sovay: (Rotwang)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2013-07-17 02:58 am

Numbers are as close as we can get to the handwriting of God

Thank you to everyone who commented last night for Abbie—if you sent wishes, thoughts, love, or just the recognition of reading, thank you. Rob has an update on the situation here. The short version is that we are to consider the cat on hospice care. The salient fact is that there is still a cat. We were very surprised: we did not expect him to live until morning, and then we did not expect the veterinarian's house call to end in anything other than the difficult decision Rob had spent the night accepting he would have to make. Instead, there's a cat under Rob's bed as I write—it's one of his traditional hangouts on hot days or nights. He is still not really eating, except for a little licking of tuna liquid, but he has been seen to drink water, wander around the downstairs in an aimless, jingling fashion, and when we got home from a 2-D showing of Pacific Rim (2013) tonight, Abbie was in the dining room, being made much of by [ profile] ratatosk and [ profile] laura47. We are waiting on some test results from the veterinary hospital where he spent an overnight this weekend and then we will see what comes next. For the time being, however, a cat is here.

The thing to understand about Pacific Rim is that I cannot write a comprehensive review of it tonight. I want to write a post just enthusing about all the major or minor details, the realization of the world in in its casual scruffy lived-in-ness and the way it begins where a stupider movie would have tried to throw a late-act twist, the coherently staged fight scenes that are of genuinely epic, elemental scale. The kaiju do not move like weightless computer modeling; they shoulder up out of the sea, snap bridges like wires, grind skyscrapers to ash-glass with the awful immensity of volcanic eruptions or tsunami, things that overwhelm. There is something a little frightening about the Jägers, too, with their nuclear chest-cores and huge sliding hydraulics: I got little flashes every now and then of the God Warriors from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984). The film never loses track, though, of the fragile human bodies being slammed all ways within the blind metal armor as they animate it, or the even greater vulnerability of the three-way neural link that allows two pilots to bear the strain of controlling a Jäger where a solo operator would start to bleed from the brain (even if I would have liked the script to take a little more time over what the Drift actually entails and the implications of its slightly Cronenbergian form of telepathy. There is a casual, haunting mention of a dead pilot's memories remaining within the mind of his surviving partner, because they were in the Drift together when he died: there's an entire story in there that is not quite this film). The character backstories have been pared down to the strictly functional, but the worldbuilding is sprawling and meticulous. The genre shout-outs are so numerous and so affectionate that I'm almost waiting for the drinking game. The World War II echoes are almost more intriguing to me: there is nose art on the Jägers, ration cards and work projects, Burn Gorman's kaiju-predicting mathematician is nearly a cartoon of a Bletchley eccentric right down to the tweeds and sweater vest. I did not expect to see a perfect realization of St. Michael and the dragon iconography in a grappling-tailed monster and a giant robot. (I did not expect to see, either, the closest I ever will to the Sea's Tooth of Deep Wizardry (1985) where the Lone Power lies burning in a basalt-stacked canyon at the bottom of the sea, the water bursting into sullen blue flame all along its lava-black and deadly length. I do not believe this is an allusion Guillermo del Toro intended, whereas I'm pretty sure about the other, but it was still an amazing thing to find on my screen.) There are splashy horror-comic setpieces and moments of unexpected understatement. Ron Perlman plays a Tom Waits role. And it's a movie that knows exactly which clichés it wants to honor unashamedly and which ones it wants to subvert or entirely ignore, meaning Rob and I applauded our way through a number of scenes. It's not a romance, for example. Except for the alien monsters rising from the deep, it's not a movie with villains, either. The recurring motif is the sharing of memories, the bridging of minds. Rob noted afterward, approvingly, "Nobody gets betrayed."

We went to the movie in the first place because Abbie was stable and we needed to do something completely different. Pacific Rim was exactly the correct thing to do. About a minute in, I started grinning. I don't think I stopped until the house lights came up. It is dedicated to the right people.

I am going to bed.
thistleingrey: (Default)

[personal profile] thistleingrey 2013-07-17 09:02 pm (UTC)(link)
The Sea's Tooth!!

Good thoughts for Abbie, and you and Rob.

[identity profile] 2013-07-17 12:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Little Springtime and the ninja girl came home **enthusing** over the film, and [ profile] intertribal was very approving on Facebook, so I know this is a film to see. (Do you know how rare it is for Little Springtime and the ninja girl both to not just enjoy, but enthuse about a film? It's rare.)

"Nobody gets betrayed" is very important to me--very very. I can't tell you how much I hate the almost tossed-in (because for some reason it has to be there?) Hollywood betrayal.

The thing the girls said was it was about the value and importance of working together as opposed to the heroic individualistic hero solving the problem. The fact that it takes two to pilot the mecha shows that, for starters.

... Yeah, I'll have to see it at some point.

Can I link to this over on Tumblr? That way the ninja girl and Little Springtime would get to see it. (If you'd prefer I didn't, I can refer them here.)

[identity profile] 2013-07-17 05:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Excellent. thank you. It's up (and both the ninja girl and Little Springtime have read it (and "liked" it).

[identity profile] 2013-07-19 01:27 pm (UTC)(link)
I saw it last night! I *liked* how things worked out with the cocky antagonistic kid; I *loved* how all the family relations were good ones. brother-brother, (stand-in) father-daughter, father-son. I didn't mind that there were no sister-sister or mother-child things because the father-child relationships seemed to me to be so all encompassing (so non-gender-based) that it didn't matter. (Though, I would have liked to see a few more female faces in the crowds--but at least there was the Russian jaeger pilot, so that was something.)

What you saw as a St. Michael thing, Waka saw as a shoutout to Japanese legend, when one of the Minamotos is lifted into the air by a demon and slices him through the middle with a sword, and Little Springtime and the ninja girl said it was a complete shoutout to Evangelion: "When firepower fails, they use the progressive knife," LS is telling me.

I have some thoughts about single combat and land clearance that I'll stick up on my blog.

[identity profile] 2013-07-22 03:55 pm (UTC)(link)
And I need to correct what I said, based on new information Waka gave me. It wasn't a Minamoto; it was one of the four retainers of Minamoto Yorimitsu, namely, one Watanabe no Tsuna. Waka notes that not all versions of the story have the demon actually flying off with him, but lots of them do, he says.

[identity profile] 2013-07-19 01:30 pm (UTC)(link)
also the scientists, as a team and individually, were the best. And the very last scene, with guy missing his shoe, was a great last note to end on.

[identity profile] 2013-07-19 04:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes!! The posters were/are a great touch! They do that all the time in Japan; we should do it more here.

(And those blackboards. I love that he goes from madly scribbling on blackboards to working with a 3D holographic model)

--I missed the dedication at the end--who was it to?

Just got back from LimeRed btw. YOU AND ROB MUST COME HERE OK?

Okay, off to jail now. I love saying that.

but before I go, one last thing

[identity profile] 2013-07-19 04:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Tell me about Cronenbergian telepathy? One thing me and the ninja girl were musing on was how much you gain of the other person's memories in drift, and how much you retain upon waking.

[identity profile] 2013-07-22 03:58 pm (UTC)(link)
If we were going to get that one stunning memory of Mako's, I would love to have seen a similar ghostscape for Raleigh.


I really loved what being in drift did for Newt and Hermann--if I think about it too hard, I'm likely to get all teary-eyed.
Edited 2013-07-22 15:58 (UTC)

[identity profile] 2013-07-22 11:02 pm (UTC)(link)
♥--saw it on Tumblr and favorited and reblogged it ([ profile] handful_ofdust had noted that she was linked to it by you).

[identity profile] 2013-07-22 03:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes--he has a wonderful, angular, expressive face. (And this poster is just great, anyway--lovely colors, all that amber and black.)

[identity profile] 2013-07-17 03:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Tuna Water is a wondrous substance. Nectar-for-cats.

Perhaps he would enjoy horchata-for-cats.

[identity profile] 2013-07-17 08:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Voilá! ( Horchata for cats.

[identity profile] 2013-07-17 06:02 pm (UTC)(link)
I keep telling N to go see this. I think she would love it. Thank you for writing the review because I can't go see it!

My own ancient of days kitteh has taken a "fuck tuna" stance for several years now (maybe one should call it a "fuck everything" stance), but will go for reduced-sodium cooking broth from a tin.

[identity profile] 2013-07-18 12:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I will press the film's case, then. :)

And huzzah for pureed fowl! Turkey Dinner is also a useful substance, but I think that one may be Gerber. I am so glad Abbie is eating, even if it's only gack. And the baby puree has a modicum of liquid, so it counts toward hydration...

[identity profile] 2013-07-17 07:01 pm (UTC)(link)
I did not expect to see, either, the closest I ever will to the Sea's Tooth of Deep Wizardry (1985) where the Lone Power lies burning in a basalt-stacked canyon at the bottom of the sea, the water bursting into sullen blue flame all along its lava-black and deadly length.

I was thinking this too. Also, this:

Ron Perlman plays a Tom Waits role.

And this:

It is dedicated to the right people.

I find I actually want to see it again.

[identity profile] 2013-07-17 08:08 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm glad ye were able to do something completely different, and very glad that it was such a good something completely different.

I'm thinking I might have to see this film.

[identity profile] 2013-07-18 07:51 am (UTC)(link)
I'm glad Abbie's better. I'll try and catch Pacific Rim next week.
selidor: (Default)

[personal profile] selidor 2013-07-19 09:59 am (UTC)(link)
Big and loud and smart. Oh dear. You have convincingly sold a pair of movie tickets. (Once I get back to Canada, so probably next weekend).

Comfort to both cat, and you its people.

[identity profile] 2013-07-20 11:46 pm (UTC)(link)
M and I went to see this today. I don't watch movies often, so I have no idea how Pacific Rim compares to others in its genre, but it was fun to watch. I, too, saw the Sea's Tooth in that scene. I appreciated all the character moments, especially the really beautiful spare way the father-daughter relationship was drawn. I disagreed with nearly everything to do with the engineering of the Jaegers and the military tactics, but I've come to expect that from action movies. Newt and Gottlieb were my favorites, unsurprisingly. I loved that with all the high tech, Gottlieb went to a blackboard to do his calculations, because of course. There's just something emotionally satisfying to chalk that you don't get from computer modeling.

What I really want now is the story of how the Drift was created; the heroes who were the alpha and beta testers of the tech. Also how Stacker manages to not bring anything into the Drift.

[identity profile] 2013-07-22 01:53 am (UTC)(link)
Is there a characteristic way you feel movies get military engineering wrong, or is it just the usual handwave of convenient science is convenient, now (if the movie is intelligent) move on to the worldbuilding?

Movies will almost never explain why conventional tech won't work, making the super ridiculous tech necessary. To some extent, this is because in real life some elements of the military also don't care that conventional tech will do the job just fine (see also Air Force Research Labs projects colloquially referred to as the "shit cannon," "rods from god," and "voices of god" just to start with. I wish I knew the actual honest to god codenames for these). But none of those projects ever make it past vaporware.

So the Jaegers? 260 feet tall, according to the pacific rim wikia, made of titanium or iron core, depending on model year. Let's skip the bit where "all titanium, no alloys" is utterly ridiculous because titanium is always alloyed with something because that improves its tensile strength. Anyway, the wiki claims it's 1,980 tons, but assuming pure titanium, which weighs in at 4.5g/cm^-3 (and keep in mind, an alloy would be heavier) and let's say the thing is about a fifth as wide as it is tall, and a fifth as deep, I'm totally making up the second two dimensions here and assuming there's only 20% empty space inside the kaiju, and also being really lazy and assuming the kaiju is roughly cubic rather than cylindrical, and ignoring things like the weight of the "50 diesel engines per muscle fiber" (which is its own bit of staggeringly unlikely engineering) because I want to be able to do the math in my head and not go looking for my calculator, but these numbers are at least vaguely in the right ballpark. Anyway, that's actually 72 billion kilograms. Or about 80,000 tons. Or 1,100 M1 Abrams tanks, which get less than half a mile to the gallon fuel efficiency to move their bulk! Only 9,000 M1 Abrams have ever been produced, over the entire history of the US military industrial complex.

But anyway, let's accept the quoted number of 1,980 tons, which the footnotes on the wiki tell me were taken from the officially licensed art book for the film, even though it's a factor of 50 too small, or budgeting for my fantastically lazy handwavy math above, at least a factor of 20 too small. Whatever. Very small.

I can't find numbers online for the top speed of any of the Jaegers, and I'm too lazy to get film clips and measure how fast they move, but let's be conservative and say they have a maximum ground speed of 50 mph, based on how Gipsy Danger got to Knifehead, seven miles off the coast of Alaska, in the span of a few moments of jocular banter. I'm sure it wasn't seven full minutes in film-watching time, but as I said, I'm being conservative. Anyway, that's something like 17 trillion Joules to move the thing, or 4.5 million kilowatt-hours, or 4,500 megawatt-hours. It's actually not completely unreasonable to move the thing if it has a nuclear reactor in its chest: according to the US Energy Information Administration, the smallest nuclear power plant in the US produces 478 MW, and the largest about 4,000 MW. So you'd just need a core the size of the facility in Palo Verde, Arizona, which resides on 4,000 acres of land. For comparison, that's the area of 2,500 Somervilles.

(comment exceeded LJ's maximum length)

[identity profile] 2013-07-22 01:53 am (UTC)(link)
(continuing: I find this kind of exercise really fun)

I've elided the details of electrical and mechanical efficiencies here, largely because I fear boring you and your readers at this point, but suffice to say it only makes the math look worse for the Jaegers.

You could also look at the economics of building the Jaeger -- the cost of the titanium for one Jaeger, in 2013 dollars at 2013 prices is USD433 trillion, or 28 times the GDP of the US, or 5 times the gross world product, if the wikipedia page on GWP can be believed. We can argue that the appearance of the kaiju dramatically changed the economics of the entire world, but even if you could mine that much titanium for free, you still have to come up with enough energy to smelt it. Titanium smelts at 1700C. Smelting a couple billion kilograms of the stuff, well, that'll burn a lot of oil. (I'll leave the calculation of how much oil as an exercise for the reader.)

Moving on, for the amount of energy it takes to move a Jaeger, you could sent hundreds of unmanned submarines, each carrying a nuclear payload, into the Breach as soon as a kaiju emerges. Or if you would rather use conventional weapons, pack the submarine drones with thousands of tons of chemical explosive. Pilot the drone into the kaiju's mouth and detonate. There, cities saved. You've destroyed the local ocean ecology, but the kaiju are already doing that, and it frees up resources for research into how to shut down the Breach.

Anyway, I sound crankier than I really am about this. I can fanwank a dozen explanations for why existing weaponry wouldn't work, and the Jaegers made for excellent cinema. Also without that macguffin we wouldn't have the Drift, which drove all the amazing character development and heart of the movie. I just would have appreciated a lampshade, is all.
Edited 2013-07-22 01:54 (UTC)

[identity profile] 2013-07-22 02:07 am (UTC)(link)
Is there a characteristic way you feel movies get military engineering wrong, or is it just the usual handwave of convenient science is convenient, now (if the movie is intelligent) move on to the worldbuilding?

Anyway, movies always fail to consider how much machines would really weigh, or how much fuel they'd consume, or how much they'd cost. And while I had to sit down for about twenty minutes to work out the precise details of how wrong the math was in this particular instance, I have enough engineering intuition to have noted, while watching the movie, "there's no way the numbers here add up." That's okay though. Good world building and emotional arcs make up for bad math.

they appeared and they were such perfect types of scientist in a science fiction film (terminally tightly wound boffin, manically reckless geek)

Yes! Their interactions -- with each other, with their equipment, with the military -- all rang very true to me. I worked for two summers with Air Force Research Labs, and another year and a half with a defense contractor, and all those interactions rang very very true for me. They were perfect.

[identity profile] 2013-12-09 11:33 pm (UTC)(link)