Archive for December, 2009

Hypotheses

Posted in Doom on December, 2009 by melendwyr

I suspect that very few people actually enjoy the holidays, and that most people are pretending to enjoy them for the benefit of others.

Like the story with the man who sold his watch to buy his wife combs, and the wife who sold her hair to buy her husband a watch fob, everyone ends up without the things they want, but secure in the knowledge that others care enough to make themselves and their loved ones miserable.

So we’ve got that going for us.

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Their Lips Are Moving

Posted in Doom, Politics and Society with tags , on December, 2009 by melendwyr

In the aftermath of the barely-aborted “Christmas Massacre”, in which an alleged terrorist tried to blow up an airplane with a potent chemically-triggered explosive hidden in his underwear and was prevented from doing so only because his detonator was defective, resulting only in his setting fire to his pants.

Nevertheless, government heads quickly appeared on television, reassuring everyone vigorously and repeatedly that everything was fine, that travel was perfectly safe, and that the system functioned as it was intended to.

Humbug. How do you know when a representative of the government is lying, again?

If the system had worked as it was intended, the man could never have made his way onto a plane and managed to engage the detonator of a bomb. If the device had worked, the plane would have been destroyed; the fact that it did not has essentially nothing to do with our detection systems, aside from the obvious fact that the simplest and most reliable detonators can’t make it through a metal detector. No amount of removing our shoes or carrying shampoo in tiny bottles within plastic baggies are helping anything.

Given the terribly ineffective state of our anti-terrorist activities, I can’t help but wonder if there have been successful terrorist attacks that were passed off to the public as something else.

New Dresden Codak!

Posted in Reviews, Science Fiction with tags on December, 2009 by melendwyr

The latest edition is up. About time.

Falcon

Posted in Doom on December, 2009 by melendwyr

There was a dead hawk outside on the ground today. Eyes closed, head turned to the right, body facing the sky. I couldn’t tell if it had been struck by a car, or died of cold. It was whole and seemingly undamaged… just lying there on the snow.

The breeze stirred its feathers, but it was so terribly still.

The Season of Obsenity

Posted in Doom, Politics and Society on December, 2009 by melendwyr

Let’s see. We’ve just come out of Hanukkah, the celebration of a miracle that supposedly occurred after the Jewish Taliban (your pardon, I mean “the Maccabees”) were successful in their struggle against more liberal and “Hellenized” Jews, reinstated their outlawed customs of ritual sacrifice and child mutilation, and ended the toleration of foreign practices and worships, banning all other gods and forcing the divorce and abandonment of foreign wives.

Soon we’ll enter into a liturgically minor Christian holiday that was worked over into something totally different so that people who insisted on retaining their seasonal celebrations could do so under the auspices of the One True Faith, in the course of which the balancing pagan spirituality was eliminated while the excess was retained. The result was of course our modern holiday of Christmas, in which people of all religions get together to spend money on junk and eat too much, bringing to mind the worst aspects of the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Oh, and we devote a significant amount of energy to the task of lying to our children about the existence of an obese elfin gentleman who brings recreational devices to those who have been suitably well-behaved; somehow the threat of coal and switches has become entirely an empty one, and the only children who don’t receive stuff are those whose families can’t afford it. And even then organizations rally to ensure that kids get stuff, as receiving things for no particular reason regardless of situation or behavior was declared an inherent human right some time ago.

Don’t even get me started on Kwanzaa.

At least Ramadan isn’t in December most of the time.

Problems

Posted in Fantasy, Science Fiction with tags , , on December, 2009 by melendwyr

After acquiring the legendary games Fallout and Fallout 2, my computer’s monitor broke down in such a manner that the system cannot be used. And it can’t be fixed – first the vertical scan broke, now the monitor only makes ominous clicking noises and will not turn on at all. This is immensely frustrating.

I’ve only gotten to Junktown in Fallout, but thus far it is the third grimmest thing I’ve ever seen, following closely on the setting material for Warhammer 40,000 and “Requiem for a Dream”. It’s interspersed with humor, but the gleams of light only serve to make the darkness seem darker.

I’m enjoying it immensely.

Mind Over Ship

Posted in Reviews, Science Fiction with tags on December, 2009 by melendwyr

I was all set to write an extended review of David Marusek’s sequel to the earlier novel “Counting Heads”, and then I realized that Cory Doctorow had beaten me to the punch months ago.

I find I have little to add to this summation – excepting such merely personal details such as the fact that I enjoyed the novel but found some of its premises annoying.

I’m afraid that for all of its interesting ideas, it’s yet another science-fictional universe in which some form of vitalism holds sway – in this one, biological organisms somehow can form ‘psychic’ links that transcend space-time, and the local equivalent of AIs wants human bodies for this feature. This sort of thing is extremely tiresome – even if biology has tricks that we haven’t yet figured out, a society of superintelligences should be able to reverse-engineer any feature given enough interest and build it into their own hardware if they so desire.