Tuesday, May 31, 2016

12 Monkey 2.7: Ultimate Universes

A strong 12 Monkeys 2.7 last night, in which the facility housing the very time travel device is itself under mortal attack, by none other than the Darth Vader-like "Witness".

Ok, that facility is always on the verge of breaking down, as befits an operation that looks like a Rube Goldberg 1950s B-movie science fiction set taken out of storage. But that low kind of super high-tech has always been part of the series' charm.

The time-travel device, of course, had to survive in some way, otherwise the narrative couldn't continue, so that was no big surprise.   But the price was pretty high.  Eckland's death was wrenching - mitigated only by the metaphysics of death not being necessarily final when time-travel is possible - but suggests, as I've mentioned before, that there's some kind of deeper reality underlying all of this time travel, which the universe tries to adhere to and ultimately come back to, as in the case of Eckland being killed in the original narrative, and now being dead again in this one.

And Ramse's son is somewhere in the very distant past.  Which raises an intriguing question.  Who exactly is this Witness?   As someone notes during this episode, we don't even know what he witnessed.   Is there any chance that the Witness is in fact Ramse's son, stranded in the past, growing up on his own?

This would be a profound change in the narrative.  For the better part of a season and more, Ramse's actions have almost always been motivated by protecting his son.   It will be interesting to see how this shattering development plays out for Ramse and everyone else.


See also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be ... 12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum ... 12 Monkeys 2.3: Primaries and Paradoxes ... 12 Monkeys 2.4: Saving Time ... 12 Monkeys 2.5: Jennifer's Story ... 12 Monkeys 2.6: "'Tis Death Is Dead

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"

podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys



#SFWApro

Glad that Jerry Brown Endorsed Hillary Clinton

Good for Jerry Brown, Governor of California, to endorse Hillary Clinton today.  I met him about a decade ago when he was speaker at a conference about Marshall McLuhan at Fordham University, and our lengthy conversation before his talk confirmed what I already knew:  Jerry Brown is one of the brightest people, profoundest of thinkers, not only in politics but across the board in all professions.

He first caught my attention when he was serving as the 34th Governor of California in the mid-1970s through the early 1980s.   I was impressed by his championship of the space program, and his idea that California should get its own space effort going, with a space academy and its own satellite. This of course was not to get military advantage over an adversary, as the US space program had sought to do vis-a-vis the Soviet Union in the 1960s. Brown's idea showed a real understanding of the cosmic import of getting humans off this planet.

Brown's endorsement of Hillary also shows admirable integrity and clear thinking about what's best for the country today.  Given his nasty exchange in a 1992 Democratic debate with Bill Clinton about Hillary, Brown had every reason to go with Bernie now or sit this out.  But he correctly sees that Hillary will get the nomination, and a win in California can strengthen her hand in the battle ahead with Trump.

I look forward to Jerry Brown getting an important position that befits the depth of his intellect in the Clinton administration.




Sunday, May 29, 2016

Game of Thrones 6.6: The Exhortation

Well, the high point of Game of Thrones 6.6 was at the very end - just like the high point of last week's 6.5 - except this time it was Daenerys astride her dragon, exhorting her Dothraki army to sail across the sea with her to reclaim her throne.   Except while last week's ending was a great, fantastical resolution of a neat little paradoxical story, this week's was long overdue. Daenerys should have making that speech at least a season or two ago.

Still, it was good to see, and with it the approaching battle to end all battles, between the fire-spewing dragons and the awesome icy powers of the far north, and the various kingdoms of mostly just plain old human beings sandwiched in between.

Tonight's episode also had a continuation of the Shakespearean retelling of the fall of the House of Lannister we saw last week.  This play within a play was a nice, unexpected touch.

As for what's happened with the actual Lannisters, that's another story, and a bit worn at this point, too.   Tommen turns out to not only be a lot sweeter than his brother, but also something of a bore. His exile of his uncle-really-father serves no real purpose except getting Jaime out of town, never the best move in a narrative.

On the other hand, we finally get a good, long Samwell story in 6.6, with a look at his despicable father, decent and long-suffering mother, and a chance for Samwell to continue to stand up and act like a man,   Or, almost.  He sneaks away in the night rather than standing up to his father, but his taking of the Valyrian sword was a notable moment and promises some profound developments ahead.

Which is true of Game of Thrones in general, and I'll be looking forward to it all.

See also Game of Thrones 6.1: Where Are the Dragons ... Game of Thrones 6.2: The Waking ... Game of Thrones 6.5: Origin of a Name

And see also Game of Thrones 5.1: Unsetting the Table ... Game of Thrones 5.8: The Power of Frigid Death ... Game of Thrones 5.9: Dragon in Action; Sickening Scene with Stannis ... Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale: Punishment

And see also Games of Thrones Season 4 Premiere: Salient Points ... Game of Thrones 4.2: Whodunnit? ... Game of Thrones 4.3: Who Will Save Tyrion ...Game of Thrones 4.4: Glimpse of the Ultimate Battle ... Game of Thrones 4.6: Tyrion on Trial ... Game of Thrones 4.8: Beetles and Battle ...Game of Thrones 4.9: The Fight for Castle Black ... Games of Thrones Season 4 Finale: Woven Threads


And see also Game of Thrones Back in Play for Season 2 ... Game of Thrones 2.2: Cersei vs. Tyrion

And see also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces ... Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms ... Game of Thrones 1.9: Is Ned Really Dead? ... Game of Thrones 1.10 Meets True Blood

And here's a Spanish article in Semana, the leading news magazine in Colombia, in which I'm quoted about explicit sex on television, including on Game of Thrones.

And see "'Game of Thrones': Why the Buzz is So Big" article in The Christian Science Monitor, 8 April 2014, with my quotes.

Also: CNN article, "How 'Game of Thrones' Is Like America," with quote from me

 
"I was here, in Carthage, three months from now." 

#SFWApro


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Outlander 2.8: The Conversation

The most interesting part of the just-concluded Outlander 2.8 - for the devotee of time-travel - is the conversation between Claire and Jamie at the beginning.

Claire tells Jamie that "history dictates" that the Scots will fail in their battle against the English.  She of course knows this from her vantage point from the future - which says all of their work to break free of the English will be in vain.   But Jamie counters that Claire has already changed history - as when, for example, she stopped an outbreak of smallpox in Paris with her knowledge of the illness garnered in the future 20th century.

But the problem with such examples is that they are unknown to us - that is, the viewers.   We have no record of a smallpox outbreak in mid-18th-century Paris stopped by a woman wielding white magic or some kind of 20th-century knowledge of epidemics.   Thus, while Jamie's examples may be impressive - at least, somewhat - to Claire, they aren't to us, upon any kind of more careful consideration.

In order for a time-travel story to be truly impressive about changing the past to change the future, it has to show us a future different from what we know.  Otherwise, it can still be impressive, but it must do that in other ways.

As the conversation between Claire and Jamie continues, she says that their failures to change history and stop the English thus far, and their continuing to try, over and over again, is a sign of "insanity" - more precisely, Claire says "they say" it's a sign of insanity.   Jamie's clever retort is "they" likely never heard of time travel.

Now, in our reality, the definition of insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" is most often attributed to Einstein.   Which is interesting,  since Einstein certainly knew about time travel - at the very least, of its appearance in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, which is the effective grandsire of all 20th- and 21st-century time-travel stories, including Outlander - which deserves credit for at least delving into these fascinating metaphysical labyrinths, if not (yet) coming even remotely close to resolving them.  But that's ok - there's still time (travel).


See also Outlander 2.1: Split Hour ... Outlander 2.2: The King and the Forest ... Outlander 2.3: Mother and Dr. Dog ... Outlander 2.5: The Unappreciated Paradox ... Outlander 2.7: The Duel and the Offspring ... Outlander 2.8: Further into the Future

And see also Outlander 1.1-3: The Hope of Time Travel ... Outlander 1.6:  Outstanding ... Outlander 1.7: Tender Intertemporal Polygamy ...Outlander 1.8: The Other Side ... Outlander 1.9: Spanking Good ... Outlander 1.10: A Glimmer of Paradox ... Outlander 1.11: Vaccination and Time Travel ... Outlander 1.12: Black Jack's Progeny ...Outlander 1.13: Mother's Day ... Outlander 1.14: All That Jazz ... Outlander Season 1 Finale: Let's Change History



Sierra Waters series, #1, time travel

#SFWApro



The Americans 4.11: Close Call

The Americans 4.11 earlier this week had a signal moment, another indication, further than we've seen so far, about how close to the edge Philip and Elizabeth operate.

Pastor Tim and his wife are over for dinner.  The two of course know that Philip and Elizabeth are KGB, though much more benign than we know them to be.  Stan, for very plausible reasons, winds up unexpectedly sitting and conversing at the table.  He's even identified as FBI.

Philip and Elizabeth are always the masters of cool, and Paige is pretty good, too.  But what will the Pastor and his wife do?   Tim gets the incisive import of being at this table with Stan, and then the scene cuts somewhere else.

Our "Americans" have apparently dodged another bullet.  But it's bracing and enjoyable to see how close the shot came.

And the episode ends with another disrupting revelation for poor Paige: apparently her parents, or at least her mother, can kill in an instant.   Elizabeth was right to stop the menacing creep, for sure, but her instincts took over, and though I didn't mind seeing the almost-rapist dead, this was clearly something that Elizabeth didn't want her daughter to see.

Especially ironic, too, given that Elizabeth is having qualms over what she had to do to her Korean friends/marks.  She even begins to tell Tim about her feelings, though it's not entirely clear to what extent this is a true confession, or instead meant to ingratiate herself with Tim.   It of course never is - it's likely both - and this is one of the strengths of this series.







ike a post Cold War digital espionage story?  Check out The Pixel Eye


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why Hillary Clinton's Emails Are No Big Deal

There have been lots of denouncements this morning of Hillary Clinton's use of private email for government business when she was Secretary of State.  In response to Clinton's point that previous Secretary of State Colin Powell used private email, too, CBS Face the Nation moderator John Dickerson said on CBS This Morning that there's a big "difference between running a few red lights and running every red light from here to Chicago".

But that analogy is seriously flawed and therefore highly misleading.

Running a red light was always against the law.  Going through a red light twice rather than once, or every time versus a few times, is obviously much worse.

But using private email as Secretary of State was not only not against the law, but went against no policy when either Powell or Clinton held that office.  Powell did nothing wrong, and Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong. If person A does something that is not against the law or any policy a few times, and person B does it every time, and that action later becomes against the law or stated policy, guess what?  Neither person has done anything wrong.

It's amazing that Dickerson and all the pundits in the media who are repeating his analysis are so fuzzy on this issue.  Our Constitution wisely prohibits ex post facto laws - holding someone accountable for an action which was not illegal when it happened - and Dickerson and his colleagues should know better.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

12 Monkeys 2.6: "'Tis Death Is Dead"

A more complex than usual episode of 12 Monkeys tonight - 2.6 - which is saying a lot, seeing as how 12 Monkeys has one of most complex inter<->looping narratives going on television, as befits a high-intellect, high-octane story about time travel.

Jennifer, as she often does, has the best line, when she explains why what the Witness told Cassie, that ending time is good because it ends death, is wrong.  Death is what makes us human, Jennifer says.   Of course, all living organisms die, so death is more appropriately what makes us and all living things alive.  But a big part of what does make us human is an awareness of death, a cultural taking stock of it.   Anthropologists are pretty sure that even Neanderthals had this, in contrast to our nearest living cousins, chimps and gorillas, which do not.

Monkeys certainly don't, which may provide another clue as to why this series is named 12 Monkeys - a clue, that is, other than its increasingly tenuous connection to the movie.   But that's ok, even good, because, as I've said before, there's a lot more room for a bigger story in a TV series than in a movie.

Back to the Witness, he's apparently a shape-shifter, able to assume the appearances of others, or inhabit their bodies, and it looks as if Cassie may be his host, if her jet-black all-iris eyes at the end are any indication. The question will be whether she can be freed of this, and come away with some crucial knowledge of the Witness, or - well, the possibility that she can never free herself of whatever the Witness is is too awful to contemplate (it sorta takes a doubling verb to get this point across).

Temporally local cops continue to play an enjoyable role in these stories. Tonight we meet Detective D'Amato back in the 1970s, which we're introduced to when Cole and Ramse first go back there with Foghat's  Slow Ride - nice touch, since time travel seems instant but it's the ultimate slow ride in terms of eternity not moving, and intrinsically always foggy, too.   If you want to learn more about this family of detectives, just check out The Silk Code, which also has a Neanderthal and a serial killer.

See also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be ... 12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum ... 12 Monkeys 2.3: Primaries and Paradoxes ... 12 Monkeys 2.4: Saving Time ... 12 Monkeys 2.5: Jennifer's Story

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"

podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys




#SFWApro


Monday, May 23, 2016

Game of Thrones 6.5: Origin of a Name

A true beauty of an episode - 6.5 - of Game of Thrones last night, with a haunting time-loop employed to explain one of the minor mysteries of the series.

Why does Hodor, who has been Bran's mobility lo these many seasons, keep saying his name, Hodor?   A time-travel of the mind has already been established this year, with Bran traveling back to Winterfell to when he was a boy, when his father Ned was still young, and of course Bran had not yet been thrown off the tower.   A younger but still fairly massive Hodor is there, too.

Now, the key to this connection across time is that the current Bran has some mystic connection to his earlier self and that scene, in which he can not only see what's going on but maybe influence earlier events as well.  In episode 6.5 this two-way street is opened wide.  As Meera pulls Bran to safety from the White Walkers and whites, she shouts constantly to Hodor to "hold the door" so that the pale horde can't follow and overtake Meera and Bran.  In the past, Hodor, still at this point named Wylis, hears the shouts and repeats them in his simpleton way.  I realized after a few rounds of this that Hodor was a compression of hold the door.

It's a memorable origin-of-a-name story, with the name coming from the future, and tied to the saving of Bran's life and the sacrifice of Hodor's in the narrative bargain.  All of these years we've been hearing Hodor say Hodor, and now we know why.  Of course, in our reality, there's no way that the future can influence the past, and reverse cause and effect, but this is a good reminder that Game of Thrones is not just pseudo-historical drama, but fantasy.  I find this kind of reminder in some ways more appealing than the dragons.

But speaking of which, there was also a memorable scene between  Daenerys and Jorah, in which she commands him to find a cure.   Would that beating some strange illness were so easy in the real world, but, again, this is fantasy.   I haven't read the novels beyond the very first, and I hope that Jorah, one of my favorite characters,  is able to comply with his beloved Queen's command.

This has been a thoroughly satisfying season of Game of Thrones, so far - one of the best.

See also Game of Thrones 6.1: Where Are the Dragons ... Game of Thrones 6.2: The Waking

And see also Game of Thrones 5.1: Unsetting the Table ... Game of Thrones 5.8: The Power of Frigid Death ... Game of Thrones 5.9: Dragon in Action; Sickening Scene with Stannis ... Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale: Punishment

And see also Games of Thrones Season 4 Premiere: Salient Points ... Game of Thrones 4.2: Whodunnit? ... Game of Thrones 4.3: Who Will Save Tyrion ...Game of Thrones 4.4: Glimpse of the Ultimate Battle ... Game of Thrones 4.6: Tyrion on Trial ... Game of Thrones 4.8: Beetles and Battle ...Game of Thrones 4.9: The Fight for Castle Black ... Games of Thrones Season 4 Finale: Woven Threads


And see also Game of Thrones Back in Play for Season 2 ... Game of Thrones 2.2: Cersei vs. Tyrion

And see also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces ... Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms ... Game of Thrones 1.9: Is Ned Really Dead? ... Game of Thrones 1.10 Meets True Blood

And here's a Spanish article in Semana, the leading news magazine in Colombia, in which I'm quoted about explicit sex on television, including on Game of Thrones.

And see "'Game of Thrones': Why the Buzz is So Big" article in The Christian Science Monitor, 8 April 2014, with my quotes.

Also: CNN article, "How 'Game of Thrones' Is Like America," with quote from me


"I was here, in Carthage, three months from now." 

#SFWApro


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