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Strangelove

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  1. Warning! Spoilers abound! I can't remember the last time I was in a film that kept you at a sprinting pace for two hours. Star Trek was a great science fiction show, and the beginnings of a new series (more likely a trilogy) of movies. There is so much right with this film that I can completely ignore anything that is wrong with it. A lot of other reviews will talk about how the engineering set looks cheap, or how there was gratuitous use of lens flare, or how Chekov's accent might be too strong. The great thing about this movie, is that none of that matters, and none of that detracts from the best Star Trek film ever, for fans or non-fans. Some people have said that this is just making Star Trek a run of the mill action film. I completely disagree. Transformers was just an action film, it was not "about" anything profound. This was different, this was about personal character growth, and learning how and why people can meet their full potential. The two main characters in the film, Kirk and Spock, are both clearly competent but both held back by both the death of a father figure for Kirk, and the death of the mother figure for Spock as well as the absence and coldness of his father. Kirk learns that he can overcome circumstances to be a true leader, and Spock begins to truly balance his Vulcan-Human elements to learn that what he always knew was not a defect truly is his greatest strength. The supporting characters all shine. We all knew Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koening were class actors, but their characters did always reflect that, sometimes reduced to being cliche stereotypes (which was still progressive for the 1960's.) Here, though, every character is someone who you care about and who you want the future movies to tell you more about. Uhura is confident and brilliant, but also has a clear feminine side which is not submissive. Sulu is more of an action hero here but that is still a huge step up from just piloting the ship. Chekov is a brilliant wunderkind whose services are invaluable. Scotty is humorous (like the original) and a miracle worker, literally. While McCoy did not get top billing the way Kirk and Spock did, he is clearly not only an important part of the "troika" but also has a much stronger relationship to Kirk. Finally, the Spock-Uhura romance is not only a brilliant new idea, but also a great homage to how it was meant to be Spock who would have the first inter-racial kiss on TV in "Plato's Stepchildren" before it was changed to Kirk. The movie is full of brilliant new ideas and is no longer constrained by canon dictating the look, feel, or plot of the movie. From now on, every consequence matters, and from now on, the directors and writers of the TV show can make the 23rd century look like the future. This movie may not be overloaded with themes and morals the way "The Wrath of Khan" or "The Undiscovered Country" were, but it still has a Star Trek sensibility about the greatness for human (and alien) achievement and that timeless sense that the Characters really will "boldy go where no man has gone before." This film has been a long time coming, and the franchise is better for it.
  2. Don't be so quick to believe that, a lot of that sort of news gets started in the same rumor mills that try to peddle the idea that Obama's birth certificate is actually from Kenya. Little Green Footballs on this, (not exactly a liberal site...)
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/opinion/...amp;ref=opinion Ahhh... no small government conservatives any more! As they say, straight from the horses mouth!
  4. The guy is truly a Paleo-Conservative. Not a Libertarian, and certainly not an Objectivist. Hence, his followers are also nuts: http://wonkette.com/348081/internal-paulta...aut-endorsement
  5. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/12/national...amp;oref=slogin This is no different then if we were subtly discourage people from a working environment because they are not communist enough. What that sort of ridiculousness can be legally tolerated in an university (if it is a private institution) the idea that our government pays lip service to this sort of weakening of our defense, I feel, is representative of the kinds of dangers that come with letting evangelicals get leadership roles.
  6. The fact that there is even discussion about changing the constitution to define marriage. The establishment of "faith based initiatives". More importantly, there is the informal level of power which has been given to the religious right which manifests itself in destructive ways. For example, the Defense Department's contract with Blackwater did not come because Backwater proved they would be best for the job in Iraq, but because their CEO is an evangelical and that was good enough for them. It has also meant that our Air Force academy is full of evangelical preachers who are trying to associate military success with religious devotion.
  7. I have always felt that in an un-ideal situation where you have to chose between either living under economic constraints (Socialism, Keynsianism, Communism, etc.) or social constraints (Theocracy) that living with the economic constraints would be better. Living with high taxes is bad, but at least it might be possible to find loopholes in the system and unless its gone so far gone that it is collapsing, for a while I could at least live and at least what I do beyond my paycheck is not being regulated Under a Christian theocracy, or a government friendly to Christianity, my private life, how I conduct my business with other people without involving finance, whether a hypothetical wife of mine would want an abortion, whether I would not want my hypothetical child to attend a school that is not using religious imagery, will all come under scrutiny. Having what I do in the privacy of my own home, what to chose to believe and what ideas I want to spread, having that be regulated or prevented is worse then just having a smaller pay check. Both are bad, but at least in the American situation, one seems worse then the other.
  8. How can this not be a philosophical issue? It would seem that this is a dramatization of many of the conflicts present in Atlas Shrugged (members of society wishing to illegitimately profit from the creative and productive energies of others). I would normally expect Objectivists to blog in support of those ideas. So I am curious if the reason that they don't is because of how this is being done by a union, or if there is some other reason that prevents them from rushing to the defense of the writers as productive and creative members of the industry.
  9. I am a bit surprised that no one in the Objectivists blogosphere seems to have provided any commentary on the current strike being undertaken by the Writers Guild of America (I make this statement based on the meta blog on this forum's frontpage) I am also surprised that no ARI editorial or letter to the editor has been posted yet explaining their view. There is only one article on Capmag.com which even approaches the issue (which itself has a disclaimer explaining that this is an older article from 2001). It argues that the issue is not the terms of the strikers, but government protection provided to unions and guilds and how this prevents individuals who are not members of unions to be able to enter into contract with the producers and directors of television shows and movies: http://capmag.com/article.asp?ID=5040 While I agree with that legal point, I am reminded of what Thomas Sowell has said in some of his other articles, that there is nothing fundamentally wrong if workers decide to picket and present demands for changes in employment terms as a unified group (whether such action makes economic sense is another argument.) Additionally, I find myself sympathetic to the demands of the strikers. As I understand it, the current rules regarding royalties that writers get for their work does not take into account the sales from DVDs or from content being posted online. For example, if a TV show is broadcasted to a traditional TV set, the network would have to pay the writers some sort of royalty. However, if the network decides to put the show up online instead, they have no obligation to either credit the writers or pay them. An example of this are the recent Battlestar Galactica "webisodes", short two-minute episodes which were put online. The writers wanted credit for their work but the network deemed it was simply "promotional material" and so did not need to be credited. To understand why getting credit is important, it is my understanding that if they are not credited the writers can not put the work they did on their resumes, after all, how can they claim it if they were not credited? Now as the lines between "TV" and "Internet Content" become more and more blurred, the likely hood that more of more material will be distributed online through digital means (Youtube etc) becomes greater, so it makes sense that if the existing writer's guild contract with the networks is not able to deal with this accordingly, then a change must be made, and if negotiations to come to an agreement that deal with this reality fail, then a strike to demonstrate the problems that will come if the writers can not write (and thus fill the networks with badly conceived reality TV shows) does not seem completely unreasonable. At this point I feel tempted to make a comparison between the writer's strike on their creative output and the Atlas Shrugged "Strike of the Mind" but I feel that the similarities are obvious enough. With this in mind, why have not more Objectivists come to the defense of the writers for trying to get the necessary economic and contractual credit that the writers deserve for their creative work? Is it because the defense of the need to reward the creative energies of the writers is being taken up by a union? And so there is just an implicit (and possibly legitimate) guarded bias against taking the same side as a union? Is it because this does not resolve the underlying tensions about the powers that unions have under the current laws? Or is it because they don't think that there is a case to be made in getting all worked up about new forms of media distribution?
  10. While I support what it would mean for Blackwater to be contracted to do work for the government in theory, in practice, I am not sure that the experiment has been a good one. For a start, the CEO of Blackwater is a fundamentalist Christian who has given a lot of a money to Republican candidates to advance their socially conservative agenda. As I understand it, in return for his loyalty to the cause, Blackwater won many no-bid contracts. In a perfect world, I would expect the contracts to at least require different companies to prove their capabilities, the same way in which Airbus and Boeing had to compete when presenting potential designs for the Joint Strike Fighter. In addition, as many people have pointed out earlier, since this sort of contracting is fairly new, the legalese has not been brought up to standard yet, so while the regular US Military has a system set up in order to properly maintain discipline and in order to make sure the soldiers are doing what their mission requires, it is unclear whether or not Blackwater is being held to similar standards. So while I expect the government to get smarter at how it deals with contractors in the future, for now at least, they seem to have some work to do.
  11. Gene Roddenbury was less of a Communist and more of a atheist humanist. So while his vision of the future downplays property and currency, he certainly does not take the Communist rhetoric to back up his ideas. I would agree with the sentiment that while in general very good, TNG did get occasionally too politically correct and technobabble filled. The characters were also more boring and it was after Gene died that all of a sudden the characters were actually allowed to be interesting as opposed to boy scouts. Hmmm.... I would think that Objectivists would be much more averse to B5. (I am not an O'ist.) The series tends to have a very positive portrayal of religion, especially with the quote "Faith and Reason are like the shoes on your feet, you go further with both then just one." I agree that B5 was helped by its intricate plot but its not a perfect show. A lot of Season 1 is simply unwatchable and there are a lot of episodes which need to be watched for the plot but are just not that good, like "Walkabout." There are some very boring characters as well like Sinclair. Even Sheridan is not that engaging. The best three characters were probably Ivanova, G'kar, and Londo. Garibaldi is alright but spends a lot of time just being grumpy. Lennier and Delen are cool though I have always felt that her courtship with Sheridan was rather bland. Also, although I do love the general over-arching ark in B5 (which has since been a model used very well in Battlestar Galactica) I do think that there is a benefit to having an episodic series. The entire original Star Trek was entirely episodic but that did not make it less of a good show.
  12. It is interesting that while the "ideal" world would see economic freedom coupled with social freedom and limited government, that it seems that businesses these days are alright with being politically and socially oppressed as long as they get greater economic freedom. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6573527.stm
  13. Although I have not seen the show, as far as I can tell, only one episode in the series is explicitly focused on Global Warming.
  14. Interestingly , the last one in that list (the deformed one) is actually of a real artist who was born without arms.
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