Drabblecast 045 - The Fine Point

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tbaker2500
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Drabblecast 045 - The Fine Point

Post by tbaker2500 » Thu Jan 03, 2008 5:28 am

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Feature: The Fine Point by Gary Cuba

I liked this piece. Good writing, concise plot.

All one has to do is look at penguins. I mean, would you notice if some of them were carbon copies?

And in the bird watching world, there is a whole class of birds called "LBB's", or Little Brown Birds. Draw your own conclusions.

Tom

Art by David Steffen
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Jan 04, 2008 10:02 pm

I really dug this one... but.

Great idea. Ontological speculation is always cool, and the telling was quite good, both in terms of story and audio production. I also like the idea that one can discover the universe's deep secrets just by paying close attention.

But I don't see why this discovery would be bad. I mean, I'm a Christian, and I don't think a discovery like that would injure my faith. If God wants to build the world out of modular tiles, good for Him. I think the narrator seriously overreacted.
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Post by RNDG33K » Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:50 am

The story has a great concept (a world built out of tiles of reality - that is at least a new idea, if not a cool one).

However, I think it lacked a bit with the details. I'm skeptical as to how the pictures could be identical. Even ignoring such things as the angle of the sun, little critters, or wind that vary greatly over minute amounts of time (the time it took to get from one tile to the other), the camera would have to placed exactly in the correct spot (same height, same location in relation to tile, etc.) for each tile. This just seems highly improbable, if not impossible, to me - especially without the aid of precise engineering tools, etc.

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Post by normsherman » Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:06 am

Mr. Tweedy wrote:But I don't see why this discovery would be bad. I mean, I'm a Christian, and I don't think a discovery like that would injure my faith. If God wants to build the world out of modular tiles, good for Him. I think the narrator seriously overreacted.
True, just because God recycles doesn't make him flawed does it? I'm not sure- there's something to be said of efficiency/maximizing productivity, but it certainly does detract from the majesty of it all. There's a certain amount of awe that comes with looking at the stars and feeling small as you and think about infinity. If everything isn't vast and unique- if it's just, like, a million stars cut and pasted out there- it makes God seem less creative and capable to me.
Wouldn't this go against most Christian scriptures somehow? I think it would certainly confirm belief in some big something out there in charge... the question would just be "What exactly is it?"
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Post by normsherman » Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:11 am

RNDG33K wrote:

However, I think it lacked a bit with the details. I'm skeptical as to how the pictures could be identical. Even ignoring such things as the angle of the sun, little critters, or wind that vary greatly over minute amounts of time (the time it took to get from one tile to the other), the camera would have to placed exactly in the correct spot (same height, same location in relation to tile, etc.) for each tile. This just seems highly improbable, if not impossible, to me - especially without the aid of precise engineering tools, etc.
Hadn't thought of that. I took it to mean, like if you took a picture of a picture from different angles and what not, your photo of the picture would look different, for all the reasons you mentioned, but you would be able to tell the picture in your picture was the same. Maybe that's what he meant?
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Post by RNDG33K » Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:21 am

I think the discovery that God took some shortcuts when creating the world, or even allow his scam to be uncovered would definitely have ramifications throughout the world. From conspiracy theorists talking about living in a computer simulation, to atheists having to deal with positive proof of something out there, to religious folk having to deal with the idea of an imperfect god, I think that everyone would be disturbed and would have to change whatever they believed. I don't think that certain institutions or people would be able to adapt or cope (look how quickly they adapt now-I believe it was only this century that the catholic church has acknowledged a heliocentric solar system [thanks- I did not mean universe]).

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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:37 am

Hmm... I guess I wasn't really taking the premise of the story seriously, now that I think about it. If it were discovered that the Universe is made of modular tiles (like a Starcraft map, yo!) I would assume that it was done for a reason and want to know what the reason was, assuming that the reason would reveal God to be even cooler than we'd known before...

But that's not really the premise. The premise isn't that God, in His mysterious wisdom, did something that seems paradoxical at first glance. It's that God is really being lazy and taking bona fide shortcuts. In that case, the idea might be more unsettling. Not unsettling enough to destroy my faith, but enough that I would have to think of God as less God-like. I might wonder if God is really all I'd thought... Whoa! The story just creeped me out, right now as I was typing. Good show.

Contradict Scripture? Not any that I'm aware of... Wait, there is Jebediah 12:32 "And behold, God eschewed the plan of Beelzebub to make the Earth out of surplus Ikea kits. 'I shall carve it with my Dremel and each part shall be unique,' declared the Lord."

Jebediah 13 is where Satan invents Rock'n'Roll.
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Post by deflective » Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:06 am

i liked the image of the world slotted together, life something like an mmporg played in Escher tiling.

besides that concept, the story itself is old and done to death. a new discovery is made, then a person scared (or greedy) of the implications kills in an emotional response. hearing one dude describe a paradigm-smashing discovery to other dude alone in the woods is like watching a co-ed wander off in her nightie.

what really bothers me about this stereotype is that it plays at being clever but it's ham-fisted for basic motivation. what sort of man gets through a physics doctorate and still reacts violently to the revelation of a grand truth? no doubt people like that exist but they're far removed from the norm, some justification is needed.

and since i seem to have slipped into a rant, what's with the view that non-religious people are barely clinging to morality through some act of self doubt? like all that's needed is some small confirmation of atheism and people will be stripping down for bacchanalia in the streets. this isn't a fault of the story, it's a very real belief, i just don't like it.

revelations that challenge established religion (such as the earth not being the center of the universe, or the origin of the species) usually have violent reactions but not from the people that don't accept that religion. covering up a truth and telling yourself it's to protect the people that would want to know it is doublethink of orwellian proportions.

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Post by normsherman » Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:44 pm

deflective wrote: hearing one dude describe a paradigm-smashing discovery to other dude alone in the woods is like watching a co-ed wander off in her nightie.
Hilarious!
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Post by tbaker2500 » Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:04 pm

After reading all the various reactions, I have to say that this is why I like flash fiction. Everybody here seems to have had a different interpretation of what the story was saying. A novel, on the other hand, would usually describe exactly what happens in its entirety, the whole while trying to convince you that the author understands humanity better than you. The greats do this well, most ingrates do not.


My interpretation is that this fellow panicked. His inability to adapt his own view of how the world is constructed led him to feel the rest of the world would react that way, also. He could then justify a horrific act by claiming to save civilization. It's a classic move used by most people in power.

Tom
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Post by luketc » Wed Jan 09, 2008 6:14 pm

As an editor reading this story, I had the same reservations described by others in the forum about plausibility--how were the pictures exactly the same, who would actually kill their friend like that, etc. But I thought it was a great foray into theological/philosophical realms that we've missed while concentrating on mer-babies and ass-kicking pandas.

I agree with those of you that questioned the actual impact of this news on the world, but for a somewhat separate reason. There is already plenty of "evidence" either way for both random and creative origins of the universe. Evolutionary genetics, vestigial organs, or common sense can point towards a random, God-less origin. The flawless engineering of a hip-joint, intricate biological systems that seem tailored to eachother, the statistical near-impossibility of evolution, and common sense(again) point towards a creative, God-full origin. The thing is that people's answer to this question never comes down to evaluated evidence, its almost always the case that evidence only backs up the pre-conceived notions that people's values dictate for them.

So . . . what was I talking about? . . .. Oh yah, so when the world hears this ground-shaking news about creation seeming like a poorly-designed jigsaw puzzle, its just gonna keep going in large part, running off of the basically unscientific and illogical notions that it always has. Which is just more proof that we all randomly evolved . . . Or that we were all created by a higher being and need his help to sort stuff out.

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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Wed Jan 09, 2008 6:32 pm

Yes. What people believe generally has a lot more to do with what makes them feel secure than with any facts they've digested and logic they've exercised. Which is another reason why the narrator's murder was a gross overreaction.

I must disagree with Luke, though: Ass kicking pandas can be deep and philosophical in the right hands/paws. Just look at the deep insights pulled from a box jelly cubes two weeks ago! :wink:

(Also dispute that there is any evidence pointing to a godless universe, but I have no intention of debating that here and now. That gets messy fast, as I've experienced.)
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Heliocentrism

Post by strawman » Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:40 pm

Isn't heliocentrism a case of the pot calling the kettle black? I mean, the sun is not even the center of our galaxy, much less the center of the universe.

But then, Sol is the center of our solar system, and if the universe were made up of an infinite number of solar system tiles, it could happen. Come to think of it, if there are trillions of galaxies, each consisting of billions of solar systems, you might ask at what point exact duplication (tiling) become mathematically inevitable?

Unlikely, you say? At the quantum level, tiling is established fact.

A quark is a quark, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a quark of course
That is, of course, unless the quark is the famous Mister Ed.

Maybe tiling would be better described as flavors, and you've got up, down, charm, strange, top, and bottom.

Just goes to show ya, though, that just because there's duplications and shortcuts doesn't mean there's not plenty of mystical qualities.

And if you can come up with a good one, you have discovered good Drabble! Up to down, top to bottom, charming and strange, for weird listeners such as yourself.

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Post by G. E. Lee » Thu Jan 10, 2008 3:29 pm

Hmmm. This one definately smacks of Lovecraft: Unspeakable truth about the nature of the universe is revealed, and the fragile mortal mind can't contain it.
Sadly, it just doesn't manage to hit hard enough. It's like a U.S. citizen discovering that his local elected official is a moron and a crook. Who's surprised? God used a macro to create the universe? Makes sense to me.
Also, I think most people would be *pleased* to find irrefutable evidence of a managed/constructed universe. I can't even imagine most atheists being really sad or dissapointed about it.
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Proposed theological discussion

Post by strawman » Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:13 pm

Yes, macros are ubiquitous, but that wouldn't prove that God exists; maybe that Bill Gates exists, although I've heard that Vista is virtual hell beta. (I always thought I detected a theological dimension to the PC/Mac dynamic.)

More to the point, however... Wouldn't natural selection account for the efficiency of a tiled universe?
Here's an idea: "The Michelangelo Code", based on the Sistine Chapel ceiling revelation that Creation was digital?

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Re: Proposed theological discussion

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Jan 11, 2008 4:26 pm

strawman wrote:More to the point, however... Wouldn't natural selection account for the efficiency of a tiled universe?
Eh? Natural selection only acts on things that 1.) reproduce themselves and 2.) have forces acting against their survival. The Universe is neither of those things...

Or is it?
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Post by tbaker2500 » Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:29 pm

I know what Mr. Tweedy will now be pondering. :lol:
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Post by strawman » Fri Jan 11, 2008 8:07 pm

Someone needs to design an emoticon with snot coming out of its nose. :lol:

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Post by Gary Cuba » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:29 pm

Thanks for listening! I'm pleased that this tiny piece sparked some interesting discussion and speculation.

One comment (by Mr/Ms Lee, as I recall) remarked that this seemed to reflect a typical Lovecraftian theme, and that's probably not too far off the mark from my intention. Or, alternately, the story was a tribute to some of the old 1950's "EC Comics" themes that I remember so well. I wrote this intentionally in a somewhat old-fashioned, "pedantic" style reminiscent of the "old stuff." Two old guys, one a withdrawn, effete aesthete, the other a stuffy ivory-tower professorial sort--but both of them a bit "far off the peak" of the bell curve, self-absorbed in their own inner worlds and fully committed to them.

I can only say that I've suffered recurring nightmares for most of my life about this story's theme: that at any moment, I will find out that the entire basis of reality, everything that I hold dear to my heart, will in an instant be shown to be false--and to find out that I'm the supreme, universal sap.

Well, it _is_ a ridiculous notion, after all, something only fit for nightmares.

Gary

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Post by normsherman » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:01 am

I can only speak for myself. If I actually found this out I would freak- just like Gary said. I make conjecture as to what it would mean for humaity or athiests or what have you, but for me, a realization like this would freak me out. Maybe I wouldn't kill anyone- but that's def something someone in a Lovecaft story would do (if they didn't go totally insane first)
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