Star Trek: the Academy Years

Somebody has resurrected Harve Bennett‘s old script for Star Trek: the Academy Years over at Ain’t it Cool News; it seems the guy is really interested in the story. I hate to break it to him, but any story placing the original series crew together in Star Fleet Academy just couldn’t be considered canon; that’s not the way that the series developed originally.

[Not that this would be unprecedented. Of the entire four year run of Enterprise, only two episodes could be considered canon. That would be the “In a Mirror Darkly” two parter. Spock was established to be the first Vulcan in Star Fleet in one of the first Star Trek episodes. There is no way that T’Pol could be an officer on a Starfleet vessel in the normal Star Trek universe. In the “Mirror, Mirror” universe, however…]

I don’t understand this need to mess with cherished memories. Why does Hollywood have to re-invent every show that was ‘successful’ before? Do we really need to make a ‘Star Trek Babies’ movie? Cast someone else in the roles of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the others?

I didn’t need to see Scooby Doo as a live action film. I didn’t need to see King Kong without the stop motion animation. I didn’t need to see The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, etc. on the big screen (in fact, I didn’t) do we really have to go there with Classic Trek? Watch someone else play James T. Kirk? Someone other than Nimoy wear Spock’s ears? I won’t be paying for that, myself.

If they just have to do a Star Trek: the Academy Years do it without including the classic characters, or you can count on this classic Trek fan sitting this film out.

Image viewing and editing

One of the tech sites I frequent was asking “what editing software do you use?” I don’t have a video editor that I like (I’ve just gotten into fabricating my own PVR and I haven’t settled on an operating system yet, much less a video editor I like) but I definitely have an opinion on image viewing and editing…

Image Viewing: IRFanView

I hated this program when I first started using it. The sys-admin at one of my previous employers had loaded it as the default image viewer, and I could not understand why. After several years of fiddling with other programs, I can now tell you why.

Quick loading, and I mean FAST. Photoshop, JASC, etc, all take 10 minutes to load (or it feels like it) with IRfanview you double click and your image is right there.

Editing tools are very basic (which is why I hated the program initially) but they are more than sufficient to handle the average users requirements. Image scaling, lightening and darkening of the image, etc. If you want to major editing, get program made for editing. If you want to view images and do basic manipulation, IRfanview is the program for you.

Image editing: Gimp it

When I need to manipulate files, I pull out ‘The Gimp‘.

Why would you pay for Photoshop when this program does everything Photoshop does, and does it for less? Someone else posted this on the same thread, which sums it up for me:

I think that when you struggle for software in a particular area you should always start with free unless you are compelled. That way you can learn the technologies. the techniques, the strengths and the weaknesses. If the free software does what you need, then great! If it doesn’t, you’ll be able to look at the commercial offerings with specific questions and specific needs. This improves your chances of finding what you need on the first try without buying a lot of unnecessary software.

When I finally start taking the PVR seriously I might have a video editor to recommend. And I’ll be doing that right after I finish remodeling the house.

Drug Education

‘Drug education’ doesn’t work because, as Americans, we believe that drugs are the answer to problems.

We give drugs to our children to correct behavioral issues that should be corrected by changing their environment.

We take drugs ourselves for similar reasons, including the illegal ones.

“Man, I need a drink.”
“I could really use a cigarette.”
“I can’t function without my morning coffee.”
“Got an aspirin, this place is giving me a headache.”


Driving While Vertiginous. Which is something I try to avoid.

I hate talking about the Menieres, but it bears mentioning once again (for record keeping purposes, at least) because today I realized that I’m unable to make left turns in heavy traffic. The necessity to move the head back and forth to check both directions of traffic always sets up a momentary disorientation; requiring that I hesitate just long enough for my head to clear that I tend to loose my chance to turn. I’ve gotten used to making 4 rights where possible, just to avoid a left turn. I noticed today (I had to get out and deliver things for a friend) that I have certain places I can comfortably get to, and certain routes that I will take. But if it requires long periods on the freeway (most times even getting on the freeway) lane changes, or left turns in high traffic, I probably either won’t go or will get someone else to drive. It’s too dangerous, in my opinion.

As someone who once drove 8 hours a day, 5 days a week testing tires (in any weather) for a living, I find it quite weird to not be willing to get in the car and drive…

(minor vertigo, major headaches all this week. I blame the allergies)

Conventions & Primaries

So I’m sitting watching one of my regular shows last Tuesday (Boston Legal) and the local affiliate (that would be KVUE) sees fit to PiP my show so that they can alert me to the all important primary results that are coming in.

I’m sure if I was a member of one of the state supported parties (Republicans and Democrats) then I would be just thrilled to see the names of my FAVORITE candidate plastered on the same screen as a popular television show (the sum total of time on screen constituting their 15 minutes of fame, most likely) but as a 10 year member of the Libertarian Party, all I could do was put up with an interruption of what I feel was most important that evening, my entertainment.

It would have been more that sufficient to report the results during the news; which is probably more notice than was given to the LP today, the day that we hold or precinct conventions. Technically that’s OK, because not much happens on the first day. Saturday will be the County conventions, where the candidates for county office will be selected. Surely there is a news story there?

March the 25th will be the precinct conventions, where we select the candidates that will make or break (and in a few races, possibly even beat) the races that the ‘major party candidates’ already have gotten air time for. Can I count on a story on that date?

If they are going to interrupt my programs to give me breathless blow by blow accounts of the primary races (paid for with my tax dollars, no less. You’d think that was bad enough) could I at least get a news story about those weird Libertarians and their strange fixation for paying for their own party functions?

I support Michael Badnarik

I just wish I could vote for Michael Badnarik. Mr. Badnarik is running for congress this year, in district 10. As far as I know I’ll still be in district 25 come this election, unless the SCOTUS changes everything. Not holding my breath here.

District 10 used to be ‘my’ district, before Tom Delay and his Republican buddies gerrymandered Austin into three different districts in an attempt to get rid of the Democrat congressional representative Lloyd Doggett, who inherited the seat from JJ ‘Jake’ Pickle when he retired and appointed Doggett to replace him (and here I thought we had some choice in this…) after all the dust had settled, I ended up with Doggett again anyway, just a different district number. Which is too bad. I’ve never voted for him, and when I’ve had the misfortune to communicate with him, I get one of those replies that completely misses my concerns that I mentioned previously.

As I said, despite Delay’s best efforts (and possibly at the cost of his own seat in congress) Doggett got re-elected the last go round, and Texas wound up with one of the worst excuses for a district map that I can ever remember seeing. I’d love to hear how the Republicans spin the defense of this. As if Austin has any similarities with the areas around the Mexican border that are currently part of district 25. What I’d really like is for the SCOTUS to get a shakabuku, then they might actually go for the computer redistricting that a fellow libertarian and constitutionalist proposed several years back when this whole mess started. Not holding my breath on that either.

Back to Mike. I like Mike (I wanted a button that said that when he ran for President. Too cool) He introduced me to ALD. I wish I knew him better, but I know him well enough that I would trust him with the job of representing Austin (and a good portion of the rest of the state) in Washington. If you want to know Mike (or Mr. Badnarik for the more formally minded) better, just pick up a copy of his book Good to be King and give it a read. If you are at all like me you’ll probably agree that he would be a step in the right direction representationally for Austin. (Round Rock Georgetown, Jollyville, Brenham, etc. as well. Don’t get me started on districts again) Come on by the precinct and county conventions next week, and confirm him as a nominee.

Myself, I need to drop by his offices, which are right down the street. Somebody from his staff has been calling and e-mailing every week. Seems they need some volunteers. They always do. Plenty of people willing to spout off verbally on political issues, not so many willing to get down in the trenches and do the work…

The Social Security “Trust Fund”

Another thread deleted by the fine folks moderating the local AM station’s forums. Sometimes I wonder what the point of maintaining a forum there is.

Luckily I archive the major posts that I contribute. Like this one:

There is no ‘investment’ when it comes to government trust funds. T-bills or other gov’t instruments amount to taking the money out of one pocket and putting it in another. It still gets spent like any other money. There is no interest earned on money kept in SS accounts, anyway. Study your annual report from SS if you don’t believe me.

[That trust fund for the Iraqi oil is no different, BTW. Just money in the government coffers. Iraq will always have to come begging to the US gov’t from this point onward. That’ll make ’em happy, right? Don’t ya’ll listen to Timpone?]

The promise to pay is irrelevant, because the gov’t can just:

  1. Print more money. They do it all the time. Create more debt, generate the t-bills that represent the debt, multiply the dollar figures on the T-bills x9 and viola, more money to dilute the money already in circulation.
    This is a simplified version of how inflation occurs, and why a dollar is in fact ‘worthless’ (it represents no real value) The problem is, the Fed has already diluted the purchasing power of the dollar to such an extent that further dilution of the scale required to keep SS afloat might destabilise the dollar. therefore:
  2. Write new laws that change the SS’ ‘contract’; arranging it so that you never were entitled to the money in the first place, so you aren’t being denied anything you are due. They have done this several times already, and I daresay we haven’t seen the last of it yet. Look to see the drug benefits altered in the near future.

The only solution is to remove responsibility for retirement welfare from the gov’t altogether. I’m not certain what shape the ‘new’ retirement system should take. It’ll have to include those who are currently drawing on the system as well as those who have paid in and expect to draw in the future, or it won’t be acceptable to enough people that it stands a chance of passage. Individual contributions should be kept in accounts accessible and controlled by the individual himself. There should be an additional ‘insurance’ feature that would cover expenses beyond the contributions of the individual.

Perhaps a ‘general welfare’ type health/retirement/disability all in one account is what is needed.

All I know is that it’s past time to fix the problem. The complete crash of the American financial system (what they really mean when they talk about SS ‘failing’) isn’t far off. 30 years at most.

Violence on Screen or that Crying Baby Behind You?

So the talking heads on the morning show brought this New Mexico story up. I didn’t hear it, I’ve gotten in the habit of not listening to the local AM talk station in the morning (well, until after 2, actually) The talking heads (local and syndicated) have become increasingly disconnected from reality.

I’m reasonably certain (knowing the on air personalities involved) that the facts of the story got left in the dust fairly early on, and the on air conversation probably revolved around teens and the ‘R’ rated movies that they “Shouldn’t be allowed to watch”.

The fact remains that the theater in question excluded a young couple from bringing a baby into the movie, and does routinely exclude all children under the age of 6 from ‘R’ rated films at night. I’m certain that the majority of the clientèle thanks them for this, too.

…but not because of their “concern for the children” as these poor misguided souls are:

Yay!! Wish they would do that all over, especially here! IMO no children should be permitted admittance to any rated R movie period! I am sick and tired of going to an R rated movie and dealing with kids of all ages. Forget the yip yap, giggling and the up and down, it is just disgusting and pathetic that their are “parents” that would expose their children to certain movies. And people wonder why kids are now so desensitized and screwed up.

…All of which amounts to junk science and unsupported theory, and not much else. They’ve never proved positive linkage between viewing violence on screen and exhibiting violence as a person. My children both played ‘first person shooters’ while sitting on my knee in front of the computer. Neither of them shows any inclination towards taking a gun out and shooting people.

Parenting is the missing link. Most people, Sgt. Sam most prominently, don’t know anything about parenting. (Ask Sam’s wife if you don’t believe me. I doubt he ever changed a diaper. Typical mother/father relationship of his generation? Mother says “Wait till your father gets home!” as a last ditch effort to maintain control) It hasn’t got anything to do with control, and everything to do with setting limits, interpreting experience (what ‘education’ really should mean) and guiding the child to the right behavior. If you have a teenager that doesn’t already know the basics (like, “it’s not OK to shoot people”) it’s already too late.

If I want to take my children to an R rated film, that would be my business. I’m sure that the other theaters in the area are glad of the business turned away from “Movies 8”.

OTOH, if I want to enjoy a film without distractions, it’s good to know a theater that enforces rules concerning them, whether the problem is talking teenagers or crying babies. Too many theaters won’t do anything about it.

Alamo Drafthouse and the Galaxy are both pretty good about it.

You children must have gotten a lot of love. Unfortunately, many children do not get the emotional reinforcement they need.
As far as the “positive” linkage goes, the TRUTH is that science doesn’t yet understand consciousness, therefore, to say that there is no definitive linkage between violent media content and violent behavior is incorrect.
I do agree with a movie theater policy that bans young children after a certain time. I wish more people realized that media saturation is not a positive force on a child’s psychological development.

Which backs up the “junk science and unsupported theory” statement. I put very little credit into current thought on addiction as well. People will say “I’m addicted to X” just to absolve themselves of responsibility for X behavior. Granted brainwave patterns change, I’ll point right back to your statement concerning consciousness. The linkage is based on theory and junk science.

There is more proof that evolution exists than there is for violence in media having the broad detrimental effects that it’s being blamed for. Or that addiction is the bane that it’s being portrayed as. It’s rejected there and supported here. I just love unsupported emotional arguments.

OTOH, theaters are free to conduct business however they wish, or they should be. The unattended children will just go somewhere else, do something else, if the theaters are closed to them. Is that really where ya’ll want this to go?

When I talk about addiction, I’m talking about the chemical “habits” that establish cognitive circuits. Ever wonder why people can be addicted to gambling, or sex, video games or consumer spending while no “drug” is being used? What we casually call “addiction” is actually a process by which our neurons form behavior circuits. In other words, addiction helps the brain form behavior habits. This is why so much in our society can be “addictive”. Our brains supply “reward” chemicals to correlate chemical experiences. Its these chemicals and how they define consciousness that science doesn’t understand. Science does know more about consciousness than you average conscious or semi-conscious American. Let’s face it, people are just chemical robots anyway…

What you are talking about isn’t addiction. The junk science types have lumped it in with addiction because it gets more play there.

Work for a few years on a several pack a day cigarette ‘habit’ and then try and quit. You’ll see what a real chemical addiction is like. For that matter, try eliminating caffeine from your diet for a few days (even more dramatic and doesn’t require forming new ‘habits’) when the lethargy kicks in and the headaches start, remember what it was like to do without that console game for a few days. Pales in comparison, doesn’t it? That’s because it’s not really a chemical addiction.

And let’s correlate this properly. You’re argument proposes that people can become habituated to doing violence themselves because they watch it on TV. I’ve watched Looney Toones all my life and I’ve never once been even tempted to drop an anvil on someones head. The argument is fallacious. It’s only because it’s ‘for the children’ that it continues to play.

I submit that ‘for the children’ we should open theaters to teenagers who are wandering the streets bored looking for trouble. Play whatever movies that will keep their butts in seats and let them watch all night for free (I can hear theater owners heads exploding as I type this) At least they aren’t out experimenting with drugs or joining gangs or whatever else they could be out doing while we are ‘protecting them’ from the violence on the screen…

None of this is what the original article was about anyway. The children that the theater is excluding are under 6. They are trying to cut down on ‘crying baby’ issues, not protect the children from becoming habituated to violence.


A precinct chair without a polling place

Actually I have one, but it’s over a mile away now. It was across the street. I could walk there with my coffee mug, vote and be back home inside of 10 minutes, generally. The longest I ever had to wait was less than ten minutes.

In the most recent elections (not the primaries; Libertarians don’t have primaries, we vote in conventions on our own nickel instead of spending taxpayer money with a primary) I walked over to the usual polling place only to discover that the county had changed it without bothering to tell me. Now I have to get in my car and drive (it’s farther than I can comfortably walk) find an effing parking place (Not easy. The schools also serve as polls, and as government agencies are exempted from meeting parking requirements imposed by the city; so they generally don’t provide any. Don’t get me started) and then wait in line (last time for more than an hour) in order to cast a vote.

I’m left wondering if this is acceptable to the Travis county clerk’s office because my neighborhood is predominantly populated with ‘minorities’, or because as a Libertarian I have posted signs in my yard several months in advance, anticipating an election.

So I called the Secretary of State’s office today to ask. They directed me to the County Clerk’s office (which is how I know who is responsible here) I called the county clerk’s office. I was transferred 4 times before they were certain I was speaking to the right person. I voiced my complaints (see above. Most egregious is the need to get in my car and lack of my own coffee at the new precinct) I was assured that someone will get back to me and address my complaints. That would be a first. Everytime I write a letter to my congressman I get a letter in return that completely misses my complaints. Addressing them would be nice.

9-11; Who were the terrorists again?

Right after the attacks on the world trade center we started to here rumors that perhaps Bush knew of the attacks in advance, or that he orchestrated the attacks. I posted something to the effect that

“if the powers that be are capable of orchestrating an attack of this size against their own people, then we might as well concede defeat in the battle for liberty; people who are capable of that won’t stop at anything to achieve complete domination”

I ran across a link to a film in the comments over at Hammer of Truth that makes me wonder if perhaps it’s time to give up political efforts and focus on entertainment for my pastimes. At least I won’t get ‘disappeared’ that way.

The film is Loose Change which is available for viewing right on the web here. I have questioned the logistics of the attack on the Pentagon for some time. But I’ve never heard a logical argument that disproved the official version of events for the world trade center attacks. Until now. Still would like to know “where are the people from the planes?” It’s too bad they’ve destroyed all the evidence for the 9-11 sites. We might be able to prove the hypothesis one way or the other if they hadn’t.

Editor’s note 2016. I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects.  If you didn’t come here from this post, you probably should go check that one out before drawing any conclusions. The dude that wrote this was pretty crazy.