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We need to tell a better story than cyberpunk

IMHO the relationship between hacker culture (de facto, ideals, values etc) and cyberpunk (fact and fiction) is a complicated one.

On one hand it's very easy to fall for the coolness associated with cyberpunk but on the other hand we should never forget that cyberpunk was meant as a dystopian vision of the near future. That is, not desirable. But in many respects we are already there which complicates things further.

There is of course a great deal of overlap in values and ideals. Making fact and fiction increasingly harder to distinguish.

“The future is there... looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become.” ― William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

Cyberpunk may be now but we deserve better. I'm not sure that solarpunk is the best alternative narrative for hacker culture to embrace, as suggested in the talk above, but surely we could could come up with something better, perhaps emphasizing the collective nature of much of what is considered hacking. I have no solutions or concrete suggestion but I believe this is a meaningful question to ponder.

As a side note

Don't call yourself a ‘cyberpunk’, and don't waste your time on anybody who does.

from esr's 'How To Become A Hacker' never felt less relevant.

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

King Kong vs. Godzilla

Into the '60s!

A newspaper and television station funded by a pharmaceutical company want a sensation, which happens to be the discovery of King Kong on an island. He is captured and brought to Japan, where he escapes from captivity and battles Godzilla.

Mr. Tako, the producer of a low rated television show called "Mysteries of the World", decides his show needs some spicing up. So he sends two of his staff, Osamu Sakurai and Kinsaburo Furue, to Pharoh Island to bring back some berries, called soma, noted for their non-addictive narcotic effect. He also wants the two to bring back proof of a giant ape named King Kong. As this is going on, a submarine collides with an iceberg releasing Godzilla, who was trapped there seven years earlier. When Osamu and Kinsaburo arrive at Pharoh, they not only find the berries but the giant ape. After a battle with a giant octopus, Kong drinks the juice that is made from the berries and falls asleep. While he is sleeping, the pair tie him to a raft and take him back to Japan. In the meantime, Godzilla is rampaging throughout the Japanese countryside. While in route to Japan, Kong breaks free and swims toward Japan and inevitably on a collision course with Godzilla.

Where to begin with this one? In this third installment of the Godzilla franchise we get to enjoy our monsters in full colour.

The science show, "Mysteries of the World" (funded by the shady pharmaceutical company) that needs more spectacular content, thus strange hypnotic berries and King Kong, is pretty cool and I wish we got to see more of it as the narrative progressed but no such luck.

King Kong vs. Godzilla is for sure more humorous and the atmosphere is much lighter compared to its predecessors

Sometimes it feels a bit like a King Kong movie with Godzilla haphazardly thrown into the mix to make things more interesting. This movie could have worked perfectly well without Godzilla given some minor modifications of the story.

Godzilla is released into the wild due to a military submarine crashing into an iceberg. This is a nice nod and tying in with the ending of the previous movie and brings a sense of continuity to this mess.

There is plenty of sexism and racism topped off with some good ol' colonialism.

The movie could maybe be read as a critic of capitalism and in particular the flavour of capitalism that grew into fruition in the 60's with television, advertising and mass production. E.g. the willingness of management to risk the lives and safety of its employees, fucking up the lives of native people of a relatively isolated island and literally bringing monsters into the world in a desperate move to get better ratings on a mediocre TV show. Despite the humorous atmosphere there is a lot of darkness in this movie if you read it this way.

The settings and backdrops are nice and I think the movie overall is good looking. All of the music in this movie is quite good. However, what got me into the Godzilla franchise in the first place was its nuclear crust punk factor and the crust factor in King Kong vs. Godzilla is minimal to non-existent. Not that this makes it bad per se but I didn't get my fix from this movie.

The very best part of this movie is the scene with the giant octopus on Pharoh Island. There is something about this creature that makes it outshine both King Kong and the almighty Godzilla. It's very well made and who doesn't like a giant octopus?

At times King Kong vs. Godzilla is fun but on the whole is doesn't quite do it for me.

Sprouting

Sprauting, AKA the act of being the laziest solarpunk on the planet.

There are many good alternatives if you are willing to pour a little money into this hobby (e.g.Sproutly). However I've maybe found one of the crustiest methods of always having a fresh batch of sprouts ready; using old milk cartons.

  • Take a couple of spoonfuls of seeds and let them rest in some lukewarm water over night.
  • Clean out an old milk carton and cut it according to the image below.
  • Fill it with seeds. Put it on a tray and stash it away in some dark place.
  • Water twice a day.
  • Wait approximately a week, cut it open and enjoy your sprouts.

milk carton

This method works surprisingly well for me. For some reason other methods are hit and miss. So far I've had great luck with mung beans, green lentils and black beans and I'm looking forward to trying other things as well.

My partner prefers their coffee with soy milk so we always have a steady supply of milk carton we otherwise would trow away so this a pretty nice way of "reducing waste".

mung beans

Source (instagram), video (mp4), txt (swe)

Godzilla Raids Again (1955)

Godzilla Raids Again

Second up in this massive project is Godzilla Raids Again [imdb] from 1955.

Koji Kobayashi, a spotter for a Japanese fishing fleet crash lands his plane on a barren island. His best friend, Shoichi Tsukioka, manages to find him and lands his plane next to his so he can be rescued. The two pilots are shocked when they see two giant monsters waging war before falling into the ocean. The two pilots race back to Japan to inform the government what they saw. Soon the world comes to the realization, that a monster closely related to the original Godzilla is on the loose as well as a new monster named Angilas. Soon, the two monsters arrive in Osaka where they resume their battle. Will the two monsters destroy Osaka before they ultimately destroy each other? [src]

The plot feels a bit thin in contrast to the first movie but I think it kind of works. In truth I had to watch this movie multiple times to get a firm grip on the story because I tended to zoom out in between the Godzilla scenes. The two main company men are sweet but boring and, for me, quite unrelatable. I don't care much about what happens to them. The plot somehow feels forced and yanked in there in between all of the good stuff.

However, we are introduced to the mighty Anguirus. One of many monsters to come.

The fighting scenes between Gozilla and Anguirus are very good and just a pleasure to watch. Without a doubt the usp of this movie. The obliteration of Osaka is not bad either. Like the first movie, everything is very beautiful and well made.

There is one scene in particular that really resonated with me; when Osaka is under blackout and the military is firing flares in order to lure Godzilla away from Osaka there is an escape from a prison transport truck. The alleged criminals flee and steals a car which they manage to crash into something highly explosive resulting in a huge raging fire attracting Godzilla back to the city. All the prisoners die, on way or the other (ofc, duh!). Not sure why I liked it but I think it added a random dark twist to the mood of the movie. A nice touch IMHO.

The ending leaves much to be desired.

The actual Godzilla scenes are good, all the other stuff, perhaps not so good, to put things diplomatically. But I kind of think it all works out but I'm very glad this movie wasn't any longer...

the Before times

While COVID-19 is raging havoc and governments around the world put increasingly harsher restrictions on their subjects I think everyone should call in sick from work, self quarantine and grab a copy of Sarah Pinsker's excellent scifi dystopia A Song for a New Day.

In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection.

Just read it.