Monday, 16 February 2009

Battlestar Galactica: a historical timeline of events leading up to the Miniseries (Explanation.) I've done my damnedest to reconstruct the history of Dublin from Ulysses of humans, human-looking robots, robot-looking robots and Cylons on Battlestar Galactica. The dates are purposely vague: I'm more interested in the order in which events occurred than precisely dating them. 5,000ish years ago: Humans inhabit Earth. They leave. Stop at the Algae Planet and build the Temple of Athena so future people can find their way back. Keep on moving and settle on Kobol. 4,000ish years ago: The residents of Kobol create a race of robot slaves that look exactly like humans, i.e. in their own image. These robots can resurrect but not reproduce. Some sort of Blade Runner-scenario maybe ensues? Can't tell but could be important. Either way, the monotheistic Thirteenth Tribe of human-looking robots leaves Kobol and—in Ellen Tigh's words—backtracks to Earth. They stop on the Algae Planet to find the way to Earth. They re-colonize it. 3,500ish years ago: But they are lazy. So the human-looking robots on Earth build robot slaves who look like proper robots. No chance of a Blade Runner-scenario there. Their slaves look like robots. By this point the human-looking robots have acquired the ability to reproduce sexually and do so for so long they eventually forget how to resurrect. 2,000ish years ago (on Earth): The human-looking robots we know as Ellen and Saul Tigh, Galen Tyrol, Samuel Anders and Tory Foster (henceforth "Ellen and the Gang") are born and become scientists. They are warned that their robot slaves plan to destroy them. They rediscover resurrection technology and put a resurrection ship in orbit. The human-looking robots and their robot-looking slaves mutually assure their own destruction—except for Ellen and the Gang, whose brains are downloaded up to their new bodies on the resurrection ship. 2,000ish years ago (on Kobol): Something happens. The Twelve Tribes of humans leave Kobol and settle on twelve loosely-affiliated planets. Each of the Twelve Colonies develops an individual mono-planetary culture because that is what happens in science fiction. Between 2,000ish years ago and 53 years ago (in Twelve Colonies): Mono-planetary cultures notwithstanding, humans become lazy again. Like the human-looking robots of the Thirteenth Tribe, these humans learned from their mistakes and did not make their new robot slaves in their image. They made Toasters. The Toasters rebelled. The Twelve Colonies unite under the Articles of Colonization. Between 2,000ish years ago and 53 years ago (on their way from Earth to the Twelve Colonies): Ellen and the Gang move at sub-light speed. Time dialates. Approximately 53 to 40 years ago: The Toasters and the Twelve Colonies fight a war. On the Toasters' home planet—wherever that is—they try and develop their own human-looking robots. These are the hybrids who control their ships. Ellen and the Gang finally reach the Twelve Colonies. They convince the Toasters to end the war with the humans by promising to help them create human-looking robots. Between 40 years ago and the Miniseries: Ellen and the Gang are true to their word. The first...
I’d prefer a dumb one, you know, so he’d always be having to get back to us later. It upsets Mary Rosh that Leno and Letterman refuse to mock Obama for using a teleprompter during his press conferences. It infuriates her that Obama wants the White House to install a smart podium: Obama is looking to install a computer screen into the podium so that, according to one Obama advisor, “It would make it easier for the comms guys to pass along information without being obvious about it.” Obama’s aids would put together answers to a large number of possible questions so as soon as a reporter asks a particular question the computer screen would flash talking points to remind Obama how he’s supposed to respond to that question. Why would a President—especially an ostensibly intellectual one—want aides to feed facts and figures to his podium on the sly? Are we witnessing the first step down that slippery slope? I think not. Consider: That is a picture of the actual classroom in which I teach my 8 a.m. class. Notice the podium hulking in the corner? It is made of computers. Know what happens when a student stumps me with a question? I confab with it computers so that I provide the student with an accurate answer. This is not to say that I come to class unprepared. I have done my homework. I come armed with my notes. But sometimes a student still manages to stop me in my tracks. Consider a conversation from this morning: Me: It seems like Nolan shot this with the aid of a steadicam. Student: You mean “with a steadicam.” Me: No, a steadicam is something you attach to a camera. Student: My father works in Hollywood and were he here all anyone in this building would be able to hear was him laughing because you are dumb. At which point I stopped the lecture. Walked to the podium. Searched the internet. Brought up that link. Took me about thirty seconds total—which means that for thirty seconds my class consisted of my students watching me search the internet. You know what would have been nice? If I had a staffer whose job it was to do these searches for me so that the results might appear instantly on my podium computer. I would waste less time and be more accurate. (For the record: I was not out to humiliate the student. I teach them that the cardinal sin of the Age of Information is the easily correctable factual error. The above is an example of me practicing what I preach.) But Rosh and her commenters will have none of it. Their beloved Limbaugh employs a staff to feed him information during his show—but he is not a President. The President is a man who should want for nothing. The man who is President needs a lot. He “needs a cheat sheet.” (As did I on my qualifying exams.) He “needs help in just speaking.” (As did I on my qualifying exams.) He “is our first Affirmative Action President [because] he needs extra...

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