29 September 2010

Random Wednesday: Four Overdue Reviews

Once upon a time, you were lucky to get reviews of a few novels and maybe a stray theatre production from your local newspaper. But thanks to the development of the World Wide Web, we can access a plethora of reviews for movies, t.v. shows, video games, computers, cell phones, and little things that look like cell phones but are really just more computers. Plus all that stuff got invented.

But in the rush to apply technology to talking about technology, a few things were overlooked. Today, I redress this.


sunlight sorted

Rain. Sun. Colors. End of story.

The value of a rainbow, like the rainbow itself, is a matter of perception.

The dull empiricist sees nothing more than a band of pretty colors, and is at best inspired to write a bad poem.

The more inquisitive observer sees a division of sunlight into various wavelengths and is inspired to invent spectral analysis.

Of course, we see only seven bands of the visible spectrum, but infrared and ultraviolet light are refracted by the same phenomenon. Birds' eyes are sensitive to the UV spectrum, hence they see rainbows with several additional bands of light, and are thereby inspired to poop on windshields.

Comparable to: The James Bond film series. They're colorful, devoid of substance, and all pretty much the same. Part of growing up is realizing that there's no treasure at the end, because it never actually comes to end.



First, I must confess that I'm not entirely objective on this topic, as I have a lot of personal experience using footwear. Frankly, I don't like the things. They make my feet itch. When I was a child, part of our nightly dinner ritual involved a familiar clunk, clunk and knowing smiles from the rest of the family as I kicked off my tennies so I could eat in peace.

These are my work shoes. Seriously. I'm still breaking them in.

But nothing in the universe comes close to the concept of "dress shoes" for pure, unadulterated stupidity. Mind you, I fully understand the concept of formal clothing and have nothing against, say, a necktie. It just hangs there and generally doesn't get in the way. Even a dress jacket or a full-blown tuxedo might be a little confining, but they don't make it difficult to get from one place to another.

Dress shoes? Dress shoes? I need my feet for walking. Encumbering them with inhibitive, formal gear makes about as much sense as slipping on a pair of boxing gloves and calling them "dress mittens". Ladies' high heels are even worse, and I've never understood the appeal; being a not-tall male, they just make me feel short.

But even with such horrible variants, I suppose the general concept has been more useful than not. For those who make a living playing basketball, stepping on bugs, or crossing broken glass to outwit criminal masterminds, shoes can be mildly useful.

Comparable to: Historia Regum Britanniae, Le Morte d'Arthur, et. al. Like early shoes, the earliest versions of King Arthur are brilliant inventions but still a bit painful to wade through. They laid the groundwork for later, less formal variations (The Once and Future King = tennis shoes) as well as a gross misinterpretations (oxfords & derbies = various film versions and SciFi channel originals).

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Spiral Galaxy M31, "Andromeda"

Talk about being overlooked. The Andromeda galaxy is home to some 1,000,000,000,000 stars, is 2,200,000,000,000,000,000,000 meters across, and has an aggregate mass in the range of 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms. I'd tell you more, but my computer just ran out of zeroes.

Seen from Earth, M31 (or "NGC 224" as its friends like to call it) is located in the constellation Andromeda, whence cometh its name. The central cluster can be seen with the naked eye on a clear night in rural areas, or with binoculars under less ideal conditions, and by birds with binoculars in any conditions whatsoever (go ahead and teach a bird to use binoculars if you want to prove me wrong).

That central cluster looks like a small, hazy star, but the span of the entire galaxy (in Earth's sky) is six times as wide as the moon. It can be seen in its full glory when photographed through a telescope, or by googling images uploaded by the nice folks who operate those telescopes.

Unearthly beauty: The Andromeda galaxy and
the Starship Andromeda's cybernetic avatar, "Rommie"

The Andromeda galaxy is part of a galactic cluster called "the local group" which, as the name implies, is so darned local that it includes our own galaxy. Andromeda and the Milky Way are by far the largest members, with most others being considered "satellite" galaxies (except Triangulum; but at a mere fifty trillion solar masses, Triangulum doesn't really warrant its own review).

But despite being the two heavyweights, it's not a competition thing. Andromeda and the Milky Way aren't rivals. In fact, the two galaxies are moving toward one another at about a hundred kilometers a second. Astronomers speculate that they might eventually come together, but at this point it's uncertain as to whether or not the FTC can get the merger approved within the next 4.5 billion years.

Comparable to: The Twilight series. It seems like a really big thing, and it's got some star power. It's something of a universe unto itself. But it's mostly empty space and over two million light years away from being relevant to the real world.

* * *

The Devil

Lucifer has long been lambasted as the antepenultimate evil, exceeded only by Adolf Hitler and saturated fat. The guy made some pretty bad choices, especially when you consider that, for him, the whole "Will and power of God" thing lacked any of the uncertainty that we ignorant, mortal humans have to deal with. Furthermore, the popular defense that "the devil made me do it" comes across as pretty disingenuous.

On the plus side, his fallen status serves a useful purpose. By suffering eternal torment in Cocytus, he gives a pretty clear example of what not to do and why not to do it. He also exacerbates the suffering of certain damned souls, which may or may not count in his favor, depending on how vindictive you feel toward someone who's already in hell.

Worst of all, he's wearing dress shoes

But his best quality, by far, is the one thing Lucifer himself couldn't make use of: blame shifting. If it weren't for the serpent's temptation in Genesis, then Eve would have taken all the blame; and we'd be lucky to reach 21st century levels of "moderate misogyny" by the year 3000.

Oh, and if you think I'm a sacrilegious jerk for saying positive things about Lucifer, be advised: The devil made me do it.

Comparable to: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, because everyone agrees that it's awful but we're still totally fascinated by it. Plus Tim Curry would be an excellent choice to play the devil on screen.

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The Burrow said...

Now I want to see the shoes of all the other Burrowers, too!


Hart Johnson said...

BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I love this, Jason! Fabulous set of reviews.

Marjorie said...

You never fail to make me laugh, Jason.

Shaharizan Perez said...

This was flippin' hilarious! Especially, "the devil made me do it" and "moderate misogyny by the year 300." Loved it!