The era of nuclear nervousness and the nuclear monsters in cinema. “Take an object, and biggify it.” Nuclear power in the 1950s. The possibility of “unmetered” energy. White Sands, gypsum, and the Trinity test.
The nuclear success hit list and the optimism of the early 50s. Recognizing downsides. Converting hydrogen into helium, but like really violently. Eclipses, occlusion, and we didn’t realize it at the time but Joe was right to use “occultation.” Las Vegas atomic bomb parties.
It is! And also we’re old. But honestly this is still unironically the best thing. The legacy of the Matrix. Falling back in love with the Wachowskis. Addressing the sequels.
The Matrix as cyberpunk. Comparing against other touchstones. Philip K Dick. William Gibson’s review from the time.
When I began to write NEUROMANCER, there was no “cyberpunk”. THE MATRIX is arguably the ultimate “cyberpunk” artifact. Or will be, if the sequels don’t blow. I hope they don’t, and somehow have a hunch they won’t, but I’m glad I’m not the one who has to worry about it.
-William Gibson lol
Old school computing
Damn kids and their pixels. CRT displays and low/high persistence phosphorus and how we wound up irl with the bright glowing green text aesthetic that informed The Matrix. Eye fatigue back in the day. Computer-touchers. Staring at people at work for fun and profit. The Solarized color schemes.
Taking the red pill. How easy it actually really is to explain what The Matrix is. Neo is a giant, slimy baby. The inefficiencies of using humans as batteries when you have fusion power. Grass, tastes bad.
Benevolent AI Dictators
But WHAT IF The Matrix actually has humanity’s best interests in mind? The possibility that they really tried to give us our utopia.
Plasticity and your brain’s willingness to accept new input schemes. Designing The Matrix with a “failsafe” so the humans are unadapted to their physical bodies irl. Acquired synaesthesia. Supernumerary limbs and phallic cartwheels. Upside down goggles and adaptation to a new “up.” Permanence in sensory adaptations.
Hacking The Matrix
Bendable physics. The difficulty with bending or breaking the rules of computing hardware.
This was the best worst thing we’ve ever seen. I’m sorry. You’re welcome?
Leaving whole rocket stages to just kinda be in orbit and hit stuff. Talking in space by providing your own atmosphere thanks to your incredible, super lung capacity. Also, how that doesn’t work and Superman needs to be a close talker and hold conversations by vibrating his mouth directly on someone else’s spacesuit helmet.
Superman bodily materials
The hair that can hold at least a half ton. How does Superman cut his hair? Introducing weird gnarly alternate Superman with really long hair and uncut fingernails. Donating Superman’s bits to materials science. Making things out of hair. Totally realistic space elevator musings. Superman as a launch platform. Dissecting the Man of Steel for fun and profit. Using Superman for “free energy” (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal).
Superman’s built-in orbital mechanics skills. The tiny bit of nothing that would be all of 1987’s nuclear world arsenal against the power of the sun. The relative tiny-ness of the only nuclear weapons ever used in war. Proposals for nuclear de-proliferation. Going Dr Manhattan on the problem.
A bunch of stuff oh god this movie was silly
Nuclear Man’s totally fab nails. The golden crotch-trim on his super suit. Plugging a volcano. Superman’s “brick vision.” Slowing things down, because the moon has “less gravity.” It’s obvious, really. The actual disasters that await us if Superman pushed the Moon away.
The oft-overlooked actual difficulties of space settlement. Not technology and logistics, but like, how hard it will likely be for the humans doing the job at first. And second. And then for a while after, too.
Plants in spaaaaaaaace
Growing fresh food in space habitats. Poop-potatoes. Wide-spectrum LEDs. Self-contained hydroponics/aeroponics.
People in spaaaaaaaaace. Dealing with microgravity. Bro, do you even lift in space? Eyeball un-squishing. Figuring out how to burp. Fluid-pooling and major injury.
Turning people into jelly. Differing human sensitivity to sustained g-forces in different directions. The wonderful engineering concept of the ship with omnidirectional seating that reconfigures on-the-fly for optimal g-resistance (The Razorback).
High-speed space impact
Turning into jelly and then having your jelly explode your ship, because physics. Relativistic baseballs. Long-haul space-racing and how to be your own butt-wiping pit crew.
Kinetic weapon diplomacy
Nuclear non-proliferation treaties in space. Orbital kinetic weapons and cloaked nuke-ships playing the role of the submarine as deterrent.
Interstellar highway program
Minimum viable star system bootstrap answering machine. The Fermi paradox. The odds that most of the signs of alien civilization that we might discover would be past.
The Universe Today Ultimate Guide to Viewing The Cosmos: Everything You Need to Know to Become an Amateur Astronomer by David Dickinson & Fraser Cain: Amazon
The Expanse Season 3: Prime Video
Guide to Space by Fraser Cain: YouTube
Ahhhhnold! Your average Joe, working construction just like any other regular guy who is a giant bodybuilding monster-person. We really missed this in our coverage of Total Recall 2012.
Memory “insertion” and memory “deletion” or “blocking” in mouse studies. The great distance from where we are now to trivial memory “vacations” a la Recall. Semantic memory, autobiographical memory, and muscle memory.
Ideal tracking-implantation locations. The incredible utility of the anus for tracker storage, weighed against the small time window.
Building Martian settlements with as much radiation exposure as possible: glass! glass everywhere! Radiation exposure on the Martian surface. Burying your dead on Mars: a tasteful resource-wasting mausoleum indoors, a giant pile of bleached-out mummies outside the door, or arrange them in awesome poses?
Natural resources in space. Calculating mining cost vs cost to get it where it will be useful. Mining and transporting Helium-3 for fusion energy. Harvesting oxygen from frozen water and getting rocket fuel as a bonus. NASA’s Moxie and inventing trees for spaaaaace. Making your Martian habitat smell like a dirty fish tank, for science.
Glistening, rippling man-meat. Sweaty pecs. Aggressive handshakes with biceps the size of coconuts. Longing for the good old days. Feeling unjustified disappointment when our heroes aren’t giant walking meat monsters. The inapplicability of the bodybuilder physique to actually getting hero stuff done. Bodylifting.
“Savant syndrome is a condition in which someone with significant mental disabilities demonstrates certain abilities far in excess of average” –Wiki. As opposed to someone just simply being awesome at something. Josh’s recent related coverage from The X-Files Podcast @ LSG Media. Acquired savantism. Aptitude for… alien user interfaces? Trans-cranial magnetic stimulation.
Chess club vs computer club. Afterschool D&D. Duke Nukem and Team Fortress LAN parties at school.
Predator vs prey. Linguistically, should they be called “predator” if they hunt mainly for sport? “Predator” as a label for a biological relationship in which one creatures hunts and eats another for sustenance. The deadliest cat in the world. Humans as top “predator.” How to judge top predator when the line is not so clear cut.
Survey of movie alien contact scenarios and what they reveal about us. Energy required for interstellar travel and the likelihood anyone will happen by by accident. Government secrecy. Zip tie budgets and how to keep an alien captive. irl tranquilizer dart use and the inherent dangers. Why not to shoot yourself with an alien tranquilizer dose.
Building the megapredator
Selecting desirable traits from around the cosmos. Leave enough room for my stomach. Spinal juice collection. Gene manipulation. Selecting for intellectual traits: competitive science. Interpretive flex-dancing to enable armor modes.
Reasonable solutions to the predator problem. The fix for climate change (fusion?). Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator integrated with The Predator, Aliens, and Blade Runner. How awesome was the original predator?
Josh is on other shows at LSG Media!: Science Fiction Film Podcast, The X-Files Podcast
Meet the Deadliest Cat on the Planet: YouTube
Hey this movie was really important! Time and place. Budgets. Omg so pretty.
Subtitling adult anime for the west. Translation vs localization. Different industries and approaches to localization. Software localization in comparison to film localization. Fansubs online before the likes of Crunchyroll.
Horsepower! Sweet motorcycles. High-speed motorcycle attacks. Turning people into “mushwater.”
giant slidey freight elevators. Also mountainside trams. Related words:
Funicular is Latin for cord
Funiculus is Latin for umbilical cord
Umbilicus is Latin for navel
Underwater or otherwise. Rivers vs sewers. The Tokyo sewer and transport overhaul preceding the 1964 Olympics. The inefficiency of poop-sucking truck fleets. Traveling in sewers and dysentery avoidance.
Creepy, wrinkly children. Psi floaty chairs, the escalator of chairs! When operational, their ares a floaty chair. When they fail, they are… a comfortable chair.
Obvious thing to do: government research into mind-bullets. Surprising thing: when it works. Even more surprising: when it works so well it blows up Tokyo and starts World War III.
Laser rifles! Conventions against blinding weapons. Tricking the enemy into rout with elaborate eyepatches. Recognizing the obvious advantages of space lasers. Space-based light concentrators. The difficulties of penetrating atmosphere with space-based lasers. Space lasers for space junk cleanup (Kurtzgesagt).
Overloading on mind bullets and turning into a big blobby guy before going all mini-singularity. Crushing your girlfriend in your fleshy bits.
All the important parts, wherever they are! Who really cares anyway we’re only here for two in particular: the iris and the retina. The retinal blind spot.
And intelligent design. Are wrong. Reaching conclusions and working backwards for fun and profit. Young Earth creationism. Dan’s religious upbringing. Irreducible complexity. Faulty reasoning.
The evolution of the modern vertebrate eyeball
Fish and their goofy eyeball arrangements. The crazy Charlie eyeball progress chart. Light sensitive flat patches, pits, enclosures, open pinhole eyeballs, lenses, and flexing your sphincters. Dan’s episode on Three-D Vision.
Comparative eyeball studies
Human eyes are pretty sweet! But there other ones that do other things (at their own local summits on Mount Improbable) and are also really good at stuff! Goats, sharks, snakes (sorta), bees. Removing your lenses for fun and profit. Monet’s lens removal and ultraviolet perception.
Common “colorblindness” is a misnomer, but “color discernment syndrome” doesn’t flow as well. Retinal wiring and the “blind spot.” Saccades. “Chronostasis” or “the stopped clock illusion” and the tight coupling of our eyes and our brains.
Selecting scanning sites for statistical uniqueness and natural resistance to hacking. The insufficiency of fingerprints. Iris scans. Retinal scans. Bio-identification security. Ease of use.
Rationalism/spiritualism/etc. The rational scientific worldview and self-correction. The absolution of new knowledge.
A sharky public service message/pro-shark propaganda. Sharks get a bad wrap in the media. Eating weird stuff. The importance of sharks in the ocean and their roles in their particular ecosystems.
Biting the internet. Alternative shark species name suggestions. “Exploratory” biting. Claspers! The Megalodon’s likely “biiiiiiiiiig” penis. Shark skin with dermal denticles, aka “teeth paper.” Shark intelligence and how you might measure it.
Irl best estimates of megalodon size vs the creatures of the film. Limited fossil data and cartilaginous skeletons. Learning from paleoarchaeological study of ancient shark relatives with more calcified skeletal material. Working backward from the modern shark bodyform. Ancient buzzsaw-mouthed monsters. The importance of teeth.
It gets a bit weird! And we have a bit of a time summarizing it.
Adventure stories. Social allegory. The power of science fiction in particular to force you to reframe your perception by believably breaking your assumptions. HG Wells and Moreau. Science fiction tropes and the subversion thereof. Christopher is bad at human things.
Languages, dialect, and speaking to your audience. “Not having to think about it.”
Mass media vs indie communities. The lowest common denominator. Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans.
A lament for the concentration on cow’s milk. Mare milk. Fermented milk products from cows and horses.