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Drabblecast 078 - Panel Discussion

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 5:01 pm
by Mr. Tweedy
Image

"Okay, you want a little excitement? What if they're cannibals? Right: They're cannibals and sharing food is thier traditional greeting. We don't want to be rude, so we have to offer them something to eat, like one of us. Exciting enough for ya?!"

Music by The Cheebacabra

Bbardle - Courgar at the Con for Diane Elliot

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:03 pm
by Richmazzer
Palpatine's bitches don't get in my pants!

Priceless.

Story was fun and the voices were great. Not much to it but it was a fun 7 minute ride.

that was a thundercats hoe

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:24 pm
by StalinSays
Frustrating story: all exposition, no substance. It was dismaying that what I thought was a slow-coming plot development turned out to actually be the "twist" ending. Would've liked more from these characters than what I got.

Hope all the Thunder Cat hoes out there in con land enjoy the shirt design.

Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:20 am
by Mr. Tweedy
Oh for the love of-

The word is "hos" Bo. "Hoes" are what a gardener uses.

What do they teach in schools these days?

hosed?

Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:28 pm
by StalinSays
Obviously not enough textbook information on the hustle. I should have paid better attention in thuganomics and ho' ec.

Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:59 pm
by RG
I'll never get asked the question about where I get my ideas, but it still annoys me that anyone would ask a question like that. Basically, it's a person with no imagination asking a person with a vivid imagination why they have a vivid imagination. They just do. And you just don't, and never will, or you would never ask such a stupid question.

Speaking of stupid questions, where do you get your cougars from?

Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 1:06 am
by cammoblammo
I agree with what's already been said---the twist was so blindingly obvious it couldn't really be called a twist. Still, I liked some of the imagery. I'm always happy to swap the person at the back playing with the phone for a ready cooked alien. Except, of course, I'm often the guy down the back playing with the phone.

By the way, Norm: Best. Comic. Book. Guy. Impersonation. Ever.

Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 2:00 pm
by G. E. Lee
OK, so not the best DC ever. I guess Norm was in a hurry. By the way, my cougar will NOT be at the Con, thank you very much.

Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 3:24 pm
by Mr. Tweedy
I liked that one a lot. Not a lot of depth, but a solid, entertaining episode. I must be the dumbest one in the room, but I really didn't see the end coming. I'm so used to me and my friends going off on tangents of insane and irrelevant inquiry that is just didn't seem significant to me that the panel was talking about cannibal aliens. I mean, what else would they be talking about?

And so I thought it was actually a significant twist when the panel's idle speculation is suddenly revealed to have been negotiation over who in the room was going to be eaten.

Great voices. That's another reason why I didn't see the end coming. The narrative was done in such an entertaining way that is seemed like its own point, and I didn't really sense that it was building toward anything other than self-deprecating goofiness.

Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 10:40 pm
by AynSavoy
If the aliens are cannibals, doesn't that mean they eat...each other? And not humans?

I thought something was gonna be up with the girl in the back: "From the glow on her face I figured she was texting someone." Actually, the glow was coming from the LED panel on the torso of her atmospheric containment suit...

And I second Mr. Tweedy's appreciation of Norm's voices this episode.

Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:07 pm
by McToad
I happen to be the guy who wrote this, so perhaps I’m biased, but I really enjoyed this episode. The comic-book guy voice cracked me up (I agree--one of the best renditions I’ve heard), and I found both the narrator and Matt’s voices quite compelling. The funky music in the intro put me off the first time, but it has grown on me and I think the con-lingons for the art are a nice touch. All in all it has the humorous feel I was shooting for with the writing and I think the pacing and dialogue translated well to audio. I’ve played it for several people and almost all of them have busted out laughing.

I also got a kick out of the bardle, though it has prevented me from passing this episode around at work (just off-color enough it could run afoul of some HR types).

In case any of you are interested, here’s the genesis of this story: it emerged from a flash-fiction exercise my local critique group does. At the time, I was catching up on the Drabblecast back-log and I had Norm’s voice in my head every time I worked on it. I about hit the floor when Norm accepted it and hit the floor again when I heard the production, which quite honestly exceeded my expectations.

Great work Norm! Keep them coming.


Mark (aka McToad)

Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:47 pm
by McToad
Thanks to all of you all of you who have left comments on the story.

However, I’d like to see more (I missed-out on the great AI discussions in the Time-Shift thread). To encourage some thoughtful, heartfelt discussion, here are a few things to ponder based on the story and some of the feedback:

1) No one has commented on the moral issue. Just what would/should you personally or we as a society be willing to give up to join a larger pan-galactic society?
- Would we stop eating meat?
- Would we, should we give up nuclear weapons if asked to?
- What about giving up all weapons? Should we take that chance and disarm if asked to? Would the power that be even entertain the idea?

2) Flip the previous question to reality...what should indigenous cultures here on Earth be willing to give up to join modern society? Is it fair or even moral to expect them to change things like cannibalism, genital mutilation, oppressed women, untouchable castes and the like?

2a) Is it a good idea to leave isolated cultures alone (such as those in the Amazon who have had not contact with the outside world), or is this denying them basic human rights?

3) To AynSavoy’s point--is it cannibalism to eat another sentient creature, even if it’s not human? Is there any moral reason not to, or is this just a tribal taboo? If not, should we condone eating humans? Why or why not?

-McToad

Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:18 pm
by strawman
McToad wrote:Thanks to all of you all of you who have left comments on the story.

However, I’d like to see more (I missed-out on the great AI discussions in the Time-Shift thread). To encourage some thoughtful, heartfelt discussion, here are a few things to ponder based on the story and some of the feedback:

1) No one has commented on the moral issue. Just what would/should you personally or we as a society be willing to give up to join a larger pan-galactic society?
- Would we stop eating meat?
- Would we, should we give up nuclear weapons if asked to?
- What about giving up all weapons? Should we take that chance and disarm if asked to? Would the power that be even entertain the idea?

2) Flip the previous question to reality...what should indigenous cultures here on Earth be willing to give up to join modern society? Is it fair or even moral to expect them to change things like cannibalism, genital mutilation, oppressed women, untouchable castes and the like?

2a) Is it a good idea to leave isolated cultures alone (such as those in the Amazon who have had not contact with the outside world), or is this denying them basic human rights?

3) To AynSavoy’s point--is it cannibalism to eat another sentient creature, even if it’s not human? Is there any moral reason not to, or is this just a tribal taboo? If not, should we condone eating humans? Why or why not?

-McToad
I think the fetal stem cell debate has proven that many people think cannibalism is justified if there is the possibility that other people's bodies may hold a potential cure for a disease. Plus, it's a great cover for wanting the person dead for other reasons.
This is a great reason for living a debauched life and destroying as many of your internal organs as possible, so when they come for you, you'll be rejected for QC reasons.

Gorillas, Dolphins and great whales are sentient beings, and civilized people seem to recognize that and change behavior accordingly. But I wish the same appreciation could be extended to Downs Syndrome and other handicapped humans. They are endangered too, and worthy of having people appreciate them.

I think those who lose the ability to appreciate that awesomeness of life become the handicapped ones.

Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 3:41 am
by tbaker2500
I really enjoyed this story. Seemed like something from Dr. Who. Very entertaining.

Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 11:58 pm
by Mr. Tweedy
Whoa, McToad gets deep. I think anyone wanting to ask heavy questions like that should have to think of a ridiculous handle, like McToad or Cammoblammo. It's not healthy to take oneself too seriously.
McToad wrote: 1) No one has commented on the moral issue. Just what would/should you personally or we as a society be willing to give up to join a larger pan-galactic society?
- Would we stop eating meat?
- Would we, should we give up nuclear weapons if asked to?
- What about giving up all weapons? Should we take that chance and disarm if asked to? Would the power that be even entertain the idea?

2) Flip the previous question to reality...what should indigenous cultures here on Earth be willing to give up to join modern society? Is it fair or even moral to expect them to change things like cannibalism, genital mutilation, oppressed women, untouchable castes and the like?

2a) Is it a good idea to leave isolated cultures alone (such as those in the Amazon who have had not contact with the outside world), or is this denying them basic human rights?

3) To AynSavoy’s point--is it cannibalism to eat another sentient creature, even if it’s not human? Is there any moral reason not to, or is this just a tribal taboo? If not, should we condone eating humans? Why or why not?
None of these questions can have concrete answers because we don't know what the aliens we're dealing with are like. Are they good aliens or bad aliens? They might be good yet ask us to do things that seem outrageous for reasons that we are too ignorant to understand. Conversely, they might be evil and make requests that seem perfectly reasonable in order to sucker us into their scheme. So, we really need more information for our scenario than just what the aliens' demands are.

That said, some speculation:

1.) Meat eating: While it would be perfectly reasonable to refrain from eating meat in the presence of beings who find it distasteful, if ET told me to quit eating meat altogether because it's wrong, I'd tell him to take a hike. My morality is not based on group-think or consensus, and introducing aliens to the equation doesn't change. I'll be glad to respect ET's customs when ET is around, but if he starts handing out stone tablets, I'm going to take that with a big grain of salt. "ET said so" is not a good enough reason for me to modify my moral code.

Weapons: If the aliens demand that we give up nuclear weapons, that's a BIG warning signal, and it means they're going to invade us. Any space-faring race would have the capability to destroy planets just by lobbing rocks at them. If you can accelerate a ship to near light speed to take it from star to star, you can accelerate asteroids to make them into missiles. Same goes for wormholes or whatever other method of travel ET uses: If it's powerful enough to get him from star A to star B, it's powerful enough to be a serious weapon. Galactic disarmament would simply not be an option because whatever technology is used to unite the galaxy could also be used to destroy big pieces of it. So asking us to give up our nukes could only have one motive: They plan to invade Earth and they want us to be defenseless.

The whole Day the Earth Stood Still give-up-violence thing always struck me as very silly. Anything can be used as a weapon. People without guns kill each other with pointy sticks. I recall an excerpt from "Ringworld" in which an alien invader was confounded because their reconnaissance reports had said that their human victims had no weapons, but then the humans just turned their fusion-powered ships around and used their exhaust to slice the aliens up. Fact was, every human ship was, in itself, a weapon, even though none of them were designed as warships.

So if the aliens say "give up your weapons," you can be 99% that their intentions are not kind. The request makes sense only if they're planning to attack us.

2.) This is essentially a question of human rights: Are they objective and immutable or subjective and cultural? If rights are objective, then culture can be wrong and it is both moral and reasonable to expect cultures to change (to improve) to ensure that its members have their rights. If rights are subjective, well, then what's the point of even talking about rights at all? Might makes right.

3.) On the point of cannibalism, I'd have to say that eating any sentient creature is cannibalism. I confess that my thinking comes almost entirely from reading Lewis. In The Silver Chair, there's a scene where the protagonists have been served venison and are happily eating it, when they suddenly overhear that the meat came from a talking stag, at which point they are nauseated and can eat no more. The idea of the importance of sentience is very important in the Space Trilogy, in which all sentient creatures are referred to as hnau and distinguished sharply from non-sentient, regardless of the physical form or planet of origin. This is a Christian idea, that all sentient beings are, as it says in Genesis, created in the image of God.

Hmm... I wrote a lot. Fun times, though.

Posted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 1:43 am
by strawman
Mr.Tweedy: Let's talk definition first. Websters defines sentience as "responsive to or conscious of sense impressions".
I suspect you are relying on a different definition to come to your conclusion, as most animals are clearly sentient. ET would not have to offer stone tablets. How about if he performed a mind-meld, and you could become fully aware of how the cow felt about being your lunch?

I suspect McDonalds would lobby for emergency laws to forbid ET from performing mind melds. But the government would render ET to an undisclosed foreign location, hoping to discover how to mind meld. But they'd have to let him go when the Democrats discovered their candidate was missing.

Posted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 2:10 am
by Mr. Tweedy
Well, maybe "sentience" is the wrong word. By the broadest definition, my iPod is sentient because it senses and responds to various inputs. Fact is, the quality we're talking about is really kind of nebulous. Maybe "self-aware" is a better term? The ability to engage introspection? The ability to defy instinct? That's a deep discussion in itself.

I have a pretty good idea how a cow feels about my eating beef. It's thoughts run thusly: "................" I don't think a mind meld would be very informative.

Posted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 2:35 am
by tbaker2500
Mr. Tweedy wrote:I have a pretty good idea how a cow feels about my eating beef. It's thoughts run thusly: "................" I don't think a mind meld would be very informative.
I suspect, however, that a given cow would feel very strongly about being eaten.

And surely you've read enough Far Sides to know that cows clearly know how to best cut up a farmer into good cuts of meat.

(Don't worry- I'm a meatatarian.)

I think people are missing the bigger, more worrisome picture here. McToad is asking questions and setting up a scenario not unlike his story. I suggest that nobody texts in the back of the class right now.

Posted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 7:51 am
by LajesticVantrashellofLob
Great story, I loved the ending. It surprised me because it was so predictable, I didn't think the author actually do it. How's that for irony?

Posted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 5:10 pm
by McToad
Excellent discussion (said in low, menacing whisper as I wriggle my hands in anticipation). Too bad tbaker2500 has evaded my cunning trap.

Based on strawman’s comment I had to pull out the old dictionary, and wikitionary and indeed sentience is a weak word... stem cells, ipods and even politicians meet the criteria for sentience.

Sapience appears to be a better word, but even it doesn’t capture the intended meaning as it has the connotation of wisdom, and it is possible to be a thinking, intelligent being without wisdom (again I cite the existence of politicians). The concept I was poking at was a species ‘like-us’: self-aware, thinking, aspiring, exploring, perhaps with some degree of technological and cultural sophistication. Many people believe that cetaceans and higher primates fall into this category. Some think dogs and other mammals do. I’ve even heard some say the hive-minds of ants, bees and wasps fall into it. Sentient, sapient, what other terms describe this concept? And is it okay to eat them?