Star Trek: Discovery just kinda sucks

Sep. 25th, 2017 12:53 pm
[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

Judging by the enthusiastic reactions I’m seeing online, my opinion of Star Trek: Discovery is not going to be a popular one. I didn’t like it. Didn’t like it at all.

I don’t think these are spoilers, but just in case, it’s going below the fold.

Complaint #1: The Klingons were awful. Once again, they’ve unnecessarily redesigned the facial appliances they slap on their canonical opposition species, for no good reason. They just made ’em uglier.

Come up with an excuse and stick with it. It is legitimate to argue that your aliens need to be relatable (and within your budget), so just sticking a couple of cosmetic signifiers on them is fine. But these aliens still look cheap, like someone went crazy with the latex, and are still bipedal humanoids, but now all expression in their faces is lost and you’re sending the message that superficial appearances are all that matters. Bleh.

Related: the actors are speaking Klingon like they were forced to memorize random syllables off a cue card. They speak slowly, with frequent and seemingly pointless pauses. People (and aliens, I presume) who speak a foreign language do so fluidly and with a sophisticated pattern of expression. These mooks don’t.

Also related: the Federation Science Officer is so dang hideous and confusingly featured, with an uninterpretable face atop a generic and mundane human body, that I was uncomfortable watching him.

Complaint #2: Illogical plot points contrived for their pseudo-heroicism. Prime case: they’ve spotted a mysterious artifact deep in an asteroid belt. They can’t get a good look at it from their distance of 2000km away. So the show’s hero volunteers to get into a rocket propelled suit and fly in for a closer look, which they estimate will take 20 minutes to fly in and back. Which means she’s going to be piloting this suit through a ridiculously densely packed field of tumbling CGI boulders at 200km/minute (or, for you brutes who favor cloddish imperial units, over 7000 miles per hour). There were a few shots of her elegantly, and slowly, swooping around crashing space rocks. This does not compute.

Furthermore, she’s under a time limit. There’s deadly radiation out there! You’ve got to be back within 19 minutes or you’ll die. That’s not how radiation works. That’s not how any of this works.

The story would have been better served by sending a robot probe. Or better yet, just have the sensors detect that it’s a Klingon gadget over there. The deadly space walk served no purpose to the story at all, except to give the hero an opportunity to demonstrate how reckless and stupid she was.

Complaint #3: What kind of military outfit is this? The hero is insubordinate to the captain, because she thinks she understands Klingons better than the commanding officer of a starship. The captain takes her into a side room to chew her out, and the hero assaults her, knocks her out with a Vulcan nerve pinch, and walks back out to the bridge to start issuing orders to attack the Klingons.

This makes no sense. The hero is going to get a court martial (I know, in the Trek universe, these always end up vindicating the reckless ass, but still…), if she isn’t shot on sight. The show has lost all believability at this point, which is saying something for a show with the premise of spaceships running around meeting aliens.

Complaint #4: It was an hour-long show in which virtually nothing happens except to set up Episode #2, which you can see online by paying money to CBS’s subscription service. No, really: here’s the whole plot. Federation probe stops working. Starship flies out to see what happened. It’s Klingons! They’re surrounded! Pay us money to see what happens next!

I suppose the creators think there was some character development and background-building in there, but mostly what I learned is that Klingons have gotten uglier and inarticulate, while the Federation is crewed by incompetent bumbling assholes.

I have no interest in seeing episode #2, which is too bad. I was interested enough yesterday to sit through a chunk of 60 Minutes, delayed by a football game, to see it, and I suffered mightily for it (A McCain interview — please, he’s not a statesman, he’s the twit who wanted Sarah Palin for vice president, and a Frank Luntz panel designed to give idiots who voted for Trump equal weight with rational people). Also, goddamn commercials. There’s a reason I rarely watch broadcast TV anymore.

If Star Trek: Discovery is supposed to entice me back, it’s not going to work.

[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

I rolled my eyes at this story: Forget Cheat ‘Sheet’ — Student Outwits Professor With Enormous ‘Cheat Poster’. The gist of it is that a professor told their students they could bring a 3×5 card with notes to an exam — but he didn’t specify the units (there’s a lesson right there), so one student created a crib sheet that was 3 feet by 5 feet. The professor was good natured about it, as I would be in such a situation, but the article completely misses the point.

The purpose of the exam is to evaluate learning, not the ability to read stuff off a card. I’ve occasionally given open-note exams, and told the students they can even bring their textbook if they want. It doesn’t matter all that much. Those kinds of exams are asking, do you understand the concepts? Can you apply them correctly? Can you think creatively and synthesize multiple ideas? I think students are all aware of this: if the professor lets you bring in notes of any kind, the test is not going to be about literal transcription of facts from one piece of paper to another.

The professor was not outwitted at all. If anything, they might feel a little chagrined at a loophole that tricks a student into wandering around campus with an awkwardly huge notecard. And they probably figure creating that ‘cheat sheet’ was a useful study exercise for the student, so no problem — if they mastered the material, good for them.

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Posted by David Mikkelson

Reports that the NFL was fining Pittsburgh Steelers players $1 million each for staying in their locker room during the national anthem are fake news.

I would have thought lawful

Sep. 24th, 2017 11:59 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
I Am A: Chaotic Good Human Paladin/Sorcerer (4th/3rd Level)

Ability Scores:







Chaotic Good A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. However, chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment when it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Paladins take their adventures seriously, and even a mundane mission is, in the heart of the paladin, a personal test an opportunity to demonstrate bravery, to learn tactics, and to find ways to do good. Divine power protects these warriors of virtue, warding off harm, protecting from disease, healing, and guarding against fear. The paladin can also direct this power to help others, healing wounds or curing diseases, and also use it to destroy evil. Experienced paladins can smite evil foes and turn away undead. A paladin's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast. Many of the paladin's special abilities also benefit from a high Charisma score.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by David Mikkelson

Claims that the National Football League pays no taxes on billions of dollars in profits because they are a nonprofit organization are exaggerated and outdated.
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by David Mikkelson

Despite social media claims, the NFL's rulebook contains no regulations about what players must do during the pre-game playing of the U.S. national anthem.
[syndicated profile] icanhascheezburger_feed

Wes Anderson unveils the trailer for his new stop-motion movie, Isle of Dogs. Three years after his last film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and eight years after his first animated feature, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson now tells us the story of the young Atari Kobayashi, as he's discovering an island populated with abandoned dogs. The release date of the movie Isle of Dogs is scheduled for March 23, 2018.

Submitted by: (via Fox Searchlight)

Sure. My lab looks just like it.

Sep. 24th, 2017 09:25 pm
[syndicated profile] pharyngula_feed

Posted by PZ Myers

Behold! Gwyneth Paltrow’s new retail store, which she calls Goop Lab.

The store, called Goop Lab, opened this week in Brentwood Country Mart, a cluster of boutiques in a plush, celebrity-filled neighbourhood near the Pacific Ocean which likes to call malls “marts”.

The shop is airy, bright and small, just 1,300 sq feet, with soft music and smiling, white-clad staff – a physical embodiment of the online store that inspires devotion for Paltrow’s vision of wellness and scorn for products such as jade stones which women are invited to insert into their vaginas.

Crap. Her ‘lab’ is bigger than mine. Much tidier, too. I’m also missing out on a profit opportunity here.

The entrance, which mimics a garden, offers “buttery and soft” deerskin gloves for $48, gold-handled floral scissors for $72 and the “prettiest compost bin ever” for $175.

Further inside, you find a pair of Portuguese napkin rings with images of sky blue swallows for $56 and a champagne flute for $180. A silk blouse costs $685; a floral dress $795.

Probably the first thing you’d see in Myers Lab is a cable rack draped with years of accumulated wires and connectors, some of them antique and artisanal. I should slap some pricetags on them.

On the left, the interior is dominated by a large cattle trough which is used as a reservoir for the flow through water system for the fish tanks. Imagine you hear the lowing of well-groomed happy cows, and the burbling of a brook running through the field. That is the ambience we are going for.

I have nothing to compare with the “prettiest compost bin ever”, unfortunately. I do have some chemical waste disposal containers, though — maybe I should spruce them up with a cheery sprig of heather, and sprinkle some sapphires about the bench.

At least I have some tiny, delicate iris scissors that were a heck of a lot pricier than her floral scissors. How déclassé of her.

[syndicated profile] icanhascheezburger_feed
stylish dog photos

This furry star of "Menswear Dog" site really "know" lots about of all kinds of men's fashion trends, ranging from stylish Ralph Lauren ties to vintage wool blazers. Styled with chic layers and accessories, he certainly knows how to pose in a dramatic fashion. Take a look at the collection below and if you like it, you can follow it on tumblr.

Submitted by:

Tagged: dogs , manswear , dressed up

A leaf

Sep. 24th, 2017 04:57 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Taken from a couple of angles over about a minute.

Read more... )

I am taking care of someone's cats

Sep. 24th, 2017 04:45 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
As one does, I keep a log of my visits.

The cats expressed their appreciation for my record-keeping.

Read more... )


dionysus1999: (Default)

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