Menu

Ecco

Dear Relic Entertainment/SEGA,

はじめまして、俺はポです。
I had an idea…

The polar ice caps have melted causing people to migrate to higher elevations, living almost exclusively in the mountains, the few remaining humans live to sustain their way of life.

Ecco awakes in the middle of the night, the stars twinkling in the sky and reflecting on the surface of the ocean covering Manhattan. S/he calls out for his/her pod only to find s/he is alone. Unexpectedly the darkness answers back…


This is the introduction to a hypothetical remake of Ecco the Dolphin. Ecco is heard calling out to his/her pod, waiting for a response, but there is only silence until the darkness finally answers back.

Ecco swims around New York City looking for his/her lost pod, but they are nowhere to be found, instead Ecco is strangely drawn towards a crystal in the water that communicates with him/her and gives Ecco a prophetic vision which is indiscernible at the time. All that can be understood at the time is “Follow the setting star.”

Ecco heads west and is comes into contact with the human military in a helicopter, and is shot at with tranquilizer darts while swimming. The darts cut through the water leaving behind trails as they are slowed by friction and sink harmlessly to the continental floor. Ecco escapes, but not before being tagged with a geo-locator. For what sinister purpose are they trying to capture a dolphin?

(This escape may or may not involve diving off of a waterfall and brief helicopter chase.)

Ecco survives by eating the abundant fish now swimming across the continent of North America, but there is a conflict of some kind that brings Ecco into contact with the military again— i.e. a geographical trap or rough terrain, an illness, etc. S/he is captured and brought to the now flooded Bay Area.

Here we are introduced to a human group of survivors, highly militarized and in control of energy, transportation, and food in a self-sustaining community. Ecco discovers s/he is no longer alone, there are other dolphins here—albeit they are military rescue dolphins which have been implanted with technology and wear collars that allow them to communicate with human beings wirelessly. They each have their own unique voice, names, and live like captive pets.

Ecco regales them with the story of his/her missing pod and the strange crystal found in New York. The squad relays the information to the human survivors and it is revealed that they are aware of the location of another crystal near a fault off the coast of California.

So begins the story of Ecco the Dolphin: Drowned Signs.

July 24, 2017 – また、トロントに来ました

Slowly wrote up the following today at the Black Canary. There was a group of guys putting down various Toronto Universities… it was not pleasant to overhear. A trio of artists was also present, one or two of them sketching. They were silent. Very pleasant to be in their company.

今日は月よう日二十四日七月、また俺はちかてつでトロントに来ました。
今、きっさてんに待っています、これを書いています。
さく晩、カタカナを勉強していました、少しかんたんでした。
レベル二の日本語をととのっています、と思います。
きっさてんに音楽を聞いています、とても人たちはここに飲んでしゃべっています。
あぁ、うわぎを買いました。それは十一ドロルでした、黒マケトから。
それから何をしていますか?しゃしんをとります?じゃ、良いですと思います。

My vocabulary is still very limited. Here’s a dose of self-expression:

いつもかのじょを思います
毎日俺はケレンを思い出す
「そうです」を聞きました
かのじょを見いていました
心に、気に、見いています
あなた俺を愛していますか
いつも思っていますいつも。

 

This is Toronto, not Japan. I’ll go eventually, but I’m afraid the experience will be quite similar.

 

 

A message from a WoW Monk RPer

 

The following scroll was found posted on the faculty bulletin board, affixed with a quill. The handwriting is neat and the parchment new with some weight to it. You may find it to be a bit preachy if your personality is such that you dislike monks. Po looks at Big Mac.

 

 

The Few, The Proud and The Emotional

What makes it easier to control one’s emotions? I say it is education, otherwise known as the path to Enlightenment. The word enlightenment may carry with it some religious connotations, but I will visit it here as a series of realizations (however incomplete they may be at this stage).

The first realization is that emotions have the ability to release Sha. This is important to understand, because as you very well know we can bring harm upon others with our actions, but also with our innermost thoughts and emotions. You will discover this the hard way.

The second realization that emotions are, in essence, bio-electro-chemical interactions happening along countlessly finite dendritic synapses, the action potential along myelinated sheaths driving Sodium and Potassium ion pumps, and of course the so-called neurotransmitters bridging the gaps between the units of consciousness we call neurons.

The third realization that we are incredibly small in relation to the cosmos and all the revelations that brings. For example: we exist on one planet orbiting one star, in one galaxy, in one local group… this should make you feel quite insignificant. However, it should also make you feel special in that you are able to read and understand these symbols before you with an organ that has had a large amount of time to refine itself, through generations of deoxyribonucleic acid recombination.

The fourth realization that we generate seeds within our bodies that are the soul source of new life (life which is comparable to the body in which the seed was created). But all this comes from curiosity and a bit of potted soil in which it can be allowed to grow. If fed and nurtured correctly, perhaps it will one day outgrow its home and need to be transplanted to a garden, or even the wilds themselves, to grow amongst others. Ultimately, life tells us to pass on our seeds, whether by choice or design—or perhaps some other dichotomy destroying pathway.

The fifth realization comes in times where you find yourself not moving, stuck in the Stagnant Oasis with turtles nibbling on you (like I had been for quite some time). Finding the right nutrients to feed growth requires spreading roots. Exploring new domains—unexplored territory (unexplored by those aforementioned roots, of course) has the potential to, and nearly always leads to growth.

The sixth realization that family, friends, indeed other beings like you, and especially those who are different are important factors in your universe. We are social because we have language, or we have language because we are social, or perhaps neither is close to the truth. Regardless, understanding that being connected to others is a fundamental part of understanding—truly, everything you wish you understand, comes from being taught by those around you.

The seventh realization that we may or not be inherently violent due to our decision to kill for protein. To put it bluntly: we kill or others kill for us so we may ingest protein, and the decision lays with us to eat that delicious protein and support the cycle of violence (which I do support on occasion because of the pleasurable flavors) or to find alternatives so that we may relieve others of such burdens. This is a realization that is difficult to accept, because of the deliciousness of murdered proteins and our collectively moralistic cultures.

The eighth realization is simply that other cultures reveal to us our own biases and give to us self-reflexivity. So while it is easy to surround ourselves with only people, art, culture, ideas which align with our own biases, much can be learned by opening oneself to new ideas and perspectives, whether we accept them or not.

I wonder what realizations others have come to thus far in their journey, but at the same time fear how subjective those realizations may be, because I know having strong opinions is an important part of the culture of this language. Right Okami?

– ポ クラウドストイク

A blast from the past!

I put this before the doctype declaration on my old site. Thought I’d share!

    Hello fellow explorer...
    The cake is a lie!
    Han shot first.
    The truth is out there.
    *drops a tinfoil hat for you*
           
                |
           \         /    
               _/|
             _/  \ 
        __   \    \   __
             / /  / 
            /     \
            \   /  |__
            /\ /     /
           /  /     / \__
           \ /\     \   /\
           /   \       /__\
          /_  / \   /\/   
            \/   |_/
                  
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  v
              _-------_
             /         \
            /           \
            \         O  O
            (           _\
              \      \__|
               \   ____/
                |    |
               /      \

The Vagaries of Time

I’ll be sharing this at the April 20, 2017 Literary Conclave (a Stormwind University weekly public event on Wyrmrest Accord-US). Part I: Drowning was co-written with Caniell Lyca (Bailey).

 

Part I: Drowning

What does it take for wishes to come true?

What clears your sky to brightest blue?

On a journey always living in someone’s shade

Hoping your dreams won’t be unmade

Sirens sing to you from the deep dark sea

Taunting your hopes for all you could be

Keep the light in your eyes, do not let it dim

You’re starting to sink, I beg you to swim

Advice is offered, but your heart contradicting screams

Why must it be so difficult to follow your dreams?

I lived all my life trying to be tough

The vagabond loner who never held on tightly enough

The person I see is not the one that you know

How can you live with what mirrors will show

 

Part II: Descent

Lost your mind long before your hair turned grey

You looked to others to show you the way

Got off the train to finally see the tracks

Trying hard not to focus on what your life lacks

Remember feeling two hearts beating together

As I wandered this life you became my tether

Suffering is supposed to be caused by being attached

But the happiness it brought me hasn’t been matched

Who’s at the center of your universe?

Finding out it’s an other couldn’t be worse

So I continue to wander alone and write thus

Admiring the architecture and beauty around us

All the tears don’t show on your stoic face

With all its pain, happiness and heavenly grace

“Love and Death are always on my mind”

Recently I have been interested in Mitosis and Apoptosis, the life and death of cells.

Apoptosis relies on enzymes called Caspases. These are protein digesters that cleave proteins apart at specific locations. “Programmed cell death” as it is often translated, doesn’t take into consideration the usefulness of a specific cell, the experience it has gained from repeatedly performing its function… no, how could a biochemical process know such things? Still, it is a part of the life-cycle of a cell that marks the end of that cell, that unit of life, and prevents it from duplicating its organelles, Deoxyribonucleic Acid… this isn’t simple fission.

Spindle fibres, centrioles, cytokinesis—all the sundry mechanics of replication and division happening constantly within us, without conscious thought playing a role—a process of folded protein interactions, it can be overwhelmingly complex and beautiful. There are a lot of triggers for these processes including the external environment the cell exists in. Inhibitory proteins, catalytic enzymes, regulatory hormones, binding to sites on proteins they happen to stumble into in the grand and chaotic dance of biochemistry.

Sometimes the presence of specific proteins in excess causes strange things to happen. Apoptosis Inhibitor Proteins (IAPs as they’re sometimes called) can lead to extraordinarily long cellular life cycles—the fountain of youth itself. But cells aren’t meant to live forever, necrosis is just another process that can affect life. Poly-Adenosine Diphosphate-Ribose Polymerase (PARP) can cause necrosis by causing a cell to consume all of its Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), the phosphate energy carrier released by the Krebs Cycle that provides the chemical energy needed by our biochemistry—part of what keeps us alive.

When cells don’t or can’t die they proliferate in ideal conditions, mitosis creating life, again and again without end. In my mind this is how tumours grow, there can be a gene mutation, or simply an over-expression of a gene that codes for an IAP inhibitory protein that prevents Caspases from cleaving, prevents the cascade. I’m certainly not telling you anything new, this is the first place to look for understanding tumour growth. Perhaps in the future there can be an injection given into the heart of a tumour that helps regulate Apoptosis, turning off these inhibitory proteins and allowing the cells to die a normal cell death. Or even an activator that causes PARP like proteins to increase in concentration in the cytoplasm, Caspases that cleave proteins apart, or phagocyte digestive processes aided by enzymes might be able to aggressively consume tumours. The only problem is these processes are simple mechanically and don’t yet discriminate. Still, if one could find a way to isolate, start and stop these simple mechanisms then they might be viable in the future… or maybe just in my head.

When I have a thought, I wonder where it originates. Yes, neurons are the cellular unit that make up my brain, but what causes that presynaptic neuron to fire in memory recall? Is it a chaotic process like protein interactions? Are millions of neurons “searching” for the memory of my first kiss in the back of that car, or making out during The Lord of the Rings? What gives neurons the capacity to hold data, like images, sounds, smells, memories, our identities? The brain is so poorly understood that it all seems like magic, like we have a time machine in our skulls that lets us visit the past, live in the present and contemplate many possible futures. Maybe there is an intangible, metaphysical component to our consciousnesses? But then what happens during traumatic brain injury, when someone loses their sense of self, can no longer recognize loved ones, becomes unresponsive? Do the monists have it right, does consciousness exist solely within the bio-electro-chemical interactions within a mass of neurons, in countlessly finite synapses, along the axons and dendrites of the units of thought? I am not sure what to believe, but I really want there to be more to us than our physical forms.

Animals too have the ability to learn, are born with instincts and innate behaviours, and they too perhaps wonder about their lives as they lay there in the sun on our kitchen floors. If aliens were to visit our planet they would find it very strange we both care for and kill animals selectively, even with our superior technologies, we still haven’t solved the problem of why meat tastes so damn good. I hope one day that out of necessity or out of empathy that the majority of people become vegetarian, but this comes from my Indian background, I’m certain. India by percentage of population has the largest vegetarian population on the planet. Poor people cannot afford the meat, and others simply enjoy not having to support killing in their daily lives. Hunting is a cultural thing that dates back to when we were surviving outdoors. Maybe some of us lived on fruits and vegetables alone, with little protein in our diets, even back then… it’s possible, after all raw meat probably doesn’t taste too great.

All this thought about life and death has made me appreciate everything I have, especially my health. Everything functioning within ideal limits, the biochemistry, the physical, the emotional realms all making me alive. Life may not have turned out the way I wanted it to, planned it to, or wished it to, but I am able to feel that regret, that loss, that longing and it makes me who I am. I enjoy any emotions I feel, both the good and the bad (I hate to reduce emotions to a dichotomy, a binary, but you understand what I mean hopefully) because some people due to medications, depression, or other conditions can lose that part of themselves. Or you could be born Vulcan and repress the desire to feel, giving cold logic the throne of the mind.

I am working again, and time sure does fly when I’m at work. I haven’t reached a place where I can mull over thoughts, as my mind is occupied by having to remember and match numbers to their correct locations. I’m sure in a few years robots will have taken over my job, because it will be more efficient. A robot could do my job, but I’m glad they chose a human being. So when I come home I like to try and expose myself to things I find interesting, or sometimes simply relax into the familiar world of Azeroth. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Be The Key

I’ll be sharing this at the January 12, 2017 Literary Conclave (a Stormwind University weekly public event on Wyrmrest Accord-US).

 

In this solitude I have come to realize
That I am no longer the same in your eyes
Twisted and contorted by vitriol and words
Happy memories of me have flown away like birds

But I protected mine, kept you safe from harm
With all of your idiosyncrasies, emotions and charm
And in time these memories will fade and disappear
Feathers falling from skin, my greatest fear

Our time together was innocent and pure
And for this loneliness those memories are the cure
I catch glimpses of you in my minds eye
Even when I’m not thinking of you, you fly by

I wonder if within us lays the ability to communicate
Our very life force sending messages of love, not hate
Consciousnesses somehow connected through dreams
The dancing, prancing, tossing, crossing streams

But the real world weighs heavily on me these days
And I find myself laying awake at night in a daze
Conflicted within, the dichotomy of love and reason
Watching as time marches by with seasons

Maybe you’ll never love me again, who really knows
A love the winter in your heart may have froze
But I’ll always keep you safe, tucked away someplace
I’ll be holding on tightly to you just in case.

Don’t Panic (iPhone 5 iOS 10 wallpaper)

dont-panic-japanese

I made this wallpaper from a logo and free wallpaper I found on Google. I don’t claim ownership of the parts of the image, I only combined/remixed them in Photoshop.

「パニック」is the english word “panic” and 「しません」is the word for “don’t do”. Together it roughly translates to “Don’t Panic” in Japanese(日本語で).

The image is free for personal use.

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell is one of my favourite anime (or アニメ which is short for the english word “animation”). The Ghost in the Shell anime series is known for its whodunnit story lines, political and bureaucratic red tape, action sequences and philosophical questions. I am absolutely drawn in by the cyberpunk genre, this series being no exception. I most recently watched the ARISE prequels and thought they were beautifully animated and had enough mystery to keep me wanting more.

What makes us alive?

This collection of bio-electro-chemical interactions happening not only along the myelinated lengths of a mass of neurons—specialized single cells supported by glial cells—but also in the interconnected and countlessly finite dendritic synapses we carry within us, all giving rise to consciousness, memory, emotion, thought. What happens when we probe a brain with electrodes and medications to discover how it functions, and finally understand it well enough to interface it with technology? Are you a monist or dualist? Do you believe in the existence of an organic soul? Does your ghost arise from biology? Can we create consciousness with software?

じゃあ、let’s take a look at what 2017 has got in store for Ghost in the Shell, shall we?

Official Trailer #1:

2017 live action movie shelling sequence depicting the assembly of Major Motoko Kusanagi:

Here’s the 1995 anime shelling sequence/intro for comparison (below). This has to be one of the most memorable sequences ever created largely due to its haunting soundtrack.

あが、まえば、てるつき、とよむなり

which I tried hard to translate, and all I could come up with was: “if dancing, the shining moon” … that’s as far as I got.

よばいに、かみ、あまくだりて

“sneaking at night into a girl’s bedroom to make love, god, descends from heaven”. These are just my interpretations because it’s difficult to find any official lyrics. I had to rely on my ears, a dictionary and educated guesses largely because the homonyms in Japanese make the lyrics ambiguous, and you have to guess at the intentions of the artist who wrote them when lyrics aren’t readily available.

For instance とよむなり if interpreted as と読むなり means “and right after reading” or “and the reading sound” or “and reading or …” the later being incomplete, and all can be valid. But I see most people interpreting it as “ringing”/”echoing” which completely ignores とよむ and focuses on なり, or they have a completely incorrect translation for とよむ.

*Sigh* Oh language.

Anyway, the ambiguity only adds to the overall effect of this, again, haunting sequence.

Below is an interview with Scarlett Johansson who will be playing Major Kusanagi, Takeshi Kitano who will be playing Aramaki, and the director Rupert Sanders. Rupert says that any time you cast someone, people are critical of your decision, stating that there are also fans who support him.

While an Asian lead in such a huge film would have sent a message to Hollywood, I don’t think it’s going to hurt the film at all. I’m a little upset, but I’ll still watch it in theatres, with Scarlett’s face being a constant reminder that she’s NOT EVEN ASIAN! Okay, I can totally see the other side, it’s easy to be indifferent or think in a global community that things like this shouldn’t matter so much. Besides Major Kusanagi doesn’t really look Asian to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to be racist, instead I am sick the business and creative sides of Hollywood thinking that an Asian lead would alienate their audience or hurt their box-office earnings. But granted, you need to pick your battles wisely, and this is something I can live with. That’s it. I hope you can at least see where the other side is coming from.

Finally, here is a rundown of the setting and characters of Ghost in the Shell from Grace Randolph of Beyond The Trailer.  She does a pretty great job:

So what do you think?
Are you excited for the film?
Still hurt over the casting of Motoko Kusanagi?
Are you going to watch it?

何を思いますか?
映画を楽しみにですか?
モトコでうれしいですか?
見たいですか?