Monday, August 28, 2017

Tomorrow's Tech -- Today! continued

Tomorrow’s Tech … Today!

Many futuristic inventions have come to pass, while some may never be realized.


Rip Van Winkle goes high-tech!  

From Alien’s Ripley to Futurama’s Fry 

to Star Trek’s Khan,

SF loves the idea of “travelling” to the future (or at least leapfrogging the present) via a longer-than-usual nap. First broached in print in 1770 by Louis-S├ębastien Mercier, stories of accidental hibernation

(examples: Charles Eric Maine’s 1960 pulp novel He Owned the World,  or the tales of Buck Rogers) were soon outpaced by the idea of deliberate science-induced sleep.  Entering hypersleep at the start of a galactic jaunt is a good second-best, if you don’t have warp drive.  
(But never trust someone named HAL to wake you up.)
          Farmer’s Dayworld series proposed that a future Earth might solve its overcrowding by making everybody sleep for six days out of seven.
          The popularity of Robert Ettinger’s 1964 book The Prospect of Immortality brought this concept into widespread discussion. Present-day attempts to preserve life involve decapitation and “freezing” (aka cryonics), the old brain-in-a-jar trick. 
The Alcor Life Extension Foundation has “preserved” over 130 people, including game developer Hal Finney and baseball great Ted Williams (against his specific instructions).
          In the interests of accuracy, remember that “cryogenics” is the STUDY of deep-cold preservation of life; the APPLICATION of this knowledge is “cryonics.”  And, to be honest, the current “science” of cryogenics is a triumph of hope and lucre over realistic expectations.  There’s no known way to “unfreeze” someone safely; the process of freezing itself causes severe fractures in the brain, despite the use of cryoprotectants.

  That’s why, despite longstanding rumors (parodied by iCarly in 2009), Walt Disney is NOT frozen somewhere in a vault under the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride.


If you want to get across the vast distances of galactic space in your own lifetime, you’ve got to conjecture either “jumping” via wormhole or teleportation (think Stargate) or some such; or by some version of a faster-than-light drive. 

In Star Trek, it’s called Warp Drive; the same general idea is called hyperdrive in the Star Wars universe.  If you’d rather use an Infinite Improbability Drive, you’ve got a lot of company.

          In 1994 theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre drew a lot of attention for his theory proposing a method for changing the geometry of space, by creating a wave that would cause the fabric of space ahead of a spacecraft to contract and the space behind it to expand.  Another typical depiction of traveling Faster Than Light is described as a figurative folding of space, like doubling a piece of paper and jumping from one edge to the next with a short hop.

          But regardless of the mechanism, what kind of power source could enable such a drastic remolding of space-time?  That’s usually where invention steps in, hypothesizing Dilithium crystals or harnessing a black hole.

          And don’t forget the dangerous possibilities involved in FTL travel, as expressed by A. H. Reginald Buller in the limerick “Relativity,” first published in 1923:
          There was a young lady named Bright
          Whose speed was far faster than light;
          She set out one day
          In a relative way
          And returned on the previous night.

Well, that's all for now.  The Super Blog is taking a month off, in preparation for the witching season.  We'll see you on Monday, October 2, for the beginning of ... Blog-o-Ween!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

MA-94 - It Encroached from the 1980s

In this music compilation, we take an overdue look at that often overlooked era in popular music, the 1980s.

What? You mean it's NOT overlooked?  Well, most of these songs ARE.  But they're really fun!

01 - ADSR - Mo   1982   (2:21)

02 - Ayatollah - The Swingers   1981  (3:37)

03 - Everybody Wants to Work - Uncanny X-Men   1984  (3:11)

04 - At the Village Gates - White Glove Test   1986  (5:17)

05 - Faeries (Living at the Bottom of the Garden) - Renaissance   1981  (4:00)

06 - China - Red Rockers   1983  (4:00)

07 - The Hots for You - Brian Brain   1981  (1:53)

08 - As Forever as You - Face to Face   1988  (4:10)

09 - She Goes Out with Everybody - The Spongetones   1982  (2:27)

10 - Touch - I'm So Hollow   1981  (3:51)

11 - Pumping Iron - The Flatbackers   1980  (3:04)

12 - We Are Frank Chickens - Frank Chickens   1984  (4:41)

13 - Tell Yourself the Truth - Skank   1985  (4:24)

14 - No One's Girl - Unit 5   1981  (3:40)

15 - All Day Long - X-Teens   1984  (3:44)

16 - Starlight Jingles - Radio Heart   1987  (4:11)

17 - Dancin' on the Power Lines - Jim Foster   1986  (4:44)

18 - Pull Me - Jenson Interceptor   1983  (3:15)

19 - Suit of Nails - 17 Pygmies   1985  (3:34)

20 - Hello, I Am Your Heart - Bette Bright and the Illuminations   1981  (3:09)

21 - Still Life in Radio - Age of Mirrors   1987  (4:12)

Many of these songs have only one release, though some can also be found on Spockify or iGoons or some of those services.

There's a lot of distinctiveness (some might say oddness) here, along with some pretty stuff.

Track 1 is a wry observation on the way that music synthesizers with their multiple capabilities might soon put life performers out of business.  ADSR is a term relating to the musical performance of synths.

Track 2, of course, relates to that hairy guy whose followers in Iran took all those hostages in November, 1979.

Track 5 is a charming fantasaical romp.

Did you know that the lead singer for Radio Heart, the group behind the glittery pop confection of Track 16, was later-miminal-synth guy Gary Numan?

I hope you can unpack a tithe of the fun I get listening to this mishmash of silly, sincere, and oddball charm.

MA-94 - It Encroached from the 1980s

  See you on Monday, friends!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Super Clothes #4

Yes, more!

Here’re some slip-in rubber sandals that are pretty popular around our place, fitting both six-year-old ladies and the four-year-old hunky male type.

Plus, they have super emblems on the bottom!

These sock/slippers are for the smaller set, being labeled “Toddler.”

These Super Powers slippers date from the mid-1980s, when the DC “Super Powers” campaign began.  They're labeled size 10.  That's kid's size 10; the length of each slipper is barely the  height of a mass-market paperback.

See you Thursday with another new music compilation.

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© by Mark Alfred