2019/01/18

Combat Frame Data: XCD-001-3


XCD-001-3 Xanthippe
  
XCD-001-3 Xanthippe

Technical Data

Model number: XCD-001-3
Code name: XSeed
Nickname: Xanthippe
Classification: energy weapon optimized Sentinel use combat frame
Manufacturer: Seed Corporation
Operator: [REDACTED]
First deployment: CY 1
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 19 meters
Weight: dry weight 65 metric tons, full weight 80.3 metric tons
Armor type: "1D" carbyne laminar armor
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 2795 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 41,790 kg, 4x 20,910 kg, 2x 12,000kg; top speed 3564 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 20, 180° turn time 0.80 seconds; legs: top ground speed 196 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, optical array; main binocular cameras mounted in head
Fixed armaments: 2x plasma sword, power rated at 0.50 MW, stored in recharge rack on back, hand-carried in use.
Optional hand armaments: magnetic disruptor rifle, hand-carried; carbyne shield, mounts to either forearm.

General Notes

The third XSeed prototype, produced after the XCD-001-1 Prometheus and the XCD-001-2 Kreuzgun, the XCD-001-3 Xanthippe largely eschewed plasma weapons in favor of more terrifying experimental armaments.

The XCD-001-3's rifle used magnets made from graphene superconductors to accelerate a coiled carbyne filament to a significant fraction of light speed. The weapon had two fire modes: a matter disruptor setting that released the hyper-velocity filament and fired it as a projectile, and a neural disruptor setting that didn't release the filament but instead used it to generate a focused EM burst capable of severing the neuron connections in a target's brain through barriers up to and including 1D armor.

The Xanthippe's other custom weapon was a modified coffin shield much like the model carried by Prometheus and Kreuzgun with one notable addition. Megami added a spool of nearly unbreakable carbyne cable mounted on the inside of the shield near the lower edge. A magazine inserted next to the spool housing contained six superconducting magnets. Pressing a switch on the weapon control stick in the cockpit activated a mechanism in the shield that fed out a magnet and attached it to the cable.

The tethered magnet was wielded by the strength of the Xanthippe's shield arm. It had a variety of melee weapon applications including a whip, a flail, a garrote, and could trap enemy CFs by attaching magnets to both ends of the cable and pinning the target between some larger object and the wire. The magnets were powerful enough to stick to nearly anything, not just ferrous metals. The Xanthippe's pilot could decide how much of the cable to pay out, could reel it back in, or release it at will. When lashed like a whip, the carbyne cable was able to slice through almost any substance, even 1D armor. The pilot could manually untether a desired length of cable from the shield and attach a new magnet at any time.

Such a lethal and versatile weapons loadout came at a cost. The Xanthippe had no easy way to discharge energy stored in its onboard capacitor, leaving it visible to radar and more vulnerable to energy weapon attacks after absorbing its maximum power load. Then again, the stealthy nature of its weapons meant that few opponents detected the third XSeed's presence before it destroyed them.

2019/01/17

The Primacy of Speculative Reason - Encore

Author's note: Here's one from the vaults. It struck me as particularly relevant now.

Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.
-Dr. Ian Malcolm

Americans' habitual contempt for speculative reason never fails to dismay me, though our great country's myopic fascination with pure practicality is hardly surprising. A brief survey of our history reveals a clear preference for asking, "What should be done/how should we do it?" over "Why should we do this/what does it mean?".

From before the time of Plato; through Aristotle and Aquinas, the chief concern of Western philosophy was to address important questions through dialogue based on appeals to first principles (i.e. speculative reason). This noble tradition's downfall can be traced to the work of a single German philosopher. No, it's not Karl Marx. To pinpoint the moment when speculative reason toppled  from its throne, we must go back yet another century to the work of Immanuel Kant.

Frustrated by the perceived lack of stability in classical metaphysics (despite probably having read very little of it), Kant restricted the sphere of rational knowledge to experience and empiricism--despite the fact that doing so requires an appeal to sources of knowledge beyond experience and empiricism. Likewise, he failed to anticipate the catastrophic results of undermining natural law-based ethics while absolutizing personal autonomy.

If you're a typical postmodern Westerner, you probably couldn't care less about anything in the post above (except for the Jurassic Park quote--man, is it amazing how well that movie holds up or what?). You can be certain that I understand your deeply ingrained impatience with history, ontology, and philosophy in general. Rest assured that I'll explain why you should be gravely, intimately concerned with the airy notions that a bunch of Greeks and Germans discussed in the forgotten dark age that gripped the world before last Wednesday.

Exhibit A in my case for speculative reason is this article by Matt Saccaro. I cite this piece as a perfect example of 1) the practical reason-fueled utilitarian bias that dominates American culture and 2) the self-refuting absurdity of that bias. In support of his proposal to cut liberal arts disciplines from college curricula, the author argues that these fields of study serve only to shelter "intellectual cravens" unfit for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees. Removing "soft disciplines" like literature, fine arts, etc. would keep the riffraff out of college and in their rightful place as blue-collar laborers.

Mr. Saccaro's belief that, "the realities of the 21st century world make it true" that students whose natural gifts and dispositions lead them to non-STEM vocations have no business in college is less self-evident than he assumes. I could build a counter argument based on declining STEM job security due to the glut of outsourcing and work visas, along with the need for authoritative standards in fields like law, education, and yes, art; but that would mean first accepting the current zeitgeist's false, biased terms. No, all that's needed to show the faults in Saccaro's position is to ask, "How do you know that?"

Setting aside the flagrant hubris of pigeonholing all human beings in either STEM or Intellectual Craven categories (I'll take Mr. Saccaro's identification of skilled tradesmen with college washouts more seriously when he demonstrates enough skill to install water and gas lines for a laundry room without flooding/blowing up his home), I'll point out that asserting the supremacy of STEM fields over liberal arts involves a value statement. I.e. to avoid circularity, arguments from utility must appeal to principles discovered through metaphysics. Practical reason depends on speculative reason.

I couldn't cast a silver bullet more lethal to utilitarian bias than the one Saccaro uses to shoot himself in the foot:
There are two possible fates for the American postsecondary education system. One is for it to maintain its current status as a factory that produces debt-slaves and baristas that can recite Emmanuel Kant’s passages from memory. The other is for Universities and Colleges to become leaner, more-functional institutions that remove all unnecessary coursework, and focus only on what matters.
That whirring sound is Kant spinning in his grave.

2019/01/16

Movie Ranks: Men vs Women

Seen on Twitter:


Cursory analysis: Women like newer children's movies. Men like mature films--with a marked preference for war movies, westerns, and sci-fi--that span all eras of film.

Additional observation: Number of entries on each list that also appear on AFI's list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time

  • Women: 1
  • Men: 7

Also, I haven't dug deeply into this, but the women's list contains a glut of movies based on books, whereas the men's list appears to feature a preponderance of original screenplays.

What's the takeaway? Honestly, I'm not sure. I do have a sneaking suspicion that women give pride of place to stories as stories while men take a keener interest in film as a medium. Perhaps the disparity has something to do with men being more visual. This phenomenon warrants further study.

2019/01/15

Book vs Movie

Book vs movie

In my work as a freelance editor, I've noticed a common tendency among the current crop of science fiction authors to write books as if they're writing movies. That practice is understandable since most science fiction and fantasy novels published after 1980 suck, and therefore today's authors are disproportionately influenced by film.

However, writing a novel by playing a little movie in your head and transcribing what you see in your mind's eye hobbles the final product. Because this generation of authors don't read as much as their forebears did, few of them realize the storytelling advantages that books have over movies.

The film advantage

First, let's examine the storytelling tools in a film maker's repertoire that simply aren't available to novelists.

  • Film is a visual medium. Movies don't have to spend time describing characters, action, and settings. They can just show those elements.
  • Movies are easier to consume. As passive entertainment, they require less time investment and skill on the part of the audience. Bibliophiles often take the ability to read for granted, but nearly half of all American adults now have significant difficulty reading or are functionally illiterate.
  • In addition to their main visual aspect, movies are also enhanced by audio. Music and sound effects add extra layers and depth to the moviegoing experience.
Book advantages


Film makers certainly have storytelling tools at their disposal that novelists don't. On the other hand, authors can pull off feats of story craft that make movie directors jealous.

  1. Authors can directly convey their characters' emotions. Storytelling works by evoking an emotional response in the audience. When it comes to making audiences empathize with characters, novelists who understand their medium have all other artists beat. Authors have a thousand ways to relate characters' emotional states to readers, from subtle word choices that filter descriptions through a POV character's mood, to outright saying how a character feels.Movies have to rely on actors' performances and musical cues to get the same info across. Unless the director decides to include a voiceover, which is hard to do without getting heavy handed.
  2. Novel characters can be themselves. Related to the point above, the simple and necessary act of casting an actor to portray a character imposes hard limits on that character and the audience. Star Wars fans who read the 1976 novelization before the 1977 movie came out were free to imagine what Han Solo looked and sounded like within the broad descriptions supplied by Alan Dean Foster. Then the movie came out and effectively vetoed their imaginations. Now Han Solo is and forever will be Harrison Ford, Just like Aragorn is Viggo Mortensen and Daniel Radcliffe is Harry Potter. Books give readers more creative freedom.
  3. Books let readers make more choices. Every author has a personal vision for his work. Each reader has his own interpretation of a book's events, characters, and setting that will always differ from the author's to varying degrees. I've talked to readers who picture some of my most prominent characters with wildly different hair colors than are clearly defined in the book, for instance. That's an extreme example, but smart authors take advantage of readers' desire to stake ownership over the story by opening aspects up to interpretation. Use your books' higher necessary audience investment to foster audience participation.
  4. An unlimited special effects budget. The author is so called because he wields effectively unlimited authority over his secondary world. And compared to a film director, exercising that authority is practically effortless. As a novelist, you can conjure monsters as big as any realized on film--or bigger, stage battles between millions of swarming starships, and create worlds yet undreamed of. For free. Bonus: You can go the Lovecraft route and totally own film makers by writing of creatures so otherworldly as to defy mortal comprehension.

2019/01/14

Who's Frank Pentangeli?

Frank Pentangeli

Perusing this humanist blogger's semi-apt comparisons of various dissident Right figures to characters from the Godfather saga, one comes across this howler:
Also, because of excessive pride, Fuentes is too often and too easily dismissive of views and ideas that doesn’t jibe with his paradigm, and this is especially true when it comes to Catholic vs Pagan debate. His sadistic side just can’t resist putting on the robe of the grand inquisitor and insulting neo-pagans on the right and stretching them on the rack.
There's a reason why secular humanists white knight for neo-pagans. The latter are simply atheists who crave the ritual and fellowship of real religion without the morality or discipline. Similarly, atheists on the Right all too often turn out to be indistinguishable from Leftists who hate Christians and Jews instead of just hating Christians.
...Perhaps, Fuentes is drawn to Catholicism because he senses that his immense ego, if un-anchored to faith in God, can easily fly off the handle like that of fellow Latin Mussolini. It’s like a willful dog needs an especially powerful leash to prevent it from running wild and crazy. But for Fuentes, his Catholic leash has become more than a check on his emotions. It has become a check on his intellect and imagination, even to the point of dismissing evolution and entertaining the notion of geocentrism. 
Lens Flare Fedora Shrek
It has also become an easy whip of moral indignation. In this, Fuentes has something in common with the young Pat Buchanan who, as a young conservative, was an odd-man-out in Columbia Journalism school filled with Liberals(as recounted in his delightful autobiography RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING). Buchanan always had brains and passion, but his overt Catholicism limited his imagination and scope as a thinker, culture critic, and politician. It’s interesting that Fuentes is most like Buchanan but really admires Donald Trump who, being free of religious dogma, has been able to forge a new kind of politics.
If Catholicism is a limiting principle on political thought and imagination, then Matteo Salvini, Jair Bolsonaro, and Andrzej Duda, to name a few, seem oddly unaffected.

Exhibit A: Contra the OP's association of Trumpism with "being free of religious dogma", Trump had more support from Catholics, Protestants, and Jews than from atheists.

Vote by Religion

Exhibit B: a telling exchange between the Audacious Epigone and the decidedly less-antichrist Dissident Right atheist the Z Man:

A Conquered People

Heritage Americans are devoid of purpose because, like the American Indians, our culture and religion have been stolen from us. Christianity is the rock on which Western civilization was founded. It cannot be replaced with appeals to materialism or racial idolatry. It most certainly cannot be replaced with false graven images.

Self-styled Right wing commenters like Andrea have drunk deep of the Boomer Kool-Aid. They've been conditioned by enemy propaganda to abandon the religion of their fathers, never noticing that the enemy hates and fears the Christ more than any political movement. Perhaps the anti-Christian atheists and pagans on the Right don't serve the enemy's designs knowingly, but they serve them all the same.

Decision time is rapidly approaching. The Left will not allow anyone to pursue the drug high, sexual thrill, or consumerist indulgence of their preference while maintaining neutrality on Christ. Atheists on the Right have four choices:
  1. Join the Left--most will.
  2. Repent and convert to Christ.
  3. Failing 2, LARP in their church of choice for an hour on Sundays.
  4. Shut up.

2019/01/11

Combat Frame Data: XCD-001-2


XCD-001-2 Kreuzgun
  
XCD-001-2 Kreuzgun

Technical Data

Model number: XCD-001-2
Code name: XSeed
Nickname: Kreuzgun
Classification: energy weapon optimized Sentinel use combat frame
Manufacturer: Seed Corporation
Operator: [REDACTED]
First deployment: CY 1
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 19 meters
Weight: dry weight 65 metric tons, full weight 78.4 metric tons
Armor type: "1D" carbyne laminar armor
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 2795 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 41,790 kg, 4x 20,910 kg, 2x 12,000kg; top speed 3564 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 20, 180° turn time 0.80 seconds; legs: top ground speed 196 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, optical array; main binocular cameras mounted in head
Fixed armaments: quad plasma rifle, power rated at 3.75 MW, magazine-fed, 10 shots per mag, can recharge from internal capacitor; 2x plasma sword, power rated at 0.50 MW, stored in recharge rack on back, hand-carried in use
Optional hand armaments: carbyne shield, mounts to either forearm

General Notes

The second XSeed prototype and sister CF to the XCD-001-1 Prometheus, the Kreuzgun matched its elder sibling's performance in every respect. With the notable exception of firepower, where  the XCD-001-2 actually surpassed its potent predecessor.

Instead of the sniper style Prometheus plasma rifle, the Project S team equipped the Kreuzgun with a squad scale nonintegrated plasma cannon 3x as powerful as the plasma rifle carried by the CF-014 Ein Dolph. The Kreuzgun's weapon featured four barrels arranged in a cross pattern when seen head-on, hence the name. This sight was usually the last an intended target saw.

Combined with the same energy-absorbing 1D armor that made the Prometheus nigh indestructible, the Kreuzgun represented a major leap forward in Megami's quest for the ultimate terror weapon.

Line art: quad plasma rifle


Kreuzgun rifle

2019/01/10

Writing Tips: Conflict, Tension, and Action

Fury Road

Many writers labor under a common misconception about what makes a book feel fast-paced. Slamming chapters together with no space in-between doesn't necessarily give readers a sense of speed. In fact, it can do the opposite by bringing on action fatigue. Pacing has less to do with keeping lots of balls in the air than with with motivation.

Consider Mad Max: Fury Road. It's been described as a nonstop car chase, and George Miller is said to have storyboarded it that way, but look closely and you'll find several points where the action slows down or outright pauses so the characters can take stock of the situation, lick their wounds, and plan their next move. It just feels like the action never stops from the audience's point of view because the characters are so well-established and their motives are crystal clear.

Always remember:

  1. Storytelling is about manipulating the reader's perceptions. It's primarily emotional. Intellect is secondary.
  2. The physical nuts and bolts of a story rarely if ever have a direct 1:1 effect on readers' perceptions. In fact, the effect is often the opposite of what you'd expect. The relationship is almost like dream logic.

So counter-intuitively, a story that actually is nonstop action feels like a slog, whereas a story with one explosion every 5000 words can feel like a runaway roller coaster ride if you've got your characters and their motives clear in the reader's head.

To put it in wordsmithing terms, the element that fuels the plot and keeps the reader on the edge of his seat furiously turning pages to find out what happens next is dramatic tension. Conflict builds tension. Note that conflict and action are not the same thing. Conflict arises when a character in pursuit of a goal encounters an obstacle to getting what he wants. Action often releases tension by providing a measure of conflict resolution.

What this means is that the tension isn't necessarily where you think it is. Here's a simplified example.

  1. Max and his allies are trying to get their truck out of the mud.
  2. A wave of goons shows up to kill them. This is when the tension spikes.
  3. Max slaughters the goons. The tension is relieved.

The longer a fight scene, the more tension is reduced, Think of action as a tension release valve.

That doesn't mean you should pull an Indiana-Jones-shooting-the-swordsman routine every time. Balancing dramatic tension with satisfying conflict resolution is a delicate high wire act. Having the hero just blow through every challenge quickly desensitizes the reader until the appearance of new obstacles stops raising the tension entirely.

The trick is to have an overarching goal for the protagonist, regularly introduce new obstacles--and new kinds of obstacles--that ratchet up the tension, and have the hero believably overcome the obstacle without releasing all of the additional tension. Following every action scene, the dramatic tension should be at least a little higher than it was before the scene began. Think a series of peak and valleys where each peak and valley is higher than the last.

Dramatic tension should reach a crescendo in the third act climax. At that point, the story should downshift from rising action to falling action as loose ends are tied up and the last conflicts are resolved.

Since action scenes tend to actually relieve dramatic tension, there's no reason breaks in the action can't maintain or even heighten tension. These scenes are where characters can discuss the story's stakes, which is a great way to heighten tension. Think of any scene in an Ocean's movie where the characters are planning a heist. Showing you all the complex security measures they must defeat to succeed turns up the tension, even though the only action is a conversation between characters,

For the ultimate example of non-action tension building, look to The Empire Strikes Back. Many viewers erroneously think Luke's lightsaber duel with Vader is the movie's climax. It's not. Their discussion afterward is. It doesn't get any more dramatic than Vader's pivotal revelation. The resolution comes when Luke makes his choice and jumps.

Where to place the breaks? A piece of advice Jagi gave me that I try to use in every novel is to give the characters a chance to rest and reflect on their situation at least once per act. This serves as a recap of the story thus far for the reader's benefit and can build/maintain tension as explained above.

For some added action genre structural help, check out Lester Dent's Master Pulp Formula. It was devised for short stories, but it scales up to novels easily. Just divide your total word count by four, and replace the 1500 value with that number. It maps to three act structure pretty well, too.

2019/01/09

A Partial Timeline

Gods of Pegāna

The following is a timeline of events--perhaps related; perhaps not.

1905: The Gods of Pegāna by Lord Dunsany is published.
1912: Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs is published.
1914: Outbreak of World War I
          First members of the Greatest Generation born.
1917: Russian Revolution
1920: 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution passed.
1922: Soviet Union founded.
1932: Conan the Cimmerian created by Robert E. Howard.
1935: First members of the Silent Generation born.
1937: First publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.
          Donald A. Wolheim delivers John B. Michel's speech "Mutation or Death" at
          the Third Eastern Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia.
          John W. Campbell Jr. becomes editor of Astounding Science Fiction.
1939: Start of World War II
1944: "The Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft is first published in Weird Tales.
1946: Start of the Baby Boom.
          Chinese Communist Revolution
1950: The Korean War begins.
1954: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien begins publication.
1955: The Vietnam War begins.
1956: "Heartbreak Hotel" by Elvis Presley released.
1957: First members of Generation Jones born.
1958: "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry released.
1962: "Love Me Do" by the Beatles released.
1964: The Civil Rights Act is passed in the USA.
1968: First members of Generation X born.
1971: Led Zeppelin IV released.
1976: The Atari 2600 released.
1977: The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks is published.
          The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson published.
          Star Wars by George Lucas is released to theaters.
1979: First members of Generation Y born.
1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark by Steven Spielberg, Lawrence Kasdan, and George
          Lucas released.
1983: The video game market crashes.
1985: Back to the Future by Robert Zemeckis released.
1986: The Nintendo Entertainment System released nationwide in America.
1987: The Joshua Tree by U2 released.
1989: Release of the Sega Genesis
1990: First members of the Millennial Generation born.
          Fall of the Berlin Wall
          Gulf War begins.
          First book of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan published.
1991: Launch of the Super NES
          Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn published.
1995: SONY PlayStation released.
1997: Final Fantasy VII released for the PlayStation.
          Release of Pop by U2.
          Star Wars Special Editions first hit theaters.
1999: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace released.
2001: First members of Generation Z born.
          9/11
          War in Afghanistan begins.
          Iraq War begins.
2008: Barack Obama elected.
2014: #GamerGate begins.
2015: Obergfell v. Hodges SCOTUS decision.
          Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens released.
2016: Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Dr. Chuck Tingle nominated for a
          Hugo Award.
          Dragon Awards founded.
          Election of Donald Trump.
2017: Galaxy's Edge: Legionnaire released by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole.

UPDATE:  My astute and knowledgeable readers offered welcome corrections in the comments.
"The Call of Cthulhu" was first published in 1928.
The Iraq War started in 2003.

2019/01/08

Combat Frame XSeed Feedback

Combat Frame XSeed

With the official Combat Frame XSeed launch fast approaching, I thought it a good time to share some of the feedback offered by one of my keen-eyed beta readers.
A year ago, Brian Niemeier , along with a group of other authors and a group of Mobile Suit Gundam fans realized that modern western mecha scifi has fallen into a trope trap of dour space marines fighting in a galactic hellscape setting or clunky upright tanks; while the established Anime mecha series seemed to be stuck in a narrative loop ("Are you guys ready for the Neo-Neo-Neo-Neo-Zeon War?"). Thus #AGundamForUs was born! The idea being for authors to tap into the Eastern mecha tropes -not necessarily just from Gundam- that Western storytellers had been ignoring, while trying to avoid the narrative loops of the East. A best of both worlds.
Combat Frame XSeed succeeds in spades. You get a nice, tight narrative with plenty of action, revenge plots, espionage, space colonies, agile big robots, large objects falling out of space, and a mystery thread that looks like it will span the series. While fans of series like Mobile Suit Gundam and Armored Trooper Votoms will recognize tropes and inspiration sources, they'll not get a retread slapdash repaint of those series. The setting is its own thing, with events transpiring based on real life demographic projections pushed further into the future that play into the characters' motivations and subsequent choices. The preview...where a group of insurgent Earthers raids a village for supplies using some older Combat Frames (the mechs) is tonally spot-on and feels inspired by a village raid by spacer forces in Gundam 08th MS Team. The raid doesn't transpire in the same way as its Gundam inspiration though and seems to be just a minor action set piece at first...but it has major ramifications for both the main protagonist and the main antagonists by the end.
There are a surprising number of situations like that in the book; where at first it feels like something is minor but it resonates throughout if you pay attention. So not only do you get a fun robot action romp, it's well thought out as well.
I am definitely looking forward to what's in store for us with book II!
The reader is correct about me and my fellow NewMech authors' aims. It's highly gratifying to hear that Combat Frame XSeed has risen to the challenge. And that's the beta version. Let everyone who submitted helpful corrections and suggestions know that the official Amazon release will be even more polished, with a little more clarity in regard to those seemingly minor elements that snowball into major twists later.

Combat Frame XSeed will officially launch this month. If you're an Indiegogo backer who wanted to wait and buy the trade paperback from Amazon, but you haven't subscribed to Nova Frontier yet, sign up via the link in the eBook to get the launch announcement before readers of this blog and even subscribers to my general newsletter. Plus, you get the "Combat Frame XSeed: CY 2 Gaiden" bonus short story for free.

I also ask the respected critics who received advance review copies to kindly abstain from publishing reviews on blogs and social media until after the official release. In addition to being my #AGundam4Us entry, CFXS was devised as an experiment with the Fox/Anspach/Cole launch model that's been a year in the making. Data purity is paramount, and Amazon's algorithm needs time to work with the organic sales data.

This is gonna be good.

2019/01/07

Satanic Boomer Agitprop

Pleasantville apple

Regular readers will be familiar with my penchant for shining a light on Hollywood's hatred of their audience and Boomers' hatred of every other generation. Much as A Bridge Too Far proves Pigman's Caine-Hackman hypothesis, I have been presented with the ultimate intersection of Hollywood diabolism and Boomer propaganda in the 1998 movie Pleasantville.

YouTuber Blackpilled, who reviews movies with a keen eye for both literary criticism and propaganda, explains this superficially innocent film's subversive depths.
As much as the baby boomers fought to overturn and rebel against and eventually destroy the American culture that existed before them, one thing that I have always found interesting is how much the same champions of counterculture that sadistically dismembered their heritage and mocked every tradition their parents have gifted them, but at the same time romanticize this same culture they worked so hard to undo.
In the 1980s and 90s there were a flurry of television shows and movies that seemed to acknowledge a yearning for something, a not so quiet acknowledgement of a loss that nobody could quite put their finger on; a bitter regret that was much more than anything that could be explained away by the phenomenon of nostalgia.
Well, these homages to a paradise lost forever sometimes included, you know, a little bit of ridicule of their favorite boogeyman the puritanical patriarchy that always had been the thankless guardians of this now extinct culture. There did exist a recognition a deep remorse, even that these were the good old days. One of the most popular examples was even called Happy Days.
But unfortunately Pandora's Box had already been opened. The genie could not be stuffed back into the bottle. The monster that the baby-boomers had unleashed would grow and mutate and seek to preserve itself, something it could never do if everyone was looking back and quietly asking themselves if perhaps just maybe they'd made a terrible mistake.
Fun fact: Pleasantville was written and directed by Clinton stooge Gary Ross.
After this period of longing that went on for about a decade, it wasn't that long before these fantasies had to be distorted--something that was easier to do once those who lived through the era grew old and the memories began to fade. After a while the sadness began to turn into bitterness, and as one might expect, the yearning was replaced with mocking and ridicule, like a spurned lover who finally gets past the grief stage and as a coping mechanism has to convince themselves that there was nothing good about their ex that they once loved. They have to pervert every memory they had of their time together to fit this new narrative that they're better off without them; that they had simply outgrown them.
But it wasn't just important for the baby boomers to forget and smear the past they had thrown away to help them survive and get on. Although in a very real way it was about self-preservation. You see a new generation was growing up now--growing up in a completely different world—the new normal that had been created crafted by the baby boomers: a world of broken homes, of a broken society filled with broken people. They had smashed everything with the hammer of revolution without ever bothering to rebuild anything in its place, and now this new generation raised in the rubble and smoldering ashes of the baby boomers’ devastating culture war, they were looking at these images of nuclear families with attentive and loving parents, affordable schools you could pay your tuition just by having a summer job at the corner store. The corner store that didn't have any bulletproof glass, and if you didn't have enough money to pay your bill it was okay because everyone knew and trusted each other. They lived in communities with a shared culture and history. They knew each other by name. They didn't even lock their front doors. What’s more, everyone was happy, and they were happy without drugs, without antidepressants, without casual sex.
What would this new generation exposed to these images, what would they think if they saw this time, this place that now seemed like some kind of mad utopia, and realized that it was gone—or more importantly—why it was gone. Imagine the terror, the panic; the baby-boomers felt standing over the corpse of this beautiful and lost culture, the murder weapon still in their hands, dripping with blood, as Generation X, dazzled by this wonderful paradise that so starkly contrasted the reality they knew, slowly pieced together what it was that had happened.
So like a deer in headlights, the baby-boomers, fearing what would happen if they didn't, decided to hide the body.
The movie Pleasantville was just one of the many tools they used to bury the body—the campaign weaponized against Generation X. The best way to explain it is that the baby boomers acted the same way a brutal dictator might act, but instead of it being Kim Jong Il banning all Western media in North Korea and telling his people that everyone beyond their borders was in some nightmarish hellscape and that North Korea was the true utopia—something he had to do because if the people were to discover the truth they might overthrow him or worse—the boomers, using the same formula and reasoning, told Generation X that the 1940s and 50s, despite what it might look like on TV, was really a nightmarish hellscape full of misogyny, patriarchy, oppressive religion, and worst of all, whiteness.
It gets worse--much worse.
This is where we get to the real troubling aspect of this film. If you've seen my videos before, you know I'm not one of these guys that gets hung up on symbolism or or pointing out, you know, secret satanic imagery. And I'm not saying that stuff doesn't exist. It's just not what I do. In fact, I don't think I've even mentioned the concept of Satanism and in any of these videos. I'm more of an expert on storytelling and on propaganda. I dissect what the story is telling the audience and how it's trying to inject ideas and themes into your head using propaganda techniques. 
But this film, in addition to being all the things that I have discussed before, this smearing of the past; hiding the body, is literally satanic.
Blackpilled isn't exaggerating in the slightest. The header image of this post is a frame from Pleasantville wherein the female character pictured actually plucks an apple from a tree in a garden and gives it to the protagonist. This scene precipitates the chain of events leading to the whole town's irrevocable expulsion from the 1950's paradise kept and tended by benevolent patriarchs.

Now, you might call that an implicit critique of the characters' descent into fornication, adultery, and rebellion. It would be, had Pleasantville been written from a Christian point of view. It is not. The rebellious townspeople's eating of the forbidden fruit is strikingly portrayed as an unalloyed good in the visual language of film. Not only to those who partake change from dreary black and white to vibrant color, their rebellion is directly analogized to Atticus Finch's defense of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird

The pursuit of knowledge divorced from the good is not the biblical message. No, that narrative has a far different pedigree.

Satanic Monument Illinois

That satanic monument proclaiming "Knowledge is the greatest gift" resides in the Illinois State Capitol. Its placement next to a Christmas tree perfectly represents the public mockery of America's cultural traditions perpetrated by Hollywood Boomers in the form of propaganda flicks like Pleasantville.

Watch the whole video.

2019/01/04

Conflicting Perceptions

The internecine conflict that's upturned the Republican party since 2015 can be described as a war of conflicting perceptions between Conservatives typified by Mitt Romney and populists represented by Trump.

David Reaboi explains.

Reaboi 1

For a full treatment of the Romney Republican vs. Trump Republican perspective conflict, see here as Tucker Carlson gives Mittens a thorough dressing down.

Reaboi 2

Reaboi is right. There's no going back to the aughts, when country club Republicans could pursue an aggressive invade the world/invite the world foreign policy while in power and put up feckless token resistance to the Left's treasons as the "loyal opposition".

Even if the establishment GOP succeeds in helping the swamp take down Trump, the Republican party's wholesale rejection by the coastal elite means they now represent flyover America. And that means they'll have to adopt a nationalist, populist agenda or go the way of the Whigs.

Reaboi 3

Mass immigration is invasion. Supporting an attempt to abolish the national sovereignty of the United States is treason, and traitors are more dangerous than openly declared enemies.

2019/01/03

Disney Drops the Copyright Ball

Mickey - You're Next

Last year I reported on Disney's shady practice of spending millions to lobby Congress for copyright extensions every time Mickey and the gang were set to enter the public domain. Now business as usual has taken a major turn as Congress has neglected to pass a copyright extension bill before the ball dropped on New Year's Eve.

That means works first published in 1923 are now public domain. Lest I inflate your hopes too much, they don't include Mickey Mouse et al. However, Disney will lose their copyright on Mickey in 2024 assuming Congress doesn't issue another copyright extension before then--which evidence suggests they won't.
"There's now a well-organized, grassroots lobby against copyright expansion," Grimmelmann tells Ars. There are large business interests now on the anti-expansion side. Also a wide popular movement that they can tie it into."
The rise of the Internet and its remix culture means that a lot of people now benefit from a growing public domain in ways that wasn't true in 1998. That includes big companies like Google but it also includes grassroots communities like Wikipedia editors and Reddit users. This emerging copyright reform coalition flexed its lobbying muscles in 2012 when it overwhelmingly defeated an Internet filtering bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act.
So if the usual suspects had pushed for another copyright extension, they would have had a serious fight on their hands. Digital rights groups, online activists, and lobbyists from big technology companies would have swarmed Capitol Hill making the case against copyright extension. Evidently, major rights holders didn't have the stomach for another battle like that.
Of course, it's possible they could make another effort in the future. Remember, Congress allowed one year's worth of copyrighted works to expire in January 1998 before passing a term extension that year.
But there's reason to think that this time is different. Today's opponents of copyright extensions are vastly better organized and better funded than the ragtag band that tried to stop the 1998 copyright extension.
The Ars Technika bugman glossed over it, but Congress' decision not to further extend copyright terms has little to do with private sector activism. If grassroots action could move the levers of government, we'd have a Wall by now.

Read between the lines, and you find the real force compelling Congress to stay its hoary hand: "large business  interests" and "lobbyists from big technology companies", which translates to "Google".

If anybody needed further proof as to who rules over us after the farcical Congressional big tech hearings, witness Google's power to serve Disney and Congress a nice tall glass of sit the fuck down.

2019/01/02

The Other Hollywood Formula

Dredd

This recent review at Bleeding Fool of 2012's buried gem of a movie Dredd gave me occasion to meditate on Hollywood's continuing implosion. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dredd, which sadly is most of you, here's a quick primer.

The second film iteration of a cult British comic book lawman--the first being the eminently forgettable 1995 Stallone vehicle--Dredd had all the ingredients of a niche middle market success. It was a true indie picture shot on a shoestring budget that, by necessity, eschewed the franchise bloat of every other comic book film and delivered a refreshingly taut, breakneck-paced action flick. Unfortunately, since the all-consuming quest for blockbusters has killed the middle market, Dredd flat-out bombed.

Read the Bleeding Fool article, and you get the accurate impression that Dredd was the anti-cape movie we desperately needed but didn't deserve. The reviewer rightly points out the total absence of self-indulgent infodumps and the laser focus on perfectly paced and choreographed action. I'll go BF one better and assert that Dredd's action works because it is action, not the kind of empty violence that too many action movies get lost in. The startlingly well-realized characters of Judges Dredd and Anderson set against the tragic yet vicious Ma-Ma elevates the proceedings from mindless blood 'n' guts to genuine conflict.

If you haven't seen Dredd, give yourself a little present today and check it out. For a thematically resonant double feature, follow up with 2011's The Raid: Redemption, an Indonesian film so similar in plot and conflict that many suspect it served as Dredd's template.

Fans of the Judge Dredd comic and action movies in general started clamoring for a Dredd sequel before the movie ended its short theatrical run. Because we can't have nice things in Clown World, that's not going to happen. Here, Dredd producer Adi Shankar lays out the other Hollywood Formula to mathematically explain why a second Dredd film is not forthcoming.


For the video-impaired, the reasons why Dredd is dead are quite simple. For a movie to get made, it must satisfy the following equation:

Cost < D + I + S

Where D is the fim's projected domestic value, I is the international value, and S = government subsidies/rebates.

These days, if a movie's cost exceeds D + I + S, it doesn't get made.

Pay special attention to the I in that equation. Hollywood has become more and more reliant on foreign box office revenues as their visceral hatred for the domestic audience grows. As Shankar points out, I used to account for roghly 10 percent of a movie's value in the 90s, but it had skyrocketed to upwards of 60 percent by 2015. Shankar had already observed that the Chinese bubble had burst, as Mouse Wars' dismal underperformance in the Middle Kingdom shows.

Hollywood's long-term prospects aren't looking any better. They've shunned their original audience, shut out mid-market films people actually enjoy, and bet all their chips on a conjectural third world revenue stream that's failed to materialize.

Get the popcorn.

2019/01/01

Combat Frame Data: XCD-001-1


XCD-001-1 Prometheus
  
XCD-001-1 Prometheus

Technical Data

Model number: XCD-001-1
Code name: XSeed
Nickname: Prometheus
Classification: energy weapon optimized Sentinel use combat frame
Manufacturer: Seed Corporation
Operator: [REDACTED]
First deployment: CY 1
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 19 meters
Weight: dry weight 65 metric tons, full weight 75 metric tons
Armor type: "1D" carbyne laminar armor
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 2795 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 41,790 kg, 4x 20,910 kg, 2x 12,000kg; top speed 3564 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 20, 180° turn time 0.80 seconds; legs: top ground speed 196 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, optical array; main binocular cameras mounted in head
Fixed armaments: plasma rifle, power rated at 1.80 MW, magazine-fed, 12 shots per mag, can recharge from internal capacitor; 2x plasma sword, power rated at 0.50 MW, stored in recharge rack on back, hand-carried in use
Optional hand armaments: carbyne shield, mounts to either forearm

General Notes

When Sekaino Megami recruited lead Seed Corp engineer Tesla Browning for Project S, even the legendary "Father of the Combat Frame" lacked the expertise needed to realize Megami's doomsday weapon . The Secretary-General enticed, cajoled, and threatened ZoDiaC operative Sieg Friedlander and ex-Seed Corp head programmer Maximus Darving to aid Browning.What the three luminaries produced--with the help of an unlimited budget--was nothing less than the quantum leap forward in combat frame design that Browning had long sought.

The Project S team used data extracted from Zane Dellister's XCF-08D-1 Dead Drop as a starting point. They improved on Dead Drop's palladium glass composite armor with the first major breakthrough developed to Megami's specs: superconducting carbyne layers composed of single atom-thick carbon filaments. This "1D" laminar armor absorbed nearly all EM, thermal, and nuclear radiation directed at it, making anything coated in it effectively invisible to radar. It could also channel one-third of a plasma bolt impacting the armor into an onboard capacitor, though one layer of armor would be destroyed at the point of impact.

Darving provided the crowning breakthrough required for the project's success. To fulfill Megami's specifications for an A.I. operating system capable of anticipating an enemy's actions, Max created a new machine intelligence based on his HVRJ-2 Thor Prototype's Marilyn OS. The new A.I., christened Prometheus by Max, surpassed the Chinese room limitations of prior thinking machines to become a truly self-aware intelligence.

Code named the XSeed--owing to its origins "from Seed" Corp and its potential to exceed all previous combat frame designs--the new CF fulfilled Megami's expectations.

Browning outfitted the XSeed Prometheus with a weapons loadout inspired by the CF-015 Zwei Dolph. The XSeed retained the Zwei Dolph's shield and added a carbyne coating to repel and absorb plasma bolts. It received a more powerful plasma sword, along with a spare stored beside the first in the unit's backpack. But the greatest improvement to the CF's arsenal was the revolutionary new plasma rifle designed specifically for the XSeed. Boasting more power than any CF plasma weapon to date, the XSeed's rifle was powered by twelve-shot magazines or a capacitor charged via shots absorbed by the unit's armor. Applied 100 layers thick, a force equivalent to a train pulling ten fully loaded boxcars at 150 kph applied to a single point was required to pierce all the way through the laminar armor.

Despite its overwhelming advantages, the XSeed did have its limitations. The onboard capacitor could only hold twelve plasma rifle shots' worth of charges. When the capacitor was full, the unit became visible to radar and more vulnerable to energy weapons. The only way to make room for more charges was to drain the capacitor by firing the plasma rifle, which also risked giving away the XSeed's position. Furthermore, a capacitor breach risked unfolding the internal graphene layers, releasing all of the stored energy at once and sparking an uncontrolled reaction in the XSeed's powerful generator, resulting in a blast equivalent to a hydrogen bomb detonation. The Prometheus OS's power of self-determination stood to be even more of a wild card.

A final chilling note appended to its technical specs indicated that the XSeed was merely one component of a far more devastating super weapon under development by Megami's design.

Line art: shield and rifle


XSeed Shield and Rifle