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Ether Mind

2010 - Welcome to the Future!
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Monday, June 15, 2015

Attack of the Nazi-Bots

Up on a rocky crag, upon the craggy rocks, a broken castle squatted like a Titanic gargoyle, peering inscrutably at the desolate field below. A hundred shattered walls folded around the keep like stone wings, and a hundred dark eye sockets gazed unblinking. Each night, when the Sun passed beyond the horizon and night fell, perhaps for the last time, dark clouds would gather and hurl lightning like angry spirits. This night, the poltergeist was fierce.

Festering in the distended bowels of the dungeon, a strange society met.

“Brenda! It’s so good to see you!” gushed Mary Sue Lawrence. “How’s Michael doing?”
“He’s doing fine,” said Brenda, pushing back the hood of her crimson ceremonial robe. “He loves to complain about not being able to mow the lawn, because he can complain all weekend and not actually have to mow the lawn. Before he could only complain about mowing it for an hour on Saturday.”

Mary Sue giggled. “Men. You know I can mow the lawn as well as any man, but they want to feel that pride of battling nature and doing the tough work the ladies supposedly can’t. You know I used to do hedge sculptures-”

Mary Sue was suddenly cut off by a blood curdling shriek, just as the lights went out. The guests were left in terrified pitch blackness for a heartbeat, and then the lights came back on. There was scattered laughter as everyone looked at each other. The Space Mask cosplayers stopped their awkward dancing.

“All right, was someone ‘murdered?’ asked Jim slurriedly. That’s quickly, yet unclearly. Clearly. “How about you ladies? See any ‘stiffs’ around here?”

Brenda cringed away from Jim’s creepiness, while Mary Sue quickly pulled a yellow card from her designer purse and held it up to protect them. It consisted on the word “OK” with a red circle around it and a red diagonal slash through it. Jim sighed and slouched away.

“It’s ok, Jim.” said a large, lardy lad in a tabard. “They won’t report you to Penny.”

“Where is she anyway?” asked a frizzy, yet lively woman. Her toga was white and dappled with paint, as if she wanted to give the impression of being an artist. “She was supposed to bring the Karaoke.”

“And she’s our only normal friend,” said Jim sadly.

"Let's forget our troubles with a ten hour round of Space Mask role-playing," suggested the large man cheerfully. "I'll be Space Master."

"No one wants to play the role playing game you made up, Steve," said the frizzy woman patiently.

"I might," said Jim.

Meanwhile, at the Altar of Refreshments, Sister Autumn was enjoying a nibble of fine fondue from the extravagantly shimmering, lighted fountain of cheese. She basked in the attentions of her suitors. They each plied her with sweetmeats and delicacies, which she sampled with the finicking of a cat, only after the most impassioned supplications. She did not notice the blackout, as her eyes were closed in the rapture of Steppermint Essence. Once she opened them, she was the first to see the fingers slowly sinking.

“There’s a hand in the fondue,” she said dumbly, and then crashed to the floor. Her retinue fled out of the way in the nick of time, then turned to look. One of the men moaned loudly in horror. Another looked up in time to see a uniformed figure drop from the ceiling. It landed lightly, but the limp form in its inhumanly strong grip flopped and cracked sickeningly.

“Oh my god,” wailed a filipino with a lisp, “You killed Penny.”

It stepped forward awkwardly into the light of the fondue fountain. The cascade of lights, so festive when it shined on innocent cheeses, was cold and malevolent as it revealed the details of the uniform. A red armband, a white circle, and a black ideogram, the symbols of a recurring nightmare ideology that had plagued the Last Planet for aeons.

“You Nazi bastard!” the gentleman lisped in fury, before being gunned down. The Nazi swung its gaze upon the rest of the Society. Red eyes blinked mechanically, not open and closed, but on and off. Suddenly, more Nazis appeared from the entrances, dozens of them, then hundreds. They herded the society toward the center of the room, killing at a leisurely pace with found objects.

“Bull! Fire your cannon!” yelled Brenda.

An older fellow made his way as quickly as he could across the battlefield. His face showed the strain as he climbed over a fallen friend to reach his trusty cannon. Finally, he fell across it, wild-eyed in terror. “Absolutely not!” he exclaimed. “It’s in mint condition!”

“It’s up to us, Brenda!” Mary Sue shouted, eyes blazing. She pulled a yellow card from her purse and flung it, ninja-like, across the room. It hit one of the Nazis in a nigh-invisible seam and shorted it out. The thing fell, lifeless, onto the stone floor. Hydraulic oil mingled with the blood of humans.

“We can stop them!” exclaimed Brenda. “Go get’em, Mary Sue!”

“I only had one card,” said Mary Sue with a frown, before being crushed by a falling chandelier.

“The Nazis are killing everyone!” shrieked Jim.

“Don’t worry, they’re just robots,” said Bob, a chronon before he was struck down by a feloniously foraged fire-axe.

“I should have fired her when I had the chance,” said Bull sadly, resting his hand on the old cannon. A gurgling gentlemen fell to the ground, dropping his tiki torch. The mosquito-repellant flames revealed the name engraved on the gun’s chassis…. Rosebud.

* * *

“OK,” said the director. “That’s a wrap.”

The bodies of the slain began to rise from their places and shamble toward the living.

Floodlights throughout the old castle’s basement activated, as the victims began to remove their wounds and drop them into a large trash can labeled “death props.” Bull straightened up and strode energetically toward the Director.

“Deuce, can we do that last line one more time? I-”

“No.” said Deuce firmly, scratching under his traditional fedora. Drops of sweat gathered in his neckbeard. “We are screening this tomorrow night, which is actually tonight, because it’s really late, and I still need to to post-production. Your performance was great.”

The actor pulled off the Bull mask, revealing a younger, haughtier face. “Why can’t we just wait and release it at the Kansas Film Festival?”

“This is a classic morality tale. It’s all about the message, which is that authoritarian violence is wrong, and navel-gazing self indulgence is doomed. There is a third way. We need our performance to go viral before the Winter Election if we want to have an impact. Also…. tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. The day after is the New Year.”

The other actors gathered around. They looked at each other and shrugged.

“We don’t want to compete in the same awards year as the new Space Mask movie.”

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Here's an Idea

Just quit writing banal articles stereotyping "Millenials." Stop saying the word. Just... find something else to talk about. Next time you are tempted to make some kind of pithy generalization, just picture a stocky Mexican teenager learning to operate a welder. There's your Millenial. Or how about a gang member knocking out old people. In Seattle.

Bless Your Mechanical Heart

This was a decent compilation. However, the editor definitely doesn't deserve the Hugo win. Why? Well, the stories were fine individually, but collectively, a theme emerged: Robot flavored fiction. Science Fiction? Some of it did indeed explore scientific ideas, maybe. I can't remember an example off the top of my head. I'm going to say that what it really explored was FEELZ.

Yes, that is an annoying word. But aside from the Progressive / liberal / pop-culture PC talking points used as minor plot devices, flavor commentary and social commentary, there were ample FEELZ included.

Robot gets bullied. Robot falls in love, writes romantic poetry, and then dies for no reason. Robot is programmed with religion and begins judgmentally killing sinners. Robot kitty social worker helps addict, and sticks it to her greedy corporate employers. Robot rescued from dumpster obeys original programming. Robot... sleeps for a long time, and then I don't remember what happens. Not that memorable. There were a couple of Robot Soldiers, but no fighting. And let's not forget the robot who tried to find her mistress a boyfriend. That one was one of the weaker stories, especially since 1) the woman was married to a husband, and they never overcame their trauma or repaired their relationship, and 2) the science-flavored aaspects of the story were by far the worst in the collection. It literally used her husbands Hollywood-level hacking abilities as a Deus ex Machina... twice. Someone that ignorant about computers should not be allowed to write science fiction publicly.

So, read it if it sounds appealing to you, because it's a decent anthology. Maybe the editor(s) did a good job, but I couldn't really tell. All I could discern from the collection as a whole was that they picked a bunch of Pink SF stories with Robot FEELZ. There was none of the clever logic or real scientific speculation one might associate with robot stories in the vein of Asimov, Clarke, or even those mediocre 90s post-cyberpunk things.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rat Queens, Vol. 1

Bad: The plot was detailed and consistent, but not that engaging. Also a little too much "feminism," ie, nihilistic sex and drugs, impiety, and a token lesbian. I didn't mind the grrl power as such, since it makes sense in the satirical fantasy world.

The story works well with the female protagonists.

Good: The art was good and the characters in particular were detailed. The dialogue and style were good. It was somewhat funny, although the humor was of the Gen X snark variety. The jokes were a little worn. The paneling was above average. The story moved quickly, yet with plenty of detail and no confusing bits. The art definitely contributed to the flow of the story.

I'm ranking this above Ms. Marvel. Although I can't say Rat Queens is definitely "Hugo-worthy," it has artistic merit in art and storytelling and good production values. Ms. Marvel is regurgitated dreck with liberal messages and good production values.

Ms. Marvel Vol I, 2014

I'm going to briefly summarize my thoughts on some of the Hugo nominees for 2014. (Voting takes place in 2015). No one reads this blog, so I won't go into too much detail.

I just finished reading the new Ms. Marvel Volume 1. It was all right. The art was good, the story was cliche'd but well executed. So were the characters. The paneling was mediocre, but compared to the other American comics I've read, it was fine. It was essentially transparent and didn't get in the way of the story, but didn't contribute anything either.

It's very rare that you see elaborate comic paneling that actually adds to the art, so maybe the simplicity is a good thing.

The only real issue with the story is that the "filler," the non-super-heroine elements, were 100% PC message fiction. Be yourself. Being someone you're not is hard work. Muslims are good people, unless they're too devout. A Muslim girl sniffing bacon in a deli is A-OK. Young people need to struggle to find their own way in life. Kids drinking vodka at a party is fine, but pranking each other is not. Don't try to control your children, or keep them from harm, because you'll suffocate them and possibly cause their supervillain nemesis to gain the upper hand. Skinny blondes are popular and bitchy, but stereotyping brown people is wrong.

Overall it wasn't bad, but I have no desire to read the next issue because, at the end of the day, the story is pointless and boring. The characters are boring. I read at least 50 different manga and manhua last year that were better, and could have qualified for the Hugo.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Unification Through Deregulation

It occurs to me that as countries deregulate, their economic and political systems become more similar to each other. Thus, the goal of unified world government could be achieved more effectively by libertarianism than by the brutal authoritarianism that the UN hopes to impose one day.

In the real world, a society is more than the sum of its government regulations. It is composed of history, culture, shared values, countercurrents of these, civil institutions, fashion trends, accidents, and sunk costs. So even two identical governments could rule completely different countries. Whereas Iceland was a functioning anarchy for centuries, and the USA was once populated by free people who governed themselves, other cultures with a less evolved zeitgeist plunge into barbarism when you take the boots off their necks.

Power structures form in a vacuum, and expand until they can expand no further; gradually, they can become less centralized. This is the typical progression from chaos, to tribalism, to Monarchy, to aristocracy, to democracy, and thence to anarchy.

Sadly, the evolution of society is not an inevitable progression of the historical dialectic, as some idiots would like to believe.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Anti-Drone Missiles for all Americans

Item 1) The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Item 2) There are at least 5 million AR-15 rifles in private hands in the US.

Item 3) We are on the cusp of being technologically and economically capable of producing military grade firearms in the home via 3-D printing, not to mention mail order micro-industry and local machine shops.

Item 4) The Obama Administration today released a 16 page legal document stating that they can blow up American citizens, in the United States, without so much as a trial, a warrant, or probable cause. This violates the 5th, 10th amendments as well as Habeus Corpus and Posse Comitatus.

Therefore, we must immediately move to design and produce an open-source anti-aircraft system for home use in the United States.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I don't understand why some Atheists are so angry. Well, I do- their anger at the world and their rejection of the existence of God stem from the same emotional issues. But let's pretend that all Atheists are, in fact, basing their position on a rational analysis of fact. Some are. A flawed logic, perhaps, but logic nonetheless.

Essentially, I cannot accept any Atheist believing in free will. Even if the universe turns out to be nondeterministic at the quantum level, I hardly think that a nondeterministic entangled system having a vague and nebulous effect on the electrical impulses in a bowl of grey tissue can count as free will.

For practical purposes, sure, it makes sense to posit free will. In a philosophical sense, I would also argue that the absence of free will would mean that I have no choice but to believe in it.

But on some kind of absolute, existential, or moral plane? Free will has no basis in scientific fact. I am hard pressed to make any philosophical argument for it other than the above, and without either a scientific or philosophical basis, any of the historical evidence for free will is meaningless. History can only be interpreted in light of our knowledge of how the world works.

So why are some Atheists so vituperatively, vociferously angry? Theists literally have no choice but to worship their gods and perform meaningless rituals. The small minority of violence that is performed in the name of religion is inevitable. You can't be angry at an asteroid for obliterating all life on Earth. In fact, you can't be angry at an asteroid for its failure to believe in the historical theory of evolution.

Well, anger is merely a biochemical indication that you perceive unfairness. So if you believe, deep down, that 'fairness' can be applied to physical reality, other than the specific actions of humans, then you can be angry all the time.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Boggles my mind

The mainstream Republicans won't support Ron Paul because, while he is the most intelligent and principled of the candidates, he's kind of old and funny looking and his defense policy would kill us all.

Yet even CNN recognizes that the Ron Paul budget would not cut defense.

Our current global network of forward basis was our strategy to contain Soviet aggression in the fase of their possession of long range bombers and later, short-range nuclear missiles. Later it allowed us to project force to their periphery, where we countered their attempts to turn countries like Viet Nam into satellite states.

Now, although there are certainly tactical benefits, the majority of our bases only serve to stage peacekeepers in various 3rd world hellholes or defend Western Europe. In total, they reduce our national security for two reasons.

First, the greatest existential threat to the United States is its overspending. Our foreign bases, and particularly the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, cost us incredible sums of money. Of course, the media is pretending we left Iraq so they can get Obama another turn, and in fact our presence there is reduced, but the money continues to bleed out.

Second, a few of our bases antagonize the natives to no end. Saudi Arabia neither needs nor deserves our protection, so why do we have troops there? To support Kuwait? Which Supports Iraq? Where we have no national interest anyway?

I was somewhat ambivalent on the invasion of Iraq, but it had some tactical advantages. Now it does not. The current withdrawal timetable, which was negotiated by bush, is fine with me, although I would like to see all of our soldiers withdrawn except for the embassy.

Afghanistan? We owe them nothing. If they want to live in peace and freedom they're perfectly capable of doing it. They simply choose not to. It's not Afghanistan vs the Taliban - the Taliban is made up of Afghans.

The last vestiges of American culture also face a threat from the continued immigration from less civilized nations. Our troops would be better used defending the Mexican border than the Iranian border.