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6/19/2016

The 2016 Election





   I just got new camera so I made a video talking about politics. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to angrily disagree with my views in the comments. I'll have a book review going up on this blog shortly.


2/23/2016

Sane but Evil


 

   The Merriam Webster dictionary defines morality as “conformity to ideals of right human conduct.” According to scientists such as the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and countless others morality is a product of evolution. Humans needed to work together and make positive impressions on others they were likely to see in the future. This ultimately led to deeply ingrained ideas about right and wrong. These ideas influence human society in numerous ways. They are evident in everything from the Bible to ‘Family Guy’. When people act out against traditional views of right and wrong “normal” people often feel the need to describe them as subhuman or cold blooded. This is a way for people to distance themselves from Cain while claiming Abel as their brother. The truth is that man (sorry for the cultural sexism which bleeds into the structure of the English language) is an animal like any other. We have simply evolved these concepts of good and evil. These ideas help us to forget that in one respect we are all just meat. In 1981 Issei Sagawa killed and ate Rene’e Hartevelt. Issei Sagawa is a freak of nature who has gone against the standards which have been set for him and embraced an unusually predatory worldview.




  

    Babies are not innocent reflections of some great goodness. They are weak, ticking time bombs of sin. They care for themselves and as far as we can tell believe that the world was put there for them. Of course as Terry Pratchett points out in his book ‘The Hogfather’ we all secretly half believe that to be true. Most people, it seems develop humility and shame as they grow up and assimilate into society. Nevertheless we all start out more or less the same as selfish balls of greed called babies. Sagawa was a premature and sickly infant who at the time of his birth was so small he could fit in the palm of his father’s hand. Sagawa grew up very rich in the Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture of Japan. Despite his wealth and good fortune he was never your poster boy for the normal. As a child he frequently fucked his dog and fantasized about eating women. Spoiler alert: This is going somewhere weird.





     On June 13th 1981  Issei Sagawa walked to a remote lake just outside of Paris carrying two suitcases. As he was attempting to throw them into the water he was stopped by French police officers. Upon opening the suitcases it was discovered that they contained the bones of Rene’e Hartevelt. Sagawa had killed, had intercourse with and eaten Ms. Hartevelt. The French authorities quickly declared Sagawa insane. Because of this they were unable to try him in France. He was deported to Japan where he was found “sane but evil” and put on trial. This could have been the end of things but fortunately for Sagawa the French didn’t think it was all that important to provide any evidence for his guilt. The Japanese were forced find him innocent of all charges. He checked himself out of a psychiatric hospital on August 12th 1986.





  
  For the last twenty six years Sagawa has represented a strange aspect of the culture of Japan and the human world. Fans of the ‘Rolling Stones’ will know much of his story from the song “Too Much Blood” which was inspired by the murder of Rene’e Hartevelt. Sagawa has also appeared as himself in exploitation films, written manga and novels and even directed a pornographic film. He remains an infamous celebrity in Japan and occasionally does interviews and delivers speeches which help to satisfy the public’s lust for the grotesque and the unusual. He’s hot stuff. All the boys want to be him. All the girls want to be in him. In the end that’s what entertainment and mass media is all about. We applaud violence and drive perpetrators of violence away from us. We want them to live as legends not men. Issei Sagawa knows this all too well. He is a dark legend of his own creation.  



1/23/2016

Chris Chibnall to Take over for Steven Moffat After Series 10






  



  It's  been more than six years since Moffat took his place as head writer/show runner for the critically acclaimed and globally beloved television program Doctor Who. Whether you love his work or hate it one thing is certain. He has left a mark. Now it's been announced that Mr. Moffat  will  be stepping down after series 10. Broadchurch creator and longtime contributor to the Whoniverse will be taking his place. If Chibnall doesn't ring a bell perhaps some of the episodes he has under his belt. Chibnall has written the following Doctor Who stories.


42 -







This is a fairly basic episode. The Doctor and Martha are trapped on a ship that is hurtling towards a star. The star possesses those on board and uses them as deadly meat puppets. The strong points of this episode are some emotional scenes which highlight Martha Jones, when the Doctor is possessed and the feeling of anxiety that comes from the episode being set in real time with what feels like very real risk facing the majority of the characters. It's by no means a weak episode but I feel that this particular story wasn't what got Chibnall the job as head writer.





The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood -


          In my opinion The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood is far superior to 42. It's set in the year 2020 and features the returns of the silurians. Like 42 it focuses strongly on human nature and how we interact with the world around us. This is story is only slightly lighter in tone and does have its dark moments. Chibnall accomplishes a lot with this two parter. He re-introduces the audience to the silurian people, constructs a strong argument for their claim to the Earth, shows the dark side of humanity and ends everything on a positive note. It's a fun adventure which gives the viewer something to chew on.




Pond Life -



  I love Pond Life! These short webisodes are in my opinion some of Chibnall's greatest contributions to the series so far. We get a look at Matt Smith's Doctor off on adventures without Amy and Rory and see glimpses of Amy and Rory's everyday life as their marriage begins to collapse in on itself. There are some really funny moments featuring an ood and touching scenes which seem to ground the show more in reality. Pond Life is great Doctor Who.





  Dinosaurs on a Spaceship -

   
     This episode from series 7 receives a lot of criticism from critics. Well the critics can go eat eat a granola dick. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship is fantastic. I'll give you three chances to guess what it's about. Freaking DINOSAURS ON A FREAKING SPACESHIP!!!! I love this episode so much. It's got everything. There's an ancient Egyptian queen, an old timey adventurer, two Harry Potter cast members, robots, flirting, explosions and dinosaurs on a spaceship!!! It's just so damn great. Some people will say it's not serious but that's kind of the point and it actually does have a really dark scene with the Doctor and the main baddie, Solomon ( played by David Bradley). Mark Williams is fantastic as Rory's dad. This is Chibnall's best  Doctor Who episode and  is truly fantastic television.





       The Power of Three -







             Much like the Lodger episode from series 5 this story sees the eleventh Doctor spending a prolonged period of time on Earth, living with humans. Unlike the Lodger the surface level normalcy of the setting  is hugely altered by the sudden appearance of billions of strange black cubes which seems to be indicative of a coming invasion. This story  feels more like a continuation of Pond Life than Dinosaurs on a Spaceship does. Here we see Amy and Rory trying to decide the kind of life they want to live and the Doctor opening up about the pain which comes from losing things as well as his motivation for going on adventures. In my opinion the pacing feels a bit off at times and  it's not quite as enjoyable as DAS but it's still shows the Chibnall is a strong writer with a good understanding of what Doctor Who is and should be.



   Aside from these episodes Chibnall as stated above created the hugely popular program Broadchurch. He's also written for the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. While Moffat is one of my favorite Doctor Who writers ever I'm highly optimistic as to the future of the TARDIS and I look forward to watching series 10 and beyond. I hope you'll be watching as well.



1/22/2016

A Review of 'A Book In Every Home' by Edward Leedskalnin








  The following is a review I posted on Goodreads recently. 



 I stumbled upon this book in my garage and took it with me hoping I had found something interesting. I was not disappointed. Leedskalnin was a fascinating man. I agreed with very little he wrote. He was a sexist and a fascist with uptight ideas about raising children. At times while reading this book I thought of the females I know who have been abused or bullied and felt a deep anger. This man lived a solitary and isolated life. His most unpleasant beliefs seem to be largely a product of limited human connection and powerful frustration. I cannot say that I truly dislike the man.

  In fact some of the things the book has to say I find very agreeable. Leedskalnin argues that one should not believe things without evidence and that to do otherwise leads to weakness. He says that much ancient wisdom is untrue. He encourages hard work and careful thought. Pages are left blank so that the reader can make their own arguments see if they "can do better" than Leedskalnin. This willingness to test the world around him and be tested in return is in my opinion truly honorable. 

  If you're interested in reading something old, filled with old fashioned and eccentric ideas, by a man who meets those descriptions to a t, this is the book for you.

12/09/2015

On Legalizing Prostitution





According to to the ISET Policy Institute the global revenue from prostitution is estimated at one hundred billion dollars. Unfortunately due to theistic morality which has rudely invaded secular law the American government receives no tax revenue from prostitution. The ban on prostitution hurts the American economy, limits government funding, makes prostitution more dangerous and infringes on certain basic freedoms. For all these reasons the U.S. federal government should legalize prostitution.



Now let’s talk about economics. The United States is more than eighteen trillion dollars  in debt. American jobs are disappearing in countless industries while the market for prostitution is steadily growing. Rather than taking this as a sign that it might be wise reconsider the legal status of sex work and attempt to benefit the poor through the application of tax money many politicians and leaders in law enforcement continue to try to crush the sex work industry. This is an absolutely ridiculous approach. It’s never worked and never will. If capitalism is going to work the government needs to know when it should step in and put a stop to things and when it should step aside and allow the market to do what it will.



Any discussion of legalizing sex work must at least touch upon the moral aspect of both the status quo and the proposed change. When considering morality we must accept its subjective nature. People have hugely varying moral standards. One principle which is central to the vast majority of moral viewpoints is the somewhat less abstract concept of justice. Justice as defined by Plato is each being given their due. We as human beings are due our rights. John Locke said that each person has the rights to life liberty and property as well as the protection of those rights. In order for a society to be just these rights to be of paramount importance and work to protect them. When prostitution was legalized in New Zealand sex workers became seventy percent more likely to report customers they perceived as being threatening. This greatly decreased the rate of violent crime directed towards prostitutes. This means that through legalizing sex work a government is acting to protect life. Furthermore sex trafficking flourishes when prostitution is forced underground. By bringing it more into the open law enforcement can better fight the slave trade.



 This brings me to a popular argument against sex work. Many morally grounded individuals consider the sex work industry to be at best a symptom of oppression at worst one of many causes. This argument while grounded in fact is simply untrue. Yes women are treated as things in many ways in society but to say the existence of sexism means women she be allowed to be prostitutes is like saying women shouldn’t be allowed to work at Subway making sandwiches. Females are the primary providers of sexual favors for monetary but it should be noted that roughly twenty percent of all sex workers are male. If sex work is only a problem if women do it then it stands to reason that men should be allowed to legally provide sexuals. Many would actually agree with this. What this illustrates is the fact that the illegal status of sex work is in many ways a result of institutionalized sexism. The law is telling citizens that women do not truly own their bodies and as such the government and society can tell them what to do with them and why. By legalizing we can acknowledge the autonomy of the individual over their person. Another argument that people make in relation to oppression is that prostitution is a last resort for the desperate. I’m not going to try to make the claim that this is not true in many. However I would like to point out that you could say the same about law school or laying drywall. Just because a job isn’t perfect doesn’t mean that no one should have it. Many individuals actually like being sex workers and even if they didn’t there is honor in working for a living.



  Ultimately it’s important that the law is both pragmatic and upholds a strong standard of justice. Once we accept that sex work isn’t going away and look at it as just being another kind of work we can adjust our views in relation to it. Legalization helps society as a whole through economic growth, encourages the safety of sex workers through bringing their lives out of the shadows and encourages social equality by providing for th

9/28/2015

Doctor Who: "The Witch's Familiar" Review





     'He's trapped in the heart of the dalek empire. He's a prisoner of the creatures who hate him most in the universe." - Missy


  I won't go to the trouble of detailing every little aspect of "The Witch's Familiar."If you're reading this chances are you have some knowledge of Doctor Who or you are interested in learning. For the sake or those who are simply curious about the program and whether or not they would enjoy it I will keep things relatively vague for the most part. This episode is an extremely dramatic and surprising thrill ride featuring the daleks, Davros and Missy/the Master. It's an exciting combination of the old and the new which manages to highlight much of what people love about Steven Moffat's writing and Doctor Who in general.



     When it comes to two part stories everything comes down to how part 2 builds from and ties up the story and ideas explored in part 1. Moffat knows this. He is a master of his craft who employs misdirection and the feels in order to manipulate whovians and sherlockians alike. A writer such Russell T. Davies would have most likely opted to move from the part 1 cliffhanger to some kind of direct conclusion (likely involving a deus ex machina, not judging just telling it how it is) but Moffat would rather leave us to think on the scene as the rest of the story unfolds before our eyes,


   Doctor Who is a franchise rich in story. The writer Neil Gaiman has called it a story machine. The TARDIS can go anywhere and the whoniverse is full of darkness and wonder. It would be difficult to compile a complete list of all the neat little moments in "The Witch's Familiar." Instead I have created a short list of things that really jumped out at me in the episode.



                     Episode Highlights 


1. The Doctor's new chair.






  I still can't decide if this was intentionally used as a metaphor. The Doctor stole Davros's chair and used its protective force field to get the upper hand on the daleks. This is a surprising solution which makes perfect sense given everything we know about Davros and the Doctor. I will say that I am surprised there wasn't a moment where the Doctor looked at a reflection of himself in Davros's chair and had some kind of major revelation about himself. 









2. The Dalek Sewers. 






   This is a neat if kind of gross idea. The sewer daleks reminds me a little bit of Torchwood: Miracle Day. I did not see their return at the end coming. 







3. Sonic Shades. 





   This is very interesting indeed. There has been a significant portion of the fan base expressing opposition to the continued use of the screwdriver lately. The Doctor has parted with his sonic before. These sonic shades could be a way to meet sonic fans and critics halfway. While I love Smith/Capaldi's sonic I must say the glasses are cool. I STRONGLY doubt this will be a permanent change. 









4. Davros's eyes.







  I can't be the only person who let out an audible gasp when this happened. I'm not sure I exactly understand why Davros never used his natural eyes in any other story but I like the symbolism. I'm curious as to whether or not Moffat will be expanding on this in the future.







5. Davros crying. 





  When Davros get the feels you know it's serious. Okay, maybe it was all just a show to try and trick the Doctor. I don't think so. Sure that was his goal but it really seemed like he was tapping into some genuine emotion. Davros's primary goal in creating the daleks was to put an end to the thousand year war between his people (the kaleds) and their enemies the thals. 








6. Missy!!!






      What can I say? She's just so fabulously evil. 







7. Dalek Clara, again.

            



      If the image above looks strangely familiar that might be because of the series 7 episode "Asylum of the Daleks". In that story Matt Smith's Doctor first encounters Clara. There's only one problem. It's not Clara. It's a dalek. Well actually it's Clara. It's complicated. It's actually a version of Clara (named Oswin Oswald) created by the Doctor's timeline who was been turned into a dalek. In "The Witch's Familiar" Missy comes up with a plan that conveniently requires Clara lock herself in a dalek shell. Little does Clara realize that Missy doesn't have the most noble intentions. Seriously, just a little bit of critical thinking on Clara's part would have told her that getting into a dead dalek and following Missy's orders was not a great idea. This all leads up to a very emotional scene in which Missy nearly convinces the Doctor to shoot his companion/best friend.


   If I was a gambling man I'd say that this won't be the last time Clara sees the inside of dalek armor. Perhaps Moffat is foreshadowing her exit from the show. This could either mean absolutely nothing or be extremely important. You decide!





                               The Final Verdict 

        "The Witch's Familiar" is a strong episode with a lot of interesting and original ideas. The cast are all wonderful.  Michelle Gomez and Julian Bleach really shine as Missy and Davros respectively. Clara is probably going to get turned into a dalek again. Maybe not. 


   I hope you've enjoyed wasting your time like this. If you haven't tell no one. If you have any thoughts about the episode, Doctor Who in general or you just want to flirt you can comment bellow. Remember to avoid sudden death. Please go away now.



9/26/2015

Doctor Who: "The Magician's Apprentice" Review






        "Listen, if someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?" - The Doctor (Tom Baker)


      This question, first asked by Tom Baker's Doctor in 1975 is at the core of the series 9 opener. The Doctor finds himself face to face with a young Davros ans is presented with a choice. He can either save the child begging for help or let him die, saving countless other lives in the process. When we put aside all talk of time travel paradoxes, reapers or all of time happening at once the problem becomes both very simple and infinitely complex. Is it morally correct to kill one in order to save trillions? If a good person becomes evil does that cancel out any value in there life from the beginning? Can one man be allowed to decide the fate of the universe? Regardless of moral rightness could the Doctor ever bring himself to murder a child?

      


Let's not pretend that anyone actually thought a Moffat series opener was going to be all doom and gloom. That's just not how the Moff rolls. After Missy (who naturally isn't dead) uses Clara to locate just where the Doctor is in time and space she zaps them both there via a vortex manipulator "cheap and dirty time travel."  They find themselves at in England in the early renaissance at a party thrown by none other than the Doctor himself. The Doctor rides in on a tank playing guitar. This is both very out of character for the Capaldi's Doctor and exactly the sort of thing you'd expect the Doctor to do. The Doctor has not made an entrance so perfect and surprising since the incident at Rory's bachelor party.



    The rest of the episode is not a rock and roll love fest. A strange new enemy known as colony Sarff shows up and forces the Doctor to go with him to see Davros the creator of the daleks. Neither Miss or Clara can leave well enough alone and let the Doctor sort things out for himself so they force Sarff to take them too. This so does not get both of them exterminated later on. Soon they find themselves inside what appears to be a space station/hospital. This is where Davros is residing as he prepares for death. Little do our heroes (and Missy) know but the "space station" is actually a building on a planet which has somehow been made invisible. The planet in question is Skaro which somehow still exists after being completely destroyed on multiple occasions. Soon after this revelation comes the sudden deaths via daleks of Clara and Missy.


  This prompts the Doctor to go back in time to when he encountered the young Davros and apparently shoot him with a dalek gun. The credits start rolling before anything actually happens so I think it would be a safe bet to say that's not what actually happens. Still you'll have to tune in next week to find out. Also you could just start a tumblr or talk to your unpopular friends.

     This episode is jam packed with fun and exciting bits and pieces. The following is a brief list of highlights.



 1. Colony Sarff


  This character is creepy in all the right ways. Not only does he feel menacing and evil but he is literally just a bunch of snakes in a cloak. I'm not even particularly afraid of snakes and he gives me goosebumps.

2. Davros's Return



  This character hasn't made an appearance since the series 4 finale "Journey's End." Davros is the kaled creator of the daleks and a Hitler stand-in if I've ever seen one. Julian Bleach plays him with the kind of macabre edge that makes you feel as if he is right there in the room with you. He's every unpleasant old person who has ever made you feel small. He's a reflection of human evil in a much more direct way than any of his creations.

3. The Shadow Proclamation



This intergalactic governing body has much like Davros not made a proper appearance since David Tennant's era, While the role they played in this episode was minimal it's always nice to see a reference to the past used to further the plot.

4. The Sisterhood of Karn


  This return will quite possibly be the one that most strongly effects the series going forward. The sisterhood are Time Lords (Time Ladies). This means that the Doctor and Missy are definitely no longer the last Time Lords in the universe. It should also be mentioned that the sisterhood helped the eighth Doctor regenerate into the war Doctor making the organization especially significant.

5. Hand mines




I couldn't possibly make a list of highlights from this episode without including the hand mines. They're hands that reach out from the dirt and pull people under. While the germ of the idea may have simply come from a clever play on words the hand mines are genuinely scary and an interesting piece of battlefield biotech, It's a shame we didn't see any of them in "Genesis of the Daleks"



   In conclusion the series 9 opener is a scary and exciting romp with a good bit of heart. It's high quality Who which allows Capaldi's Doctor to really shine. Considering everything I'd give it a rating of 8.5/10. Make sure to tune in tomorrow/later today for the conclusion of this two part series opener. I should have a second review up in the near future. Bye! Avoid sudden death.

9/12/2015

Sick Sentience Will Return!!





 I apologize for the lack of new posts recently. I'm very busy with school and being mentally disturbed. I hope to have a review posted for the new Doctor Who episode soon after it airs. Avoid sudden death.


7/21/2015

Creepypasta and Doctor Who





Recently I've become very involved with the creeepypasta wiki. If you don't know what a creepypasta is allow me to explain. A creepypasta is an online horror story intended to be both highly share friendly and as the name implies creepy. Popular pastas which you may have heard of include Slenderman and Jeff the Killer (which actually kind of sucks). Anyone can write a pasta so I did. I've actually written a few. Currently I have four up on the wiki. I'll tell you a little bit about each of them below and provide links to the wiki. Feel free to comment any thoughts you might have either here or on the wiki itself.





1. Twisted Metal Love

   This was actually the first pasta I posted I posted and also in my opinion one of my better stories. It's available on this blog but the version on the wiki is slightly improved. The story is about a man who buys a robotic wife. It follows there relationship as it dissolves into hate and sadistic torture. You can send it to someone you have the hots for with the message "This is how you make me feel." It's a regular fifty shades only I tried to make it good.
http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Twisted_Metal_Love




2. A God Fearing Man

 A lot of the same ideas in Twisted Metal Love are touched on here. It's narrator is a very similar man to the narrator of TML, It's setting is however very different. It takes place on a farm in the south.  It was loosely inspired by the true story of Ray and  Faye Copeland (the oldest couple sentenced to death in the United States).  It's a bit romantic in places and as you may have guessed touches on the relationship between religion and morality.
http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/A_God_Fearing_Man




3. The Savages

  It's no secret that I am fascinated by what societal taboos and what people will do to stay alive. The Savages is about a woman and her two small children. They live in a world where the weather is harsh and unforgiving, humanity is an endangered species and the law of the jungle is the only law left. It's unusual for me because it was written in the third person.

http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Savages



4. The Kissing Bug

I won't give too much away about this one. The main character is a gay teenager with a dead mother and a cold and detached father. He gets dragged to a party by his only friend and then some strange stuff happens.
http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Kissing_Bug





  As you may or may not be aware Doctor Who returns September 19th. Here is the trailer for what will be the ninth season of the revived series. I will be reviewing the first and final stories of series 9 as well as any others which I find especially thought provoking. Have a lovely day if that is at all possible.















6/18/2015

A Review of "Engines of War" by George Mann Starring John Hurt's War Doctor








 This is a review of the Doctor Who tie in novel Engines of War. If you have no interest in Doctor Who you will have no interest in this. Caution there may be spoilers.












Doctor Who is a unique and beloved franchise and if you have to ask what it's about you probably shouldn't be reading this review. Needless to say the Doctor is a personal hero of mine. I love him in all his forms and enjoy every era of the show. In 2013 Whovians  were given many gifts from Steven Moffat and others who have worked on the show. In my opinion the most memorable event to take place in the the Whoniverse was  the 50th anniversary episode the Day of the Doctor. It was an epic multi-Doctor adventure featuring all of the past incarnations of the Doctor and saw the return of Gallifrey. The episode starred Matt Smith's eleventh Doctor, David Tennant as the tenth Doctor, Billie Piper as the Moment, Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald and John Hurt as the War Doctor. The War Doctor is an incarnation between McGann and Eccleston. He fought in the Time War and because of this his three immediate successors refused to acknowledge his existence.




No Doctor in the history of the show is without tie in books. I do not believe John Hurt could have ever truly been the Doctor in the same ways as the other twelve without at least one prose adventure. Engines of War is that adventure. I really thoroughly enjoyed this book. Because of that I'll begin by talking about what's wrong with it.


1. There are typos scattered throughout the book. They don't make anything unreadable but they took me out of the story on several occasions. I don't know why this is the case or if it's the same with every copy but you should be warned. Naturally you have just noticed a typo on my own blog and plan on gloating in the comments.


2. Your enjoyment/understanding of the book may rely largely on your knowledge of the established canon of the show. This wasn't a problem for me but I'm a very dedicated and obsessive fan. If you are a long time fan you are likely to get a lot of the little references and nods to the past and the future.





   Engines of War is about the Doctor  crash landing on the Dalek occupied planet Moldox. There he encounters the fiesty and emotionally damaged young dalek  hunter Cinder. From there the two finds themselves breaking into Dalek headquarters, The Daleks it turns out have been developing a new weapon. The weapon is poweredby a temporal abnormality near Moldox called the Tantalus Eye. The purpose of the weapon is to wipe people, things or even places from both time and space. This would effectively make them no longer real. The Doctor and Cinder go to the Time Lords who in order to prevent the proliferation of time weapons decide to just go ahead and blow up the Tantalus Eye . This would of course destroy a dozen different inhabited worlds and every living thing on them but it's not like that matters. Obviously the Doctor and his companion work to stop the genocide as well as defeat the Daleks. They do this by stealing a Time Lord  (Borusa) who Rassilon has turned into a weapon known as a possibility engine.


  This book is interesting for a number of reasons. It is not only the best look we get at the life of John Hurt's Doctor it is also our best look at the events of the Time War. It's something we could never get in a multi Doctor story. This story allows for a kind of focus and exploration of the Doctor's past which would be out of place in the regular series. In book form however it works beautifully. We get an interesting cast of characters both from the classic series and the mind of George Mann and we get to see just what pushed the Doctor over the edge and put him in a place where he could even imagine pushing that big red button.


   I'm a big believer that Doctor Who is first and foremost about the Doctor but at the same time it is never just the Doctor. Engines of War is not only  the story of Doctor and the Time War. It is also the story of Cinder. Cinder is everything the Doctor values. She's brave and smart and capable of working independently and making tough decisions at a moment's notice. But more than that she's a girl who wants to escape everything but doesn't know if there's anywhere to escape to. She's stuck between a rock and a hard place and is determined to fight her way out. She could  easily be compared to Ace. She adds a lot to the book. It's a real pity she only got this one adventure.





   The George Mann wrote the Doctor is very true to the performance given by Sir John Hurt. He's a slightly grumpy, slightly goofy old soldier who desperately go  back to exploring the universe for pleasure. He's got a dark and feels an enormous sense of responsibility to protect the universe. What I think Mann does really brilliantly is that rather than writing a character exactly like the one seen on screen he wrote the Doctor as he would have been before losing hoping. He shows us real character progression and makes his writing feel natural and not like some sort of prequel put out just to cash in on the popularity of the character.




   Engines of wars is a fun and at times very sad story which sets gigantic standards for itself and then lives up to everyone of them. It's truly a must read for any dedicated Whovian. It stands up as a perfect companion piece to The Day of the Doctor and is an entertaining and poignant story on its own.










6/11/2015

A Review of "All You Need Is Kill" (AKA "Edge of Tomorrow") by Hiroshi Sakurazaka















   Before beginning I should clarify that I am reviewing an English translation of the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill. This book is the source material for the popular Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow. I have not yet seen the film but will likely be reviewing it separately in the near future. Now that I've made that clear I'll introduce you to some of the major characters in this novel.






   1.  Keiji Kiriya








Keiji Kiriya starts off as your typical everyman. He's joined the UDF (United Defense Force) within the Japanese military in order to fight the Mimics which are what the humans call the alien creatures that have invaded. He says himself that he doesn't want to be a war hero. He just wants to prove to himself and others that he is capable of accomplishing something.


   He soon learns that his decision to join the military may have been a mistake when he finds himself about to die on the battlefield. Rita a prodigious American soldier stays with him as he takes his last few breaths, He dies but somehow he lives to remember it. He finds himself repeating the thirty battle over and over again. Each time he dies and wakes once again in bed to start all over again. As he starts to piece together what's happened he also trains his mind and develops fighting skills  in the hope of eventually being able to defeat the Mimics and somehow return to normalcy.




2.  Rita Vrataski








Rita (AKA the Full Metal Bitch) is an American soldier who has killed more Mimics in battle than anyone  else and is considered a hero by people all across the world. She fights with a personalized battle axe and wears a standard issue robotic fighting suit which she had painted red in order to stand out and attract Mimic attention. She's got a kind disposition but has suffered a lot and been hardened by pain. She does not suffer fools gladly and has more than a few secrets.



  Throughout the time loops Keiji and Rita begin to build a complex which is inevitably forgotten by Rita each time things are reset. She helps him to figure out what exactly has been happening and their relationship becomes a key plot point of the novel.



3. Yonabaru Jin




Yonabaru is Keiji's closest friend and in many ways the total opposite of him. He's an argumentative, womanizing, often rude soldier who is initially more experienced than Keiji. Each loop begins with him approaching Keiji to sign the same peace of paper. He dies on more than one occasion and despite the temporary nature of each of these tragedies Keiji feels a great deal of guilt for his friend's demise,



4.  Bartolome Ferrell








   Ferrel is Yonabaru and Keiji's platoon sergeant. He's an experienced veteran who demands respect but would sacrfice his own life for his soldiers. He believes in physical fitness, hard work and self control, Throughout the novel he becomes a great asset to Keiji who attends the same training session with him more than a hundred times. Keiji eventually surpasses Ferrel in fighting skill. Ferrel shows him a great deal of respect and seems to value him highly as a soldier.



   These among others are some of the people the not too distant future world of All You Need is Kill.







  The book is a very fast and easy read with plenty of action and cool visuals. While none of the core concepts (alien invaders, robotic fighting suits, time loops etc.) can be said to be unique to this book they are all done in very interesting ways. You really feel the isolation and the frustration from Keiji's strange predicament. The war does not feel like something which simply existed for the purpose of putting our protagonist in danger. It was presented like any real war between human entities. The Mimics are more like tanks than people so their nonhuman nature doesn't distance the book two far from the realities of battle.


I'm the sort of person who finds it impossible to rank things on a scale of one to ten so I won't. What I will say is that I recommend this book to anyone with a taste for good science fiction and or horror. It's thrilling, surprising and in places very touching. The characters feel like they live in a world far larger than what is presented in the book. Even the aliens have a complex and not entirely evil backstory. It makes you think about the value of life and sacrifice and it is likely to bring a few tears to your eyes.



6/10/2015

What Does It Mean To Be Human? Are the Doctor, Data and Dexter Morgan People?











   Humans are Homo sapiens. We experience emotions such as love and hate. We are capable of understanding that we exist as individual beings separate from other humans. These are all some fairly accurate observations of what  humans are. They are also of course incorrect. Thousands of years ago Homo Sapiens shared the Earth with the Neanderthals. The Neanderthals were human. In fact Neanderthal DNA is present in the human genome today. But when we think about humanity we exclude them because when we don't the picture becomes a little less clear and hard to fully understand. The observation that humans can be defined by the presence of emotions is likewise untrue. While almost all humans experience emotion on some level their is a spectrum and even those who experience normal emotions are in some cases capable of completely shutting them off in order to commit acts which would otherwise be unthinkable. The final observation is true of almost all adult humans without severe mental impairments but interestingly enough it is not true of infants who as far as researchers can tell believe themselves to be the only thinking beings in the world.



  I am writing this in response to a video contest from the Big History Project. The contest aims to encourage discussion and contemplation of the question of what it means to be human. I'll go ahead answer that now. A human is an organism scientifically categorized as such. This of course is done by humans and is somewhat meaningless on a universal scale where we can all be looked as nonliving particles acting to consume energy which have organized into an arbitrary and random pattern. I don't think the question that most people are asking when they say "What does it mean to be human?" is actually about humanity itself. It is more so about any being that has equal to or great than human intelligence and can understand the world and engage with the world in a way that the non-human animals we see on Earth simply do not. The question is more about personhood. This is not the abstract concept of personhood which Republicans like to apply to anything which could someday be a person. This question can be broken down into three parts. 1. What is personhood? 2. What are the identifying markers of a person? 3. How are people fundamentally different from anything else be it living or nonliving in their environments?

 


  1. Personhood is defined as the quality or condition of being an individual person.
   
     At first glance you might think that this doesn't tell you much but the wording does say a lot about
     how we as a society tend to think about personhood. A person is an individual. An individual is a person. The two words are easily interchangable. The smart wasp or ant is never truly person because they act as a hive mind and can not be separated as singular and functional individuals. So a person is something with a brain capable of understanding its own existence and percieving some aspect of reality beyond the perception of lower creatures. They can think as individuals and as as questions such as "Why am I me rather than them?" For argument's sake let's say the young and the psychologically abnormal who belong to groups that could on the whole be categorized as people are people. 


2. As stated people look at the world in a way different than other creatures capable of thought and think about themselves on a deeper level as well. Because these are all arbitrary rules made up by humans it's fair to say that this intellect is beyond that of the primates that share the earth with us today. 



3. It might be that for some people what I've already spelled out makes people seem pretty different from everything else that is I'm not sure I buy it. Dogs aren't people but they can love. Corpses are shaped like us but they're empty inside. In the end we are both the sum of our parts and so much more than that.





   I'm not going to lie. I wrote this most because I was hoping aliens might be reading my blog. It seems unfair to me that the Doctor despite how wonderful and lovely he is does not fit some definitions of what a person. It seems abundantly clear to me that he is a person regardless of his fictional nature. It is highly likely that there are aliens (who very probably don't resemble humans) that could be called people. It is very very probable that with advances in artificial intelligence you will one day be in the company of mechanical people. Humans are special. We are the only people any of us have ever met and that's something to be proud of. We have this opportunity to live in a universe of constant change and experience it as it is right now. We get to build ourselves and shape our own realities. That's what it means to be human. More importantly that's what it means to be a person. Have a lovely day. 


 



 Here is John Green's video response to the same question.