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Everything posted by Krattle

  1. I can't help but weigh in on this topic because I am a fluent speaker of Japanese and while I have yet to read Kayoko's translations, I plan on it. On the note of whether Japanese can fully express Ayn Rand's language, I would have to say yes. Chinese characters (kanji) and Japanese are just as versatile as the English language, and Chinese characters in particular can be combined almost infinitely to express any shade of meaning you desire. There is a word for "Objectivist" in Japanese, and it would be 客観主義者, which literally means "one who believes in objective-ism." It is pronounced Kyak'kan-shugi-sha. If you search for it on wikipedia under the Chinese language, you will get a result for the page on Objectivism. While that word may not be immediately understood by a Japanese person (who in America immediately understand what Objectivism means?), if you explained it briefly they'd get the general idea. I know I have. There are words for any number of Objectivist-related terminology: 資本主義 (shihon shugi) means Capitalism 価値絶対主義(kachi zet'tai shugi) means moral absolutism 価値相対主義 (kachi sotai shugi) means moral relativism 自己主義 (jiko shugi) means egoism This website uses the term "kyak'kan shugi sha" in reference to Ayn Rand. http://txpolisci.sakura.ne.jp/aynrand.html You may have to change your browser's character encoding to "auto detect: japanese" to actually see Japanese characters. The website covers a significant portion of Rand's thought.
  2. Bumping an old topic here... I just had to add my own comment because I find pornography, or rather, the interest in pornography very...interesting. I have never actually watched hardcore pornography because I never found the notion of watching two strangers having sex alluring. It just struck me, even as a young man, as rather disgusting. Would I want to go watch my neighbors having sex? NO! So why would I want to watch two people who are paid to do it just for my sake? Not to mention, too much of pornography is just weird, deviant fetishistic junk (e.g. S&M). Nowadays, S&M is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of weird, though. When I was young I simply found pictures of non-nude, and sometimes nude women far more intriguing than straight out sex. I was able to form an image of what I found physically attractive, something I don't think would have been possible through hardcore pornography. I know it's typically considered normal for a guy to watch pornography, but I have to ask, why would that be normal? Maybe once, but beyond that, as a regular thing? Someone who does it every day of every week for years has definitely got a psychological or social problem.
  3. You know, sometimes I wish the Cold War had turned into a real war and the entire world was torn apart by nuclear bombs, killing billions of people. That way the few people remaining would so despise Communism with every fiber of their body that, hopefully, just hopefully, there would never have been any more Communism ever again. That way Michael Moore would not exist; people would have assassinated him. But that's a dream world...
  4. Read this: http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues...care.asp#_edn19 There is a health care crisis, but it is not caused by the free market. It is the result of almost a century of government intervention in and regulation of health insurance and medicine. Of course, the solution that all the Statists are trying to force feed us is "we need more government regulation." Universal health-care will be the death knell of the private health insurance market and of even semi-affordable, reliable health care. I can only hope that there are enough citizens and members of the government who are so disgusted by this that they'll do everything they can to stop it. Thank God we have people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Rick Santelli. Frankly, I'm really surprised by the sudden uprising of people against Obama and his plans. I had no idea there were still that many true Americans left in America. Oh, and if Obama passes all of this Socialist BS - Socialist health care, "diversity czar," etc., then I hope things DO get violent, because that may be the only way we can stop this march of Communism on the US. Did you listen to Glenn Beck's show tonight about the diversity czar? That is very, very frightening stuff. To think, Vladimir Putin had a Randian economist advising him, now the US President has a self-avowed Communist advising him. Did we win the Cold War?
  5. What you say about the Star Trek and Babylon 5 is correct, but that's exactly what I was saying. I understand perfectly well the format B5 used, but I just couldn't get involved in the story because I thought it was artistically inferior to Star Trek in many respects. Stargate is way below both in my opinion. The particular format used for a show doesn't bother me so long as it is well executed, and I thought B5 did the story arc very well and that Star Trek did the stand-alone episode very well, but you can't just exchange the formats and still expect the shows to work.
  6. Oh, "pathetic fallacy" is a term that means when the environment reflects and/or reacts to the main character's emotions. "Pathetic" because it's emotions and "fallacy" because that doesn't happen in real life. For example, it may be raining when the protagonist is depressed. In this case, the mech suit was a pathetic fallacy for the protagonist's rage. It reacts, moves, and fires its guns in a way that reflects the protagonists' emotions.
  7. I just don't understand why you complain about these kinds of things. I just enjoy the shows. It's not reality! It's art so I don't expect it to be an exact copy of how reality works. As for the Bynars, you have no idea what kind of production decisions went behind the creation of their race and behind the decision not to have them appear again. For all you know there never was a decision to cut them out of the Star Trek universe. (Actually, they were mentioned in Enterprise). There are so many production decisions that go on behind a show to which the viewer is not privy, and for which you MUST account when watching any show. For instance, it was originally thought that the Borg would be a kind of insectoid race that takes over the body of a person from the inside with larvae and forces them to do their bidding. One of the episodes in Season 2 of TNG centered around a Starfleet conspiracy with just such a species, and they implied at the end that an invasion was imminent, but nothing ever happened because they dropped the idea in favor of the Borg Collective, which they thought was far more frightening. That's just one instance of production decisions changing the course of an entire show.
  8. Yeah, I agree with a lot of your rebuttals, but you missed my point about the weapons. Let me just set up the chain of events quickly 1) Alien ship stalls above Earth 2) Government sends teams onboard to investigate 3) They find aliens and their super-powerful weapons 4) The aliens come down but they get to KEEP THEIR WEAPONS That's my point. If the government wanted the weapons, they would have taken them to begin with. Yet, the aliens clearly get to keep them all because they stock pile them in their shanty town while teams of soldiers go around looking for them. They had the chance to confiscate them all when the alien ship originally arrived and the aliens were too weak to fight back because of malnutrition and disease. No matter how you think about it, it's just contrived. Also, the ship is NOT stalled because they don't have the command module. The events clearly happen in this order: 1) ship stalls, THEN hours/days/weeks later, 2) command module falls out. It's not the other way around. It just mysteriously stalled. About #18: OK, so they needed fuel to turn the module on, quite true, but then why bother lifting off and flying to the ship. Surely Christopher was smart enough to see the huge Anti-aircraft gun emplacements. He's been there for 20 years. If the mothership has a huge beam that can lift the module up to it, then just bring the mothership to the module, and lift up out of the ground just enough for the beam to take you up the rest of the way. As for the tooth scene, we already understand how personal his situation is. We know he's turning into an alien, we can see his arm and foot growing out of his clothes, and we can see his back breaking out with scales. We already know he's going to be stuck like this because he knew that before his teeth came out. Unless he gets treatment, we all know he'll turn into an alien completely. If willingly participating in genocide is part of Wikus' character, then he deserves all he can get. I felt like they didn't understand how to form his character. He's supposed to be a normal guy just blindly doing his job. He clearly thinks he's doing good for the aliens, but no one, no matter how blind they are, could think that killing babies is good for any race. That's just plain evil. That's why it's bad characterization. He's too much of a mix of normal guy blindly following orders/total evil guy killing babies. I think they went TOO far by making him do that and enjoying it.
  9. You don't seem to be understanding the gist of my argument, probably because, again, you just want to irritate me. Babylon 5 was written, from the beginning, to be a 5 year story arc. If you know, going in, that you are going to write a show like that, then you HAVE to make all past decisions have repercussions in the future. Star Trek series were always written as a string of stand-alone episodes, each one preceding the next, but since each episode was a self contained story it was not necessary for decisions in one to have an affect on another episode. Because it just wouldn't make sense. Do you follow? Let me give an example. In one episode of TNG, they tell a story about a sentient hologram - Moriarty - who learns he's a hologram and that he's onboard a Starship. That episode is resolved and the go on to the next one. I don't know what the next one is, but let's say it's about Klingons. Some Klingons come to the ship and Worf is put in a quandary about staying in Starfleet or going to live with his own race. The previous episode has NO BEARING on the next episode because the stories are totally unrelated. It is not possible for the decisions in the previous episode to have an affect on the next one because the two episodes are not part of a story arc involving the same characters, events, and conflicts. They are two entirely separate conflicts involving entirely separate sets of characters happening at entirely different times. Now do you understand? In DS9, when they introduced the Dominion as the main enemy, each episode involving them would affect the next episode involving the Dominion. BECAUSE THEY ARE RELATED. It wouldn't make sense, however, for a stand-alone episode about the Ferengi to affect an episode about the Dominion. That's the nature of a stand-alone episode. A self-contained conflict that is set up and resolved within the space of 1 hour. It's not a conflict set up in 1 hour and resolved over 5 years. That's Babylon 5. That's its unique story-telling device. It is neither better or worse than the stand-alone episode, just different. It has its own advantages and drawbacks, just like a stand-alone episode has its own.
  10. It's spelled Bynar, but that episode was not a reset button. They solved a problem using their wits...I don't see how that's a reset button. You are quite unfairly applying the fan-created term "reset button episode" to normal episodes that involve people solving problems and thus resolving a conflict. That's called resolving a conflict, like fixing the Bynar central computer. They didn't "un-do" anything that was done in another time. Reset button ONLY refers to episodes that involve catastrophic events which are then completely un-done by the end of the episode, almost always by means of time travel or sending a message back in time, and usually no one remembers what happened. Here is the list of "reset button episodes" from Memory Alpha. 1. No one remembers ...but they may experience déjà vu, receive messages from the other timeline, or even, as in Benjamin Sisko's case, remember it all but keeping it to himself. * Cause and Effect (TNG) (Enterprise D gets caught in time loop along with the 100+ year old Soyuz-class vessel and situation is resolved by sending a message back in time a few days to alert Data which solution he must choose to save the ship). * The Visitor (DS9) (Ben Sisko dies in horrible accident and we see Jake Sisko become a successful writer. He is working on a device to go back and prevent the accident). * Time and Again (VOY) (Harry finds himself back on contemporaneous Earth as an engineer and finds out that some mysterious alien race brought him there. He gets them to send him back to Voyager). * Year of Hell and Year of Hell, Part II (VOY) (Voyager is destroyed in clash with Krenim Imperium and Janeway reverses it by destroying the Krenim Time Ship that started the entire mess). * Timeless (VOY) (Experiment with slipstream warp goes wrong, Voyager crashes, all die except Harry who was ahead of Voyager in the Delta Flyer. He takes the Doctor and 7 of 9 from the crash site and works to reverse everything by sending messages back in time o stop the experiment). * Twilight (ENT) (Enterprise never completes its mission in the Expanse, Earth is destroyed, Xindi win, and remaining humans seek refuge. In the end, Archer resets everything by blowing up the Enterprise thereby eradicating the amnesia-inducing organisms in his brain). [edit] 2. Only one or a few remembers ...and has to deal with the non-understanding of a whole Universe. * Yesteryear (TAS) * Yesterday's Enterprise (TNG) (Enterprise C comes through time portal into a militarized universe where Enterprise D is a warship. They have to return the Enterprise C to the regular universe to reverse what was done). * Non Sequitur (VOY) [edit] 3. Entire ship crew remember ...and may ask themselves why they remember people who never existed. * Children of Time (DS9) * E² (ENT) * Storm Front and Storm Front, Part II (ENT) * Star Trek: First Contact (Borg go back in time to assimilate Earth, Enterprise E must go back to prevent it from happening. Technically the "reset button" is not really used in this movie). The whole point of Star Trek is that people solve problems with their wits, and have to face the consequences of their decisions should they be wrong. Janeway has to face the consequences of her decision to terminate the lifeform Tuvix in order to bring Tuvok and Neelix back into existence. She knows she's killing a sentient being, but that she'll be letting Tuvok and Neelix die if she doesn't. The crew of the Enterprise D have to face the consequences of their decision to send the Borg drone Hugh back to the Collective even though he had become an individual capable of rational thought. Rather, it was Hugh's decision to do so in order to save the Enterprise D from certain assimilation when the Borg returned. Janeway has to face the consequences of her decision to destroy the Caretaker Array and thus leave Voyager stranded in the Delta Quadrant. That's the whole premise of Voyager. Chakotay has to face the consequences of trusting Seska and bringing her onboard Voyager even though she was actually a Cardassian spy and she defected to the Kazon to help capture Voyager for their cause. That's a story arc that follows two entire seasons. There's an entire episode in Voyager about Paris facing the consequences of some horrible decision he made on an ocean planet that killed a lot of people. In the DS9 episode, "Our Man Bashir," where Julien Bashir is playing a James Bond-esque figure in a Holosuite program, he is constantly faced with the decision whether to kill his crewmembers or not. You see, a Runabout exploded when it was sabotaged and the only way to save the crewmembers - Worf, O'Brien, Sisko, Dax, and Kira - they had to store their brain patterns on station memory. Their physical forms were stored in the holodeck. So if Julien kills one of the holodeck characters, he will kill one of his friends. Don't make a stupid statement just to get my hackles up that Star Trek never has episodes about people facing the consequences of their decisions. I could go on for days about episodes involving tough choices that don't always result in the best of outcomes for the main characters. There are only 12 ACTUAL reset button episodes, out of more than 700 episodes total. The plurality of them are in Voyager, with Enterprise being the next most frequent perpetrator. TNG has only 2 actual reset button episode. Again, you are using the term far to broadly and purely for the sake of getting my hackles up. When an episode involves an conflict that is resolved at the end of an episode, that doesn't constitute a "reset button episode." That just constitutes a conflict being resolved. Reset button has to be a catastrophic event that is un-done at the end of an episode, namely the destruction of the Hero Ship, by means of time travel. The number of reset button episodes centering on time travel are: 12 out of 12. All of them take place either in an alternate reality, a mix of two realities, or past and future-present in the normal reality.
  11. Lol, yes indeed, here it comes. Babylon 5 was unique in that it was preconceived as a story arc. That was never the case with any Star Trek show, except for the last few seasons of DS9, which, even then, were only partially a story arc. Star Trek: Enterprise tried something similar with the 3rd season Xindi arc, but that only lasted a season, not a whole series. The 4th season tried very small-scale, 3 episode long story arcs. Again, nothing on the scale of Babylon 5. BUT, that does not mean I judge one method of story-telling as inherently better than another. Plot does NOT equal 5 year long story arc. Plot just means a series of actions that logically follow from a conflict between two or more people. There's nothing that says a plot has to be long; it can be very short and still be VERY entertaining. Not to mention, maybe some people don't want to spend the time to watch 5 years of shows just to get the whole of it. Personally I prefer stand-alone episodes because the writer is forced to be more concise. That is nothing more than my preference, though, because there is nothing wrong with either mode of story-telling. Star Trek was always meant to be viewed in stand-alone episodes, never as an arc. Sometimes one episode would reference a previous one, but only rarely, and it was almost always anecdotal. Therefore, I find it unreasonable to criticize Star Trek negatively for something it never set out to do. I would also not go as far as to imply that the stories are more "moral" because the characters have to face the consequences of their decisions. They had to do that all the time in Trek, too. In short, I find nothing inherently wrong with a reset-button episode because it is a necessary way of telling a time-travel story in a TV format based on stand-alone episodes. A story arc has its own limitations on the range of story-telling, and a stand-alone episode format has its own limitations as well. For instance, it can't tell a very, very long story. And don't tell me Babylon 5 steered clear of ALL reset-buttons. Babylon 4, anyone? As far as I remember that was a very blatant "reset."
  12. From an artistic standpoint I thought the film was bad. Not very bad, because it beats the crap out of Transformers, but also not good. It started out as a documentary but that was quickly dropped in favor of a straight-out action film, with only a few moments of documentary interspersed. Basically, the documentary style was used only to provide exposition, and after that was done, they used action film tropes to tell the rest of the story. Pretty lame... Story wise, it could have been much better. I was glad it didn't have a heavy-handed political message about apartheid, but at the same time, there were far too many plot holes and un-thought-out aspects of the backstory, story, and characters that I just couldn't believe any of what was going on. 1) Christopher, the single intelligent alien, extracts fuel from technology unique to his species. How did that technology get down to Earth from their mothership? Presumably they brought it down. If that's the case, then their mothership is FULL OF FUEL. How could it have run out of fuel, as they state clearly in the film several times, and stall? These two facts contradict each other, yet they are both important plot points. 2) How does the ship stay levitated above the surface without constantly firing its engines? Clearly the aliens possess highly advanced technology able to resist gravity. 3) The aliens possess high-powered guns that can kill multiple people in a single blast, and they keep them stock-piled in their shanty town, yet they NEVER use them to break out and get back to their mothership? Why not just vaporize the Nigerians and take all their food? 4) We are told the aliens have no concept of private property, and thus derail trains and loot all the time. Yet, they barter with the Nigerians - giving them guns in exchange for cat food. The only reason they would do that instead of just taking the cat food is because they understand private property. Blatantly self-contradictory. 5) Why did the aliens even come down to the surface in the first place? Did the humans bring them down, by force, on helicopters 5 people at a time? Why? That would have taken decades, if there were indeed 1 million of them onboard. And, if humans ferried them down on helicopters, how the f*** did they get their huge, super-powerful guns down with them? Not to mention that giant mech-suit. Glaring error. 6) If the only reason the aliens are staying on Earth is to get enough fuel to leave, and the humans hate the aliens and want them to go home, why not just help them find the fuel to get them off the planet that much faster? It's like, "oh sure, you just need some fuel. here, done, now leave." No need to hire expensive security, create an expensive district, and enslave a whole city-size population for years. 7) Clearly the only reason the mech-suit and the huge guns are in the movie is so the protagonist can use them at the end to create some eye-candy. They serve no other plot purpose, especially since the aliens never use them...even though they are the ONLY ones capable of doing so because they are DNA-encoded. 8) How can a few droplets of fuel turn the protagonist into an alien? Are we expected to believe that the equivalent of natural gas will do this to us? So, if I were to pour gasoline on one of the aliens, would he turn into a human? You might as well sprinkle fairy dust on the protagonist. 9) The protagonist is supposed to be a sympathetic character - a normal, average, weak-willed, fairly dumb, not physically strong guy - who is "just doing his job" without thinking about the consequences to the aliens, yet he takes PLEASURE, VISIBLE PLEASURE in slaughtering their unborn? That is NOT "just doing your job." That's outright evil, and thus an obvious flaw in the writing of his character. Yes, he's supposed to be unaware of the evil of what he's doing until he has a change of heart, but no one can be THAT unaware. No one except a straight-out Nazi thinks it's OK to do that. 10) The private security is just the typical "evil" company, and of course no real explanation is given as to WHY they like killing aliens except that they make "a lot of money." Pretty lame reason. 11) The father-in-law of the protagonist is as wooden as they come. He's "just evil" and is willing at the drop of a hat to sacrifice his son-in-law and lie to his daughter. WTF?! No explanation at all, no character motivation given at all. Even the dialog in that scene is rushed and simplistic. He isn't even being black-mailed or being held hostage by the MNU. 12) When the protagonist is obviously VERY ill at his surprise birthday party, all the guests are stupidly oblivious to his condition. NO ONE IS THIS OBLIVIOUS. This is just a cliche, where the protagonist is sick/in a bad way/in urgent need of doing something important, but everyone else is oblivious to it and delays him. LAME. 13) Why does the protagonist need to turn into one of the aliens for us to feel sympathetic for him or for him to "gain a new perspective" on the aliens? Why can't he just do that as a human? 14) The scenes of him turning into an alien become gratuitous once we are forced to see him taking his fingernails off and his teeth out. The teeth-removal scene was 2/3rds of the way into the film! We KNOW he's turning into an alien, for God's sake! The audience isn't that retarded! 15) The last 30 minutes of the movie are NOTHING but action movie cliches. Average guy picks up a gun and becomes a super hero, totally unafraid of the thousands of bullets flying past him, able to aim huge guns perfectly and kills dozens of highly-trained soldiers. RIDICULOUS. Then, the alien pauses in the middle of the battle raging about him, not caring whether he lives or dies, so he can take the time out to mourn his fallen comrades in the autopsy room. Doesn't this alien know by now what humans do to his kind? Why does it come as such a shocker to him that we would dissect and torture his friends? And again, it's cliche for someone to pause in the middle of a battle to mourn the death of a fallen comrade, totally not caring about the bullets flying past him because he's just bada$$ like that. And then, to make it even worse, the protagonist gets inside the huge mech-suit and in a last ditch effort, in a pitched-battle, he fights off thousands of guys single-handedly, just to save the alien he has come to respect. I remember a scene like that in a Mechwarrior video game I played 10 years ago. How LAME. It's like, "Haha, I'm mad as hell because you want to kill this alien-dude who's my friend. So I'll pour my rage out at you, taking everything you fling at me, even RPGs, and still keep fighting." We know this action trope from so many movies, it just doesn't work anymore. The mech-suit is just such obvious pathetic fallacy that I can't even take it. 16) During the final firefight, the alien escapes the thousands of bullets using a piece of thin, scrap metal barely the size of his head to shield himself. Huh? Are we expected to believe this? 17) The head of the Nigerian gang says "I'm gonna get you" to the protagonist. What a stupid, overused line. Yes, we all know the badguy will come get him. How "tough" of him to say that. 18) The worst plot whole of all comes right at the end. The alien and his son are trying to escape in the command module that had fallen and buried itself underground when the mothership first stalled above Earth. Yet, once the engine is torn off, the kid ends up signaling the mothership to move and pick up the fallen command module with a beam. Then WHY DID THEY NEED THE FUEL?!?!?! If the mothership can do all of that, REMOTELY, then why do you need fuel? And, if the mothership can move, then it's clearly NOT OUT OF FUEL. What a huge load of contradictions there. 19) Why did the protagonist have to stay on Earth? Why couldn't they just pick him up instead of some stupid line about "3 years." I hate it when plots are held back by unbelievable "contingencies." Like, oh, sorry, my suit failed and I was too stupid to get out and RUN to the ship. Just come back in 3 years. WTF?! 20) The protagonist's wife is a totally worthless character. She adds nothing to the plot or the story, does not make the protagonist any more sympathetic, and has an unexplained change of heart, which we only hear about over the phone. Not to mention she keeps calling, unwittingly allowing MNU to track her husband. What a retard. EVERYONE knows that the government can trace calls. Everyone. I simply cannot believe that she would be so stupid as to do that.
  13. Umm, you do know that, actually, the bill was completely revised and there's no more public healthcare? There will be no socialized medicine, guys. The best Obama could do is some menial "co-op" crap that will do nothing. Thank your lucky stars.
  14. Fawlty Towers Monty Python's Flying Circus Red Dwarf Danger Man (a.k.a. Secret Agent Man) The Prisoner Arrested Development Frasier Star Trek Star Trek: The Next Generation Star Trek: Deep Space 9 Star Trek: Voyager Lovejoy Cowboy Bebop A Bit of Fry and Laurie Jeeves & Wooster Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Simpsons South Park Bullshit Mythbusters
  15. "The Best of Both Worlds" is also great for the introduction of the Borg, possibly the best portrayal of the single-minded "Collective" bent on conquering all other beings. The frequency of technobabble is really overrated. It really took hold in Voyager, but before that it was much less frequent than people think. You're pretty much right about the movies, although I would add that 3, The Search for Spock, is also very good. Yes there's some mysticism, so what, but TSFS really captures the relationship between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy the best of any of the movies. Insurrection and Nemesis can be skipped, but the new movie is truly awesome and it took me back to what Star Trek is all about. As for the socialism...I don't know, I find it very hard to come down one way or another. In many episodes money is used, yet in other it is explicitly said that it has been abandoned. It's the result of writers contradicting each other. I say just bite your lip and forget about it altogether because in the entirety of Star Trek it really is a minor, irrelevant point that comes up at most a handful of times.
  16. I have to third the Blade Runner scene. The whole movie is genius, actually.
  17. I have another suggestion. There's a Japanese anime called "Cowboy Bebop," set in the near future where humans have invented a way of traveling about the solar system called the "gate system." People have colonized all the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and also have colonies on Mars, Venus, and various asteroids. Governments no longer have the power to control the criminal element, so bounty hunters, or "Cowboys," have stepped in to reap a profit. The show follows a rag-tag group of Cowboys as they track down bounties, learn moral lessons, and confront their respective pasts. Spike and Jet form the original duo, Spike being a former member of a large criminal organization much like a mafia, and Jet being an ex-police officer. Eventually they run into Faye Valentine, a gambler-extraordinaire and femme fatale, Ein, a hyper-intelligent Corgi "data dog," and Ed, a child prodigy and infamous hacker. The show is full of Film Noir, Cowboy Western, and other American themes and plots. The music, composed by Yoko Kanno, is some of the best Jazz music ever composed. It's more than just music for a show, but so good that you can just sit down and listen to it. In short, it's a very entertaining sci-fi, film noir, etc. show with very optimistic and sometimes even Capitalistic themes.
  18. I feel another synopsis is in order to really prove my case. "Who Watches the Watchers," a 3rd season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, starts off with a "duck-blind" Federation observation mission of an alien civilization that looks oddly similar to the Vulcans. It turns out they are indeed related, but split off at some point and are currently living in an age roughly equal to Earth's Renaissance in terms of technological prowess. Anyway, one curious girl - the daughter of the resident astronomer in this particular village - witnesses the "duck-blind" go horribly wrong when a power surge kills all the scientists and disables their hologram projector. They are now visible to this entire civilization. The father goes up first and is electrocuted, so the Enterprise is forced to beam him up even if it means risking cultural contamination. When the father awakes unexpectedly in sickbay, he is so amazed by the Enterprise's technology that he believes them to be Gods, even though his civilization long abandoned their belief in all mysticism centuries ago. All that remains are folk tales that no one believes, but the human's technology is so advanced he has no other way of comprehending it. In order to return him and save some crew members who end up being held captive as "sacrifices to the God, Captain Picard," Picard himself goes down to the planet and teaches the people that he is no God - he is just far more advanced technologically. He makes a comment earlier in the episode about how he absolutely refuses to let them believe he's a God, because he doesn't want to send them back to the Dark Ages, reversing all the intellectual progress they have made (he actually says all of this). Anyway, yet another great episode of Star Trek.
  19. Watch Star Trek and the movies, period. There is no better sci-fi out there, in my mind. Keep in mind that Gene Roddenberry was in the Air Force so there was inevitable military influence on Star Trek. The starships are essentially military starships, even if their primary mission is exploration. Also, he became a much smaller part of Star Trek starting with TNG and he had passed on when DS9 and Voyager aired. Nonetheless, Star Trek has almost always praised technology and mocked Rousseauian philosophy. One episode of Deep Space 9 comes to mind called "Paradise" in which the station captain, Sisko, and several other crew members crash land on a planet where another Starfleet vessel had crashed many years ago. It turns out that the crew of the previously crashed ship have adopted a no-technology approach to life, all because of one woman's guidance and her treatises on her philosophy (hey wait, isn't that book technology?). Sisko is immediately disgusted by her, and there's a very entertaining conflict between these two leaders. Meanwhile, Chief O'Brian, the engineer of DS9, is trying to figure out a way off the planet. There's a mysterious dampening field that prevents all electronic devices from working. He finds what's emitting the field and destroys it. The episode ends with Sisko, O'Brian and the others beaming up, but the "community" of ex-Starfleet officers decides to stay. The last shot, however, is of all the children of the village looking on as Sisko and the others beam up even while all the adults have already left the scene. There are many other great anti-religious, anti-anti-technology, and anti-government episodes of Star Trek. Yes, it falters on occasion, but that's only because there are 700 episodes written by countless hundreds of writers. There's no way you can ensure uniformity of philosophy across so many episodes and writers. I'll give another great example. One episode of Voyager starts off with a race of aliens we've never seen before. We're thrown straight into their world and never see the Voyager crew until midway into the episode. Anyway, these aliens have a highly regulated scientific community - essentially a government science council that dictates what is truth and what isn't. Yet there is one archeologist whose theory goes against all accepted "fact," proposing that their race is actually from the same planet that this newly discovered race, humans, also comes from. Long story short, this alien race evolved from a particular species of dinosaur, built massive starships and left Earth, but have long since forgotten their origins. The scientist is maligned and threatened with imprisonment unless he immediately repudiates his theory. Somehow one of the Voyager crew who was sent out on some short mission is found by this scientist, who is now on the run from his government. Chakotay convinces him that his only option is to stand up for what he knows to be the truth and face his oppressors. The episode ends with an awesome speech by Chakotay about the oppression of the individual by the government and the obfuscation of truth by dogma, etc. I could go on, but in short, watch Star Trek. All incarnations thereof.
  20. ...First of all, you're not a businessman and you don't run a railroad company. Nor am I. Second of all, my original argument was a hypothetical scenario about a possible course the development of transportation could have taken in the US had the government not: 1) imposed zoning laws, thus setting in stone the way cities and suburbs are designed, 2) subsidized railroads, 3) hampered railroads in countless ways (read Rand's essay in Capitalism: Unknown Ideal), 4) built public roads. Had roads been private from the beginning and remained that way, and had railroads not been so impeded by the government, I suspect we would have developed completely differently and we would be using high-speed commuter trains instead of what we use now. Hypothetically! JR Rail is thinking about creating a whole new maglev line that would cost $10 billion. If they can afford it in a country as big as California, then surely a company here would have been able to afford something even bigger in my hypothetical scenario. Also, railroads were not and are not laid out all at once. They are built piece by piece from city to city. A company here would most likely start with a high-speed rail between New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC because there is huge profit to be had from the millions of commuters in that area who need to go between those cities all the time and who would gladly go 4 times the speed they do now on aging 60mph trains and 60mph cars. Companies would find what's profitable and do it, period. No one on this forum has enough knowledge to say which cities would be profitable to link up by rail. But a railroad company with teams of researchers would. JR Rail only runs a handful of Shinkansen, and it would be the same way in the US. There would most likely be only one or two trains going cross-country and then routes between the most populous cities, like in the New York-Phili-Boston-DC area. Again, all hypothetical in a universe that developed on a completely different track from the one we are in now. Even so, this sort of thing could still easily happen as an alternative to dangerous, slow highways. It doesn't even have to be commuter trains. High-speed rail could be used to transport cargo at 2 to 4 times the speed it is now on semis and normal trains. Can you imagine the demand for getting stuff where it needs to go that much faster? A company could lease space for UPS, Fedex, USPS. Shipping times could be cut in half. I'm sure there are countless ways a company could think of to make a high-speed rail across the US profitable. You can't ship everything by plane, so you have to resort to trucks and trains, but a high-speed train could make even those options faster. Who wouldn't want freight shipped twice as fast?
  21. I still don't understand why it matters that the main line in Japan doesn't get you from New York to Columbus. The US is already laced with railroad tracks that go all over the place, both commuter and freight. Therefore my argument already has hard proof to back it up. It is quite possible for railroads to be built all across the US and for them to be profitable. Maglev aside, just putting a high-speed electric train in place would not require building any new routes, just updating the existing infrastructure for a handful of extant routes. New tracks that could handle the extra stress (they aren't that different from normal tracks though), and electrical wires overhead.
  22. Since when were we talking about Canada though? I'm only talking about the US. It's obvious that in a country as small (population wise) and as spread out as Canada it would be very hard to run any substantial train system at a profit. This thread is about the US road system, not Canada. I'm saying a Japanese-style rail system would work in the US.
  23. But Zip, why? Why would it be nonsensical? We already have a road system more complex than any in the world, so why would it be nonsensical to implement a train system less complex than that? How can YOU even make that decision? That's what the free market is here for, to make that decision from all the countless millions of consumer decisions. Hypothetically, had the US government not crippled the train industry in America, we would probably have super-high speed trains. How is it NOT nonsensical to travel across 2500 miles of roads at 70mph when you could do the same distance at 300mph on a high-speed maglev? Answer me that. You would only need a couple of tracks that go to the major cities - New York, Boston, Phili, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Dallas/FW, Las Vegas, San Fran, LA. Private rail companies would figure out the most feasible routes between major cities, and you could cut travel time down to nearly 1/4th what it would take by car. How is that nonsensical? The problem is, Americans have some kind of view of cars as a great symbol of freedom. I think they're death traps and when you drive on a road you're putting your life in the hands of all the other moronic drivers out there. On a train, you're putting your life in the hands of the trained, intelligent engineers and conductors who created the train and drive it. I think I would much rather do that. Also, don't forget that Japan has nearly 1/2th the population of the US. 127,000,000 in Japan and 300,000,000 here, spread across a much larger area, so that means the traffic on any given train route would probably be no higher than it is in Japan.
  24. To Theranger: Government roads are bad compared to private roads for the following reasons: 1) they are government roads (in other words, they are "free" so that anyone and everyone uses them 2) because of #1, roads are always congested, and building more roads is not the answer because they TOO are free 3) roads are almost always in some state of disrepair 4) 50,000 people die every year because of car wrecks (are they stupid? no, not necessarily) 5) DMV driving tests are poor at best 6) bridges are also in disrepair, a fact recently brought to light 7) traffic of various sizes is mixed for no reason (semis 10 times bigger than a car, train tracks crossing when there is no reason for that to happen) 8) road repairs or renovations always take months
  25. ^^But you're thinking is too confined. The only reason cities and roads are laid out the way they are is because of centuries of government planning. Originally, people could and did design cities the way they wanted, but zoning laws were quickly put in place. Moreover, by building "free roads," the government has subsidized cars, making them the only feasible choice just because they subsidized them. Thus, roads sprung up everywhere. That was probably inevitable after the invention of the car, but was it inevitable that they would spread as far and as deeply into American infrastructure as they have? I don't think so. The only reason, for instance, we use so many semi trucks to move goods is because the government killed trains by subsidizing roads. That's simplified, but basically true. The way modern transportation has developed, as a result of countless inventions and government interventions, it is nearly impossible for us, in this situation, to postulate what could have been. Cars will probably always exist, at least for the foreseeable future, but might we be using something else? Had there been no government zoning laws, for all we know, suburbs may have never come into existence. People may have been riding trains all the time. You just can't say. Also, Shinkansen in Japan are NOT intra-city. They are inter-city, going from Tokyo all the way north to Sapporo, and all the way south to Nagasaki, stopping at all the major cities in-between. For intra-city travel, people use regular-speed trains, of which there are almost more than one can count. All of them, except city metros, are privately run.
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