Young Blood Vampirism
I read an interesting article the other day – in New Scientist again – about the use of young blood to help people with cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Apparently, young blood can be used in the treatment of heart disease, cholesterol, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases. I suppose most of these ailments are associated with older adults, but it’s interesting that at least in rats, these types of problems can be solved by blood transfusions. Yeah…the study worked in rats and the tests done on humans are a bit questionable, but it looks like there may be something there – they just need to better test the hypothesis.
In any case, I’ve noticed (as I’m sure many have) that vampirism is a common theme in games, literature, and all kinds of pop culture. Perhaps this is a precursor to encouraging more blood donations by young people so that older people can get rid of these life threatening diseases.
In League of Legends we have Vladimir, in movies we’ve had Underworld, Twilight, and of course the original Nosferatu. All these depict the lure of immortality based on blood consumption. Living without concern for death or disease because you drink the blood of others – even to the extent that they perish.
The last panel in the image is from Paper Girls issue #6 where the characters travel into the future and encounter themselves. Imagine being able to donate your own blood as a child and store it for when you grow older. Just like we do with eggs and sperm, in years to come, it could become common place to store blood or plasma to provide a transfusion to yourself if you get any of the indicators that you have some deadly disease.
Science sure is amazing and can also bring up some interesting dilemmas.
Three Takes on Human History
What does a book about giant robots, a archaeological dig in Morocco, and an issue of Marvel’s Thor all have in common? They’re all part of my Morning Ramble today. Actually, they all touch on human origins – from the scientific, to the mythological, to extraterrestrial intelligence. Regardless of of your beliefs in gods, science, or aliens, looking for the origin of man is always a hot topic and one I happened to stumble upon this morning through my reading.
After finishing with the Superman story arc yesterday, I decided it was time to take another look at Marvel so I went on over to Comic Book Herald’s My Marvelous Year to see where they were at. They’re currently running through 2005 this month, but there is a huge message saying that 2004 is a really good jumping on point for current Marvel. Well, I’m sure for some 2004 is current, but I figured it’ll good to read some stuff closer to this time frame (I’m already reading through 1963 Marvel), kinda like I’m doing with DC. This lead me to Avengers Disassembled and the first issue in that story is Thor #80 (actually more on that in another post).
Thor #80 begins with a prologue featuring the birth of the universe. Odin and his brothers put the beat down on Ymir (the big oaf who always freezes people in SMITE) and they created heaven and Earth from his body. Needing a great weapon to destroy their enemies, Odin charged the Dwarf Gitri with forging the hammer Mjolnir. In making the hammer, the mold was created in the forge of the cosmos and in doing so, worlds were shattered, the dinosaurs were destroyed and conditions were set for the rise of man.
While there is not date indicated for this prologue, it happens a long time before the current day, with the main highlight (at least for this post) being that the forging of Mjolnir made the human race possible.
Flash forward to the present (and the real world) and I read an issue of New Scientist, a magazine I love since it gives little snippets of interesting science on a weekly basis so I can feel like I know what’s going on (not like the news covers anything other than political crap these days). This issue contains an article about fossils found in Morocco. This is, of course, nothing new, but the jaw bones they found appear to date back to 350,000 years ago. And they’re Homo sapiens – yeah us!
Apparently prior to this discovery, the oldest bones were found in East Africa dating back to 200,000 years ago but some think South Africa may have some 260,000 year old fossils that fit the bill. In any case, these 350k year old bones appear to be the earliest now known humans.
With Mythology and Science outta the way, I take a look at Science Fiction and Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. In this book, a bunch of parts for a giant robot are found around the world and it is deduced that some alien race planted them thousands of years ago. The idea is that a superior race put these robot parts deep underground to be discovered when human technology reached a certain point in its evolution. Well, with the advent of nuclear reactions, humanity has reached the point where these robot parts start rising outta the ground and the race is on to piece them together to form Voltron. The story is really good and I’ll dive into it another time, but I just thought it was so interesting that an alien type origin or at least alien interference in human development was hinted at when I ran into the other 2 stories.
Such a coincidence that within the past couple of days (I actually finished reading Sleeping Giants 2 days ago) I’m exposed to 3 different takes on human origin. Gods, Science, and Aliens – 3 tales about the rise of mankind. I’m sure there may be more, and someday we might actually know the real story, but I find all the ways people try to understand their origin interesting.
There’s been a murder and the only witness and suspect is an Integrator. This is the basis of the Lock In story by John Scalzi…pretty standard detective story, but the setting is what makes this a fun read.
You see, an Intergtator is someone who’s been altered to allow someone to ‘ride’ them. And by ride, I mean someone can control their body to interact with others or experience things – like sky diving. The Integrator class of people were created as a result of and a response to Haden’s syndrome, an illness that killed millions around the world and left millions more in a state where they are mentally conscious but have no voluntary muscular control. Thus, these Hadens, as they’re called, ride either an Integrator or a Threep – an humanoid robot body with no intelligence other than the Haden (a human rider) – to interact with the world.
So as you can see, having an Integrator as the only witness and suspect makes things a bit complicated.
I just started the book yesterday and I am really loving it. I’m halfway through and am pretty sure I’ll finish it off today. So far, it’s a fun and engaging read.
Morning Ramble for January 25th, 2017 in which I take a look at the second issue of Letter 44 and try to guess who’s baby it is and I make a wrong turn in Destiny and find…something I might not like.
Things continue to be interesting in this book. Myfanwy now has a hint of who she was before she lost her memory and the story is getting more like a cross between Total Recall and The Bourne Identity – lose the memory that you were a kick-ass secret agent. The major difference is that she’s got some type of magical powers and worked for a supernatural government agency. In any case, its exciting so far. Most of what she’s learning about herself is coming from letters that ‘she’ wrote to herself before she forgot everything. It’s a pretty interesting method for revealing the story and so far it works for me.
We rewatched Westworld episode 8 (Trace Decay) last night and I am really liking this show. We already watched the entire season and enjoyed it, but wanted to go back a few episodes to see more of the final reveals for the season. I think I’m gonna go back to the beginning at some point and rewatch the whole thing – I enjoyed it that much. It really has a Lost feel to it – actually a cross between Lost and almost anything from Philip K. Dick. There’s a real sense of questioning what is real, who is real, and what/who is a robot or is artificial. And what is it that makes a person a real conscious guest rather than a robotic host?
March (Book 1)
Finally, I started reading this graphic novel for another book club today and it’s been pretty engrossing so far. Actually, I tend to read comics as I’m doing my daily 10k steps out and about throughout the day, but I found myself reading this book during smaller breaks and before bed, it was so good.
The book is a non-fiction semi-biographical comic about John Lewis who participated in the Civil Rights Movement and later became a congressman. So far, I’m learning about his childhood and how his father was a tenant farmer who saved up $300 to buy 110 acres of farmland in Alabama. I found it interesting because I had no idea that sharecropper farming was still being practiced in the US up to and beyond WWII. I learned about sharecropper farming back in high school, but I always associated it with ‘a long time ago’, not mid-way though the last century. Apparently while it became a popular way of life after the Civil War, it continues even to this day, though it’s mostly faded in the US as technology has reduced it’s viability. I just don’t think of the 1940s as a time when people were still bartering for services and a place to live but I guess I need to reframe my point of view.
So far this book has provided a fun and learning experience and I’m looking forward to gaining more knowledge.
I think I’ve tried reading Frank Herbert’s Dune about a dozen times. I’m not sure why but for some reason, though, I’ve never made it all the way through. I keep trying though because it’s one of the classics of science fiction and the story is pretty interesting. I just don’t know why I have such trouble getting through it. I mean I’ve read plenty of books that weren’t very good and I didn’t really like but I pushed my way through and read to the end of those – so I’m not sure what the deal is.
In any case, I am determined to read the book in it’s entirety. And actually I don’t need to read it I can listen to it in audio form…so easy…
The first minute of reading or listening though provides a hint as to why I might have had a difficult time getting through it in the past…
The prelude to the first chapter sets the stage for the vast events that are going on in the book but so much of it is confusing in those 6 sentences. There’s talk of Bene Gesserit sisters studying the life of Muad’Dib and an admonition to ensure we attend to the fact that his place is the planet Arrakis rather than where he was born, Caladan.
These six sentences contain quite a bit of information that seems important but means only a little to someone who hasn’t read any further. Now, I’ve tried many times to read the book as I mentioned and I’ve seen the movie many times, but I’m not even sure I understand everything mentioned in those few sentences. So I’m thinking, if I can get a better understanding of things I might enjoy and understand the book more and be able to read all the way through.
Fortunately, not only have I seen the movie, so I have a good idea of what goes on in the book, but there is also a bunch of appendixes at the back that try to explain some of this stuff.
So starting with those six sentences I will try to make some sense of the beginning of the book.
The Bene Geserrit are an ancient school, of mostly women, who train in certain mental and physical disciplines. From the fact that they are studying this “Manual of Muad’Dib”, it seems they are also interested in history, whoever Muad’Dib is and his relation to Arrakis more than his ‘home’ planet of Caladan where he was born.
Arrakis is the primary setting of the book. It is also called Dune but I’m not sure at this point who calls it that, and to place it in space, it is the 3rd planet of the Canopus system. So based on this, I know that Muad’Dib, at least, can travel between the stars and go from Caladan, which is in the Delta Pavonis system to Arrakis. He’s also at least 15 years old since he lived on Caladan that long.
I figure we’ll learn a bunch about this Muad’Dib person as the story progresses, but looking in the glossary, it says muad’dib is a kangaroo mouse on Arrakis that is admired by the Fremen locals for being able to survive in the desert. I can only assume that Muad’Dib (capital M, capital D) is a person who can survive in the desert and is revered by the Fremen like this mouse.
The Fremen are the residents of Arrakis. They are remnants of the Zensaunni Wanderers who were a religious sect that broke from the teachings of Maometh, the “3rd Muhammad”. Oh, and since I forgot earlier, the Bene Geserrit were founded after the Butlerian Jihad which was a crusade against computers and robots. Apparently this war was faught with the goal of ensuring that no machine would be made in the likeness of the human mind.
So trying to tie these six sentences all together, it looks like Muad’Dib may be some kind of prophet for the Fremen who are 3rd iteration Muslims and the Bene Geserrit are studying this with particular attention to his role in Arrakis history and that of Shaddam IV, the emperor (of what, I’m not sure yet).
With so much information condensed into the first six sentences, it’s clear that this overload might be what has prevented me getting through the book in the past. Knowing this, and trying to document some of the details, will help me keep reading, I think.
In any case, I’m pumped continue reading and I’m motivated to get to the end and claim that achievement.
Finishing the Sweet Birds
I finally finished Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm and I can definitely say I enjoyed it. The final section deals with Mark, the son of the outcast Molly, who actually is integrated as best as possible into the clone society. He too is an individual among the group and both he and the clones have a difficult time relating to each other. The main difference for this last part of the story is that some of the clone leadership recognize that they need Mark if they’re going to survive into the future. With the clones scared of venturing into the forest and the necessity of gathering resources from the old cities, Barry, one of the leaders, tries to get Mark to help out, but while it works temporarily, the cloned children just can’t understand or deal with someone who is so different from them.
In the end, Mark realizes that the only way for humanity to survive is to break from the village. He leads/kidnaps a group of the clones that are able to breed and takes them to another valley where he starts a fresh society from the ground up rather than relying on the technology of the old world. Years later, when he goes back to the clone village, it has reverted back to wilderness, but humanity has survived in his new valley.
On the whole, I really liked the story. One particularly good section talks about how society is “living on the top of a pyramid” and “if the pyramid crumbles and returns to dust, there is nothing we can do to prevent it”. I find this a chillingly scary statement, but one that is probably true. How many of us could start a fire or build a shelter if the water, gas, and electricity stopped? I look at the 10 people who challenge themselves in the Alone television show and they even have issues and they’re survival experts.
People talk about first world problems, I often get upset about people who don’t know how to play their champ in League of Legends, or how the stupid road construction makes my commute to work take 5 times as long as it should, but this book brings a much harsher reality into view. How strong – in reality – is the base of that pyramid?
In any case, before I ramble on too much more on this, I loved the book and highly recommend it. Give it a read and think about what it says about society, but then go back to contributing to that pyramid at whatever level you’re on…we’ve got to keep that thing strong and everyone has a part to play.
Leveling my Hunter
I ran through Kezan with my Goblin Hunter and made it to level 6. There’s not much in the starting area that requires much effort in terms of the abilities you learn, but you do get a few…
I got a crab and named him RedTide because we’ve had a rash of red crabs washing up on the beaches around here lately. I guess it’s something that happens periodically over the years, but it was noteworthy and in the news so I thought it a cool name for my new pet. I actually like the fact that you start out with a pet these days. Previously, a hunter had to wait to level 10 I think before getting a pet and it really made for a change in play style once you reached that level.
Morning Ramble 2.100
14 by Peter Clines
Well, I read through that book like there was no tomorrow. It was very enjoyable and I couldn't put it down. As the cover indicates there is a definite sense of the show Lost and I'd throw in a spattering of Twilight Zone, but then with the focus on the building, I kept thinking back to Ghostbusters and actually, The Secret World. The characters were relatable, the story arcs were intricate and interesting, and I felt the pacing was good for the suspense build up at the end. I could definitely see this becoming a movie, but then I'd also like to see it get a sequel – these characters could easily carry a trilogy. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in SciFi, horror, or suspense.
Before finishing off 14, I started a new character in Wildstar. This time around, I'm trying out an Esper since that seems to be an interesting class. It's been a while, but from what I recall, the beginning quests on the ship lasted a lot longer before the game went free to play. There were at least twice as many quests last time and the way things are currently set, the few that remain went by in a flash. It will be seen if I get the same sense of story I got last time but I seemed to have solved all the issues on the ship in record time. Since I went to Everstar Grove last time, I decided to see what the Northern Wilds would hold and I'm hoping this time the game will stick with me for a while.
Morning Ramble 2.55
I just started reading Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and I am pretty interested.
Actually, I am half reading, half listening since I am reading on the Kindle App on my iPad.
I really enjoy the Kindle App since it allows me to read on multiple devices – on my iPad when I'm sitting in my lazy chair or in bed, on my iPhone when I'm going for a quick walk to get in some exercise, or on my computer when I am sitting in my home office.
It even gives me the option to listen to the book so if I go for a run or while I'm playing games, I can multitask.
This particular book is narrated by Celeste Ciulla, and so far, I think she has done a pretty good job.
While I'm only a chapter in, the author has done a good job of setting the scene of what is going on…
The protagonist starts out in the middle of nowhere on an out of the way planet where she finds someone she knew 1000 years ago. That alone is interesting, but then we learn she is not a human, this is science fiction after all, and she has been pretending to be human for 19 years for some reason.
There are hints of a vast Radch space empire and military ships, of which both characters seem to be involved and a weird confusion about gender that features enough in the chapter that I figure it will be relevant as the story progresses.
So far, I'd say I'm interested and I think I'll keep reading to see what becomes of the two characters.
Morning Ramble 2.7