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Donaithnen Keir
Works at the place that i work at
Attended Calculus and Newton's Laws and Relativity (Sucks!)
Lives in SoCal


Donaithnen Keir

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Wednesday reading for Expendable, Part 17

Second to last Part in the book! Time for some climactic stuff!

(I was a little rushed for this one, hopefully someone else has some more thoughts!)

"'All right,' Jelca shrugged, 'there may be problems.'" [With removing all the air from a planet.]

You don't say? Can we get Jelca an award for understatement of the century please?

I approve very much of Festina's plan to get in the first punch, though not so much her failure to get in the second, third, etc punches.

She didn't bring her stunner because she didn't really think Jelca was a bad guy. If anything is going to get her killed on this planet it's going to be her obsession with Jelca =P

And now we get the details of the note, and as expected she did warn Ullis about what her plans were. So really just confirming what most readers were probably expecting anyways.

Jelca is equal parts cold calculating bastard and just plain dumb if he thinks the "you're killing her by not doing what i say" argument is going to have any sway. And does he actually know Festina is in earshot? Or does he just not care if he kills Oar for nothing? (I'm guessing probably the later.)

As long as he was running away i would have taken one last shot at the back of his head if i were Festina instead of just watching him run =P

And i seem to be saying this a lot, but poor Oar :(

Okay, i'm surprised they're not worried about the possible non-sentient implications of firing missiles of unknown yields at the entrance to the city. Yes the city itself is buried, but if the warheads turn out to be matter/antimatter then they could still potentially kill everyone inside.

"Keeping you company, Ramos. When you’re all by yourself, you brood.”

Whatever Phylar's (numerous) other faults are, he certainly does know Festina!

It's still not clear to me why Phylar brought his suit helmet along in the first place, but it sure is turning out to be useful!

Though this brings up the question of what happened to Jelca's helmet, and the rest of his suit for that matter? He still had it when he stopped by Phylar's city. Actually i guess from the earlier descriptions the suit itself would be a pain to get into and out of by yourself, but the helmet is obviously a great addition to the makeshift rad gear.

And again Festina has forgotten her stunner! What is this?!? =P

Yay, Oar to the rescue!

Oh no! Poor Oar!!! :(

So can Oar survive an 80 story fall after being shot multiple times? And what will Festina do now that she's the only(?) Explorer left on the planet?
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Donaithnen Keir

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Avalyn and i spent some time playing FF14 together over the weekend. (As opposed to the more common case of me doing crafting by myself after she goes to bed =)

Here is the general sequence of events from near the end of the session.

(This will probably boring to anyone who doesn't play FF14, or at least MMOs or co-op games in general.)

We get a mission to sneak into a Qiqirn(?) camp and steal a letter.

We run into two Qiqirn on the way in, and although it's a somewhat tough fight (both down to about 50% HP by the end) we prevail.

We get the letter and start trying to sneak out.

One of us (i have no idea which) gets too close to two other Qiqirn and they attack us.

Avalyn starts getting low on health and i see her booking it out of there, leaving me alone to fight the two Qiqirn.

I think "Well that's just great! But this guy is pretty damaged already, i might be able to pull this off."

Then a second or two later i see Avalyn running back towards me, trailing 3-4 more Qiqirn.

I shout into the next room something along the lines of "What are you doing?!?!!"

She responds that she was about to die and tried to run away, but ran into another group before she saw them. And then for some reason thought it would be fun to bring them back to the party she'd just bailed on? I dunno =P

And then she died. Leaving me surrounded by 5-6 Qiqirn.

Thankfully i'd learned a cure spell recently and was able to heal up a little and then get the hell out of Dodge before they took me apart.

At that point Avalyn decided as long as she was dead it was a good time to head to bed.

The End.

Cross-posted from:
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Donaithnen Keir

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Wednesday reading for Expendable, Parts 13 and 14. (Since someone dropped a hint ;)

So Phylar is here on Melaquin because he sucked at his job. Not really a shock.

And their landing near Jelca's spot may or may not be even less of a coincidence that it first appeared, if you're going to go with the theory that Chee would have steered them back to that continent if they'd wanted to land somewhere else first. Although that's getting kinda meta with the probabilities.

And she ended up in the same city as Phylar because apparently those sharks really get around.

So what does it say about Phylar that if he's going to go with Eloi and Morlocks for his naming scheme that he'd name his "friends" the Morlocks?

Oar does not seem fond of Phylar. Of course a lot of people seem not to be fond of Phylar, so that's not really a shock.

"And I stopped being an Explorer long before that."

Well that certainly seems true, in more ways than one.

Why would the synthesizers not produce booze? The League's one rule is "don't be non-sentient", i don't remember them being a prude about drugs.

So does this mean that the natives have the same kind of low tolerance for alcohol that the Native Americans did when the Europeans arrived?

And we get confirmation, or at least an agreeing second opinion, about the origin and history of Melaquin.

"But there may be people who see you and feel like crying, because it is wrong for the only nice Explorer to look so damaged."

Oar is... not very good at complimenting people.

Festina expects "sufficiently advanced" technology to act like things you buy under warranty, and Melaquin's warranty has just expired...

Why does the League disapprove of cyborgs? I don't seem to recall this plot point ever coming up again.

Hmm, something seems a little odd about the story of how the "flesh" people eventually became all "glass", but i'd have to go back, er, forward, and check one of the other books to refresh my memory. Within the context of this book though it makes reasonable sense.

It's hard to say if the Melaquins got a better or worse deal than the inhabitants of New Earth. They seem to have gotten a lot more in the way of technical goodies, particularly in regards to the biological upgrades for their children, but it doesn't really seem to have worked out well for them in the long run.

So are there only the four natives left in this city? Somehow i had the impression there were more than that, but i don't think we've actually seen any others. Of course Oar's city was down to just her, so that's still four times as many as hers had, or twice as many if you count before her sister left. So is this city following the same rate of decline but is lasting a little longer because it started out at twice the size? Or has decorating the city (and themselves) provided enough motivation to help them resist the tiredness a little more than usual?

Apparently Oar is into bondage and just didn't know it until now? :)

And Festina is once again on her way towards her destination, except much more quickly this time and with a little cosmetic non-surgery. Leaving behind a possibly pissed off and possibly now heavily armed Phylar =P

How will the other Explorers react to her new appearance when she gets there? Tune in on Friday to find out, when we will be reading just (the slightly longer than usual) Part 15!
Michael Hannemann's profile photoDonaithnen Keir's profile photoLaura Parkinson's profile photo
Lol, don't worry about stealing the spotlight. More posting is good! And if I really want to post something separate because I have something big to say about the section (or if someone else does for that matter), we can always post more than one topic for the reading. :p That's one of the reasons I moved this to a community like this in the first place.
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Donaithnen Keir

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A couple months ago we started watching Dragon Ball. Not Dragon Ball Z, just Dragon Ball.

I've watched a moderate amount of Dragon Ball Z, both on Cartoon Network and on DVD. I watched parts of Frieza and Cell on TV and then rewatched both sagas in full on DVD. I'll freely admit that it's pretty simplistic and trope-y, but it can be fun (if you can put up with what happened in the previous episode at least ;)

I picked up the remastered DVDs of Dragon Ball a couple years back because i was curious about the history of what's become such a cornerstone of anime, but had never actually watched them before. When we finished of Archer (at least all of it that's available on Netflix right now) we needed something to fill the "short and simple" niche to watch while eating or when we don't feel like something more serious. Avalyn doesn't normally like anime in general for that purpose since she's not as practiced as switching back and forth between looking at the food on her plate and reading the subtitles. However since i got started with Dragon Ball Z on the Cartoon Network i'm actually used to the dub for this one. 

However i made the decision to turn the subtitles on anyway, just to see the difference in how they're presented. Most of the time those differences are usually just cosmetic, but sometimes they're not.

We're near the end of season one now, they've wrapped up the tournament but there's still one disk left with a couple episodes, and it's been very interesting to see all the differences, as well as the gradual introduction of all the things i expect.

Commentary, with spoilers i suppose, for a 25+ year old anime:

I knew that the Japanese have different views on nudity than Americans, but there's still more full frontal male nudity than i was really expecting in a children's show. I'm not really fond of the fart jokes that are popular in some shows and, with the exception of one episode in particular, Dragon Ball mostly omits those. However i'm not really that big on urination jokes as a replacement.

I knew from Dragon Ball Z that Master Roshi has a reputation as a pervert, but, um, wow. He's definitely far past simple "pervert" in Dragon Ball and full on into sexual harassment, something else i wasn't really expecting for a children's show. So far this is the thing where we've noticed the biggest discrepancy between the dub and the sub. The dub frequently tones down Master Roshi, for example when he's trying to coerce Bulma into giving him "pafu-pafu" (i.e. let him rub his face on her breasts) the dub keeps saying he's asking her to go on a walk with him.

There's a fair bit of arbitrary skepticism in the show, at least at the beginning. Bulma is very surprised to discover Goku's tail and at first thinks it's a fake. Given the number of anthropomorphic animals and non-anthropomorphic but still sapient creatures they encounter, all of which she handles without batting an eye, it seems weird that she's so thrown by a tail.

Then later when they see Goku transform for the first time Oolong asks if he's some kind of alien or what. Now admittedly Goku's transformation is a bit more extreme than the others we've seen so far, but Oolong is a pig who can transform into anything he wants, who is friends (sorta) with a cat(?) that can transform into anything it wants, and they helped fight against a rabbit that could transform anything it wanted into carrots. Jumping to the "aliens" conclusion just because Goku has demonstrated the ability to undergo a single transformation seems a bit extreme. (Of course it was probably just intended as foreshadowing and/or a joke for those familiar with the series, depending on where the manga was at the point they were animating this episode.)

About halfway through the first season we started encountering "Previously on Dragon Ball". Not in every episode and not quite as bad as i remember Dragon Ball Z getting at times, but they have worked their way up to about 45 seconds in some cases.

And it was during the World Tournament that they first started breaking a single fight into multiple episodes. Just one fight in this case, but they did manage to spread it over three episodes.

And finally, given how frequently the Dragon Balls get used later on in the series, and given what they're usually used to do, it's very amusing that the whole first half of the first season was devoted to collecting them. And that the goal of nominally good guys was either to wish for a boyfriend or to get along better with girls. Though i've got to say that once the Dragon Balls were finally collected, i had no idea it was possible to interrupt the dragon in that fashion! Seems kind of unfair really.

Cross-posted from:
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Donaithnen Keir

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Monday reading for Expendable, Parts 11 and 12! (I'm surprised i'm the one doing this since i was hella busy with a malfunctioning computer earlier today and couldn't post then.)

Yeah, there are a lot of things packaged in factories that can never be returned to their original container once opened, but you'd think she could have found a sack or something similar in Oar's city to stuff the sleeping bag in.

The candle that burns twice as bright... doesn't actually last half as long, but does kind of turn into a smoldering mess after awhile.

How does Festina know what passenger pigeons look like? Yes, she studied zoology at the Academy, but she also made a point earlier that they didn't learn a lot about Earth life.

Very "convenient" of Festina not to have made the connection with the origin of New Earth until now. If it had been mentioned earlier in the book that it was a (partial) duplicate of Old Earth then the readers would have jumped to that conclusion immediately. I feel like this was a bit of cheating on the author's part, but whatever.

Creating entire planets to order may be small potatoes compared to the ability to read the mind of every "sentient" being in the galaxy and invisibly kill them on demand, but it sure seems a lot more impressive!

I'm a bit confused about why she's desperate to prove her theory about the planet duplication right now. And how likely are you to find fossils in the first place you look anyways? (Clearly i've never gone fossil hunting.)

So Festina doesn't manage to do enough damage to the glass shark to stop it, but does do enough damage to almost get herself killed when it captures her. It would have been ironic if she'd managed to kill herself that way i guess?

And she "discovers" another, even larger glass city. And also Phylar. Unsurprisingly in a book this quick and sparse in characters pretty much every named character is "coincidentally" more relevant than you might think at first.

And in another coincidence, we once again break in suspense and have to wait until Wednesday (Parts 13 and 14) to find out why Phylar is here and what he's been up to.
Laura Parkinson's profile photo
Sorry, I'm behind now... I guess I'm taking a bit of a breather since someone else is willing to lead the discussions. :p Just got caught up on this section, and will probably read the next later today. Not sure if I'll get around to posting or not, although I really should try to if someone else doesn't cough puppy dog eyes

Good point about the passenger pigeons. I mean, I live on Earth (last I checked) and have always loved animals and tended to know more about them than most people, and I wouldn't know a passenger pigeon if it bit me.

And yeah, the book keeps stretching the whole "suspension of disbelief" thing even further with each chapter, pretty much.

Also, I think I meant to mention last time and forgot: You'd also think that with all the technology they have at their disposal, they'd figure out a way to emergency-remove the jumpsuits that did NOT involve them being in so many tiny pieces. (Or maybe at least let them keep some, y'know, functional clothing on under them.)
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Donaithnen Keir

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After a couple failed attempts to get in on the presale, i did manage to pick up some tickets for the Rush concert on friday. I decided to go for the 2nd to last concert in Irvine on thursday, rather than the last concert in LA on saturday. (Although Avalyn suggested that if we really enjoy it, LA is close enough that we could just swing by and try picking up a couple tickets at the LA one.)

So it seems that Ticketmaster, or perhaps more accurately "Live Nation", has a new ticket buying system. You can now resell unwanted tickets through their site, and when you try to buy tickets for a concert you have the option to select between original tickets (or whatever you want to call them) or second-hand tickets. This has both significant downsides and upsides.

The downside is that there is almost zero reason for people not to pick up a ticket on pre-order, at least for something popular, because you can almost certainly resell it later, possibly for a significant profit. I was on the site right at the dot and for the first minute or so load was so heavy that they couldn't find me any results. However after that the only tickets available as "fresh" were out at the end of the third tier or in the lawn. However there were a ton of tickets available for resale from just about every part of the amphitheater.

There are four areas to this amphitheatre, the "Orchestra" in front, next the "Lodge", then the "Terrace". There's also a "Pit" that's right in front of the stage, but i've never seen any tickets available for there. I'm not sure if they sell out super early and are never resold, or if they're not put up for general sale, or what.

(If you go to the site for the tickets you can see the layout and the current prices, where they're still available:

It looks like now you can just mouse over the sections and see what's available for what price, but right after they went on sale it was only showing me a list of available tickets. (I'm not sure if they disabled the map during that period or if it just defaulted to that view instead of the map view like it does now and i didn't see the other options.)

The prices for the Orchestra started out at at least $300 per seat (the cheapest one now is $628) while the Lodge seats had a low end of about $140, or maybe a little less. On the plus side they made it easy to restrict your view to just the Orchestra or just the Lodge or just the Terrace. On the minus side there was no to restrict it to just certain sections within a level. You could sort the sections within a level, but you couldn't sort by row.

All this meant that trying to find seats that were in one of the middle Lodges (but probably not the center Lodge, because those seemed to be (expectedly) more expensive) and relatively close to the front (but again, not too close, because expensive) and ideally near the inside edge of the row. And during the whole time i was scrolling up and down seats kept disappearing as people bought them, so i felt this horrible sense of urgency which was preventing me from really being as thorough as i'd have liked.

There seem to be at least some upsides to this. The most obvious being that since you're going through the ticketing agency you can be sure that you're actually getting tickets. I don't know how often scalpers selling fake tickets happens in the real world, but i know it's at least a possibility. And since everyone is trying to resell in the same market you can do comparison shopping for a decent price and the resellers have some reason to keep their price gouging to a reasonable level.

It seems like there really ought to be a better way that doesn't result in everyone grabbing up the tickets as soon as possible and reselling them if necessary/desired later, but i can't really think of what that better system would be. My first thought is having a multi-day period where you could commit to buying tickets at X price and it would keep you updated with where that would place you in the stadium/theatre/whatever. You could up your bid until you were either as close as you wanted or had reached the limit of what you were willing to pay. Except of course that would then result in people hanging back at the last minute so they could snipe the best seats without driving the price up, and you'd end up with last-minute craziness instead of first-minute craziness. You could do an reserve auction system where you bid a price and then listed a price you were willing to go up to to keep your spot, but it would be difficult to work out the mechanics about that except for people who wanted to be in the very front. And with so many people bidding at once as soon as one person's reserve kicked in it could push them ahead of someone else and trigger their reserve, and cause a cascade of automatic bidding.

(And just to add insult to injury, as i was looking at the map while writing this, i noticed two open seats in the second row of the far right Lodge for $174 each (so about $40 more total than what i paid.) I was amazed that seats like that hadn't been snatched up already and i was thinking of grabbing them and trying to resell the old ones, but while i was thinking about it they disappeared. The most obvious interpretation is that they have seats being returned to the pool from time to time (instead of being resold for some reason) and if i really want good seats i need to keep checking the site on a regular basis and keep an eye out for them =P) 

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Donaithnen Keir

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I guess it's my turn to post today? (I sure hope some other people are reading that just haven't posted yet!)

February 6th: Expendable - Part 3

In general this section is almost entirely backstory for the world. How Explorers operate, how the League of Peoples works, etc.

So after contemplating some options for how to get out of having to go to Melaquin we get to the real meat of the League of Peoples series, namely the League of Peoples. And more particularly the ban on killing sentients and transporting lethal weapons.

As it's called out in the book, the aliens in charge of the League of Peoples are sufficiently advanced in the Arthur C Clarke sense. If you try to kill a sentient being, or possibly even just think about trying to kill a sentient being, the League of Peoples will come down on you like an invisible ton of bricks. The complications of having to follow the rule of the League of Peoples (it's pretty much just that one rule) come up in almost every book.

"Pick his brains fast - the crop's rotting on the vine."

And now we're combining the small mid-part breaks with stylistic changes. (Well, maybe there were stylistic changes before too, but the "The Admiral Proves His Sentience" one really stands out.)

And like 90%+ of science fiction, this book uses the word "sentient" when they really want to be using "sapient." My cat is sentient, but not sapient, and i expect she would not be policed by the League. It's become such a common shorthand for "intelligent alien" that i'm sure at this point that there are a lot of SF writers who just use it out of convenience even though they know it's not technically correct.

And we get some more details about the ban on murderous violence. And also i believe the first mention of New Earth.

Amusing that the Admiral tries to chastise someone with what seems like a made up bit of trivia, but then gets pissed at the Explorers when it turns out they actually know the answer.

We get a story about the "Greenstriders", who i swear come up sometime else in the series, but i can't remember when or how. And we learn that the people in charge of the League of Peoples, or at least in the upper echelons as far as humans are concerned, appear to be all-knowing and all-powerful, but are also kind of assholes.

So they have a plan to survive Melaquin. Go down, get injured as fast as possible, and then call for an immediate medical evacuation. We'll see how well that goes...

And Admiral Chee is a dick to mugs. (Sorry, been watching too many episodes of "Everything Wrong With" :)
Laura Parkinson's profile photoMichael Hannemann's profile photoDonaithnen Keir's profile photo
I don't think it's really spoilers to say that the limit on "non-sentient" creatures and actions is very, very real and is one of the driving forces behind a lot of the other books in the series.
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Donaithnen Keir

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Friday reading for Expendable: Part 15

"Prope and Harque might gaze dotingly on their faces; but I wouldn’t."

Is that something she actually caught them doing? Or just something she imagines them doing? (I can't recall if specifics were previously mentioned.)

The author really seems to like to use symbolism, then have the characters recognize the fact that it's melodramatic. I'm not sure if that's more lampshade hanging or trying to have his cake and eat it too.

The lark accelerates at high speeds for takeoff but the seats don't have any kind of rest or brace for your lower legs and feet? That seems like rather poor design.

"The real date was the usual thing - four hours of volunteer patrol for the Civilian Protection Office."

Is that only the "usual thing" for Explorers? Even for Explorers that sounds like a pretty crappy excuse for a traditional first date.

So i think this touches on the reason for the League having a single law whose judgement is handled arbitrarily. Even within the Technocracy there are different customs for things like going on a date, enough so that it's impossible (or at least infeasible) to write up a comprehensive list of all of them.

If just dating customs are that varied between cultures within a single-species nation spread across a limited number of planets how are you supposed to regulate interactions between multiple species spread across an entire galaxy? What one species considers reasonable conduct another might find atrocious. So you'd need a legislature writing laws, and then writing exceptions to those laws for various species, and then you'd need courts to handle people who broke those laws, and then you'd have lawyers trying to finagle clients out of trouble based on loopholes and technicalities. So pretty much all the problems our current legal system suffers from except exponentially worse because of all the different species and cultures involved.

So instead the League has the one rule and executes it literally and arbitrarily with no chance for trial or appeal. As mentioned in the previous comments it certainly does not force everyone to be nice to each other and doesn't prevent people, or even entire governments, from being total assholes. But it does prevent outright war as well as some of the more heinous abuses that have been fairly common in our own history.

But anyways, back to the story. If she's done "fantasy walks" before, did the program not translate her birthmark onto her avatar in those previous cases? Or did she just not notice it?

If the lark has vertical landing capability then why was the takeoff so violent?

"He was only eighty, but appeared twice that age."

He looks like he's 160? Does that mean a 160 year old on YouthBooth looks like a "normal" 80 year old? Or that people can live to 160 with just regular Technocracy medical care and look like a "normal" person at 80 when they do? Or just that Festina is so used to a culture that has access to YouthBoost that she has no idea how regular aging works? Or is she just exaggerating for effect?

One would think the bandage material would work on Jelca too. Sure it wouldn't give him hair, but it ought to make him look like he just had a shaved head. Are the sores so adverse to being covered up that they can defeat even League medical technology? Or did Phylar not like Jelca as much as he apparently likes Festina and never told him about the skin while he was there?

Ouch! Yeah she's see-through, but Jelca didn't recognize Oar until after exchanging several sentences with her? How many other English-speaking natives has he encountered besides Oar and Eel?

And Jelca says he has no idea where Eel is. Uh oh :(

I was going to ask why such a large city didn't still have a native population, but i guess Festina is the only one who doesn't make a habit out of pissing off the natives. Well, her and Phylar i guess.

Apparently Jelca's original problem was (at least partly) not suffering from Stockholm syndrome enough =P

Which might have been understandable and we might even have been able to sympathize with him, if he didn't follow it up almost immediately by taking advantage (in the best possible interpretation) of Oar and Eel.

And double uh oh :( But it looks like we'll have to wait until the next part to get to the bottom of this =/

It's just single Parts from here on out, so on monday we'll be covering Part 16!
Laura Parkinson's profile photoDonaithnen Keir's profile photo
Good point about Jelca still being in his suit when he encountered Phylar!

"And that would also mean, wouldn't it, that if those suppositions are true, Jelca also wouldn't be able to leave the planet?"

If true, then very yes! At least assuming of course that Eel was sentient, but we have very little reason not to think so at this point.
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Donaithnen Keir

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Men Without Hats - Safety Dance, Censored

I am so happy that someone has already done this, even if the video quality is really crappy. Because once i'd thought of it if i hadn't found it on the net i would have had to try and do it myself. And i would have done an even worse job :) 

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Donaithnen Keir

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We went to see Jupiter Ascending on saturday. We'd heard that it had a lot of bad reviews. We even read the first couple paragraphs of this one,
"Jupiter Ascending Is The Worst Movie Ever Go See It Immediately":
(Thanks +Michael Hannemann)

So we didn't go into it expecting greatness from the plot department, and thus we were able to enjoy the pretty and the fun and the action quite a lot. (And i really really really want flying rollerblades. Though i'd probably mange to kill myself inside of a week if i actually got ahold of some =)

So acknowledging that for a movie like this the plot doesn't actually matter, here are the questions that did come to mind and then were promptly ignored:

Spoilers, of course!

How did they know that the queen had been reborn?

How did they know that she was on Earth? (Do they do routine screenings for that kind of thing on all farm planets?)

How did they know that she had been reborn and was on Earth but not have a specific idea of who or where she was?

We know that werewolf guy was originally hired by "I want to marry my mother" guy, but why was the trio of mercenaries there? They must not have been hired by "I want to marry my mother" since they were in conflict, and they must not have been hired by "I want to be friends with my mother" girl, because that's who they went to when they changed their plans. And if they were working for "I want to murder my mother" guy then it seems a bit risky to cross him, and it seems likely he would have been willing to pay just as much for her anyways. Were they just hanging out on Earth for totally unrelated reasons?

What caused werewolf guy to go berserk in the past and attack a member of the... whatever they were called. And is that group different from the royal group that princess girl is a part of?

Are the Abraxis(?) actual royalty? Or just "we're so rich that no one disagrees with us when we tell them to call us majesty?" Because i'm pretty sure the Queen of England doesn't have to go wait in line in the English version of the DMV. I understand why they put that part in, because it's amusing, but it makes no sense if the Abraxis have an actual role in the government?

And speaking of which, yes it was amusing but in reality no real nation could operate with a bureaucracy like that. (Especially a nation that claims that time is the most important commodity of all!)

If the Abraxis weren't the heads of government (whether originally by conquest or election) are they descended from the people who originally discovered the life extension process instead? Or were they just savvy business people who cornered the market on the life juice? Actually, do they even have a monopoly? It wasn't clear if the competitors that "i want to murder my mother" wanted to outdo were just the other members of his family or if there are other cartels out there.

What is up with the starship (the Aegis?) which seemed loyal to the princess? Are they part of the Legionaires or whatever they were called? Are they part of the official military of the government (if so, see above questions about why the government was being so obstinate) or are they part of a private army? If so why is that ship so loyal to princess instead of to the other members of the royal family? If it was part of the old queen's royal guard then how have they been getting by since her death? The inheritance the queen set aside was actually part of "i want to murder my mother"'s holdings, so presumably they weren't getting paid out of dividends off of that.

They said it takes 100 people to make one unit of life juice. The original plan was to harvest Earth in about a century. What population were they expecting at that point? About 10 billion? 10 billion / 100 = 100 million units. They said that seeded the earth about 100,000 years ago. Avalyn was guessing that "I want to be friends with my mother" looked mid 50s to 60s before her bath. Let's assume very good (non-juicy) medical care and that she was actually physically 70, and the bath regressed her to 20. So that's 50 years per treatment. Let's also assume that it only takes one unit of life juice per treatment. So during the 100,000 year period Earth was being farmed it would take 2,000 units of life juice to keep one person alive. So the 100 million units at the regular harvest time would be enough for 50,000 people if you wanted a steady state.

Of course given how Capitalist their system seems it's likely that a lot fewer than 50,000 people manage to keep themselves in constant supply. More likely there's a much smaller number that (so far) have managed to stay immortal and a much larger number who manage to get a couple doses and live for a few centuries or even a couple millenia but then eventually fall off the treadmill.

Speaking of life juice, are we supposed to assume that you're able to squeeze less out of an old person than a young person? If so then is the "100 people per unit" number an average? Or will the total amount from 10 billion people be significantly less than 100 million due to all the old people contaminating the pool? (And do kids give more life juice, because they're so young, or less, because they're so small?) If you can actually get the same amount of life juice from an old person as a young then they're definitely going about this the wrong way. Just set up "death with dignity" booths on all the farm planets and pay people to come in and end their lives early. You might not be able to convince/coerce 100% of the population, but at least it would be a renewable (over a period of less than 100k years) resource that way. And having a steady trickle instead of huge boom/bust cycles might actually help profit margins.

Also, they mentioned that something went wrong when they tried to use cloning instead of harvesting, but they rushed through the (very short) explanation, and i'd really like to hear more about that.)

But in any case, presumably princess girl has decided she's not going to stop the life juice extraction process on anywhere other than Earth, judging by the fact that the movie ends with her going on a flying date with werewolf boy, rather than fleeing in terror from assassins. One wonders if she's going to stick with that decision (one way or the other) and if she'll decide that regardless of whether or not she keeps Earth safe, maybe as she gets on in life she'll need a little of that juice herself?

And i've got to agree with the review. What's up with the bees? Who decided to do that and why? (I think i mean the question both from the perspective of the writing of the movie and in regards to the internal logic.) Do all the farm planets have bees or bee-like things? But even if so, again, why would you bother?

I'm sure i had more questions at one point or another, but those are the ones i can come up with right now.

But also, why did werewolf guy never actually turn into a wolf? Okay, this isn't actually a problem with the plot, but both Avalyn and i were expecting him to do it at some point, just cause. And i've got to say, werewolf guy was a very by the numbers paranormal romance guy! It's like the Wachowskis consulted a checklist!

Part dog/wolf, part angel, tough manly ex-soldier and ((flying) roller) skater-dude from a lower class and with a tragic backstory and was created with a need to bond with his newly found one true "pack". What "i just found out i'm an alien space princess in a dystopian world" wouldn't fall for that?

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Michael Hannemann's profile photoAndrew Schoonmaker's profile photo
(spoilers, obviously...)

As far as I can tell the bureaucracy part was there pretty much entirely because they had a Terry Gilliam cameo lined up and that was the best use of it.

I took the Abrasaxes to be nobility (possibly minor, given a whole universe and that one of them only had a few planets in his holdings), rather than universe-ruling royalty.  It wasn't clear that even at the end of the movie Jupiter actually inherited much of anything other than Earth, necessarily.  The thing with the bees does suggest that somebody might be a little confused about this point, though (although there's more than one queen bee in the world, so....).  If you assume some kind of weird metaphysical resonance effect is what makes the bees react like that, it provides a possible explanation for how they might know that the queen was reincarnated at a distance (since at least one of the factions probably had retired agents there).

The Aegis seemed more like a police force.  Why they were so doggedly loyal to Jupiter's cause is unclear, other than being very Lawful Good.
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Donaithnen Keir

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Friday the 13th Reading! Expendable, Parts 9 + 10:

Okay, i understand that she may not feel like stripping Yarrun and Chee completely, however I'm not sure why she didn't grab their belt pouches before she interred/sank them. Clearly having some more glue would have been useful, and who knows what else it will turn out she might need extra of?

Since i originally read the second book in the series first, the first time i got to the part about the scalpel there was a big sad "Oohhhhhh!" :(

If Oar's ancestors are able to absorb enough water from the air to survive it's must either be like Florida in there or they're much more efficient about water usage than humans. (I'd believe either option, but given that Festina didn't say anything about the humidity i'm guessing it's the second option.)

"If you had left me in the lake, Festina, I would have lived and lived…under the water, too weak to move, but still alive."

How would that work without oxygen? I guess she could draw a limited amount directly from the water. Maybe that would be enough if she entered some kind of hibernation state. But presumably if she was deep enough underwater that no light could reach her (not very likely in a lake admittedly) then eventually she would starve to death. (Though with the aforementioned hibernation that might take years or decades... or possibly centuries, i'm not sure about the actual limits on hibernation in vertebrates.)

So there is a reason why Festina ended up near the same place as Jelca arrived. The area was already a likely landing spot (since Jelca and co. decided to land there) and then Jelca unintentionally motivated Oar into making it even more tempting. It's still a bit of a coincidence, but not nearly as if her landing spot had been selected truly randomly.

Well now several little things from earlier in the book are explained. We know why Chee apologized to Festina for not telling her all the things she needed to know, and why he dropped the comment about coming back from Melaquin again, and why he seemed so familiar with Explorer classes and routines.

Of course that now means that he would be very culpable in Yarrun's death if not for the bit about his memory (supposedly) being on the fritz.

And now we also know why Seele was obsessed with Festina.

And after an understandable pause to have a nervous breakdown Festina is ready to head out to find the spaceport(?) that Chee and Seele used to escape from Melaquin, in the hope that there's still something there she can use. Or at least other Explorers.

And Festina proves she's nicer than Jelca by inviting Oar along on the journey. (Though from the sounds of it "being nicer than Jelca" is pretty faint praise.)

And next reading is parts 11 & 12 on monday the 16th.
John Novak's profile photoDonaithnen Keir's profile photoMichael Hannemann's profile photoLaura Parkinson's profile photo
Now I had to catch up... since I saw you go ahead and post I was like "okay, I don't have to rush and read it to make a post now..." and so I fiddled around with it until today. XD

Now I'm curious about that scalpel. >_>

Anyhow, I'll admit I wondered about whether Oar and her people are transparent because of being adapted for water, like jellyfish, but didn't say anything. I should have!

I still find it a stretch (like much else in the book) that they can be completely transparent. Even down to, say, the color of their blood. Or whatever they eat, since the world around them is full of color (and their food presumably comes at some point, even very indirectly, from the other organic matter.)

And I DID wonder about Chee and his familiarity with Melaquin. Grumble grumble non-disclosure grumble. I wonder if they really did screw over everyone and more or less betray the Explorers in general, or if there are some other circumstances.

I didn't much like Oar coming into this section, but you just can't help but feel sorry for her after it, even if she'd still probably be a pain to actually have to live with.

And now I'm wondering if the "sea" that Chee supposedly was saying was actually "Seele," as he saw Festina over him, and his memory was wandering (possibly back in time)...
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Donaithnen Keir

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I was running a little behind yesterday, so i guess instead of Throwback Thursday it's Final Fantasy Friday? :)

During high school i played "Final Fantasy 2" (multiple times.) My first year in college i played "Final Fantasy 3". Then around that time i found out through the magic of that new-fangled internet thing that "FF2" and "FF3" were actually FF4 and FF6, and there were three Final Fantasy games that had never been released in the US.

When i read up about it i was amazed to discover that there was a modern Final Fantasy game that let you pick your classes like back in the first Final Fantasy. In fact not only just pick your classes, but change them! And there were over a dozen different classes to pick from!

FF4 and FF6 were great and all, but this seemed like something amazing that i'd missed out on. Unfortunately the import scene wasn't really that easy to get into back then, and emulators were far in the future, so i just figured i was SOL. But than a professor at my college announced that he was going on a trip to Japan and asked if there was anything anyone wanted picked up while he was there. So i went ahead and told him that if he could find a copy of FF5 that would be awesome!

He managed to come through and i think it was either late 95 or sometime in 96 (or maybe early 97) when we got a chance to play it. Once nice thing about the SNES was that the "region locking" consisted of some plastic tabs in the US version of the console that slid into little notches cut into the carts for US games, which were lacking in the Japanese versions. But if you were moderately careful you could remove the tabs from your SNES and then japanese games would play just fine!

KirinnKirinn was also interested in the game, so although i did most of the driving he watched over my should almost the entire time. We also had a friend who knew a moderate amount Japanese and was willing to help us out with the translation. (Kirinn knew a little then, but i knew practically none.) With that plus some help from an online FAQ (i'm not sure if we actually knew about GameFAQs at that point or got it off some other site. Or via Usenet. Certainly wasn't gopher at that point though.)

It took us quite awhile (it felt like months, but it may only have been weeks) but we eventually worked our way through it.

To this day it remains one of my favorite Final Fantasy games. Why?

It was right in the middle of the golden age of Final Fantasy (IMHO), the SNES era. Great (2D) graphics and great video game style music from Nobuo Uematsu.
It was also the last Final Fantasy game from that era that i got to play.
I discovered it on the internet as a kind of secret (for Americans at least.)
For awhile i didn't think i'd ever be able to play it, and it required more than the usual amount of effort to acquire it.
It required more than the usual amount of effort to play it, given the language barrier.
Playing it was a group effort with friends.
The Job system was amazing, for most of the game you were constantly discovering new jobs and wanting to try them out.
And more importantly after that you wanted to master the jobs so you could combine skills with other classes, making it great for completionists.
And then when i got play Final Fantasy Tactics i recognized the same Job system again, which created a link in my mind between two great experiences with two great games.

And it also helps that there are a lot of challenges you can do with the game because of the Job system. Every year there is a "Four Job Fiesta" event where you can have a bot pick out four jobs, one from each of the four crystals, and those are the only Jobs you're allowed to use. (I signed up for the event a year and a half or two years ago, but only got about halfway through the game. You may or may not be able to identify the part where i left off below =)

Times played: 1 (Complete) 2-3 (Incomplete)
First played: 1996 +/- 6 months?
Last completed: 1996 or 1997?
Last seen: Got partway through the Four Job Fiesta in... 2013?

Spoilers below!

Butz (or Bartz, depending on the translation) - Son of a space alien.
Boko (or Boco, depending on the translation) - a big bird, who is yellow.
Rena (or Lena, depending on the translation) - Dragon princess
Garuf (or Galuf, depending on the translation) - Old guy with amnesia
Faris (or Faris, depending on the translation) - Sexy pirate chief
Girl - Replacement for Garuf. Also his... granddaughter?
Gilgamesh - Well equipped asshole
Cid - Librarian
Werewolf guy - A guy who is a werewolf. Or something.
Exdeath - A tree. That is evil. (If the "death" part of his name didn't give that away.)

• You start with a pretty good opening movie, showing...
Butz is a wanderer who's wandering about with his chocobo Boko 
Rena is wishing her father well as he departs for the wind shrine on a... Ryu? Dragon thing anyways, to go see what's wrong with the wind (which has been acting up or something.)
Faris is hanging out on a ship
Garuf (or Galuf) is in an unidentified location, talking about something or other which may or may not be foreshadow or ominous
Then you see something falling from the sky and there's a big crash. I believe it is at this point that the wind actually dies, and Rena is consequently worried about her father and goes to investigate. Butz is curious and goes to investigate.

• You start controlling Butz and go to the meteor. There you find Rena, get introduced, and then the two of you find Galuf who is uncoscious and suffering from amnesia when he wakes up.
• I believe there is some question about whether or not you're all going to stick together or whether Butz is going to ditch these losers and continue his solitary wandering, but of course circumstances, and Butz's good heart, consipire to keep them toegher.
• You have to run through a canyon while there's an earthquake going on, and fight some goblins, before getting to a cave.
• While traversing the cave you find a spyhole that lets you see a pirate ship docking in a hidden cave harbor. You are amazed, because the ship is moving even though the wind is dead.
• You sneak into the cave and try to steal the ship, but get caught. Faris is going to throw you in the brig or something, but sees the pendant that Rena is carrying and decides to help you out instead.
• In the morning(?) the ship sets sail, at which point you find out that it's not actually sailing, it's being pulled/carried by a cute sea dragon whose name i can't remember. (It's not just "Hydra" is it?)
• You take the boat to the Wind Shrine, where you discover some monks and some people from the castle in the bottom floor, who say that the king went up to the top floor and then crazy stuff started happening.
• You climb up the tower and fight some monster. After you defeat it the wind crystal shatters and i believe you get a teary goodbye with Lena's dad, although it's possible he was already dead when you got there, not sure.
• Then you get to grab all the broken pieces of crystal, and now you can get a Job! Yay!
• You are now on a mission to save the other crystals, but first you have to find them.
• At some point you stop at an inn. I believe you can do this optionally before or after the wind shrine. When you do you get a cutscene in which Butz and Galuf sneak a peek at Faris while she's changing and discover that she's a she! Of course if you don't pay much attention it's entirely possible to miss the fact that they ever thought she was a guy in the first place.
• Step one, go through the sea gate thing that links the little tiny sea you're in to a larger ocean.
• Get stuck in the ship graveyard and fight your way through, fighting some kind of boss at the end.
• I think this is the point where Hydra gets sucked into a whirlpool? :(
• Since you need some form of transporation now you go in search of Lena's dad's dragon thing. It's injured and you have to go climb a mountain to get some herb to heal it. But once that's done you have (very limited) flying transportation.
• I believe your next stop is the steampunk city with the fire crystal? "Coincidentally" a meteor just crashed near there too, and you discover you're able to teleport from one meteor to another.
• Once again you reach the crystal just in time for it to explode. Right before that happens you see a mysterious wolf-man person doing something or other that may or may not seem suspicious.
• After which you have a timed escape to get out of the castle before it burns down. (Did they have one of these in FF4? Because it definitely showed up in other FF games after 5.)
• After that i think you get a steam ship (so you can sail about despite the lack of wind.)
• Sooner or later you end up at the great library, where you meet Cid. He's less of an inventor in this one and more of a scholar, though that does includes knowledge of ancient devices like, airships. (Spoiler! ;)
• Actually i believe when you show up either Cid or his... nephew(?) named... Mid(?) is trapped in a magic book and you have to go in and rescue them.
• I'm not sure which crystal you go after next, earth or water. I believe earth is in a town in a deserty area the airship can't land in, behind a deserty pass through some mountains?
• And i don't remember anything at all about where the water crystal is.
• Somewhere in the process of this you need to go get the airship. Which is then docked in an underground base, presuambly near the Library, where Cid and Mid do maintenance for you.
• And as you're going through all this Galuf is gradually getting bits of his memories back. I forget at which point it becomes totally clear.
• I forget if it's now or in the second half, but at some point you get to go visit Butz's childhood home and get a few flashbacks.
• But in any case you eventually discover that once upon a time there was a big bad guy, but four heroes arose to fight it, and as part of the process of defeating him the split the world across two dimensions. (Or it was two dimensions to start with, and they banished him from one to the other? Or it was two worlds originally but then was joined briefly and then seperated again? I'm very vague on the details of this.)
• In the process of trying to stop something or other you get sucked into a gate between worlds. This is a little similar to the underworld in FF4, an entirely new world map that you're stuck in for awhile.
• I believe either immediately or very shortly after you cross into this new world you get captured and imprisoned in the castle of Exdeath.
• During the process of escaping you have to cross a Big Bridge. On which you a Battle. With Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was the first recurring joke boss in Final Fantasy as far as i'm aware. He's not quite as humorous as Ultros, but he does have the benefit of carrying around some very nice equipment, the Genji Gear. If you're fast enough and lucky enough you can steal one or two items from the set each time you fights him. I don't think this is the first fight with him, but it is definitely the most iconic, and "Battle on the Big Bridge" is Gilgamesh's semi-official theme song, and it is a very excelent battle song. ( or
• You escape from the castle (and Gilgamesh) and get to explore this new world.
• At some point you get to Galuf's home. At some point he recovers enough from his amnesia to remember that he was one of the original Four Warriors and came from this world in a meteor to try and stop Exdeath, but i don't remember when exactly the relevation happens. Presumably this is where you meet his... granddaughter?
• After wandering around some more you meet the Werewolf guy who you first encountered in the fire crystal castle, and discover that he was also one of the Four Warriors.
• And again i can't remember if it was before, after, or during this whole sequence that you discover that Butz's dad was also one of the Four Warriors.
• You have to go do a mini-quest in some kind of fairly land, but i forget why.
• And after having many adventures that mostly don't stick out in my mind, there's some kind of climactic event. There may be a boss battle involved. Maybe with Exdeath? But in any case whatever the good guys intended to do it doesn't work out as planed, because the two worlds end up getting mooshed together.
• This is (again, i believe) the first time in Final Fantasy where the world map undergoes a major and permenant change "halfway" through the game. I can only think of one and a half other times that the same mechanic got used, but it is rather epic.
• And i believe it is during this climactic whatever it is that Galuf dies :( Thankfully his granddaughter decides to come to your aid and fill that empty fourth spot in your party roster! Even more thankfully it seems that she also learned all the exact same Jobs that Galuf had! What a coincidence! This does mean that your party now consists of one guy and three girls. I'm pretty sure there hasn't been any other (story based) Final Fantasy game where your party has been 75% female. Or even 60% female if you want to combine the pre and post-Galuf death statistics.
• At this point, uh, you wander around the new combined world a lot? I think you have to rediscover a new means of transporation and revist a lot of places you visited before and see how they're dealing with the new circumstnaces.
• The only one of particular note is Rena's castle. If you haven't picked it up from the blatant hints before i believe at this point they state outright that Faris is Rena's long lost sister.
• At some point you have the optional quest to go into an underwater tower(?) and fight Gogo and learn the "Mime" Job. I'm not sure if this happens before or after the cataclysm, or if you have the option to do it in both worlds. But in any case this is the introduction of Gogo, though i don't think he has a significant role in any other games besides FF6.
• Eventually you go to the final dungeon, which is... somewhere?
• And then you fight Exdeath. Who is a tree. I don't think he was a tree earlier in the game, but for some reason he is a tree here.
• When you win the battle you get one of the best ending cutscenes of any Final Fantasy game. I usaully think of it as FF6 having the better ending music and FF5 having the best ending story. Notably the ending varies slightly based on who survived the final battle. (FF6 expanded on that idea, but i can't recall any other Final Fantasy games that have done anything like that.)

Other notes:

In this game one of the jobs is Bard, and unlike in FF4 being a Bard is actually moderately useful. Although to unlock one of the best skills you have to find and play every piano in the world. There are something like 8 of them total. When you play the first one you sound like crap, but you gradually progress and when you get to the 8th one you can actually play real music and are rewarded with the Bard song. It's not really that important overall, but it's a cute little sidequest.

And even more so than in FF4, you have to collect a lot of the Summoner Spells by finding and defeating specific monsters, often in very particular circumstances in out of the way places.

I believe FF5 is also the first introduction of the Blue Mage class. Blue Mages are a little like Summoners in that they use the magic of monsters, but instead of defeating monsters in order to be able to summon them, you need to have the monsters use their abilities on you so you can duplicate them. Unsurprisingly a lot of the best spells involve monsters that are hard to find, or that don't normally use that ability, or that normally use the ability on themselves instead of you. But if you go through the trouble of collecting them all Blue Mages can be pretty stompy. 

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