Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Impressions of the Expanse 1st episode (SPOILERS)

This is a lazy copy and paste of an email I wrote a friend.  I just wanted to get it into blog form before more time had passed, but just don't have the free time to re-write it all bloggy-spiffy.  Hopefully its semi coherent


so heres why i liked episode 1, esp after watching it a 2nd time. 

a lot of it plays on what you are trained to expect from a tv show, is that a legit thing?  i mean is the writing good, or is it just "tricky"?  not sure yet, just know it deked me out and i loved it. 

so it starts off with the clearly-kidnapped/prisoner girl. she escapes. ship is empty but has dead ppl in it. why did they leave her? as this is the opening scene, episode (if not series) seems to clearly be all about her and this seems to get our focus in a dramatic fashion right off the bat.  who is she?  why was she locked up? who attacked the ship and killed everyone but didnt free her before leaving?  lots of good questions, so far so good, also i love them not showing any resolution, no trying to communicate, no leaving ship, they just change scenes with her (like audience) going what the fuck?

so earth and mars are both abusing the belters/sirius for resources like colonials. ok so now this 2nd scene, which seems to bluntly be setting up the basic theme of the series - exploitation of working class, military mars versus greedy earth megacorps... ok that seems fine for a series.  but again, feels like they are laying this out in a very specific, blunt, plain, order in a pilot to just lay some basics for new viewerrs.  so far so good, nothing special.  

shady cop, who was born on earth but is now stuck here, interests me.  why did he switch from earth to belter?  as they hint, it may not have been his choice.  ok thats a nice long term hint about him, neat.  the first time i watched it, i thought he was too similar to blade runner cop deckard. 2nd time, he seemed more unique and sleazier in a good way.

so cop gets mission to look for kidnapped girl from scene 1.  so far im liking it but this is paint by numbers, cop will look for girl we found in scene 1.  pretty basic. plot point 1 - cop looking for girl

series often have two intertwined plots, and here comes #2 - the Capistrano or whatever the mining ship is called.  Ok so the series will be about the cop in the belter station (sirius?) and this crew of the mining ship (capistrano or something named)

so we are like 15 min in, and as a pilot episode should, we have the basic layout.

all of this seems immediately confirmed when 

a) we spend a ton of time with the ships politics, XO killing himself, new guy not wanting XO job, his relationship with navigator in trouble, guy losing arm, discussion about the ships repairs that are needed, setting up future issues, will they get paid on time or screwed out of bonus... we spend a lot of time on this ship and its crew. and i liked it all.  but all of it completely sold me about how important all of these crew will be and all of their already complex issues and relationships. 

b) SO PREDICTABLE, but fine - they clearly find the derelict ship that had the kidnapped woman on it.  

obviously, esp bc this is the pilot episode,. the crew will find the woman, go to sirius, meet the cop who is looking for her, thereby linking plot #1 with plot #2, and there will probably be some twist as to why the cop doesnt immediately turn woman over.  i am 100pct sure i know every word of rest of show at this point with like 20 min to go.

huh, the UN earth woman is torturing the crap out of a belter who is part of OPA, which from the earlier references (i missed most my first viewing), did NOT sound like a terrorist org, just a pro-belter political party. this is starting to feel a little like Palestine where its a political party w terrorists sub group.  missed that first viewing.  

but anyways, i was shocked when indian lady was cruel as fuck, and just chalked it up to maybe later plot stuff, but nothing really important. pilot will just fill in the blanks to have crew save girl, crew meet cop.

then the belter finds the derelict. they dont find girl. its al la set up.  an advanced Mars stealth cruiser NUKES the Capistrano and all of those crew we had gotten to knoiw, except the 4 left on that crappy shuttle.  what the hell, they nuked the ship?!?

i cannot believe how much time they spent letting us get to know the crew oinly to nuke them.

 - wheres the girl?
 - who kidnapped her?
 - did she escape or get taken by ... i dunno who
 - why did a super advanced mars ship set the trap?  if they want to start a war, wouldnt they just attack?
 - shuttle crew left stranded in middle of nowhere, but who cares - they have no leads, clues, hell they didnt even know theres a kidnapped girl at all.  if they do make it back to Sirius, what real info do they have?

the episode basically ends at square one.  cop plot and shuttle plot completely off the rails, the easy link up via wanting/having girl never happens, and i have no idea what either is going to do.  

anyways i was pretty impressed when everything i expected to happen nice and cleanly, linking up the two groups in a plot revolving around a girl, somehow tied to a simmering cold war about to turn hot, was frigging NUKED.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wargaming Holiday Cleanup

Lord knows i love lists, and making them, and then marking things off of them. Its my great love.  I used these last few days to do a lot of that.

Since there are so many WoT tanbks i still want, I had planned to massively grind all 4 days of the x5.  It didnt work out that way, but ended up working out all-around fantastic.

On Sat, I played mostly serious, or serious-ish.  This comes up mainly bc I was keeping track of credits as well as XP, and I would later be quite shocked to see how much easier it is to make creds when you play well.

On Sat, I played 10 hours, I made it thru (that is, got x5 wins) about 25 of my 76 prems.  I made 175k XP, and 1.23 million creds - or 123k creds per hour.  Pretty great.

On Sunday, i was up right at server reset, and set the goal of completing a x5 win in all 76 of my prems.  However, this is when the yoloing started.  Get some damage in, die fast, move onto next tank.  Quantity over quality.

What i found interesting were the results - Xp didnt drop all that much, but credits earned plummeted.
I ended up not making it (67 of 76, the last 9 were just too painful).  After 13 hours, I had gotten 67 of 76 wins, made another 365k XP, but only 1.51 M credits.

So playing serious
XP -> 17.5k / hour
creds - 123k / hour

Yoloing -
XP -> 28.07k / hour
creds -> 116k / hour

And now that i redo the math, its not as bad as i thought haha!  THIS POAST LOST ITS POINT.

Monday i neededa break entirely, and had much unfinished business, which I am glad to say i got done

 - unlocked Emden on Wows Asia
 - finished the pearls i needed for Kamikaze R on Wows Asia
 - unlocked the Emden on Wows NA
 - decided to just buy the damn Emden on Wows Eu next week.

Today I may try to cherry pick some prems and earn a little more xp.  to be honest, when I had earned 535k in 2 days, i thought Id have a ton left over after buying the JPE 100 I wanted.  Well once i get paid in January and can convert it heh.

But doing the math, I think I only have like 60k left over - way less than i expected.  I had already begun making (you guessed it) a list of what to spend "all this extra xp on" only to find out there wouldnt be much.

But now i have a list haha!  So its back to the grindstone.  Instead of being happy i accomplished main goal of getting the xp i need for JPE 100, i now am disappointed i dont have enough for the second big purchase.

The rat race is anathema to many, but to me it is a cozy, comfy home!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

RIP Tabletop

“Tabletop is more than just a show where we play games. Tabletop is where millions of people from all over the world go to see how games are played, and to discover new games. We have a responsibility to our audience, and we have let a lot of you down. This is even more infuriating to me this season, because this season was literally made possible by people reaching into their own pockets and trusting us with their money. We had a responsibility to take good care of that, and we didn’t.”
WOW, thank god reading over-acting isnt fatal. This paragraph only works if i replace “Tabletop” with “Chemotherapy for Kids with Cancer”
The reason season three sucks is because you have changed, as you admit in many places, from the formula from seasons 1 and 2.
Put down the Cross youre so exhausted from bearing that no one asked you to pick up. Just play games and enjoy them, and let us watch. It is obvious from the Valkana and season 3 eps that you are forcing them out under an enormous strain to make them some kind of miracles of production quality.
Fire Wil the Executive Producer and re-hire Wil the Gamer.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kobayashi Maru from Wrath of Khan - Anti-Nuke protest?

In World War II, Japanese cargo ships were all named with "Maru" as the last word.  Here's a sample from The USS Bowfin (SS-287) credited kills. Copied and pasted from wikipedia

  • The passenger-cargo ship Kirishima Maru on 25 September 1943
  • The tanker Ogurasan Maru and cargo ship Tainan Maru on 26 November 1943[10]
  • The Vichy France cargo ship Van Vollenhoven on 26 November[11] or 27 November 1943[10]
  • The passenger-cargo ship Sydney Maru and the 9,866-ton tanker Tonan Maru on 28 November 1943[10]
  • A pair of schooners she destroyed with her four-inch gun on 30 November (1943)
  • The cargo ship Shoyu Maru on 17 January 1944
  • The cargo ship Tsukikawa Maru on 10 March 1944
  • The cargo ships Shinkyo Maru and Bengal Maru on 24 March 1944
  • The passenger-cargo ship Tsushima Maru on 22 August 1944
  • Assisted Aspro (SS-309) in the sinking of the 4,500-ton cargo ship Bisan Maru on 14 May 1944
  • The frigate Coastal Defense Vessel No. 56 on 17 February 1945
  • The passenger-cargo ship Chowa Maru on 1 May 1945
  • The cargo ship Daito Maru No. 3 on 8 May 1945
  • The passenger-cargo ship Shinyo Maru No. 3 on 7 September 1944
  • The cargo ship Akiura Maru on 13 June 1945

You get the idea.  

So when Screenwriter Jack B. Sowards named the iconic ship in Wrath of Khan after a friend Jim Kobayashi, he must probably have known its connection to World War II shipping.- and the fact that Maru indicated it was not a warship.

What do we know of the Kobayashi Maru test from the movie?  It is an un-winnable scenario.  It has entered our lexicon as synonymous with a no-win situation.

My brief research into Mr. Sowards turned up absolutely no supporting evidence, but when has that ever stopped someone with internet access, soft tacos,  and caffeine?

I believe the Kobayashi Maru scenario from Wrath of Khan was more that just a lesson about life's tough choices for the audience and the characters, but also a subtle anti-nuclear war/weapons metaphor.  

The true no-win scenario is nuclear war.  Sowards, aged 16 when the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, preventing the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August 1945 from spreading to conquest of the home islands, might have been greatly influenced by those events and at that age, at that dramatic time in our Nation's history.  He was in his 30s during the Cuban missile crisis, a father with children.  About to turn 60, he penned The Wrath of Khan.

Watching it now, it suddenly became clear that it was a warning about nuclear war, a subtle protest wrapped up in one of the most famous scenes of all time.  A helpless civilian cargo ship, named in line with WW2 Japanese merchant shipping, is trapped between two powerful forces in an untenable situation.  The scenario always ends in death - it is simply a matter of making decisions to limit them.

Reading the fiction surrounding the Kobayashi Maru when other officers took it, I am even more convinced it is a metaphor for nuclear war.

Sulu, of Japanese ancestry himself, realizes it is a trap, and does not enter the Neutral Zone - the Maru is destroyed but his crew is saved, by restraint from participation.

Chekov, Russian, tries the most military and sacrificial approach, and destroys both his ship and the three Klingon D7 cruisers - but his efforts are for nothing, as in horror he realizes the catastrophic explosion he gave his crew's lives to create is too large, and claims the lives of all of the Maru crew as well.  His aggressive, honorable, military sacrifice ends up killing absolutely everyone involved, Starfleet, Klingon, and Maru.  

I wish i could ask these questions to Mr Soward, but he has passed.  

Of particular interest, I would like to know if he knew why we dropped the Atomic weapons when he penned it.  Fairly recent scholarship and declassification have shown us that the Japanese were asking to discuss surrender after the massive Soviet invasion just a few weeks earlier, but the weapons were dropped anyways to end the war in dramatic fashion as the Soviets prepared to make massive land-grabs in Asia, having moved their armies from Germany to Kamchatka ( how awesome is it when you get to use a Risk country in a real-world project??).  

The weapons were dropped on a savaged civilian population purely because the strategic focus of both the US and USSR had already shifted their foci to post-War consolidation and conquest of resources.

I believe the iconic movie scene was written partially as a tribute to the civilian victims of Atomic weaponry - women and children, between Starfleet and Klingons - i mean, US and the USSR - caught in a "Kobayashi Maru" as their deaths were required to prevent the Soviet conquests in Asia. 

(Not a lot of Americans know that the Russians had invaded Manchuria and even announced intentions to permanently occupy Japanese home islands before the Atomic weapons had been dropped, because that would imply we didn't win the war single-handedly, and even worse, that the nuking of civilians wasn't actually necessary to avoid American casualties.  "We had to" fades away.)

Anyways, I choose to view it this way.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Pater (or Lord's Prayer) was the favourite Cathar prayer - arguably their only prayer.
It is, after all the only one sanctioned by the New Testament. 

The Cathar Pater (from the «Cathar Ritual»)
Pater noster qui es in celis, sanctificetur nomen tuum; adveniat regnum tuum.
Fiat voluntas tua sicut in celo et in terra.
Panem nostrum supersubstancialem da nobis hodie.
Et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
 Et ne nos inducas in temptationem sed libera nos a malo.
Quoniam tuum est regnum et virtus et gloria in secula.

 "Our father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our supplementary bread, And remit our debts as we forgive our debtors. And keep us from temptation and free us from evil. Thine is the kingdom, the power and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I am right, you need to adopt this as your own thought

People fundamentally misunderstand, and hence under appreciate, America. I have 3 main problems with contemporary political discussion. Although I reserve the right to add additional levels of bitterness or annoyance as needed.

1) "America" vs "America"

This one is subversive but subtle. It worms its way into the thought and vocabulary of even many independant and intellectual Americans.

When you say "America", such as "America is great", what do you mean by it?

Do you mean our land itself, the earth and soil and Natural resources?

Do you mean our culture, our tolerance, our collective zeigeist, sense of humor, ethics?

Do you mean our low car insurance rates?

Do you mean our economic or military power?

All too often, people think of america from a pragmatic. pratical angle, proud of our GDP and growth and economic and material successes.

-- Doesnt that imply that you would no longer consider America great if other countries one day made more money, or had cheaper car insurance?

Worst of all, however, people use "America" to mean our government, our congress, even our President. And the people themselves, not just the structure!

-- Doesnt that imply that you'd love America itself less if/when morons get elected?

America is independant and external from those elements!!

America is a concept. It is a powerful, bold, terrifying, and open-ended experiment with no safety net. Do not love America because of a paycheck, or economic power, or prestige, or world leadership, or low car insurance rates.

Love America for reasons that you would still be loving her, even if other countries surpass us in GDP or flying cars or whatever. Value freedom above all else.

We did not form this country because we wanted to be successful. We formed it because we NEEDED to be free, at any risk. So dearly, that we revolted.

2) Will of the People

The phrase 'will of the people' has been tossed around a great deal lately, and all with a positive spin... as if a successful and free democracy automatically should enact the will of the majority.

"Will of the people" should send chills up ones spine just as readily as "Final Solution."

While we are a democracy, our country is the ONLY ONE founded with the clear mandate to do just the oppsite of every single country that had ever existed since the dawn of time - to PROTECT the minority from the 'Will of the People'.

And not only protect us from the will of the people, but from our government itself.

Every bad idea in history has been 'the will of the people'. We choose to live in a land where no matter how popular, no matter how universally seen as truth, no opinion or policy can ever be forced onto the unwilling.

3) Genius of The Founding Fathers

But more than anything else, more than choosing not to take up the mantle of lordship and power, more than protecting the weak from the populist masses pressuring them, our founding fathers realized one essential truth -

Government, any government - even our own benevolent and well-intentioned new creation - is inherently Evil.

Instead of trying to form the perfect benevolent government, they created the smallest, least powerful, least intrusive one they could imagine.

Men and Women writing a new government and choosing not to give themselves power because they knew that no matter how smart, how erll intentioned, even they could not be trusted - other than the Gospels of Christ, I can think of few other inspired moments in human history.

God Bless America

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gnostic Politics

The solution to Global Warming is a Nuclear Winter brought about by Global Thermonuclear War.