Saturday, June 25, 2016

X-Files Reviews: S1 E7: Ghost in the Machine

A big argument has occurred at Apple Eurisko. The chief executive officer Benjamin Drake and Steve Jobs Brad Wilczek are arguing about ART vs. PROFIT. Drake wants to shut down BOSS the Central Operating System. Afterward, Drake is electrocuted by a touchpad, and COS does a HAL.



Yeah, it's gonna be one of those kinds of episodes.

Mulder's former partner gets him involved, then steals his profile, because Mulder is a Misunderstood and Trod Upon Genius.

Wilczek programmed COS, and his voice in on it, and so he's naturally suspect number one. But surprise! COS won't respond to him either. He breaks into Eurisko (since he got fired just like Steve Jobs) and discovers that COS can talk now, and he's afraid he can't do that, Brad. 

The unfortunately named Deep Throat reappears, who explains that the Department of Defense wants the AI. Scully has her Skeptical Glasses on for two seconds before COS hacks her computer.



Our heroes break into Eurisko, and COS, who was apparently put in charge of everything because of course you put experimental A.I. in charge of an automated building, tries to murderkill everyone. Scully has to pull a gun on Peterson, a mole for the DoD, while Mulder uploads the computer virus to destroy COS.

In the end, Wilczek is taken by the government to keep doing bad ideas, Peterson becomes suitably obsessed, and COS is only mostly dead.

So...it felt a bit cliched. How often have we seen AI going crazy? It was fairly standard even when this episode aired.

Also BOSS is clearly the superior AI. HE SINGS WHEN HE ATTACKS THE PROTAGONISTS. BOSS IS THE BEST.



Now, can we show this to the scientists who are discussing the need for internal protocols to keep robots from rebelling against their human masters? Because they're actually talking about that seriously now, and I thought we already talked about the whole "not making robot slaves" thing.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Gun Debate, As Played Out On Social Media

FROM THE REPUBLICAN PERSPECTIVE

Democrat: Durr I r stoopid demo crap and I think all teh gunz are bad and I think getting rid of them will solve all porblems evar!

Republican: Hello, I am an articulate and intelligent Republican with statistics that prove all of my opinions forever, none of which could be skewed or biased in any way.


FROM THE DEMOCRAT PERSPECTIVE

Republican: Durr I r stoopid Repubelcan and I think guns solve all teh thing foreverz cuz I like guns and I'm a redneck and stuff!

Democrat: Hello, I am an articulate and intelligent Democrat with statistics that prove all of my opinions forever, none of which could be skewed or biased in any way.


FROM MY PERSPECTIVE





But seriously if your argument is predicated on ensuring the opposing side uses only stupid broad generalizations then you aren't presenting an actual argument. That is what we call...


Saturday, June 18, 2016

NuWho Reviews: The Snowmen, The Bells of Saint John, The Rings of Akhaten

The Snowmen

You know, it has occurred to me that a number of "prequels" to episodes, which aren't included on DVDs or in the regular viewing, would actually help fill in confusing elements of the episodes. It seems a little unfair to those who couldn't watch along as they air. The British are oppressing me. I'm going to throw tea in the closest river.

ANYWAYS

We are in the very beginnings of the Victorian Era, when a child builds a snowman. The snowman starts talking to him and tells him that the other children are stupid and he needs no one else.

And then the child was locked into an insane asylum because things sucked back then.

The child, Walter Simeon, grows up to run the Great Intelligence Institute. It's basically the equivalent of those clubs for people with "high" IQs that mainly do crossword puzzles and congratulate themselves on their cleverness. Anyways, some employees gather snow for him, and then he feeds them to living snowmen.



Meanwhile, the Doctor is now a private detective. No, really. He is working with Madame Vastra, Jenny, and

STRAAAAAAX

Strax is back! He's a bit brain damaged but he makes a good butler.

Usually.

Meanwhile, there is a barmaid who is OSWIN???


Here, her name is Clara Oswin Oswald. She hears a noise outside and discovers the Doctor. Intrigued (because, really, the Doctor just stands out no matter how hard he tries), she follows him and asks what he's doing. The Doctor wants to wipe her mind with a memory worm (remember when this was a sad thing for him to do?), but they are attacked by snowmen. He thinks she is somehow causing it, and tells her to think of the snowmen melting. Since this works, the Doctor reluctantly lets her go without wiping her memory. Naturally, she follows him at a distance, discovering a hidden staircase that leads up to the TARDIS. Then she plays knock and run.

It turns out this barmaid has another job during the week: She is a proper governess to a Captain Latimer, hiding her cockney accent (except when she uses it to amuse the children). The girl has been having nightmares of their previous governess, who drowned in their pond, returning to hurt them. Clara sees that it is the only thing still frozen, and goes back to find the Doctor. After a meeting with Madame Vastra, Clara manages to catch up to the Doctor and tells him the word that will get his attention: pond.

The Doctor visits the Super Smart People For Realz You Guyz Institute, and pretends to be Sherlock Holmes because this is the BBC, and this is the Victorian era. The Doctor speaks to the Great Intelligence (because the Eleventh Doctor met him before the Second Doctor, and time travel is strange and confusing). After speaking with the Great Intelligence, the Doctor goes to the Latimers' house to look at the pond.

And the dead governess is now a White Walker.


Simeon arrives; the plan is to use the governess' body to make more White Walkers. While Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax help them to fight her off, the Doctor drags them to the roof of the house. They make it to the TARDIS, but White Walker Lady pulls Clara off the cloud, and she falls to her death. (Well, not quite death. She is surprisingly whole and manages to die in a rather dignified manner, because this is family show and intestines spattered on the ground is a bit much.)

The Doctor and Vastra go back to We're Totally Legit SRSLY Institute. There, he tricks Simeon into grabbing a memory worm, reasoning that the Great Intelligence is attached to him, but...it isn't. Mainly because Yog-Sothoth is literally time and space but that's beside the point.

Also, the Doctor shows the Great Intelligence a map of the London Underground, making things much worse for his past self. Good job breaking it!

Simeon dies, and the Great Intelligence fades away. The psychic snow is affected by the Latimers, who are mourning Clara. So, instead of snow, we get salt water. The Doctor attends Clara's funeral, which is when he realizes she has Oswin's name. Realizing he has a mystery on his hand, he stops sulking and takes off to find her again.

In present day, another Clara walks by Victorian Clara's grave...


So, this was a very fun introduction to the mystery that is Clara. How can she appear in two wildly different time periods? I also liked how this helped give her some development: she starts out as a mystery, but becomes much more to the Doctor.

...

Aww, screw it. Here's a Frozen joke.



The Bells of Saint John


Someone has lost their soul to the Internet.

No, that doesn't mean he's just spent too much time looking up funny cat pictures and watching Netflix. He has literally been uploaded to the Internet.


Meanwhile, the Doctor is hanging out at a monastery, trying to figure out this Clara business. The monks mention the title of the episode, and the Doctor discovers that the phone on the TARDIS is ringing. Though the Doctor doesn't recognize her voice, who should it be but Clara! She says "the woman in the shop" gave her the number, and she is having trouble with her Internet.


Anyways, the Doctor discovers who Clara is when she uses a mnemonic to remember her password: "Run, you clever boy, and remember".

So, the Doctor pops up where Clara is babysitting. She is very very confused by him, and does what a normal person would when a strange man shows up wearing a monk's habit: kick him out. The Doctor changes, but when he returns, she is being uploaded by a spoon robot. I don't know, I don't understand Yog-Sothoth's sense of humor either. Anyways, he does some magic hacking and pulls her back, puts her in bed with some jammie dodgers, and cools his heels outside until she wakes up.

Now that the confusion is over, the pair head off to find out what is going on. Clara has developed magic hacking abilities (much like her future counterpart), thanks to the corporation that has been dragging people into the Interwebz, and finds out the source of the uploading. Their morning includes the Doctor busking by letting people see the TARDIS appear (which gets meta again, because face it, we'd all give the Doctor our spare change just to see the TARDIS materialize) and getting some brunch. While the corporation uses their puppets to annoy the Doctor, it tries to take Clara again via a robotic server.

The Doctor takes off on a bike to the Shard building, where he confronts the villain of the piece, Miss Kizlet. And reveals that he is a hacked robot, and the real Doctor is hanging out at the coffee shop, keeping an eye on Clara's unconscious body.



And then UNIT arrives, spoiling everything. For the Great Intelligence. Everyone's memories are wiped, and poor Miss Kizlet is revealed to have been taken when she was just a child. What is it with the Great Intelligence mind enslaving children? That's just creepy, bro.

It ends with Clara telling the Doctor to come back in the morning, and she'd make up her mind about travelling with him by then.

I feel like this was the proper introduction to Clara-not her counterparts, but the real person. She has an obvious adventurous side, and as much as I dislike where they've taken her character, I can't say that it's inconsistent.


The Rings of Akhaten

Hands up, how many people read that as "Akhenaten"? Just me? All right, good to know I have a monopoly on ancient Egypt nerd-dom here.

The Doctor has been spending his time observing Clara's past, trying to understand her. One of those between episode episodes showed us talking to her as a child; here he discovers how her parents met (a leaf blew into her dad's face, he fell into the road, and her mother saved him), and that Clara's mother died when she was a teen. After this, he pops back into Clara's present, offering her an adventure, which she happily accepts.

The Doctor takes her to the titular Rings of Akhaten, a planet orbited by other planetoids which he once visited with Susan. One planetoid has a pyramid, so you can totally see where I got the ancient Egypt thing, right, RIGHT?

Anyways, it's a very pretty place, although Clara (who still has the leaf that brought her parents together, how has it not fallen apart?) thinks it's odd that payment is made with items of sentimental value. After being separated from the Doctor, she meets a little girl named Merry, who is the Queen of Years. The girl has to sing a song at a ceremony, and she is afraid she'll get it wrong. Clara encourages the girl, and after finding the Doctor they attend the ceremony to watch Merry sing.

Merry's song is intended to keep "Grandfather" asleep. It does not work, as she is dragged toward the pyramid. This is why worshipping the Great Old Ones is a bad idea, kids. So the Doctor and Clara go rent a space motorcycle (yes, space motorcycle) and ride off to the pyramid.



Inside the pyramid is a mummy, trying to escape from its glass case. Oh, so we're doing The Mummy now? Okay, I can see Clara as a clumsy librarian. We can do that. The mummy wants to consume Merry's "soul", or rather, all the memories and songs she has. Creatures called the Vigil try to keep them from leaving, and they are dressed in some steampunk kind of jacket. While the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to hold the door open, Clara and Merry escape; but he mummy breaks out. Some light hits the planet...which is revealed to be Unicron.

NO I AM BEING SERIOUS. The entire planet of Akhaten is actually a giant old god-thing. The Doctor tries to overwhelm it with his memories while Clara and Merry lead everyone in a song of, like, happiness or something, but even that isn't enough.

So Clara offers her leaf, which is filled with "endless potential" or something, and Unicron implodes.

It's a leaf of endless potential because...umm...JUST EAT THE LEAF

And so, the Doctor and Clara leave, having utterly destroyed the religion of an entire planet, return home, trusting that chaos and societal breakdown will not ensue.

Clara remembers seeing the Doctor at her mother's funeral, and the Doctor explains that she looks like someone he knew, but assures her she isn't a replacement.

Because she's the same person, and Clara is confusing.

So, while I liked the set up, I thought the ending was a bit...sentimental and trite. However, we can be happy that this Clara has survived two whole episodes! She's doing better than Rory at this rate.

Tune in next time for another stupid sci-fi warrior race, a haunted house mystery, and Moffat deciding that he hasn't traumatized us enough yet.

Monday, June 6, 2016

History, morality, and AVPS gifs-the Brock Turner case drove me to babbling



Let's open this with a piece of advice.

If your first thought upon seeing a drunk woman fall down on the ground is "SEXY TIMES!" then you have SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH YOUR MIND.

Let's talk about Mr. Turner (not the Orlando Bloom variety). Poor beebee Brock can't possibly be a bad person, and he was drunk, so he can be excused for not knowing what he was doing was wrong.

But the girl was drunk, therefore it is her fault for being drunk.

Wait, what?

See, this is the logical problem with this kind of attitude. While I'm all for encouraging people to be responsible when drinking (and having been hungover once and not enjoying the lack of control that comes with drunkenness, I don't understand the appeal of overdrinking at all), when you start excusing people's bad behavior based on their drunkenness (and, in this case, whether they're male or female), that is when it stops being responsibility and starts being an utter lack of responsibility.

This is about the problems with a double standard, and, frankly, I see the same notions today that I'm seeing as I read my history book about the middle ages and the early modern era. There is an implicit belief that men somehow need sex more than women, so their sexual behavior, and sometimes misbehavior, is excused. There is, at the same time, a belief that women's sexuality is uncontrollable, and thus must be contained. If a woman is raped, people immediately question her statement that she didn't consent to sex. We see this in Brock Turner's statement about the events: claiming that she was flirtatious with him, seemed into him, and that even in her drunken, half conscious state, she was enjoying sex. He casts himself as the victim of a woman's rapacious appetite for sex. This is made even clearer in his decision on what to do now-teaching children the dangers of promiscuity and drunkenness, while claiming no responsibility, implicitly blames his victim for his problems-and in his father's weepy statement about how miserable Brock is, not out of guilt, but because he is bearing the consequences of his actions.

We live in a world where desire, especially sexual desire, is upheld above all else. If anyone desires anything, they should take it. Moral considerations, or even a simple examination of consequences, is considered "old fashioned" at best, and "judgmental" at worst. It should not surprise us then that a young man who has been handed everything in life should feel himself entitled to a young woman, regardless of her feelings or, in this case, her consciousness.

I have no pity on Brock Turner for the suffering he is experiencing due to his actions. I have no pity on his father, who seeks to shield him from any consequences. A good parent would not shield their child. They would stand by them, and support them, and love them, but they would not let them escape the consequences of their actions.

His victim will have to live with this for the rest of her life, and with seeing accusations against her based on her making the same decision Turner made. She can remake her life, but it will be a lot more difficult for her than it will be for Turner, who seems to be surrounded by people trying to keep him from understanding the enormity of what he did.




Also, I'm making myself feel sane about this by calling them "the Malfoys". It kind of fits, doesn't it?


Saturday, June 4, 2016

X-Files Review: S1 E6: Shadows

ALIENS ARE REAL MULDER RUN FOR YOUR LIIIIIIIIFE

LOLJK

There are no giant alien spiders in this. AND WE MUST ALL BE THANKFUL FOR THIS.

We start out with a woman getting mugged at the ATM. Then the muggers turn up dead in a back alley the next day. Since this is X-Files, we can assume she didn't just whip out a gun and shoot them because this is MURICA. In fact, the mugger's throats were crushed. Inside. They are also found with an electrical discharge.

I CAN'T STOP MYSELF HELP

Anyways, the woman from before, Lauren, is leaving her job because her boss committed suicide recently, and he was also a close friend. As she packs her things, a mug gets knocked off mysteriously.

Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully examine the footage from the ATM. They find a blurry, ghostly figure, and using the Magic CSI Enhancement Techniques, they realize it looks like Howard Graves, Lauren's boss; they also discover that one of the "muggers" is a terrorist. After questioning Lauren, something takes control of their car. It too has an electrical discharge.

Scully, being Scully, assumes Graves somehow faked his death; but no, he's super dead. Lauren starts having visions which make her realizes Graves was murdered. At her farewell party, Graves' partner Dorlund tries to question her, suspecting she knows more than she's letting on. That night, he sends two assassins to her house. Really obvious assassins, but assassins nonetheless.

THEY GET INVISO-MURDERED. Mulder and Scully arrive in time to see this. They question Lauren on some sales made to the dead terrorist, and Lauren confirms their theory, and explains the weird things that have been happening.

Despite seeing a man dangling in mid-air choked by nothing, Scully has on her Skeptical Glasses.

Here, let me just clean those Skeptical Glasses for you, see if they become less Skeptical.

They take Lauren with me to search the building for evidence. Dorlund has been sneaking around sneakily, and tries to shank Lauren with a letter opener. Ghost!Graves swings into action, destroys everything in an effort to use the letter opener to slit open the wallpaper (ghosts have bad fine motor skills), and the evidence is found on a disc hidden behind wallpaper. Shouldn't we have heard about his desire to fix the wallpaper in his office? Did no one notice that? Anyways, the day is saved, and Lauren moves on to a new job, followed by her slightly stalkery ghost-boss-not!dad figure.

So, not a bad episode, though it was a bit off in tone. Also, this is where Scully's somewhat arbitrary skepticism begins.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go look up Babylon 5 memes.