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Just watched a STTOS episode (“Tomorrow Is Yesterday”). TOS was my primary fandom as a teenager, but I haven’t rewatched any of it in years. It’s weird having different reactions to it now than I did then. Like I know people talk about the incredible levels of K/S subtext, but really… is it just me, or does Kirk come across like he’s flirting with pretty much everyone, all the time? It’s just something about Shatner’s weird facial expressions, IDK.

Also weird: back when I was seriously into TOS fandom Spock was absolutely my favorite character, and kind of became the template for the type of character I would end up obsessing over in many of my later fandoms. But watching the show now… I think I kind of like McCoy better?? Like I guess at some point I started preferring characters who are funny over ones who are stoic (not that Spock can’t be funny too, but McCoy is typically funnier). I still like emotionally-repressed characters, but most of my other faves are not quite as deadpan as Spock but are more overtly sarcastic, or just weirder and quirkier.

The Spock-McCoy “we act like we hate each other even though we maybe secretly kind of like each other” dynamic is still great, though, and it’s the main thing I miss about the show/fandom. The only other characters I’ve found who’ve really had a similar kind of relationship are Rose and Dave from Homestuck (whom I also love). I thought Amethyst and Pearl from Steven Universe (which I’m watching right now) might have a similar kind of thing going on, but so far they don’t seem to genuinely like each other enough under the hostility – they just sort of grudgingly tolerate each other for the sake of the team. Whereas with the pairings I like – Spock & McCoy and Dave & Rose – sometimes they have genuine disagreements and get pissed at each other, but a lot of the time it’s clear they’re really just teasing each other or riling each other up for the fun of it. And that’s the kind of thing I really like.
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This is a book about the hackers and phreakers of the early 1990's and the first serious attempts by US law enforcement to put them in check (and the conflicts over computer-related civil liberties issues that arose as a result). I've already read a few different books about hackers, but this book taught me a lot more about the government agencies opposed to them -- particularly the US Secret Service, and the history of its involvement with computer crime. Apparently the Secret Service was originally a department of the US Treasury created to combat counterfeiting, and its responsibility for handling financial crimes ended up giving it partial jurisdiction over cases of computer fraud, which led to kind of a turf war with the FBI.

Anyway this book is an interesting snapshot of an era when most people including law enforcement didn't understand computers very well but still had to deal with them, sometimes kind of cluelessly. Not unlike today!
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Really long historical novel about events surrounding Theoderic the Great's conquest of the Western Roman Empire in the late fifth century, told from the POV of an original character who rises from obscurity to become one of Theoderic's most trusted marshalls.

From the perspective of someone who knew basically nothing about this historical period before reading the book, most of it comes across as a meticulously-researched -- or at least, a very detailed and convincing -- depiction of what life must have been like in that era. The generally realistic tone is disrupted, though, by a few jarring moments of obviously-ahistorical ridiculousness. One plot point involves a class of slave girls who are born and bred to be WEAPONS OF ASSASSINATION -- by being FED POISON FROM BIRTH, which has made them immune to it, and also made their bodies, like... permanently filled with poison? Or something?? So that ANYONE WHO HAS SEX WITH THEM WILL DIE PAINFULLY. Because that's obviously a much more practical and efficient way to kill somebody than just, like, stabbing them or poisoning their food or something.

Read more... )
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For the sake of posting some more stuff, I'm going to try writing a few comments on every book I read.

The Dream is an early work of science fiction from the 1600's. The big astronomical controversy of the day was over Copernicanism, which many rejected just because it was so unintuitive -- obviously the Earth doesn't go around the sun, all you have to do is look up in the sky to see that the sun and moon and stars are all moving around the Earth! So Kepler wrote this story about people traveling to the moon and studying astronomy there to demonstrate that it's all relative: if we were on the moon, obviously we'd think the moon was the center of the universe and everything was revolving around it.

Amusingly, Kepler has to resort to the idea of humans being carried to the moon by demons, since he apparently couldn't imagine any technological means of accomplishing such a feat. I think the most interesting parts of the book though are the ones where he speculates about what the Lunar lifeforms might be like (because he did believe there was intelligent life on the moon -- some of its geographical features looked manmade to him).

My dad gave me this book for Christmas; he always gets me the coolest presents.
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I think the moment is fast approaching when I'm going to have to tell my parents I'm not a Christian anymore.

I am not looking forward to this conversation.

angst angst angst )
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Not particularly spoilery thoughts:

It recycled too much stuff from the original trilogy (which was also a problem in Abrams' Trek movies). But! I liked all the new characters, it had some good action scenes, and overall it was a fun movie and I'm looking forward to the next one.
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When you see this post, feel encouraged to post something in your journal. Short or long, trivial or profound, it doesn't matter, just something. And if you like, you can pass on the token by copying this notice at the bottom of your post.

Um, hmm. Okay.

I've decided to try getting into Steven Universe, partly because it's where all the Homestucks have gone but mostly because I keep hearing spoilers that sound interesting. I've watched the first 8 episodes now, so here are some initial impressions.

I like Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl, but I find Steven himself kind of irritating.

The episode with the kitten fingers squicked me out badly enough that I couldn't finish it. If there's a lot more of that kind of body horror in the series, I might have to nope out.

Overall I'm pretty "eh" on it but I'll keep watching and see what happens. The episodes are short so it's not like it's an enormous timesink or anything.
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I haven't been posting anything here lately I guess mostly because I'm currently into Homestuck fandom and I think only like one person I know on LJ/DW is into HS. I have been posting some HS stuff here on Tumblr instead.

I wanted to rec this fanfic... ish... thing, though, because it's amazing and you don't really have to be familiar with Homestuck to enjoy it.

Detective Pony by sonnetstuck

Basically, at one point in Homestuck the comic we are shown a couple pages of a copy of the children's book Pony Pals: Detective Pony (a real book that actually exists) which the character Dirk Strider has vandalized extensively with humorous commentary.

This HS fan actually obtained the book in question and created a complete version of Dirk's "edited" copy. This thing is amazing; it is seriously one of the best, funniest and cleverest fanworks I've ever read. It also captures Dirk's voice and personality really well; but again, you don't really have to know anything about Dirk or Homestuck to read it.

Basically if you enjoy metafictional stuff, you'll probably like this, is what I'm saying.
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Hi, I haven't posted in forever. Here are some driveby recs of things I've been enjoying lately:

Ghost in the Wires by Kevin D. Mitnick -- a memoir of one of the more notorious hackers of the 80's and 90's. It's pretty fascinating. Mitnick was a compulsive hacker who constantly broke the law and risked arrest for no reason other than "having fun". He's highly technically skilled, of course, but what's surprising is how many of his hacking exploits were achieved mainly through "social engineering" -- essentially, manipulating people into giving away confidential information. It's amazing how much you can get people to tell you just by bluffing confidently and sounding authoritative. This is a riveting read -- definitely the best book I've read so far this year.

Death Note -- I've never watched much anime before, I tried this one on my brother's recommendation. By the end of the second episode I was hooked, and I devoured the whole series in a week. The writing is amazingly clever -- a battle of wits between geniuses that, for the most part, actually convinces me that they're exactly as smart as they're made out to be. There is, unfortunately, a plot twist 2/3 of the way through that I strongly dislike, and because of it the rest of the series isn't quite as good as the first part, though it's still enjoyable. The first 2/3, though, are fantastic.

And fanvids:

TGIF by Estalita11 -- A pretty hilarious STTOS vid.

It's Still Science Fiction to Me by azurish -- A great tribute to lots of SF shows & movies.
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I read 81 books this year, mostly science fiction. A few of my favorites (with no significant spoilers):

Permutation City and Diaspora by Greg Egan )

Cluster and Chaining the Lady by Piers Anthony )

To Be or Not To Be: That Is the Adventure by Ryan North )

The Hobbit

Dec. 29th, 2013 03:01 pm
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Well, it was better than the last one.

Spoilers )
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That was… a lot better than I expected. In fact, my only real complaint is that it was too abridged. I realize the abridging really couldn’t be helped; but it was only a two-hour movie. They could have made it a little longer!

What there was of the story, though, was great. And it’s rare for me to say this, because I usually have a million complaints about film adaptations of books I like. But this was so perfectly faithful to the book — and, admittedly, it’s possible that my love for the book is affecting my judgment here, and that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much if weren't able to fill in the gaps in the story with my knowledge of the book.

Not really that spoilery, but cutting anyway. )

tl;dr: Enjoyed it. Would watch again.
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This year's Jack-o'-Lantern: clearly I'm running out of ideas.

Books

Sep. 29th, 2013 09:39 pm
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I'm trying to branch out a little and read more nonfiction; here are some quick comments about a couple space-related books I read recently.


How I Killed Pluto And Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown

A memoir by the guy whose discovery of a Pluto-sized object caused the demotion of Pluto from planetary status. A fun read that taught me a lot about the solar system and the world of astronomy. Definitely recommended.


Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

Entertaining book about the more "practical" side of sending human beings into space. It made me wonder how many of Mars One's 200,000 applicants would have signed up if they had any idea what it's actually like to live in space -- because Roach makes the whole experience sound pretty miserable! Crappy food, substandard hygiene, cramped environment, space sickness, plus the unanticipated psychological strain of living in a completely artificial environment for days or weeks at a time. She makes it sound doubtful that it would even be possible for a human being to reach Mars without going completely nuts -- much less live there permanently.

It might offer a grim view of an astronaut's life, but the book is not a grim read at all -- it's full of humor. I'm impressed at the dedication Roach shows in chasing down all the seedy secrets that NASA tries to keep away from its public image -- although occasionally she goes a little too far into things I'd rather not know (if you've ever wondered about poop, vomit and B.O. in space, this is the book for you).

Also recommended.
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Opened my library book, and a photo fell out. I guess someone was using it as a bookmark. It's a small Asian child in a pink jacket. There's no identifying information on the photo. The library would know who checked out this book before me, but probably there's no point in trying to track them down just to give them the photo back. They can't have cared that much about it if they were using it as a bookmark, right?
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I know it'll probably suck, but I just want so badly for it to be awesome.

The anticipation is taking me back to my preteen years, when I was way into Star Wars -- particularly, oddly enough, The Phantom Menace. Partly the movie itself, but also the Jedi Apprentice spinoff novels (AKA Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan: the Early Years). At the time TPM came out, I was ten years old -- not really old enough to distinguish good movies from bad ones. It had spaceships and lightsabers, and that was enough for me. I had a thin little movie guidebook with all sorts of background information about the characters, aliens, droids etc. in the movie, which I read to pieces. Even now I have such a nostalgic attachment to the movie that I just can't hate it the way I know I'm "supposed" to (though, admittedly, I haven't rewatched it in years -- maybe I'll feel different when I finally do). I started watching RedLetterMedia's review of the movie a while ago, but I didn't get very far because it was just making me want to turn off his sarcastic commentary and watch the movie for real.

The other two prequels came out when I was a little older and more discerning (if you can call it that), and I don't have any particular fondness for them (beyond OMG Yoda with a lightsaber!!, and also RotS was pretty good, I guess). But even if I end up hating it on a rewatch, I think on some level I will always hold a certain nostalgic fondness for TPM.
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I think I've just discovered my new favorite blog.

Alternately, find something vast quantities of normal people out in the real world have been doing routinely for decades without a second thought, then present it as astonishing and revolutionary because a few rich people and fashion designers have picked up on it.  Eric Wilson succeeds brilliantly with “How Cold Is it?  Enough to Make Long Johns Stylish.”  In case you haven’t heard of long underwear, it’s a form of underwear that is long, and thus typically considered warmer than the more conventional, “short” underwear.   “Are people really wearing these things? In public?”, asks Wilson, a professional writer who got paid to write this.

“After the snowstorms and frigid weather in New York this winter, it sort of makes sense that long johns would be having a moment here.”  Yes… warm articles of clothing having “a moment” when it gets cold outside in the winter… it’s so counterintuitive, but it works!  True visionary madness!  That’s what I love about fashion… its paradoxes and contradictions… the way it combines the yin and the yang, the hot and the cold, the black swan and the white swan… it lets me express my true, savage inner nature…  Also, I like to be cozy.




“When and why did this verb ['obsessed'], which once connoted a serious psychological disorder, become hijacked by the fashionable young women (and a few men) of America?”  Yeah, a few men.  An odd number, if you know what I mean.  Odd as in queer.  Queer, as in fruitier than an Edible Arrangement sticking out of a glory hole.  And speaking of metaphors, when did the word “hijacked” become hijacked to connote the mere metaphorical or hyperbolic extension of a word to express related meanings?  Hijacking used to connote a serious crime; what’s more, it used to denote it, because that’s its literal meaning.  Now it’s being serial-murdered and eaten by linguistic Jeffrey Dahmers of colloquial language use.  Even cannibalism is being cannibalized to refer to things that imitate other things.  For shame.
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