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The Next Big Thing – Emailing Your Stuff

Hula hoopToday the WordPress daily prompt is, What will the next technological innovation be? Since they use the phrase, “The Next Big Thing” I am assuming they mean something that’s going to be new and then omnipresent, like wheels and soap and smartphones.

Emailing your stuff. That’s clearly what’s next. You don’t drag your suitcase to the airport anymore, you pack it, scan it in, and then you use a 3-D printer somewhere at your destination to make a you a copy of that.

3-D printers aren’t quite there yet, I know – but this guy has one that prints clothing. And this guy can print you a gun. And this guy is building a house with them.

But 3-D printers are just technology, and technology always improves until it looks like magic. I’m sure the Wright Brothers would be shocked at the flying hotels we buzz around in now. Charlie Chaplin, meet James Cameron. It’s inevitable, like pushing a boulder a few inches and then wondering if you could push it to Cleveland.

Of course you can. It’s just a bunch of inches.

The price will go down, and the quality will go up. Radio waves, vacuum tubes, VHS players, CDs, BluRay – 3D Printers will be no different until pretty soon, we’ll all have a decent one, and that’s where we’ll keep a lot of our stuff.

It’ll be cool, too. Want to go on a trip? Pull up your laptop, click the bathroom file, and copies of all of your typical bathroom accessories are uploaded to your Virtual Suitcase. Click on some outfits, a bathing suit, maybe your freaking bicycle. Enter your destination, click send and then you’re off to the airport, step on the plane with no luggage.

Once you get to your hotel, all of your stuff has been 3D printed from the Virtual Suitcase you sent along with your reservation and payment method, and it’s sitting there in your room waiting for you. If you spill anything on your favorite dress – no problem. They can print you one downstairs, and you just hand the old one back in and it gets recycled into the Printer Substance Buffer.

Like everything, at first it will be very expensive and a sort of novelty – you’ll have to put up with imperfections, like people will start to notice that their hair dryers stop working a few months after they’ve been printed. Maybe you’ll print a whole suitcase, and six months later the handle falls off. It won’t matter though, you just print yourself a new hair dryer and a new suitcase. A mere nuisance til you get back to the house.

ReplicatorIt will be irritating magic, that’s all – like everything around us. Argh – why is this microwave taking so long?

What’s the matter, Sam? Oh, nothing Bill. I just had my jacket teleported here and it smells like cheese for no reason. They’re printing me a new one, but I’m going to be ten minutes later to dinner now!

In the end, I’m not talking about the Next Big Thing so much as the Last Big Thing. The Next Big Thing will be the end of Things as we know them – the complete, free access to whatever Things we want, whenever we want them.

 
 

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Meanwhile, In Space

stormI’m online, watching images of a hurricane the size of two Earths on the surface of Saturn, and I’m listening to a literal rocket scientists explain to me all of the things that are weird about it. Being on Saturn is already weird, but he doesn’t sound like he expected any hurricanes there at all.

Most hurricanes are over water, he reminds me, and yes that seems true. I kind of have the vague feeling that it’s not just because we call them something else if they’re over land, but that the water is functional. It feeds the storm system, cooling air, evaporating, affecting air pressure.

Yes, says the rocket scientist, but he doesn’t elaborate, I’m still guessing as to why. But yes, hurricanes are normally over water, and there’s no water on Saturn. Also, this storm is locked at the north pole. We’re used to storms that lumber around and then break up and are gone. This is a really weird kind of hurricane, says the rocket scientist.

Okay, and I believe him. In fact, it sounds to me like Saturn is about to implode into a new star, but the rocket scientist doesn’t seem to be worried about that, and starts talking about something else.

The whole time he sock puppets me through the information, they’re showing me images and sometimes video of Saturn, shot from the Cassini spacecraft, which has been hanging around Saturn for a while now. I was the kind of kid who could tell you all the planets and how many moons they had, sat around in my room staring at pictures of them. Now we’ve sent a robot to Saturn, and I’m watching what it saw on my lap.

solar flareThe hurricane’s been rolling for years, locked at the north pole of Saturn, the wind blasting along at three hundred miles per hour. They’re going to keep an eye on it, while they watch meteorites break up into streams, possibly forming Saturn’s rings. While they map the seasonal plasma changes in Saturn’s magnetosphere. And while they study the ancient hydrocarbon lakes on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

Yes, and then I’m watching a commercial for some kind of car, thinking about how we’re sitting here in the future, poking around Saturn, and then another video shows up.

This one is a three-year time-lapse of our own Sun, complete with solar eruptions and a vast solar wave. They even play nice, New Age music that makes bloggers feel all introspectively New Agey when they watch it.

Pretty soon I’m thinking about the world we live in, the rabid, barking gun control debate, the bitter, grueling election. People blowing up in Boston, Syria, London, Iraq, you name it. A strike team killing bin Laden. Little flying robots killing civilians. An arch-villain corporation poisoning our food supply while we march in the streets, or don’t.

Here we have evidence that the Universe doesn’t care that much. If we want something in the Universe to care about this stuff, we’re going to have to care about it ourselves.

DrifterI find myself feeling weirdly better about everything, looking into an improbable alien storm. Watching the Sun keep spinning along, barfing plasma, burping solar wind. You got a choice, humans, says the Sun in the only way it knows how to speak. You folks figure out how to get along and work together, move from world to world, or I’ll eat you. I’ll explode one day, and I’ll eat you all, even in a billion years while you kill each other with lasers or sticks. You work it out or don’t, squares.

Some pretty effective New Age music in that three-year Sun montage. Got my philosophical panties in a bunch, yessir. I think I’m going to go and grab a beer, take that edge off. You stay here, blogosphere, and think about how much we matter. I’ll be back in the morning.

 

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Where Do You Stand On Killer Robots?

Angry MobI assume here in America, this issue will shake down along political lines since that’s what everything else does. Even the Boston Bombing turns out to be political – did you hear all that shit last week? It was like the opposite of 9/11.

“See?” Everybody said. “This is exactly why we’re right about whatever we were already talking about! Screw you, Everybody Else!”

One would think we could all get along with regards to killer robots, but that’s not the vibe I’m getting off this country right now, dude. My first guess would be that Republicans would be all for killer robots, reasoning then that they have the right to bear them because of the air-tight Second And Only Amendment and their typical academic status as constitutional scholars.

But on the other hand, fifty percent of Republicans in a recent poll said that they think the citizenry might have to take arms and revolt against the federal government pretty soon here. Even if they have the right to their own killer robots, one has to reason that the federal government would have more of them. Maybe killer robots are like Obamacare – Super Duper Bad.

It’ll be quite an occasion for popcorn, watching Fox News decide that for all of them in a single news cycle. PEOPLE OF NASCAR! WE HAVE RENDERED OUR DECISION ON KILLER ROBOTS!

Too much? That might have been too much, I’m sorry about that one.

Let me back up a little bit. Here’s a BBC News article entitled Campaigners Call For International Ban On “Killer Robots.” And no it’s not a joke, it’s not a cartoon, there’s a real woman named Jody Williams, from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and she has a pretty good point.

We shouldn’t be too surprised about the killer robots; we’ve been talking about drones for years.I’ve never really understood why people act like drones are so bad. It seems to me that we’ve been sending teams of covert humans to kill people and blow stuff up for decades. Remember The Bridge on the River Kwai? Way shorter movie with drones, right?

Anyway, we can’t act like the morality is new – we already kill folks, we already blow stuff up.

Nick FuryI’m not even sure we should knock it off. I mean, I suspect that we should knock it off, sure. But I’ll bet there’s a whole lotta shit going on in the world that I don’t know anything about. They have to cut the heads off some serpents and all that. And they have to arm certain groups of pricks to get certain more controllable pricks in office in countries that have stuff we’d like to get, stuff we’d have an easier time getting if we could control the pricks in charge.

That really does appear to be how we roll, and I might not like the sound of it and you might not ether, but I don’t see either of us hitting the fence for Mexico. We’re complicit in it, and we shouldn’t pretend that we’re not.

All right then, groovy. So, morality aside, we send out teams to kill folks. It would be a lot cooler if they could fly their guns over instead, that way the only thing we could lose would be the guns.

And that’s drones – flying, remote-control camera guns. If we’re going to kill folks, I’d rather do it that way. Call me crazy.

But that doesn’t make me Pro Killer Robot. The distinction, according to the gang over at The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, is when there’s no one flying the camera gun. It’s just flying around, killing.

Soon we’ll be able to build drones that don’t take orders from a person, little artificially intelligent war birds flying around deciding for themselves who to shoot and what to blow up. This technology, they tell us, is right around the corner and there is no reason to believe the world’s scientists will all collectively agree, That’s Too Evil, Let’s Not Do That.

Evil RobotsAs we all know, scientists have been skewing Evil for quite some time now. Hey did you hear that most bacteria will be immune to all known antibiotics very soon, and that we’re putting basically zero time and energy into figuring out what to do about it?

Sure, but we’re nipping at the heels of artificially intelligent death machines. What could go wrong?

Ah, and here I think I’ve found the fault line along which the two parties will divide. Speaking for the liberals, Ms. Jody Williams – and you know she’s speaking for the liberals because she has a Commie-Terrorist Nobel Prize for bringing about a ban on anti-personnel land mines.

“As people learn about our campaign, they will flock to it.

“The public conscience is horrified to learn about this possible advance in weapons systems. People don’t want killer robots out there.

“Normal human beings find it repulsive.”

I’m not sure why she’s speaking in Approximate Haiku Format, but that’s probably why I don’t have a Nobel Prize. Regardless, it does seem like that will be our attitude on the liberal side. Gross, we don’t need killer robots we need schools! And bike trails!

And then speaking for the Republicans, Roboticist Professor Ronald Arkin from the Georgia Institute of Technology:

“The most important thing from my point of view is that we do not rush these systems into the battlefield.

A moratorium as opposed to ban – where we say, ‘we’re not going to do this until we can do it right’ – makes far more sense to me than simply crying out, ‘ban the killer robots’.

“Why should we do that now?”

Good point – it’s important to call Right Nowsies, in case we get a hankerin’ for some killer robots later on. We don’t want to flip-flop. And who knows, there might be a way to make a bunch of cash off of killer robots. Now, if only someone who owned a killer robot company could get elected Vice President, he could get his illiterate stooge President pal to start a war somewhere, ram that funding through. Make some Killer Robot Cheddar.

And rushing the systems to the battlefield – that IS the mistake they’re always making in Killer Robot Movies. They turn on the killer robot and set it to kill and damn it, it’s killing everybody!

more robotsYou have to take it nice and easy with your robot armies. Don’t go running off all pell-mell, tumble bumble. Put your thinking cap on, this is serious.

If we get all hysterical now about killer robots, Professor Ronald Arkin reminds us, then we won’t have time to really carefully consider how badass it would be to have them. Who knows, maybe we can make them so they’re nice to us, and killy only to say, well, folks who are different. Folks who hate freedom. That sort of thing.

And again, if you outlaw killer robot armies, then only outlaws will have killer robot armies. Is that what you want you naive, draft-dodging, bunny-kissing communist?

Anyway, the upcoming hilarious partisan debate aside, I’m all for signing up for this Ban on Killer Robots, but I think it’s kind of silly and misguided. See, we won’t have any idea that anyone has Killer Robots until they have Killer Robots. And then we’re going to I guess say ,”Hey, Remember? We agreed no killer robots!”

And because of the Ban, they’ll have to turn off their Killer Robots and hand ’em over. Cause that’s how the world works, that’s how Killer Robots work, and that’s how the mad scientists who create them work.

How far away is this stuff? Well, the article also quotes a directive issued by the US Department of Defense in November 2012, that all weapons with a degree of autonomy:

“shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force”.

Make sure and mull over the ominous use of the word “appropriate” in that statement, and then have yourself a nice night’s sleep.

 

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Behold The Mighty Clothing Printer

It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a wall-mounted unit no more cumbersome than a washing machine, looks kind of like a really big paper towel dispenser with Wifi access. Here’s the design web site by Serious Super Genius Joshua Harris, which tells you everything you need to know. I’ll just go ahead and recap it here, in case you don’t feel like clicking a link (I’m not going to steal his pictures though, so you should) and so it will count as a daily post.

Harris spends a really short, efficient amount of space explaining that by 2050, most people will live in cities, and as such, we’re not going to have much space per person. The middle class might be sinking, but so will our apartments it seems – Harris cites 220 square foot micro-apartments already being built and utilized in several major cities.

Then he points out that on average, Americans throw away 68 pounds of clothing per year. We have it made by cheap labor overseas, we wear it for a bit, and then we get rid of it, and that’s horribly inefficient.

So instead we’ll buy the templates, the designs just as easily as we buy files on iTunes. And we’ll buy cartridges with the various materials – blue cotton, red linen, etc.

Then we load up the program for Blue Sweatshirt, and hit print. Out pops a blue sweatshirt. I don’t know what the hell they’re going to do in the Third World, a buck a day stinks but it probably beats the hell out of zero.

Hold on, I changed my mind, I think I AM going to steal one of his pictures. I’ll just act dumb if he shows up and hollers at me.

Clothing Printer

Ah there it is. All of this, he claims, can be done with existing technology, so it’s not like we have to wait til 2050. And he did it for some kind of project, while the rest of us watched Breaking Bad and Facebooked and wiped out noses on our sleeves and then discarded the clothing at the park in a drunken stupor. Seriously, go click the link, I think I just stole that. He’s going to be mad.

But then, just listen. Because you might be thinking, Well hell, if we can all print clothes out as simply as yanking a paper towel off the roll, then won’t we just throw away more clothes?

And the answer is no, because instead you’ll recycle the clothing back into the printer, and make different clothing out of it. The clothes can be easily reverted to the base substance from the cartridges. When you are finished with your blue sweatshirt, you can feed it back in so that it’s recycled for the next Blue Thing you need.

You don’t keep your clothes in a closet anymore, you keep them on your laptop! They’ll think of closets like 8 Track Tapes!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

ashIt’s like we’re cavemen and Joshua Harris just pulled out a shotgun. All Hail The Big Brained Man With The Boom Stick!

Why isn’t this man in charge of everything? Does he think anything else? We should listen to this man. Does he have a North Korea Reverse Printer? It can’t hurt to ask.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to freak out, but that’s basically a primitive replicator from Star Trek Mr. Harris is talking about, nice and casual. That’s what 3-D printers are, too. They’re teleporting and replicating stuff, more and more complicated stuff all the time.

I knew they’d get around to teleporting things, but I always thought of it like The Fly. Someone figures it out, and bam, that’s it, now we teleport. Get yourself some new jobs, truck drivers, cargo ship crews, and dirigible pilots. But no, it’s just like bandwidth or the speed of microprocessors or any other technology. They get it working so poorly that it’s barely useful, then improve it every year til pretty soon Professor Moriarty escapes from the Holodeck and you have to outwit him for realsies.

Not all fun and games though. Here’s a guy in this NPR article who can print you an assault rifle with a 3-D printer. Not joking. Go ahead and take away the guns, 3D Printed Gunit’ll be like taking your kids’ cassette tapes away. How else are they going to get their hands on music? The Internet?

That guy’s a licensed gun manufacturer now, by the way. Why are we having a gun debate again? The gun guys won, dudes. If you take away their guns, they’re going to print out new guns except they’ll still be all mad about the last set of guns you took away. Maybe we can get the clothing printer to print us all out some bullet proof vests, yes?

So something tells me that if we’re talking about clothing and guns, well – those aren’t the only things that can be 3D printed.

Here’s a guy trying to print out a house. Hell yes, he is, go look at him: Dutch Architect To Build House With 3D Printer. Not a shack, either, a 12,000 square foot house. The printer doesn’t print out the whole house, it’s like Super Legos or something.

The FlyThis is all happening. It’s apparently been happening a while. You can print objects now, and we’ve decided not to call it teleportation so nobody freaks out about alien-human hybrids who barf on your boyfriend’s foot and eat it.

Food? You buy nutrient packs like ink cartridges, then stick them in there and out comes crackers and beef jerky and quiche? Go ahead and tell me they can print out clothing and guns but not quiche. I assume the Super Deluxe model will be able to take my shirt after I eat ribs, and then separate the food from the clothing, stick them back into the right cartridges. You dry cleaners can go ahead and get new jobs, too.

Okay then. I’m good and freaked out. You guys have a lovely Sunday.

 

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Drawing The Line At Cyborg Cockroaches

About fourteen years ago, I wrote a short story called “Roach Twelve.”  It was about a government-funded cybernetics project in which cockroaches were fitted with implants so they could be walked around remotely.  They also had little cameras on them, GPS chips, and tiny explosives the size of grains of rice.

They were used for search and rescue missions, because they could explore rubble without digging, and they were resistant to chemicals and radiation, so toxic spills for instance were no problem.  Also, the roaches – in a comical nod to mid-90’s Internet technology, and my general lack of intelligence – were fitted with ports on their butts, so they could back into phone jacks and upload or download information from computers.  Modern units, I’m certain, could be fitted for Wifi, wouldn’t you agree?

In the story, an alien spaceship crashes, they send in twelve remote control cockroaches, and one of them interfaces with the alien space ship, becomes self-aware, and escapes.  It was pretty cool, if you ask me, because all the other roaches were sent to converge on the renegade Roach Twelve, who had actually removed his GPS chip and planted a bunch of his little bombs with it.

So when the roaches all went to get him, Roach Twelve was a half mile away, busy berating his former human masters for the sick and monstrous things they were doing, and then all the other roaches were destroyed and an armed, cybernetic cockroach with the entire Internet for a mind was loose in America.

I’ll be really honest with you – you’re better off getting that one summarized.  Any time I look back at something I wrote more than a few years ago, all I can think is, ewwwwwww, Tommy C. – you suck.

But the short story isn’t really important so much as the fact that it isn’t fiction anymore.  They’ve had remote control cybernetic cockroaches for quite some time – and now, you can have some, too.

That’s correct.  Check out this link – Roboroach Kit Makes You Mind Master Of Live Cockroaches –  which hips you to a kit you can order, allowing you to make your own cyborg cockroaches, minus the bombs.  They’re sort of rudimentary, and they include a larger exoskeleton which really does the walking, and they only work on one-quarter of cockroaches – the ones which watch Fox News, I imagine – but yes, you can then walk the little buggers around.  Right, left, stop, Hammer Time – that sort of thing.

A little background on the research which led up to the product, for you there.  That roach uses a ping-pong ball and a huge apparatus to move around.  That’s another great idea – big robots with cockroaches driving them.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of things which are illegal to sell without a permit.  Liquor, for instance, and freon, and in lots of areas, even milk is a controlled substance.  But it’s groovetacular to go ahead and build an unholy army of mind-controlled robot cockroaches.  This is America, land of the free.

I am not joking, my friends.  I have seen a lot of batshit crazy ideas here in the post-Apocalyptic blogosphere, most of them created by scientists who are too busy in their labs to watch the horror movies which were made to warn them about doing stuff exactly like this

On the other hand, what does the Bible think about this, you’re probably asking.

Well, in the Bible, if I’m not mistaken, God gives man dominion over the animal kingdom, so this is definitely not the jaw-dropping abomination it appears to be.  It’s just us, kicking ass, that’s all.  What Would Jesus Enslave?

And you definitely do not need to worry about what the cockroaches are doing while you put them away, do you?  I’m sure they’re just sitting in their cars in the Matchbox Parking Garage where they are stored, thinking about stuff besides creeping into your bed while you sleep, and installing chips in your brain, and then making you dance around to techno music all the time.  Where would they get that idea?

The general rule is, when something is possible, you do it.  Robot Monkey Exoskeletons?  Get ’em going.  Super Villain Space Time Cloaks?  Why not?  Machines which catch animals and convert them to energy?  What could go wrong?

The fact is, this kind of technology is exactly what we’ve been waiting for, as a species.  For example, how often have you been sitting on the couch with a beer balanced on your belly, but then the furnace kicks on and you can’t quite hear Cupcake Wars?  The remote’s all the way over there on the table, and to reach it, you’d have to lean forward and either spill or move your beer.

Not a problem, anymore, as long as your Cockroach Remote is closer.  Just walk the cockroach over to the remote and make him bonk his head up against the Up Volume Button.

Or maybe you’re a creepy stalker, and you’d like to run a cockroach through the wall to stare at the pretty neighbor next door from her wall vents.  That’s as American as apple pie, my friends – don’t act like you didn’t see Revenge of the Nerds.

In fact, it should be only a matter of time before we get this technology refined to where it works on bigger critters, like cats or squirrels or sharks with tigers strapped to them (that’s the one I’m holding out for, obviously).  Once the tech wave hits on this one, we should as a nation be pretty much indestructible, and since horrific, monstrous abominations never turn on their creators like the wrath of the Almighty, there really shouldn’t be a downside at all.  Let’s go shopping.

I know, a lot of you are like, I’m WAY too cool to play with remote control cyborg cockroaches, but that’s what you hipsters said about texting, and now look at you.  You even figured out several ways to sneer via text, like “meh” and “pfffft” and don’t forget emoticons.

Ride the wave, my friends.  This is America, the capital of the Internet, and if you don’t have your own unholy army of soulless cockroach monsters, then you’re just competing against people who do, and who’s fault’s that going to be?  I suppose after everyone else’s cockroaches have taken over, you’ll be whining for a bailout, won’t you?

As for me, I’ll be in my closet with every crack in the wall and under the door sealed by duct tape, blogging, drinking whiskey, stinking, muttering, a lighter and a can of hairspray handy, ready to incinerate any dots that move.  Daddy lost his faith in humanity, my wife will explain, and he’s just having some alone time.

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Earlier: There’s Nothing Funny About Mind Control Robot Monkeys

And:  My Awesome New Space-Time Cloak

And: Horrific Meat-Eating Machines Or Lovable Singing Teapots?

 

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Nothing To See At Project Ice Monster

You’re probably wondering what happened with the Harmless Ice Monster Project I told you about a little while back.  Well, good news – nothing.

If you recall, they were about 20 meters from drilling into a lake sealed away under two miles of Antarctic ice for the last fifteen million years, and they only had a week to cover that distance because the winter was coming and also there was some political wrangling – a bunch of busybodies thought maybe they ought to leave the pristine environment alone.

Yes, they were hard at work building a monster movie the last time we checked in on them, so let’s see how they’re doing now. 

Here’s the most recent update, conveniently titled Updated: No breakthrough to Antarctica’s Lake Vostok, in which we learn that:

“drilling stopped from 26 to 30 January, while scientists measured the densities of drilling fluids, widened the hole’s diameter in upper layers, removed slime, added Freon where needed, and prepared to upgrade their electrico-mechanical drill pump.”

So right off the bat, you and I are probably thinking the same three things:

  1. Why do they need freon two miles under the ice with the Antarctic winter looming near?  Isn’t freon a refrigerant?  I’m not sure I’d be heading in that direction.
  2. That is a decidedly awkward name for whatever kind of equipment you are upgrading to.  That sounds like someone explaining something to Sherlock Holmes a hundred and ten years ago.   And don’t you think a few days before the project’s over is a weird time to upgrade?
  3. Did you guys just say you were cleaning up a bunch of slime?

Yes, they sure did say that, and they said it with a completely straight face, like it’s a normal thing.  All three of those things range from vaguely creepy to sinister, just kind of dropped in there.  As in, “Yeah, I got up this morning, brushed my teeth, showered, ate a live cat, and then grabbed the paper and hopped on the bus.”

Dudes, I don’t normally think of slime when I think of Antarctica.  If you’re in South America or maybe Columbus, Ohio, sure, rivers of slime all over the place.  Horrifying and nasty and depressing but what are you going to do?  But I thought everything was frozen down there, and if slime is frozen then it isn’t slime anymore.

What the hell.  Kindly explain the slime, while you’re sitting there at the keyboard knocking out your report.  That’s a really glaring omission, especially for a crew that’s been in denial about ice monsters this whole time.

In fact, it sort of makes one wonder if they really came short of drilling into Lake Vostok.  According to my rather startling and peer-reviewed calculations, there is a nine hundred percent chance that prehistoric shapeshifting dinosaur people have eaten the Russian scientists who drilled into the lake, and then replaced them and started typing out reports.

Most likely they drink freon because they’re so weird and they were upgrading to their own amphibian Morlock technology.  Remember, there’s a good chance they could look like this if they wanted to, since they’re shapeshifters:

No, listen to me, I’m serious.  The Thing was about shapeshifters, or more like a sort of pile of shapeshifting goo, which was already a puppy dog at the beginning, sorry to spoil that if you haven’t seen it.  And so what I’m saying is, there’s a precedent. 

The Shapeshifting Underwater Dinosaur Goo Men then replace the drilling crew, but they have to eat them first or something.  Then they can speak Russian because that’s somehow the way it works with them, they absorb your language.  I mean it doesn’t have to make sense, we all saw them do it, you can shake your fist at the sky all you want.

So then they go to file their report, and although they can speak Russian, they are culturally a little ignorant, and so they don’t realize that it’s not normal to remove slime from things in Antarctica.  They don’t realize that even if there were slime, you’d want to elaborate.  That slime is almost never a casual type of thing.

It’s a pretty strong word, in fact.  If they meant “algae” they’d have said “algae.”  They must have meant slime.  Slime means monsters.  And they must be shapeshifting monsters since nobody seems to realize it but me.

Duh.  It’s just logic, you guys – it’s not that hard.

And anyway if you want a far more mundane version of the story, here’s Antarctic Treaty no match for national pride.  Which on a side note, let me say that I have no idea why these guys don’t capitalize their titles.  I capitalize the hell out of my titles, even the little words, it’s like I’m yelling at you.  You’re lucky I don’t use all caps. 

Two spaces after my periods, too, every single time – screw you, typographers!

So like I’m saying, that article is by Andrew Darby, and he’s going to go on and on about how this all goes back to the collapse of the Soviet Union and The Antarctic Treaty and a beleaguered Russian Antarctic program, and generally all the stuff from an old monster movie in the first half hour, where all they do is talk. 

He’ll tell you all about history and politics and treaties and the understandably complicated logistics involved in getting someone to stop doing something in the middle of Antarctica, if they really want to go do it.  I mean even the simple stuff is extremely difficult down there – just imagine trying to assemble a grill or learn to tap dance, in the middle of Antarctica.  Then imagine someone else is doing something like that, and you want him to cut it out.

But anyway, what Darby won’t tell you is anything about ice monsters or slime.  So I think it’s pretty obvious that the Morlock Eskimo CHUD Monsters got to him.  Then they released a bunch of calm, easygoing stories in the press about how well, we couldn’t quite make it.  Nothing going on at Lake Vostok, just the normal hanging out, cleaning slime off of things.  You know how it is.

By now, they’re probably all over the place.  If they hadn’t already been eaten, you’d just want to grab these Russian scientists and shake them and use your best Stupid Voice to mock their ideas.  “Oh, yes, let’s drill into the Horror Movie Lake.  It’ll prove Russia’s great and we’ll get invited to parties.”

But hold on before you get out your flamethrower and go off all half-cocked, because almost every modern court in the world requires that you prove somebody is a shapeshifter before you baptize him or her in holy, cleansing fire.  You don’t want to learn that one the hard way, no sir.

For now, we play a waiting game.

 

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What’s Taking So Long With The Personal Jet Pack?

Like most people, I’ve been sitting around drumming my fingers on my desk for a long time, waiting impatiently for scientists to quit screwing around and invent an affordable, personal jet pack to fly around in.  I know that Colt Seavers used one in The Fall Guy about thirty years ago, and although I understand that supercool, crime-fighting stuntmen get access to technology before the rest of us, I’d have thought thirty years would be long enough.

If you’re having trouble remembering how cool Colt Seavers was, or whether or not he really had a jet pack, then by all means, drink in the opening credits to the series:

The jet pack is at about the thirty-five second mark.  The way it works when you are a stuntman who moonlights as a bounty hunter is, you can pretty much go wherever you want and do as you please.  That includes jet pack storage facilities.  Also, check out Heather Thomas in that show – it looks like she’s dying:

I think she’s saying, “Dudes, I am cold and starving, you have to let me come in and have some clothing and food.”

No way, Heather!  Get outside and keep sunbathing!

Well, raise your hand if you know what it’s like to work as a bikini girl for a crimefighting stuntman.  No one?

All right then, just absorb the cultural information and stop judging.  See, the whole point of watching an educational program like The Fall Guy is to experience the world from a new perspective.  You can’t learn if you’re too focused on squawking about starving, objectified women whose ribs you can count. 

And anyway, it’s been my experience that’s how most women like to walk into a house – almost entirely nude and then a doorway pose.  They’re from Venus and we’re from Mars, baby – don’t fight it.

Now anyway, if they were that close to a jetpack circa 1985, then what has been taking so long?  Did everybody just stop caring about jetpacks?  Did we – as a nation – lose our focus?

Not quite.  It turns out, lots of scientists used to watch The Fall Guy, and there have been various attempts at marketing personal jetpacks, but my research, errrrr email box, has uncovered just a couple of not-very-impressive attempts. 

Take a look at this one, the Jetlev water-powered jetpack:

This is nothing more than cartoon technology, like when Bugs Bunny’s rabbit hole gets filled with water really rapidly and then he’s sitting on the erupting plume of water, blithely disclosing to us that this means war. 

Kind of like a wave runner on a stick.  And there’s a big hose hanging off of it – you have to keep that hose attached at all times.

I mean, it’s just shy of a jetpack that you have to plug in.  I guess, you have to plug it into water.  What the hell am I supposed to do with that thing? 

The whole purpose of a jet pack is to be able to fly wherever you want.  With this thing, you have to stay right above the water.  So sure, you can fly, just like you can fly when you tie a parasail to a boat and let it tow you around.  You could also sit in the boat, like a normal person.

That’s not flying, it’s getting flown like a kite.

I really don’t know what to make of this thing.  The only two possible uses for a jetpack are crimefighting and super villainy.  And you can’t fight crime if you’re dependent on a long, plastic hose.  The bad guys would have a field day with you, like when Foghorn Leghorn painted that dog’s Rope Limit on the ground, so he could grab him by the throat and paint his tongue green.  The hose is just asking for trouble – I really can’t stress that enough.

And then you can forget super villainy, if you have to stay above water.  Might as well call Aquaman up on the phone and just point-blank ask him for an asskicking.

I just feel like my daughters have little wafer-thin computer screens the size of credit cards, and they can take them out of their pockets and watch television on them, and retina scans are here, and they’re talking about space-time cloaks and cloning mammoths

Why is the coolest-looking jetpack from 1985? 

I mean, here’s one called the Martin Jet Pack, which I couldn’t drag the video over here for some reason, but you can see it at the link.  And sure, you don’t have to have a hose attached to it and you don’t have to be above water, but it’s about the size of a garden shed. 

Pack, dudes, jet pack.  All you guys did was make a sort of motorcycle airplane with no seat – looks cool, sure, but check out Colt Seavers circa 1985:

See how patient I’m being here?  I mean, I guess I understand if that’s actually a one-of-a-kind piece of alien technology, and since only one person in the world could have it, the United Nations just naturally gave it to Colt Seavers.

But it’s almost thirty years later.  They’re knocking on the door of actual bionics, and you’re telling me this is the best we can do in the jetpack department?

We have to do better than this, America.  Not just for ourselves, but for Lee Majors and Heather Thomas and Foghorn Leghorn and for any American kid out there who ever dreamed of being a crimefighting bounty-hunting stuntman with his own jetpack and personal bikini girl sidekick.

Look yourselves in the eyes, America.  Is that too much to ask?

 

 

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