Monday, June 30, 2014

"How do you say 'Get the F*$# out of the way!' in Chinese?" (Transformers: Age of Extinction)

Oh, wow. Where to begin with Michael Bay's fourth installment of the Transformers franchise. I think he should have passed on it and let someone fresh take over. Jon Favreau maybe?

The good points: Autobots still fight the good fight, and giant robots fighting. Throw in some more "organic" aliens, and that's all cool.

And below be spoilers!

So years after T:DofM, the Battle of Chicago is still fresh, and plenty of political "See Something - Say Something" efforts are in action. Rewards, para-military hunting parties, etc. to round up the Transformers.

Basically, the CIA is using a inter-galactic bounty hunter, Lockdown, to hunt Autobots and Decepticons. Lockdown wants Optimus for he own reasons- something to do with "the Creators."

Meanwhile, back at the uber-techy KSI (headed up by Stanley Tucci- brill!), we find out that KSI has been able to create new Transformers from metal found on Earth and by melting destroyed Transformers. They call this metal "transformium" or something else worthy of groans. I guarantee Jim Jannard is laughing at that one.

Lockdown just muddies the story. He sole purpose is to introduce a bigger, badder "villain" in the Creators and bring about the Dinobots. Which could have been done in any number of ways.

I think the better story would have been to have the CIA/KSI develop the new Transformers from captured Decepticons. Then, under testing, Galvatron escapes with his new minions, and the Autobots need to find and fight them. To save Earth, or something.

During (or after, depending upon time) the fight, it is revealed that Optimus is being hunted by the Creators, and Lockdown appears, captures Optimus and takes him away. Roll credits. End credits scene is Lockdown flying in space, with Optimus hanging upside down behind him. Lockdown communicates with his employer about the success.

Things that really broke the escapism:
First fight with Lockdown and Optimus. You never saw it begin. Optimus driving off, cut to the "rally" car driving through old industrial site, then you see Optimus and Lockdown climbing a building. Uh, what?!

Michael Bay's fascination with females in white, that stay white no matter if they're in the desert, Cybertronian ship, or wherever.

Working on prototypes, but then finding in the Arctic the "transformium"-encased T-Rex. You would think they'd lead off with the discovery, then create the prototypes from that material. It just doesn't help with the story flow.

Overall, giant robots that fight is awesome. Seeing childhood toys on the big screen is awesome. Trying to create deep, intricate stories from a cartoon and toyline? Meh. Might as well try to make the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aliens instead of mutants. Oh, wait...

Friday, June 27, 2014

"You an American?" "No, I'm from Kentucky!" (Edge of Tomorrow)

The biggest issue with the Internet is the assumption of anonymity. I think it's a cultural and generational issue that will not be considered an issue in twenty years (and not in a good way).

This is what's wrong with it.

People know they're not alone online, but the interaction is still one-sided. Interacting with people online takes a bit more effort to engage, in contrast to simply talking to someone in real life (depending upon the person, that could take an extraordinary effort). To begin or end a conversation, if you will, online only requires one to access a computer, or step away from one. Conversing requires finding the desired forum, topic, and people. And then you type. After contributing (positively or negatively), you have to wait for a response, which isn't always immediate. And then you have problems with composition and comprehension, which creates a whole dynamic of communication that devolves rather quickly. This is the failure in the structure of the Internet. People can't communicate effectively. And won't, until our global education level rises up.

But the failings of the structure are only brought about because the underlying myth that things on the Internet aren't real because the perceived anonymity. There's no direct reaction to something you do or say online from people. You get words on the screen. Sometimes you get hilarious pictures as a response.

An analogy is conversing on the Internet is like singing in your car. Most of the time, no one hears or sees you do it. But those times they do...
From Hyperbole and A Half. Go Allie Brosh!
Or maybe that's just the reaction from Introverts. But the point is that we don't expect to have anyone see or hear us, thus a reaction by a real person. Posting to the Internet is very similar. We're shouting to the cloud, not really wanting anyone to answer. When they do, two things happen. You get affirmation, or you get rebuked and you do your damnest to rain down acid and fireballs from the heavens in the form of defensive posts, rants, and ramblings. When that fails to appease your voice that says you're always right, you resort to insults.

Your brain tells you you're on an online forum. That you're interacting with real people. But without a personal presence, human instinct and thousands of years of interaction know it's just not true. That's why people just turn into complete idiots online. You're not just shouting at the cloud, you're shouting into a tape recorder that saves your blabbering, keeps for posterity so your parents, friends, acquaintances, little Johnny down the block, FBI, NSA, and media all can experience your Great Idiocy.

But we're never going to correct this. Generations that come later will gladly overshare or negatively react. Because they'll be raised in it. I suspect it might infiltrate into real conversations and interactions, and that's when we're going to have problems.

If you're one of those people that don't care what you write or share online, this is about you.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Baseball Statistics and Gunshows

The below image got me thinking about the stats. Notice the MDA is employing the baseball method of statistics- With runners in scoring position in the 7th inning with 2 strikes and stadium capacity at 34% less than full with 3,000 gallons of beer sold that night, the batter hits a homerun (rolling eyes go here).

So I looked at the overall stats. Homicides and guns as the weapon. Pulling data from Wiki, FBI, and, I started comparing the numbers.

Sixteen states have required checks for handguns and/or all firearms at purchased at gunshows. Those states are: CA, CO, CT, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, MI, NC, NE, NJ, NY, OR, PA, and RI. And let's not leave out our bastion of freedom, our central government: DC (sarcasm font needed).

Pulling the by-state data, collectively these 16 states and DC accounted for 6,368 homicides in 2010, with 4,324 using firearms. Compared to the US totals for 2010, that's 49.8% and 48.8%, respectively.

These states are (mostly) our nation's most densely-populated states (NJ, RI, MA, CT, MD are 1-5). One-third of our states account for almost half of the homicides in our country. While correlation doesn't mean causation, one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to see the "gunshow loophole" isn't really a loophole.

Copied from MDA-WA's Facebook's page:

Here's my version: