GalacticMu

Press your spaceface close to mine

I Vote “Astrobotic” Based On Name Only

Posted by Sunday on Feb 21, 2008 at 7:09 pm

The Lunar X PRIZE (hoping to do for lunar landings what the Ansari X PRIZE did for civilian orbital capability) has announced their official contenders. The teams now have until December 31, 2012 to win the whole $30 million purse – late-comers will then have a further two years to win a lesser amount.

for_dave.jpgI’m a big X PRIZE supporter (minus the spelling and all-caps) (and also, not actually monetarily, just spiritually) and I encourage you to at least respect their endeavor enough to read up about it. The Ansari X PRIZE triggered unexpected emotions for me; I expected to be excited, but I didn’t expect to weep and then get a tattoo of the SpaceShipOne, which is exactly what happened. Seeing Mike Melvill emerge from the tubby little hero of a spaceship broke something loose in my black, dessicated heart, and that something is still floating around in my eyeballs – truly, I couldn’t even resize this photo without getting weepy.

In all seriousness, I’m a pessimistic person. For me, scifi apocalypse stories are where I find solace, because, strangely, they offer the most hope; they at least have a chance of coming true. SpaceShipOne is as close as I get to feelin’ churchly, particularly because it was just a few earnest nerds deciding to make something happen for real. I have true awe for the little man and the underdog, and while many would argue that Paul Allen is as far from those two descriptors as a human can get, I prefer to focus on the designer Burt Rutan, for whom money was not the motivating factor. Rutan was a life-long devotee of aviation culture, a rogue aerospace engineer who often followed his gut rather than established norms. The knowledge that SpaceShipOne now hangs next to Chuck Yeager’s “Glamorous Glennis” in the National Air and Space Museum is enough to make me break into alarming sobs – these are the people that would risk their life for the black, the great vacuum sea, the siren call of an entire universe.

Are you with us?

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Softer, Worser, Slower, Weaker

Posted by Sunday on Feb 21, 2008 at 5:47 pm

It was mid-summer when I heard that Kanye West had sampled Daft Punk’s 2001 hit “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” and my reaction was to groan miserably. I don’t need to explain myself when I say that Kanye West is the whiniest motherfucking “rapper” ever to show his smarmy goatee; you know of what I speak. Given any opportunity to stand before a TV camera and cavort like an attention-starved grade-schooler, Kanye has repeatedly demonstrated that his delusions of grandeur are as precious to him as his pretty, pretty face is.

Enter the French musical duo Daft Punk. They’ve been pulling off feats of moderate-to-great musical skill for years now, and most recently behind literal masks of anonymity. While their music may not always delight me, like a few non-American musicians of some renown (see: Kylie Minogue), they have always embraced the science fiction – and that, dear reader, is a endeavor I can get behind.

“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” manages to avoid being just another insipid dance tune, but by what margin I cannot say. I am struck confused by every fresh listening; what makes it so appealing? Is it because it could be the Robot Anthem? Or is it just because my mind fills in the members of Daft Punk themselves, bedecked in psychedelic THX-1138 finery?

None of this, unfortunately, is pertinent to my rant. You see, when Kanye West decided to butcher “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” he also decided to take on the culture of the song as well. I’ve forced the sluggish and talentless ejaculate of his song (deceptively titled “Stronger”) from my mind only to suffer the new trauma of his presence at this year’s Grammy awards, Daft Punk in tow.

One could kindly call his performance “inspired” by Daft Punk, the stage covered in geometric patterns, laser strobes, and every Tron effect achievable under the circumstances. Or one could see it for what it was: the temporary appropriation of my culture. And while I acknowledge that Daft Punk is as much to blame (was it money that drew them along? fame? Kanye’s supple and moisturized skin?) I still wait by for Kanye’s inevitable discard of all that he has now used to line his pockets.

This is common thing in the science fiction industry. One must only dip a single pinky into the wealth of talent here and then avoid all credit where all credit might be due. TV shows like Lost fall squarely into the definition of a scifi program, and while some mention of this occasionally winds its quiet way into media commentary, the TV stations themselves would never imagine such a reference, lest it should forever shame the viewers from watching. Don’t get me wrong: for the most part everything is coming up Milhouse for scifi, even as it lumbers awkwardly into the mainstream as a chubby programmer-nerd might suddenly experience popularity. But I can’t shake the feeling of high school every time a heartlessly cute jock tried to cajole test answers from me. They’re sweet to you when they need you, but the moment their unearned passing grade is delivered, you’re back to wiping loogies out of your hair.

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5 Posted in The Future

Learn Your Spaceships – The Halcyon Way!

Posted by halcyon on Feb 21, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Here I provide a educational illustration of Away Team member Quagmire’s intergalactic garbage-scow Atmo. Originally designed for sub-orbital refuse processing, this sturdy scow was retrofitted for deep-space service.

scow.jpg

While offensive for some to look upon – as it is no rarefied and fragile little hot-rod – the Atmo brings tears of affection to the eyes of the most grizzled cosmonauts. Such a fine ship is few and far parsecs between.

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1 Posted in Visual

In Other News…

Posted by on Feb 20, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Microsoft announces a June 30th sales moratorium on its Windows XP operating system; Quagmire is shocked to learn that people actually purchase copies of a Microsoft OS rather than “borrow it” from “some friendly Dutch kids.”

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0 Posted in Techie

Easy Photo Tips For Tonight’s Lunar Eclipse

Posted by on Feb 20, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Quagmire pointed out this site that has simple instructions for a variety of photography styles, such as this stunning multiple exposure technique (it doesn’t hurt that it’s in tropical goddamn paradise, either):

tle2000julmux-s.jpg

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1 Posted in Daily Space

Michel de Broin – Superficielle

Posted by Leesa on Feb 20, 2008 at 1:03 pm

superficielle.jpg

Superficial 2004. Mirror, glue, cement / Vosges, Alsace, France

Predator-esque forest sculpture by artist Michel de Broin.

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3 Posted in Visual

Book Review: Sun of Suns

Posted by Sunday on Feb 20, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Sun of Suns, by Karl Schroeder (Tor, 2006)

In this first book of a proposed series, we are introduced to Hayden Griffin and his giant gas-bag world of Virga. Hayden seeks revenge, as all good pirate-raised adolescents do, and no amount of sword fighting or nefarious ne’er-do-wells can slow him. Or can they?

Spoiler-bloat after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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1 Posted in Literature

covyhalo_ads.jpg

Away Team member Quagmire noticed these two ads in separate parts of his local newspaper.

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0 Posted in Games, Visual

Halo: Dispatches From the Front, Episode 1

Posted by halcyon on Feb 19, 2008 at 9:54 pm

(Note: names altered to protect the identities of our brave lasersponges)

Major Seuss: … that was at the height of the hobo wars.

Brigadier Jumbopwn: When was that? Right after world war one?

General Ibwndurma: Great depression.

Brigadier Jumbopwn: 27? 28?

General Ibwnurma: In the thirties.

Major Seuss: Which ended when Roosevelt unleashed the polio virus.

Commander MyBologna: Finally, a fucking intellectual discussion on Halo!

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2 Posted in Games

Sam Nielson’s “Brownies”

Posted by halcyon on Feb 19, 2008 at 9:33 pm

snielson_brownies.jpg

Found at the Avalanche Software employee art blog. Sam Nielson’s personal blog is available here.

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