Link Dump

You know the drill:

  • Given our current technology and with the proper training, would it be possible for someone to become Batman?: Wow. This is pretty well thought out:

    The genius of Batman is that it pretends to be realistic, it lets us convince ourselves that with enough money and training, we could become Batman, too. But it’s still fantasy, it’s just a fantasy that is more compelling and convincing and thus more fun.

    Because I have an unhealthy obsession with Neal Stephenson novels, the above quote made me think of this passage from Snow Crash:

    Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.

    So apparently, the “genius of Batman” only really applies to men under 25. Or something. Hey, speaking of realism and fantasy:

  • Science Fiction vs. Science Fantasy: Us cool science fiction nerds like to occasionally take a dump all over fantasy. We’ll even use the term fantasy as an insult sometimes. But who are we kidding? John Scalzi actually makes a good point:

    …everything you can possibly label as “science fiction” is in fact just a subset of a larger genre, which is correctly called “fantasy.” This is because science fiction — along with supernatural horror, alternate history, superhero lit, and the elves-and-orcs swashbuckling typically labeled “fantasy” — is fundamentally fantastic. Which is to say, it involves imaginative conceptualizing, does not restrain itself according what is currently known, and speculates about the nature of worlds and conditions that do not exist in reality. It may gall science-fiction fans to think of their genre as a subset of fantasy, but it is, so calling a film “science fantasy” is in most ways redundant.

    Of course, by that definition, every fictional story ever written could potentially be considered fantasy, but still, it’s an interesting point. However, I think part of the reason science fiction nerds are so protective of their subgenre is that they generally appreciate things like plausibility, scientific rigor, and internal consistency. In my experience (which, I’ll grant, isn’t exhaustive), Fantasy doesn’t really do any of those things. “Magic” doesn’t work for me unless there are serious limitations.

  • A Superman Post: Since I’m totally geeking out on superheroes, fantasy, and SF, I might as well keep it going with as good an explanation of the appeal of Superman as any:

    Superman isn’t Superman because of some tragedy which informed his growth. Pa Kent does not die because of a failure on Clark’s part – indeed in most versions of the story, Pa dies when Clark is already Superman. Clark’s knowledge of Krypton doesn’t make him a superhero either; again, this is something he finds out later, too late to traumatize him. Clark is Superman because he decides to be Superman without being prompted. That’s more complex and nuanced a story than “somebody did something to me.” Superman’s story, which informs his entire character, is one of someone who chooses to be good of his own free will and agency, with no influence other than moral upbringing. That’s both more compelling than the “somebody did something to me” origin most superheroes have and more difficult to work with.

    Lots of great stuff in that post. It’s a shame that the movies almost never really capture this.

  • Ken Jennings on Reddit: Read the comments. Jennings is way funnier than you’d expect. Aside from the fact that his username is WatsonsBitch, a good sample is this response:

    yamminonem: Will you be the leader of the Resistance against Watson once he starts to control Skynet? Please, and thank you.

    WatsonsBitch: Once we are all working in the slave-pits together, I will try to put in a good word for you all. I will be like the old Barnard Hughes character in Tron, who remembers the Master Control Program when it was just accounting software.


  • Predator: The Musical: There’s a whole series of these, but I think this might be the most brilliant of all.

That’s all for now…

2 thoughts on “Link Dump”

  1. Jennings seems a great sport about the whole Watson thing, but after watching it, I was just disappointed. Ritter and Jennings are two of Jeopardy’s best players and they lose to a machine that can simply buzz in faster than they can? Echos of Kasparov, I suppose.

    And MightyGodKing seems to consistently pump out awesome posts like the Superman one. More people should read MGK!

    PS: Your comment Sign In system appears to be broken?

  2. Regarding Watson, I’m actually surprised it wasn’t a complete blowout. There are no advantages in the game for humans, yet they still managed to hang with Watson. Nothing about Jeopardy requires actual intelligence or improvisation. That Watson won is really just a testament to its programmers, who are human. Their achievement is certainly impressive, but if we’re to consider this machine intelligent, it’s not exactly blowing the world away. This matchup should have been a near total rout for Watson. As it was, Watson only got around 60% of the questions. So I’m not quite ready to welcome our new, computerized overlords:P

    MGK is often funny and sometimes quite insightful, even if I often disagree. But when it comes to comics or movies and the like, he’s awesome.

    Well, I just signed in with my Google account to post this comment, but I’ve had massive problems since installing the latest version of MT and this new commenting system. That’s why I had to turn on anonymous commenting w/CAPTCHA (which I assume is what you used?) What happened when you tried to sign in?

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