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Smithson Thus Far... ·

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: There, there...they'll fit you with a Vulcan cannon soon enough, that'll compensate. Or overcompensate.
Alycia Shedd (leeshajoy) says: Oddly enough, I was just reading about homunculus mapping on Wikipedia before I clicked over to read Skin Horse. Go figure.
Ray Dillinger (bear) says: Dude's got a point. Well.... I guess he used to. Anyway, he's got a right to be annoyed about it.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: He's going to be total prick about it, and I can't blame him. Frankly, the whole situation is ridickulous.
Camille Dumas (camidumas) says: I think you meant redickuless.  Although that could imply it's happened to him before.
Rob (rrreed) says: Obviously, Dr. Lee didn't think the implications of putting a human being in permanent, direct control of a military vehicle all way through. Doesn't this make Nick an employee of the U.S. armed forces, with all the benefits? His entire body is now a multi-million (billion?) dollar prosthesis that will require constant maintenance—he could bankrupt the V.A.long-term health care system all by himself!

And we're reminded once again of the mysterious individual who crashed Nick's VR, "Gold Bug"…
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: What about the Flu Bug? XD
Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says: Poor old Nick. The constant discrepancy between what he intends to say and what he hears himself saying is going to drive him round the cuddling bend.
Terry Smith (wcfan) says: leeshajoy - where in WP?  I can't find it!
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: I first learned of homunculus mapping in Carla Speed McNeil's King of the Cats (
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay" by Otis Redding)

My world was all in my head;
Now I'm wishin' that I just was dead!
I'm a brain ... without a bod;
Somethin' tells me that I've thrown a rod!

Dammit dude, I don't have a dick!
Man, it was mine!  This sh*t is sick!
Dammit dude, I don't have a dick!
It was mi-i-i-ine ...

I know I didn't use him much,
But still we liked to keep in touch!
He was a real stand-up guy;
With my joystick, man I could fly!
(repeat chorus)

Alycia Shedd (leeshajoy) says: wcfan - look up "cortical homunculus." There are pictures!
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: Why would he miss what he obviously never used?
Chasing Darkness (chasingdarkness) says:

Gold Bug...hmm

Over thanksgiving, I was reading my nephew a Richard Scarey book (abou t cars and such) and my cousin told me that there's a little yellow bug hiding on every page called the gold bug, "Where's Waldo" stlye.

*searches through recent archives*

kaaaay, so much for that idea...worth a try, at least. must say, though, that i'm VERY GLAD there are no Richard Scarey refrences in Skin Horse. That would be...scarey. (oops) 

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Look on the bright side, Nick. At least you can still say it.
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

Chasing Darkness says: "(...)I was reading my nephew a Richard Scarey book(...)"


(Sorry to be the pedant, but I kinda liked those books...)

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Sleepyjohn: I'm sure Nick go a lot of use out of it, even if he wasn't sharing with someone else.

Oh! Oh! "Richard Scarry's Biggest Book of Missing Penises Ever!"

Carl Muckenhoupt (baf) says: Of course, the original Nick Chopper was concerned with his prosthetic body's lack of a heart.  I guess our Nick has different notions of what the organ of affection is.
Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says: I really need to go read the Oz books.  Nick (the) Chopper is too great a pun to go missing.
Josh MacLeod (alcar) says:

"initial goal" .... makes me wonder about other goals.

"Eventually, we were hoping to make a kiss-arse flight simulator to compete with microsoft..."

Rob (rrreed) says: I'm waiting to see why Anasigma wants a aircraft piloted by an on-board human brain instead of a UAV. Having a brain directly connected to the flight control system is one thing (faster reflex time, better spacial awareness, etc.), but why put it into a high-threat, high-g environment along with all the necessary life support system and armor when you could stick it near the theater operations in a secure bunker, tank, or support aircraft linked to a UAV via (near) line-of-sight high-speed data transmission to minimize lag? Just switch the brain over to the another UAV when one gets shot down!

(Yes, I actually think about these things.)

Unless the Osprey is the support vehicle for the aircraft Nick would actually be flying. But then why was he connected to its on-board cameras, microphone(s) and speaker(s)?

(Someone please stop me before I start sketching on napkins…)
Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says: Rob: I think that the sort of person who cares whether the goals and methodology of the project make sense or not doesn't work for Anasigma.
crazy dave (crazydave) says: The brains in planes stay mainly off the reins. This is a world of mad science. They should have jamming fields that would prevent a coherent signal reaching a UAV.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

If the transition was supposed to be "arms to wings" ... why did they choose a helicopter?  Who has arms circling overhead?  Or was Nick actually Snoopy in a former life?

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

I'm waiting to see why Anasigma wants a aircraft piloted by an on-board human brain instead of a UAV   In a word: Motivation!


And it's a cockpit because that's where you keep your joystick.


And it's a good thing Tip wasn't around when Dr.  Lee was saying you don't think with your ---  or he might have to prove differently.   Where did he go, anyway?

Joshua Kronengold (mneme) says:

I really, really like Dr. Lee.  As a character, I mean, not a person.


Can we keep her?


Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says: The Whirligig is built on the airframe of a V-22 Osprey, which, in addition to its rotors, does indeed have wings, after a fashion.
Rob (rrreed) says: @Pete: Point. But you're still going to have to convince me that the brain's life support system isn't going to take up more mass and volume than the human body it's replacing. Plus you'd still have something with the consistency of oatmeal subjected to high-g loads. It might handle more gees due to substantially reduced blood pooling, but it's still not going to handle as much as solid state electronics.
Dave Corbett (mr_dave) says:

@Rob: Clearly Whirligig is a complete, autonomous deployment unit. The Osprey is a transport, capable of carrying a UAV (or perhaps several); it would be redundant to assign a meat-puppet to fly a plane which already has a pilot wired into its flight systems.

The only missing component is the physical deployment of the UAVs from the Osprey's hold, but perhaps Anasigma has heard rumours of the Misfit Toys...? 

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

For what it's worth, Nick's life-support system doesn't take up a lot of space because, hey, science fiction. In fact, that cylinder between the two seats in the cockpit? That's where his brain is.

The brain is located in the aircraft rather than remotely because USAF Black Ops expects the craft to travel long distances; this is a heavy transport craft or bomber (or laser-cannon-er) that can cross oceans, not a light craft for short air-to-air combat. You wouldn't want Nick's remote commands to get intercepted by other cybernetic battle brains, would you? TERRORIST cybernetic battle brains?
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Somebody's missing the point:


Rob (rrreed) says: The Eau de Doritos™ is a nice touch. Next thing you know, she'll be finding ramen in the heat exchanger!
Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says:

Zerhakker -> Hacker -> Chopper.   I love the multidimensionality of the pun that is his name.

And, really, if they wanted a warrior, they should have chosen a warrior.  Or, if this is more of a proof of concept model, they should expect problems like this to crop up. 

butsuri - (butsuri) says: Since no-one else has mentioned it, it's kind of neat to see Nick learning to overcome his swear-filter through puns & innuendo.
Michael Martin (mcmartin) says: It's one of the most important parts of growing up.
Connor Harris (connor) says: A cloned brain of Teddy Roosevelt would have made a better bloodthirsty death-chopper. Maybe too good of a sentient death-chopper...
Naomi H (starbright) says: Why don't they use a warrior? Because their last attempt at making a warrior was Unity.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Why don't they use a warrior? Because their last attempt at making a warrior was Unity.

I hadn't thought of that, but it's probably true. For Unity, they grew a perfect fightin' brain and then had trouble getting it to do anything but fight. For this go-around, they apparently decided to start with a brain that had the skills and talents they wanted, then program in the fightin'. Possibly the only thing that went wrong was that the program crashed halfway through.

It's like how the producers of the "Superman" movie were reluctant to cast Christopher Reeve because he was too skinny, but then they realized it was easier to make an actor lift weights than teach a bodybuilder how to act. Wait, it's actually nothing like that, and now I've insulted my governor.
Corey Klemow (cklemow_g) says:

Science news story relevant to Nick's situation:

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says: @Shaenon: GAAAAHH!!   Now I have this mental image of Arnold in the 1978 movie ... "I am fyting for ze Truuz, und ze Chustiss, und ze Ameriken Vay ..."  Who's next, Will Ferrell as Batman?
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

"Taco flavored doritos and my orange lifevest, Dad caught a hundred pound sturgeon on a twenty pound test. . ."

Also- this is kind of reminiscent of "Professor Madblood and The Wetware Interface," except with more funding, (slightly) more compentance, and  (arguably) better planning on the part of the device's creators.


Brian Rogers (billionsix) says:

You know what? I can't find Taco flavored Doritos anymore. I miss them.

I see bags that have taco ones mixed in with some other flavor, but I don't want that. 

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

I suppose any level of planning at all trumps Madblood's decision to build a giant robot that turns into an AMC Gremlin and outfit it with a brain he picked up at the bus station lost-and-found.

You know, most Narbonic storylines sound kind of weird when I try to describe them.
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says:

Weird? Define weird. :) The storylines from Goats are weird; Narbonic storylines are just - picaresque by comparison. :) 

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

I'm not trying to win any weirdness contest, nor would I want to. Just commenting.
Rob (rrreed) says: Hmm… Either Anasigma has a really lousy IT department, or Gold Bug is better at covering its hacking tracks than Nick is…
Rob (rrreed) says: Let me guess—no one in the Whirligig project has watched Robocop 2.

Always remember Rule #48: "I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge."
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: Sweetheart is cross-eyed from looking at the brain case. Snork.
John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Who needs respect and kindness when you've got blueberry waffles?
Rob (rrreed) says: Unity's a perfect example of the need for Rule #48. "Blueberry waffles" are the only thing keeping her in check with regards to Dr. Lee, whereas Sweetheart is her friend. What Sweetheart will do with the knowledge of "blueberry waffles" remains to be seen, however.
Terry Smith (wcfan) says: Well, I imagine he'll tell Gavote. She kind of has to.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: @rrreed: If Sweetheart were more evil, I suspect she'd have Unity make breakfast a lot.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

OK, this would be a perfect opportunity to parody the theme song from "Friends", except I already used that tune.

The Evil Overlord List was probably created by the U.S. Government.  It's full of useful information, which no one in authority actually reads.

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Suddenly had a vision of Nick's brain and Spock's brain ( from "Spock's Brain", ST:TOS) in adjacent vats.  But my imagination fails at the resulting conversation.

Basil Jelly (basil_jelly) says:

The software is always the problem.


Camille Dumas (camidumas) says: is basil jelly good?
Daniel Roby (aserialpeace) says:

hey I was just going through the old narbonic archives and I noticed that Helen mentions that they can't make clones of Mell because she sold all her DNA samples to a biowepons program (Dec 27 2005). Anasigma?

also, if that's true I wonder if Untiy will meet her mom (well, Mell would count as one of her 'parents' at least) at some point.

Jon W. (kd7sov) says:

"...The end of the week, at this rate," yes?

A thought as I'm reading the Narbonic archives: could Gold Bug be Dave's sentient meme? (mentioned the Tuesday following Victorian Narbonic Chapter 20, during the Battle for the Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil arc)

Now, I don't know much at all about Serenity, but surely a sentient chunk of data on the Internet could gain information and grow and change in unexpected ways - especially considering certain data about its creator.

Rob (rrreed) says: Could have been worse, could have been an Altair 8800. That would have been insulting. I hope Dr. Lee remembered to put the //c's handle down to prevent overheating!

Tells you a lot about Anasigma's budget priorities, though. Billions for a battlecraft, but a pittance for pals!
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: This explains a few things.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

True story:  I used to listen to a radio station where the announcer kept reading ads for a store that carried the "Apple Eleven-Sixty-Five".  It took me a while to realize that he must have been reading from hand-written copy, and that he was talking about an Apple II GS.

Artificial intelligence is no match for natural home-grown stupidity.

Wayne (wayne) says: Heh.  A friend of mine had a IIC.  Won it as a door prize or something.  He used it so hard he burned out 3 of 'em, found their best use was as a doorstop.
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: So that's where you all come from...
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: Subtle, Shaenon. :)
Jeremy Berg (pisceneanteater) says:

I about died laughing at this one.  Awesome.

It's the way that Dr. Lee is completely serious about all this that makes it.

Rob (rrreed) says: Personally, I think a Sinclair ZX-81 (a.k.a. Timex Sinclair 1000) made a better doorstop. Its slim wedge shape was perfect for pinning doors in place.
Rob (rrreed) says: Frink?
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Ptang, woo woo!
Michael Brewer (wusemajor) says:

Personally, I want to know how a simple cyborg is a worse perversion of science than a Zombie Head.  I also want to know how they define "non-human sentient."  I mean, if Unity counts, then the dividing line can't be based on something as simple as having human tissue/dna.  One hopes that there is some government agency that handles Humans Altered by Mad Science if Skin Horse isn't allowed to help.  Perhaps he could try contacting the Henchman's union?  If nothing else, they might have some useful pamphlets.

James Rice (jhrice) says: A Pinky and the Brain refrence *and* a lemur refrence in one strip. Damn. That's good. Now we need an Adolescence of P-1 refrence.
Carl Muckenhoupt (baf) says: Zombie heads are clearly a perversion of voodoo, not science.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Eegad.
Terry Volkirch (terry) says:

I'm back and I'm rockin' to the FLCL soundtrack. Yeah!

 Ginny! Let's dance. C'mon. Dance with me. :)

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

We don't need no Anasigma;
We don't need no Dr. Lee;
This anti-social helicopter;
Sweetheart, let him talk to me ...
Hey!  Sweetheart!  Puppet therapy!
All in all, I think
Dr. Wilkin's appalled!

(TUNE: "The Wall" by Pink Floyd)

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

@James: Wow. I thought I was the only one who remembered The Adolescence of P1. Do you remember the movie Paper Man?

Hmmm. When Sweetheart speaks of Tip "playing therapist", does she mean with Nick or with Ginny? "Yes, Virginia. There is a Mrs. Claus."

Joyce Melton (halfelven) says:

I think Unity's brain may be a cloned one, therefore she's not simply an altered human.

I find Sweetheart's insistence on the rules to be very doggy, if not dogged. :) Dogs do truly love to have a rule for everything and everything by the rules.

Rob (rrreed) says:

"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"

"I think so, Brain, but how will we get a pair of Abe Vigoda's pants?"
Mark Orr (agentoracle) says:

Unity knows *exactly* what to say.

That wasn't it... but she still *knows*.

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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile