Friday, February 4, 2005

Weird thing of the day 4 February 2005/25 Shevat 5765 (Thank a Mailman Day)

Greetings.

This is not one of my better days; I think I’ve come down with a virus, despite having gotten a flu shot. Right now I’m making bean soup.

Today’s weird thing is a rant that Barry wrote, included below.

Enjoy, and Shabbath shalom.



Having seen a few episodes of the remake of the series Battlestar Galactica, I felt like making some comparisons with the original, not all of them kind.

1) There are some interesting revisions of the characters. Boomer and Colonel Ty are no longer black (Boomer now is east Asian, Ty is white). Furthermore, Boomer and Starbuck are now women. Baltar now looks and sounds a lot like Dr. Julian Bashir from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and at times acts like him too (as when he hit on Starbuck). Baltar also now is conflicted, scared, and has hallucinations of a blonde woman which I think are caused by the Cylons. The Cylons, when they look like robots, look a lot slicker than the old ones. However, these Cylons can also look like humans. So far there is no sign of the dagget, for which I am really disappointed. I also have not seen anything in the Cylon command structure, like the one voiced by Patrick MacGee or the toadying one with all the lights in his head.

2) The show is a lot grimmer than the old one, and the characters often have to make unpleasant decisions which often involve people dying. Can you imagine Lorne Green making the decision to leave behind a ship full of people? I don’t think so. Overall the show comes off as less cheesy than the original.

3) Baltar has been charged with coming up with a way to screen people for being Cylons. For some reason this is a problem. I don’t know why he can’t think of a convenient way of doing this (other than him being a traitor working for the Cylons), but I can think of a few ways that humans and Cylons disguised as humans might differ:

• Cylons made primarily of metal might be heavier than humans, denser, have a different specific gravity, etc. If the Cylons are denser than humans, all it might take is dumping the suspected Cylon in a tank of water to make the determination. Then again, having one step on a scale might be just as effective.

• The internal structure of Cylons might look different on a CT scan.

• Retain suspected Cylons until they say they have to go to the bathroom. Covertly observe if anything comes out of them and what exactly does come out of them.

• Analyze the composition of what they exhale. It should have less oxygen and more carbon dioxide than what went in.

• Put refrigerator magnets on the suspected Cylon’s head. If they stick, you have a Cylon.

• Prick the suspected Cylon. Presumably robots don’t bleed. If the suspected Cylon does bleed, put the liquid under a microscope and look for blood cells.

• Check to see if the suspected Cylon sweats.

• Swab the inside of the cheek and put the swab under a microscope. Cylons are presumably not made of cells.

None of these is completely foolproof, but making robots indistinguishable from humans would presumably become increasingly difficult the more characteristics they have to match humans on. In order to be indistinguishable from humans in every way, they would ultimately have to be humans, which does not make them robots in anything more than a trivial sense. The idea of robots passing as humans is interesting, but unless extreme measures are taken in the design and manufacture, they should be relatively easy to detect. That the humans around Baltar do not realize this (not to mention Baltar or the writers) makes me seriously question how much a future humanity has up there in the heavens.

4) My dream episode: Starbuck trips and spills her beer on a Cylon impostor, causing it to short. Baltar makes lame excuses for his failure to think of this and is thrown to the dagget. Lucifer (the annoying toadying robot) shows up and saves Baltar just so he can have something to laugh at.
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