Here I detail in exhaustive length ramblings about whatever I'm currently doing.
The stark difference between Disney and Universal

is storytelling.

I’m currently vacationing with my family in Florida.  We got here Saturday, did nothing, and Sunday we went to Hollywood Studios and yesterday we went to Universal Studios (main park, not Islands of Adventure).  Today we’re going to Epcot, tomorrow is a break (with a quick stop at Medieval Times for dinner), Thursday is Animal Kingdom, Friday is Magic Kingdom, and Saturday we’re out of here.

I wasn’t as familiar with the rides over at Universal, but I’m very familiar with the rides at Disney.  And Universal’s, while fun, aren’t as memorable.  And it’s because Universal is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too obsessed with trying to cram a legitimate 1.5-2.5 hour story into a dinky 5 minute ride.  Even the Men in Black “point laser gun at targets and get high score” ride wouldn’t shut up with its incessant storytelling that you can’t hear nor care to pay attention to while you shoot everything you see.

Disney does it correctly.  You either get a purely atmospheric/informative ride (Soarin, any of the “people are bad, energy is good” rides, tours, etc.) or a romp in a world (literally everything else).  There’s no need for some story to be found.  The story already happened in the movies; now you just need to shut your mouth and enjoy a ride in their world.

Universal just bombards you with information about what you’re doing in that ride and what you need to accomplish and it’s just a mess.  The Transformers ride is the ultimate epitome of all that; just like in the movies, you can’t really tell what on Earth is happening, but you’re always aware of this vague and ever-present plot somewhere in there.


Again, everything was fun, but it was all a convoluted mess.  Holy Christ, even that silly alien ride that’s literally nothing more than a dumb fair ride (or the Dumbo ride that you can move up and down at your leisure) in the Simpsons area has a story to tell.


So what happens when you jam stories into tiny rides?  They turn out crappy and/or convoluted.

Escape From Harry Potter’s World’s Singular Only Bank That Services The Entirety Of The Wizarding World Because Competition Does Not Exist was the only ride that came close to just being a romp in Harry Potter’s world only for something silly to happen that turns the ride into a ride.

The Mummy ride was the worst offender; I expected Transformers to be a mess, but Mummy had no reason to be anything it was.  Or to be more precise, it had no clue what it wanted to be.  Did it want to tell a story?  Did it want to just shoot you off into the mummy’s tomb?  Your soul was going to be stolen, but you could always just choose to serve him, oh but now he’s after you!  Quick!  Listen to Brendan Frasier ramble about how he really would have liked the interview more if he just had a cup of coffee!  Except there was no interview.

However, both parks are failing with this weird new trend going on in the media.

Self-deprecating humor.

I am really sick and tired of everyone taking a cue from Deadpool and making snarky, dead-panned comments about themselves via fourth-wall breaking.

Calling attention to your own tropes does not excuse them, nor does it elevate you above them.

This is part of a growing “negativity trend” in media desperately trying to keep the attention of cynical, jaded people who have “seen it all already” instead of just trying to capture new demographs.  It started with all the edginess of the 1990s, went into the grittiness of the 2000s, and now we just need to be insulting or demeaning in the 2010s.

The TV shows are just as bad.  The characters don’t even talk to each other so much as they just one-up each other in snarky retorts.

It’s like the writers are just jerking themselves off with “Haha, she said that?  Well, I’m gonna make him say that!  And now I’ll make her say that!!!!  Oh, man, I’m so clever!  Let me bend over forwards and suck myself off!”

And so the tweeny shows my sister and future children are watching/will be watching are just encouraging this bizarre “emotional bullying” where people feel some prideful need to make sure they’re the ones with the last say.

And I’m seeing this happen with actual children.  I see attempts by a few children to actually engage in witty banter, except kids are stupid and aren’t witty at all.  And so they don’t actually have any clever comebacks.

So what happens is one just insulted another and the other is just standing there, a dumb look on his/her face as s/he tries to come up with something, anything to say to not be the one standing there like an idiot.

Except they’re both idiots.  But kids are allowed to be idiots.  It’s really depressing hearing adults do this exact thing.

The lowest common denominator of jokes used to be “Hah hah.  I get that reference.”  Now it’s “Hah hah.  I get that reference, and your insulting it was funny.”

But on the whole, you can’t even begin to imagine how little I actually care about this nonissue.


First of all, there is one and only one reason I ever order from a chain:  I want it brought to me.  I have been very fortunate that my two homes (hometown and college town where I’ve spent now almost half my life) has actually had the top-ranked local pizza for my state (in fact, my hometown has the #1 for my state just about 10 minutes from where my family lives, and my college town has the #3 for my state).

However, neither of these places deliver (the place near my hometown used to, but they abandoned it because “they felt being yet another pizza delivery place would tarnish their reputation.”  What they meant was they are run by the mob in the most literal sense, and they wanted instead to force you to come up there so you might stay and pay the door fee for listening to the local talent come play, and since they actually get good local talent, they’ve definitely made more money off this venue).


Now, unfortunately, where I live right now puts me just outside the edge of the delivery zones for all pizza places around except one.  Papa John’s.

If you dare say Papa John’s is “quality pizza” I really feel sorry for you.  But nevertheless, they do deliver here, so if we’re feeling lazy one night after horsing around, we’ll hit the website and order something.

Papa John’s recently came out with a pan pizza.  We decided to give it a try.  Yawn.  I’m not sure how they actually do it, but I’m convinced they prepare the pizza the exact same way as normal but squish it into a pan (which is not how a pan pizza should be made).  But if you want a pan pizza around here, your only options are Pizza Hut, Little Caesars (which is thus far the best), and now Papa John’s.

I used to think Papa John’s only did what I’m about to say in our area, but apparently it’s pretty true in a lot more places than I’d have imagined.  See, Papa John’s in my college town is considered the top ranked pizza, and it puts that in its advertisement (City’s Best Pizza), but it does not do this at my hometown.  Apparently, Papa John’s does really well for large scale events, so anytime the university has some event going on (every single day) somewhere, either departmental or organizational, you always wind up with Papa John’s pizza to much on.  In fact, it is entirely possible to go an entire semester eating free Papa John’s pizza.

What’s going on is Papa John’s just shoehorns itself into anything it can long enough that it has a consistent clientele.  We do not order from other places not because Papa John’s does it best but simply because we’ve always ordered from there.

So Papa John’s thinks it’s the bees’ knees.  And, as suggested, they do this all over the nation in college towns everywhere.

Their pizza is inoffensive.  It’s average.  Imagine what a pizza tastes like, and that’s Papa John’s.  Not the best pizza, just any ole pizza.

I really wish others would deliver.    That pan pizza just made us all feel sad on the inside.

Self-Driving Cars and research opportunities!

So, whether we want them to or not, virtual reality and self-driving cars will become a very real reality within my lifetime.  If I look at the gaming industry, we can easily compare the slow development of graphics and dynamics during the old, old Atari-and-before generation and the rather sudden, exponential increase in quality (here, “quality” is kept specifically in regards to graphics and processing power, not necessarily any game or generation as a whole).

In fact, the video gaming industry is our best measure at seeing how quickly technology improves for anything because it’s very publicly available (it’s hard to pinpoint the internet, for example, since there was technically a working “internet” of sorts in the 1920s via automatic typewriters, of all things!!), including any declines (the infamous Atari-E.T. problem).

By comparison, we expect the quality of autonomous vehicles to be exponential as well; start slow, reach the critical point, then accelerate.  In fact, we are already well in the stage of the slow start and have been since before the first self-driving cars were released some time ago.

Consider something as simple as the warning indicator, including the camera, that comes with a lot of vehicles and when you put it into reverse.  Also consider dashboard cameras’ abilities to focus on rapidly speeding objects with stationary quality.

These are features necessary to jumpstart the self-driving car because the car will need to interpret both of these systems.

Virtual reality I don’t need to explain much as it will follow almost verbatim the gaming industry; crappy quality in visuals, reach a point where everything is the same, crash and fail, and then be revitalized.  We’re already reaching the crash and fail, although I suspect the pornography industry will be the saviors of virtual reality just as the Nintendo corporation was to the video game industry.  On that same note, VR will save the pornographic industry (which is in utter decline thanks to free videos everywhere) just as “better gaming” saved Nintendo (which was a declining card company for the longest time).

    So let’s get back to cars.  Self-driving cars operate on two separate networks; one for communication with “the world,” mostly through GPS and “advanced informatics,” or basically city-wide information such as speed limits, stop sign locations, etc., and the other is for communication with other vehicles, such as detecting speed, direction, location, etc.


One concern I see popping up already is how wireless cars will be a gold mine for hackers.  This is true if we were bumbling simpletons with no foresight.

My university is already pushing vehicular ad-hoc network (VANET) security by acquiring and doling out grants out the wazoo to anyone who wants to participate.  And much of the groundwork for this area has actually already been done since the mid-2000s.

I had a "thinking session” two nights ago on whether or not I actually wanted to switch my research from array network security (security over an area, like a campus or installation site) to vehicular network security.

The military’s been in demand for this research for a long time, only with a slightly different application.  Instead of cars talking to each other, it’s more that their ad-hoc networks occasionally need to be relocated “on the fly” (say, a military site gets attacked) but critical structures may need to stay connected, while the destruction of a router or relay point severs the connection.

Sound familiar?  Cars getting attacked, and hacked or compromised system severing the connection cars need to communicate with each other?

I’m never sure why people always seem a decade behind the research.  I’m often unaware of this or that, but once I hear about some “uproar,” a quick Google search always points me to some decade or years ago where things began being addressed.  Indeed, let me tell you how I determine how long things have been researched.  It’s one of two ways:

I Google something I’m interested in, say, “vehicle communication security,” I click anything that looks like a PDF file, and then I scroll all the way to the bottom and look at the dates on the works cited.  If a large collection of them appear to be around the 2000s, then we’ve been examining things for some time.  If the 2010s, it’s pretty recent.  And so on.


I open Google Scholar and type in some keywords, say, “vehicle” and “security.”  I then try and find on the first few pages the paper with the most citations.  Then there’s a pretty good chance this author found a pretty good focal point (starting or not, a lot of research seemed to diverge from there), and I check its date.

There.  I don't even have to be knowledgeable or smart or understanding anything about an issue or a paper.  But now I know that people are freaking out about something that’s already being well considered.  And sometimes this is necessary; people occasionally very legitimately freak out about something that has not been addressed as of yet.  Or not to any meaningful depth, anyway.  One good example is the gut flora in our intestines; we’re still not entirely sure what they all do (we know what certain families of them do, but that’s some out of millions).  But we freak out over killing our gut flora, anyway.  In this case, it’s actually certain degrees of panic that jumpstart the field itself, so panic is a good thing.

But ultimately, I’m really just skeptical about anything anyone says.  I can’t predict the future, nor do I have the past memorized, and as for the present I’m only mostly aware of my immediate present with flickerings of other presents.  So that’s why I feel some need to look things up.  If I’m not immediately able to do so (either because I can’t or simply don’t want to), then I generally try not to think about it much.

I like to minimize my thinking.  It’s very important to do so!


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