Friday, July 26, 2013

TDS Thoughts - 1 - Alone

I want you to imagine that we are alone.

That on the biological spaceship we call earth, we drift through the void as a ship would upon quiet seas. On all horizons, there are no shores to be seen. In the deepest night, only the stars shine to share the lonely burden.

In our own sea, the solar system, we have found isles, but no refuge. Some planets seem suitable at a distance, but are toxic underfoot. Others, volcanic and turbulent, devoid of life. Some are even devoid of surface.

So we look outward, out to that currently insurmountable ocean. Centauri beckons. A mere 4.27 light years. An instant to the cosmic scale, or 165,000 years in our most advanced space vehicle. There is a chance of an exoplanet here. A planet that humans could call home. A place where the skies are blue and the soil rich. Where the only major difference is that the familiar night sky gives way to new stars and constellations. Where our own home star is just a glinting mote in a crystalline sky.

But only a chance.

What if we reach this world and still find ourselves as the only intelligent being in the universe? Do we look outward to our galaxy? There are an estimated 10 billion earth like planets in The Milky Way. Are we so lucky that only Earth had the chemical composition to spawn life? That we are 1 in 10 billion? Do we push this further and consider the quintillions of star systems in the known universe?

Is it empty?

Are we alone?

Are we the only instance of the biological epoch? Are we the only sets of atoms that are even aware of atoms?

Our vessel drifts through infinite black, embraced only by the mass of a finite thrashing from the basest elements in our star.

Yet we are one of billions in our own cosmic neighborhood. One of billions of trillions on far off shores in galaxies further than comprehension. Less than a single grain of sand in a great desert, or a piece of spittle falling into an ocean.

Does this make us more important? Or less? Are we simply a temporary anomaly so far beset in the depths of the void that it will never matter, or are we the only matter that matters because we understand ourselves to be matter? Or is our consciousness just the conduit for our delusions of grandeur?

Is it blind arrogance to think that with all that is, only we exist to understand it? That our one rock is somehow the center of all. That we do not share this common cosmos with a single other microbe or form of life, except for what is on our little blue ball. That an entire universe is dead except for us, who are to this planet little more than bacteria.

It cannot yet be said for certain, but smart money disagrees. Life thrives in every nook and cranny on this world, often in places said to be near impossible. If we can go 1 for 8 plus a Plutoid on our own block, then what’s to say that the same vitality doesn’t grip the rest of the universe? Even if the odds are 1 in 100, 1 in 10,000, hell, one in 10 billion for a heavenly body to contain life, that still makes for a staggering amount over the course of an entire universe.

Do I believe we are alone? Not a chance.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Movie Round Up

No October will ever be complete without a terrifying movie marathon. It is essential at times to blast our brains with some adrenaline and popcorn butter, two substances that run thick in this autumn weather. Unless you are in one of those poser states like Arizona. Get it together Phoenix, you can’t respect nature without worrying about freezing your testicles to a park bench every once in a while.

Ahem. Here is the list I will be watching:

Pontypool: It’s this close to election day and a Canadian flick makes it onto the list? Wow, where is my sense of Patriotic duty. Duty. Duty. Doooty. Due tee. Anyway, Pontypool is a pseudo zombie flick in which words spread a virus that takes over the minds of its victims. Once infected, a saying or phrase gets repeated until a suicidal equilibrium is met. Well acted, genuinely creepy, and amazing setting make this a movie not to be missed. To learn more, check out our podcast on the film. Duty. Duty. Duty. 

Event Horizon: Derelict space station horror at its finest. Take a ride with the dude from Jurassic Park and Lawrence Fishburne through the wormhole and into hell. Although the movie is getting on in years, the special effects hold up surprisingly well. This gruesome bit of cosmic cruelty will drag you into dimensions unknown, and there is no way to come back quite the same.

30 Days of Night: The only sparkling that happens in this vampire flick comes from firelight reflecting blood on bared teeth. Brutality seeps deep into the crimson snow, as these insidious vampires creep into the night to take back their genre. In a desolate Alaskan town about to enter 30 days of complete darkness with the winter, these creatures rip and tear their way through the town’s population. We will be discussing this one on the podcast later, but seriously, it is a must see.

Innkeepers: I have been assigned this one, but I know for a fact it made my co-host Albert Berg stuff his ears with a nearby hotdog to avoid the crazy. Join me, in this pre-viewing recommendation.

Hocus Pocus: Shut up. I have to make the lady friend happy too. And that one blond witch is fine if memory serves.

Now my dear readers, tell me what is on your list for this halloween extravaganza. Leave behind the candy corn and bring the chocolate and beer to the comments section.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Podcast Cometh

Let our voices vibrate through your dirty ear holes. You might want to get a q-tip. Get yourself together man.

Greetings fellow travelers. It has been a long while since a new post has graced these pages, but it isn't that I have forgotten about you. No, today I bring you news of new content from the brains of Albert Berg and I. A new podcast, named after this blog.

The Human Echoes Podcast is now live. You can find it on itunes, zune marketplace, and many other venues. The official website for now is here.

The RSS feed is here if you wish to subscribe.

The Human Echoes podcast will be a weekly hour long episode covering a wide range of topics. We will have a movie of the week, generally one available on Netflix or other inexpensive venue. So far we have covered everything from Hitchcock films and Breaking Bad to plumbing and manliness. We would really love it if you checked it out. It's free, it is readily available, and it is awesome.

I want to thank everyone that has spread the word so far. We both really appreciate it. If you feel so inclined, give us an honest rating on iTunes or other download venue. If you want to get updates, follow me on twitter @tsouthcotte or the twitter account for the podcast @HEPodcast.

If you would like to send us questions, comments, or reccomendations, hit up our email account at

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Weird Wednesday #9 - Roller Coaster of Love

There is a roller coaster in the Denver Six Flags amusement park that I have ridden at least 40 times, and probably more. Each time I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but never once did I ever consider it to be more than a metal and steel mechanical object.

Mid Coitus. NSFW.
In an odd twist of psych fuckery, a young woman by the name of Amy Wolfe has done that. Her sweetest love happens to be a gondola ride by the name of 1001 Nachts. In a quote directly from Miss Wolfe (and soon to be Mrs. Webber, after the manufacturer), she stated that “I love him as much as women love their husbands and know we will be together forever.”

Sadly, the statistics on roller coaster divorce rates are unavailable at this time.

I know it may sound like I am being cruel or having fun at the expense of others, but this brings up a topic that I have always found fascinating. Anthropomorphism is the act of giving human characteristics to inhuman objects. I know I’ve done it with computer systems in the past, referring to it like it is a person and not circuit boards in an aluminum shell. I’d be willing to wager that most people have, even if it is just with a pet. Hell, I can’t seem to get rid of my truck, and have often said I love the damn thing, even with its massive drinking problem.

Really though, the line between liking the utility of an object and wanting to marry it is pretty fucking broad though. With the exception of vibrators, I can in no way see how marrying an inanimate object will turn out well. Like all love, eventually batteries fade too.

Now, lets all take a ride on the comment gondola and dangle your thoughts below. Should we start a campaign for free hot coaster love? Or just an indie go go for psychiatric help?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Freaky Friday #6 - The Police State

Pick up that can. (Half Life 2)

A camera zooms in on a teen with a can of spray paint. The poster, now a caricature of its former icon, is something the state cannot abide. A van rolls up, boots hit the pavement, and a can of spray paint rolls into the gutter. Before the sun rises, the mural is replaced, and all is as it should be.

The police state is an oft used trope in media and games. The conflict almost always exists as rebels fighting a large ominous entity that seems to have no conscience. Sometimes, it isn't a government, but a conglomerate or massive corporation that has bought control of a region. Other times, it is the slow seizure of rights that leads to a totalitarian takeover.

Though the trope itself is defined in the name, lets take a look at why it is effective. In America, we often look toward anything that limits freedom as being totalitarian and evil (even if we vote otherwise). In the police state, people become bound and confined to a life of servitude to a government or entity whose goal is only protecting itself.

Surviving the police state becomes a personal battle between the self and the whole. Many people, as history can attest to, do what is necessary to protect themselves, even if the acts are atrocious. When a certain threshold of tyranny is passed, resistance is birthed. In this resistance, we build the conflict for the story.

Movies like V for Vendetta or Equilibrium aren't exactly subtle in this. They have a clear and evil antagonist, who has many levels of cronies. There is a clear progression to the top, and the people can be set free when the power structure itself is decimated.

A scene from 2081, based on Vonnegut's short, Harrison Bergeron
Perhaps my favorite example of the police state comes form a Vonnegut short story called Harrison Bergeron. In the story, we are shown a world of “equality” where the strong are bound, the intelligent are made unable to think, and the handicapper's are free to roam without limitation. Even beauty is snuffed out with masks and so on. When Harrison, a mountainous man by any standard, breaks free of his bonds during a televised ballet performance, he, and a willing woman show the world what freedom and beauty looks like. They defy the state, and dance as free people. Then, they are promptly gunned down. By the end of the broadcast, people of intelligence are blasted with loud noises to make them forget what they have seen, and the cycle continues, forgotten in a few fleeting moments. (Check out the movie 2081, it is a masterpiece, and truly haunting).

The police state is a staple of fiction, and as our own government makes choices that look starkly totalitarian, expect the genre to become even more saturated. I'm personally a huge fan of the genre, so hit up the comments if you have any suggestions on books, movies, games, etc that cover this topic.

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