Archive for August, 2010

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A Different “Star Trek: The Next Generation”

August 30, 2010

Ain’t It Cool News has a report from a memo from April of 1987 showing some of the people they wanted to read for the various cast parts for the show. Here’s my dream cast from the choices they had –

Picard: Yaphet Kotto

Riker: Ben Murphy

Data: Kelvin Han Yee

LaForge: Wesley Snipes (Yes, really!)

Check out the article. You may have your own, better ideas. Allen Steele, in his alternate-America novel The Tranquility Alternative, had Anthony Quinn as Picard and Rob Morrow (who was still on Northern Exposure when Steele was writing the novel) as Data.

My best idea outside of these? Just get ride of Wesley, okay? Bad idea? I mean, Wil Wheaton seems to be a great guy, still active in skiffy fandom and such, but God, was that character a whiner.

Just think…Anthony Frickin’ Quinn…wow…

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Back to the “Atlas Shrugged” quotes

August 17, 2010

John Galt to Dagny Taggart:

“Did it ever occur to you, Miss Taggart…that there is no conflict of interests among men, neither in business nor in trade nor in their most personal desires – if they omit the irrational from their view of the possible and destruction from their view of the practical? There is no conflict, and no call for sacrifice, and no man is a threat to the aims of another – if men really understand that reality is an absolute not to be faked, that lies do not work, that the unearned cannot be had, that the undeserved cannot be given, that the destruction of a value which is, will not bring value to that which isn’t. The businessman who wishes to gain a market by throttling a superior competitor, the worker who wants a share of his employer’s wealth, the artist who envies a rival’s higher talent – they’re all wishing facts out of existence, and destruction is the only means of their wish. If they pursue it, they will not achieve a market, a fortune, or an immortal fame – they will merely destroy production, employment and art. A wish for the irrational is not to be achieved, whether the sacrificial victims are willing or not. But men will not cease to desire the impossible and will not lose their longing to destroy – so long as self-destruction and self-sacrifice are preached to them as the practical means of achieving the happiness of the recipients.”

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Quick questions for my readers

August 17, 2010

The Madison Scouts, perennial crowd-pleasers

Uh, both of you…:)

I just saw one of those Windows 7 TV commercials. If I invoke the magic words, “I’m a PC,” will there be a re-enactment with some actor who looks way more handsome than me?

I can’t bring myself to do it. I really can’t. If I did, I think Steve Jobs would come to my house and kick my ass. It’s bad enough that I think that my son’s Mac Pro is the best Windows machine I ever saw. (It’s the one he’s loaning to me…maybe, if I can get the bucks, that he will sell to me. It’s a really nice machine.)

Why do I go through times when I have to listen to Rush Limbaugh every day, and other times when I can’t bear to listen more than about a half hour at a time? It’s not Rush; he’s pretty much the same all the time. It must be me.

We went to the Drum Corps International Finals in Indianapolis last Saturday night. It still seems that the corps that bring the crowds to their feet the most are not necessarily the ones that score the highest. I’m a marching band judge, and have been since 1997; I judged for Drum Corps Midwest for a few years and one year for DCI, sort of by accident. I still don’t get it. By and large, the high-scoring marching bands excite the crowds – maybe not one-to-one with the scores, but still there is some correlation. I’m still mystified.

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Semi-random thoughts

August 9, 2010

A few things that just sort of occurred to me lately –

I still like Windows 7. As a Mac guy, that’s pretty much unheard of. The problems with it are just because of the underpinnings of Windows which still seem needlessly complicated to me. Still, finally, they got a lot of stuff right in making the interface work for humans – finally. It not only looks better, it seems easier to work with, by far.

Not a bad show...getting there.

I don’t know why all the good dramas actually are now on cable TV – USA and TNT, in particular, and in the summer, no less. The stuff on the regular networks generally sucks (yes, CSI Miami, I’m talkin’ about you) and these cable channels are cranking out some pretty good stuff. If you never saw Saving Grace it’s too bad; I’ve not heard if it will be on DVD or not. I have to agree it was one of the best dramas I ever saw on TV. The Closer is pretty darn good as well.  Rizzoli and Isles is on as I write this – it has potential. It’s a little bumpy right now but the writers just haven’t found the character’s voices quite yet.

There is a new film being made based on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Well, the first third, I guess. It’s being made on a shoestring. I’m concerned about that. I’m more concerned because it’s rumored that it is being set in the present day instead of 1950s America. I hope not…I’m afraid that just won’t fly. Too many changes in technology. Rearden Metal would still be a great development, but not as groundbreaking as it would have been in 1957.

L. Neil Smith, in his collection of essays called Lever Action, says the problem with selling the Libertarian ideals is that it has been easy to say what Libertarians are against, but not so much what they are for. One of the main reasons he wrote all the science fiction books he wrote was to show how much better a Libertarian world could be.

I think he has a point. From way back in the early days of science fiction, most of the future or alternate universe societies that have been depicted have been dystopias, and mainly socialist dystopias to boot. (Or, of course, your basic post-Apocalypse chaos.) There aren’t enough stories out there showing how we could make the world better.

Often, the socialist  or authoritarian societies are highly regimented and the hero has to break out of it or destroy it. But nobody follows up on that! Is the struggle to build a better world that uninteresting?

If I can get back to the second book, the one I’ve been working on since the first of the year, I’ve been trying to do that. The bad days are behind us, and the country is trying to rebuild. Some of it works ok and some is very difficult to do. While the US is trying to rebuild its economy, they are also trying to build up some national pride, in this case by having their own space exploration teams. (Whether we can afford it or not.)

And the contrast istherefore  drawn between the struggling US and two states that seceeded a couple of generations back: Michigan and Texas. Both states rebuilt themselves as highly Libertarian societies, although in somewhat different ways, and the rest of the US both looks to them for guidance and wants to resent them for their success.

All I need is a few hours to start writing again…

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Technological Irony

August 5, 2010
ST PADD

Apple is way ahead of Starfleet!

Maybe I mean “Technological Aluminology,” or something like that, because I’m writing this post on the Apple Wireless Aluminum Keyboard paired to my iPhone 4. I should be swallowed up in a geek hole about now.

I have a hard time with the on-screen iPhone keyboard, even rotated to landscape mode. I just can’t type on it. I find the iPad keyboard OK to type on – I’ll never be Lt. Commander Data with it, but the lack of tactile feedback doesn’t bother me much. I’m not that good a typist!

I have a case on the iPhone that was pretty much all I could find right away, and it has a raised edge all around the face, to protect the glass. This is a good idea, but it makes the P and Q keys and the delete key almost impossible to hit successfully on the first try.

I need a thinner case but I like the fact that this one is protecting the glass faceplate on the phone. Other than that, it’s one of those silicone cases and it’s a little loose. It also attracts pocket lint and transfers it to the glass screen quite handily.

Anyway, back to the the keyboard. Sometimes I have to go places where there is no wifi (horrors!) for my laptop and all I have for internet access is my phone. I have four email accounts I have to monitor and respond to – two are for businesses, and one is for the school where I teach. I find responding to emails at any length on the phone to be tedious at best.

iOS 4.0 has support for bluetooth keyboards. I had forgotten that. I bought this keyboard when I had some Apple store credit, sort of by accident. I didn’t read the information closely enough and was kind of upset when I discovered it wasn’t just like the aluminum wired keyboard – no numeric keypad!

It was my own fault. Still, I wanted it becauseI work with Sibelius a lot and I need the numeric keypad to work with Sibelius efficiently.

So it’s been sitting there gathering dust. Now it has a use! It’s four times the footprint of the phone, but thats necessary because it has full-sized keys. I love the key feel of the Apple aluminum keyboards – in fact, I will have to buy another wired one because my wife just stole mine for her 13″ Macbook.

But this little puppy will make travel more efficient when the only internet access I have is my phone. I travel to a lot of rural places when I judge marching bands in the fall – places without 3G, perish the thought!

Update 8/12/2010: Here’s a story about how Star Trek imagined the iPad before the iPad. (Hat tip to Mark Whittington.) And I got another Apple Aluminum keyboard. This Mac Pro my son has loaned me is great, and I found a 1.5 TB Seagate drive at Micro Center for 90 bucks!