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You may have heard about it, you may have even sung about it, but until now you probably never knew how fucking awesome it is:
As I prepare to welcome a future space-funk warrior princess into my thermonuclear family (T-minus one day to scheduled arrival) I’m going to try and squeeze a few posts in while I can. I doubt much will happen here, though, so this means that these communiqués from the tip of our arm of the galaxy (my current posting, where I am unable to reveal what I’m doing – suffice to say it involves zero-g zombies and the Spandau Ballet reunion tour) may be far and few for the next few weeks. With tiny humans at the fore of my thoughts, I thought I might share some bits and bobs of baby related tech, tunes and domestic-grade laser weaponry.
Actually, I’m going to steal content from Atomique to talk tech. When not busy educating me about the merits of Madchester she has a side gig blogging at a baby clothing shop, where she does her best to sneak science in between the articles about mothering techniques and store sales.
Baby-related science news and nifty gadgets that Atomique is bringing to the moms of Oz:
- A study about the risks new moms take every time they get behind the wheel of a car
- Self-heating baby bottles
- Breadmaking regulations which will reduce birth defects
- The height of early 20th century baby gadgetry: a cage for hanging bub out the apartment window
Music. Baby music. Man, babies have terrible taste in music. It’s repetitive, the melodies are basic and the lyrics are insipid. Wait, am I describing every ‘dance club hit’ from the early 90s or nursery rhymes? I’m confused. Whose space suit is this?
I was tempted to spangle this post with songs with baby in the title, but that felt like I was rubbing clichés all over myself and doing sexy dances for Russian sailors. Not that I know what that feels like – unless you mean Russian space-sailors, in which case a brother’s gotta work his way home somehow, right?
I can’t really find anything interesting about baby music. Well, kind of. Here’s a nursery rhyme in an ancient dialect of French:
Un petit d’un petit
S’étonne aux Halles
Un petit d’un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent
Indolent qui ne sort cesse
Indolent qui ne se mène
Qu’importe un petit d’un petit
Tout Gai de Reguennes.
Wait, I lied! It’s not actually French! If you read it with an outrageously bad French accent, however, it reads like Humpty Dumpty. It’s from a collection of fake archaic French songs which all sound like English nursery rhymes when read like Pepé le Peu, called Mots D’Heures: Gousses, Rames (Mother Goose’s Rhymes).
Closely related to babies are toddlers. Toddlers have way better taste in music. That’s not saying much, but I’ll listen to The Wiggles or Yo Gabba Gabba over, say, Aqua or Nickelback.
A perennial favourite of toddlers which had some bangin’ tunes was Sesame Street; even more bangin’ is a whole album of Muppet Mashups.
Finally, we come to Babies With Laser Eyes. Not every one of you may know this, but quite a lot of technology goes into the modern laser-eye equipped baby:
They’re not as uncommon as you’d expect these days. Frankly, I’m a bit concerned that some of the ‘bargain’ babies with laser eyes we now see coming out of south-east Asia don’t have the same level of safety measures in place as the traditional Swiss and Austrian models. Mark my words, it won’t be long before someone’s house burns down.
Okay, kids – I’m out of here. I’ll get all proud and post reconnaissance images of bub the second in the next few days, and then things may get very quiet. Keep fighting the good fight in my absence.
Argh. I swear there is some original content just around the corner. Until then, here’s a couple of videos you’ve probably already seen by now (especially if you’re one Mr. Smarty Pants or a member of his entourage).
Han Solo, P. I.
Han Solo, P. I. – side-by-side sequence comparison
Of course, this has spawned the usual gallery of Youtube clones. Watch at your own discretion, however, as the quality varies wildly.
So, surely everyone has heard the infamous ‘Christian Bale flips his fucking lid and performs a verbal colonoscopy on his director of photography’ rant by now, right?
Just in case you haven’t, I’ll spread the love:
And, of course, this rant has spawned all number of Youtube remixes and remakes of the usual gamut of skill levels one finds on Youtube. By and far the best, though, is Revolucian‘s fairly decent techno remix.
Bonus: Make Your Own Meme
Here’s an experiment I ran (and am continuing to run) which proves* the power of memetics.
About three years ago, I started calling [ cola | soda | pop | soft drink ] by a new word: ‘fizzy’. A typical situation in which you would use the word goes something like this:
Atomique: Can I get you a drink, dear?
Viper Pilot: Mmm, yes. I’ll have some fizzy, thanks.
(Craft enters asteroid field; during evasive action, Atomique spills Viper Pilot’s fizzy.)
The power of the meme is so strong that not only does Atomique now call it fizzy as well, about a month ago she informed me that she now thought I’d always used ‘fizzy’ as my term of choice for carbonated beverages. I only started this stupid project (with no intent at the time of doing anything other than being eccentric with my vocabulary) three years ago, but we’ve been married now for six years and together for nine. The meme remapped six years of Atomique’s memory.
It’s a fun and easy project you can run on your own! Try it yourself using fizzy, or invent your own meme! Hooray for mind control!
* Okay, fine, ‘proves’ is a strong word for a sample size of one.
I should mention – I’m off on some well-earned R&R for another week and a half yet.
I shall quickly present the codified version of The Rules, which you can use to entertain yourselves until my return. The Rules govern the particular version of ‘name that tune’ that Atomique and I have now been playing for nearly six years running.
The basic rules of The Rules are quite simple:
- One point for naming the artist of a song
- One point for naming the song, but this point can only be claimed before the chorus
There are some advanced regulations that have developed over time:
- Should it turn out that the café/restaurant/shop you’re in is playing a whole CD, only the first track is worth points
- A song used in a television commercial is only worth points on first viewing
- Points may be granted (or even fractions thereof) for naming a sample source or naming the original artist in the case of a cover, but these points are only granted by the good grace of the other players
Don’t ask what the current tally in the game is – it’s rather lopsided in Atomique’s favour, owing to the fact that the original edition of The Rules only allowed legal play on songs released before 1990. While I might be quite knowledgeable about a ton of older music, it tends not to be the stuff you hear in shopping malls, on AM radio or television commercials. As such, Atomique’s extensive knowledge of all things Spandau Ballet, Human League and other ’80s embarrassments really caned me until I was able to bring my knowledge of equally-atrocious ’90s dance music into the game.
Foolish me, I should have admitted a defeat and wiped the slate clean when we introduced the ‘new era’.
Be seated, cadets.
Today’s lesson will be a short primer on constructed languages. Important for some, curiosities for others, those of you who end up drawing crypto-archaeological duties will encounter some of them while investigating the ruined colonies of the Sword March, and those of you who go on to information warfare will no doubt investigate these further in your specialization year at the academy.
A constructed language is exactly what it appears to be – a language that’s been constructed. Okay, smartass, you might ask, what exactly is meant by that? Your usual run-of-the-mill language, the kind that tradesmen demolish by day and violent youth reinvent by night, has evolved and grown like a living organism over thousands of years. A constructed language, on the other hand, has been planned to adhere to certain rules and has word structre that hasn’t been tainted by constant assimilation of terms from bordering tribes. A constructed language has no words that ‘break the rules’; in fact, they generally can’t have words that break the rules. An intersting note: technically, a programming language is a constructed language – it has a strict guideline for its words and its grammar must be adhered to vehemently for it to work.
Ironically, it’s very likely that the most well-known constructed language has the least number of fluent speakers (12, according to the last census). Anyone had a conversation in Klingon lately? Anyone? No, didn’t think so. But have you heard of it? If you’re reading this briefing, odds are you sure fucking have.
Good old wrinkly-headed Klingons have their very own constructed language. The vocabulary may be small and it might be limited to things you’ll find on a spaceship, but it has rules, sentence structure just like any other language. You can learn Klingon online thanks to the Klingon Language Institute (Warning! Their website contains DANGEROUSLY high levels of Web 1.0 late-90s design. Proceed at your own risk, citizens – I can guarantee you the fleet has no interest in issuing corrective lenses to a whole squadron.)
And now, the fleet’s most famous Klingon-language death metal band: Stovokor
Anyone who’s done a milk run to the Red Dwarf will no doubt have seen Esperanto plastered about all the walls. It speaks volumes to the age of the old mining ship that she bears a language so old. Esperanto dates back to our ancestral home, that shiny blue-green marble called Earth. Envisioned as a tool for easing diplomatic and business transactions in an era where our ancestors finally had the means to travel and communicate across the globe, it is perhaps one of the most functional of the constructed languages.
A curious thing about constructed languages and the human brain… the human brain needs to be rewired to ingest secondary languages, but it only needs to have those neural pathways opened up once. In other words, if you want to learn a third or fourth language, your stupid mushy brain only needs to learn the new language instead of training itself to not think in your primary tongue like it had to do when you learned your second language. If your second language is easy to learn – such as a constructed language, which has rules that make sense – you can get that hard bit out of the way with far less contortion of your grey matter. The mighty Wikipedia has an article about this phenomenon.
There is, if I recall correctly, a copy of an ancient learn-yourself-some-Esperanto website (a website is a primitive 2D representation of hyperdata, cadets) in the searchable archives. Try the following reference code: http://en.lernu.net/
In the Second World War (the one on Earth, that is) the forces of the United States Marine Corps recruited members of the Navajo tribe to serve as radio operators. The Navajo would relay tactical information via radio in codes based on their native tongue. This was done for a multitude of reasons, mainly being that deciphering a language is much harder than simply trying to break a code, and the Japanese had sweet fuck-all chance of learning Navajo.
Much in the same vein, LOLCODE is being advocated by some of the geeks over in fleet security on the USS Pythagoras. Based on the verbal-only language of lolcats, there’s high hope that the sheer nonsensicalness of LOLCODE will render it unbreakable to any robotic eavesdroppers. LOLCODE may even be so bizarre that it will melt the brains of any cybernetic interlopers.
It’s still in the early stages of development, but operating code can be written using the existing, limited number of operands. Some sample LOLCODE:
HAI CAN HAS STDIO? I HAS A VAR IM IN YR LOOP UP VAR!!1 VISIBLE VAR IZ VAR BIGGER THAN 10? KTHXBYE IM OUTTA YR LOOP KTHXBYE
It is of interest to note that the syntax of LOLCODE is only correct if written in ALL CAPS.
And as we began with the speak of geek, so returneth we to the speak of geek.
J. R. R. Tolkien was mad for the crazy silly detail he invested in not only constructing the language of the Elves of Middle Earth, but also creating a linguistic evolution for them. Dude dropped mad science in creating Quendian, Avarin, Eladrin, Sindarin, etc., etc. No, I didn’t actually know any of those names before finding them in (you guessed it) Wikipedia’s article about the Elvish languages of Middle Earth.
Not sure how many of you commune with the intarweb as closely as Viper Pilot does, so sometimes I wonder that you’re missing out on the wonderful world of internet memes. I highly recommend Wikipedia’s article on the subject, but to sum up an internet meme is a product of the internet community – it’s a completely uncoordinated collaborative effort of parody and imitation of a single theme. It’s a bizarre series of works of a schizophrenic web-based hive mind that dropped out of its art course at community college and now spends most of its time playing video games and eating Doritos. Those of you old enough to have any idea what All Your Base Are Belong To Us means have already had a brush with the grand-daddy of internet memes already.
The current trend in internet memes seems to follow this pattern: some random YouTube video will suddenly be struck by scores and scores of ‘remixes’. I can only assume that all it takes is one good remix and then the imitators rush forth to ride the coattails. A good example is the Dramatic Chipmunk (which was actually a Richardson’s Ground Squirrel). I don’t have the time to sit around looking at random YouTube videos, but someone surely must, as by the time I’d discovered the lovable little prairie dog, there were boatloads of Dramatic Chipmunk videos – my favourite being the Kill Bill remix.
The latest YouTube meme to hit my radar is The Techno Viking. It’s some fairly mundane footage of the decidedly not mundane Techno Viking (a manly man of a raver) and some other revellers dancing in the street at Berlin’s FuckParade. Now, all of a sudden, if you do a search on YouTube you’ll score 50+ videos featuring the footage set to different music, cut up, spliced up with the Dramatic Chipmunk, etc. All the videos appear to have been added to YouTube in the last month, yet according to Wikipedia the footage comes from FuckParade 2000.
The Techno Viking (Beat It)
(No, that’s not the orginal music to the clip)
(Watch the video before reading on)
(Trust me, it gets good)
The above clip is far and above the best of the lot (although Techno Viking Bakes a Cake gets some serious cred for its melon-twisting factor, and the one with the TIE Fighters gets points for mashing up Star Wars and a drugged up visigoth). In general, however, I find that the majority of the products YouTube memes tend to be of poorer quality than their photoshop-heavy predecessors – a lot of them consist of nothing more than adding a new soundtrack. The Beat It remix works despite being just the addition of a new soundtrack because the editor has taken the time to stretch the video ever-so slightly to synch it with the lyrics – and let’s not forget that the lyrics to Beat It were WRITTEN FOR TECHNO VIKING. Jacko truly is a musical visionary to have known back in the 80s that some day his powers would be needed to give the Techno Viking his fifteen minutes of fame.
One last pearl of wisdom from the fleet’s databanks: don’t ever fuck with a guy who braids his beard.