Sunday, February 27, 2011

Back, to the Future!* (Now with Accuracy!)

*(actual future may vary-
and be less interesting)
Welp, that's it. The Space Shuttle Discovery's last mission took off on Thursday. If you haven't already, watch this video (see below, I embedded it or something). It's totally amazing and a complete bummer at the same time. It's amazing because a bunch of passengers on a delayed flight happened to be in the right place at the right time to catch a shuttle launch from the air. Most people whose flights get delayed just miss their connections. These people witnessed something incredible (although they still probably missed connections as well).

 They held eight minutes of
silent footage and ran on whale oil.
Anyway, this totally bums me out because it looks like this is one of the last shuttle missions ever. It would be ok if the space shuttles were going to be replaced by something even more awesome, but they're not. Instead we're going back to rockets and space capsules, which strikes me as kind of a step back. Could you imagine if Sony tried to bring back VHS tapes? For those who don't remember, it's what we had before streaming Netflix. You had to go all the way to the video rental, sometimes in like ten feet of snow and then when you were done, you had to rewind them and then take them back. Those were primitive times indeed.

As a matter of fact, I don't.
So look out next generation of space explorers, the future is here! And has been since the 1960's. Sigh. Oh, wait, it's actually not here. As a final insult, due to budget constraints these rockets we're all looking forward to (backwards to?) are themselves a few years off according to NASA. So the future is the past, but it's still a ways off in the future...follow?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


"Tell me more of this thing you
Earthmen call 'make out'..."
Holy crap, check this thing out. In a hurry? Fine, here: According to NASA, there are at least 50 billion planets in the Milky Way. Billion with a 'B.' And of those as many as 500 million (with an 'M,' still impressive though) could be in the 'Goldilocks Zone'-the potentially habitable zone between a star and the cold, endless void. Yeah, there could be like hundreds of millions of class-M planets, full of aliens ready to blink uncomprehendingly at our foolish hew-mon emotions.

The space program has
long been associated with Tang.
So my question is why aren't we zipping up our unitards and boldly going? I mean, can it really be that hard to come up with a practical method for interstellar space travel? (Yes.) We've made amazing progress in the last few decades in so many other areas. Our civilization went from like 10 websites in 1991 to a global computerized porn delivery system in like 20 years. So what's up with the space program? Shouldn't we be able to catch the red eye to 40 Eridani by now? Maybe NASA should have estimated that there are 500 million planets shaped like boobs.


Do we need more motivation? How 'bout this: we're about to hit the 7 billion population mark (note the 'B'), and barring some sort of zombie apocalypse, planet Earth is only going to get more crowded, especially if we keep giving people TV shows just for breeding (thanks TLC). I'm not saying people shouldn't have kids, well, some people probably shouldn't... I'm just suggesting that people shouldn't have a ridiculous number of kids.

Sure it's people,
but have you tried the cool ranch?

Sure, they're cute now, but in 20 years when people are getting knifed at 7 Eleven over the last Hotpocket in North America, we'll know who's to blame. They're like the jerks that bring uninvited friends to a party: they eat all the Chex Mix, they drink all the beer, and then someone burns a hole in the sofa. I mean the planet's food and water can only be stretched so far. Have we learned nothing from Soylent Green?

So what's to be done? Well, I see two options: We could either convince everyone to practice restraint and have a reasonable number of children so as not to overtax the limited resources of our world or we could brake the light barrier and colonize the galaxy. Which do you think people are more likely to go for?
Suck our plasma Malthus!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Let's Declare War on the Sun!

Stupid sun, thinks it's so great...
Sure, it makes life possible, and without it our planet would be just another frozen rock adrift in the void, but what has our sun done for us lately? I'll tell you what it hasn't not been doing. It hasn't not been bombarding our planet with powerful solar flares of a magnitude not seen in years (specifically 6 years). In fact, it's been doing the opposite of not doing that. Well you know what? I'm sick of it. Enough is enough, the line must be drawn here.

Damn you sun!
Damn you to hell!

Of course you're probably thinking: "So what? Solar flares happen all the time..." Well, I'll tell you so what, the results will be devastating: power grids might be theoretically disrupted possibly leading to mild inconveniences, communications satellites might drop an occasional call, aurora borealis might even appear at slightly more southern latitudes than it typically does. That's so what. Sure, right now our shields are holding, but for how long I ask you? I say it's time we come up with a plan 'B.' Below I've outlined three bold new alternatives to help us deal our suddenly hostile yellow dwarf:

We'll get eight full minutes of basking in our triumph
before we get a face full of corona.
I like my victories pyrrhic.
1-Destroy the sun. Now hear me out, because at first this sounds insane (and it is). If we were to destroy the sun, we would have (according to this guy) about eight minutes to celebrate our victory. The only question is how to pull it off...On Star Trek all you need is trilithium, but (as I've oft lamented) life rarely works like it does on Star Trek.

If only Lorne Greene were still alive.
His soothing narration
would make the yahrens just fly by...
2-Abandon the Earth. Let's face it, the sun is like, way bigger than the Earth and made of fire. We just can't win. So why not pile into some space arks and find a primary star that appreciates us? Admittedly, this plan is not without its hurdles. First, it would take like tens of thousands of years to get to the nearest star. Second, we have at last count zero space arks, so putting together a ragtag fleet might take some doing. Of course if NASA had listened to me, we'd already have dozens of spaceships idling in orbit ready to carry us to Proxima Centauri...Thanks NASA, thanks for nothing.

Sure, there's bound to be some
Morlockism, but it's a small price to pay.
3-Burrow underground. This I think is the most practical solution, mostly because it worked in the Matrix and we're way more clever than any society that chooses Keanu Reeves as its messiah. Despite being faced with extinction at the hands (or metal claws) of the machines, they somehow managed to carve out a fortified underground city able to sustain a population of 250,000 complete with apartments, bathroom facilities and an orgy cave. Imagine what we could accomplish without the looming threat of robo-squids and wooden acting?

Sure, some of these options may seem drastic, but the sun needs to understand that it can't get away with carelessly ejecting coronal mass in our direction. Who does it think it is anyway?
Behold: the face of our enemy.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Not this kind of Wizard.
The racist kind...
Oh my god, what is wrong with people? Check out this story. What? Too busy? Fine, here's the gist: The Mississippi Sons of Confederate Veterans (I think they're like really, really old) want the state to issue a license plate commemorating Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest who, according to my exhaustive research (of wikipedia) was not only a slave trader and a war criminal, but was also a grand wizard in the KKK. So I ask again, what is wrong with people? Specifically these people.

We're just defending our way of life. You know, by
enslaving humans and draining the Earth of Energon.

Why are we supposed to treat the Confederacy like it was just an opposing but equally valid viewpoint? They were basically the Decepticons of U.S. history.* Can't we all agree that what they were fighting for was wrong? Yeah, the South was fighting to preserve its economy and way of life, but that economy and way of life was built on owning people and forcing them to work for no money. So seriously, screw them.

Slave Enthusiast Thomas Jefferson:
aka 'The Nickel Guy'

I guess we do put people like slave owners George Washington and Andrew Jackson on money and we should totally have more qualms about that, but they did other things as well (like join the Freemasons, and I think they were both in politics or something). General Nathan Bedford Forrest is pretty much known for fighting in a rebellion against the U.S. Don't we put people in prison for that? You know what I say? No license plate for him-ever. So chew on that, Mississippi Department of Motor Vehicles.

Hey, you know which Mississippian does deserve to be on a license plate? This guy:
Go on, try to deny it.
More like Andrew Jackass...
Oh, burn!

That's right, Jim Henson. He invented Muppets and brought joy to millions of children and adults around the world. Henson, in every measurable way, led a more worthwhile life than Nathan Bedford Forrest. He didn't own anyone, he didn't kill anyone and he didn't lead a racist post-war hate-group in a campaign of intimidation, assault and murder. Advantage: Henson. So, why isn't he on every license plate in Mississippi right now? What kind of world would it be if General Klanny McSlavetrader gets a license plate before the voice of Kermit the Frog? Better yet, let's put Jim Henson on the twenty dollar bill, that would be awesome. Move over Andrew 'Trail of Tears' Jackson.

Very few Confederate casualties
were resurrected by Unicron.
*Yeah, so I'm equating the South during the Civil War with the bad guys from the Cybertronian Wars and this is probably not entirely fair. Not everyone who fought with the rebels was a bad person, few owned slaves themselves and many were just defending their home. Also, state's rights (except when it comes to owning people), is a more complicated issue than Autobots vs. Decepticons. We shouldn't forget the many thousands who lost their lives or sparks on both sides of these terrible conflicts. That said, we really shouldn't be sticking a slave-owning, Klu Klux Klansman on a license plate either. That's just messed up.

Zoinks! It's like,
old man Weatherby!

p.s. Check out the Facebook Group mentioned in the article: Mississippians Against the Commemoration of Grand Wizard Nathan Forrest. They're kind of like last month's Tweet-Wielding Super Heroine Jennifer Huddleston, (what with their Southern awesomeness) but with Facebook.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

No, really, why are they rebooting Spider-Man?

35 years old and yet he lives-
surely this is sorcery.

Is it really time to reboot the Spider-Man movies? I know 2002 seems like the sepia-toned distant past, but for real. I'm not even the biggest Toby Maguire fan (yes, you can support the troops and still hate this movie), but we Logan's Runners need to stick together. Besides, he was kind of perfect as the socially awkward victim of Stan Lee's tenuous grasp of science (radiation=superpowers and not say, hair loss and tumors). Is he now so decrepit that they have to start the whole series over again with a younger actor?

His emotions hurt.

There is something totally depressing about waking up one day to the realization that you are now older than all of your childhood heroes. Of course as fictional characters they don't age, but the actors playing them do or at least they used to until 'reboot' and 'origin story' became part of every day speech. Thanks to these shakes of the continuity Etch A Sketch, I am now older than Doctor Who,* Captain Kirk and soon Professor Freaking X. Lame. And it's not just movies, comic books have been doing it for years. Look what they did to Superman (see left, under the sad bangs). I was never a big fan, but the Last Son of Krypton deserves better than to be whored out to emo kids.

The unlimited resources of
Wayne Enterprises and this is the most
efficient way to contact him?
What's worse is that a lot of these origin stories are unnecessary to begin with. Everyone knows how Batman became Batman. Bruce Wayne's parents are murdered, so he dons the cape and cowl to right wrongs on cloudy nights. Great, origin accomplished. Now, anyone else think Batman Begins was 45 minutes too long? Oh, so that's how he got his Bat-Gloves...fascinating. And remember the scene in Episode II where Anakin 'Darth Vader' Skywalker complains about how the sands of Tatooine chafe his bottom? Dark Lord of the Sith indeed! Was the name Darth Pussius taken? 

Stake him. No one with hair 
that stupid should be immortal...

So why all the youth-enizing? Can't there be grown up heroes in sci-fi/fantasy? Sometimes I think all these prequels and re-boots and re-imaginings are made so studios can appeal to whatever the hell makes Twilight so successful. It's almost as if they're in it for the money or something. Also, I like to blame as many things as possible on Stephanie Meyer and her moody non-vampires† who sparkle. Have I read it or seen the movie? Nope. I prefer to judge these particular movies by their posters (see left). Seriously, look at that poster. What is wrong with people?

Angela Chase moped
before it was cool.
*Yes. The Doctor's ability to regenerate has been a part of the series for decades, and calling it out as a cheap ploy to attract new viewers is unfair. But seriously, he's like 900 years old in Time Lord years, shouldn't that translate to at least 32?

†Vampires are abominations damned to wander the earth and feed on the blood of the living to perpetuate their cursed immortality. They must shun the warm embrace of the sun for it will destroy them. They do not go to high school and mope.

p.s. It is, of course, entirely possible that the Spider-Man reboot was prompted by Spider-Man 3 sucking as hard as it did. While I agree that anything is possible, I would point out that the Star Wars prequels sucked with the intensity of a collapsed sun and no one's talking reboot there.

You're thinking about the chafing line right now, aren't you?
Yeah, there's no coming back from that...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's Year of Usagi Yojimbo!

Look out Thomas Edison,
this dude invented pants.
Dear Emperor Huangdi,

Happy New Year! Hey, congratulations on inventing the Chinese calendar, and you know, ruling ancient China. Also, I see that you invented carts, boats and clothes (thanks Wikipedia!) which I'm sure is totally true. You must be very proud. I mean, yeah, you did live like 4,500 years ago so none of the obvious inventions were taken yet. All I'm saying is that if you were around today you'd probably have to come up with cold fusion or hover cars or some kind of special yogurt that keeps Jamie Lee Curtis regular. Don't get me wrong though, boats are nice too.

Chupacabra: can't catch a break.
Anyway, I want to talk to you about your calendar. I was born in the Year of the Goat. Yeah...what's the deal with that? I mean, I know it could be worse but there's a Year of the Dragon and I'm a goat? I realize that you lived in ancient times, but surely you must have been aware that there were more than eleven non-mythical animals out there. And since mythical animals were clearly on the table, why did you stop with Dragons? There could be a Year of the Minotaur or a Year of the Unicorn. That would have been rad.

Don't worry though, I'm not interested in assigning blame (to you), I'm here to provide solutions. So, for the sake of everyone who got stuck with a crap animal, don't you think it's time we re-evaluated the Chinese Zodiac?

This is not my sign...
...this is. See the problem?

After all, the western zodiac got a huge overhaul whether people wanted it or not, so why not the Chinese system? Look, Dragon, Monkey, Snake, these are all awesome animals. I'd even take Dog, but the Pig, Rooster and Goat? Less than thrilling. Seriously Emperor Huangdi, some of us got pretty screwed. To right this wrong, I propose the following substitutions:

Here, the Hercules battles the Boar...
at least I think that's what they're doing.
Pigs are a little lame as zodiac animals go. It's not that I have anything against them as animals, it's just that they're not terribly intimidating and tend to make people think of bacon rather than quake in fear. I suggest replacing it with the Erymanthian Boar, a legendary monster-pig. According to myth (and Wikipedia), the Erymanthian Boar obeyed the will of the war-god Aries, could lay waste to the countryside, killed a god and battled Hercules. So, Year of the ancient Greek god-slaying Boar-whatta ya think?

Yeah, sometimes, the truth hurts...
Then there's the Rooster, or 'cock' for those who haven't progressed beyond 7th grade (like me). Yes, like all birds, roosters evolved from much more intimidating forms of life. However, I suspect that most dinosaurs would be a little disappointed that we eat buckets of their descendants covered in 11 herbs and spices. Here, Chinese myth has us covered. The Chinese Phoenix is basically a more badass version of the Rooster and a match for the Dragon. It's the difference between Cringer and Battle Cat, so trade up cockstars.

Better roll for damage,
Year of the Monkey.
As for my own sign, let it not be said that I am anti-goat. They are famous for their stubbornness and I can get behind that. But in a Chinese Zodiac Battle Royal (why is this not a movie?), stubborn is probably going to lose to immortal flying-fire-lizard. It is for this reason that I've decided to go with the Displacer Beast from Dungeons and Dragons. For those of you who have moved out of your parent's basement, a Displacer Beast is a panther-like creature with six legs, poisonous tentacles, and the ability to bend light to confuse its victims. Also, I'm going to estimate that it's got like four or five times as many hit points as our stubborn barnyard pal, the goat. And did I mention the poisonous tentacles? I did? Good, because it's got poison tentacles.

So there you have it Emperor Huangdi, I think you'll find my casual and ill-researched critique of a time honored part of Chinese culture and identity a vast improvement. No need to thank me. You're quite welcome. Also, love the hat.



Everything is better with swords and  top-knot.
p.s. I understand that this is the Year of the Rabbit and you should know that I totally approve of Rabbits. However in the spirit of Badass-izing the zodiac, I think it could use a little jeuge-ing. I say we use Usagi Yojimbo from TMNT. Sure, It may seem inappropriate to use a Japanese image for the Chinese lunar calendar given you know, history. But Usagi is from a parallel universe version of ancient Japan run by anthropomorphic animals, so it's cool.