|Star Trek: Nemesis
Monday, December 16, 2002 2:23 PM
Saw Star Trek: Nemesis last night and, like a lot of people, found
myself torn. This might have been a good movie, even if it was basically
a rehash of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I mean, if you're going to
copy a Trek movie, you might as well copy the best one. But while ST2
remained true to Trek, Nemesis did not. (Avast, ye mateys, there
be spoilers ahead!)
There were several moments throughout the movie that made me sit,
gaping in my chair, wondering out loud, "Did the writers even watch
Star Trek: The Next Generation?" When a Data-like android was found on an
alien planet (using the Enterprise's magic Plot Device to detect the
android's energy signature), no one, not once, bothered to mention Lore --
the precursor to Data, the android that was just a bit too human
for comfort. Everyone was all amazed... "Oh my, another Data! Wow, it
looks just like you!" For crying out loud, it's not like this never
happened before. The fact that the chaotic Lore existed at all should
have given them pause before reassembling their newly discovered
Data-double. But no, not only do they proceed to put it back together,
they also dump all of Data's memories into it! This is, of course, allows
the writers to do something rather drastic at the end of the movie and
still end up with everything copacetic in the end. Pretty convenient, I'd
I'd also like to say that the scene where they discover Data's second
sibling was rather baffling. All of the sudden, strange aliens appear,
driving dune buggies complete with machine guns shooting up the place...
and no explanation as to why.
Are we supposed to believe that the Romulans, arrogant beyond belief
and so assured of their own superiority, would make a human clone
the leader of their entire empire? Not only a human clone, but one that
was raised on Remus and brought with him hordes of Remans as his trusted
guards and advisers. A coup by the Romulan military I can believe. A
military coup that places a human on the throne is hard to swallow.
I almost never notice music in movies. It's just something I don't
pick up on, as long as it's decent. There are a very few occasions when I
realize that a movie has good music. There are also those movies, like
Nemesis, where I can't help but notice the bad. On the planet where they
discover the android B4, we are subjected to a terrible discordant score
so close to being palatable that I couldn't for the life of me figure out
if it was some kind of problem with the audio recording. I mean, it was
just plain bad. Of course, during that entire segment, the lighting was
washed out and yellow, so I can only assume the the effect was
intentional. However, I simply chalk it up to another poor decision.
Where is Data's emotion chip? Seemingly forgotten. It is quite clear
in this movie that it is not in use ("I feel nothing," he says on one
occasion), nor is any mention of it ever made. Now that I think of it,
mind you, I think they pretty much did the same thing in Insurrection.
However, this is not an excuse, considering how prevalent it was in
Generations, and it was featured in First Contact.
And they start out the movie with The Silliness. Come on, people.
TNG has always had its sense of humor, but what's with the fucking
singing? I can't remember anyone singing show tunes in any of the TNG
episodes, and yet we have 2 movies where characters belt out songs at a
whim. Enough already!
Oh, and just for the record, Picard used to have hair. It didn't
bother me that his clone had none... It did bother me that the (SF
Academy?) photo of Picard had none. Don't believe me? Watch the TNG
episode "Tapestry" in which he dies and Q shows Picard what his life would
have been like had he not been so reckless in his youth. Yeah, he used to
have hair. Most bald people did.
This isn't to say the movie is all bad. It has plenty of action,
though none of the space combat really had the edge-of-your-seat
nail-biting suspense of either Wrath of Khan or Undiscovered Country. And
at least the main bad guy isn't a god or sorry cookie-cutter Klingon. Tom
Hardy does well in the role he was given, doing a fine job of expressing
his pain, anger, and longing. It's just a shame he wasn't given something
better to work with.
|Ice storm and power outage
Tuesday, December 10, 2002 5:06 PM
The ice storm here knocked out the power sometime after midnight
Thursday morning. It was only restored today
just before noon,
which means that our house (and rps.net) went without power for five and a
half days. Lows at night got as far down as 17 degrees F this past week.
All in all, not a pleasant experience. If it had continued any longer,
people might have gotten hurt!
|The morning after
Friday, October 25, 2002 8:58 AM
The snipers are caught, the weapon found. The debate over gun control
will now continue, probably even intensify. All of the major media
outlets report that the .223 Bushmaster AR-15 clone proven to be the
murder weapon is an "assault rifle", even though it is not capable of
automatic fire. It's quite apparent that they're happy to wallow in their
spread of ignorance, because it makes for much more sensational
Will we discover the motivation for the shootings? As suggested by
his last name, Muhammad, the sniper, was a convert to Islam. This of
course gives rise to the question of whether or not his faith and 9/11 had
anything to do with his murderous rampage. Was it simply terrorism, no
different from the WTC except on scale? I doubt he had any contact with
organized terrorism, any more than the shooter in LAX from a few months
Angry accusations have been hurled at the NRA for their "silence"
during the entire sniper murder spree. As if any of those accusers would
be satisfied with any official statement the NRA were to make. If the NRA
were to condemn the attacks (which of course they do) and publicize their
desire for a speedy arrest and prosecution? The accusers would simply
ratchet up their rhetoric that NRA executive must be held personally
responsible for every gun crime committed in the United States (and
probably a few in Mexico too). Do they also believe that the ACLU should
be held responsible for crimes committed by people on parole or those who
have been released on a technicality? I kinda doubt it, even though both
organizations are simply trying to defend the rights of American citizens.
John Allen Muhammad is an ex-soldier and Gulf War veteran. He scored
"expert" in the Army's M-16 qualification course. Sorry, Jack Thompson,
your ridiculous assertion that the sniper gained his terrific abilities
from video games has finally been put to rest. As I covered earlier, the
entire suggestion was nonsense to begin with, though I doubt that it will
be the last time simpleton lawyer Jack Thompson argues the position.
Sarah Brady has used the sniper shooting to try to advance several
points of her group's anti-gun agenda. Even though the weapon used
doesn't appear to fall under the legal definition of "assault weapon", she
has argued that this attack demonstrates the need to renew the assault
weapon ban that expires next year. Of course, even the briefest thought
given to that argument shows how utterly hollow it is. The law is still
in effect... and did not stop these shootings. How exactly is it
important that we extend it? The law does not even cover the weapon used.
In other words, it's not even relevant to the situation. And finally,
each attack consisted of a single solitary shot. In other words,
the crimes would have been no different if the sniper had used a
bolt-action 5-shot .223 rifle, or a lever-action 6-shot .223 rifle, or
even a single-shot falling-block .223 rifle that contained no magazine at
all. Sarah Brady wants to convince us all that banning the rifle used
would have prevented these depraved attacks, an argument, it's quite
plain, is intellectually bankrupt.
Ballistic fingerprinting is now being thrown around as the solution to
all the nation's woes, especially by people who don't understand it. It
may surprise some to learn that a few years ago, I also endorsed the idea
of a distributed database of ballistic information. I didn't advocate a
centralized government database of records, but rather information kept by
each manufacturer. It wasn't until the actual process of ballistic
fingerprinting was explained to me that I realized why the entire concept
was flawed and could never work. Rather than go into a bunch of details
here, I'll link to an article by
Dave Kopel & Paul H. Blackman who explain it far better than i ever
|Jack Thompson, idiot at large
Friday, October 11, 2002 8:37 AM
Jack Thompson, idiot at large, has deduced that the Maryland police
should be focusing their attention on violent video games in order to
catch the Maryland sniper. He appeared this morning on the Today Show
(which is always willing to give morons a soapbox) discussing all the
"obvious" connections between these murders and video games. Is Jack
Thompson a detective? An expert on shooting and marksmanship? An expert
on video games? No, he's the moron lawyer who tried to sue game makers
after the Paducah shootings in Kentucky.
Thompson's basis for blaming video games? Here are his "reasonings":
1) "One-shot one-kill" is the basis for numerous video games.
Actually, I play a lot of games and I've found this to be completely
untrue. In most of them, the goal is simply to eliminate targets, and it
doesn't matter how many shots you use. And of course, those video games
that do have this aspect borrow it from real life sniper training. In
other words, this is a case of art imitating life, not the other
way around. But like most fools, Jack Thompson is flabbergasted by the
concept of cause and effect. "One-shot one-kill" was not invented
by video games.
2) Games have "God mode", which reflects the message found on the
discovered tarot card. Tompson explained that while playing games in god
mode, your targets never shoot back. This is, of course, a completely
inaccurate statement. In games with god mode, this setting merely makes
you invulnerable to enemy fire. That little inaccuracy aside, delusions
of divinity have been around for centuries before video games, and they
have often have been linked to mass murder. Did Son of Sam ever play a
video game in which he took orders from a talking dog? Did Jim Jones play
a video game where he poisoned Kool-Aid? Did David Koresh play Quake in
"Jesus mode"? And of course none of this explains the tarot card,
something not exactly common in FPS games.
3) Video games teach you how to shoot. This is the argument he used
in his attempt to pin Michael Carneal's school shooting to games like
Quake and Doom. It's also his most assinine and ridiculous position.
"Even though he'd never fired a handgun" Thompson says in defense of his
assertion. What he doesn't mention is that Michael Carneal had received
firearms training on shooting a rifle, and had also practiced with
his murder weapon before the shooting spree. He also doesn't explain how
a video game is going to teach shooting fundamentals when it's all about
moving a mouse and crosshairs on a screen. Do you know any video games
that teach trigger squeeze, the single most important aspect of accurate
shooting? I don't. Do you know any that encourage proper hold, the use
of a rest or skeletal bracing? I sure don't. Even the arcade games with
rifles have them mounted so that weight and other things aren't a factor.
How many games do you know that teach proper breathing control? I've only
ever seen a few that even try to simulate it, one of them being the Army's
"America's Army." Even that, though, can't compare to the real thing, and
doesn't take into account synchronizing with your hearbeat in order to
achieve maximum accuracy. And you know how many games I've played that
include accurate bullet drop or wind deflection? Zero. I have
never played a game with either of these, even though they are two of
the most basic aspects of long-range target shooting. Accurate
shooting can NOT be taught by video games. As both a gamer and a
shooter, I can attest to this simple fact, as can anyone else who has
any experience in both subjects. To assert anything to the
contrary merely demonstrates a person's total ignorance.
Jack Thompson is a pathetic hack who is simply trying to drum up some
exposure by cashing in on a series of horrific crimes. In his Today Show
interview, he explained that he'd been trying to contact the Maryland
police on the sniper case, but hadn't yet received any reply. Good.
That means that they have some intelligence up there. What does Thompson
expect them to do? Go to Counter-Strike message boards and post "d1d ne1
h3r3 sh00t p33ps in m4ryl4nd???" Maybe they should be focusing their
attention on trying to find a mass murderer. You think?
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