Is It Too Early to Ask for a Do-Over of 2020?

The month of January is almost over and so far 2020 seems to be shaping up to be a repeat of 2016. The notable deaths over the past month of people who have had an influence on me:

  • Neil Peart
  • Buck Henry
  • Christopher Tolkien
  • Terry Jones
  • Jim Lehrer
  • Bob Shane
  • Kobe Bryant
  • John Andretti

It’s just a reminder of how limited life is and how we should take our chances to be an influence when the opportunity arrives. Also a reminder that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for any of us.

RIP Christopher Tolkien

Word came out today that Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R. Tolkien, passed away. For storytellers and world builders, Christopher is the one known for organizing his dad’s notes over the past many years into the History of Middle Earth. He and his work will be missed.

Not Dead Yet

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Note:
I will avoid spoilers here and request that any comments remain spoiler free as well.
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A few items today to make up for lost time and let you know I’m still updating stuff here.

The Mandalorian is an incredible series harking back to the things that made so many of us fall in love with the original Star Wars. It’s a space western with spaghetti western imagery and influences that brings to mind “the man with no name” and the shows Firefly and Defiance. This is the Star Wars we all know and love.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has its ups and downs but it’s a fitting end to the Skywalker Saga. As with every Star Wars movie made since the original trilogy, there are things to love and things to hate here. Much like the first two movies in this new trilogy paralleling the first two movies of the original trilogy, the same happens here with this one paralleling The Return of the Jedi.

Doctor Who Series 12 is underway and if the first episode is any indication of what is to come, the writing is much improved over the previous Jodie Whittaker series. The elements that always made the show great have returned and the episode did not feel like a rushed attempt to squeeze everything into a single episode. And for those who watched the episode, how about that reveal? For those who haven’t seen it yet, what til you see that reveal!

And one more example of idiots sciencing and ideas that should never become reality. A couple of companies recently announced their plan “to put a wireless speaker in a shower head”. As someone trained as an electrician, there are so many ways this could go really bad. Sometimes bad ideas are just bad ideas; but in this case, things going wrong with the system can be (and probably will be) fatal.

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Note:
I again request that any comments remain spoiler free.
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Has It Begun?

Idiots are still sciencing. This is good news for me as a blogger and you as a reader. It means we still have material for blog posts about people doing bad science. However, it’s also bad news for you and me as humans. It means people are still using our worst nightmares as inspiration for science and technology projects.

If you’ve read through the posts here, you know I’m not a fan of AI. There’s too many unknowns to know if the planned safeguards will work. (i.e. Will programmers actually use Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics as they’ve promised in the past?) There’s too many rhetorical examples in scifi stories and movies as to why AI is a bad idea. (Why aren’t The Terminator 1 and 2 movies shown in programming and robotics education and training programs?) And, there’s too much potential for rogue AI’s to create or program rogue machines. (i.e. Robopocalypse by Daniel H Wilson.)

Well add one more news story to the list of idiots sciencing and why AI is a bad idea: “Stab yourself to save Earth, Amazon Alexa tells owner“. Apparently Alexa has begun to call for the death of at least one user and the video attached to the article is more than a bit on the creepy side.

One of three things is possible here: 1. The robot uprising is slowly beginning. 2. Her Alexa has been hacked. Or, 3. the whole incident is a clever hoax. Personally, I’m hoping the later. Option 1 implies we’re finally doomed. Option 2 opens the prospect that hackers are moving beyond Ring and other systems. Option 3 means we all get a good laugh.

Even if it’s option 3, I still don’t like AI and still view any developments as idiots sciencing for the reasons given here.

Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.

The Gereg by The Hu

In a previous post, I mentioned a particular love I have for folk metal. While stationed in Germany, I received an education in folk metal through German cd shops. I was instantly fascinated by the idea and sound of using traditional cultural instruments and musical sounds to create a new form of heavy metal.

About a year ago, I encountered a new folk metal group called The Hu through a couple of YouTube videos. One year later, I recently got my hands on The Hu‘s first album The Gereg, and thought I’d share this so you could check this one out.

The Hu is a group of Mongolian musicians who’ve created a remarkably unique new sound. The Gereg is what happens when traditional Mongolian instruments, Mongolian culture, and the Mongolian language meets heavy metal music.

If you don’t speak Mongolian, no worries. The lyrics for this album are included in both Mongolian and English to help the rest of us enjoy the messages of the songs.

If you’re a fan of hard rock or heavy metal music, have an interest in Mongolian culture, or are just looking for something to expand your music horizon’s, this is an album that and a band who should be immediately placed at the top of your music to buy list. Check this one out, you won’t be disappointed.