Paging Rick Deckard…

See the man in the pic to the left? The one with the vaguely girlish hair next to the attractive girl in pink?

His name is Hiroshi Ishiguru. He is a professor at Osaka University in Japan. The woman with him is named Repliee Q1, and no, she doesn’t have some cool Dada-esque last name. She’s a FREAKING ROBOT.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner.She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.

Professor Hiroshi Ishiguru of Osaka University says one day robots could fool us into believing they are human.

Wonderful. Now all we need is a Voight-Kampff machine.

Fortunately, for us puny humans, we don’t yet have to bow to our robot masters.

She is designed to look human and although she can only sit at present, she has 31 actuators in her upper body, powered by a nearby air compressor, programmed to allow her to move like a human.

Great news for us. Just wait – the next thing you know Repliee Q2 will be out and telling us how to eradicated hunger and poverty from the world, cure diseases and the aging process and helping bring about complete nuclear disarmament, moments before she uses the Army’s Space Peace Platform of Death on us and starts the whole Humans vs. Terminator thing.

Wireless Monitoring of Laundry

Back in 1990 during my freshman year of college one of my friends had gone home for the weekend with his laundry and had accidentally returned with a pair of his sister’s underwear. We naturally devised a prank on some poor guy who was doing his wash with his girlfriend. As he pulled each item out of the dryer she would fold it for him, and when he got to the girl’s underwear, he made a face and she cried out, “Oh god, Paul, no!”

We died laughing. When they figured it was a joke they did too, fortunately. He was a big mutha.

Anyway, looks like now you can get info from a web browser on how your laundry is coming along.

This is not nearly as good as the story, but it’s nice.

The New Battlestar Galactica

I’ve written a lot about Lost (well, at least some about it.) on this site, and while I generally think the show is great, it has it’s bumps and dips in the road on its way to perfection. When it’s great, it’s really great, but when it’s mediocre, or just plain bad, it’s bad. I like the show mainly for the people, which is usually what keeps you around for a given length of interest, but sometimes the writing is just lacking.

I watched “Battlestar Galactica” when it was on in 1978. I was high on Star Wars and this was the next best thing to Star Wars that we had on TV, which made sense, since many of the ILM designers who worked on Star Wars worked on BsG also. I even watched the crappy “Galactica 1980” when I was nine or ten years old. I’d also heard for years that Richard Hatch, he of Apollo fame, was attempting to resurrect the series and have it continue from the stopping point of the first series. I thought it sounded lame and like something that a washed up actor would try to do, kind of like how Tom Arnold keeps saying that there’s going to be a True Lies 2. Then I started reading about Ron Moore’s adaptation and how it recast many of the original roles and that they’d sexified the whole thing and it sounded pathetic and lame.

But then I (belatedly) saw the miniseries on DVD. And I was hooked.

Gone was the loopiness of the first series. No more casino planets. No more Ovians. No more Dagget or lumbering Cylons with their hokey swords. The Cylons were bad muthas. The apocalypse of the 12 colonies of Kobol felt real (naturally in a post 9/11 world) and immediate. There were moments where people had to make decisions that would get the entire fleet killed or just half of the fleet. It was gut wrenching to watch as the president decides to abandon half of the fleet to die so that the rest of the fleet can live on to run from the bad guys another day.

And then the SciFi Channel greenlit a first season. And it was great. And then based on the ratings of that they greenlit a second season, something that the first series could never do. And it’s still great.

My favorite characters from the new series are Col. Tigh and Gaius Baltar, two people that I never cared about from the first series. Tigh always was the nice genteel second in command (I remember very little about him) to Adama, and I remember nothing of Baltar, except that I think he was already a turncoat to the Cylons when the series began. Michael Hogan and James Callis, who play Tigh and Baltar, respectively, are great, with Hogan being my favorite of the two. His Tigh is a lowlife drunk scumbag who Adama sees some sort of value in. He’s crass, gets in fights, and is almost universally hated by the crew, especially Starbuck. Callis, who I remembered as the gay guy from Bridget Jones’s Diary is hillarious here as the egomaniacal genius who keeps having visions of his Cylon girlfriend/handler in his head. That the man who unwittingly helped bring the apocalypse on is able to be elevated to the post of vice president of the former 12 colonies makes for great television.

I love the show. I wait weekly now to see what will happen next. I try not to read on the net what will happen the next episode. I don’t do such a good job of that sometimes. The sign of great television is that you will clamor for more and more like this show does. I want to know who else is a Cylon. I want to know what the colonists will find on Kobol. I want to know how Helo and Starbuck are going to get back to the fleet and what will happen to them on the way. I want to know when Baltar will finally turn to the Cylon side and either be forced to flee or will stay and be a Fifth Columnist for the Cylons. I want to know what is going to happen to Boomer now that she shot Adama. Will President Roslin die? Will Baltar become president at that time or will he have to campaign against Tom Zarek? When is Tigh going to attempt to clean up and get rid of his crazy wife Ellen, who consequently lusts for Tigh to have power? What will happen to Chief when he gets back and his suspicions about Boomer being a Cylon are realized?

Damn! I love this show!