The Future of Sci-Fi

I’ve seen the first couple of episodes of Picard, which was largely the justification for subscribing to Amazon Prime, and I’ll watch more, it’s not a complete train wreck, although I am enjoying Lower Decks more, and that’s just a cartoon.
I am not fond of watching a bunch of geriatrics performing heroics in space, and think nostalgia is over-rated, even though I now fit into that demographic, and so, both as a loyal trekkie and an old fart, I am kind of obliged to at least watch this show.
I would prefer new stories, and new visions of the future, with younger, hotter actors, but that’s out there, too, and often as not, it’s just an excuse for an old fashioned shoot ’em up or worse, a horror. A starship in deep space is the new old, wooden house in Maine, complete with eerie music and strange noises.
But, I have one very specific problem with Picard. I mean no disrespect to Brent Spiner, who is a great actor and created a brilliant and iconic character in Data, but… it is ridiculous, it is an insult to the audience’s intelligence, and requires too much of a suspension of disbelief from an audience which prides itself on its attention to scientific accuracy (deserved or not. I mean, we accept teleportation and warp speed travel without blinking an eye, so its understandable that the producers think we’ll accept damn near anything) to show Data aging. He is a fucking android. Androids don’t age.
Of course, it was kind of unavoidable, as Data (the character) is played by Brent Spiner (a human) who is, unfortunately, not immune to the curse of looking one’s age.
Here’s my suggestion: in future, all androids in science fiction should be played by androids. It’s not about cultural appropriation because, really, androids don’t give a shit and they are not going to start complaining and saying they deserve these roles, but about accuracy, and insurance. If the show is good, and generates sequels and movies, the android will be able to play the android forever. (thus saving the studios money they can use on ever more awesome special effects)
Also, the technology is good enough now to do it, and sci-fi nerds would absolutely love it, especially if they are sexy androids, and why wouldn’t they be?

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Depp v. Heard

I’m not following the case of Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard closely but, since it’s the biggest controversy since Smith v. Rock, I suppose I’ll write a blog about it.
Actually, my opinion in the Depp case (because it really is all about Johnny Depp. Amber Heard is a minor actress I wouldn’t even know about if she hadn’t been married to Depp) is the same as in the Smith v. Rock case, or so many other celebrity squabbles.
If they don’t want the attention, they could always just stop being famous. Either Johnny Depp or Amber Heard could have walked away from the relationship at any time. They had enough funds to live on their own, they had plenty of career prospects.
Of course, it may have been an abusive relationship. Being rich and famous doesn’t stop you from having a temper, or having a drug problem, or having other psychological issues. In fact, they very often tend to go together. My suspicion, in this particular case, is that both of them are probably difficult people to live with, and will have problems with their next relationship as well.
And the public absolutely has the right to watch, and comment, and take sides, and place bets. That’s the social contract they made when they became rich and famous (Depp, for all his amazing film roles, from Edward Scissorhands right up to Jack Sparrow, and Heard for marrying Depp).
They will probably make a movie out of this. Whether they admit to it or not, Johnny and Amber are probably both looking forward to that.

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Crossing the Line

Of course trans people are people and, as such, should be treated as individuals, with the same amount of respect you’d give to anybody else. Of course I am not attacking transgender people as a group.
But holy fucking shit, this is out of line. https://globalnews.ca/news/8775229/j-k-rowling-killed-off-book-trans-author/

A transgendered author has written a book in which all the straight men have been turned into some kind of monster and all the alphabet people (LGBTQ) are the plucky heroes of the zombie apocalypse, surviving on the run although how they’re going to reproduce and continue to exist as a species is kind of a mystery. Not enough of a mystery I’m going to read the book to find out, but a mystery nonetheless. At one point in the book, they are sitting around a campfire and talking about how J.K. Rowling and her minions of evil anti-transitude were in a castle in Scotland when they all turned and killed each other.
I suppose this should be within the realm of free speech, as there are certainly public figures who I’ve wished dead, and I don’t suppose she ever said directly (the author’s name is Gretchen, so I assume this is a male to female transition and we’re supposed to use the feminine pronoun, I get so confused) “Trans people should kill J.K. Rowling and take over the world” but, once again, I’m not going to read the book to find out.
But, still, it’s nuts. It’s absolutely insane how much trans people hate J.K. Rowling. They hate her so much they have invented a special word just for her, TERF, which stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, which is a seriously stupid word. What about all the Trans Exclusionary Moderate Feminists (TEMFs) or the Trans Exclusionary Non Feminists (TENFs) or even the Trans Exclusionary Anti Feminists (TEAFs), which might be the largest group of all of them.
Anyway, I was reading the above linked to article and one quote from an anti-terf supporter stood out to me. “Your work will come to be seen as great literature, unlike the garbage that Rowling writes.”
Sorry, trans people. That is just delusional. Rowling’s work is considered great literature by almost anybody who knows anything about literature. You have crossed a line.

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False Hope

I almost got excited when I read “Bernie Sanders open to running in 2024.” It could go one of two ways. On the one hand, they do say third time’s a charm. On the other, they say if you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, that’s a sign of insanity, that’s just beating your head against a wall.
If Bernie Sanders runs as a Democrat, they will just screw him again. They haven’t changed. Nobody’s pressured Biden to move to the left. They screwed us about as hard as they could and to pretend they didn’t get away with it is delusional. They totally got away with it.
But, if Bernie were to learn from the experience, ditch the Democrats hard right now and announce he’s running as an independent, get people out canvassing for signatures to get him on the ballot in all 50 states, set up campaign headquarters in all congressional districts (could just be somebody’s home) and encourage progressives to run for congress as independents, right along with him, I believe he could win. His positions are popular. It would be a repeat of the strategy which made him mayor of Burlington. Neither the Democrats or Republicans are popular, so the person in the middle comes out on top.
But then I read the rest of the sentence: Bernie open to run if Biden doesn’t. And thus, hope dies.

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A Position Between the Poles

The comments over on a friend’s Facebook thread about Ukraine were getting heated, to the point where you couldn’t say anything good about one side without offending the other, and somebody was bound to think you were the worst person in the world whatever you said, so I am here on my blog to explain my position, and will link to it there.
First, I think the Russian invasion of Ukraine is absolutely monstrous, it is a return to a power struggle I had thought we’d left behind, it’s a threat to Europe, and I cheer every time I see a Russian tank exploded, a Russian helicopter shot down, or a Russian ship sunk. But when I say that, I incur the wrath of my friends on the further-left-than-me, and my friends on the anti-vaxxer right, who point out that the Americans have done far worse in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc…and they are right, and they also point out the American intervention in Ukraine, and the history of the war in Donbas, and they’re kind of right about that, too, although I don’t think Putin’s hands are clean r.e. Donbas either.
But there is one particular bit of propaganda from the western center, i.e. camp Biden and the monolithic American misinformation network, which bothers me. That is the constant reference to Putin as a dictator. He is a warmonger, and a heavy handed brute to be sure, but he is the legally elected leader of Russia, and broadly popular. Technically, he is no more a dictator than Joe Biden is. Sure, you could say that those opposed to Putin wind up in jail, but where is Julian Assange right now? In jail. For printing the truth about U.S. war crimes in Iraq. You could say that Russian elections are suspect, but American elections are, too. The people have to choose between a Republican and a Democratic candidate, and both of them represent the corporations, and it’s been that way for many election cycles.
So, while I am not a supporter of Putin, and would love to see him drop dead tomorrow in suspicious circumstances, people should drop the ‘dictator’ nonsense. As Peewee Herman used to say, “I know you are but what am I?”

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