Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: Ultimately Pointless

If you're even half of a science fiction fan, you know by now that the "re-imagined" version of Battlestar Galactica aired its series finale last Friday. In it, the fugitive Colonials finally defeated the mean Cylons (with the help of some friendly Cylons) and settled on Earth. Our Earth, mind you; not the one they were looking for, which was a different Earth populated entirely by Cylons who apparently wiped each other out.

A twist, however, reveals that the Colonials arrived at our Earth 150,000 years ago, and that a Cylon-Human hybrid child, Hera (a centerpiece of the series, for those of you who don't watch) is the "mitochondrial Eve."

Silly, I know, and the end result of the show is that, ultimately, it was all for naught.

What? What did I just write? Yeah, you read it... the entire series was an exercise in futility. I'll get to that in a bit, but first some background is in order.

Battlestar Galactica is about a space-faring human civilization that made its home light-years from Earth (the real Earth... ours). There, they colonized 12 planets and enjoyed existence among the stars. Eventually, they created a race of robots (the Cylons) who gained self-awareness and promptly waged war on their human former-masters. The war ended in an armistice, and the Cylons disappeared.

40 years later they return, and just as promptly whoop some serious ass. Now, I'm not going to go into all of the contradictory and completely illogical plot progressions of the series, but basically what happens is that the survivors of humanity (40 or 50k of them) take off in search of Earth, a supposedly mythical place that is the home to a 13th long-forgotten colony.

Their reasons for going there are simple: they need a new home, and they need that colony's help for protection against the Cylons.

Fast-forward to the finale: the Colonials take on the Cylons one last time and, despite the fact that we never see it happen on-screen, all of the bad-guy Cylons are destroyed. The Colonials win. They whooped some ass. And then, for some mysterious reason, they decide to populate the primitive Earth and fly all of their ships into the sun.

Basically, they have a new home, but no protection against the Cylons. And, let's face it, space is huge... there are undoubtedly more Cylons out there still looking for the Colonials. But, whatever.

So why is all this ultimately pointless? Well, think about it. The Colonials won. The illogical writers of the series want us to believe that all the bad Cylons are gone, leaving the Colonials to do whatever the Hell they want.

Put it this way: they could've went home. They could've went back to Kobol, which is supposedly their ancestral home. They could've gone anywhere in the galaxy and settled anywhere they wanted to.

Sure, they're a bit low on population, but they could've bred with the local Earthlings (the product of an extremely unlikely perfect parallel evolution), rebuilt their military strength, and gone back to the 12 Colonies later.

But, they can't. They're stuck. They went all that way to disappear into history. AND THEY COULD'VE WENT HOME. The Cylons were defeated. There was nothing left to fear. They no longer needed to find a new home... they had the choice of five different star systems (the 12 Colonies, Kobol, New Caprica, Earth 1, and Earth 2). They no longer needed protection against the Cylons. The journey was done, over, kaput.

And the messed up part is: they never even had to leave their home system in order to wind up with the same result.

Conclusion: ultimately pointless.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In Defense of... Obama?

Anybody who knows me knows that I'm no big fan of Barack Obama. I didn't vote last year (due to circumstances sort of beyond my control... long story), but even if I had, I wouldn't have voted for him. Neither would I have voted for McCain (I'm really not a Sarah Palin fan), but that's not the point.

So what is the point? Well, I'll get there in a minute, but let's get some ranting out of the way first.

Obama, for the most part, hasn't done anything that has really pissed me off yet. Sure, he hasn't done anything that has made me jump for joy, but the only thing I'm vehemently against him on is that ridiculous proposal that we should renew diplomatic relations with the Taliban. Bad idea. Iran? Yes. Cuba? Yes. The Taliban? Um... no.

And, yeah, I'm a bit upset about his campaign promises that he will increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps, seeing as how "his" proposed increases were already passed and were scheduled to be completed in 2010 (they're, in fact, almost completed now). Anyway, not a big deal, but I feel this particular issue was handled a bit disengenously.

Anyway, on to the point.

This past week, Obama has come under fire for something he said during an appearance on Jay Leno, as well as his demeanor during an interview on 60 Minutes. You all probably know this by now, but while on Leno, Obama compared his bowling ability to that of bowlers in the Special Olympics. In other words, he sucks. And while on 60 Minutes, Obama seemed to have a lackadaisical, even humorous, attitude towards the current shit state of the US economy.

I happened to have watched both appearances by our President, and you know what? Neither incident was anything to get all uppity over (I was going to write "form a lynch-party over," but given how a certain group of cry-babies likes to play the race card over said statement, despite the fact that almost everybody these days uses it as a mere synonym for "get pissed at," I'll avoid the term).

We've all used the comparison to retards (oops, sorry... "special people") to describe a lack of proficiency or aptitude in something, and it was easy to see that Obama was merely being genuine in implying that he sucked at bowling. Or, at the very least, acknowledging that Leno was implying that he sucked. There was no offense behind his words, and I'm glad he used the term... it helps "de-roboticize" the image he's formed (either purposefully or inadvertently) for himself over the past few months.

And then there was 60 Minutes. You could tell he was a bit nervous, and it's not too far a stretch to assume that he's a person who likes keeping tense atmospheres as light as possible (maybe he is and maybe he isn't, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt). I get that way sometimes, and most people who aren't pious zealots or recluses get that way sometimes. He very well may have been "punch drunk" (kudos for Steve Kroft for calling him out on it, regardless of the incident's purported "controversy"), but who gives a shit? How is laughing at an economic crisis any different than a cop laughing about a mutilated body at a crime scene? It's not, and both are undoubtedly necessary forms of stress relief.

Look, I'm of the opinion that Obama will probably not go down in history as one of our truly great Presidents, but he's (so far) doing just fine. I'll rag on him when he gets some intern fellatio, but not for speaking like an everyday person. And neither should you.

You want something to be hot and bothered about? Try those assholes in Oakland who were reportedly taunting cops as another cop lay dying.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Life is Interesting

Yep, I'm stating the obvious. Life is definitely interesting. It never quite matches your hopes and dreams, but it never quite matches your fears and nightmares, either. It just sort of happens, oblivious to anything you try to plan or do. Money comes and goes, health comes and goes... even people, friends and loved ones, come and go.

It sure is interesting.

Interesting despite the fact that all lifetimes can be summed up in three simple words: born, lived, died. Inconspicuously simple, and any biographer with an honest bone in their body will tell you that those three words are not only the most important descriptors in a life story, they're the only relevant descriptors in a life story. Born. Lived. Died.

Two of those words are absolutes. They happen exactly the same to everything on this planet. It's that middle word that is open to interpretation.

Some people view their lives as complete failures, while others can view those same lives as historic successes. Some view their actions in life as honorable, selfless, and totally within reason. Others see those actions more objectively: completely selfish.

People go about being honest to some, lying to others, hating a few, and loving still fewer. They work or don't, they play or don't, but all manage to affect and effect those who surround them, for better or worse.

In the end, though, what does it really matter? History books record a dishearteningly small portion of the events and people that have populated our planet in the eons since its formation. Nobody will ever hear of your aunt's neighbor's grandmother; nobody will ever hear of your friend's hairstylist's cousin. Those people just fade away, and everyone else will be none the wiser.

But, still... people like to think that they matter. That somehow the ebbing nature of time will recall the insignificant presence of the insignificant lives that are ours. Somehow, though, I don't think time gives a shit. In fact, I know it doesn't. It just ticks away in the perceptions of our minds, while we grow older and start wondering just what does happen after we die.

I don't think I'll care what happens. At last I hope I don't care what happens... I have a fear that one day I'll turn into a hypocrite and start spouting one of the humanist mythologies that we call religion as fact when they are so clearly fiction.

Time, though, is not a fiction. It may very well be relativistic, but we know it's real. And to truly live, we have to accept and acknowledge that our time, like our lives, is finite. I don't want to experience lives that don't want to experience mine... and I don't have time for those who don't have time for me.

I'll fade away, one day... of that I'm certain. Completely forgotten by people who pretend to care, but don't really give a shit.

It's all so very interesting.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alone in His Absence

Standing in the rain, he was alone in a crowd of several hundred. His mind blank, he was perfectly still, with a face devoid of emotion. A few present thought they recognized him, but none were convinced he was who they were thinking of, so he was left alone. A solitary wave in a sea of people.

He watched intently as the flag was lifted from the coffin, folded, and presented to a grieving widow. A familiar effect from a familiar cause, hanging heavy on a conscience he thought he managed to let sink into the quicksands of time.

Almost never formally invited, he still managed to almost always show up at such events. It was, as often proverbially pointed out to him, the least he could do.

Surveying the gathered mourners, his gaze crossed some of the men in uniform who were present at his friend's death. He knew that many of those men secretly ridiculed him, the long-haired Army drop-out who had seemingly run from the wars, and this almost made him laugh. For his secrets were far darker and deeper than theirs.

But nobody could know that, not without betraying circumstances and oaths that had long spiraled beyond his control. So, he just stood there in the rain, trying to fight off the creeping guilt of not being there when another friend was killed.

It was a futile guilt, he was well aware, as even when he had been there, friends were still killed and maimed. He, himself, had been injured on a mission, but it wasn't from enemy action... merely the random placement of a random rock that he and his parachute were blown into by a random wind.

The funeral came to a close. The people left, in groups and one-by-one. He continued to stand there and lit a cigarette in order to help pass the seconds ticking away from his mental clock. After a while, only he and the widow remained. Even the pastor had gone to have lunch, a hypocrite in sentiment and in purpose.

Initially, he was going to wait for the widow to leave. He preferred to pay his respects in solitude, alone in the presence of his friend, six feet beneath his shoes. She stayed, however, and didn't seem to want to leave. She wanted to stay with her husband forever, and until the pragmatic conclusion that her own life still needed to be lived, she would continue to stay.

He approached her, offered a cigarette. She wasn't a smoker, but she accepted. The two of them stared at the grave, their silence as deafening as the infinity of dreams in eternal sleep. Cognizant of the stranger beside her, she finally spoke.

"Do you believe in God?"

It was an odd question, he thought, for a woman who just buried her husband in a church cemetery to ask. He shook his head "no" in response. She laughed quietly, disconcerted by the unsympathetic, if somewhat expected, answer.

"Where do you think he is?"

He took a final drag from his cigarette, flicked out its burning embers, and placed the butt in his pocket, an action not unnoticed.

"Did you serve with my husband?"

Turning to her, he allowed the corner of his mouth to smile. He nodded slightly, both acknowledging and ignoring the question, and walked away... leaving her alone in his absence.

For the dead offer no company.