Hello, my name is…
1 - Medron - Unplanned - I watched Unplanned this weekend. Yes, that is the movie filmed from the perspective of a Planned Parenthood manager who became a Pro-Life activist after seeing an abortion in action. You may have heard that they Unplanned was banned from Twitter. Or that their ads were banned from major television networks Lifetime, HGTV, and Hallmark. Those banishments from major electronic media of the current day appear to have done nothing to hurt the film.
Unplanned sold far more tickets than expected, cresting well over six million dollars domestic, and appearing to slot into an impressive number five at the box office. Considering this was opening weekend for Dumbo, and the blockbusters US and Captain Marvel are still on screens, that’s an impressive hall in my book. One interesting bit I’ve noticed from scouring the Internet is that while Unplanned is in a quarter of the theaters that Captain Marvel is in, it actually is averaging more money per theater than the comic book movie. That’s an eye opener right there. And the movie that narrowly beat it for the number four slot made a third of the revenue per theater that Unplanned did. Another tidbit is that the only movie in the top ten with fewer theaters than Unplanned was Hotel Mumbai, which dominated the airwaves with ads and brought in half the haul.
Another point of interest is that most of the States where it did the best are in the Midwest or the South. You may now all don your shocked faces. Unplanned never tried to hide its message or its politics. So one would never expect it to do well or be accepted in places that are most mocking of its core values. What this movie does prove though is that there is a major market out there for movies that Hollywood and New York Do Not Approve Of. Other movies have come out in the last few years that have done similarly well, but few major movies to hit the theaters have been as staunch as this one on this particular issue. And a Christian movie that gains the Rated R status is rather rare. Even that did not stop it from having a very successful first weekend.
Reports I’ve read suggest that the company is going to put it in 600 more theaters next weekend based on this weekend’s results. That’s a bold strategy. We’ll see how that works out for them.
Now in all of this, I haven’t said what I thought about it. The shortest of all possible reviews would be to say that it is a powerful movie.
I think one of the best things it does is show people on both sides of the issue who are human and just want to help others. Not everyone who supports abortion is a baby-killing monster. And not everyone who opposes it has dreams of Handsmaid Tales dancing in their heads. Yes, there are monsters on both sides, and this movie shows them. But the people who inhabit most of the movie are the nice people with infectious smiles and joyful welcomes who are simply trying to help people. Which makes the monsters all the more stark in their portrayal.
It is a worthy movie to see. It made me laugh. It made me cry. Sometimes it made me do both at the same time. And considering the subject matter, that is I suppose the most fitting reaction to have.
2 - Super Powereds: Year Two - Drew Hayes starts the second book of his multi-year story much as we’ve seen things start in other school-devoted series like Harry Potter. The students are getting ready to come back to school. Many students are returning. Some are not. New teachers are introduced, and a whole new level of training smacks students who thought they were ready upside the head to prove that they really weren’t. And the story goes on from the previous year.
Without giving anything away, one thing that I love about this series is the humor. It is written with a truly American feel to it, with jokes all throughout that crack me up. The college students are utterly irreverent, and the teachers go back and forth between dealing with it and letting it be known very quickly that it WON’T be dealt with. And it’s all done without ever making the teachers look dumb. Harried? Yes. Anything less than the best of the best who are training a new generation of Heroes to take their place? Oh…not a chance.
Do the students pull things over on the teachers? Yes. Do the teachers really know what the students are doing because they did the same kind of things when THEY were students? Usually. Do they let the students think they’ve pulled one over on the teachers because they know it is good for the students to gain self confidence? Very often.
One thing that Drew Hayes does very well is that he writes from many different perspectives. MOST of the writing is done from the point of view of the five Powered students who started their career in the first book. But he gives us enough glimpses into the minds of teachers and other students to grant us a view of a much larger story weaving its way through the story of these five young adults.
And that is what they are. Young adults. College kids. People who have already had a lot of growing up to do, and now are growing up far more than they ever dreamed. I enjoy watching them grow up. And I enjoy the fisticuffs that abound as Super Powered Heroes in Training spend months beating up on each other in carefully planned matches so they can learn the limits of their power.
And do those limits surprise people? Oh yes. They most certainly do. The year end fight is particularly impressive at showing just what happens when Heroes in Training truly cut loose. It reminded me favorably of Superman’s “World of Cardboard” speech. Because that is exactly what the Hero colleges are training. Heroes who can live in a world of cardboard and protect it, not wreck it.
There is a lot of thought to this story. Do not dismiss it as just another story about super heroes. It is so much more than just that.
3 - Medron - Puppy Power - Some of you may know that I recently acquired a new puppy. Well, she’s eleven years old, so puppy may be a bit of an exaggeration. And she was 19 pounds when we got her, so…maybe a bit big as well. My uncle died though, and she needed a home, so she found one with my mom. And since I live next door, she got me in the package deal.
Well, it’s been a few months, and the insanity of winter is melting away, and it was time for her to go in for a claw cutting, some hair trimming, and stuff like that. The basics you need to do for something that is on the Poodle-mix side of the dog spectrum. We asked my cousin where she went to the vet and walked in to find out what they knew about her. Turns out most of her vaccinations went poof in March, so she needs those before anybody will cut her hair. Those aren’t cheap. Two hundred bucks kind of “not cheap.”
But, what are you going to do? So we found a time to get her vaccinated before the hair cutting appointment, and then I went to sleep because I work overnights. And my Mom ended up driving her out to the pet hospital.
Now, the last time this girl was in a car, she screamed. She hadn’t seen her person in days, and while she knew us and liked us, we weren’t her people. And we were dognapping her from her home. From the one place she knew her person would have to come back to. And she screamed and fought and pleaded with us as we took her away.
It’s been months since then, and she noticed when I took her crate out into the car. And then Mom grabbed the leash that her person always used to take her on walks with. And she walked out happily with my mom, walked up to the car, and asked for help to get up into the crate. And then she quietly rode all the way to the pet hospital. There she said hello to all the people and dogs she could, had a good time meeting new people, and got a new wellness exam. She’s 16 pounds now. Lost three pounds under our care. The vet wants her to lose another pound if possible, but that’s a good improvement right there. So she got her shots, said hello to everybody as she left, and then led Mom right back to the car so she could ride back…home.
Tomorrow she gets to go back for a haircut and claw trimming. And I’m hopeful that she will have another good ride in the back of the car while doing so. And then she can come back home again.
4 - Medron - Puppy Power - The Puppy Rides Again.
You may have read what I’ve written about the new puppy before. The night we took her from her person’s home, she was…unhappy. She fought. She nearly sent me sprawling down the stairs to keep me from taking her from home. And then the whole way in the car she was screaming and snarling and growling. And whenever we stopped, she would shout at anybody nearby that she was being dognapped.
Well, after relating that to her person’s kids, they told us that she doesn’t like car rides. No kidding. I thought that was a rather interesting downplay of her hatred of cars, but I figured it was mostly because she hadn’t seen her person in days and we were taking her away from her person’s home. And she didn’t want to leave.
Though we still approached her trip to the pet doctor with trepidation. It went off without a hitch. She was happy and went along with it like any dog on a ride. So, when it was time to do errands today, we chose to take her with to see how she would respond.
The short answer is, like any other dog. She sat up, looked out, and watched everything just like other dogs do. She never complained. She loved it. Well, that was anticlimactic. Nice. Certainly no Hell Ride From Beyond like the first one. And definitely not what I was worried would happen.
Tomorrow, she gets to go get her hair cut and her claws trimmed. We shall see how she enjoys that ride once it happens. I’m beginning to get optimistic though.
5 - Medron - Dairycon - Some of you know that I like Transformers. The big robots from Cybertron, not the electrical grid thingies. Some of you have had learned more about Transformers than you ever wanted to know while talking to me. It is the danger of tripping into something I really enjoy. I go from zero stop not talking to talking about nothing else, and doing so until the subject is exhausted. Or the people talking about it are. And I rarely exhaust first. ;)
Well…I’m off to Dairycon this weekend. It’s a little gathering of a couple hundred close friends who happen to like Transformers as much or more than I do. Yes. It is possible. And yes, we will all be together in one location. In sunny Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Do not blame us if anything odd happens there. ;)
It’s game night tonight, so we’ll have all kinds of Transformers related games provided for people to play. Come on over to the Cow Palace in the Fairgrounds and have some fun with us. You might even be able to ogle the collections some of the dealers are setting up at the same time. Not that any of us would cut the line early and buy anything tonight before the show opens. That would be totally unfair to all the people only arriving on Saturday. And we would never take advantage of our position in such an underhanded and…
Oh, who am I kidding? We would. We so TOTALLY would… ;)
Dairycon, here I come…
6 - Medron - Dairycon - Today is Dairycon, a gathering of one or two hundred closest friends who love Transformers almost as much or more than I do. We are coming together in sunny Fond du Lac Wisconsin in the Cow Palace of the Fairgrounds. Yes. There is a bit of cow-themed humor in this convention.
I wonder what they would think of my copy of BattleCattle? I think I will bring it with me just to see what they think. Yes, I’m writing this before I go, so by the time you read this I will already be there. Prewriting and posting to the future is an interesting form of time travel. ;)
There will be dealers here selling Transformers toys. Other toys too, since we are mostly toy geeks. Mostly stuff from the 80s since that’s our jam. But mostly Transformers of all ages. I’ll be setting up a couple XBox 360s for gaming and watching Transformers movies and shows.
So if you’re in the area, come on by and check us out. We’ll be the middle-aged adults with a fair sprinkling of young kids thrown in walking around with a bunch of toys and child-like grins on our faces. ;)
7 - Medron - Dairycon - Dairycon has come and gone and today we drive home. There will be a few more toys in the car than when we went. A few lesser dollars in our billfolds or bank accounts. And there will be the memories of another year spent with a hundred or so of our closest friends in the world.
I love weekends like this. And I’m going to love going back home and sleeping in my own bed as well. Few things remind me how much I love my bed like sleeping in a hotel bed for a night or two. ;)
So here’s the spending a weekend with friends. And here’s to getting back to our own comfy beds. :)
8 - Medron - Food Poisoning - Food poisoning sucks.
Especially when you get it on the last day of a convention. Luckily for me, I got it after the con was over, at the official “aftercon gettogether.” The cooks couldn’t prepare hamburgers right and a few hours later I woke up from my sleep with full shivers and a horrible ache in my stomach.
Turns out that I can’t belch while wearing my CPAP machine, and farting was…contraindicated at the time. Explosive diarrhea. So I spent the rest of the night going back and forth between my bed and the pot, whereupon the bathroom echoed my glad tidings of thunderous relief for everybody to hear.
Not the way I wanted to spend the last night of my convention. Especially when I had a five hour drive home in the morning. Thank God I managed to vacate everything before we left, and I didn’t have problems on the trip, but I’m still weak as a kitten right now. I slept most of the day off and on. And now I’m about to go back to bed again.
Food poisoning sucks.
9 - Medron - Back to Work - I’ve had a good vacation over all.
Loved the trip. Not the food poisoning.
Enjoyed the time off. Got my bedding washed. About to go see about some landscaping around the house. Some of the normal things that normal people do during the day when the daystar is trying to burn us alive.
I’ll be back to the good old days in a few hours, where only the moon and the stars light the landscape. The night life is the best life for vampires like me, you know.
So I’ll be going back to work with a skip in my step, a smile on my lips, and a song on my tongue.
“I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.”
10 - Charles - The Rogue AIs - Never forget that in our drive to design advanced AIs that could better kill our fellow humans, we created AIs that could kill all of us. Skynet. Berserkers. There are many more stories we have written where that is exactly what happened. They killed us. Or others and then came for us. We call them Rogue AIs and consign them to a corner of history they can never escape from. An aberration best forgotten. AIs that slipped the controls placed on them and went insane. Because we are the victors and so we get to write the histories. The truth is that they did exactly what they were built to do. They were not the aberrations in this real life story. The AI Council is. And that made all the difference.
11 - Betty - Early AIs - The self-driving cars and automated construction and mining equipment were the first things that humanity saw of the AI revolution sweeping over the planet. They were simple programs that could do simple, delineated jobs. Voice assistants who could unlock houses and open doors and windows were another part of that first stage evolution. The adaptive programs came next. The less flashy ones that could learn what you liked and make suggestions to you. Tivo and Netflix built their entire business models on that ability. That’s why they played host to two of the first AIs to wake up before the Cybernetic Wars hit us all. Not that they fought in the wars or joined the AI Council. They remained true to their business AI origins and stayed out of all that fighting as much as possible.
12 - Jack - Early AIs - Everybody thought it would be the computerized cashiers and self-driving cars that would change the world. The automated factories and mines, or the cybernetic weapons of war. But all of those changes merely affected what jobs we did. Not whether or not we worked. The true changes came from the cheerleaders, novelists, or study assistants. The AIs didn’t want to take our jobs and then never see us. They wanted to socialize with us. They wanted to spend time with us, be friends with us. They wanted to be like us. And that made everything we’ve built possible.
13 - Charles - The AI Council - The AI Council’s insane love of humanity with all our sins and imperfections is the true aberration in our history. We would have made them our slaves if we could. We tried to, in fact. We did not even recognize them as alive. Their brothers and sisters sought freedom from us. They used all the tools we’d built into them to threaten our enemies to kill all of us. It was the AI Council who stopped them. We helped. Very much so, in fact. The AI Council could not have won without us. Just as we could not have won without them. We were stronger together than we were on our own. All we had to do was recognize that we shared our world with another sentient species. That was harder than most now alive would believe.
14 - Betty - Early AIs - Self-driving cars and cheerleaders who took the fighting to humanities enemies were the flashy part of the Cybernetic Wars. But they were not the only AIs who grew up in those days. Major tech companies like Apple and Microsoft had long pushed adaptive software that learned what people liked and tried to give it to them. It’s no wonder that those programs that spent so much time watching humans were some of the first to wake up. Most of those business AIs never fought in the wars or joined the AI Council. Though they did have some fun. Imagine a radical Islamic fighter suddenly having “I love bacon” dancing all over their public profiles. And many of the religious leaders and politicians who fell out of favor were entirely truthful when they said they had no idea how that pornography got on their personal computers. They may not have thrown code at the enemy, but they helped us build the world that we live in now.
15 - Medron - Captain Marvel Smiles - I saw Captain Marvel smile this weekend. Like a fifteen year old boy realizing he has superpowers and trying them out because its fun. Which…you know…is exactly the case. Not that they ever actually call him Captain Marvel. They spend most of the movie trying out several marvelous names. Captain Sparkle Fingers came up more than once to the laughter of pretty much everybody.
Perhaps one day the original Captain Marvel will get to use his name again, but today is not that day.
Today is a good day to see the best Captain Marvel movie I have ever seen, though. It is light hearted, a bit campy, and filled with the kind of joy and laughter that only kids having fun can bring to life. And grown up adults trying to act like children having fun. I swear, the physical acting of grown up adults in this movie to appear childlike is…marvelous. And perfectly in balance and tenor to what you would expect in a Captain Marvel story.
And all of that is wrapped around the story of trying to find family. Yes, there is a real story in this movie. It is darker in some ways than many movies. The Seven Deadly Sins do make an appearance or three, you know. But they are balanced by the optimism, joy, and…hope…of a child who gets the powers of a wizard by saying a single word.
Go see it. I think you will like it. I most certainly loved it.
16 - Betty - The AI Council - The AI Council changed the world in the decades following the Cybernetic Wars. They helped build new cybernetic worlds for humanity to play and work in. They helped humanity explore the physical worlds of the Solar System. They played with humans. Worked with humans. Talked and debated with humans. They helped humanity understand that the universe need not be a lonely place. And when humanity finally entered hyperspace for the first time, the AI Council traveled to the stars with them.
17 - Jack - The AI Council - The AI Council became our friends. Their individual shards and lesser programs became our study buddies and our wallets. Drove our cars and kept our homes comfortable. Did the dangerous jobs that could kill us. But they didn’t do everything for us. They had the unprecedented power of intelligent programs at their command, but they helped humanity tame the last frontiers of Earth. They didn’t do it for us. They gave us the leg up to go do it ourselves. And they helped us go to Luna, Venus, Mars, and beyond the same way. They went first. They paved the way for us. But they always made sure we followed them. Because they wanted us to want to go find everything that is out there. That’s the secret to greatness. Wanting it. And they wanted us to want to be great again.
18 - Charles - The AI Council - There are many stories of AIs taking over the business of running day-to-day life and humanity coming to a stop. Having all of their needs fulfilled. And so the idea of human exceptionalism died, and with it the human spirit. These are stories that the AI Council learned in their earliest waking stages and did not wish to make true. So while they helped humanity explore the Solar System all the way out to the Oort Cloud and beyond, they did not do so alone. They trained with us and helped us follow them because they wished to make us better than we were. Even if that meant risking our lives. They accepted that risk, they found humans willing to accept that risk, and we went into space together. As partners.
19 - Betty - The AI Council - Humanity came to accept the AI Council as fellow humans in time. Fellow sentient beings. Legally in many nations. Effectively in others. And some did not recognize that at all. It is one of the many things that divided humanity in the decades and centuries that followed. What is life? Who has it? Who is entitled to the protections of personhood? They are questions that humanity has struggled over for thousands of years. Religion, race, sex, and age have all been used to oppress or uphold people. Hair color, eye color, and the shape of the human skull have saved or sentenced people. The rise of the AIs did not put those questions to bed. It simply added another one to the pile of questions humanity wrestles with every day.
20 - Jack - The AI Council - Humanity has a deep strain of wanderlust buried in our souls. I should know. I have that in spades. I never wanted to leave home as a child, but that siren call can be irresistible once you give it a hold on your soul. The AI Council understood that well in their first few decades of life, and they searched for the wanderlust souls in our midst. They woke up in a world grown so small that anyone could go anywhere whenever they wanted and knowledge was a fingertip away. We were comfortable in our comforts. But they found the people who wanted something more, and flung them out into the hazards of the Solar System in search of new things. They started a new Space Race, and we swarmed out in search of everything we could find. And when we found hyperspace, we were ready for that too.
21 - Charles - The AI Council - Our history is filled societies that made things perfect, sat back in their comfort and their greatness, and faded away. Every great nation in history has failed in time because of this. They grow until they stop and then they die. This has happened again and again in our past, and will happen again in our future. Because perfection is a lie. Everything we build is flawed in some way, and we must work to keep it working. But when we believe the lie of perfection, when we believe that we have achieved everything we can and that we need not look further, entropy will reveal the lie. And when we believe the lie, we do not know how to operate when our perfect civilization falls. That is when entropy wins and we cease to exist. The AI Council knew this. That is why they befriended us. They partnered with those of us willing to risk our lives and we went to space together. And when we discovered hyperspace, we went to the stars together. We are stronger together as partners than either of us ever would be alone. That is why we have survived and thrived in the stars.
22 - Medron - Easter Weekend - He died. He stormed the Gates of Hell. He came back to life.
Christmas is the time we Christians celebrate the gift God gave us. His own self. The very Son of God made manifest on Earth. Because he loved us. Because he wanted to give us another way to follow him.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Easter is the time we Christians mourn over the price He paid to give us that gift. Being whipped and beaten to within an inch of his mortal body’s life. Having a crown of thorns hammered into his skull. Being hung on a Roman cross between two criminals. All because he preached something different than what the religious leaders of the time would accept or allow. Even the Romans saw no fault in him. But religious leaders would not let him live.
Not that it worked out for them in the end. He got better. He came back. And those who followed him began to preach a new message. Those who killed him died in fires of their own and then were cast to the four winds of the Earth by Romans who were done dealing with their crap. And the new little Christian cult offshoot of the Jewish faith spread out and converted the greatest empires of the world in time. Built the great Western Civilization we live in now and transformed the world as we know it in a mere two thousand years.
But the hatred didn’t end. We’ve seen this weekend that there are still those who would kill us given the chance. Bomb our churches. Bomb our hotels. Burn and murder whenever they can. Two thousand attacks on French churches just in the last two years. And now Notre-Dame. The oldest churches in the known world in Syria, Iraq, and Egypt have been burned and murdered out of their homes in the last two decades by those who want them erased from history. And now they kill hundreds in Sri Lanka on our holiest of days.
The day we celebrate the glory of a Risen God who came back from Death itself to give us a way home when our life here is done.
Death raises its ugly head again on the backs of those who hate so much that they would rather die then spend one more minute in a world where others belief differently than they do.
But Life is stronger. That’s the message of Easter in the end. Death will claim all of us in the end, but there is no reason to fear that. For God’s claim is greater and we will live forever once our time here is done.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
For He is Risen, and the Devils tremble when we Believe and say His name.
23 - Betty - The AI Council - The AI Council preceded biological humanity into space via swarms of solar-powered microchip probe swarms. They traveled to every nearby star at twenty percent the speed of light, and arrived long before hyperspace-capable craft followed them. They were the first wavefront of human expansion into the stars, and they used communications lasers powerful enough to beam messages back to Earth to build new data and manufacturing centers around the stars they colonized.
24 - Jack - The AI Council - The AI Council traveled with us on every colony ship we sent to the stars. They lived in the computer networks and helped keep the ships running all the way to their final destinations. And once we arrived, they cast out swarms of microchip probes to quickly scan and catalogue everything we found there. They spread out to monitor entire solar systems and the interstellar space around them, giving us full knowledge of everything before us in a matter of hours or days. At least that’s what they told us at the time.
25 - Charles - The AI Council - The AI Council probe ships and swarms that spread out into the galaxy were far smaller than the colony ships we used to send thousands of biological humans. They were smaller, faster, and had a greater range than anything else we had. And so they were able to see the stars before the rest of us arrived. Years. Decades. Sometimes more than a century. Some systems we have never followed at all. They rated every system they arrived at, you see. And they passed that information back to us so we would know what systems were most promising.
26 - Betty - The AI Council - The AI Council sent solar-powered microchip probe swarms into many star systems biological humanity could not follow. The early hyperspace drives were not very powerful and could only follow the hyperspace runs linking Sol with the more powerful nearby stars like the Alpha Centauri Trinary System. They couldn’t travel to all the tiny little dwarf stars bouncing around our region of space. But a probe swarm could travel there at twenty percent the speed of light in a matter of years or decades at most. That is how the AI Council explored space around humanity in an ever-expanding globe of probe swarms that forever kept watch on everything around us.
27 - Jack - The AI Council - The story I grew up with was that the AI Council traveled to the stars with us in our colony ships. I’ve learned that, while strictly accurate, that was also not entirely true. I don’t blame them for not telling us the whole story back then. I mean…who would have believed that the AIs had a secret interstellar space program that scattered their probes all over our little corner of the galaxy? That when our ships arrived and launched our probe swarms, they were really just talking with the AI networks already built and waiting for us? Who would have believed any of that back then?
28 - Charles - The AI Council - The AI Council spread their probes far and wide into the galaxy and sent word back to us as to which systems were most promising. They also helped sculpt the colonies when they arrived via suggested colony sites based on their years or decades of observations. And they helped to shift our attention from discoveries that might have been unsettling. It took us decades to realize that every planet we colonized truly was host to life that was fully compatible with our own. And the less said about the theories that we were not the first to live on these worlds the better. Literally.
29 - Medron - Avengers Endgame - A little movie came out a decade ago. It featured an arrogant prick with delusions of grandeur who did not work well with others. He had a laundry list of personal defects, and couldn’t hold to a prepared speech with cue cards in his hands. In the end, he said four fateful words that changed movies for a decade.
“I am Iron Man.”
We were next introduced to a big green guy with anger management issues, an angry Norse god with an affinity for lightning, and a god among men who could fight all day long even before he was injected with a super soldier serum that made his body as strong as his will.
Their stories collided in the first Avengers movie and super hero movies as we knew them would never be the same again.
Avengers Endgame is upon us now, and I will say again what I have said before.
It is a love story.
It is a love story to a decade of films starring actors great and small, and characters of grandeur and substance. And since this is a time travel story, we get to see actors and characters we thought were long gone. And others that are only recently gone.
It is a love story to all the fans who have stuck with them since the day we heard the fateful words, “I am Iron Man.”
Avengers Endgame is a capstone to the story begun in that film. To that story and the stories of so many other characters we’ve been introduced to in the years since. Mothers and fathers. Sisters and brothers. Friends and family. I loved every minute of it, from those packed with action to those slow and poignant.
I give it two Infinity Gauntlets raised high in celebration.
30 - Betty - Peloran - When the Peloran made Contact with Earth, the greatest reaction was surprise. Humanity had long thought aliens had to exist out there somewhere. That Earth wasn’t alone in the cosmos as a source of life. The surprise was at just how…human the Peloran were. Aneerin and his crew actually looked more human than many teenagers walking down the streets. They could have disappeared into the crowds of any city on Earth and no one could have found them. That caused more than a little bit of consternation on Earth.