Peter Parker

This is a cut of the last 3 minutes of S1E3 of Greg Weisman’s fantastic animated series The Spectacular Spider-Man. To me, it embodies the essence of what makes Peter Parker’s character so compelling. While the slick, fast-talking web slinger is fun to watch in action, we stay for Peter and his life. The kid has real and believable problems in his life, and struggles and fails to balance all aspects of it. Life hits you hard, and it doesn’t always get better. In the episode, the Lizard is on an unstoppable rampage, and Peter seemingly abandons his friends in their antidote effort to help out as Spidey – but his friends don’t know his secret identity, and the move makes him look bad to everyone in his life. While the move to take pictures and sell them to the Bugle is certainly questionable (and makes him look like absolute scum to his friends), Peter made that choice because of his personally rocky financial situation. The scenario is a perfect combination of everything in life going wrong, Peter getting slammed for trying to help, and a display of his imperfect moral struggles – he makes mistakes too.

In essence, his situation sucks. And while the easy decision would be to quit as Spidey, he persists, knowing the cost. Because that’s what a hero does.

This episode was the epitome of Peter Parker’s character. It’s a shame the show was cancelled after only 2 seasons. No other media has done him justice – not Dan Slott’s comic run of gimmicks and a complete rewrite of Peter’s character; not Raimi’s film trilogy, though it was certainly well done; not Webb’s 2012 and 2014 attempts. I can only hope Watts delivers something decently competent. I’ve given up hope that Peter’s character will be done justice. Weisman truly created an unrivaled masterpiece.


Just going to publish this for future reference:

IM: 7. Strong start, reasonably faithful adaptation, though it falls into the common character trope of “careless asshole has a change of heart”. Tony should be much deeper a character. A weak antagonist, but you can’t expect too much.

IM 2: 2. Trash. A textbook example of how to disrespect good source material (in this case Demon in a Bottle), especially the way they tried to justify it (didn’t need justification) with the “I’m dying” bull – which just weakened the tragedy that was Tony’s alcoholism in the comic, and was an easy cop-out for him to get better when he “solved” his energy problem. Throw in some lazy universe-building, a poor script, uninteresting antagonists… A disgrace of a movie. The only reason it gets a 2 is because something worse is coming.

Thor: 4. Just meh. The Thor-Jane Foster interactions were especially laughable. Very straightforward, forgettable, overall meh plot.

CA:FA: 7. Strong introduction to Steve, and the classic origin is done justice. However, we’ve seen WWII-era plots, and the film doesn’t offer much that we haven’t already seen before.

Avengers: 8. Strong film, tight plot, very well done. Each character gets his own moments of development, along with some nice fights between each other. Further, (and I can’t emphasize this enough), regarding interactions that develop the characters, the interactions feel natural. All that mixed with a stunning ensemble shot right before they leap into the climactic battle, just wow. If it has faults, it’s in the typical horde nature of the Chitauri.

IM3: 0. Scratch that, -1. Fuck this shitstain of a collection of videos. Fuck. Fuck. No, I’m not talking about the Mandarin twist, although that was pretty dumb. I’m talking about Extremis. Just as its predecessor was a weak half-assed adaptation of Demon in a Bottle, IM3 is a disgrace of a failure of an adaptation of Extremis, which I consider the greatest Tony Stark character piece ever done. Jesus. Fuck. Remember the Tony-Maya-Sal friend triangle? The brilliantly crafted character foils? The movie scraps Sal Kennedy. It turns Maya Hansen into a weak underling of Aldrich Killian. The villain, Killian, is a weak, upset nerd looking for revenge. Extremis itself is different – wtf was with that “Extremis soldiers blow up” bullshit? And worst of all, Tony doesn’t even get Extremis and technopathy and the new Extremis armour in the end. Oh, and the whole side-plot with his anxiety, and his time with the little kid, completely wasted. What a shitfest.

Thor:DW: 4. Another meh movie. Same old Asguardian story. They add an infinity gem to the plot, and intertwine it with Jane Foster in an attempt to make her relevant. Just meh overall, again. lol

CA:WS: 10. Brilliant political thriller. Particularly relevant for its time. Very well done, Steve Rogers as the man out of time, serving as a foil for the changing values of our times. A brilliant plot, characters, all combined with thrilling action sequences, absolutely the best.

GOTG: 8. Overall, a fun flick. No real faults. Very fun.

AoU: 5. An insufferable villain in the form of Tony Stark. His character is worse than it was in IM3. Overall meh, but at least had some spectacular early action sequences.

Ant-Man. 6. Decent fun. Pretty peeved in the choice to relegate Hank Pym to a has-been. His character deserves fleshing out, but no, they chose Scott. Meh. As least it was fun.

CA:CW: 7. An insufferable villain in the form of Tony Stark. Again. At least the film focuses more on Steve, and he wins in the end. Black Panther was great, the fight sequences were thrilling, Steve wrecked Tony in the climax, pretty fun. Only problem was too much Tony.

Doctor Strange: 8. Good fun, and with magic too. Strong introduction to another great character.

GOTG 2: 4. Meh. Gunn attempts to focus on character development, but it falls flat due to poor delivery. Character interactions felt forced and unnatural. At least Groot was cute.

The law of conservation of momentum states that any system in absence of an external force has a constant unchanging net momentum. It is a scientific law – established as essentially immutable and a key component of our model of understanding of the universe. Recently, a development has stirred considerable interest – the EM Drive.

The EM Drive was conceived by an aerospace engineer as a radio-powered thruster – an idea that has worked in the past – but this design in particular drew attention because it claimed to work without propellant or external source. To an engineer, perhaps the design is sensible, but to a physicist, it clearly defies the law of conservation of momentum. Traditional spacecraft eject propellant and leave zero net change in momentum; traditional spacecraft work within the laws of physics. But by working without a propellant, the EM Drive design blatantly breaks the laws of physics. In no conceivable way should it theoretically work.

The shocking thing, however, is that it did. The design was reproduced by a German team, by a Chinese team, by NASA, and in all cases, it worked.

This is potentially the most exciting modern development of our time, the epitome of science at work. An unexplained anomaly occurs, is documented and made reproducible for study – and the next step is to analyze it, explain the phenomenon, and perhaps allow the explanation to broaden our understanding of the universe. There can be no higher purpose than the dedication to the furthering of this final step. Similar exceptions to seemingly fundamental laws led to revolutionary new theories like magnetism and relativity.

I have no idea why the EM Drive design has worked. This is a modern problem that baffles the brightest minds in the world. Once more, the world has the opportunity to discover the unknown. And this time, against expectations, the problem stems from something as tangible as a radio transmitter.

Fun fact: DC’s Lantern Oaths are all in iambic tetrameter.

For reference:

The Exiled Queen (ISBN: 1423121376) is the second of four in Cinda Williams Chima’s fantasy Seven Realms series.

The series is set in the Seven Realms, a fantasy world of high magic, medieval technology, its own historical lore, GoT-esque politics, with conflicts and treachery galore. It offers a love story, political drama, high tensions, spectacular magic, and in particular, a widely expansive universe.

Book 1 establishes a status quo for the two protagonists of vastly contrasting backgrounds within Fells (Han and Raisa, a thief-turned-wizard and an exiled princess, in one of the seven realms) and very quickly breaks that status quo, forcing the two protagonists to flee their home nation and setting up the universe and story. Little do they know, but their fates are intertwined. Book 2 expands the universe from Fells to the larger landscape of the Seven Realms, exploring various cultures and the types of magic within the world while still advancing the plot and establishing a mystery. It does this by placing the protagonists in a school (Oden’s Ford) between national borders. Book 3 brings the story back to Fells, advances the love story, and explores the ruthless politics of the Queendom and the Wizard Council. Book 4 concludes the plot in a spectacular manner (but I’m not giving away the ending, even as a vague description).

It’s book 2 that stands to intrigue. While the first and last of a series are burdened by the needs of the plot, an author has considerably more freedom in between. In The Exiled Queen, Chima sets the story in Oden’s Ford, an academy of learning with various universities. This university setting allows her to explore new cultures and offer interesting social commentary. Han is enrolled in the magical school of Mystwerk. It’s a clear parallel to Hogwarts of the popular Harry Potter series with higher stakes and a more colorful outside world; Micah Bayar is Malfoy, the Manders are Crabbe and Goyle, Gryphon is Snape, Dancer is Ron, Mordra is kind of like Hermoine, and Dean Abelard… well, she offers special lessons to Han like Dumbledore did, but… she’s got her own personal ruthless political aspirations. And that speaks to all the characters – though they all may be in school, the larger picture of the dangerous world continues to loom in everyone’s thoughts. Oh, and another mysterious lore-focused (the history of this world) plotline is developed. It’s just as intriguing as that of the present, and eventually does tie into the present-plotline, but that’s for readers to read about. Meanwhile, Raisa is enrolled in a military academy – she drills and drills, takes classes on history and arithmetic and science, deals with the politics of the Fells (she is the runaway princess in disguise, after all) and abroad, and gets involved in a love triangle. The military academy isn’t quite as flashy as the allure of magic, but Raisa’s role hiding from the politics of the world is still plenty intriguing.

The events transpiring at Oden’s Ford are sheer narrative brilliance. The social commentary on class inequality, for example: Han has spent his childhood a gangster in the slums. He despises the upper class for their selfishness and greed, but has to integrate himself within that society. His interactions and conversations with Raisa, who was raised as royalty, are quite a must-read. We see things from his perspective, a bottom-class individual being introduced to the world of the upper-class bluebloods. An excerpt:
Han grinned, shaking his head. All in all, it was the plushest place he’d ever stayed. He was amazed that mere students were allowed to live in such a place, and sleep one to a bed, let alone one to a room.
There’s also a scene in the book of golden humiliation and comedy as Han gets himself endlessly corrected on table manners by Mordra during his first big dinner with schoolmates. The anti-communion message brilliantly characterizes Han’s awkwardness dining with enemies all around. You just have to love his humiliation at being clearly of lower class than everyone else. By contrast, Raisa is discovering a very different world from the experience of being royalty. You see her deal with schoolmates from other nations. Many are racist against the clan-folk of the Fells, discussing derogatory assumptions and treating such peoples as savages. Further classmates are religiously fearful of “demonic” Fellsian magic and still others dismiss the queendom for not being a kingdom. Still more discussion is to be had about the hardships of a military life.

It’s the Peace of Oden’s Ford that allows this cultural development, an escape from the harsh realities of the world. It’s a place of learning; the young students shouldn’t have to be subjugated to such fears of the real world. Oden’s Ford is an example of a potential future if the Seven Realms if the warring nations could find peace and the internal politics of the nations were less bloodthirsty. A higher ideal. Of course the plot continues marching forward, and an interesting one at that, but The Exiled Queen offers more than the compelling story of the series. It builds a world to contrast with our own and utilizes fiction and parallels to offer powerful and well-written social commentary.

So I implore you all who are reading: pick up the series, it’s brilliant. But when you’re done, come back to the Exiled Queen. It stands on its own within that complex universe.

I’ll leave with an excerpt from the end of the novel:
When everything was in readiness, Han leaned back against his pony, strangely reluctant to leave. There needed to be places like this—places to read and write and study and argue and debate with all different kinds of people and not have to look over your shoulder all the time. Places where the desire for knowledge overwhelmed boundaries and differences.

Perhaps the most disgusting turn of events following the terrorist incidents last week has been the use of the public’s base emotions to pursue political agendas. I must admit, I was tempted to write another sarcastic How to exploit other people’s emotions to pursue your own agenda, but decided instead to write plainly about it. (Also, I didn’t know what pictures to use).

I must say, I had no idea that the events of the terrorist attacks were in any way related to the Syrian refugees. But on all sides, pundits flew in and made it political.

On the right, I have heard claims that some proponents of the Paris attack had come in through the refugee system, that the potential security threat was a reason not to accept any refugees at all, that a singular cherry-picked incident was indicative of an issue as a whole, that an issue with the screening process within was in any way related to the general issue of whether a policy should be enacted at all. The worst of these was the use of a singular incident to argue; I’ve never liked citing things with a lack of statistical significance.

On the left, I have heard accusations of “selective sympathy” as the basis for pursuing this agenda of accepting Syrian refugees. That argument, that the media covered Paris intensely while ignoring Beirut, claims that it’s a systematic effort to minimize the suffering of the middle east to pursue an idea that they’re all terrorists. To this leap of logic, I raise my eyebrows and sigh. It’s funny how the proponents of universal sympathy only use universal sympathy to bring up the middle east, while ignoring terrorist attacks in places like Russia and Myanmar. Shouldn’t universal sympathy be… you know, universal? Seems to me like the argument was only manufactured to pursue a political agenda. But that’s just me.