Go for the big guns!

I recently saw some clips from a couple different sci-fi movies depicting human soldiers in combat against aliens. In one they were up against alien robots, and the other against swarms of huge alien bugs. In both cases they were seriously out-matched. They could empty magazine after magazine into these aliens, seemingly to no effect (unless it’s a main character being threatened, and then it would only take a dozen rounds or so).

The thing that bothers me is that in neither case were the humans caught off guard. They had fought these aliens before. They were specially trained to fight these aliens.

So why were they so poorly equipped to do so?

In both cases they were eventually able to call in heavier firepower or air support that was finally equal to the task. But I have to wonder, if that’s what’s proven to work, don’t they just lead with that?

Yeah, I know. It’s a movie, gotta heighten the drama, can’t have it be too easy. But I’ve seen it done well. I’ve seen movies where the humans’ weapons are equal to the task under normal circumstances, but the aliens are able to take advantage of surprise, terrain, and/or superior numbers. That’s entirely different from firing hundreds of rounds at a single creature to no effect. You can have your humans be competent and still make things difficult. And frankly, the movies that do are generally acknowledged as some of the best military sci-fi movies of all time.

I can see a first-contact situation where the humans encounter aliens with no idea what to expect. But in cases where they’ve been fighting these aliens for a while there’s no excuse for them to show up without their best stuff. If the machine guns don’t work so well and the grenades do, forget the guns, go for the grenades. If air power is what works, put a couple of marines on the ground with laser target-finders and bomb the snot out of them. You don’t send in a company of troops with weapons that won’t do the job without a really, really good reason.

Or maybe it’s just me.


Sell it!

Fancy wine descriptions can make you feel more emotional when you drink

That’s the conclusion of a recent study from the University of Adelaide. This immediately brought to mind Mary Robinette Kowal’s short story “Waiting for Rain”, which deals heavily with the wine industry and includes such wine descriptions as section-bumps.

Finding the right balance so that description doesn’t become purple prose can be a little tricky–as the article suggests–but perhaps it’s more worth trying for than I previously thought.

The impossible woman

It’s no secret by now that I find Camille Paglia fascinating. By all modern media standards she shouldn’t exist. But every time I read either an article by her or an interview with her I learn something, even if I don’t always agree with her. But perhaps that’s her appeal: where we disagree it seems she disagrees thoughtfully and respectfully. She can be strong in her denouncements, but not strident, and the fact that she holds views all across the political spectrum only lends to her credibility.

Perhaps I’m only seeing what I want to see, but she seems like someone with whom, even if you disagree, could have a fascinating and thought-provoking conversation. I would love to have the chance to validate that view sometime.

The latest piece of evidence can be found here: On Trump, Democrats, Transgenderism, and Islamist Terror


And to think I get frustrated when my writing just isn’t coming out quite right today. I’m a little late to the party, probably, but this young woman’s determination and adaptability is inspirational.

Fun with architecture

While taking an online Java course I was introduced to this gem:

This is the Longeberger Basket Company’s headquarters. The teacher of my online course held this up as an example of design gone awry and claimed he’d never want to work there.

I have to disagree. The potential for “our company is going to heck in a handbasket” jokes is just to good to miss.

Okay, I’d like to work there for a week. Tops.

I’ll bet they have awesome company picnics, though. And their CEO really has a handle on things, though I’ve heard he’s a real basket-case. And the entire company was up in arms over Hillary’s “Basket of Deplorables” comment.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’ve just killed any chance I ever had to working for Longeberger Basket. Awesome landscaping, though! It would be a beautiful place to work.

Luddite trolls

Last night my wife and I were out walking the dog when someone driving past yelled something at us and flipped us off. I don’t recall what he said, but it was only to get our attention. There was no indication that there was a reason for his behavior, only that we were two strangers who just happened to be nearby when he got bored. And, evidently, what he finds entertaining is trying to make random people feel bad.

The incident would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad. I could only shake my head and think, “Your mother must be SO proud.”

It occurs to me, however, that what we witnessed was a reminder of life before the Internet. The Internet did not invent trolls. Clearly they’ve been around far longer than the epithet “troll”. They’ve likely existed as long as there have been ways for people to say or do nasty things to people while either preserving their anonymity or escaping quickly enough to avoid consequences. I can imagine medieval trolls galloping by pedestrians on horses and screaming, “Is that thy face or thy buttocks? Which way doest thou walk?”, then continuing onward before their target can respond.

Or ancient Mesopotamians secretly leaving clay tablets in view in the public square inscribed with “Samok secretly worships Ashtaroth and smells like three-week-old goat’s milk!”

It all just goes to show that technological advancement has not made us any wiser, nor any more productive in our boredom. It just opens up new avenues for the same old debased behaviors.