That One Plot Device


Hauntings season is (basically) over, which means Husband and I are spending quality time having weird-ass conversations for your benefit.

Stephen Colbert: Welcome to the nerd zone, my friend

I mean, we’d have them whether I had a blog or not, obviously… but you do benefit from reading about them so here’s a thing that happened yesterday—enjoy!


(Parks and Rec) Ben explains, "Nerd culture is mainstream now.  So when you use the word 'nerd' derogatorily, that means YOU'RE the one that's out of the zeitgeist."


ME:  (sighs)  I’ve got a little throat thing starting.
HIM:  Oh, great.
ME:  I don’t think that’s necessary.
HIM:  Well I can’t really avoid getting sick when you’re sick!
ME:  Sure you can; just…
HIM:  No, I really can’t.
ME:  Well whatever.
HIM:  Let’s hope it clears up before Friday.
ME:  I’m sure it will.  I was just so proud of myself that I went a whole haunt season without getting sick and now… (coughs)  yep, there it is.
HIM:  And let’s hope if I do get it, it’ll clear up before Friday.
ME:  Yeah… ‘cuz if it doesn’t, we’ll be spreading it to our Wisconsin friends and that’s mean.
HIM:  It’s not mean… we can’t help it.
ME:  Ehhhh… it’s a little mean.
HIM:  No, it—
ME:  Won’t stop us from doing it, of course.
HIM:  Okay, yeah.  That.  We have a choice, we just…
ME:  Exactly.
HIM:  But it’s for them!  We’re not going to not go and bring the Missouri flu—
ME:  And gooey butter cake.
HIM:  Same thing.  It’s just one clogs up your lungs forever.  But we’re not going to—
ME:  It’s the butter cake, right?
HIM:  ?
ME:  That sets up in your lungs.
HIM:  Yeah, of course.
ME:  Cool.  I understand now.  Carry on.
HIM:  But what, are we going to deny them our company just because we’re sick?
ME:  It’s not even just the gift of our company!  It’s all the guilting opportunities they’d miss.
HIM:  Ri—what?
ME:  Okay, so people will be bailing on this weekend because… what?  It’s the same weekend as their niece’s birthday party or their cousin’s hairdresser’s graduation from clown college or whatever—
HIM:  Exactly!
ME:  But they’ll be able to look those people in the eye later and say, “the Dreamys were sick and they live in Missouri, but they still came.  What’s your bullshit excuse again?”
HIM:  (laughs)
ME:  Who are we to deny them that opportunity?
HIM:  Oh, you live in Minnesota now?  No excuse![1]
ME:  Yeah!  We have to drive through a whole ‘nother state to get there!
HIM:  Well…
ME:  And, she only lives an hour outside of Wisconsin, right?
HIM:  Yes.
ME:  And (town) is like an hour inside of Wisconsin.
HIM:  Right but on the other—
ME:  So really, she’s only two hours away!
HIM:  That’s… no.
ME:  Uh-huh.
HIM:  Okay… both of those facts you stated were technically accurate, but—
ME:  Exactly.  That’s just logic.
HIM:  No… no it isn’t.
ME:  Uh-huh.  All the things I said were true.  I mean, I didn’t say ergo, but…
HIM:  … Not sure why you would name your favorite Stargate episode in this argument—
ME:  Oh, I don’t rank them.  It’s just those three, with an honorable mention for the time Daniel played with his nipples to win an argument.
HIM:  … So it’s the golf ball, Urgo, and…?
ME:  The bowling.
HIM:  Right.  The time Homer Simpson appeared on Stargate.
ME:  You know… there’s a theme.
HIM:  They’re all funny—
ME:  (shakes head)  My favorite episodes are the ones where they don’t do any stargating because there was something cooler and more interesting and funny going on.
HIM:  …
ME:  See, the whole show is basically “let’s go use the stargate to: visit another planet; get on that ship; do weird space shit; make an episode of Ancient Aliens… whatever.”

(Stargate: SG1) Colonel O'Neill hits a golf ball through the open stargate; Teal'c is his caddy

HIM:  (nods cautiously)
ME:  But in my favorite episodes they couldn’t even use the magic space circle because of Funny Things.
HIM:  Okay, but—
ME:  I know, there were a lot of episodes where they couldn’t use the thing because of whatever bullshit reason… almost as bad as the transporters on Star Trek.
HIM:  …
ME:  …
HIM:  …
ME:  (thinking about pasta)
HIM:  … Okay so you brought up the transporters and I’ve been sitting here for ten minutes trying not to go off on a geeky rant about what a terrible plot device that was—
ME:  But we agree!  So stupid.
HIM:  Right… but mine would get really nerdy and you don’t want to hear it.
ME:  (sighs)  Can’t we just shorthand it to “a technology so unrealiable that it only works every other week would never see use in military applications” and leave it there?
HIM:  No, because it’s not just that; it’s the fact that every use of the technology made obsolete the solution they had to use last week.  They can hold a pattern in the buffer to recreate it, but only—
ME:  Ohhhh… I didn’t realize it was like that.  So… the space machine can do the magic thing this week, but last week week it didn’t do that because it would have made the episode too short.

(Galaxy Quest) remaining two actors are... blorped... onto a star-trek-style light pad encased in spacce goo; all four stand recovering from the shock and horror of their journey

Not Star Trek, I know… but funnier and close enough.

HIM:  Exactly.
ME:  Yeah, that’s bullshit.
HIM:  And—
ME:  Wait… also?  In order for that technology to work—they’re taking a human apart and just… zshoooooop!  Over there and reassembled perfectly with no memory loss or so much as a molecule out of place but having experienced nothing—they first had to have perfect understanding of everything about the human condition.
HIM:  Exactly.
ME:  So no more mysteries of the mind, no more weird new diseases or psychiatric conditions, because they know literally everything about…. (waves hands over self) … this.
HIM:  Yup.
ME:  So they’ve got aaaallllll that sorted, but the technology to move all that from here to there only works every couple of weeks?
HIM:  Plus, there was an episode of The Next Generation where ten years ago Riker was being transported through a storm but half of his pattern made it up to the ship and the other half was reflected back down and reassembled on the surface, so there were two of him and each believed he was the only one.
ME:  Okay.  So they’ve got everything about humanity all figured out—no more mysteries left in the brain, body, thoughts, personality, any of it.  But they’re using a technology so fucky that you could end up with zero people or two?
HIM:  (laughs)  On average
ME:  No, that’s not even military math!
HIM:  How many need to survive a drop in order for the mission to be considered a success?
ME:  That’s not quite how they count it, but yeah.  If there are 60% or fewer casualties—so that includes injuries that take them out of commission for that mission as well as death—they consider a para mission successful.
HIM:  That’s—
ME:  And according to our son, they haven’t changed that formula in forever so they almost never fail a mission.
HIM:  So—
ME:  Or he might be lying to make me feel better.
HIM:  Sure.  But it makes sense that they haven’t reexamined, since we haven’t parachuted into a war zone since WWII.
ME:  Slow to change, for sure.  But eve—
HIM:  They must have to have a lot of medics on those drops.
ME:  Ooh, I didn’t even think of that!  But yeah, that’s got to be weird for the medics.  I mean, your job is to patch up injuries but first watch your future patients jump out of a perfectly serviceable plane and then—oh yeah!—you jump out of a perfectly serviceable plane!  I know they’re not doctors or even real medical people, but still… first do no harm!
HIM:  (laughs)
ME:  But yes, even by our current military standards a technology that is so buggy that—if it works at all—only potentially leaves you with the same number of people you started with.
HIM:  One thing they never show on Star Trek was the ships full of transporters, so you can just drop an army on any location.
ME:  Well, I mean… how long does it take and how many do they have?   Sorry, all I know is that they stand on the glowy pad and then they’re somewhere else and apparently it takes less time than walking…
HIM:  On the original show they had one room, with six pads.  The Next Generation had, I think, six rooms and an industrial one in a cargo bay.  And it takes about ten seconds.
ME:  Okay, so… yeah, you could get the job done but not BOOM, now there’s an army in your city square and how ‘bout that?
HIM:  Yeah.  You’d need a whole ship full of transporters and soldiers.  Which you know exists.
ME:  (nods) But you’d have to send extra; so if you want a thousand on the ground you send two thousand because apparently that’s—
HIM:  Or, for that matter, you could take one person’s pattern and beam a hundred of them down—exact copies with all the same memories and training.
ME:  See, there you’d have to be careful of which person you chose.  Because if I was sent on a mission and suddenly there were two of me?  Ooh, and especially if you sent me down armed?
HIM:  (laughs)
ME:  Forget it.  I’d be like, yeah yeah, pacify the locals but first this bitch and have business.  And then we’d kill each other.
HIM:  You’d seriously go all There Can Be Only One?

(Highlander) villain in animal skull helmet raises sword over his head and shouts, "THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!"
ME:  (nodding)  Think about it!  If you—
HIM:  So you’re okay with the fact that I took our nerdy discussion about Star Trek and made it a nerdy Highlander discussion?[2]
ME:  … if you
HIM:  (laughs)
ME:  … were suddenly faced with an exact copy of you—who insists he is you and you’re the fake… what would you do?
HIM:  (shakes head)  But you know it would happen.  As soon as that technology became available it would be weaponized.  They don’t show that because they want to pretend it’s all peaceful and scientific, but—
ME:  Well, hang on.  No… yeah.  Okay, so if they’ve had to—in order to even attempt to build this thing—figure out literally everything about humans: their bodies, brains, thoughts, memories, personalities, DNA, everything, right?
HIM:  Well let’s talk about that because—
ME:  Hang on.  See, if that’s the first step in this technology—so you can get that exact person whooshed around to wherever instead of making them schlep like their ancestors—then who’s to say they didn’t first find a way make a more docile, non-violent human and then…
HIM:  …
ME:  … administer… that treatment… to everyone.
HIM:  —
ME:  Eliminate the dissenters, get everyone all… you know… and voilà.
HIM:  …
ME:  Not peaceful and scientific.  Dark.[3]


Meme: Morpheus asks, "What if I told you Star Wars is better than Star Trek"  Darth Vader gives a thumbs up while two iconic Enterprise captains lose their shit

At least Star Wars acknowledges that A) technology is fallible and B) WILL be used to make war.


So there you have it.  Our first real day together since I started drenching myself in blood and screaming at people every night and we had a long, rambling, nerdy-as-fuck conversation.  Which I discreetly recorded so I could transcribe it for you.


You’re welcome.







[1] One of our Wisconsin friends moved to Minneapolis and was never seen or heard from again.

[2] Please don’t try to actually talk to me about any of these shows or movies; I concede that you know more than I do because I don’t care.  I just take issue with sloppy writing.

[3] This fits nicely into my theory that the sci-fi genre is just horror’s nerdy cousin.



4 comments on “That One Plot Device

  1. On the subject of crappy writing … When the space ship is going somewhere and then they “stop”. Or they’re in SPACE, floating around, and there’s still up, down, north and south. Or they travel to a distant star using a FTL drive and come back a week later and their friends and family haven’t all been dead for hundreds of years. Or …

    Damn science fiction writers who don’t understand science. Argh!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Arionis says:

    “ME: (sighs) Can’t we just shorthand it to “a technology so unrealiable that it only works every other week would never see use in military applications” and leave it there?”

    Take it from me. Tech like that would and has and is being used in military applications.

    Liked by 1 person

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