Greetings, programs. For the next five days I will be on an Away mission and your regularly scheduled entertainment might be lacking. However, you are welcome to read my Captain’s Log. The Log is my personal journal, the kind of thing that I wouldn’t normally subject your delicate constitutions to, which is why it will never appear on the front page of GalacticMu. You’ll be able to find a direct link by going to the Categories section of this website (either by scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page, or by jumping directly there via that orange button up to the right there that says “open”, then choosing Categories) and selecting the category of “Captain’s Log.” You’ll figure it out. You’re a sharp one.
Commander Seuss: You ever see “7 Brides for 7 Brothers?”
Major tiltawhirl: The musical? No.
Commander Seuss: It’s pretty offensive.
Major tiltawhirl: Because it’s a musical?
Commander Seuss: Here’s what it teaches you: if you want a woman, just kidnap one and hold her hostage for six months in filthy cabin deep in the woods. She’ll never want to leave you.
Major tiltawhirl: Really?
Commander Seuss: That’s what love is, apparently.
Major tiltawhirl: Huh.
Commander Seuss: It’s also known as “Stockholm Syndrome.”
Major tiltawhirl: All I remember is a lot of hairy-chested men chopping firewood and singing.
Quagmire points us toward an article about new satellite-delivered internet in Japan. At 155Mbit/sec., the service allows rural users to get high-speed internet just by hooking up a small satellite dish. In the event that you require 1.2Gbit/sec. (!), a 5 meter antenna is required (!!!). The other benefit is that internet service will not be subject to earthquakes, Gojira, and other natural disasters, allowing for more reliable contact with services and news.
Everyone has a song, at some time or another, that they consider to be their personal anthem. Generally this happens in the form of reflection, looking back to a time when – for example – you were really into watching Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome on VHS and listening to Midnight Oil’s “Beds are Burning” (what, some of us went through an Australian phase). More rarely, the personal anthem is a declaration made in a passionate moment, like when my housemates once decided that “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” by Destiny’s Child would be our house song (in these scenarios it is best to just nod and quietly leave the room).
But only one song fulfilled my pre-teen emotional arc, my desire for German men in white suits and then my early 20′s club-going desire to dance to something while closing my eyes and pretending I was on Galactic Navy shore-leave at MoonBase 7:
To be sure, one of the very first CDs I bought – and to replace a stretched cassette tape, no less – was Peter Schilling’s The Different Story (A World of Lust and Crime). On my 22nd birthday, two friends performed “Major Tom” for me on drum and guitar, and I wept off my carefully applied layers of waterproof mascara. Indeed, I have never felt so understood as Tom in those last moments to himself in the capsule, his frozen death approaching in a matter of hours: “…this is my home, I’m coming home…” I don’t want to die, particularly, but even facing such grim odds I would still have to admit that I was finally home.
In my adolescent mind, the song “Terra Titanic” was also an outerspace dirge, despite the lyrics clearly being about the Titanic. I’d just as soon keep believing that the Terra Titanic is a great FTL ship come to bear across an unexpected asteroid, the ship listing in space as the levels flood with vacuum, one by one…
There are quite a few videos of Schilling performing “Terra Titanic” live, but some YouTube mojo led me to a cover of it by contemporary German band Samsas Traum – an excellent cover. Samsas Traum don’t have a video, but its the damn internet: if some kid hasn’t used it to make some kind of fan video, then I’ll be breaded in panko and deep fried. Oh, and here we are, some fan videos. I didn’t include the one with scenes from Cameron’s Titanic because I didn’t want to damage your sense of joy (this one is for Neon Genesis Evangelion):
Behold Reaction Engine’s A2 hydrogen-powered hypersonic concept jet: also known as what happens when a jetliner, a squid and a lawn-dart get together and make a baby.
(“photo” credit is given to Nick Kaloterakis, though I assure you this is not a photo)
The A2 is a response to the European Union’s Long-Term Advanced Propulsion Concepts and Technologies (Lapcat) request for a plane that can get from Brussels to Sydney in four hours (I guess the secret is out that Belgium is planning to invade Australia). Initially I assumed there were no windows because the major airlines had finally gotten together and decided to admit they just wanted to pack people into airlines without chairs or seats or anything, forming a kind of passenger-loaf, but there was a different explanation:
Engineers didn’t include windows in the design because only space-shuttle windows, which are too heavy for use in an airliner, can withstand the heat the A2 would encounter.
The interesting part of the A2 is its “geared” engine process (my term, not theirs) wherein the jets are a combination of turbojet (your typical airliner) and a ramjet (basically: a missle). This hybridization means that the A2 can take off and land slowly like a jetliner, but ramp up to a ass-puckering Mach 5 for cruising speed. Reaction Engine’s pitch includes the upsell that hydrogen engines exhaust only water vapor and nitrous oxide, though not enough nitrous for everyone onboard to enjoy, just first class.
Before the excitement of modernized air travel overtakes you, the A2 will never happen. The major interference is that it requires liquid hydrogen, and as of yet, not a single nation has figured out how to create a viable process for producing that much hydrogen without making twice as much planet-killing waste in the process. Additionally, as much as the A2′s cosmetic brutality might titillate me, I suspect the general public will not like the idea of flying around in what is essentially a Scud. I might be talking out my ass here, anyone is welcome to chime in and disagree.
Apologies for lack of content, dear readers, but it has been a gruesome night here at the Subspace/Halcyon quarters. I’ve been preoccupied with keeping a bottle of Pedialyte clutched in Halcyon’s rigid grip as the bone-cracking effects of Chinese take-out food poisoning have taken their toll on him. You aren’t sick until you have to say “I need a fresh pair of pajama pants,” as far as I’m concerned, particularly when caused by discovering that your bathroom wastebasket deflects projectile vomit at a perfect 180° angle. Why didn’t I get sick, you might be asking? Unusually, I didn’t eat any of the steamed rice so that I could better glut myself on General Tso’s Tofu. No one ever suspects the steamed rice.
Today, over a cup of weak tea and nibbles of banana, we watched the 1960 version of The Time Machine, directed by George Pal. The Time Machine remains an ideal movie for when one has lost 10 pounds of body weight in the form of bile and intestinal lining, being just innocent enough to distract but not so bland as to allow the mind to wander. As usual, we mused the final question of good ol’ Filby’s: what three books would you take to a bookless culture?
Before I continue along that line, I believe it to be an incorrect speculation that Mr. Wells took books to “rebuild” the future with, as one might take a reference book on medicine, for example. Wells strikes me as a slightly pompous know-it-all (in a good way, if you can believe it) who would require not a reference book on practical science, but rather some tedious philosophy or prose. Just as I can’t blame Wells for wanting to bone the infantile Weena, I cannot blame him for wanting to share the soporific delights of Lord Byron with his new kingdom of simpletons. Or Milton, even better, as I can imagine him reading to their tow-headed confusion:
Hence, loathed Melancholy,
Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born,
In Stygian cave forlorn,
‘Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and
No matter; what three books would I take? For sheer bulk entertainment, I’d take Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon. I have read it several times now, and with each reading I’m surprised to enjoy it even more. For fine prose, I would take Geoff Ryman’s The Child Garden. It is a little-known masterpiece of contemporary science fiction. And lastly… lastly… I fear I might take The Joy of Cooking.
All of this is moot, of course, for who among us would only take three books?
This was already featured on Neatorama today, but I am excited like a monkeynaut in a banana galaxy, so I’m going to show it off anyway.
Carnegie Mellon student Johnny Lee was all, I wonder what happens if the Wii remote senses backward? And if there were more data “on screen” then could actually be seen from a static, 2D angle? PA-POW! Hear that, meatbags? That’s the sound of video games GETTING FUCKING AWESOMER.
Think what you will of M. Night Shyamalan, but the trailer for his most recent endeavor gave me delighted chills (Quicktime is required).
Starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel, The Happening is about a final, worldwide apocalypse triggered by the environment. The trailer corroborates rumors that the movie is presented as a confused unfurling, where people are given only fragments of information and society breaks under the strain of an unseen, unknowable foe. This is where my apocalypse boner says hello. Hello! Additional rumor claims the movie will be rated R due to it being a movie about the apocalypse, which I pray involves a lot of people dying. A PG-13 apocalypse movie is sadder than a kitten with no front legs.
I should put on record that Shyamalan’s Signs scared the holy motherloving shit out of me (until the end, when the everpresent questions of faith were subjected to a dose of unbelievable optimism). It used each of my major fears/obsessions against me:
- alien invasion
- bunkering down
- home video (I’ll believe anything on home video, especially supernatural things)
- weird noises
Update: Worst. Movie. Ever.