Thursday, October 29, 2009

What was I thinking about in 1985?


     Some of my happiest memories before age 12 have much to do with The Transformers. I started watching the cartoon at age 8, but I had received an interesting toy before the show was on the air. You see, I didn't know what Transformers were. They just came out of nowhere. On my eighth birthday I got this interesting toy called Optimus Prime, from my Aunt Jane. I remember receiving it very clearly, simply because it was completely new to me. Information traveled differently back in 1984, as the internet was only used by scientists and no one had cell phones. In fact, hardly anyone had a personal computer.
     I wrote this story back as a young whip:


And this is the original lineup of Transformers toys:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Life on gas giants and neutron stars.

     I've noticed that many people are surprised when I tell them that Jupiter and Saturn don't have a solid surface, like the Earth. That seems to be incomprehensible and I'll admit it is troubling to think about. I've tried to imagine what living on Jupiter or Saturn could be like and I constantly find myself thinking of oceanic depths. It's untenable; I can't imagine not having any sort of stability. Think of that type of life, such as that of the whale, for example. Their lives are completely transitory with respect to location and they can't have 'property', since there's no way to store it. At least the animals on the surface can store things, such as dead animals, to be consumed later.
     Timothy Zahn wrote a good speculative book about potential life on Jupiter. I read this 6 or 7 years ago:

     And I'm currently reading this one:

     While Zahn has a master's degree in physics and never worked as a scientist, Forward was a real scientist that later wrote science fiction. Forward's novel, Saturn Rukh, is aptly known as hard science fiction, which means the science is as real as possible. Life on Saturn is simply a speculation, which makes the novel one of speculative fiction, which most people simply call science fiction.
     Thinking about Jupiter and Saturn isn't terribly difficult, since they are somewhat familiar planets. In some sense they can be considered small inactive stars, since their cores are not fusing hydrogen into heavier elements.
     For serious imagination taxation, very little can top the books below:


     Have you ever wondered about potential life on a neutron star? Do you even know what a neutron star is? There's no better way to learn about neutron stars. Although I had already known a bit about neutron stars beforehand (that's why I immediately purchased and read those books after becoming aware of them), I had never myself ever considered life on one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lability is required.

     I'm lucky to be labile
     while others are so fragile
     nothing is absolute
     that, my friend, is a waste of time to refute

     The October 2009 issue of Scientific American confirmed something I've been suspecting for a while. Black holes are simply theoretical constructs. They have actually never been observed; only predicted. What has always bothered me is the notion of infinite density; it's simply untenable. Now, it is proper to refer to them as black stars. But do bear in mind that they were never holes to begin with. The physicist John Wheeler coined the term black hole in 1967, at a time when they were referred to as frozen stars. What's sad is that the general public took Wheeler's term quite seriously and actually thought they were holes.
     Since my mind is labile, I have no problem accepting new information. For example, when Pluto was demoted, I was not bothered, as most people were. That's because most people think in absolute terms. There are 9 planets and that can never change. That's some hardcore hogwash and you better damn well believe it. Nothing is absolute, not even your slippery soul.
     Now we know there are 8 planets in our solar system, evolution is the reason why humans exist (not God), teleportation of particles is possible, black holes are really black stars, many other planets exist outside of our solar system, etc.
     There are lots of ways to divide up the minds of human beings. One can go the political route and say there are Republicans and Democrats, the religious route and say there are believers and non-believers, the biological route and say there are males and females, et cetera. But why not consider this - divide up human minds between those that are absolutists and those that are labile. (I'm going to invent the word labilist.)
     An absolutist is one that believes some things never change. For example, an absolutist would reject evolution. A labilist is one that readily accepts change and adapts to it. For example, a labilist would accept evolution. Absolutist minds tend to be religious while labilist minds tend to be scientific.
     In summary, human minds can be divided up between those people that are ABSOLUTISTS (do not accept change) and those that are LABILISTS (readily accept change). Absolutists have trouble dealing with information that conflicts with what they have "known" for a long time, such as the demotion of Pluto. Labilists understand that everything is subject to change, since the information we have concerning the universe is not complete. (If the universe ceased all activity, then I suppose the absolutists would have trouble accepting even that, since the end of change would require one hell of a change.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wyman Guin

     Wyman Guin (1915-1989) worked as a pharmacologist and advertising executive. He also produced 8 short stories and one novel, all in the realm of speculative fiction, within the subcategory of science fiction. Why am I mentioning this man that died 20 years ago? I am mentioning him because his science fiction was first rate, as good as Robert Heinlein and Philip Jose Farmer. He also had an odd streak, similar to that of Philip K. Dick.

     7 of his short stories are collected in this book:

     How did I find that book? I didn't actively seek it out, as Wyman Guin is not well-known among authors that are relatively unknown, making his work that less likely to stumble upon. I occasionally search ebay for huge lots of vintage science fiction books, simply because the price per book typically drops below 75 cents. This behavior of mine results in the acquisition of many doubles and even triples, but it's an efficient and cheap means of gaining access to new material. So I found that book among a lot of 90 others.
     The cover art does not reflect the content, as there are no cyclopean women. I would have preferred to see a volpla. A what? A volpla. The short story "Volpla" was satisfying beyond words. When I finished the story, I was reminded as to why I stopped watching television shows. You can't get this kind of imaginative storytelling from TV, the kind that generates abundant happiness. While it's more difficult to read than to watch TV, the rewards for reading far exceed those of staring at idiot boxes, or these days - idiot panels.
     Read what one of his peers had to say:

     "BEYOND BEDLAM, the final story of this collection, is a classic example of what can be done when a first-class imagination takes a far-out assumption and carefully builds it into a society thoroughly self-consistent and logical on its own terms; and repellent, horrifying and yet fascinating on ours. WYMAN GUIN'S gift for putting himself (and therefore the reader as well) completely into societies he builds is in healthy evidence in the other stories as well."
     -Isaac Asimov

     Reading Wyman Guin turned out to be educational, as I had not previously known what a bedlam was. I also learned the arabic word 'cipher' (from sifr) and the hebrew word 'baal'.

     I quickly purchased his one novel, The Standing Joy, and I had to buy it from a bookstore in England, since ebay didn't have any from American sellers. While the cover art is atrocious, it does seem fitting, provided one has read the book.

     The main character is Colin Collins, a precocious young man that has solved the problem of limited male orgasms, as well as amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Have you ever wondered why women can have multiple orgasms during intercourse, but not males? Once men achieve an orgasm through ejaculation, they need to recharge in order to continue. Women don't have the recharging problem, which frees them up for orgasmic bliss.
     Wyman Guin took Robert Heinlein's stance on prostitution in the sense it should be legalized and treated as a profession, similar to that of a lawyer or a doctor. While I found it interesting to read about the activities in a whore house, I agree much more strongly with what Philip Jose Farmer had to say about prostitution (in 1974):

     "I think it's a grim grisly exploitation which no healthy society would endure for a minute."

     How would you like to pay $150 every time you had to urinate? Imagine if every toilet required payments for using them. You see, sex is a normal activity, just like using the bathroom. Sex is not sinful, any more than taking a dump is sinful. We, us crazy humans, decided that sex before marriage is a sin. That doesn't mean it is, any more than running a 'red light' is sinful. Some things just cause problems.
     I don't think anyone should ever pay for sex. There is no need to make laws, either. A healthy society simply would not have prostitution. The fact that prostitutes exist indicates that we need to restructure our society.
     Through hormonal modification and chemical manipulation we could adjust male and female bodies in such a way that barrier bags (condoms) became obsolete, and diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea could be forgotten. We're not sexually free creatures. There are too many problems associated with sex, the most significant being that of unwanted pregnancy, since it sometimes forces men and women into a partnership that they do not want and makes children suffer. Almost everyone is sexually capable, but not everyone is financially capable. Thus, it confuses me as to why it's legal for people without sufficient incomes to engage in sexual behavior. We know that there are 800,000,000 starving people on this planet. Many of them are children, produced by men and women incapable of supporting them. This is why we need to modify human bodies, so we can have sex without worrying about producing children. People with sufficiently high incomes could be sexually armed, their reproductive functions activated. And those considered in a state of poverty would have their reproductive functions disabled, since they would be incapable of providing food for their children. If they rose to a higher income level, then their reproductive functions could become armed, if they chose that action. But everyone would be allowed to experience the joys of sex.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Korean Movies You Must Watch


     In other words, trust me. Watching these movies will make you feel better. I've watched around 180 Korean movies and these are some of the best, for any mature audience, that is, people that enjoy thinking. And sometimes, laughing. I could list 100 more, but I halted it at 8 movies. If you've never seen a Korean movie, any one of these would be a good start.


 A Good Lawyer's Wife

 Barking Dogs Never Bite


 Big Bang




 Marriage is a Crazy Thing




 Tazza: The High Rollers


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Philip Jose Farmer

     I first heard of Farmer through my mom, when she mentioned Riverworld, back when I was a teenager. Riverworld is a series of 5 novels and several short stories about the afterlife. Every human that has ever lived and lived more than 5 years is resurrected on a large planet with a sinuous river 20,000,000 miles long. Those that died prior to age 5 are resurrected on Gardenworld, which Farmer never wrote, but briefly mentioned.
    Farmer is not afraid to write about sex and some of his material is extremely X-rated, far more perverted than anything I've read by Stephen King. Farmer was the first author to write about human/alien sex and Robert Heinlein dedicated Stranger in a Strange Land to him, for paving the way. (Reading material by Farmer will add the word satyriasis to your vocabulary.) I can see religious people banning his material, but not for the hardcore sex. They would ban it because he wrote a few stories about Jesus being an alien, and not the son of God. One novel in particular, Flesh, is similar to Planet of the Apes (the screenplay written by Rod Serling), except that the astronauts return to Earth and find a new religion, rather than a new dominant species. One Christian man is killed when he attempts proselytization of some locals because Christianity is no longer the dominant religion. This indicates to me that religions are transient and not the sources of absolute truth many believe. In other words, God may go out of style. This is the advantage of reading Farmer. He will expand your imagination.
     These are the books I have read by Philip Jose Farmer so far:























     Besides Riverworld, the other notable series by Farmer is World of Tiers, which comprises seven novels. They are the last 7 scans above. It's about near-immortals (people that live roughly 30,000 to 50,000 years) and have the ability to make their own universes. Gates, like those in Stargate, are used to traverse the universes.

Whiskers and Toonces

     Whiskers and Toonces were my cats. At age 12, my aunt Jane and uncle Fred found a cat near or on their property. She (Whiskers) was malnourished and less than 2 years of age. I knew Whiskers from my ages of 12 to 28, for 16 years.

     Whiskers was put to sleep in March of 2005, due to cancer in her right eye. Here's two pictures of Whiskers, taken on 8-10-2003:



     I knew Toonces from my ages of 14-33, for 19 years. Her kidneys failed in September of 2009 and she was put to sleep. Here are some pictures of Toonces, also taken on 8-10-2003:






     This last one of Toonces was taken on 12-23-2004: