David Thompson
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February 05, 2021

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Daniel Ream

Today’s word is suboptimal

Ties in nicely with the last thread. Not Newfoundlanders, the accent's not strong enough. Sounds like Nova Scotia or eastern New Brunswick.

Daniel Ream

Screams stopping abruptly

The "please, I'm just a little goblin" post reminded me of the anime Ashes of Grimgar.

An annoyingly common trend in anime right now is "OMG we have been transported inside our favorite MMORPG!" Generally these are played for fairly pathetic teenage heroics, sometimes for laughs; the writers of Grimgar apparently watched way too much Gantz back in the day because they treat the whole premise straight up seriously. The only way to make any kind of money is to kill monsters, and without money you starve. After a week of starving, the 14 year old protagonists venture into the forest, find some goblins who aren't doing anything more threatening than eating around a campfire, and attack them; since everyone involved is basically level 0 the fight drags on for minutes and culminates in the group holding the goblin down and smashing its head open with a rock while it pleads piteously for its life.

They get 3 gp out of it, though.

mark

suboptimal

Yeah, can't watch that one again.

Sweaty palms, indeed. And elevated respiration, and palpitations.

Sam Duncan

“Today’s other words are lubricant and pen torch.”

Hmm. Should I click the link? Ah, what the hell... it's probably just some engineering thing.

[clicks, sees title card]

Aaaargh. Damn you, Thompson!

[shakes fist in vaguely Southerly direction]

Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat

A love like no other: Awwwww.

BlokeInAShed

For paper planes I recommend the Nakamura Lock
Fairly easy to make and works well.

Rafi

Today’s other words are lubricant and pen torch.

Lol. The models are good. :-)

David

Morning, all.

Lol. The models are good. :-)

Yes, absolutely. During the, er, cupping and squeezing, for instance, the object being scrutinised is remarkably convincing. Good use of materials there.

Should I click the link? Ah, what the hell... it’s probably just some engineering thing.

Well, in a way, it is. See above.

Aaaargh. Damn you, Thompson!

No refunds. Credit note only.

Darleen

Dear lord, NOT parody.

David

Dear lord, NOT parody.

Tongue-bath detected.

sk60

And finally, some behavioural correction.

Genius.

CLEAN UP YOUR DOG POOP

David

CLEAN UP YOUR DOG POOP

The makings of a ringtone, surely? And as someone notes in the thread over there, the woman in question actually has bags with her – she just couldn’t be arsed to use them. And so, a rather hearty shaming does seem in order.

#MaximumDad

John D

CLEAN UP YOUR DOG POOP

Someone should auto-tune that.

Nikw211

Modernity is a hell of a thing.

There's something almost perfect about that clip that I just can't quite put my finger on.

But whatever that perfection is it will inevitably soon get lost as the waves of memes roll in to take control.

David

There’s something almost perfect about that clip that I just can’t quite put my finger on.

Yes.

David

By the way, seasons four and five of The Expanse have been good.

Just sayin’.

David

Also rewatched the 1980s mini-series of Porterhouse Blue - which is about as far from The Expanse as you can get – and still found it funny. It occurred to me that the unflattering depiction of Lady Mary and her Guardianista politics would be a much rarer sight now.

Felicity

Dear lord, NOT parody

Just threw up in my mouth - there should have been a warning attached.

Also not parody, I received notes from some bogus online "Professional Development" that I didn't attend.


Is it a STEM – HASS dichotomy?
No!
Read this article – it answers the question well: Focus on humanities to stop spread of Trump style misinformation.

https://amp.theage.com.au/national/focus-on-humanities-to-stop-spread-of-trump-style- misinformation-20210201-p56yc6.html?btis=&__twitter_impression=true

This is from an official departmental 'future directions' document. Luckily, the link to the article is broken.

Karl

@Felicity - One would think, were one to ignore abundant evidence to the contrary, that we would have little to fear from cretins too technologically challenged to copy a url. From the New Age article in question:

"The humanities and social sciences offer ... the ability to learn from history and have empathy for others."

Ummm. Citation required?

sH2

What election rigging?

https://twitter.com/whitesundesert/status/1357671211770257409

PiperPaul

Sounds like Nova Scotia or eastern New Brunswick.

They could be Capers. Capers are often known as Newfies with their brains kicked out. They are also known to frequently get stuck under moving trains.

Nikw211

Yes

Starting to think it might be because it's an example of life spontaneously imitating an Adam Curtis documentary.

Karl

By the way, seasons four and five of The Expanse have been good.

OK. Though I'm slightly nervous - I've got two episodes of season 5 left to watch and I've been putting them off after finding myself actually having to fast-forward through much of Naomi's tedious and angsty relationship drama with her son.
I think I prefer robots.

Mind you, Westworld turned to shit too :(

David

after finding myself actually having to fast-forward through much of Naomi’s tedious and angsty relationship drama with her son.

Yes, she and Holden are still the weakest links in the show - their characters just aren’t particularly interesting, or well-written, or well-acted. Amos and Avasarala are more engaging. But the season finale gives Naomi a pretty good scene and is entertaining overall, with BAD THING HAPPENING, and OTHER BAD THING HAPPENING, just before OMINOUS HINT OF SERIOUSLY BAD THING LIKELY TO HAPPEN SOON.

Daniel Ream

Westworld turned to shit too

Once upon a time, the economics of syndication meant that you would see a marked shift in tone and quality between season 3 and 4 of a genre series - the writer/director contracts were usually limited to three years.

With streaming changing the way TV is produced, funded and consumed, contracts are now limited to a single season, so things can waffle all over the place. This is exacerbated by seasons being only 10-13 episodes now.

Re: The Expanse, there's been a bit of a resurgence of interest in what might be called "blue-collar" or "industrial" SF - movies like "Outland", "Alien", "Total Recall", &c. The Expanse tries to do this, but quickly veers off into traditional action rayguns territory. Personally I hope we see more stuff in this vein, it's an underused premise.

David

The Expanse tries to do this, but quickly veers off into traditional action rayguns territory.

Recent episodes have had their emphasis on ‘local’ difficulties.

PiperPaul

The Naomi-stuck-on-the-spaceship bit went on for like 76 minutes too long.

Karl

Recent episodes have had their emphasis on ‘local’ difficulties.

Yes, I really enjoyed the grand sweeping vision of the first 3 seasons - designed alien viral infections which build grand alien machines from the living flesh they consume, using them to open intergalactic wormholes to mysteriously emptied new (old?) planetary systems. Great stuff!

Then season 4 was all about a bunch of earthers and belters squabbling over a lithium (or something) mine.
Quite the disappointment.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

Mind you, Westworld turned to shit too...

Amazon has a 2019 three episode BBC version of "War of the Worlds" set in the late 1800s which has the twist that the Martians are really terraforming (Marsaforming) Earth and is not bad till episode three where the protagonist goes off on an SJW rant about "What if the we are the Martians ? We go into foreign lands with backwards people, shoot and kill them, put in railroads and things to make them like us" and so on.

I may have slept through that part in world history class, but I don't recall where Britain set out to colonize anywhere to completely change the atmosphere and surface of the country, and eat the inhabitants they didn't kill outright, but other than that the similarities are uncanny.

These idiots just cannot avoid having to stick this crap into everything.

John Lewis

I’m surprised it took as long as episode 3.

Unusual self-restraint by bbc standards.

Governor Squid

Fun with sand...

I know that the double-slit experiment is the standard example (and rightfully so), but if I wanted to teach particle-wave duality to people outside the Physics nerd world, those vibrating tables would be the way to do it. You can't say where any single grain of sand will go, but you can predict pretty well where the whole collection of them will wind up. (And the 99% of people who aren't grabbed by the profundity of this will at least think the pretty colors were neat!)

pst314

Also rewatched the 1980s mini-series of Porterhouse Blue...

Never heard of it. Sounds like fun. Placed interlibrary loan request. Thank you, David!

...which is about as far from The Expanse as you can get.

Still haven't seen even one episode, as was put off by the fanboy enthusiasm of the people I know locally. Someday, someday.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

Today in racism - chicken soup.

pst314

Re: The Expanse, there's been a bit of a resurgence of interest in what might be called "blue-collar" or "industrial" SF...

I could enjoy that. I just hope Hollywood doesn't discover, say, Benford's Against Infinity and screw it up.

pst314

What election rigging?

I still retain a smidgen of a glimmer of a quantum of hope that my fake conservative friends will wake up to what's been going on.

Steve E

Today in racism - chicken soup.

If only the writing on SNL were as good.

David

Never heard of it. Sounds like fun.

The final episode feels a little rushed – I suspect five episodes would have worked better than four – but it’s engagingly grotesque. Not least the full-figured Mrs Biggs and her squeaky raincoat.

Steve E

Capers are often known as Newfies with their brains kicked out.

The more polite description is Newfies who ran out of money on their way to Toronto.

David

I really enjoyed the grand sweeping vision of the first 3 seasons

Given that I didn’t find the first few episodes of interest – I abandoned it after 30 minutes on first attempt – I did come to like the way each season expanded the scope of the drama, at times quite wildly. From a fairly dull missing-person storyline to alarming alien technology and very-large-objects-doing-impossible-things.

I think Daniel prefers the in-system politics and squabbling over resources and such. Whereas I’m still trying to get past the Belter patois, which I just find distracting.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

Today Iowahawk crowdsources Bulwer-Lytton fiction.

In answer to a question that arises therein, finally, the spork vs. splayed conundrum is addressed.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

Today in art news.

pst314

The more polite description is Newfies who ran out of money on their way to Toronto.

Does this explain why Stan Rogers sang of Toronto's "scummy lakes" and of the pleasures of "watching the apples grow"?

Rick Henwood

Electro-pop.

David I'll have another drink. This time without the acid.

David

David I’ll have another drink. This time without the acid.

It’s the pitch bending and vibrato, isn’t it? The icing on the cake.

And I think you’ll find there’s acid in all the beverages. Has been for nearly fourteen years.

pst314

Electro-pop

Singing Tesla coils are a novelty which quickly wears off: "The marvel is not that the bear dances well, but that the bear dances at all."

Karl

each season expanded the scope of the drama, at times quite wildly

It was the pregnancy. The swollen expectation. The looming certainty that something gravity-bending was about to emerge that I particularly enjoyed. Science Theatre at its best.
It's just sad when the writers reveal they have no grand play to offer at the denouement (cough Lindelof cough).
They should read more Vernor Vinge.

Rick Henwood

And I think you’ll find there’s acid in all the beverages. Has been for nearly fourteen years.

That explains it. Creeping sausage rolls, laughing gas, klaxons, strobe-lights, sirens, branding irons, need to get out of town for a while, take a trip? C'mon down to David's Floating Bar and Grill Emporium located on the High Street right next to the Soma factory.

pst314

That explains it....

Psst. [opens coat] Would you like a bottle of this fine Bordeaux?

Governor Squid

They should read more Vernor Vinge.

Everyone should read more Vinge. I owe a great debt to a college roommate who insisted I read his copies of Marooned in Realtime and Fire Upon the Deep.

I'm pretty sure they were the literary equivalent of what our host would call "a proper regrooving."

Pooklord

What election rigging?

I also was holding out hope that they would "catch on", but at this point I can only sadly assume they do know. This is a more depressing state of affairs.

PiperPaul

I can only sadly assume they do know. This is a more depressing state of affairs.

Mission accomplished. The demoralization will continue as planned, comrade.

David

It was… the looming certainty that something gravity-bending was about to emerge that I particularly enjoyed.

Yes, after the first of the Big Impossible Things happened, when Eros m***s, there was a pleasing sense of not knowing what would happen next. A sense of wide-open possibilities. Quite rare in TV drama.

Well, they’ve got one more season – ten episodes – to do, and finish, whatever comes next.

Squires

Personally I hope we see more stuff in this vein, it's an underused premise.

Prospect on Netflix was solid.

Daniel Ream

I think Daniel prefers the in-system politics and squabbling over resources and such. Whereas I’m still trying to get past the Belter patois, which I just find distracting.

Exactly this. I think we've had rather a lot of swoopy space opera with sturm und drang and wormholes and BEMs and rayguns. I rather like thoughtful world-building, and the Belter society is well-thought out and consistent.

BlokeInAShed

Also rewatched the 1980s mini-series of Porterhouse Blue...
Didn't know about this.
I will have to look for it.
I have seen Blott on the Landscape, it was on TV in NZ about 1994.
Discovered and read all the Tom Sharpe books around 1990's and occasionally do a re-read when I need something easy and cheerful.

semi retired conservative

I should very much enjoy a trip aboard the Rocinante as I like lasagna, coffee and zero G sex.

I assume.

PiperPaul


I was always amused that they used my (well, not my personal) SpaceMouse Enterprise as the navigation controls for the Rocinante.

David

Exactly this.

Well, it’s the interaction of the in-system politics and the wider drama that gives the thing its flavour, I suppose. For instance, I quite liked Murtry’s “post office” speech about what colonising new worlds would most likely entail.

I think we've had rather a lot of swoopy space opera with sturm und drang and wormholes and BEMs and rayguns.

I think you’re being a little unfair there – we’re five seasons in and still no aliens or a single raygun. So far, all we’ve seen are the bizarre technological leftovers of a seemingly extinct alien civilisation. And even then, the politics and grime are still present. Who those beings were, and who or what did them in, is still merely implied. (Though the implications become more pronounced in the last moments of the season five finale.) And the central MacGuffin has been handled in a way that’s often been inventive. Again, the Eros episode, or building the Ring, or Metallic Table Miller.

I rather like thoughtful world-building, and the Belter society is well-thought out and consistent.

Yes, though not, I think, appealing.

As we’ve said before, the series as a whole doesn’t quite cohere or reach its full potential. No episode hits a ‘9’. Bits of it are great and genuinely surprising – the relocations and transformations of very large things, for instance. And other bits are dull and hackneyed – Holden and Naomi being obvious weak points.

svh

Honk!

https://twitter.com/Holbornlolz/status/1358026983129698305

pst314

Honk!

Well, I'm persuaded: The utter lunacy of these trans rights people only more firmly establishes their claims. It would be intolerant to disagree. /sarcasm

Farnsworth M Muldoon

Honk ! but with an airhorn from a diesel locomotive.

pst314

Honk ! but with an airhorn from a diesel locomotive.

I would suggest replacing "eat the rich" with "eat the left" but the meat would be very fatty.

pst314

Honk! Voice of Sanity detected.

David

Well, I’m persuaded

The combination of adolescent profanity and clown makeup just screams intellectual and moral authority.

anon a mouse

"Re: The Expanse"

Great fun for about 20 minutes, then the Jar Jar Binks language kicked in... "why, no bomba bossman..."

Yikes.

Daniel Ream

still no aliens [...]. So far, all we’ve seen are the bizarre technological leftovers of a seemingly extinct alien civilisation.

Well, that's my point. The Expanse pulls a kind of bait and switch, where it looks like you're getting a mostly-hard-SF near future political drama, and then you've got aliens and wormholes. The books were the same; Corey brought in the Epstein Drive because he thought realistic sublight travel times made it too hard to write stories. Good writers don't need crutches.

though not, I think, appealing

*Shrugs* Diff'rent strokes. I gave Bosch a try and didn't make it through the first episode, again because I've just seen so much cop drama that one more of it needs to be something original.

pst314

Whereas I’m still trying to get past the Belter patois, which I just find distracting.

That reminds me of Larry Niven's unfortunate experiments with unpronounceable names.

Great fun for about 20 minutes, then the Jar Jar Binks language kicked in... "why, no bomba bossman..."

That bad?

anon a mouse

"That bad?"

Dis is nutsin!

WTP

Today in racism? Plowing your neighbor's driveway. For free. Oh, don't you know they are wise to your fascist tricks?

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2021-02-05/trumpite-neighbor-unity-capitol-attack

Steve E

Honk!

Just another man claiming claiming he can do things better than a woman.

David

The Expanse pulls a kind of bait and switch, where it looks like you’re getting a mostly-hard-SF near future political drama, and then you’ve got aliens and wormholes.

What happens when a sort-of familiar world, with sort-of familiar politics and familiar physics, encounters something altogether different seems to be a key point of the series. (I haven’t read the books, so I can’t comment on them.)

Corey brought in the Epstein Drive because he thought realistic sublight travel times made it too hard to write stories. Good writers don’t need crutches.

On the other hand, long, tedious journeys between colonies, and slowing the pace of physical interaction down to months and years, even decades, could get pretty tiresome, dramatically. In terms of a TV series that large numbers of people might actually watch, it’s not obvious how any dramatic momentum could be conjured or sustained. It would, I think, be rather limiting.

Sort of, “Year six, month two, day 29. Still not there yet…” I mean, if getting from colony A to colony B takes - effectively, dramatically - forever, with little hope of having a physical effect on anything as you travel, then you might as well make your drama earthbound and set it in a small, terraced house.

[ Edited. ]

John Lewis

We are often treated on here to morbidly fascinating tales of opinionated self-important students and educators.

It’s not just a “young people” problem though...........

https://youtu.be/l17UIwAFOyk

pst314

On the other hand, long, tedious journeys between colonies, and slowing the pace of physical interaction down to months and years, even decades, could get pretty tiresome, dramatically...

I agree strongly. And it is unwise to dismiss FTL drives with "Good writers don't need crutches" as this would dismiss most of the great sf writers.

Sort of, “Year six, month two, day 29. Still not there yet…”

More likely, "Year 100..."

David

I agree strongly.

Well, it seems to be asking an awful lot of a writer, especially if that writer wants to have a successful series, and a career. There are of course any number of creative choices one could, in theory, make. But not all of them are commercially plausible, or indeed interesting.

The Expanse has made use of the normal-physics time required for even messages to reach their intended recipient halfway across the solar system – arriving last-minute or tragically late, etc. But it’s harder to see how you could wring sustained and compelling drama, week after week, out of a situation in which a metal box full of people takes, say, sixteen years to get to a place, only for them to find that their journey was a waste of time and effort.

Tune in next week!

pst314

Well, it seems to be asking an awful lot of a writer

It eliminates a vast number of possible stories, and we all know of many very fine stories which depend on FTL travel.

Gregory Benford eschews FTL travel (see his fine Galactic Center novels and the Bowl of Heaven trilogy which he wrote with Larry Niven) but who would want to reject Ringworld, Dune, and the Foundation series?

PiperPaul

It'll be interesting to see how they handle Foundation later this year.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_(TV_series)

pst314

It'll be interesting to see how they handle Foundation later this year.

Will have to wait and see, but I am uneasy: the story is premised on a secret cabal of super-smart people who conspire to create a new Galactic Empire which is ostensibly democratic but is really run by that cabal. Just the thing to appeal to technocracy-loving sf fans and to virtually everyone on the left.

Darleen

Puritans got nothing on today's woke-scolds

Daniel Ream

Will have to wait and see, but I am uneasy

I will not bother to waste money betting on whether they will conveniently omit The Mule, who was introduced precisely because Asimov realized that the Great Man theory of history actually does have some merit, and his metaphor for the bold new technocratic future sure to come after WWII didn't work quite as well as he thought. Se also Gibson, William.

I'm not going to bother engaging with the "how dare you dismiss FTL drives", because I didn't, and I don't feel like reiterating what I already said about The Expanse.

John Lewis

The Mule will probably have an orange face.

His impotence will be highlighted again and again and again and......

Steve E

and his metaphor for the bold new technocratic future sure to come after WWII didn't work quite as well as he thought.

It seldom does. It's why dystopian fiction tends to work more often than utopian fiction. Too often the transformative element in fiction, whether it's a technology or an ideology, acts as if human nature is a blank slate to be wiped clean and written anew. A good ol' dystopia says not so fast transy I'm not going to put up with this shit. I know, real "fill-in-the-blank" hasn't been tried yet.

David

*Shrugs* Diff'rent strokes.

Yes, absolutely. The Belter political hoo-hah is, for me, for the most part, less engaging - except when it entails highly-strung narcissists firing stealth-tech-coated asteroids at inhabited planets - but it’s just a matter of personal taste, not some high principle. As I said, I have trouble getting past the patois - I understand the point of it, why it’s there, but for me, as a viewer, it’s an obstacle.

pst314

The Mule, who was introduced precisely because Asimov realized that the Great Man theory of history actually does have some merit

Yes, although afterwards the (secret) Second Foundation defeated the Mule and continued with its project to institute the aforementioned technocratic state.
Caveat: there were later Foundation prequels and sequels, but I'm ignoring them because they were written so much later and because I know little having given up on them after 1-1/2 novels.
It would be interesting to learn what Asimov thought of that central conceit later in his career, say in the 1970's. I've never run across a relevant essay or recording, though.

Squires

Though I’ve much enjoyed The Expanse overall, season six possibly progressing to an our-heroes-versus-the-super-ancient-evil-race storyline is keeping my expectations lukewarm. Up to now the Big Bad has been human shortcomings, which just happened to be interacting with a runaway power tool from a far more advanced, extinct civilization.

The narrative arcs of Miller 1.0/Julie 1.0/Julie 2.0 and Miller 2.0 are the most memorable to me. They’re great translations of film noire principles into a hard(ish) sci-fi setting, and Miller goes out (twice) in a very fitting way.

“I can’t feel my hands” is now one of the most memorable lines I’ve encountered in any genre of fiction.

pst314

I understand the point of it, why it’s there, but for me, as a viewer, it’s an obstacle.

It's tricky to find the right balance between authenticity and comprehensibility. I tend to think that a very light touch is best.

pst314

a runaway power tool from a far more advanced, extinct civilization

I wonder how many stories could be summarized with that line. Love it.

Squires

I wonder how many stories could be summarized with that line.

Mass Effects 1-3 come immediately to mind.

David

and Miller goes out (twice) in a very fitting way.

Yes, Miller became much more interesting after he died. As it were. His metallic-furniture-scrap-pile form was quite something.

semi retired conservative

The Expanse pulls a kind of bait and switch, where it looks like you’re getting a mostly-hard-SF near future political drama, and then you’ve got aliens and wormholes.

This I definitely agree with in the sense I could have taken a couple more seasons with Miller and Anderson Dawes on Ceres and around Eros and Ganymede, etc.. before we got into the blue goo.

Noir doesn't get done enough and I felt it got short shrift here just as it got interesting.
Space Noir on an asteroid(s).... yes bloody please.

Uncle Mikey

The best birthday present I ever got was a medical training device we called the Dial-a-Prostate. My buddy dated a pharmaceutical rep and she was handing these things out to proctologists. It was a little turntable with six model prostates and a cover. In the side of the cover there was a finger-sized hole through which the trainee felt the prostate for size, hard spots, etc. Maybe the best drinking game I've ever played, since by the end of the night everyone in the place was pretty much a licensed proctologist. Oh college, I miss you terribly

David

The best birthday present I ever got was a medical training device we called the Dial-a-Prostate.

I’m going to need a moment to process that.

anon a mouse

"I wonder how many stories could be summarized with that line. "

Kornbluth's "The Little Black Bag"

"Dial-a-Prostate"

Misread that, I did. And I'm not the only one, either.

Daniel Ream

I wonder how many stories could be summarized with that line.

Something something premise done way too often to be interesting any more something something

Steve E

The best birthday present I ever got was a medical training device we called the Dial-a-Prostate.

Sorry, hits a little too clost to home. Had a cystoscopy and a traditional prostate exam yesterday.

Daniel Ream

acts as if human nature is a blank slate to be wiped clean and written anew

There's a genre shorthand for neo-cyberpunk called "Crime Did Not", from the tagline "The world changed. Crime did not". The point, and it goes right back to Gibson's essay The Gernsbach Continuum, is that human nature doesn't change when technology does. We're still the same tribal primates we were 250,000 years ago, we just have iPhones and nukes now.

Steve E

We're still the same tribal primates we were 250,000 years ago, we just have iPhones and nukes now.

Quite!

PiperPaul

Had a cystoscopy and a traditional prostate exam yesterday.

Wouldn't it be funny if it was done by one of Uncle Mikey's drinking buddies? And he wasn't really a doctor?

Steve E

Wouldn't it be funny if it was done by one of Uncle Mikey's drinking buddies?

Now that you mention it...it might explain a lot of today's discomfort.

anon a mouse

"and a traditional prostate exam"

Hmm.

What, exactly, would constitute a non traditional prostate exam?

Alex DeWynter
Well, that's my point. The Expanse pulls a kind of bait and switch, where it looks like you're getting a mostly-hard-SF near future political drama, and then you've got aliens and wormholes.

This was my feeling as well. At least from the books, of which I made it through the first only through sheer tenacious hope that it would get back on track. When it became clear that it was well and truly headed into Jordy Verrill in Spaaaaaaace territory, I moved on to other things.

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