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.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Weird Wednesday #8 – For the Love of Surveillance

I love the smell of armed robots in the morning.

Someday, the far off buzzing of drones could be a substitute for white noise, especially in the border regions of the United States. With recent laws passed and endorsed bythe president and this inept congress, the use of drones for private and public use has been streamlined and encouraged.

Now, this isn't all bad; the rise of “Taco Copters” and other services may be attributed to this legislation, but private start ups aren’t my concern. It isn't even with this particular government, as they have proved themselves to be ineffective at every turn. My worries are with future administrations, because you never know who you will bend the knee to next. The succession of tyranny may befall us from the innocuous laws of ignorant men. Men who unknowingly enable the next administrations, which may not be so kind to the liberties of citizens.

Dan Carlin, head of the podcast Common Sense, fielded a question the other day. How long will it be until these innocent surveillance drones find their teeth? How long will it be until an armed drone attacks “drug dealers” on the border of Mexico? I'm not a seer, but I predict it will be within the next ten years.

You may be able to say that we are at war. The War on Terror, vague as it may be, still counts as an armed conflict. Even still, I have a hard time seeing the justification for 30,000 eyes in the sky. I have an even harder time understanding the need for aerial attacks within our borders. Is our situation so dire that we need missiles instead of police to attain justice? Do the men that we comfortably mutilate from a remote control booth deserve death? Somehow I doubt it.

So what can be done? This is a harder question than it seems. The people's pleas to congress so rarely trump the needs of those who have purchased Washington. Awareness is always the first step, followed by the sharing of ideas. Please, weigh in on this in the comments section. I would love to know what you think.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer's End

One weekends worth of recycling. And you thought I was kidding when I said babysitting.

Well, this is embarrassing. The good ole Human Echoes has fallen derelict again. I'm sorry for the many, many missed posts. Anyway, onward to glory.

Other than the rivers of sweat I produced, there has been no indication that summer actually happened. Normally, I have it off from work, and get to gleefully rub it in all of your non-school-district-working people. Last summer, I did almost nothing for 82 days. I went vegetative, and babysat some 20 year old hoodlums. This isn't exactly a good thing, but it was fun.

In the past 10 weeks, I went back to school. This was a troubling concept for me because I failed out several years ago. A mix of apathy and work did me in, as well as a hatred for my business major. I was doing it for a possible paycheck, not because I wanted to. Add in some untreated sleep apnea, and school became a mess.

This time, I'm going in with a motive. I am pulling a change in career, and a change of purpose. In 10 weeks, I busted my ass for a 3.3 GPA. Higher than I have ever gotten in college, and most of my academic career in general. Taking a 5 credit class plus two other normal classes in the summer was murder on my brain and my motivation, but I did it, and the results speak for themselves.

My reasons for going back to school are entirely selfish. I suffer from a spinal disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis, which I have spoken of several times on here. The condition is a painful bane on my existence, and I am tired of letting it define what I am capable of. I won't get into the details, but I feel that if I have the capability to change my fate and my health, then it is my responsibility to do so.

So, what does this mean for Human Echoes, my writing, and everything else you've come to know and love? Not a lot. I am slowly attuning myself to the workload, and am taking on more projects. I have an announcement in the coming weeks that I am excited about. It isn't a book deal or anything like that, but it will be some recurring new content.

Human Echoes lives again. Thank you all for reading.
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