Author Archives: Wyrd Smythe

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts.

Cowboy Bebop

During the last two weeks I re-watched Cowboy Bebop, an award-winning Japanese science fiction anime classic created in 1998. In contrast with a lot of anime, the show is so adult in its themes that only 12 of the 26 episodes were aired when it premiered on TV Tokyo in 1998. The full series wasn’t aired in Japan until the following year on Wowow, a private, premium satellite network.

In 2001 it was the first anime title ever broadcast on Adult Swim, so it was the first experience many Americans had with Japanese anime. Since then, because of its visuals, music, and themes, it has earned international acclaim, both with critics and audiences.

It’s a definite must-see for any fan of anime or science fiction.

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Friday Notes (Apr 16, 2021)

It’s that time again — Friday Notes time — where the flotsam and jetsam that have washed up on the shores of my mind get their brief moment in the spotlight and then recede down the river of time to be lost in the ocean of the past. (If that isn’t a tortured metaphor, I don’t know what one is.)

There’s no theme this time, unless “random bits” is a theme. There’s a thing about very surprised wasp, an upside down beer can, a computer fix that’s worked out, a freedom from loathsome ads, and the light at the end of the tunnel. Also a relevant and favorite quote.

As I said, random bits.

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A Big Crapfest

Holy Hercules! I have a new standard for awful storytelling. My memory is mercifully short, but last night I suffered through the worst adaptation of a good novel that I can remember. As a story, it was utter trash, but as an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, The ABC Murders, I need stronger words than “appalling abomination” or “total travesty” (“grim perversion” is a good start). It was breathtaking in how it managed to corrupt every single aspect of the novel.

From start to finish, it was the diametric opposite of the original and a revolting cruel mockery of Christie’s beloved Hercule Poirot. The writing, the directing, the cinematography, the casting, the sets — each hawked a giant loogy in the face of source material.

Even casting John Malkovich as Poirot was a misstep.

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Superheroes Bore Me

I’ve mentioned quite often in posts, and in comments to posts, is that I’m quite bored by superhero movies. Somehow though I’ve never been moved to post about exactly why in detail. A few recent conversations about it made me realize it might make a good Sunday Sermons post.

The thing is that it does go beyond being just bored. There is a cultural aspect to it that’s gotten under my skin more and more. It has to do with the massive violence and destruction inherent in these movies and with a fundamental aspect of these comic book superhero stories.

They center on fighting, and I’ve never been a fan of it.

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BB #72: Perception of Time

As people age, especially later in life, most report that time seems to pass faster. That is certainly true in my case — Mondays I often find myself surprised that it’s already laundry day again. Friends my age report the same thing; the weeks, months, and years, seem to pass at an ever faster rate.

My theory was it’s mainly due to percentages. At ten years old a year is 10% of a lifetime, but at 60 years old it’s just 1.666%.

Recently, a friend of mine floated an interesting alternate theory.

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Digital Dualism

This is the third post of a series exploring the duality I perceive in digital computation systems. In the first post I introduced the “mind stacks” — two parallel hierarchies of levels, one leading up to the human brain and mind, the other leading up to a digital computer and a putative computation of mind.

In the second post I began to explore in detail the level of the second stack, labeled Computer, in terms of the causal gap between the physical hardware and the abstract software. This gap, or dualism, is in sharp contrast to other physical systems that can, under a broad definition of “computation,” be said to compute something.

In this post I’ll continue, and hopefully finish, that exploration.

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Baseball Blahs

My first thought was to call this “Baseball Blues”, but that title didn’t fit, because I’m not particularly blue about it — whether that means depressed, naughty, or playing the. Nor did I intend any reference to an old, often pejoratively used, slang term for baseball umpires. As in, “Hey, Blue! Ya blind?! That pitch was way outside!”

What I am feeling about baseball, though, is decidedly blah, which is weird because after years of being very awful, my Minnesota Twins have had some good seasons and at long last become contenders. After some of the worst seasons in franchise history, that’s rewarding to see.

So why is it that I just don’t care?

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Attack the Block

Fans of Doctor Who, at least those without an unreasoning dislike of Jodie Whittaker, may get a kick out of seeing her in the 2011 British alien invasion film Attack the Block. It’s a small rather unregarded film with a box office return of only half its £8 million budget (about $11 million USD at 2021 rates). Since its release it has gotten well-deserved critical praise and won a few international accolades.

I should note that Whittaker is not the lead. At best, she’s a co-star, and perhaps almost more of a major supporting character (she is present for most of the film). The film stars John Boyega, who many will know as Finn from the final Star Wars trilogy.

I highly recommend it for all science fiction movie fans.

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Digital Difference

Digital Computer

In the previous post I introduced the “mind stacks” — two essentially parallel hierarchies of organization (or maybe “zoom level” is a more apt term) — and the premise of a causal disconnect in the block labeled Computer. In this post I’ll pick up where I left off and discuss that disconnect in detail.

A key point involves what we mean by digital computation — as opposed to more informal, or even speculative, notions sometimes used to expand the meaning of computation. The question is whether digital computing is significantly different from these.

The goal of these posts is to demonstrate that it is.

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Rewatching TV

Nurses are awesome!

For most of my life I’ve claimed I’m not someone who gets bored. I have too many interests to ever be bored in the usual sense, and there is always new territory to explore. I love trying new restaurants, new authors, and new TV shows.

The Yin to that Yang are the beloved favorites I visit again and again. There are eateries I frequent and authors I re-read. In part because there are menus to explore (and which change) and words and ideas that take repetition to fully understand and appreciate.

But I tend not to re-watch TV shows except in some special cases.

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