In other Science-y News: Soylent, Stem Cell Burgers, and Nootropics. Oh My!


You may have seen or heard coverage this week about Google-supported research to develop meat grown from stem cells.  One of two people who was able to eat a burger cooked from the stem cell meat said that it was good, but lacked fat.  Now, any talk of artificially-grown meat makes our collective alarm bells go off because we all remember Charlton Heston yelling “Soylent Green is People!” in the eponymous 1973 film.  I am pretty confident that every third person who read or heard the story probably thought, “Hmm, how long before someone grows people burgers?”  I don’t think that fear is warranted, but I was definitely the third person in that case.  Slippery slope.  Would you eat a stem cell burger?  Tell the truth.   Truth-I might because I recognize that the demand for meat has all sorts of undesirable environmental consequences.  Probably no time soon, gotta wait and see if it turns anyone into the minion monster.

Which leads me to my next topic.  Why on earth would someone create a potentially revolutionary food (not meal) replacement drink and name it “Soylent”?

Beats me, but it’s working.  There is a growing movement of people who are trying to figure out how they can stay alive without eating actual food.  I’ve been trying to keep up on its development.  Apparently, Soylent is a blandly sweet concoction of everything the body needs to survive.  It can be prepared in advance and taken with you.  Right now the cost is still high and the ingredients can be hard to find, so it won’t be coming to a store near you soon.  That said, it could totally revolutionize the weight loss industry.  Liquid diets work, but they are typically missing nutrients and people end up losing hair, dying, etc.  The question for me is whether people will end up with gall bladder problems long term because fat is needed to cause the organ to contract.  That used to be a big problem with liquid diets in the ’80s.  Right now, the creator isn’t trying to lose weight, so he eats at his caloric maintenance and tweaks the formula when he starts to feel weak.  He also doesn’t advocate only drinking Soylent, he has a few regular meals with food when he feels like it.  Definitely keep an eye out for it.

Nootropics, I still don’t fully understand this topic.  Basically, people are trying to figure out how to lifehack their brains to squeeze out every ounce of cognitive computing power through nutritional or pharmaceutical supplementation.  Essentially, they want to be like the lead character in the movie Limitless.  Some of the ingredients have to be procured through grey markets, meaning overseas pharmacies and others are simply nutritional supplements like melatonin.  Many of you have taken 5-hour Energy to give yourself extra pep and sharpness, we may see something similar on the market soon for mental clarity and memory.  I haven’t tried any of them though the topic is definitely interesting.

I worry less about Soylent being people;  I don’t want us to end up like Morlocks.

What about you; are you up to try these?

This is old, but it is so perfect that I had to share.

Gotye

All Trekkies who watched the Borg Queen’s torment/seduction of Data in First Contact will appreciate this.

To jog your memory (from IMDB):

[a Borg scratches Data’s flesh arm]
Lieutenant Commander Data: Ah!
Borg Queen: Is it becoming clear to you yet? Look at yourself, standing there, cradling the new flesh I’ve given you. If it means nothing to you, why protect it?
Lieutenant Commander Data: I… I am simply imitating the behavior of humans.
Borg Queen: You’re becoming more human all the time, Data; now you’re learning how to lie.
Lieutenant Commander Data: My programming was not designed to process these sensations.
Borg Queen: Then tear the skin from your limb as you would a defective circuit.
[Data hesitates]
Borg Queen: Go ahead, Data! We won’t stop you!
[Data forces himself to try to tear off the skin]
Borg Queen: Do it! Don’t be tempted by flesh!
[Data relents and leaves the skin alone]
Borg Queen: Are you familiar with physical forms of pleasure?
Lieutenant Commander Data: If you are referring to sexuality, I am… fully functional, programmed in… multiple techniques.
Borg Queen: How long since you’ve used them?
Lieutenant Commander Data: Eight years, seven months, sixteen days, four minutes, twenty-two…
Borg Queen: Far too long.
[they kiss passionately]

P.S. I still have no understanding of the Gotye video concept.  Why was he painted like that?

Spoiler-free Review of The Wolverine


First, let me say that I love me some Hugh Jackman.  I don’t know him personally, but everything about him just suggests that he is a stand-up guy who can act his behind off.  He’s a quadruple threat.  That said, not even he could save this slightly-worse-than-mediocre movie.  I was really excited about seeing this movie because I was hoping that they could make a good Wolverine movie.  Wolverine is probably the most explored character in all of X-men and, yet, they just can’t get the movies right.  I think they are going to have to reboot James Bond-style and make the movies darker to achieve what moviegoers want from the character.  Wolverine is impulsive, daring, self-sacrificing, brooding, and vulgar and Jackman hasn’t been given a script yet that allows him to show that.

The plot starts out good enough.  He is, as always, on a search for himself and missing his love, Jean Grey, who is pretty effective in her tiny role.  Famke Jennsen is so beautiful that she looks unreal anyway (hate her!).  Yukio is well cast and has some great scenes and I thought they did a great job in selecting Mariko as a foil to Wolverine.  That’s about it for the smaller parts.  Let’s not even get into the waste of screen time that was the Viper’s character and the Silver Samurai.  The f-ing Silver Samurai, how do you mess that up?  There is passion in that hyphen.

Aside from some great action sequences, the second half of the movie is just a waste.  I was honestly stunned at how bad the plot became.  And, I really just want filmmakers to stop selecting female villains just to have some eye candy.  It’s so unnecessary.

Rating: C with a sideye for the Viper character.  Wait for Redbox.

P.S.  Don’t go see it in 3D, no need for it.  And, yes, there is a great extra scene about halfway through the ending credits.

P.P.S. I don’t think there was one black person in the entire movie.  I mean the setting is Japan, but still, not one…in 2013?  Get with it Hollywood.

A Dirge for the Star Trek: Las Vegas Experience

The first time I went to Las Vegas, there was one place I knew I had to go.  That place where everyone’s at least a passing Trekkie.  Well, alas, it is no more.  The Las Vegas Hilton got rid of it years ago, but I still miss it.  I guess that it wasn’t bringing in the big bucks like its Elvis impersonator.  Yes, these grapes are sour.

If you’ve never been, I’ll paint the scene from memory:  You walk in and get in line and see a few prop exhibits and a Trek timeline.  But, the real fun starts when you get into the interactive Borg invasion.  The Borg Queen tops my list of villians because of her detached ruthlessness.  She was a bad mamajamma!  The simulation was dated, but I didn’t care because it was the closest I’d ever get to being on a starship.  Then, after you won, you could go into the Enterprise simulation and sit on,the Bridge and play an officer.  Again, it felt more like a science museum exhibit, but it was great for any trekkie.  Afterward, you could hang out in Ten Forward, drink some Romulan ale and chop it up with the Klingons wandering around.  The highlight for me was being choked by a Klingon female.  Then, of course, there was a neat gift shop with pretty good memorabilia.

Vegas felt a little emptier without any sort of Star Trek attraction there.  So, here’s to sadness.

FYI:  I hear there is a nice convention coming in August.  Check it out if you get a chance.

 

 

Spoiler-free Review of World War Z

Go see it.  Yes, on Friday.  And, yes, pay extra for 3D

 At the ripe old age of who’s counting, I can’t hang for the midnight shows anymore.  That said, World War Z would be an excellent movie to see at midnight on the opening night.  Why?  Because the movie is a total surprise.  None of the upfront trailers give you sufficient idea about what to expect in the movie.  I had a general idea that the movie was about some sort of apocalypse, but I had no idea how quickly I would be sucked into the action.  The movie begins with a sweet vision into the mundane daily life of a family.  On the news, there is some foreshadowing of danger, but that lasts for seemingly five minutes and, then, the movie becomes a rough and tumble ride to the finish.

 Okay, y’all already know that the movie is about zombies, right?  I’ve spent five minutes trying to figure out how not to tell you that, but it isn’t a secret.  Everything happens so fast that, afterwards, I realized that I couldn’t really tell you much about Brad Pitt’s acting.  The movie is essentially the Bourne Identity with zombies, but you can remember Matt Damon’s acting in that movie?  Despite his stellar body of work, I actually think Brad went with the Keanu Reeves less-is-more- playbook for this movie.  I’ll let more studied critics decide whether this is accurate, but his acting was a little flat to me.  So, the MVP award for the movie goes to the zombies.  That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.  The zombies were creeeepy; the transformations happen so fast and the special effects take on a swarming, insect-like quality that will actually make you itch like you’ve seen maggots on rotting flesh.  This is why I recommend going to see it in 3D, you need to feel the chaos in this movie.  The 3D is very crisp, but still retains some grit and that’s why I liked it.  I actually forgot that I was wearing 3D glasses.

You know, in the hour that it has taken me to write this review, I’m quickly starting to feel less impressed with the plot as well.  They could have done much more with the material.  The trekkie in me always wants further exploration of political/social context, crosscultural communication and cooperation, and resolutions that don’t lead to bloodshed.  I always wonder how a weak screenplay comes out of movies based on books, but, alas, I think this might be a case.  My friend told me that the movie has nothing to do with the premise of the book.  But, given all of these caveats, I think you’ll enjoy the movie.

Grade:  B/B+  Zombies.

Black Aliens Among Us?

Y’all seemed to enjoy the Miguel’s an Alien post, so I’m thinking of regularly expanding upon that by highlighting other black folk who fit the bill. They, of course, aren’t actually aliens (that we know of), but some of their shenanigans deserve a long side-eye stare.

The thing is when you have special powers, it’s just so hard to stay in line.

Any suggestions for whom to highlight?

Woo, They Lucked Out Finding Kate Mulgrew for Voyager

I’m not sure that we’ve talked about Voyager on this blog yet, but my favorite series is a constant toss up between TNG and Voyager. I really liked Kate Mulgrew as Captain Janeway despite the critiques of her style (and, her interview in “Captains”). Below, is a short clip showing the two actresses who were competing for the role. Mulgrew brought so much gravity and charisma (and a ‘I’ve been smoking and drankin’ since before you were born-voice’) to it that it is surprising that the other actress was even considered. Peep it.

Patrick Stewart Being a Total Mensch

See, this is why he’s my favorite captain:

http://lemonsweetie.tumblr.com/post/51652237280/let-me-tell-you-a-thing-about-an-amazing-man

And, shouts to Lemonsweetie for rocking an awesome Trill costume.

Captain’s Log: The Meaning of the Phrase “Kirk Out”

Ah yeah, this might truly be the first truly esoteric black trekkie post ever.  I think you had to be black and born some time between 1975 and 1980 to appreciate the phrase “kirk out”.  So, let’s get into it.

Does anyone know how this became a black cultural idiom?  I have no idea.  The funny thing is when you say it, almost every black person knows exactly what it implies–you went temporarily (read: batsh*t) insane.  In most situations, you’ve tried your best to keep your cool, but someone or a situation kept trying your patience and…finally, IT, whatever IT might be, was on!  You were done negotiating, trying to be heard, waiting patiently, listening to reason, trying to be empathetic, whatever.  You, David Banner, turned into this raging Hulk of a person that not even your momma could calm down:

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Example convo:

John:  Yo, I was driving today and this mickey flickey cut me off.  I couldn’t believe it when he flipped me the bird after I honked at him.  Yo, seriously, I almost got out of the car and KIRKED the ****(optional) OUT on that cat!  He better be glad I had a meeting because, otherwise, y’all would have been seeing me on the news at 6, yo. 

Homie:  I’m glad you didn’t, man.  Not over something so silly. 

Now, we all remember that Captain Kirk said “Kirk, out” whenever he signed off communications.  We also know that Captain Kirk was forever going off-script and just flying into rages, but how did this enter the black vernacular?  Not sure, but I’m glad it did.  It is such a effective, concise way of conveying about 50 curse words at once.

Anyone else have ideas?

Black Trekkies, I’m Looking For You!

We just turned 1 year old!  Woot!  Hosting the blog has been a fun, creative outlet so far.  It turns out that “Black Trekkies” is the top search term that is leading people to find the Black Trekkie blog.  I knew we were out there!  And, it appears that we are searching for one another.  It’s been a fun year and we have bigger and better things planned for the future.

SO…if you happen onto this blog and find it funny and/or interesting, become a guest poster. If you just want to hang, leave a comment and subscribe.

I’d love to have more activity on the blog and offering alternative insights into the Trek would be great.  And, please post comments and follow Black Trekkie.  Every click gets us a little closer to the Delta Quadrant.  Just kidding, it just lessens the distance between us.

We can even have an awesome Gorn/Kirk-style play fight.  We’ll figure out what the fight was about later.  Keep checking in, I’m looking to hear from you!