Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Bossa Nova, no… Chevy Nova… no…

So, on Monday the series Terra Nova premiered on Fox… I wasn’t watching it, choosing to watch one of the most boring football games I’ve seen so far this season (Cowboys versus Redskins, or Battle of the Kickers). To be honest, I have doubts that any SF series can last a season on Fox — they seem to have a hard time wrapping their heads around the genre in the first place (re: Firefly). In this case, I’m not even turned on by the premise:

In the year 2149 the world is dying.  The planet is overdeveloped, overcrowded and overpolluted.  With the majority of plant and animal life extinct, devotion to science has brought mankind to the brink of destruction, but has also provided its only hope for salvation.  Knowing there is no way to reverse the damage to the planet, a coalition of scientists has managed to open up a fracture in the space-time continuum, creating a portal to prehistoric Earth.  This doorway leads to an amazing world, one that allows for a last-ditch effort to save the human race… possibly changing the future by correcting the mistakes of the past. (Source:

I’ll admit, I’m not giving this series a chance at all, but this isn’t a foaming-at-the-mouth-rant where I demand something better. The show may actually be good, given it’s Jurrasic Park thematics and visuals — it doesn’t appeal to my aesthetic. The whole “flee a dying Earth to start over” trope just doesn’t catch my interest. That said, I did end up questioning/poking holes in the premise.

1) If the colony is being time-shunted into our own past, it’s doomed to either fail or the colonists go post-human without leaving any evidence of their existence. Otherwise, the folks in 2145 would have found fossilized remains or some such (maybe). On a side note, I question if the colony is equipped to maintain its technology until it can produce it for itself. I’m guessing as plot twist the time portal will break down, and the colony will have to somehow “make do.” Depending on what they have, it could be a good chance that they’ll end up going primitive once things break down.

This assumes that history cannot be diverted, a concept used in the film The Terminator. You could have an alternate timeline or some such.

2) Could they have picked a point in time after the extinction event that ends the Cretaceous Age? Actually, this is a really minor point. If they’re going back 85,000,000 years, they’ve got about 20 million years before things go boom. Any human presence will be long gone by then.

3) If they have the resources to send a ten stage colonial effort millions of years into the past, why can’t they fix what’s wrong with the Earth, or utilize the technology to establish colonies on other habitable worlds?

It occurs to me that the amount of resources needed to open a temporal passage spanning at least 65 million years would be enormous. You’d be tapping fusion at least, if not antimatter as a power source, and even then how much of a power infrastructure are you going to need? We’re able to get a look at distant planetary systems now, so a century and change later you’d think we’d have found some place that doesn’t have a Starbuck’s.

The progression of technology — at least to me — would be: Slower Than Light travel –> Faster Than Light travel –> Time Travel/Post-Human Ascension. Granted, in many SF novels the whole Post-Human/Singularity concept could hit at any point on or after the Information Age, but time travel is pretty far out there on the tech tree.

I don’t know how or even if those questions I have can be answered in the context of the series. The third one would have to go by the wayside for sake of the plot, considering there’s no going back. The second question is largely irrelevant, and the first one … well, no telling how long the show will last or if the writers have an end in mind.

So, yeah, I’m taking a neutral stance on this show to a general lack of interest. If you enjoyed it, then make sure you let the network folks responsible for making the show know that you dig it — and do it before they announce a cancellation…


Money For Nothin’

“That ain’t working, that’s the way you do it. Get your money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.”

— Dire Straits, “Money For Nothing”

So I picked up the newest Anthrax album “Worship Music” via iTunes last week. Love it, but I also wanted to get the actual CD — partly for artwork, the booklet with lyrics, and also see the latest goofy photos the band took for the album. Plus it helps boost their revenues and encourages them to make more music.

Today is a Sunday for me, as I worked on Saturday, so while running errands I stopped in at the F.Y.E. store in the mall. It’s about the only music store I know of any more. When I walked in the store, I caught sight of a metal video and the music was pretty good. The band was Straight Line Stitch, and it didn’t hurt that singer Alexis Brown was smokin’ hot and capable of both singing and screaming with the best of them. Any who, I figured while I was there, why not scope out their CD and pick it up as well?

Well, the first snag came when I tried to find the “Worship Music CD.” The store had a fairly large section labelled metal. I happened to be in the lower end of the alphabet and found Straight Line Stitch easily. Price tag: $18. I went over to the A’s for my dose of disease…

And the shelf was bare. Not one single Anthrax CD, save for a single EP of live material. Now I can understand the store not having the new CD if people snagged it up. I can understand not having much stock in a lesser known artist. But this was ANTHRAX, dammit, on of the Big Four! Touring in Sonisphere! Pretty much led the thrash metal genre, and not one fucking disc from their back catalog.

Not cool.

Then I got to thinking, and I whipped out my iPhone, opened up iTunes to see if Straight Line Stitch had the same album there. The answer was yes… for $8. That got me thinking — how much money would the artist make if I bought the physical CD versus a download from iTunes?

I did a little bit of research, and I mean a little bit, but I’ve gleaned the following:

Artists make a fixed percentage per album sold, based in part on the band itself. Certain artists will be able to command a greater income based on their current marketability. However — and this is assuming I have it right — that percentage is based on the value before it gets marked up for retail sale. If the label nets $10 after I buy an $18 CD, then the artist gets $1-2.

If I buy the same album via iTunes, the artist gets almost the same cut. The label actually makes more off the sale — maybe three times as much — which is a shame if the artist isn’t on an indie label or doing it all on their own. The upshot for me is the price tag of about $9-12.

So if the artist is making the same amount of money regardless of the medium I choose, the only questions are these: Do I really want an actual CD, or just the music? Is the $8 hike worth the physical product, given that CD prices have not dropped over the years despite the reduced packaging?


Chimera Chili

As the seasons turn cooler, the actual cooking of food picks up here at Rancho Mikey. When you’re a conspiracy of one, working in a hot kitchen during the summer loses its appeal pretty damn quick. I never mind cooking for others, I just don’t like doing it for myself.

With that in mind, I decided to whip up a big batch of my own Chimera Chili. Now I’m not an expert on the stuff (from what I know that falls well within the state of Texas), but I can cook up a tasty pot of the stuff. Because I like to share, I thought I’d post my recipe to this little info-sphere. Enjoy!

NOTE: Due to some smart-ass Greeks getting the UN to pass the Bellerophon Act of 1964, chimera meat is now illegal, as the creature is now an endangered species. Unfortunately, this put a lot of epic heroes out of work.

1 lb lean ground turkey (or chicken)
1 lb lean ground bison (or beef)
1 lb ground lamb (or pork)
1 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes, and they must truly feel no hope
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can black beans
1 can red kidney beans (dark or light, depends on what side of the Force you woke up on)
1 can white kidney beans

Chili powder
Frank’s Red Hot sauce
Garam Masala
Chinese Five Spice Powder
Hot Curry Powder
Dundicut peppers (dried)

NOTE: I never measure the powdered spices listed here. I just add and adjust to taste as the chili cooks. If you’re wondering where to get anything listed besides Frank’s Red Hot, I recommend Penzey’s Spices, as they offer the best quality and good prices. If you’re wondering where to get Frank’s Red Hot, you have my pity.

IMPORTANT: Dundicuts can be mean little bastiges. They rate 55,000-65,000 scovilles, which is a step up from cayenne or tobasco. For a mild chili in this quantity, I use three. Five makes it spicy, seven makes it burntastic, and more gets you either the EPA or Department of Homeland Security knocking on your door asking what the hell you’re brewing in there.

Brown and drain each meat separately, then dump into a 5 quart crock pot. Chop up onions and toss them in. Add peppers, tomatoes & sauce and beans (drain first). Add spices to suit your taste (err on the side of mild if you must) and stir it all up good. Set your crock pot on high for about 60-90 minutes. Turn the crock pot down to low and do a taste test, adding more spices if necessary. While it may be ready to eat by this point, I let it cook on low for a few hours, stirring occasionally.

Serve with cheddar cheese or cornbread, leaving a Protection From Fire scroll or two on hand for those with sensitive digestions.

Warning: This is a pretty high-protein chili. Just remember what I said about the EPA paying you a visit.