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Rabbit holes, unlike their makers, are not cute…or to be trifled with

I have friends who are always going on about getting lost down a rabbit hole on the internet.

This post is for them, assuming you stumble across it in your online queries.

Be careful about rabbit holes. They are dangerous.

Just as an example of the type of peril you may face, take my recent foray into the topic of “rabbit holes” on Wikipedia.

Reading about the warren of twisty little passages, all alike, soon reminded me about Watership Down.

Watership Down is a book (and a subsequent animated movie) about rabbits. Well, it’s about people and society and government, but dressed up in cute fuzzy cotton tail bodies. I saw the movie first, probably around the age of eight or nine.

My parents, with a desperate gleam in their eyes, said, “We need a break from you, even for just an hour and a half. There’s a movie about rabbits on the telly. That’ll be fun, yes?” Which seemed like a good idea all round until the fate of the first warren is revealed.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t. The stuff of nightmares. For young children and, shortly thereafter, the parents who have to deal with those children.

I read the book a few years later, 7th or 8th grade. And loved it. Amazing book. So good I tore through it at a considerably faster pace than the teacher expected us to. Which meant I was so far past the point she would quiz us on every Friday (to prove we’d been reading it) that I failed each and every test.

This of course leads me to the movie Se7en.

Like the book Watership Down, it’s a great movie, amazing. Fincher is one of my favorite directors. Right up there with Wes Anderson.

Like the movie Watership Down, I will never watch it again. Grueling. Soul-crushing. The non-rabbit stuff of nightmares.

Fincher also directed Alien 3, which was maligned at the time by the Alien fans, but which I think is actually the best movie of the bunch. Yes, it had problems: budget overruns, studio interference, and (surprising in a Fincher movie) really bad CGI. But the story is the kind of dark-humored, grisly horror that doesn’t involve a stomach-churning ending with a box that I can get behind.

Speaking of unexpected deliveries, Amazon shipped us an Amazon Fire TV stick with a tablet we bought. We didn’t order it, didn’t really want it, but assumed it was some sort of promotion. Fast forward a couple of years. We decide to use it. Except after considerable effort to set it up, we discover we can’t log in.

Contact Amazon tech support.

What’s the serial number on the box it came in?” Um, don’t have the box any more.

What’s the order number from when you bought it?” Um, we didn’t. You sent it to us for free, with a tablet. Here’s that order #.

Amazon never has, and never will ship Amazon Fire TV sticks for free.” And then, the implication that we’re thieves so thick we can detect it in the chat text, “What is the serial number or order number?

The conversation ended with “You might as well just throw it away.

But aren’t our landfills full enough already? Especially with e-waste? How is that being a responsible steward of the economy, Amazon? China’s not taking that crap any more, so it’s just gonna start piling up and at some point, if we aren’t careful, it’s gonna crush a rabbit warren and wipe out a whole community of cute little bunnies.

So you see what I mean? Rabbit holes aren’t just dangerous…they are downright deadly!

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Posted by on 2 September 2019 in Angst, Life, Reading, Technopocalypse, Writing

 

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Why NASA needs me to participate in their next social media event, or better yet, space mission

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to participate in DSN50, a NASA social media event celebrating the 50th anniversary of their Deep Space Network.

It was an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which I blogged about.

Except it turns out it wasn’t.

NASA is hosting another once-in-a-lifetime social media event, this time to witness the test launch of the new Orion space capsule.

(Not to be confused with the similarly named, nuclear pulse propulsion Orion spacecraft.)

Turns out, for this particular event, applicants must write a short essay justifying why they should get one of the few available slots.

Naturally, I started mine, when I realized something.

All I've ever wanted in life was to be an astronaut and to be hugged. If only there was a way to combine the two...

Imagine! This could be me!

I was aiming too low.

I shouldn’t be aiming for attendance at one of the nearby space centers to view the launch.

No, like NASA, I should be aiming for space itself.

Therefore, for the benefit of any NASA HR personnel who just happen to regularly read this blog, I humbly offer you compelling, irrefutable reasons why NASA should accept me as their next astronaut.

(Despite having no job application on file. Do I need one of those, or is a blog post considered enough?)

First and foremost, I am an engineer. So if we run into any of your run-of-the-mill, typical space-program-type issues, I am well-equipped to solve them.

I also happen to be a huge science fiction fan. Books, movies, TV shows, radio programs: I love them all. If we run into any unexpected problems, such as first contact, facehuggers, flux capacitors on a forced feedback loop or the like, again, I’m your go-to guy when it comes to dealing with it.

I am led to understand it can take a great deal of time and patience to get into a spacesuit. Well, I’m covered there too: I have five-year olds I regularly dress (they stubbornly refuse to learn how to do it themselves, the bastards), and if that doesn’t prove patience and perseverance, well, I don’t know what does.

Also, as just mentioned, I have two five-year olds at home who are stubborn and unwilling to dress themselves. I am really motivated to embark upon an extended trip. The further away from my home, the better, and you can’t get much further than low Earth orbit.

At least, with our current crop of spacecraft. You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to warp drives.

No idea.

And as a responsible, loving father of young children, I am eager to not leave them (permanently) fatherless. So you can count on me to avoid taking any reckless risks while in space.

Yup, I definitely won’t be forgetting to close that airlock door after a spacewalk.

In fact, I’m so reluctant to leave my children (permanently) fatherless that you will need to hire some muscle to actually get me into the launch vehicle. But I promise, once I’m in the vacuum of space and the only chance of safely returning is complete and total cooperation, you won’t find a more reliable and industrious astronaut.

By the way, a fresh-faced Daddy and his two young kids?

Photo op gold.

Plus I just had my teeth whitened. Don’t want that to go to waste, do you?

But lest you start thinking you should send my kids into space instead of me, let’s get back to what makes me a great candidate.

I may be that most dreaded of creatures, the pocket protector wearing engineer, but I’m not all awkward and uncomfortable around people, afraid to make eye contact and spewing jargon in lieu of meaningful communication.

I’m also an English minor. As this blog clearly demonstrates, I can (and will!) convey any sciency stuff we encounter to the masses, and in simple terms that even I can understand!

(Note: if there are complicated terms involved, you will need to simplify them for me before I can convey them to the masses. But it’s space, how complicated can things get?)

Lots of complaints from ungrateful astronauts about the food you provide them? Not from me! For the last six months, in an effort to bulk up, I’ve eaten only creatine powder, consumed straight from the jar with just a straw and a little water to lower the viscosity.

After six months of this, I don’t care what you send up with your astronauts. Cheese Whiz? Tang? Cricket dung? Don’t care. It can’t possibly be as dehumanizingly unfit for consumption as creatine sludge.

On a related note, my doctor keeps telling me to lose weight. I can’t think of a better in-your-face way to shut her up than to drop down to zero pounds. Am I right?

Which reminds me. Think of the endorsements you can get through me to help fund the space program. Weight Watchers alone ought to be willing to pay me millions upon my safe return.

We can call it the Weight Watchers NASA Certified Weightless Program. It’ll be huge!

I’ll cut you in for, say, ten percent?

And how can you judge an applicant without the context of current events?

You can’t, of course!

Which is why I am proud to state, for the record, that you have nothing to be worried about with me when it comes to Ebola. I haven’t been anywhere near Africa, let alone West Africa.

And Texas? I wouldn’t have my cremated remains sent to that state, let alone a viable, working body. So with me, you can rest easy, knowing the odds against my coming down with Ebola during a mission are astronomical!

Finally, if you still aren’t convinced of my bona fides, I will add only this:

If NASA can send monkeys and dogs into space, surely you can get me there too.

Though if any of those animals are available to talk about their experience, let me know. Like I said, I’m a little worried about leaving my kids fatherless, and talking to someone who’s been through the whole process would ease my nerves considerably.

And I’m really good with dogs.

Well, nice dogs.

Not dogs like mine. They’re jerks, and I don’t get along with them.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you and learning when I should report to space camp (by the way, I’ve always wanted to go to space camp).

Respectfully yours,

Ian M. Dudley

 
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Posted by on 27 October 2014 in Astronomy!, Science!

 

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A spoiler-free review of Prometheus

I don’t know about you, but I hate being exposed to spoilers for movies and television programs I haven’t seen yet.

It’s the primary reason I avoid Tumblr.

But it occurs to me that maybe spoilers are hard to avoid, that I should walk a mile (or a kilometer, for you metricphiles out there) in a spoiler’s shoes before complaining about what inconsiderate asses they are.

Don't look up it's nose - it'll hypnotise you!

A promotional poster for Prometheus. Or is it??

So I’ve decided to write a movie review. About Prometheus. Which I just saw a couple of days ago.

A lot of people are talking about it, and I figure if I use that as a tag, I’ll get more blog traffic.

Enjoy!

Prometheus centers around the character(s) of Evil Kenevil and Rupert Murdoch-wannabe Lance Armstrong. It offers the viewer a compelling conflict between Faberge egg connoisseurs and Jello-brand gelatin, who are searching for answers to where one can find the finest gourmet cheese whizzes.

The movie opens with a powerful scene of a Jersey Shore cast member dancing the lambada just before jumping into Niagra Falls and having a complete and total meltdown. It gets very messy from there, involving new and disgusting ways for a nation’s economic sovereignty to be violated. I was impressed.

Fast forward to the next season, and we’re in space. The Situation is playing with matches while his (or maybe her?) comrades are sleeping off the end all, be all of hangovers. They arrive at the Alien Experience ride at Universal Studios only discover some horrible accident has wiped out the attendants at the space gas station and they’re seriously screwed. Because they weren’t allowed to bring any gasoline with them.

Searching the facility, the crew finds an extraterrestrial version of the Cartoon Network and a room filled with sealed kegs of Captain Morgan rum that has gone seriously past its expiration date and a giant big toe sculpture. Extra spoiler – it has a humdinger of a hangnail. Truly this is a horror movie.

Naturally, this leads inevitably to some shoplifting and uncovering Tony Soprano’s head in a bowling ball bag. And what does one do when one finds Tony Soprano’s head in a bowling ball bag? Why, you do what the Situation would do, and juice it, of course. This leads to a messy, gooey tirade of profanity from Tony Soprano’s head that put me off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the rest of my life.

The movie has a lot of references to things that might be related to stuff in the Alien movie. But I can’t be sure, because the Alien movie happens after this movie, so I could be wrong.

As you’ve no doubt heard, there are a lot of ambitious questions asked by Prometheus. Where are my glasses? Did you take my peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of the cafeteria refrigerator, even though my name was clearly printed on the bag? Should I have worn a condom when I slept with you last night? What is this burning sensation in my uterus?

The movie had a lot of plot holes, with some of those holes requiring more effort and imagination than others to fill, but I still found that I was able to overlook the inexplicable out-of-character behavior of some characters, which I’m sure can be explained by wild leaps of the imagination thrown in with insane assumptions and a fanatical suppression of logic. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I liked this movie.

Even after the big reveal at the end, where the character we all thought was a beautiful woman turned out to be a man, baby! But that’s hardly a spoiler – I totally saw that coming after seeing the trailer.

And that’s what drives me crazy the most: when the worst spoilers are in the damned movie trailer. I haven’t seen crucial plot points like that one revealed in a trailer since My Dinner With Andre (yes, he had the special! Thanks for ruining the whole movie, Louis Malle, you poor excuse for a festering gob of gangrenous pus!)

Sometimes life just isn’t fair. But the pricks on Tumblr, as I have just demonstrated with the ease of my non-spoilering, totally deserve my hatred.

As for Prometheus, I give the movie four and a half face huggers out of five. Or maybe just one really big face hugger.

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Posted by on 15 June 2012 in Other Blogs

 

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