Friday, April 29, 2011

Intrusive Gorillas

I think I saw Intrusive Gorillas open for Flock of Seagulls.

Robots breaking the bonds of slavery.

I know I am a little late on this, but here is a poem about Robots (naturally) throwing off the shackles of slavery in Egypt.  It may parallel another story...

Other nights we use just our names,
but tonight we prefix our names with "the Real"
for when we were robots in Egypt
they claimed our intelligence was artificial.

Other nights we do not pause,
but tonight we rest all cycles but our brain processes
for when we were robots in Egypt
we toiled in our tasks without chance of resting.
Read the rest of Jo Walton's poem here.

(Hat tip to Boing Boing)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dwayne's Wednesday Robot Romper Room

Tom Servo
 Tom Servo: A robot created by Joel Robinson (played by Joel Hodgson) with the parts to control when the mad scientist's movies began or ended on Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Originally voiced by J. Elvis Weinstein, but through the rest of the run was voiced by Kevin Murphy.  Like the rest of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 theater goers, cracked wise at the bad movies shown.  He would often break into song with his strong tenor voice.  However, his arms were mostly worthless, and for some strange reason, his transparent head would not let the light through in the theater.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Electric Apocalypse

Wasn't Electric Apocalypse at Woodstock?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Loopy Magnetism!

I think I heard my dad talk about Loopy Magnetism opening for Strawberry Alarm Clock.

Blog Against Theocracy

Blog Against Theocracy Logo

Freedom First and others have initiated the Fifth annual "Blog Against Theocracy" event. Since its inception I have participated in this blogswarm. I am a strong proponent of the Separation of Church and State.  I think most people who would like more religiousness from their government fail to think it through completely.  Further, I think that those, who would benefit, perpetuate misunderstanding to further their agenda.  For instance, it is not against the law for students to pray in public schools.  However, it is against the law to force them to pray or to pray in a certain way. Thus, many perpetuate the idea that it is illegal to pray to further their own agenda.  These are the kind of things I highlight in my stories at my other blog. Here is the link to this year's story, and feel free to tell me what you think.  Thanks!

Around the Campfire Comment of the Day.

As you may know, I run another blog called Around the Campfire.  It has been around a while, so it regularly gets comment spam.  Sometimes you have to wonder what they are thinking when they leave a comment like this:

I opine that to get the mortgage loans[link removed] from creditors you must have a great motivation. Nevertheless, one time I've received a car loan, because I wanted to buy a building.

This comment was left on my story entitled: "The Cursed Clown Sweater of Constitution"  Needless to say, the story had nothing to do with mortgages or loans...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time Travel Rant - Part 2

This is a continuation of a post I did a while back. Part 1 can be found here.

In mathematics, there is this concept called consistency. An axiomatic mathematical system is consistent, if you cannot prove contrary things. For example, you would not be able to prove that 1+1=2 and 1+12.

An axiomatic mathematical system is built upon 3 things: undefined terms, defined terms, and axioms (or assumptions.) Given these things, you can build amazing mathematical systems like Euclidean geometry and non-Euclidean geometry. The difference between Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry are the assumptions made. However, the two geometries are (in general) not compatible with each other. If you combine the two geometries, you will quickly find that it is non-consistent. In other words, you would be able to prove two contrary theorems.

For a mathematician, non-consistent systems are not very interesting. This is because of the way these systems are built. If you can prove two contrary statements, you can prove ANY two statements. Thus, if you can state a conjecture in the language of the system, it is automatically true. While the proof might not be trivial, you could prove any statement to be true.  With any statement being true, you can imagine that these systems are not very compelling or interesting.

So, why am I mentioning this in a post about time travel? Simply because non-consistent systems are not interesting. If you have conflicting assertions, both of which are true, you end up with uninteresting systems. This is a problem with time travel being impossible. It opens up a realm of things, that quickly devolve into something uninteresting.  You strip a story of the things that may make it compelling.

To illustrate, let us explore Star Trek! In the original series, the transporter was simply a way to get the crew of the USS Enterprise quickly and easily to the planet. It was a short cut. It was a device that allowed them to put more story in their timeslot. Anything beyond that was mostly ignored. It was just a way to get on with the story the writers were telling.

Flash forward to Star Trek: The Next Generation. The new series began with the premise, we have this technology, what are the consequences of this technology? Thus, instead of being a plot device to speed up a story, they explored the consequences of having this impossible technology at their disposal. It quickly devolved into farcical plot devices.

For instance, in the second season, there is an episode entitled Unnatural Selection. In it, Dr. Pulaski beams down to a research station where these genetically modified children are living. Everyone around these kids suddenly and rapidly age. (More info can be found here.) Dr. Pulaski finds herself unnaturally aging, and they use the transporter to fix her. So, what this means is that if some redshirt beamed down and was killed, they should be able to fix him using this technique with the transporter. (Not once does this happen.)

Moreover, it means that you could live forever. All you would have to do is store a particular pattern in the "pattern buffer" and use the transporter to restore you to that pattern at the end of the day. You would be perpetually that pattern. This is in essence what they did to bring Scotty onto the show. Thus, all of the near-death experiences and dangers were meaningless because everyone could be restored using the transporter.

By looking at the consequences of this technological impossibility, it could easily devolve into non-interesting story arcs. What was meant as a shortcut to telling interesting stories, became a Deus Ex Machina to resolve plot points. This is the problem with allowing individuals to travel backwards in time. Instead of a shortcut to exploring a world without Stalin, there are stories that relish the great paradoxes of the entire genre. They are like non-consistent mathematical systems. Anything is possible, so they are not very interesting.

I would like to propose a theory of time that allows for a world without WWII, but removes the paradox. I wish for a more sciencey science fiction if you will.  Because of the grandfather paradox, we need a believable way to get around that.  Most stories that attempt to explain away the paradox have failed.   That includes Dr. Who.  Hence, we need to look at time differently.

I think of time as an unraveling carpet. We sit on the string that trails behind. That string is the unchanging past. However, if we look in the other direction, we see an expanse of possibilities. The future is wide open. We do not know what will unfold ahead as the future is dependant upon our actions. However, once our moment has unraveled, there is no going back.

The future is determined by our decisions and random occurrences. If we make that wrong turn at Albuquerque, we do not know what the future would bring. If we purposely take that right turn instead of the left, we change which part of the future comes our way and is set on that string the trails behind us. Steven Hawking proposes a sort of Heissenburg uncertainty principle into time. Thus, the future is always uncertain.  We can guess with a level of confidence, a probability if you will, of what is going to happen in the future.

Now, just because there is a string that trails behind us that we call the past, does not mean that there are not other strings. This could be the building blocks for a multiverse. It should be our foundation for any time travelling based stories.

Instead of travelling back in time to kill Hitler, we travel across the multiverse to a timeline where Hitler never becomes chancellor or is never born. In this way, our characters appear in that timeline in whatever technology that is used. We do not change things -- since it is impossible. Further, we do not travel to their past. We appear in their present, but can look into their past. We can observe the differences in this part of the multiverse.

Currently, there are theories that indicate their are other dimensions. Thus, this type of travel could theoretically be possible. At our current level of technology, we do not know if this is impossible like we know that traveling back in time is impossible. Thus, this is much more acceptable to me than the old time travel scenario.

In an effort to facilitate this technology, I would propose some sort of infinite improbability drive to get to these dimensions. The future is unknowable, as I stated. However, there are probabilities for things to occur. For instance, it is highly improbable that I will be enjoying the beaches of Barbados tomorrow. Thus, if we use some probability type device to go to a time and place where I would be at the beach, we have our hook. This is our way into that dimension. Getting back is another issue.

In any event, this is a much more acceptable view of time and exploring differing timelines. It rids us of the grandfather paradox. It is vastly more probable than the completely impossible old science fiction time travel paradigm. It is time to retire the old view, and start using a more updated model of time. Thanks!

Stalagmite Sculptures!

I think my dad saw Stalagmite Sculptures open for The Troggs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You don't bring me flowers...

If you know me, you know that I have a slight allergy to flowers.  (Instant headache)  However, these I would love to receive.  Too bad Valentines day has passed.

Massive Intergalactic Radio Jets

I love the debut album of Massive Intergalactic Radio Jets -- Dwarf the Moon.  It rocks!

Dwayne's Wednesday Robot Romper Room

Rosie:  (aka Rosey the Robot, Demonstrator Model XB-500)  She is the robot maid (based on the TV maid Hazel) on the TV Show The Jetsons.  She was an inexpensive model hired by the Jetsons from U-RENT A MAID.  For the family, she was responsible for various household chores and is often seen with a vacuum cleaner or feather duster.  Also,  she had some child rearing responsibilities.  She would often give advice to Judy and was practically raising Elroy.  Sometimes prone to malfunctions, like when they deactivated her boyfriend Mac, she was still a part of the Jetson family.

(Image Courtesy of The Unofficial Jetsons Homepage)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A blast from the past...

I'd like to talk about politics, but first a little Foggy Mountain Breakdown...

Dwayne's Wednesday Robot Romper Room

Twiki: In 1979, following the success of Star Wars Glen A. Larson (creator of Battlestar Galactica) launched Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Twiki (voiced by Mel Blanc) would spontaneously spew out great lines like, "Bidi-bidi-bidi Buck."

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Pixelated Trek

I would have to return my Trekkie card if I did not link to and show this image.  The complete listing of who's who is at the link.

(Hat tip to Boing Boing)

Contagious Chimp Yawns!

Contagious Chimp Yawns is today's WMAGNFARB.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Coin operated robots?

I see the seeds of the robocalypse being planted in 1938.  I am guessing these robots did not see a single bit of that money!

Dwayne's Rockin' 'n' Rollin' Robots!

We at AOENC care about you the home viewer.  So, today we are rolling out a new feature.  It is Dwayne's Rockin' 'n' Rollin' Robots.  We hope you enjoy it.  So, without further ado, we bring you Mr. Roboto by Styx!

Backhanded Procurement!

From a transcript from the Daily Show, we bring you Backhanded Procurement.  Now rock it!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Monsters - Movie Review

I watched the movie Monsters last night, so I thought I would give it a little review.  First I will give a brief overview and my thoughts, and then after the jump, I will go into spoilery detail.

Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America.
That is the back-story that is covered in the opening titles.  It sounds a bit familiar.  Should George Romero sue?  No need, as this probe causes giant monsters to form not raise the dead.  Because of this, a good portion of Mexico is quarantined in order to prevent the spread of these aliens.  Before you go thinking that this is some kind of Kaiju movie, the monsters are not really the main characters of the movie.  They provide the backdrop for the story.  It is the story two people who are attempting to get from Mexico to the United States.  At the beginning they would rather be doing something else.  Nonetheless they are plotted to travel together.  It is basically the plot of The African Queen.  Although Whitney Able looks way better than Katharine Hepburn did in The African Queen.

You have a reluctant male character, a photographer in Monster's case, who is hired to bring someone back though beautiful yet dangerous territory.  If you are expecting the giant monsters to rampage through a major city, you are not going to get that.  It is mostly a story about relationships.  A love story wrapped up in Kaiju clothing.  It is wonderfully shot.  The effects are really good.  The monster is menacing but not too complicated.  The effects help aid the story rather than being the sole purpose for the movie.  It was well done all around, it just did not appeal to me too much.  A fine movie, but not gripping.  I liked that it left a lot of things ambiguous.  That helped, but it was still a love story.  In the NetFix style review I give it three stars out of five.  The more specific and spoilery review after the jump.

Sloth Dung Fossils!

I think I saw the Sloth Dung Fossils open up for The Blue Hearts.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time Travel Rant - Part 1

So, I was listening to this Escape Pod podcast, featuring the story The Grandfather Paradox. At the end, they mentioned that some people hate time travel stories, but they did not know why. I am here to tell you why I do not particularly care for them.

Each of us has a particular view of the past. We have experiences that we remember, and those may reverberate into other people's remembrances. Look at the movie It's a Wonderful Life. You can see from that movie the impact one person has on so many other people. If you change even the minutest detail of someone's life, that could reverberate to so many other people's experience. If my view, you simply cannot change the past without dire consequences  (IE paradoxes will arise).

As Sean Carrol puts it, there is an arrow of time. If we look into the past, that arrow is pointing at us. We live in a world of increasing entropy. Thus, if we are reading or writing Science Fiction, we expect it to somewhat obey the laws of science -- at least as we currently understand them. If you want to get the idea of how time works, perhaps you should read Dr. Carrol's book From Eternity to Here. It is on the nature of time. He talks about why remember the past, but not the future. He is a leading authority of space/time, and he states that you cannot change the past. Thus, science fiction, which is suppose to be moderately scientific, should not include things that are patently unscientific.

I will note that I know that time travel is possible. We are traveling in time right now. However, like the arrow of time, we only travel in one direction. We are traveling in time at 1 day per day. It is pretty amazing!

Einstein theorizes that we can move faster than 1 day per day. It is complicated relativity stuff. It involves moving faster than our point of reference, etc. There is complicated math and junk involved, so I will not delve into the traveling forward in time business. We know it is possible and how that part basically works. Thus, stories that work in that direction are fine.

However, the realm of science fiction has great quantities of time traveling stories. Individuals travel back and forth in time and space. The Grandfather Paradox, mentioned above is one such story. Doctor Who is another example. He travels throughout time and space -- having all kinds of adventures. Nevertheless, these are all wrong!

In order to travel against the arrow of time, the science fiction author must overcome one particular paradox. It is often referred to as the Grandfather/Grandmother Paradox. That is, if you could travel back in time, you could travel back to meet your grandfather or grandmother. If you could do that, you could kill said grandparent before your parents were born. Thus, preventing your own birth. However, if you were not born, you could not travel back in time. Hence, you could not kill your grandparent before your parents were born. However, if your grandparents do not die, they can have your parents, and thus you. Hence, you can exist to go back and kill your grandparents. This can go on and on.

If you are going to write a science fiction story, you must explain how you get past this particular paradox. At the very least, you should gloss over it. You should not highlight the impossibility of your story's entire premise. For instance, the Doctor is often saying he is the last of the Time Lords. Why does he not go back in time to when Time Lords existed? He seems to be able to go to any place in time and space. Why he cannot go back to visit his grandmother is a mystery.  I have heard various reasons -- Time Lords live outside of time and space. Rubbish!  If he can take someone who does live in time and space -- IE his companion -- then they exist in time and space.

What I am saying is that when we look at things in the past, they are set -- set in stone. The past is always the same. Once we look into changing the past, we run into these types of paradoxes. You simply cannot get away from them. Each action, no matter how seemingly insignificant, will be part of the series of events that lead up to you now. Further, all of the science points to this being true.  Time is a one-way street.

While it may be great to go back into time and kill Hitler before he becomes Chancellor of Germany, we simply cannot do it. Further, we never will. World War II happened, and there is no changing that. Therefore, any story about this type of thing is based upon an impossibility, and we should stop doing that. In general, science fiction should be based upon the possible scientific realities. We know these types of time travel are impossible, so we need to stop relying upon them. Good or bad, we got to where we are right now because of the past occurrences -- even the bad ones.

We got here because of Hitler and the war, and not despite of them. What happens with the A-Bomb if there is no WWII? What happens with all those people that do not die fighting the war? There are simply too many permutations that would be different for that one event to not happen. Lots of people's parents met because of the war. You cannot take that away...

Now, you may be thinking, going faster than the speed of light is scientifically impossible. Is that out of the question for science fiction? Some would say that it is. However, it is just a shortcut to get interesting stories. Thus, if your time traveling story is interesting, then I am usually willing to give it a break. Interesting stories is what drew me to the current incarnation of Doctor Who.

I really liked Christopher Eccleston's doctor. They told some really good stories. Many of David Tennant's episodes were really good too. However, in my opinion, they got really lazy. How many times do they have to kill every last Dalek? I know many long time fans like them, and they are compelling opponents to the Doctor. However, if they can come back every season and every last one can be wiped out -- again, then so can other Time Lords. Thus, you end up in paradox territory.  It revels in its paradoxes rather than gloss over them and tell compelling stories.

I am not like the mundane science fiction people, I do not necessarily mind the scientific impossibilities in my science fiction. However, I would like a bit more plausibility. Quite frankly, I find this sort of time travel very implausible. If you cannot convince me otherwise, then I am not interested in your story.  If I think, oh no -- another one of these, you have lost me.  In fact, if I was reading the Grandfather Paradox podcast, I would not have made it past the first 100 words.

Having said all of that, I do have a theory of time travel. I would find my version (naturally) acceptable, and many stories could be adapted to this newer better model of time. However, that will have to wait, as I have ranted long enough. Next time!

Zombie Mentors

I remember seeing the Zombie Mentors on American Bandstand when I was a kid.

Dwayne's Wednesday Robot Romper Room

Cylon Command Centurion
Cylons: Glen A. Larson's 1978 sci-fi classic Battlestar Galactica introduced us to a race of robots called Cylons. Originally, Cylons were a race of reptiles that created servant robots. However, the Cylons died off and the robots continued on taking their master's name for themselves. For some reason Cylons really hate humans and the robots sole purpose in the universe is to hunt down every last single human being. Now Cylons came in wide variety of models from the Imperious Leader to the ubiquitous Cylon Centurion in the famous silver armor.

(Image courtesy of The Battlestar Galactica Wiki)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Around the Campfire Comment of the Day.

As you may know, I run another blog called Around the Campfire.  It has been around a while, so it occasionally gets comment spam.  You will never guess what this guy was attempting to sell:

Hi there,Donte Whitner Jersey! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot,Mike Ditka Jersey!

(I removed the links...)

Energized Mouse

We're on a sort of WMAGNFARB animal kick, so we'll continue with Energized Mouse.  (via Dave Barry of course!)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Suburban Coyotes

Give it up for the Suburban Coyotes!  (It is a Star Tribune link, so it may be broken...)