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Sci-fi Movie Binge

So I was looking for some good sci-fi movies to watch. I had been in the mood for sometime now but just never seemed to make the effort to watch them. So I put a list together and decided that it was now and never.

The List

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. A Clockwork Orange
  3. The Abyss
  4. AI
  5. Alien
  6. Aliens
  7. Avatar
  8. Back to the Future
  9. Brazil
  10. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  11. Contact
  12. Chronicles of Riddick
  13. Dark City
  14. ET
  15. Elysium
  16. Equilibrium
  17. Event Horizon
  18. eXistenZ
  19. The Fifth Element
  20. The Fly
  21. Galaxy Quest
  22. Gattaca
  23. Gravity
  24. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  25. I, Robot
  26. Idiocracy
  27. Inception
  28. Independence Day
  29. The Iron Giant
  30. Jurassic Park
  31. Logan’s Run
  32. The Matrix
  33. Men in Black I & II
  34. Minority Report
  35. Moon
  36. Oblivion
  37. Pitch Black
  38. Planet of the Apes (1968 through 2001)
  39. Predator II
  40. Spaceballs
  41. Species
  42. Star Wars: I-VI
  43. Sunshine
  44. Surrogates
  45. The Time Machine (2002)
  46. They Live!
  47. Total Recall (1990 * ), (2012)
  48. Twelve Monkeys *
  49. Underworld
  50. Wall E
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Dean Koontz To Read

The idea that a single author can turn out as many books as Koontz and make them perfect every time is hard to imagine. The reason, simple improbability, such a feat can never be achieved across books and audiences. I don’t think he’s a terrible author. But many people do. You hear them say formulaic, religious and stale. I often hate bestsellers because they don’t have what I would call character. All of DK’s books have character, possibly a bad ending, and lots of fun to be had. I have been told time and time again that his older books are better. Some of the books that I would like to try include:
  • Strangers
  • Watchers
  • The Bad Place
  • From the Corner of His Eye
  • Fear Nothing/Seize the Night
  • Dark Rivers of the Heart
  • False Memory
People have called his work, hackish, akin to bad B-movie horror. Well number one on my list of terrible authors is Stephen King for the simple reason that his books bore me silly and don’t captivate me at all. He has good ideas but just pulls the whole work down with his style. I’ve always hated the way in which King depicts conversations. I am a religious person and his books are consistently dirty and filled with swear words. And while I know that people swear in real life, only try-hards feel the need to cuss in every mundane conversation they ever have. For that reason I don’t like Game of Thrones either. Though everybody has different tastes in books.
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Brilliant Map on Ginger Distribution in Europe

Here is an interesting map that shows the distribution of red haired people by country.   I have red (don’t believe everything you read) that the Udmurt People are the most red haired in the world, even more than the Irish. I don’t know of any data to back that up, but they do have a lot of redheads. ~XO
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Genghis Khan the Green Eyed Ginger

This is just speculation, hearsay and lack of real evidence. But I thought that I would use it as a topic today to post about. Mainly because this is something that people tell me all the time. In part, it is an attempt to make conversation, they want to connect with me. Or hit on me. It is usually the latter when I am out clubbing; regardless of how often I hear it, it always came across as suspicious. Though I am naturally a skeptical person; especially when the motivation behind the statement is only a pretense to get close.

About Genghis & Me

I should say, while history is of interest to me, Genghis and I have never gotten close. It would be a stretch to say that I know much about it at all, though I am interested in the region. Just not his exploits. This will not be a history lesson, nor are all of my facts, checked and doubled checked. So take information revolving around him with a grain of salt. Wikipedia has a lot of good primary sources for this information. The question of where a group of people came from, sadly, isn’t really a direct and certain answer, as it is unknown how the migrations of other peoples to the region exactly affected the genetic composition of the ethnicity.

Red Hair, Green Eyes

Having any of those traits was at the time of Genghis Khan uncommon. He came form Temujin, and there are few surviving accounts of what he actually looked like. Some claim he had red hair and blue/green eyes, yet you should be skeptical. Why? There are Uyghur with these vary traits living there now. Yet, Ugyhurs with red hair and/or very light eyes are generally a result of the fact that they were not the original inhabitants of Xinjiang, the area in which they mostly currently reside. Tocharians held the area before the Uyghurs, and they were an Indo-European people who had a tendency towards light hair/eyes (see Tarim mummies). The closest modern relatives to the Tocharians are of course the Afghans and Pashtuns, but in China the, Uyghurs would be most closely related to Tocharians, not the Mongols. It’s not uncommon for Afghans to have light eyes and hair. There’s no real evidence to suggest Genghis Khan had green eyes and red hair. It’s not an outlandish claim since there are a good number of Mongols with lighter hair and eyes but this gives people the wrong idea.

They infer that these traits must mean there are “white” Mongols. There aren’t. They just look like Asian people with green or blue eyes, just like how white people don’t look “Asian” just because they might have dark hair and eyes. They share a similar culture, language, and history with the other Indo-Iranian peoples in the region, which is important to note considering that Tocharians traditions would have otherwise been more prevalent. Of course, there could be some modern day relationship between the two ethnicities, but the Tocharians, for the most part, did not live in that area, but more towards the Tarim Basin. This is evident in genetic testing that has shown relations between the modern Uyghur peoples and Europeans, which can easily be read about here. So, in short, the Tocharians weren’t related directly to the Afghans, as they are Iranian. For more information on the Iranian migrations, look here. Of course, I am only referring to “descendants” in terms of ancestors with the most effect on the modern population; if we want to go thousands of years back, there is evidence that the entire region of the Indian subcontinent was inhabited by peoples who shared a common, non-Indo-European genetic background. If you go back far enough, the Afghans becone Proto-Indo-Europeans, people of the Indus Valley Civilization, and the inhabitants of the BMAC, but on the other hand we all have diverse ancestral backgrounds, some untraceable, within us. I hope this has given some clarification about what I was trying to say.
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Oh Boy, Showered With Love

Today I am taking a little bit of a detour from my usual topics. And while I do post about myself from time to time I try to keep it focused on a topic rather than the truly personal level. Today I felt that the trend that I had started with that shifted a little. But I hope that you will still enjoy it. At least to some degree. So where do I start?

My Cousin’s Baby Shower

I will try and leave the general giddiness of this whole adventure out, but, I just wanted to say before I got started that it was amazing. I had never actually thought that they could be fun. Well, I knew from past experiences that they were anything but fun. And in fact, could actually be sort of a pain. But then I didn’t know the “mommies” (god, I disapprove of that term) that well, and the hostesses decided to make the day full of fun. Which always flat on its face if you ask me. But that might just be me. Maybe, and just maybe, I never had the right experience, which would explain the difference here.

What’s the Difference

Trying too hard. I think that is the biggest thing that makes a difference. For the most part a modern baby shower comes with all of these expectations that really do nothing but stroke the ego of either the organizer or the one being honored with the celebration. It, and this is my opinion, gets in the way of the purpose. And with that I mean focusing on what is really important. Gifts? No. I really think that in most cases the idea of only hosting a shower for the gifts is beside the point.

The Big Deal

So what is the big deal then? Well, I am glad that you asked because I think that you will be pleasantly surprised. The big for me, and this is what I realized the other day when we were celebrating was that it was about the fun of being together. Not with a lot of people, the right people. You see when you realize that you don’t need to collect as many people together as possible, only focusing on getting the people together that really matter it becomes a whole different experience. At least for me it did. The showers that I attend in the past set their sight on making things grand. Styling it around, well: a nautical theme and a twins theme that was more or less a baby boy theme with double everything. The latter was also pretty extravagant, in so much as they they spent more on the afternoon than I think the honoree got in gifts. Not that that is the point of a baby shower, but boy I never anticipated eating caviar at a baby shower.
Side Note:
We didn’t have anything special to eat at the baby shower: cake, tea, and finger food (i.e. snacks: chips etc.), but it was more than enough. The invitations were simple, nice and to the point. Which, I mean, it doesn’t need to do that much. If it can fulfill those simple criteria then it has served its purpose. Trying to make it do anymore than that is simply asking to much when you ask me. (Not that you did.)

I See It Differently

With all things you can over do it. You can take something that, from my perspective now, can be a really enjoyable experience and you can make it something that it is not. I wouldn’t dream of organizing a professional photographer for the day, but when I was at the one for my best-friend’s sister’s shower for the twins they had one. And if that wasn’t enough everyone had to do a silly photo with a sign with a “message for the babies.<- This is seriously a thing. Seriously? The kids won’t even know who I am, nor will they have the desire to look at all of the photos with “on the spot” messages scribbled over a chalkboard. Sorry, it is just not going to happen. And honestly I would be happy if they get lost. My message was really on the spot and I would really be thankful if nobody ever looked at it again. Who comes up to ideas like that anyway? Hopefully I will never have to sit through another shower like that again, baby or otherwise since I know now they can be rather enjoyable.
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Good List, Could Be Better

This list of male sci-fi writers is good. It could be better. I haven’t even heard of sp,e of them, and I used to run an SF club in high school. I’m a bit sad to see no Olaf Stapledon or James White. If you get the chance you should check out Olaf Stapledon and James White! Olaf Stapledon wrote Star Maker, what Arthur C. Clarke described as one of the finest works of science fiction ever written, and James White revolutionized the writing of realistically non-humanoid aliens in the pulp magazine age of pretty blonde princesses from Mars and mindless bug-eyed monsters. Star Maker is one of my favorite books and I’m unapologetic about it! I’ll definitely be checking out some of them though. Thanks for the recommendations. ~XO If you are looking for a list of si-fi grandmasters you can find one here. You will recognize many or most of the names, but maybe not all. This list is the collection of authors that other science fiction authors consider to be the most important in the field.
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The Alienist by Caleb Carr

When I first meet the Alienist it was in the form of previews for the Netflix show that was running on TNT. I thought to myself: Looks good. Victorian. Creepy. Good cast. Good looking sets. And no doubt in 4k too. So I have yet to see the series, but I decided to pick up the book. I am arriving at the conclusion that I am no longer reading this book because I enjoy it, but because I have sunk enough time into it so I may as well finish it. Alright, don’t get me wrong, it is a page turner and the time flies when I am reading it, but I just have way too many problems with it to completely suspend my belief and immerse myself into the world of the book. If you don’t want to read through a post where I complain about things, turn back now. If you do, then without any more delay let me jump right into the three things that stood out to me the most while I have been reading The Alienist: First, considering this book’s premise is deductive psychological work being used to find a killer it is really fishy that the big break comes from a random occurrence. This is usually a sign that the author did not know how to believably move the story forward with the chosen method. It is a gimmick, as if fate, or in this case the author, had decided to toss the detectives a bone. And when the author needs to go about setting things up, just so that the protagonist could get a random piece of information that just points to the killer like a giant billboard sized arrow you know that you have a problem with your logic. There is an attempt to make it sound like they were using their skills to decide if this was a real break, by contacting their detective friends, but those detective friends gave no reason why they thought this specific piece of data was important. So in essence neither the location of the break nor the subsequent justification for the break being deemed valid, has much to do with serious deducting work we were previously exposed to. Second, and this may be because this topic has been a popular one on some of the places I get my book news, is violence against women. We have two prominent female characters and both of them have a history of sexual abuse, and one is even killed to push a male protagonist’s story forward. I have written about my dislike of Sara being a strange emotionally volatile character that jumps to anger if her gender is insulted, but what is her real purpose in the narrative? This becomes more of a problem when she offers advice to Lazlo. Lazlo said he wanted her ‘female perspective’ yet he ignores the information she provides. And the other woman is a love interest that is later killed for the sake of dramatic value. Are the female characters in this book independent individuals or stage decorations for the men who are the real actors? I would say that it is the latter. Which is very unfortunate. Third, although this is tightly tied with the previous section, is the treatment of side characters who are women. I won’t speak of the mother of one of the victims or the madam at one of the whorehouses, but I will point out the mother of our murderer. There is a very long info dump on the abuse that the killer experienced from his mother when he was a child. This is the the abuse that had made him the monster that he is. It is the driving force behind his actions. And you could argue that it is use in part as justification. Yet the abuse that the mother suffered at the hands of her husband, is swept under the rug. If we are supposed to feel empathy towards the killer, because he was denied a human upbringing, where is the call for empathy for his mother? You won’t find it. At this point I am certain that I will not continue the series. The bottom line is that what I wanted from this book has turned out to be stage decorations, rather than the main focus, and I really do not care to read any more stories set in this world. There are other authors I want to try, and be disappointed by. ~XO
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Carnosaur by Harry Adam Knight is a great read. Its pulpy but very well written. I generally recommend the novel if you can find it. It’s on Amazon for a reasonable price for a copy that’s readable, though not mint. It’s kinda surreal reading a pre-Jurassic Park book that has some similarities to Crichton’s work out of sheer coincidence and is otherwise totally unrelated and vastly different than the movies. High fiction it is not, but if given a decent budget I’d think it make for a fun film that is earnestly good and not so-bad-it’s-good. There is little evidence Crichton might have even been aware of Carnosaur the novel as it wasn’t a very well published book and the similarities in JP the novel and Carnosaur the novel lay in use of a Dromaeosaurid and fossil DNA. However the methods, themes, settings, and characters all drastically differ. That said if you got some info I’d love to see it! This was just me observing some odd similarities between the Carnosaur novel and what is visible in the Fallen Kingdom footage. It is my pick for second best dinosaur horror novel after the Jurassic Park. On a side note Brosnan disliked Roger Corman’s film adaptation of his novel, nonetheless it was the reason that I was even aware of the original story. Everybody goes through a Corman phase right?
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Binge Watched Bosch (Spoilers)

So … I do watch TV, too. Though I enjoy a good book as much or more and I’ve tried a couple of Michael Connely’s books, mostly Lincoln Lawyer but one Bosch. It turns out that I may have done Bosch a disservice since I just got done watching the show. Yes, the whole show. And it was good. As for rating I would say:
  1. Season I
  2. Season IV
  3. Season II
  4. Season III
I know that season V is in the works, and I see a lot of potential to fall into the trap that season II & III did. That was the action aspect. Drawing on his military career. Aside from being a tunnel rat we don’t know what happend to him in the war. And I am fine with that, it worked well in season I to hint about it since it fit into the world and the case that he was trying to solve. With the death of Elenor I feel like they may be trying to take it back into an action Harry direction (original show runner is also coming back from season I-III). Let Harry be a cop. There’s plenty of trauma and drama right there. Don’t make him take on the world.
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On Repotting Plants

When I first started out, new apartment, new responsibilities, and new plants I didn’t do as well as I expected. Live and learn. I am not the type of person that accepts defeat well; I learn from my failures, I do better. My potted plants were the biggest failure, and they also held the most value in my life. My mother and grandmother both donated plants that they had cared for for years. They were sort of like family members. All but one died under my care. My mistake? Repotting? Potting up? My real mistake is that I was trying too hard, I wanted to do it “right” and in the end did it wrong.

Repotting/Potting Up

Soil in nature is constantly changing. New organic matter is being broken down, the soil is aerated by things living in it. Much of this doesn’t happen in the artificial environments we make for our plants, so we have to put a little effort into their care ourselves. For most plants, they can go a few years without being repotted, although most will survive in the same soil for a LONG time. You don’t need to replace all of the soil when you refresh or repot it. Just loosen up the roots a little and some of the old soil will fall out. Both replace soil, but only one will replace the container. Plants grow, and their roots will outgrow the container limiting the size of the plant, this is what is known as being root bound. There’s two ways to fix this. One is to transplant it into a larger container, but obviously you’re going to have to limit it at some point which brings up your second option, trimming the roots(and foliage). If your plant is root bound to keep it healthy and in the same container just take it out and cut off the outer layer of roots, maybe 1/5th of the total roots, and replace that now empty space with fresh dirt. You’ll likely also have to trim the foliage back if that’s getting too large. The second problem you’ll run into in never switching pots is your soil will run out of nutrients and this can be solved by fertilization, or if it’s a low nutrient plant simply replacing the soil as mentioned above may be enough. What and how much you should feed your plants will be depends on the type of plant you have so there are no general answers there. If you keep the other aspects under observation, a plant’s soil can go a long time. In fact I don’t plan to replace the soil in my potted plants soil for the next 10 years. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you don’t have to do. Soil doesn’t go “bad” but the particles do break down. And in a closed system of a container, there isn’t a full ecosystem of soil organisms to aerate the soil. And you can get a lot of salt deposits that accumulate in your soil after years of watering. But repotting becomes important when the soil particles have broken down. This is usually once they have broken down to the point that the smaller particle size of the medium interferes with aeration of the roots.