Tags: me

cass, can you not

I don't miss the DOS command line, though, that's for sure.

I think it was the combination of the slant of light (harsh, noon-ish), the neighborhood (commercial, very busy, not really prosperous), and the business I walked into (the office/warehouse of a small online merchant of miscellaneous stuff), but I felt sudden and very strong nostalgia for a particular type of software, those very ad hoc, never quite successful, weirdly specialized utilities and programs from the dBase III/ASCII dialog interfaces on monochrome screens era.

Remember those? They usually were but one step above something somebody wrote for an acquaintance's particular needs, both in terms of design and sometimes even literally. Before the internet, when they might have physical addresses for you to mail checks, would come in a floppy disk but no manuals, perhaps as part of the monthly bundle of who-knows-what with your thick, ads-filled computer magazine. Every one with a wholly different interface and convention, each function key, and even PgUp/PgDn, etc, doing something highly specific. You'd get to know every nook and cranny of them, because you spent a lot of time with each, doing only the task they were meant to do, and they didn't have that many nooks and crannies, comparatively, so it was possible in a way it no longer is.

I know I remember those as stimulating and creative because that's what they were at the time, and that my past self would be thrilled to know the kind of software I use every day, but the feeling is still there.
cass, can you not

Revisiting the wild days of my youth

Specifically, that part when you start looking for old TNG fanfic, blink, and suddenly it's six hours later. *facepalm*

In other wild days of youth news, in a world quite like pre-Rebirth DC's, Timothy Drake-Wayne is encouraged by his adoptive father to develop some sort of silly overly public persona, lest people notice that there are *two* hypercompetent young adults with an overly developed sense of responsibility in Gotham, and deduce his secret identity (which, by the way, is Bruce No, of course I'm not influenced by any traumatic childhood experience linked to a favorite character who happened to be a masked vigilante hiding his identity behind the mast of a useless fop Wayne's main worry vis-a-vis secret identities, never mind that Tim figured his identity through a wholly unrelated kind of clue).

Anyway, Tim Drake, never one to miss an opportunity to enhance his persona as an enthusiastic geek among civilians, allies, and enemies alike (not to mention, *be* the enthusiastic geek he actually is, disguising it as a disguise), decides to go into the world of competitive yo-yo play:

Every one of his age peers, plus every former Robin and above half of the cumulative roster of the Titans will keep mocking him about it forever (perhaps item #7 in the Reasons I'm Tempted to Establish a Totalitarian Cyber-utopia in Gotham list Tim keeps in a little telepath-proof box in his mind), but Bruce is impressed. He has to alternate between faking clumsiness and being specially dense in order to compensate for the extreme sports he has to publicly engage in to cover how obviously trained he is, but Tim can actually show some reasonable dexterity and agility in his civilian life without endangering his cover. No matter what physical feat somebody might catch him doing, he'll shrug it off to his training, and everybody will both believe him and continue to find him utterly harmless and not a little bit silly, because, let's face it, he's a competitive yo-yo player. Plus, it's something that can be modified into some forms of useful training (add sharp edges to the yo-yos, work under increased and/or unstable gravitational fields, etc), so it's not as complete a waste of time as showing up to parties he's paying for and would pay far more not to attend, and distracting himself by Sherlock-scanning everybody until the sheer density of infidelities and petty crimes gives him a headache.

It's sheer genius.
cass, can you not

An on/off switch for the limbic system would sell like pancakes

Suspecting you've screwed up something with a message and waiting to see if your next message unscrewed it would be much more bearable (i.e., would be bearable) with some way to unplug emotions in toto, or at least the social anxiety bit (not a lot of difference in my case).

Speaking of emotional control as a way of life and cosmic screwups, a few certainly unoriginal thoughts on Vulcans and nuTrek:

  • Vulcans being originally something of a stand-in for Jews (at least that's my impression), I wonder whether some sort of Diaspora would've been an opportunity to explore a planet-less society — something I think Star Trek rarely touches except with the Borg and a few assorted non-Federation oddities — as part of the Federation, and the social, legal, and even spiritual issues involved.

  • And of course, if you really want to tackle thorny real-world issues through thinly veiled metaphors (and you're doing Star Trek, so you should), what if the perfect New Vulcan turns out to be already inhabited by somebody who definitely doesn't want the Vulcans there?

  • (I suspect the Vulcans of being too Vulcan to deal with this like any pre-Federation human society would — no slight implied — so this might not go through recognizable paths. Although what if a subset of the Vulcans decides that this happened because they were too pacifist, and you have a second Vulcan schism?)

  • For that matter, what do contemporary Romulans think of what happened to Vulcan? About the fact that a Romulan did it? What's their attitude about the survivors?

  • Did Spock leave behind an interactive hologram version of himself like a point-eared Hari Seldon, most of his messages some form of JIM NO DON'T POKE AT THAT IT'S ILLOGICAL?

  • Why in hell does/did the Federation have a Temporal Investigations department but not one of Temporal Defense? Everybody and their Ferengi friend-of-a-friend can travel through time (I'm thinking of some sort of temporally shielded (I'm allowed to technobabble, this is Star Trek) facility with a small cloaked ship capable of time travel, all sorts of technology (including stuff from their future they've retrieved from people they stopped, or even donated by the Federation in their future... that might include personnel, which would be interesting (instead of the usual cross-species Federation team, a cross-eras one, with serious cultural mismatches)) and everything anybody in the Federation knows about history. Changes to the timeline are automatically detected, and they are sent to fix them. A la Rip Hunter, they should probably *not* be in any history file. As far as Federation databases and people knows, they are all already dead.

  • Stealing the spot-on idea from Midnighter, every damn single human with a time machine tries to kill and/or advise Hitler. Isaac Soong, resident android from the 26th century, always pretends to be offended by the fact that nobody tries to kill Noonian Soong and prevent the Federation from becoming the first society in the Quadrant where biologicals and androids cooperate as equals. Or is actually offended, who knows. Isaac has a tricky sense of humor (he also pretends to be bad at maths; everybody's almost entirely sure that's not true).

  • If there's a society that'd go along with arranged mating to preserve and enhance genetic diversity under those circumstances, that's the Vulcans. Lots of good/badfic can be derived from that. Also, I'm thinking about the Romulans as a source of genetic diversity (purely Vulcanoid, I mean; Spock proves you can get quite Vulcan people from a Vulcan-Human pair), and how convenient it'd be for weird plotting for Vulcans to have a cultural taboo about artificial insemination. Assuming the Romulans would even want to help.

Anyway. My gut feeling is that we're going to get a reclusive, conservative, hyper-managed, and endogamic Vulcan society wherever they settle down, with a small faction advocating for out-Romulianing the Romulans and taking over enough of the quadrant to be safe, killing all Romulans in the process just to be safe. You can make the logical argument.

That'd be an interesting movie. Although tbh I'm sick of all nuTrek movies being about dealing with things from the past or things they are the past of. Beyond was supposed to be about going back to exploration, and ended up being about a character so old he literally predated the Federation; heck, the theme ended up being about an argument they certainly had during those early days. He's a relic with implausibly convenient alien technology that was obviously more powerful than the McGuffin everybody was scared of, but that's another issue.

(Checks: still anxious, still no response. Dammit.)
cass, can you not

Three years late, and a million dollars short

Just (?) saw for the first time this 2013 Person of Interest vid from [personal profile] astolat, God's Gonna Cut You Down. It's, well, it's perfect. The scene-by-scene matching works excellently (I squeed aloud during the segment that ends with When he said, "John go do My will!"), but it's also of course the philosophical armature of the show, or at least the first part of it.

Now I have Person of Interest feelings again, dammit. Gods battling, and the Hand of God, and payphones, and John just staring down the Machine... It had bad episodes, bad arcs, it wasn't perfect, it wasn't always good, but god, what a well-conceptualized show. A first draft of the present-time Ghost in the Shell series we obviously don't deserve, including Root as one of science-fiction most interesting cyborgs. The Machine whispering on your ear is more powerful than any number of physical enhancements, and the fact that the Machine actually guided Root... that's what a cybernetic organism can look like.
cass, can you not

Good times

I'm spending some time rereading old issues of Byte magazine, courtesy of the Internet Archive. It's triggering a lot of memories, which isn't unreasonable given how much of my time and attention was dedicated to computers. And it's not just the articles (when Windows 95 was still codenamed Chicago, and Win32 address space separation was a big thing), but also the ads. Ads for database systems, my god, all hyperbole, exclamation points, puns, comparison tables, enthusiasm about obscure things. I can distinctly remember knowing, at some point in my life, the pros and cons of different commercial C++ compilers, how SCSI worked, and the details of linking .OBJ files. Ads for PKzip as a product you paid for. The magic of fractal image compression formats.

Now, of course, the industry is infinitely larger and more influential, not just a hobby or a new business tool but rather the atmosphere in which society seems to move, but back then it was, I have to say, it was dorky, people still weren't convinced about it so there was no need to make it fit the "real world," the only billionaire was Bill Gates, who was Evil, you could look at Word and think "oh my god", and you would care about microprocessor architecture just for the sheer fannishness of it.

Just now I read, in a 1994 issue, a short article on this newfangled thing called Linux. Linux, then, was this weirdly free variant of UNIX; nowadays UNIX is mostly the prehistory of Linux. I remember reading that article, being enchanted by the UI screenshot and the idea of a UNIX I could get my hands on, and looking for somewhere in Corrientes where I could somehow get it (this was back when BBS' were still a thing, and "the Internet" was one of a handful of alternatives, most of them commercial). It turned out that the same small place where you could get pirated copies of games as stacks of 5'25 floppies would also sell you Slackware as a stack of 5'25 floppies.

I could say the same about pretty much any period in my life (and isn't that a wonderful thing to be able to say?) but it felt so good to have so much to learn and play with, new things every month in a Cambrian dazzle of useless, endlessly fascinating arcana. Computers were the best toy ever, and they still are.
cass, can you not

Appropriately enough, there are a lot of time travelers in them

I've been spending some time going through old (in internet time, very old), fanfic archives, reading some of the first fics I ever read and loved. For example, The Shi'ar Coffee Story, which is still as silly and funny as I remember it being.

It was the late 20th century. Nostalgia doesn't prevent me from remembering how shitty it was in many ways (including for me), and yet.

I loved the X-Men animated series, with its continuity and its time travel and its perky music and overdramatic characters. And Buffy, with its sarcastic bravery and oh-so-human heroes and villains. And Star Trek TNG, which showed both an universe so much bigger and interesting than anybody else's, and a way of facing it with curiosity and goodwill that I still, as much as I find it, in retrospect, conservative, can feel energized by (pun not intended).

And then I found my first fics, stories that took this, and gave it new directions, adult relationships, complex characterization, infinite alternate universes, and more fun and more darkness than the source material was allowed to, and it was mind-blowing that it was even possible to do that. That we were allowed, or rather, that we didn't need anybody's permission.

The topologically impossible Summers Family Tree (multiple clones included).That epic where Gambit ended up being Professor X's son, and it completely made sense, really. Q's increasingly NC-17 infatuation with Jean-Luc Picard. The Borg, back when they were scary.

It changed my life in so many ways; half a lifetime later, I'm still ricocheting through the alternate timeline this set up for me, and I couldn't be more grateful for that.
cass, can you not

Stars Wars has been watched. Also, I'm frakking old.

Not having a lot of emotional investment in the franchise, my evaluation of entertaining shouldn't be taken as an indictment.

For what it's worth, I don't think I need to go to AO3 to know a particular slash pairing is being written the hell of, nor what the dark "off panel" stories will be about. But that might say more about my fannish googles than about the movie itself.

ETA: I've posted in LJ/DW 702 fanfics and 639 original fics. Jeez. The total word count is probably along the lines of an Stephen King prologue, but still.