Category Archives: Temporal Anomalies/Time Travel

#85: Time Travel Coming on Television

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #85, on the subject of Time Travel Coming on Television

I got several notices from readers alerting me to something new in time travel coming to a small screen near you, and I paid little attention to them, I’m afraid.  For one thing, I don’t do analyses of time travel media other than movies, for reasons detailed elsewhere.  For another, at present I don’t have access to “regular” or even “cable” television–I watch DVDs, Netflix via an RCA Streaming device, and sometimes manage to borrow the equipment to Chromecast something from my office computer to the living room television.  For another–well, television series about time travel rarely work.  As a boy I enjoyed Time Tunnel, and I have the series on DVD, but for anyone who has any coherent theory of time it is a temporal nightmare.  I liked Se7en Days, and even used it as the basis for an example of a way in which the past can be safely altered.  However, ever since Star Trek:  Voyager delivered three temporally disastrous episodes in its first season, I have been extremely wary of any time travel television series, and for some combinations of these three reasons I never watched The Sarah Conner Chronicles or Continuum.

I’m still interested in time travel, though, and it seems that I got all these notifications of upcoming time travel television because there’s more than one show on the horizon.

img0085History

Sometime in 2016 FOX will be bringing a made-for-TV comedy movie under the title Making History (photo above).  The trailer looks highly entertaining.  I am considerably more forgiving of absurd temporal disasters in comedies because they’re supposed to be funny, and well done absurd can be funny.  In this iteration one of our primary characters, pretty much a failure in the present, has hopped back to the past and fallen in love with Paul Revere’s daughter.  Revere expected his daughter to marry the man of his choosing, and is so upset about this he fails to make his famed ride to warn of the approach of the British, and the Colonies are overrun.  Our bumbling hero returns to the present and persuades his history professor to come back with him to fix the problem, but the fact that the professor is black adds more complications to the situation.

It is, of course, absurd on its face:  once the American Revolution has been undone, the time traveler cannot return to the world he left behind, because it has been erased.  Yet it looks like a good foundation for a very funny story, and if after it airs I can find it somewhere I can watch, I’ll probably give you a more detailed account of just how disastrous it is.

Meanwhile, NBC is also getting into the act with a drama called Timeless, which is announced as a 2016 television series.  Here the story is darker:  some group has stolen a time machine and traveled to the past to alter American history in ways that are apparently significant to someone.  In the trailer, they are attempting to prevent the Hindenburg disaster.  Our time-traveling heroes are sent back to protect history, to prevent the changes.

We have previously noted the major problems with efforts to prevent changes to the past, particularly in our analysis of TimeCop as well as repeatedly in the Terminator series.  This can only end in temporal disaster–and since it’s a television series we can probably expect repeated disasters week after week.  On the bright side, it looks like a well-made well-acted action-packed adventure.  On the dark side, it appears to mix theories of time rather randomly–the very fact that a team has been sent to the past to prevent it from changing says it can’t be fixed time, but one of the time travelers reports having a copy of a document that another member of the team has not yet written.

To confuse matters, IMDb reports not one but two current movies under the same title, one released this year and another slated for next year.  Those might see analysis eventually, if I can get copies.

Also in production for anticipated release next year on ABC is a series entitled Time After Time based perhaps loosely on the movie of that name or the book on which that movie was based.  This is the story in which H. G. Wells has invented a time machine and somehow Jack the Ripper has managed to use it to escape into time, with Wells in pursuit.  Information is at this point quite sketchy.  The movie was good, but had a lot of temporal difficulties which a series promises to compound.  Still, it has some promise, depending on how it plays.

So time travel fans will have plenty to entertain in the months ahead.

As always, if you have questions about time travel stories you have seen, write to me (you can use the e-mail comments link below), assume I have not seen whatever it is you saw and give me details, and I’ll do my best to answer based on what you describe.  Meanwhile, if you want me to see these, you’ll have to use the Patreon or PayPal.me links to increase the support of this site to a level that can pay for such luxuries, or arrange to mail me DVD copies of them.  Thank you.

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#81: The Grandfather Paradox Problem

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #81, on the subject of The Grandfather Paradox Problem.

A friend who was playing Multiverser with me before we were on Facebook tagged me in a post about a time travel video, in which someone offers a scientific solution to the famous Grandfather Paradox:  what happens if I travel back in time and kill my own grandfather before he has children?  As the cartoon below shows, if you did that, you would undo your own existence, and if you undid your existence you would not be able to travel to the past and do that.

There are already quite a few links in this page, and there undoubtedly will be quite a few more before we’re done, so I recommend ignoring them all until you’ve read the page, and then deciding whether there are any you particularly want to pursue.

img0081Ducks

The video inappropriately seems to suggest that this is “the scientific” answer and therefore the true one.  That’s careless.  It even recognizes the alternate dimension solution, dismissing it as “boring” (because it just avoids the paradox)–and we agree that it’s a poor solution, because whether we are speaking of parallel dimensions (a vast, possibly infinite, set of dimensions which have always existed) or divergent dimensions (the creation of new branching universes caused by the arrival of the traveler), it is not time travel.  The video ignores other solutions, such as The Novikov Self-consistency Principle (in essence a fixed time theory solution which asserts time travel is only possible in universes in which the past is immutable).  It also ignores replacement theory; we’ll get to that.

If the video is confusing to you, don’t be embarrassed:  it’s a confusing theory.  I think it’s the theory behind Dr. Manhattan’s perception of the world in Watchmen:  it isn’t exactly that all possible worlds exist, it’s that they all co-exist within a single but complex spatio-temporal space.

One of the problems of divergent dimension theory is the question of where all the matter and energy originate to create another identical universe.  That is, if you have a matter replicator on the order of Star Trek:  The Next Generation, and you want to create a cup of tea, you need as much energy as you would obtain from the nuclear annihilation of an identical cup of tea, plus a bit more to operate the machine.  If you want to create another identical universe, you would need to consume all the matter and energy of the original universe plus probably a bit more to do the work.  Assuming you could do it, your original universe would have ceased to exist anyway.

    There are a few other problems with this.  Since you had to use some of the energy to perform the process, you wind up with a slightly smaller replacement universe; and assuming that you have a time traveler who left that other universe, either he was destroyed when that universe was (creating the paradox we are attempting to avoid) or his matter and energy are not included in the total (shorting us yet a bit more).  But those are extra quibbles.

If you maintain a divergent dimension theory idea without time travel, that is, that every choice, every possible occurrence, creates two universes, in one of which the event happened and the other it did not, you multiply this problem exponentially, since for anything I could be doing right at this moment there exists a universe in which I am doing that, and for everything you could be doing there exists a universe in which you are doing that, and as long as what we might be doing is compatible those two lists are multiplied–I do thing A while you do thing A, I do thing A while you do thing B, I do thing B while you do thing A, and by the time we get to four possible actions for two hypothetical people we have sixteen universes, and we have only gotten started.

The theory behind the solution offered by the video attempts to resolve that issue, and in a strictly theoretical way it does so rather cleverly.  There are not innumerable copies of me; there is only one.  That one individual exists as a bundle of matter and energy across all the many dimensions, and is doing all the different things he might be doing.  My consciousness only remembers those events which are sequentially chained in the history of what I am aware of doing at the moment–I have no awareness of what I am doing or what I ever did in those other dimensions, but it is still me doing it.

The idea sprang from the problem addressed by that famous feline Schrödinger’s Cat.  Because of some other theories in quantum physics the state of an unstable atom was viewed as problematic.  It might decay at any moment, and therefore it might have decayed since you last looked.  Someone (his name is not as famous as Schrödinger’s) proposed that the answer to this was that the atom existed in both a decayed and an undecayed state, and when you looked at it you determined not exactly in which state it was but rather in which universe you were observing it.  Until you looked, it was both decayed and undecayed, and the act of looking determined the state.  Schrödinger said that this was absurd, since if that were true he could set up an experiment in which a cat who would die the instant a specific atom decayed would be both alive and dead until someone checked, and since the cat cannot possibly be both alive and dead the theory is nonsense.  However, the theory was immediately defended with the assertion that what Schrödinger claimed was impossible was actually the reality, that the cat actually is both alive and dead until someone looks and discovers whether we are in a dimension in which it is alive or one in which it is dead.

I don’t know that Schrödinger was persuaded, but the idea took hold and expanded, attaching to events that were not in any obvious way connected to the uncertainties of subatomic decay:  suddenly anything that might have happened has happened, and all of us are both alive and dead, sitting in church and visiting a brothel, fabulously famous and desperately destitute, at the same time.

I have problems with that; I have addressed them on other pages.  The present video does not venture there–it only discusses the notion that two such states could exist simultaneously, one in which my grandfather lived and led to my existence, the other in which I killed him, and so the fact that I both do and do not exist at this moment because of a future action I will take in the past is not a problem.

I still see it as a problem.  Let’s get at it, though, by noting that I have a brother.  (In reality I have two, and a sister, and a batch of cousins, nephews, neices, and cousins-once-or-twice-removed who might also be affected, but let’s stick to one brother.)  We have talked about the problem of having a brother in multiple dimension theory before, but it’s a different problem in this version.

The problem is that when I kill my grandfather, I also rather inadvertently also kill my brother’s grandfather.

My reality is convoluted, but it is comprehensible.  There is a reality in which I exist up to the moment–let’s call it “today”–when I leave for the past, and after that–“tomorrow”–I no longer exist because I left and never returned.  There is another reality in which I was never born, and so “today” I do not exist and never existed, and that’s confusing–but tomorrow is somewhat simpler, because tomorrow I still do not exist because I never existed.  In my experience, therefore, I both exist and do not exist today, but tomorrow I simply do not exist.  Reality is unstable for a while, but then we might suppose that it stabilizes “today” when I leave for what we will call “yesterday”, stretching the term about a century to when my grandfather was a child.

What, though, of my brother?  There is a reality in which he exists “today”, and since he does not leave to go back to “yesterday” he, in that reality, still exists “tomorrow”.  Yet since I went back to “yesterday” and killed our young grandfather, there is a reality in which he was never born, either.  My reality stabilizes into a universe tomorrow in which I do not exist–but his reality never does so.  From the moment I either do or do not kill our grandfather, he either does or does not exist, and that never changes.

That’s very dramatic when we consider him; he is quite obviously impacted by whether or not I killed our grandfather.  Yet it is not just whether or not he exists tomorrow; it’s whether we have existed in these intervening years, and what the shape of the future will be hereafter.  We always discuss this as killing a grandfather before he has children, but that means there is that intervening generation–in which one of our parents was never born.  Reflect on it and you’ll recognize that no matter what happened between your parents, their lives would have been very different had they never met, and if one of them had never been born, they would never have met.  I have elsewhere written about the genetic problem.  Note that had our mother not married our father, she probably would have married someone else; and whoever that was probably actually did marry someone else in this reality whom they would not have married had they married Mom.  That ripples through hundreds, possibly thousands, of relationships, displacing couples and altering the identities of a large segment of the next generation which in turn multiplies the impact, as the couples marrying in that generation are altered by the fact that thousands of them were never born, replaced by thousands who were born instead.  So it is not just my brother and I who both do and do not exist; it is thousands of others whose births will be prevented if my mother marries someone other than my father.

And when we reach the end of that bit of twisted time in which there are two different realities, one in which I live and leave for the past and the other in which I am never born, we have two worlds that are so completely different that it becomes utter nonsense to speak of them even as parallel.  The counterpart for my brother Roy Young is probably someone like Vinnie de LaRosa, who also exists in one dimension but not in the other.  The world has been so altered by this one event that the two versions can never converge to the same future.  “Tomorrow” can never be unified.

At that point, whether we say that there is a diverging universe with its own history beginning from the moment of my arrival in the past or that there is only one universe in which the same matter is configured in different ways in various histories which diverge from each other becomes a matter of semantics which solve nothing.  It is divergent universe theory with a lot of smoke and mirrors to make us think it is something else.

Meanwhile, the same action–killing your grandfather–in replacement theory causes an infinity loop.  In essence, there is an original history in which my grandfather lived and I was born, and I departed for the past ending that history, and as I arrived in the past I erased the original history and began writing a different single history of the world in which my grandfather died young and I was never born; then at the moment I fail to travel to the past, I remove myself from the past (the exact reason the grandfather paradox is a problem) and create a history in which I am not there, my grandfather lives, and ultimately I am born–the original history restored, leading to my decision to travel to the past.  Those two versions of history repeat, each causing the other, perpetually; “tomorrow” never comes, because it can only exist as a single universe with a single set of people and events if it has a single unified history in which all causes and effects are found.

So the video suggests an interesting idea that ultimately is not different from the divergent or parallel dimension theory it begins by dismissing.  It is not really something different.

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#72: Being an Author

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #72, on the subject of Being an Author.

One of my sons was in some sort of meeting or interview and was asked what his father did.  “He’s an author,” was his reply.

I wasn’t present, so I don’t know what was said or done at that moment, but my son got the distinct impression of disdain, a sort of, “Right, he’s a layabout who does nothing and thinks that people should give him money for scribbing on paper, but what does he have to show for it?”  My son, at least, felt that I was being insulted by the questioner’s attitude.

What strangers think of me is of no consequence, although I am concerned about the opinions of my readers and other fans (I am more than an author, being also a game designer and a musician and a Bible teacher).  I am more concerned that one of my other sons seems at times to be of the opinion that I waste my time trying to succeed at such a career, that I should have a “real” job that makes enough money to support the family.  He is not old enough to have known our lives when I was not making enough money to support the family working as a radio announcer, a microfilm technician, a drywall installer and painter, or a health insurance claims processor.  I suppose perhaps there are people who claim to be authors who lack any skill or talent in the field, and I think everyone in creative fields faces some self-doubt, some uncertainty as to whether they are really “good enough” to do this.  However, I think the notion that someone is not an author, or that this is a foolish idea, a flawed self-perception, is difficult to justify.  I am an author; I might not be terribly successful at it, but there are good reasons why the latter is not a good measure of the former.

img0072Novel

This is not really about whether or not I am an “author” so much as about what it takes to qualify for that title.  For my part, I thought I would be a musician, and had the idea of being an author on a distant back burner–in college, circa 1977, I took a class entited Creative Writing:  Fiction, and began work on a fantasy epic that quickly bogged down into trouble and wound up on that same distant back burner.  Either the Lord or happenstance, depending on your viewpoint, landed me at WNNN-FM, a contemporary Christian radio station, first as a disc jockey/announcer, working my way up ultimately to program director, with a side job editing (and largely writing) the radio station newsletter.  Along the way I developed a relationship with the associate editor of a local newspaper (The Elmer Times), which at some point published a couple of pieces of political satire I wrote, about 1983.  I was published, but I was not yet thinking of myself as an author.  I also started putting together some notes about the controversy over Dungeons & Dragons™, and somewhere around 1991 composed a draft of an article which I tried unsuccessfully to farm to a few Christian magazines, impeded perhaps by the fact that I didn’t actually subscribe to or regularly read any magazines.

Late in I think 1992 Ed Jones approached me about co-authoring his game idea, “Multiverse”, which was ultimately to become Multiverser™.  I had been running original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons™ since 1980, and he had been playing in my game for perhaps a year (and I for a slightly shorter time in his) during which we had had discussed role playing games generally at length and I had become one of his Multiverser™ playtesters; he had read the unpublished article.  In the spring of 1997 he withdrew from the project due to complications in his personal life and left me to finish the work and publish the game later that fall.  I now had two books in print (the Referee’s Rules and The First Book of Worlds), but did not think of myself as an author so much as a game designer.  I started half a dozen web sites (now all either gone or consolidated here as various sections of M. J. Young Net) primarily to promote the game; that defense of Dungeons & Dragons™ article I’d drafted a decade before became one of the founding works under the title Confessions of a Dungeons & Dragons™ Addict, along with web sites on time travel, D&D, law and politics, and Bible.  Still, the publication of Multiverser led to invitations to write for role playing game related web sites–starting with Gaming Outpost and extending to include articles at RPGNet, Places to Go, People to Be, The Forge, Roleplayingtips.com, and perhaps half a dozen others which no longer exist.  I was also asked to become the Chaplain of the Christian Gamers Guild, and contributed to their e-zine The Way, The Truth, and the Dice, and wrote a few articles mostly about such subjects as business, e-commerce, and morality in politics, which appeared on various sites around the web.  Multiverser:  The Second Book of Worlds went to print, confirming my authenticity as a game designer.

Sometime in 1998 Valdron Inc started discussing publishing a Multiverser comic book series, and since I was the in-house writer it fell to me to create the stories.  I began these, working as if they were comic books, writing individual panels.  I actually did not know that many authors who wrote books also wrote comic books and “illustrated novels”, but it was a short-lived endeavor–I wrote three issues, two episodes for each, and then the in-house artists said that there was no way that a comic could be produced on the kind of budget we had, and everything went onto that proverbial back burner, where it simmered.  However, this one started to boil over, and after consulting with Valdron’s people I rewrote those episodes and created Multiverser‘s first novel–my first novel–Verse Three, Chapter One.  Valdron put it into print, and we sold a few hardcover copies; I have no idea of the number.  However, at this point I thought of myself as an author:  I had a novel in print.

When I was in high school I worked stage crew (yeah, you probably guessed that, right?), as a sophomore for the junior class play.  At one point one of the characters questions another about a book he’d written.  It wasn’t a big deal, the author says; it only sold three hundred copies.  I’d like to read it, the questioner continued; where can I get it?  From me, the author responded; I have three hundred copies.  In the trade there has long been what is disdainfully called “vanity press”, the ability to write your own book and have it printed for a few thousand dollars, receiving a few hundred copies which you then can sell entirely on your own.  In the digital age that has become more complicated.  It is now possible to go through companies like Lulu.com and print your book at very little cost, get an international standard book number (ISBN), and have it listed through Amazon and other retailers.  That is not how those first four books went to press, but some might think they were “vanity press” anyway.  Having been through law school, I undertook the necessary steps to create a corporation, sold stock, got the stockholders to elect a board of directors who in turn appointed corporate officers, and spearheaded the effort to publish and promote the Multiverser game system and supplements.  I would say that none of us had a clue what we should do, but that’s not quite true–we all had a few clues, and we proceeded to stumble through the effort.  It would be wrong to say that the company was entirely comprised of my friends and family.  Many of the stockholders were family or friends, and most of the rest were friends of family or friends of friends, and of course it being a small company I ultimately met all of them, chatting with them at stockholder picnics and such.  My next few books were closer to the “vanity press” sort.  I wrote What Does God Expect?  A Gospel-based Approach to Christian Conduct, and when Valdron decided they did not want to be more closely associated with Christian book publishing I asked people for ideas on getting it in print, and thus was introduced to Lulu.com.  That was also the venue I used to release About the Fruit, and I have not quite completed the process of releasing a book entitled Do You Trust Me? due to a failure on my part to stick to the process.  Valdron released a book version of what might be called the first season of the Game Ideas Unlimited series from Gaming Outpost; at the same time I did the same for the series entitled Faith and Gaming that had been published at the Christian Gamers Guild web site.  Some time after that Blackwyrm Publishing approached me about permitting them to publish an expanded edition of Faith and Gaming, and thus one of my books is in print through a publishing house in which I hold no interest otherwise.

The question, then, is not really whether I am an author.  Depending on how you count them I have between eight and ten books in print (two titles were published in two different editions); some of my online articles have been translated and printed in the French gaming magazine Joie de Role, and I was for quite a few years paid for regular contributions to TheExaminer.com.  The question is at what point I became an author.

In this I am reminded that many authors struggle for many years.  Steven King’s financial problems were so great that even after he was famous and made a television commercial for them, American Express would not authorize a card for him; he kept a day job as a teacher until he sold the movie rights to Christine, which is when the tide turned for him.  Was he an author when his books were not bestsellers and he had to teach to support himself?  J. K. Rowling struggled as a single mother, and reportedly received a mere six thousand pounds for the rights to the first printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; she is now reportedly wealthier than the Queen of England.  Was she an author when she was writing the book that started it all–and if so, who knew?

I have always been a musician; I have never made much money at it.  I have composed hundreds of songs, performed thousands times, been part of dozens of bands, choirs, combos, performing groups, and accompanist groups, and had some avid fans (in college some wanted to print Bach and Young T-shirts, but it was not so easy then).  I have one album, Collision Of Worlds, on the market.  Am I not a musician because I don’t make a living at it?  There are thousands upon thousands of singers and instrumentalists who play bars and nightclubs, weddings and parties, who hold regular jobs; it is a joke in the music industry to say to a young musician, “Don’t quit your day job.”  Are those not musicians, because they cannot support themselves doing what they love?

I am not an artist, but it is typical in the art world that painters and sculptors struggle for decades to make a name for themselves, to make a living creating artwork, only to die penniless–and then suddenly to have everything they ever created leap to new values.  Were they not really artists during their lives, but became so the moment they died?

In the creative world, people create, and it is that aspect of creating that makes them authors–or poets, artists, musicians.  Some authors eke out a living; some become incredibly wealthy; some spend more than they earn trying to become known.  That is true in all the creative arts, including filmmaking–for every Robert Townsend Hollywood Shuffle success story there are dozens of good but failed independent films.  Herman Melville was not well known prior to writing Moby Dick, despite having written for newspapers and magazines.  Being an author is not primarily defined by commercial success; it is defined by creative product.

I should footnote this by mentioning that that first novel has now been released on the Internet, and the second is following it in serialized format beginning today.  I am an author, even if I give away my product.  Your support through Patreon and otherwise helps make it possible for me to publish and you to enjoy some of that.  It does not change whether I am an author, only whether I am viewed as successful.

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#70: Writing Backwards and Forwards

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #70, on the subject of Writing Backwards and Forwards.

When I was at TheExaminer, I eventually took to creating indices of articles previously published; when I moved everything here last summer, I included those indices, and finished one that covered the first half of 2015 (through July).  On the last day of December I did a review piece indexing the rest of that year, as #34:  Happy Old Year.

It may seem premature to do another index; it is not even falling on a logical date (although as I write this I am not completely certain on which day it is going to be published).  However, some new “static” pages have made it to the web site, and quite a few more web log entries, and it seems to be a time of decision concerning what lies ahead.  Thus this post will take a look at everything that has been published so far this year, and give some consideration to options going forward.  You might find the informal index helpful; I do hope that you will read the latter part about the future of the site.

img0070Blog

Temporal Anomalies/Time Travel

The most popular part of the web site is probably still the temporal anomalies pages.  It certainly stimulates the most mail, and the five web log posts (including those in the previous index) addressing temporal issues received 30% of the blog post traffic.  We added one static page since then, a temporal analysis of the movie 41.  We also added post #56:  Temporal Observations on the book Outlander, briefly considering its time travel elements of the first book in the series that has made it to cable television.  We’d like to do more movies, and there are movies out there, but the budget at present does not pay for video copies.

This part of the site has been recognized oft by others (before it was a Sci-Fi Weekly Site of the Week it was an Event Horizon Hotspot), and the latest to do so is the new Time Travel Nexus, a promising effort to create a hub for all things time-travel related; we wish them well, and thank them for including links to our efforts here.  They recently invited me to write time travel articles for them, although if I do it will have to be something different, and we have not yet determined quite what.

Legal/Political

By sheer number of posts, this is the biggest section of the web log.  Although since the last of these indexing posts it has been running even with posts about writing and fiction, it has a significant head start, with half of the articles in that index connected to law or politics primarily.  Some of these have religious or theological connections as well–that can’t be helped, as even the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights recognizes that the protection of your right to believe what you wish, express that belief, and gather with others who share that belief is both a religious and a political right, and cannot always be distinguished.  (Anyone who says that religion and politics should always be kept separate misses this critical point, that they are really the same thing.  It’s a bit like saying that philosophy and theology should be kept separate–the difference is not whether God is involved, but how much emphasis is placed on Him.  So, too, politics is about religious beliefs in application.)

Trying to sort these into sub-categories is difficult.  Several had to do with legal regulation of health care, several with discrimination, and we had articles on freedom of expression, government and constitutional issues, election matters.  These twenty-seven articles together drew 35% of readers to the web log, but a substantial part of that–13%–went to the two articles about the X-Files discrimination flap.  One article on this list has received not a single visit since it posted.  Thus rather than attempt to make sense of them, I’ll just list them in the order they appeared, with a bit of explanation for each:

Bible/Theology

As mentioned, some of the political posts are simultaneously religious or theological, and I won’t repeat those here.  There is one post that is really about everything, about the very existence of this blog, but which I have decided to list as primarily in this category:  #51:  In Memoriam on Groundhog Day, 160202.  This is a eulogy of sorts for my father, Cornelius Bryant Young, Jr., who is certainly the reason for the existence of the political materials, as he significantly supported my law school education and then regaled me with questions about whether Barrack Obama was a legitimate President.  He is missed.

I also wrote #65:  Being Married, which is not exactly my advice but my choice of the best advice I’ve received over several decades of marriage.  I’m hoping some found it helpful.

It should be noted that five days a week I post a study of scripture, and on a sixth day I post another essentially religious/theological/devotional post, on the Christian Gamers Guild’s Chaplain’s Teaching List.  That is far too many links to include here, but if you’re interested you can find the group through this explanatory page.

Game-related

There were a couple game-related posts in the previous index, this time two of them specifically about Multiverser.  There was some discussion about some of its mechanics on a Facebook thread, and so I gave some explanations for how and why two aspects of the system work–the first, in #38:  Multiverser Magic, 160112:  addressing difficulties people expressed concerning its magic system, the second, in #40:  Multiverser Cover Value, 160114:  explaining the perhaps not as complicated as it seems way it determines the effect of armor.

There was also another game-related post, #44:  The Feeling of Victory, 160121:  which discussed a pinball game experience to illustrate a concept of fun game play.

The award-winning Dungeons & Dragons™ section of the site (most notably chosen as an old-school gem by Knights of the Dinner Table) continues to get occasional notice; someone recently asked to use part of the character creation materials for work they were doing on a different game, and someone asked if I had a copy of my house rules somewhere, in relation to some specific reference I made to them.  Although I’m running a game currently, I don’t know that anything new will appear there.  The good people at Places to Go, People to Be are continuing to unearth the lost Game Ideas Unlimited articles and translating for their French edition.  Unfortunately, Je parle un tres petit peux de francais; I can’t read my own work there.

Logic and Reasoning

Periodically a topic arises that is really only about thinking about things.  That came up a couple times in the past couple months.  first, someone wrote an article about the severe environmental impact of using the universal serial bus (USB) power port in your car to charge your smartphone while you drive, and in #45:  The Math of Charging Your Phone, 160122, we examined the math and found it at least a bit alarmist.  Then when people around here were frantically stripping local grocery store shelves of all the ingredients for French Toast (milk, bread, and eggs) because of a severe weather forecast, we published #46:  Blizzard Panic, 160124.

On Writing

I left this category for last for a couple of reasons, several of those reasons stemming from the fact that most of this connects to the free electronic publication of my book Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, and I just published the last installment of that to the site.  You can find it fully indexed, every chapter with a one-line reminder (not a summary, just a quip that will recall the events of a chapter to those who have read it but hopefully not spoil it for those who have not), here.  There have been about seventy-five chapters since the last of these posts, and that (like the Bible study posts) is too much to copy here when it is available there.  That index also includes links to these web log posts, but since this is here to provide links to the posts, I’ll include them here, and then continue with the part about the future of the site.

  1. #35:  Quiet on the Novel Front, 160101:  The eighth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 43 through 48.
  2. #37:  Character Diversity, 160108:  The ninth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 49 through Chapter 54.
  3. #39:  Character Futures, 160113:  The tenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 55 through 60.
  4. #43:  Novel Worlds, 160119:  The eleventh behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 61 through 66.
  5. #47:  Character Routines, 160125:  The twelfth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 67 through 72.
  6. #50:  Stories Progress, 160131:  The thirteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 73 through 78.
  7. #53:  Character Battles, 160206:  The fourteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 79 through 84.
  8. #55:  Stories Winding Down, 160212:  The fifteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 85 through 90.
  9. #57:  Multiverse Variety, 160218:  The sixteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 91 through 96.
  10. #59:  Verser Lives and Deaths, 160218:  The seventeenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 97 through 102.
  11. #61:  World Transitions, 160301:  The eighteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 103 through 108.
  12. #64:  Versers Gather, 160307:  The nineteenth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 109 through 114.
  13. #66:  Character Quest, 160313:  The twentieth behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 115 through 120.
  14. #69:  Novel Conclusion, 160319:  The twenty-first and final behind-the-writings peek at Verse Three, Chapter One, Chapters 121 through 126.

The Future of the Site

I would like to be able to say that the future holds more of the same.  There are still plenty of time travel movies to analyze; I have started work on the analysis of a film entitled Time Lapse, but it will take at least a few days I expect.  This is a presidential election year and we have clowns to the left and jokers to the right, as the song said, and with the extreme and growing polarization of America there are plenty of hot issues, so there should be ample material for more political and legal columns.  The first novel has run its course, but there are more books in the pipeline which could possibly appear here.

However, it unfortunately all comes down to money.  My generous Patreon patrons are paying the hosting fees to keep this site alive, but I am a long way from meeting the costs of internet access and the other expenses of being here.  Time travel movies cost money even when viewed on Netflix.

The second novel, Old Verses New, is finished–sort of.  No artwork was ever done for it, and it is actually more difficult to promote articles on the Internet that do not have pictures (frustrating for someone who is a writer and musician but has no meaningful skill in the visual arts).  More complicating, Valdron Inc invested some money into it, paying an outside editor to go through it, and they still hope to find a way to recoup their investment at least.  I might have to buy their interest in it to be able to deliver it to you, and that again means more money.

So what can you do?

If you are not already a Patreon supporter, sign up.  A monthly dollar from every reader of the site would not make me wealthy, and probably would not cover all the bills, but it would go a long way in that direction.  Even a few more people giving five or ten dollars a month to keep me live would make a massive difference.  I think Patreon also has a means of making a one-time gift, and that also helps.

Even if you can’t do that, you can promote the site.  Whenever there is a new post or page here you think was worth a moment to read, take another moment to forward it–it is easy to do through most social media sites, some of which have buttons on the bottoms of the web log pages for quick posting, and in all cases I post new entries at Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and even MySpace, all of which have some way of easily sharing or recommending posts.  Let people know if there’s a good political piece, or time travel article, or whatever it is.  Increased readership means, among other things, an increased potential donor base–support to keep us alive here.

There are other ways to help.  Several time travel fans have over the years provided DVD copies of movies, either from their own libraries or purchased and sent directly to me, all of which have been analyzed.  I now also have the ability (thanks to a gifted piece of not-quite-obsolete discarded technology) to watch YouTu.be and Netflix videos on my old (not widescreen) television, and with some difficulty to watch other internet videos on borrowed Chromecast equipment (not as satisfactory–can’t pause or rewind without leaving the room to access the desktop).  Links to (safe and legal) copies of theatrically-released time travel movies make it possible to cover them now, for as long as the money keeps me online.  (Yes, even “free” videos cost money to see.)  One reader very kindly gave me a Fandango gift card to see Terminator Genisys in the theatre, which was a great help and enabled me to do the quick temporal survey published here, although I had to obtain a copy of the DVD to do the full analysis web page (it is nigh impossible to take notes in a darkened movie theatre, and very difficult to get all the vital details from an audio recording).

You can also ask questions.  I don’t check e-mail very often (seriously, people started using it like an instant messaging system, I have cut back to every three to six weeks) but I do check it and will continue to do so as long as the hosting service and internet access can be maintained; I interact through Facebook and (to a much lesser degree) the other social media sites mentioned, and often take a question from elsewhere to address here.  That gives me material in which you, the readers, are interested.  I do write about things which interest me, but I do so in the hope that they also interest you, and if I know which ones do that helps more.

So here’s to the future, whatever it may bring, and to the hope that you will help it bring more to M. J. Young Net and the mark Joseph “young” web log.

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#56: Temporal Observations on the book Outlander

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #56, on the subject of Temporal Observations on the book Outlander.

Yesterday I finished reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; my Goodreads review of the book is here for those who want to know something more than my temporal anomalies considerations of it.

I am often asked whether I would consider doing a temporal analysis of a book (although television shows are the more common question), and I have elsewhere explained why not.  This is only a brief look, based on a single read-through.  I should also caveat that it is the reading of the first book in a series of at least three (I have a copy of the third but not the second, and am contemplating whether to obtain the second somehow), and it is evident that our time traveler has not finished mucking about with history.  This is not a thorough analysis; it is simply a brief overview of some of my observations.

Also, I am informed that the book (possibly books) has (have) been turned into some sort of video presentation, although I am not clear whether it is a movie or a cable television series (or one of each?).  This is not that; I have only incidental knowledge of that.

img0056Outlander

The story begins really just before World War II, when Claire marries Frank Randall and they visit the Scottish Highlands for an interrupted honeymoon as the war begins and both of them become involved, he as a soldier, she as a nurse in field hospitals.  This beginning is simply given as background to explain how they happen to be in the Scottish Highlands within days of the end of the war, finishing their disrupted nuptials.  Frank is a history professor, and Claire is thus exposed to much about his ancestors and the events of the area of which she is not particularly interested.  She is collecting plants and learning about herbology to some degree, and when one of the residents shows her a stone circle–well, we have a number of events the culmination of which is that she is up there alone, apparently touches the wrong stone, and is hurled two centuries into the past.  Here she encounters the people and events who had previously been dull history lessons.  One of those is Jonathan Randall, identified as Frank’s six-times great grandfather, a British officer of notorious reputation who died during a war still a few years ahead shortly before his son was born.  This Randall proves to be a horrible person, a rapist and homosexual rapist and sadist, and a murderer who has managed to pin his murder on a young Scottish prisoner who escaped between his first and second flogging, Jaime Fraser.  In order to escape Randall’s efforts to arrest Claire, who escaped being raped by Randall shortly after her arrival (before she knew what was happening), Claire marries Jaime.  She uses her nursing skills to work as a doctor (knowing far more than most doctors of the era, but hampered by the lack of modern medicines and so relying on the local herbalism), saving numerous lives including Jaime’s more than once, escapes being burned as a witch alongside another woman who is burned but whom she realizes is also a traveler from the future (by virtue of the smallpox vaccination scar which becomes visible when the woman pulls down her clothes while on trial).

She is concerned about whether she has severely altered the future.  She killed a young British soldier to save her husband, and in a later effort to rescue him she caused the death of Jonathan Randall, her husband’s ancestor, before the conception of his first child.  Yet as a Jesuit priest to whom she confesses observes, she will have had as much impact on the future in the many lives she has saved through her medical efforts.  From a moral perspective, the possibility that this would change the future should not figure into the question of whether she should help people; the fact that it became necessary to cause the deaths of two people in defense of her family should equally not be a moral concern for her, as God does not condemn us for doing out of such necessities that which would otherwise be wrong.  Those, though, are the moral and religious concerns.  The temporal concerns are a much greater worry.

The particular one is of course that having caused the death of Jonathan Randall she must logically have prevented the birth of Frank Randall, her future husband.  That does not prevent her birth–but it does mean she did not have a honeymoon in a place where he could explore his family history, and did not visit that particular stone circle at that particular time to be thrown back to this century.  It gives us effectively a grandfather paradox, in which she has undone the causes that brought her here, probably creating an infinity loop.  Yet we have a complication here:  the witch, the woman she befriends only to discover too late that she is also from the future, sends her the message “one-nine-six-seven”, which means that that woman comes from a future twenty years past that from which Claire came, and therefore future history must continue beyond the disappearance of Claire Randall.

The more difficult way to resolve this is to suggest that somehow the events of the future bring Claire to the same place at the same time; that is, she did not marry Frank but immediately after the war for some other reason completely obscure to us she came to the same part of Scotland, met many of the same people, wandered into the same stone circle and was sent back from the same moment in the future to the same moment in the past.  It is obvious that the probabilities are immensely against this–and it does not fully resolve our situation.  The complication that arises is that once in the past she recognizes both Jonathan Randall’s name and his face precisely because she was married to his similar descendant Frank Randall.  Take that out, and Claire’s reactions will be entirely different.  She is also likely to have different knowledge and different experiences, although there is still good reason to believe she would have been a nurse in field hospitals during the war, so in the main issues she would be the same.

The easier solution is that this is not time travel at all, but some kind of multiple dimension theory.  As we have elsewhere noted, in such cases the traveler duplicates himself but no one at the point of departure ever determines that time travel has occurred–the traveler has simply vanished without a trace.  However, in this situation that is moot:  we apparently have rifts to another dimension, and sometimes people fall through.  There are still problems involved if history is altered (the witch must have come from some universe to reach this one, so this probably is not divergent dimensions) because the two universes are put out of synch with each other, but for this story it might work.

The more general problem is of course the number of lives she has saved.  We have discussed the genetic problem, the fact that one change in who marries whom will ripple through a population and alter thousands of lives in the next generation.  Although the Fraser clan in Scotland is some distance from Claire’s ancestors (and perhaps her trip to France removes them farther), it only takes one Scot marrying one Brit, or failing to marry one Brit, within the next century or so potentially to undo Claire’s entire family such that she would never have been born.

Since the book ends with the subtle announcement that Claire is carrying Jaime’s child, we know that they have impacted the gene pool.

Again, the better solution is that this is not time travel, but a hop to another dimension.  It is not impossible that the changes she has made to history will not undo her own life or her trip to those stones, but the improbabilities have reached incredible levels.  Someone call Douglas Adams; we need something one of his characters invented.

Of course, Claire’s interactions with people also change the future, and so do Jaime’s, since the life he is living is very different thanks to Claire.  We can only guess what lies ahead, but we know that the couple is bound for the court of Charles the Pretender, son of a former King James of England who has supporters in Scotland wanting to restore his line to the throne.  Claire knows that this is a future disaster, bringing about the destruction of many of the Scottish clans and failing in its objective.  She is seriously considering attempting to prevent it.  It is not clear that she could, but in attempting to do so she might again impact who lives and who dies, who is part of Charles’ revolt and who survives.  So she is not finished changing the world, even if she does not accomplish her goal.  However, again if we take this as a parallel dimension, she can do this with impunity.  The only problem she would create is that the next person who stumbles through the stone circle into this world will probably realize that this is not the past, because its history will have changed enough that the details of its present are noticeably altered.

This, though, raises another problem.

Claire says that in the stories it is always two hundred years.  Of course, it isn’t–the witch came from 1967 and was already well established in her identity by the time Claire arrived.  However, the combination of “this explains the stories” with the confirmation of the other time traveler tells us that Claire is not the first person to tamper with the history of this dimension.  If it were a replacement theory story, that would not be so much of a problem:  Claire would have left from whatever version of history was created by all previous time travelers.  However, the point of making it a parallel dimension theory is that the changes made in this universe do not change events in the other–and if even several persons have done this before, that means history has been changed in some ways.  That Claire does not know what is different is simply a flaw in her own knowledge and the fact that nothing major has changed–so far.  However, the seeds of change create increasing ripples over time.  She believes that the uprising in support of King Charles the Pretender will fail because it failed in her world; yet she does not know whether something she has done, or something her friend has done, or something one of the possibly thousands of other dimension travelers has done, has altered some piece of the puzzle such that the British side will fall.  After all, already England has lost one soldier who might have been there and one officer who would have been there, would have died there.  We do not know whether persons in leadership positions have been replaced by different persons who will make different decisions.  She predicted the date of death of Jonathan Randall, and then her actions changed it.  She wants to change history such that the uprising will not occur because she knows that in her world it was a disaster for Scotland, but she does not know that events have not already been altered in a way that has set in motion a Scottish victory.  She simply cannot know with certainty that the history of her world is the future of this one.  She can only bet that it is, and hope she is right.  She has a better basis for her predictions than most, but this is not her world and the changes already made might rather abruptly move it in a completely different direction.  That happens when you tamper with parallel dimensions; it must already be happening in some ways, and the trick is having enough information to know what those are.  It does not mean the story doesn’t work; it only means that Claire doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does.

So Outlander works as a parallel dimension theory story, but is very doubtful as a time travel story.

In fairness to the author, I am not certain she cares.  The original H. G. Wells time travel book The Time Machine was not really about time travel but about letting the author comment on the current state of the world by extrapolating a future world and bringing a then-modern traveler there to observe it.  There are stories in which time travel itself is part of the plot, but that one and this one are examples of time travel used to bring a modern observer into a story set in another age.  As such, it works quite well.

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#34: Happy Old Year

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #34, on the subject of Happy Old Year.

At this time of year, readers are bombarded with “year in review” pieces, part of the media’s need to have news even when there is no news, to make news out of nonsense and trivia–the reason Time Magazine first created its “Man of the Year” issue (the first was Adolph Hitler).  When I was at The Examiner, I began doing something of the same thing, creating indices of articles from the year for readers who missed something or who vaguely remember something.  Quite a bit has been published this year, and it might help to have a bit of a review of it all, as some of you might have missed some of it.  We have articles in quite a few categories.

The web log is of course self-sorting, and you can find articles in its various categories by following the category links, or in subjects by following tag links; still, it will be worth touching on those pieces here, and there are also quite a few “static pages”, that is, regular web pages added to the site, that you might have missed.

At the beginning of the year we were still writing for The Examiner; all of that has been republished here, much of it which was originally done in serialized format consolidated into larger articles.  My reasons for that are explained here on the blog in #8:  Open Letter to the Editors of The Examiner, if you missed them.  It is still hoped that the Patreon campaign will pick up the slack and pay the bills needed to support continuing the efforts here at M. J. Young Net.

img0034MJYNet

Let’s start with the law and politics pieces.  This is a good place to start, because when at the beginning of the year we moved everything from The Examiner, we included a final New Jersey Political Buzz Index Early 2015, with articles on Coalition Government, Broadcasting, Marriage Law Articles, Judiciary, Internet Law, Congress, Discrimination, Election Law, Search and Seizure, Presidential, Health Care, and Insurrection, most subjects covering several articles consolidated with other articles, along with links to earlier indices.  There was also a new main law/politics index page, appropriately Articles on Law and Politics, covering the old and the new, and we added a static page to that, continuing a series on tax we had begun previously, What’s Wrong with the Flat Tax?.

We’ve also had a number of law and politics posts on this blog, including

We also covered New Jersey’s 2015 off-year election with a couple posts, #12:  The 2015 Election, and #15:  The 2015 Election Results.

There were a few web log posts that were on Bible/theology subjects, particularly last week’s #32:  Celebrating Christmas, about why we celebrate, and why this particular day; plus some that were both political and theological, including #3:  Reality versus Experience, #23:  Armageddon and Presidential Politics, and #24:  Religious Liberty and Gay Rights:  A Definitive Problem.

Then there was the time travel material.  This also included some that were originally published at The Examiner and moved here, sometimes consolidated into single pieces.  We started the year with a serialized (and now consolidated) analysis of Predestination, followed by one of Project Almanac.  We also gave a nod to (Some of) The Best Time Travel Comedies and (Some of) The Best Time Travel Thrillers, before moving here.

Once here, we began our temporal insights with a couple of web log posts, the first #6:  Terminator Genisys Quick Temporal Survey, and then #17:  Interstellar Quick Temporal Survey, both thanks to the generosity of readers who provided for us to see these films.  We eventually managed to add a new analysis to the web site, Terminator Genisys, one of the longest and most complicated analyses we have yet done–but we were not done.  Remembering that our original analysis of the first two films in the franchise made some suggestions concerning a future direction for the series, and having commented on the problems with continuing it after the latest installment, we wrote #28:  A Terminator Vision, giving some ideas for a next film.  Then in response to a reply to the analysis, we added #31:  A Genisys Multiverse, explaining why we don’t think a multiverse-type solution resolves the problems of the film.

The site was expanded on another long-neglected front, the Stories from the Verse section:  the directors of Valdron Inc gave me permission to serialize Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel; as of today, the first forty-seven of one hundred twenty-six chapters (they’re mostly short chapters) have been published; there is an index which conveniently lists all the chapters from the first to the most recent published in the left column and from the most recent to the first in the right, so that you can begin at the beginning if you have not read it at all, or find where you left off going backwards if you’ve read most of it.  The chapters also link to each other for convenient page turning.

I don’t know whether it makes it more interesting or takes away some of the magic, but I also began running a set of “behind the writings” blog posts to accompany the novel.  These are my recollections of the process that brought the pages to life–where I got some of the ideas, my interactions with the editor and other pre-publication readers,, changes that were made, and how it all came to be.  There are now seven of them in print–

  1. #18:  A Novel Comic Milestone,

  2. #20:  Becoming Novel,
  3. #22:  Getting Into Characters,
  4. #25:  Novel Changes,
  5. #27:  A Novel Continuation,
  6. #30:  Novel Directions,
  7. #33:  Novel Struggles,

–and I expect to publish another tomorrow for the next six chapters.

Looking at the few posts that have not yet fit in one of these categories, whether logic or trivia or something else, one, #29:  Saving the Elite, was really advice for writing a certain kind of story.  Our first post in the blog, #1:  Probabilities and Solitaire, was a bit of a lesson in probabilities in card games, and #26:  The Cream in My Coffee applied physics to how you lighten and sweeten your hot beverages.

So that’s what we’ve been doing this year, or at least, that’s the part that sticks above the water.  We’ve answered questions by e-mail, posted to Facebook (and PInterest and Twitter and LinkedIn and MySpace and Google+ and IMDB and GoodReads and who knows where else), kept the Bible study going, worked on the novels, and tried to keep the home fires burning at the same time.  That’s all important, but somewhat ephemeral–it passes with time faster than that which is published.  Here’s hoping that you’ve benefited in some way from something I wrote this year, and that you’ll continue encouraging me in the year ahead.

Happy old year.

Happy new year.

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#31: A Genisys Multiverse

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #31, on the subject of A Genisys Multiverse.

A Temporal Anomalies reader using the handle “Sanddragon939” at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has there posted a response to the recent Terminator Genisys analysis.  You can read it there; I am responding to it here, partly because IMDB periodically deletes old posts (I do not know how old) and partly because I am aware that one letter represents–well, a lot of people (in radio, we said a hundred) who agree but did not write, and they are more likely to find my response here than there.

First, let me say thank you for reading, and for your comments, particularly the positive ones.  I would not wish to appear unappreciative, since I do appreciate your comments.  Most of Sand Dragon’s comments were positive, agreeing with or at least commending points made in the article, and that’s actually unusual–people usually write to criticize more than to critique, and it always encourages me to read that something I wrote benefited someone.

With that said, there are apparently some points of disagreement, which actually all connect to each other, so let’s see if we can connect them and make sense of them.

img0031Genisys

They begin with his point #1, where he says,

But Genisys appears to be a ‘reboot’ of sorts, which acknowledges only the continuity of the first film (while using elements from the second). The world we are presented with at the start of Genisys appears to be a 2029 extrapolated from the events of T1 in 1984 and T1 alone…with Judgement Day having occurred in 1997….what we see in the film clearly appears to be the future of the original film which has been disrupted by the T-5000.

I certainly agree, with the caveat that the T-5000 has to have originated somewhere, and it certainly is not original to that 2029 arising solely from the events of the first film.  Given its abilities, it evidently post-dates the creation of the T-X, which in turn post-dates the creation of the T-1000, and if Skynet had a T-1000 in 2029 it would not have sent a T-800 to do what a T-1000 could do more reliably.  It has had time to anticipate this moment, and to prepare for it.

That means that the future has to advance without the intervention of the T-5000 before the T-5000 can arrive to change things.  We thus have every reason to believe that the events of the previous films must have happened, even if the arrival of the T-5000 then causes them to “unhappen”.

Also, it must be noted that at some point someone sent Pops back to protect Sarah and someone sent a T-1000 back to kill her, and there is a T-1000 trying to kill Kyle Reese, all of which make no sense once Skynet compromises John Conner–Skynet needs him now, so it needs Sarah and Kyle alive.  The alternative is that the roles are reversed, the T-1000(s) trying to kill Kyle and Sarah come from the resistance and Pops was sent by Skynet–which theory falls apart when Pops opposes T-John.  Thus there must be a period after 2029 in which John is still a problem to Skynet and a benefit to the resistance.

Sand Dragon has an answer to that, but it is in point #6, where he begins,

Ultimately though, I feel that this film really doesn’t work under anything remotely resembling your particular ‘replacement theory’ of time….

–a point with which I am in agreement.  It also does not work under fixed time, and I’m inclined to say that it does not work under standard parallel or divergent dimension theories.  (Anyone who is lost is referred to the theory section of the site, and particularly to Theory 102, which covers much of this and links to related articles.)  The fundamental evidence for that conclusion is that under those types of multiple dimension theories anyone or anything sent to “the past” winds up in a different universe, and those who did the sending logically conclude that time travel does not work so they do not attempt it again.  A significant point in our article is that the film does things which don’t work under any theory of time.  However, here Sand Dragon disagrees:

…it best works under some variant of the divergent timeline/Multiverse model (indeed, personally, I feel the Terminator films have always worked on such a model).

Here we are speaking of something like Dr. Manhattan’s multiverse (from the film The Watchmen, discussed in some detail there).

Sand Dragon gives three points in support of this:

  1. “The film itself suggests this with John’s argument that as an ‘exile in time’, he is no longer causally dependent on Kyle and Sarah.”  Of course, John could be–and I maintain is–mistaken about this, but it does support that concept if it is correct.
  2. “The only way Kyle can ‘see into’ an alternate timeline is if that timeline exists in some form alongside the timeline he started from”, which is the point we are going to have to address below.
  3. “…the filmmakers have suggested the T-5000 may have originated in ‘another dimension’ and not just the future past 2029”, which is what we call “parole evidence”, a legal term that means it is not within the document itself and therefore is not relevant unless the document itself cannot be understood without it.  It has always been this site’s practice to exclude such evidence–what the actors said, what happened in the original book or the novelization, what happens in the director’s cut–and there is no compelling reason to change that rule in the present instance.  It is sufficient that such a theory is plausible; that the filmmakers cite it as their model is only valuable if the film actually works under that model and not otherwise.

I maintain it does not work under that model, or at least does not work better.

The multiverse model in question is one that is dear to my heart–as author of Multiverser:  The Game, I relied very much on that sort of Sliders/sideways time concept I first saw in a John Pertwee Doctor Who episode decades ago:  the notion that any possible (or indeed, any conceivable) universe must exist, because random differences between universes would create divergences.  Since I joined the Multiverser creative process in 1992 and published it in 1997, I’ve had over two decades and some serious motivation to consider the idea.  I find it severely inadequate, for reasons already addressed in the theory pages.  However, it is specifically inadequate in the present case, because it requires the existence of a universe predicated on a sequence of events which appear themselves to be impossible.

The critical event is that just before his thirteenth birthday, when something called Genisys was about to be activated, Kyle Reese was told by someone, “Remember, Genisys is Skynet.  When Genisys comes online judgment day begins.  You can kill Skynet before it’s born.”  At issue for us is what has to have happened for that to follow.

It is certainly possible that some sort of cloud-based operating system named Genisys could come online in 2017; Google might be working on something like that even now as it unseats MicroSoft from the title of Evil Cyber Empire.  However, in order for it to become Skynet in 2017, it has to have been tweaked by the emmissary sent from the future–who is identified as John Conner, whom we have distinguished as “T-John” because he has been converted into a type of terminator.  That, though, requires that John Conner was born, and he was born in 1984 as son of Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese.  Kyle will only be sent to the past if Skynet sends a terminator to kill Sarah, and if that happens we have the 1997 launch.  We cannot have a universe in which T-John travels to 2014 that did not include his birth in 1984 and the earlier launches.

The alternative here is that Genisys would become Skynet eventually–not in 2017, but perhaps by 2020, in the same way that we were told it took most of a month for the 1997 version of Skynet to become sentient and launch its attacks but the 2004 version did it in minutes.  Young Kyle then comes from a world in which that happened at some point–but then, who told him it was going to happen?  We might guess that at some future moment someone–perhaps even his older self–comes from the future to deliver that message, but where is that person in the new timeline?  Perhaps the point is that having gone to the past to warn his younger self, this Kyle unmade his older self, and had to be replaced by the Kyle from the other dimension–but we’ve got several consistency problems happening here.  Why should that future Kyle land in his own past, but our Kyle land in someone else’s past?  If the original messenger came from a different future, why wouldn’t he still arrive from that future?

And behind it all is still the problem of how the message given to that Kyle in that universe wound up in the mind of our Kyle in a different universe.

Ultimately, the problem is a predestination paradox.  Multiverse theory believers think that their notion of “every possible universe exists” makes them immune to this, but it only makes the problem more complicated:  in order for any version of Kyle in any universe to have been told by any version of Kyle from any universe that Genisys is Skynet, he must have remembered that he was so told, and thus he will only be told if he was told, and whatever only happens if it happens does not happen.  It does not actually matter that the Kyle who tells is in one universe and the Kyle who is told is in another:  before Kyle in our universe can tell the Kyle in some other universe that Genisys is Skynet, he must receive that memory from the Kyle he is going to tell, and that means he must already have told him before–sequentially–he knew, which he clearly cannot have done.

So I think even under this multiverse theory, Terminator Genisys fails.

As they say, your mileage may vary.

Footnote:  Sand Dragon also said, “I dare say the possibility exists that some version of Kate may have been introduced in the Genisys sequel (which I doubt will happen now).”  I’m not sure whether he means that there won’t be a sequel or that Kate won’t be in it, but whatever he means he apparently knows something I do not know–not really surprising, but I’ll have to see what I can learn.  Add a comment below (the second response block) or send me an e-mail (the first block) if you know something.  Thanks for reading, and for your encouragement and support.

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#28: A Terminator Vision

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #28, on the subject of A Terminator Vision.

I just spent probably more than a month trying to unravel all the timelines that are impacted by Terminator Genisys, and if you’re a temporal anomalies fan you’ve probably already seen that analysis.  At the end of it, and probably the last part I wrote (it doesn’t always work that way), I suggested that if the Terminator series wants to move forward from here, they’ll need new heroes–but maybe they could have the new hero be Sarah Conner’s second child.  That got things moving in the back of my mind, and I’ve envisioned some thoughts for a future direction for the Terminator series.  I don’t know if anyone in Hollywood takes me seriously (someone once commented that Terminator 3:  Rise of the Machines seemed to get some of its ideas from my analysis of the first two films, but the similarities seem to me to be superficial), but I think these ideas might be workable.

img0028Terminator

Termnator Genisys dropped Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese in 2017, where as far as they know Skynet has been stopped; we of course know better, partly because we were shown the surviving Genisys core in the rubble beneath Cyberdyne, and partly because if there is no future Skynet time unravels entirely.  It appears that they are going to fall in love, and that John Conner will be born.  Of course, John Conner can no longer be the hero–in 2029 he was compromised by what some have identified as a T-5000 and converted into what we’re calling “T-John”.  If we want a future, we need new heroes.

However, there is no reason why Sarah and Kyle wouldn’t give them to us.  They’re settling down to raise a child somewhere in California, but there’s no reason they would not raise several children, to create and prepare a small army against the seemingly inevitable assault of the machines.

I see them raising four children.  The eldest, of course, is John Conner (California law permits parents to give a child any name of their choosing, as long as it is not done with intent to commit fraud), and takes his place in the stories (although he’s a bit young in 2029, if he’s born in 2018 he might just fit the bill).  They give him the Conner surname because they know that he is going to matter to the resistance at least in its early days.  I envision the second child as a daughter, and they’ll name her after her mother, Sarah Reese.  The third child is a bit quiet and withdrawn, overshadowed by his to-be-famous brother but named for his father Kyle; eventually he’ll take his mother’s maiden name to be known as Kyle Conner, so that people know he is brother and son in the famous family.  Improbably, the family breaks boy-girl-boy-girl, and the youngest I’ll name Madolyn–because I like the notion of “Mad Reese” as the wild child renegade freedom fighter, who will be our new hero.

That’s the future; the present is where our story is set–or the near future present.  Sarah Conner gave birth to John Conner sometime in 2018, and she, along with Kyle and Pops, has been raising him.  In 2020, John now two, Sarah gives birth to Sarah (Reese), so now she has a toddler and an infant–and just about that time our movie begins.  A terminator arrives–it should be something different, but not one of the “T-5000” nanite types.  Its mission is to kill Sarah Reese and prevent the births of Kyle and Maddie.  (From the perspective of an analyst, I’m thinking that Sarah Reese must have been killed in this timeline, so that Maddie has a reason to save someone but did not lose her parents or eldest brother.)  From the future, Maddie sends help.  Of course, Maddie is an impulsive type.  She knows that Pops is there, and she could send another terminator to work with him (and gee, if she sends a repurposed T-1000 and it survives, they can replace the actor in the next film because of course the T-1000 can look like anyone), but I’m thinking she sends a person with knowledge of the weaknesses of terminators–or maybe she sends herself.  That would be interesting–“Mom, Dad, I haven’t been born yet, but I’ve come back from the future to keep you alive so that I will be.”  That might be interesting.  It creates a fascinating dynamic–what parent would let his kid die to save him, but what if the kid will never be born if the parent dies?

These ideas do not in any way save the problems in Terminator Genisys, but they do provide a potential future direction for the series.  So I’ve floated the idea, let’s see if anyone notices.

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#17: Interstellar Quick Temporal Survey

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #17, on the subject of Interstellar Quick Temporal Survey.

As we did with Termintor Genisys, we are giving a quick one-shot look at the temporal issues in Interstellar–a star-studded science fiction epic film well worth seeing, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn, and Matt Damon in supporting roles behind a lead of Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in completely serious (not romantic or comedy) roles.  I must thank Lamont for providing the opportunity to view a digital copy.  I am not certain this time whether there will be a followup full analysis, because there probably is not that much that won’t be covered in this short piece, and the digital copy is not so good, with occasional garbled dialogue.  Still, the essence of it came through.

img0017interstellar

For most of the movie, time travel is not an issue.  It does an excellent job of presenting the time dilation effects of relativity–how gravity and motion cause time to run at different rates for persons in different frames of reference.  As a result, The main characters, McConaughey’s Cooper and Hathaway’s Brand sent on a spaceflight through a wormhole to another galaxy then spending a few hours on a planet orbiting a black hole where every hour on the surface is seven years back on the ship and back on earth, are still young when his children are grown.  I was a bit uncertain about their experience of passing through the wormhole.  My understanding is that there is no time, and thus no temporal experience, of such a trip, but movies have usually treated it otherwise because it is a difficult experience even to imagine, nevermind to show.

This story almost made it, with only two minor problems that might be fatal.  Our time travel elements appear when Cooper sacrifices himself, falling into a black hole with the booster rocket that propels Brand toward the safety of her destination.  There is a bit of a flaw in that:  the only ways dropping the booster gives the ship more momentum are if the ship is pushing against the booster as it releases (the “kick” of recoil on a gun) or if the ship has other engines and wants to reduce mass (the reason launch rockets drop spent stages).  Either of those might have been so, but that was not the explanation given.  In any case, Cooper and the robot TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) both cross the event horizon and find themselves in what seems to be an engineered Escheresque three-dimensional space, by means of which Cooper discovers that he can get behind the bookcase in his daughter Murphy’s room before he left for this flight and become the “ghost” she always said was in there, knocking books off her bookcase and tampering with things in the room to some small degree.  He gives her the coordinates he needs to find the secret NASA installation at which he will become the pilot of this trip–our first problem, an obvious predestination paradox–and also gives her the data the robot recorded on crossing the event horizon of the black hole in a form she will unravel decades later when she is at NASA working with Brand’s father on a formula to crack gravity and so move huge numbers of people into space and on toward new colonies.  He and the robot are then somehow dumped out of the black hole into open space not far from the colonies his now ancient and dying daughter Murphy made possible near Saturn, and is last seen in a stolen ship rocketing toward the wormhole to go find Brand at the new colony she is establishing (with zygote stockpile technology) on the one planet that proved potentially successful as a colony world.

The way to see it is to begin with an original history.

Earth is dying, but there is a secret NASA project working on a way to move humanity into space.  Some unidentified “they” with scientific and engineering skills far superior to our own abruptly drops a wormhole near Saturn, connected to a distant galaxy with a dozen planets having the potential to support life, and a dozen survey teams are sent.  Three of these on planets fairly near each other are still sending regular beacon signals, so NASA sends a crew, equipped with stasis chambers that slow aging, through the wormhole to determine which, if any, will be the best place for the new human colony.

The complication is that somehow Cooper and Murphy have to discover, or be discovered by, NASA.  There is no obvious simple solution for this.  NASA at this point is a top secret clandestine organization which had been disbanded by the government because it cost too much to maintain, and then restarted covertly because even though no one could politically defend spending money on it, it became obvious that the earth was dying and humanity’s one hope was to go elsewhere.  Cooper does not know NASA exists.  Meanwhile, they know who he is, and would love to have someone with his piloting skills at the helm of this flight, but with so many deaths and such poor records they do not believe he is alive.  Somehow, though, one of them has to do something that catches the attention of the other.  Perhaps NASA launches some kind of test rocket that Cooper observes, and he backtracks the trajectory.  Perhaps Cooper’s self-driving farm machinery comes to the attention of someone at NASA, and they discover who he is.  These are unlikely scenarios, but something must have happened that connected Cooper to NASA.

Making it worse, Cooper must believe that it was unreliable:  when he gets the chance to send a message to himself in the past, he sends the location of NASA, which means that however he got that location in the original history he wanted himself to have it sooner, or more precisely, or in some way that meant sending it to himself was better than relying on however he found it in the original history.  He thus erases the original cause, and thereafter believes that he would not have found NASA had he not sent himself the coordinates.

From there everything works, as long as we accept the premise that there is some alien life form which has taken an interest in the preservation and advancement of humanity, the “they” which builds the wormhole and which creates the three-dimensional space inside the black hole to enable Cooper and TARS to communicate to the past.  At the moment Cooper decides that “they” are actually a future version of “we”, that the wormhole and dimensional engineering inside the black hole were created by humans from the future, the story collapses.  Before humanity can travel through the wormhole to the distant galaxy and establish colonies in space that will enable us to survive someone must create the wormhole, and if we are dependent upon our future selves to do this and cannot survive without it being done, we die here on earth and never become those future selves.  The only way such a scenario works is under fixed time theory–a bleak fatalistic conception of time under which the story works, but which in its essence undermines the hopeful future the film presents.  It also requires acceptance of the uncaused cause of multiple events which only happen because they cause themselves.

Of course, the solution to this is simple:  Cooper is wrong.  The wormhole and the dimensional space were built by an alien race with an interest in preserving humanity.  They never introduce themselves because the dimensional differences between them and us are overwhelming, but they did this in part so that we would know they exist.  Leave it to humans to conclude that the help that saved us came from ourselves, and miss the point entirely.

So that’s the story.

Meanwhile, a DVD copy of Terminator Genisys has arrived, and I am going to return to work on that analysis, although apparently I am going to have to do a bit of review of the previous movies in the series to get a few points right.  For other work on time travel and time travel movies, see the site section Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies and other articles in the time travel and time travel movies sections of this blog.

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#8: Open Letter to the Editors of The Examiner

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #8, on the subject of Open Letter to the Editors of The Examiner.

I have not actually told the editors of The Examiner that I am not writing for them anymore.  I am not certain that they care; I am not certain that they will ever even notice.  However, I have some hope that as I explain it to you, my readers, they might hear about it and learn something from it.  In my defense, part of the reason I have not told them is that it has become incredibly difficult to converse with them–communication in their direction seems never to reach anyone, or at least not to get anything like a suitable reply.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

img0008Examiner

Let’s start by saying that I have worked with quite a few editors over the years, on my books and on articles submitted to various websites.  Some of them have treated my work in a perfunctory way, that is, glancing over it and publishing it.  Some have made what they thought were corrections and then published without checking with me–I have tried to make a point of informing editors that I expect final approval of anything that bears my name, because I have had some change grammatically correct text they did not understand to grammatically incorrect text that did not say what I meant.  The best editors, honestly, are those who tear apart what I write and give me detailed feedback, then explain and interact until we agree on a final text.

I started at The Examiner in the middle of 2009.  Animator and illustrator Jim Denaxas pointed me that direction, suggesting that the popular Temporal Anomalies materials might earn a paycheck there, so I contacted them and was almost immediately given the title Time Travel Films Examiner.  At that time, it seemed that the editorial system amounted to a writer wrote, published, and promoted his articles, and if the editors got around to reading them they would sometimes push an article to the front page for extra attention, sometimes pull an article and send a message to the writer.  I never had the latter happen; I only recall the former occurring once.  In any case, it was evident that our remuneration was dependent upon readership, and our readership was dependent upon self-promotion; but the turnaround was fast, as one could post an article and promote it immediately.

At some point the process got a bit more complicated, because it was strongly recommended that we begin using Pinterest to promote our articles.  I was already using Facebook and MySpace, but Pinterest meant having images in the articles.  They provided access to Getty Images, but this was only good for national and international news and major entertainment events.  For a writer covering time travel movies, there was nothing there.  I also was given the title New Jersey Political Buzz Examiner in 2012, so I could publish some work on the “Birther” issue, and the Getty images were a bit more useful for that as long as the coverage was national–but there were never available photos of, for example, the candidates running against the incumbent governor and senator.  The writing process just got more difficult, because I had to hunt for pictures.  I was largely dependent on promotional photos for a lot of my material.  (It got a bit more complicated when they changed the Getty Image system:  originally it was possible to search for photos in advance of publication at my leisure, but the altered system made finding the image part of the publishing process, an added complication.)

It should be noted that this effort was bringing me pennies a day.  It should also be noted that I was alway in the top quarter in both of my categories, and frequently in the top ten percent, so it wasn’t as if most writers were making more than I.  I put in a lot of time for a very little money, and it was not increasing significantly.  Of course, I had written many things for no money, so this was better.

The problem occurred this year, 2015, because someone at The Examiner thought they ought to tighten the editorial process.  That’s fine; they have the right to improve quality that way.  I think they recognized the inconvenience, because they promised quick turnaround–the inconvenience, obviously, was that now when an author published an article, he had to wait perhaps half an hour to an hour to learn whether it had been approved, and he could not promote it before that.  Previously when an article was submitted, it appeared immediately, and the author was provided with automated systems to push it onto Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn.  Now, for that few cents a day, he had to waste time waiting for approval.

That might not have been too egregious, but the editorial process itself was a shambles.

The first glitch I hit arose because I had begun republishing articles from M. J. Young Net to The Examiner.  To do this, I had to serialize them, and I ran them as weekly posts on different days of the week from my regular posts.  Abruptly I was notified that the third article in a series (for which the first two had posted and their were two more to come) could not be published because I was not permitted to publish material from some other web site.  Of course, I could not well publish the fourth part without the third, and since I was doing both law and time travel materials it put both in question, but my original agreement with The Examiner stated that I owned the articles and could publish them elsewhere, so there was no logic to an objection that I could not publish articles at The Examiner that I owned but had previously published elsewhere.  I sent a message to attempt to get an answer, and the only answer I got was that someone apparently had changed his mind and restored the article before the person I contacted looked at it–but it took over a week to get that answer.

A few days later I published another “republished” article.  I had been putting an opening paragraph in italics introducing the articles and the fact that they had been previously published but were now being edited for serialization.  I had done this with every such article to this point–but this time I got blocked with a note that said I overused italics.  I could not help wondering whether the editor had even read the article, but with some grumbling to myself that it was going to create an inconsistent appearance I removed the italics from the opening paragraphs and resubmitted it.  A few hours later I received a notice that said they were not certain I had permission to use the image.

I don’t know whether I had permission to use the image; it was a movie poster, published for promotional purposes, so I’m assuming the movie producers wanted it circulated.  I can understand blocking the use of an image if it might not be a legitimate use (after all, that Image A.S.C.A.P. proposal has not been adopted).  My objection is that they should have said that on the first submission–I’ve already put several hours into what should be a ten minute publishing process, and they want me to put several more hours into it.  It is one thing if in fixing one part of an article you break something else; it is entirely different if the editor is going to raise one objection at a time, over the course of what can turn into hours or even days.  This is supposed to be published at the speed of Internet News.  It is not supposed to take me all day to earn those few pennies.

So I wish The Examiner and its editors and its remaining writers well, but am removing my articles from their publication.  After all, after having refused to publish one of my articles they had the nerve to remind me that if I don’t publish them often enough I don’t get paid for traffic to the old ones, and I don’t see any equity in allowing them to profit from my old work when they put up such obstacles to the new and failed to provide a means for two-way communication between the writers and the editors.

The Examiner materials have now all been relocated to Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies and to the law section of M. J. Young Net.

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