Monthly Archives: August 2022

50 Words for Snow

Everyone knows “Eskimos have 50 words for snow.” Everyone knows that’s an urban myth. Both statements are true for appropriate values of everyone. The truth, of course and as usual, lies in the middle and is both more elusive and more nuanced.

The frosting: as with many of life’s more vexing issues, there is also a definitional component, and things depend, at least somewhat, on perspective. What constitutes a word and how does the basic language structure introduce new concepts, with new words or phrases?

But no matter because this post isn’t about the 50 words for snow.

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Everything Everywhere All at Once

I had plans today but woke up feeling less-than-great (still have a headache). Fortunately, friend was fine with tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s a post planned for next Sci-Fi Saturday. Ironically, after my complaints about modern movies, here’s another delight.

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022), starring Chinese superstar Michelle Yeoh, written and directed by Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), is wild and wacky — a comedy action thriller about family, choices, and saving the multiverse. Also, a bagel with everything on it.

Gets a Wow! rating. Recommended (as ever: if you like that sort of thing).

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Reversing Reality

“Time is out of joint.”

I’ve long puzzled over the idea that physics is reversible. That its laws, with some caveats, work the same if time runs forwards or backwards. It’s even been suggested that, except for entropy, time could run backwards just as easily as forwards.

But this seems contrary to our everyday experience. With some exceptions, we can tell if a film or video clip is shown in reverse. Objects that fall, break, or grow (such as plants or crystals), look different seen in reverse.

I think there is more going on there than just entropy.

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StoRy: FiRe vs WateR

I complain a lot about American cinema and rightly so. Given the vast amount of money and effort expended in Hollywood, there often doesn’t seem much bang for all those bucks. Yet if you go through my Movie Reviews, you’ll find I’ve given plenty of Wow! ratings to American films.

Just usually to the smaller films, the “little gems” that come from a filmmaker’s heart. I rarely find much value in the bland American McAction McBlockbusters. (Certainly not in the increasingly worn-out superhero genre.)

But, oh, my goodness, RRR (2022), by Indian filmmaker and screenwriter S. S. Rajamouli is the best, most interesting, most enthralling, most exciting, surprising, colorful, amazing, delightful action (superhero) blockbuster I’ve seen in… well, it feels like ever.

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Sawyer: WWW

What if, as more than one science fiction story has imagined, the sheer size and complexity of the World Wide Web made it become self-aware. And what if, contrary to most of those stories, it was wonderful in every sense of the word. What if it meant world peace, freedom, and humanity at long last growing up.

That’s the vision Robert J. Sawyer presents in his WWW trilogy, which consists of Wake (2009), Watch (2010), and Wonder (2011). It’s the tale of a young woman blind from birth who gains sight, a bonobo-chimpanzee hybrid who makes a choice, and an emergent machine-based superintelligence who wants to serve man.

And not, it (or rather he) adds, in the cookbook sense.

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Ronning’s Lake Carvings

It started in January with a local PBS show. I was trying to figure out a really good gift for a really good friend with a birthday in March. I often feel I’m a poor gift giver. It’s not a lack of generosity but that I forget to allow the time necessary for proper gift selection. I find I need that time to find something that both appeals to me and (more importantly) is a great fit for the recipient.

Part of my gift giving philosophy is that the gift should be something I’d almost rather keep than give away. I figure if it appeals to me, it should appeal to my (generally like-minded) friends. I’m not sure that logic always follows, but c’est la vie.

Anyway, I was watching PBS…

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TV Tuesday 8/16/22

Early last year I wrote about Cowboy Bebop, an award-winning Japanese anime classic from 1998. It’s on my list of favorite things ever. It’s so rich on so many levels that I’ve watched and enjoyed it at least half a dozen times. For me it’s an almost perfect combination of anime, hard SF, music, action, and humor.

Late last year Netflix released a live action version with John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, and Daniella Pineda, as Spike, Jet, and Faye, respectively. I watched three episodes and bailed. It wasn’t just me. Netflix cancelled the series only a few weeks after its release.

Ever since, I’ve wanted to give it another try, see if it really is that bad.

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Mystery Monday 8/15/22

Last post I mentioned my third reading axis, the murder mystery, detective, crime, thriller axis. The interest, inherited from my dad, goes back almost as far as the science fiction axis. It started, very early, with Sherlock Holmes, which led to the Agatha Christie version, Hercule Poirot.

Dad introduced me to Parker and Spenser. That led to Chandler, Hammett, Stout, Paretsky, Grafton, and so many others. Some seeds planted in childhood flourish to become large trees, others never even sprout (I tried and rather quickly abandoned stamp, coin, and rock collecting.)

For Mystery Monday, here’s a brief update from the third axis.

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Sci-Fi Saturday 8/13/22

While I may not have been posting much lately, I have not been idle. One good descriptor for me — one that has been valid for nearly my entire life — is voracious reader. One thing I’m not, however, is a broadly eclectic reader. I tend to stay in the realms of science and science fiction, with the latter leaning well towards hard science fiction.

There is a third reading axis I love, the murder mystery, detective, crime, thriller axis (so: Christie, Grisham, Leonard, Child, et many al). And lately I’ve discovered some interest in historical accounts of quantum mechanics and the people behind it.

But Sci-Fi Saturday is all about the science fiction!

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Friday Notes (Aug 12, 2022)

It’s been a few minutes since my last post. Lately, the effort of writing hasn’t seemed worth the almost non-existent return. I find I’ve lost faith in humanity, and the phrase that seems most resonant is: “Really, when you come right down to it, what’s the point of it all?” I think, at least in our case, the Fermi Paradox seems resolved.

Perhaps more crucially, this damned dark cloud over me seems all I can write about. Everything else seems ephemeral. If we can’t solve our most basic human problems (education, race, gender, poverty, pollution) then the rest of it really is fiddling while Rome burns.

It makes me angry. Humanity can do better than this. I think.

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