point of gravity. Specks attaching to other specks attaching to other specks and so on IS the story of everything, in one view.

Just as so sometimes what we hoo-mans call "evil" can by their great "irritation" produce many positive by products.

Such as the League of Nations. Or the Federation.

Sometimes. If you accept the principle it IS the very act of destruction at some level which is necessary for the act of creation at another. This is in fact a condition of our physical existence and NOT a moral value judgment. Morality in sooth has nothing to do with it.

Just so, such as, also too.


Space Pimpin' (Old Man Pants)

Check out those Old Man Pants on the tough guy Redshirts. Except they don't really look that tough, do they?

An observation: Not only have we, as Americans, gotten extremely fat, there is also the fact that the most athletic among us are bigger, stronger, faster, everything is more advanced than at any time in the history of our species. Using science, of course, we are sculpting ourselves into gods - like Hercules.

So, perhaps ironically, while we are fatter than at any time in our history, we're also in better shape. Some of us, at least. Perhaps a small percentage of the whole, but again, this is a unique separation: The vast swathes of the hoi polloi are fat as sows; whereas the elite are trim and model looking good. Contrast that to most of our history (all?), where the dirty multitudes starved, and only the very lucky few - the true elite - could afford to be fat.

Progress, or abomination? I report, you decide!

Sometimes a rock is just for bludgeoning

BUT! Even if this might be a tad too phallic, it's the Shat, man, in Kirk form. Still he-manly - he'll beat you down with that phallic rock, and you'll have no choice but to choke on it. Man.


Redshirt Olympics

Logic would indicate that a redshirt in training is wasting his time, since he's going to die regardless of his training. Better to just sit around, eat, drink, and enjoy the few brief days in the sun allotted to you, as fodder.

However, some folks like to feel they are in control, and training can provide that illusion. So, if you like to fool yourself, here, some futuristic redshirt combat training program. Hard to say what's actually going on here, but it is the future, and maybe we just don't understand.

But really, understand this, muscle men:
 "You're gonna die, Charlie."

Graph of the Inevitable

Not much to add - certainly puts the matter into proper perspective, right? Redshirts = Deadshirts.

Let's light a candle for all our sake's:
And yes, the ship itself is always considered a character - perhaps the most popular, really.



Math might be hard, but, occasionally, it can also be tasty.

And as a former die hard mathaphobe, I am coming around completely to the "true" idea that everything we are, everything around us, everything, essentially, can be expressed via mathematics. That is, the world is mathematics, and it is only the incredibly powerful interface that is our brain that allows us to experience this world as we know it. In other words, the brain is simply a translation tool, converting the pure realm of math into things like colors, sounds, smells, electrical impulses, etc. After all, a sunset is really just a bunch of radiation at different wavelengths being filtered by the atmosphere - it could all be expressed numerically. Or, as we usually prefer, poetically. 



It's At The Automat!

One of my favorite new subjects: Futuristic visions from the deep, dark past. For instance, the Automat! How our moon living children will eat pie! And other assorted foodstuffs.

Hmmmm, pie.



A fair demand, methinks. And truly, unless it's some Christian Nosy Fussbody, what Overlord would not want his minions mostly drunk and/or high, at least during the few hours they're not slaving away for him? A besotted redshirt is one who more easily slides into his inevitable role.

But, those pesky Christians! Always with the meddling.


That's a lot of troopers. In fact, I'm beginning to understand that this "hobby" - dressing up like a Stormtrooper - is becoming more and more popular by the year, and given the anonymity of the costume, there's no telling who's into this. It could be a friend, a lover, a co-worker - it could be the person sitting right beside you!!!!

But lest you non-nerds cluck your tongues and mutter "NERDS", I challenge you to tell me the difference between dressing up like a Stormtrooper, and dressing up like this:
The principle is even the same - anonymous intimidation and bonding.

But one activity is done by nerds; the other by ostensible "cool kids"; thus, one accepted, one mocked. 

One day the Nerds will rise up and have our robots beat down on these stupid jocks. Till then, we bide our time, nursing a mighty grudge.

UPDATE: Speak of the devil, but here's an article on how popular dressing up as a Stormtrooper has become.


In a poorer Empire

Budget cuts have really started to bite.

Is that Lord George in the background, I wonder? Or a look-a-like? The look is not hard to pull off, afterall.

Also interesting, maybe, how often boxes can substitute for robots. It's the squareness, I assume.


Looking for love at

As you can see from the stamp, this is an online dating site (okcupid) profile picture. Think of the glorious nerd who lies behind this cardboard robot, desperate to find a 1 for his 0. A catch, no doubt.

okcupid, by the by, is a treasure trove of depressingly hilarious photos.


I recommend you spend some time looking at the detail in this one. It's the real catch.


Robot Preacher

10. Dearly Beloved we are gathered here to join
30. Do you?
   34: IF YES, PROCEED TO 40
40. Do you?
   44. IF YES, PROCEED TO 50
50. I now pronounce you husband and wife!


Till Death

The Hatfields call this a "prenupshul".


Circle of Life (of a clown)

For every ending, there is a beginning.....

Death of a Clown

I'm not the fairest judge of this, since, oddly, I don't mind funerals in the least bit, and I guess I'm a bit ashamed to say I enjoy them - death is so often so resolutely ignored that, from a mad scientist perspective, I enjoy watching people's responses to this one terrible topic. Maybe. I'm not morbid though, in some Goth Harold and/or Maude manner.

So, that said, Good Shesah in the sky would I have LOVED to gone to this funeral. A bona fide CLOWN FUNERAL. Look at the clown with the hat labeled "Dust". Brilliant!

I guess I have a new sub-mission in life: Attend a clown funeral. I'll keep my eyes/ears open. Please do the same and pass on word if you hear about it. I'm prepared to travel.

A Good Death

At least from someone's perspective.

Inappropriate Family Photos

I might be a prude, but in front of an open casket does not seem the best place for a fun family photo. But, the way things are changing these days, perhaps I'm simply behind the times.

Kid Hipsters

I'd like to suggest a product - feel free to steal this idea and make a million dollars: Schlitz and/or PBR covers that you can slip over your child's sippy cup or bottle. After all, what Hipster would be seen without a PBR or Schlitz in hand? Ironically, of course.