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Comment Re:Who watches the watchers (Score 1) 243

You have not provided any positive definition of the word "republic," only asserted it as a simple antonym of monarchy. As I understand the "republic, not democracy" meme, those who buy into it (and I am rather sympathetic myself) are bemoaning the fact that the central government is controlled by a specific, entrenched political class who determine the choices set in front of the electorate. This situation is just as dangerous as an unfettered monarch, albeit in different ways. Simple assertions that the system is supposed to be a democracy do not address the division of labor which creates specalists in manipulating the levers of centralized power.

Comment Re:Died in a '69 Beetle (Score 2) 187

UNDERsteer, in a rear-engine car? I think you have a bit of confusion in terms there. Oversteer is what occurs when the rear of a vehicle loses traction due to weight imbalance. Additionally, Ralph Nader's criticism of the similarly rear-engined Corvair (and its contemporary Volkswagens) in "Unsafe at Any Speed" had a lot to do with that vehicle's use of a swing-axle transaxle, in which the rear axle's suspension only has one, vertical, degree of freedom and thus has a tendency to bounce upwards during oversteer incidents and risk overturning the whole car. 1969 and later Beetles had independent rear suspension, which does not exhibit this behavior. The Corvair was killed before it could be evolved in this direction.

Additionally, Porsche fanatics will tell you that the 911's rear engine placement is actually an advantage in terms of traction during corner exit, so long as you are not foolish enough to lift the throttle in mid-turn.

Comment Re:Well, government "oversight"... (Score 2, Insightful) 452

Yes, and now you have a thoroughly subsidized monocultural food production system which breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria and outputs decidely non-nutritious food at its most affordable levels; and the abusive working conditions you decry have simply been moved offshore, leaving the corporations who contract for such cheap labor to enforce our enlightened norms, if they feel like it. The moneyed interests which benefit from these arrangements have much more influence over the people in power than do you, the single voter. So while these problems may, eventually, be addressed by the government, it will not happen until they are almost catastrophes. This is the downside to such a heavily centralized republic.

Comment Save Star Trek? (Score 1) 404

What if the tech is used on a character who's supposed to look slightly inhuman? I'm thinking chiefly of Data from Star Trek, whom Brent Spiner has said he will never play again since an immortal android doesn't age. But if you could reset his looks to 1987, while also setting the character further apart from the normal humans surrounding him, I think that would be an enhancement rather than a drawback.

Comment Re:atlas yawned (Score 1) 660

I don't think that's quite a fair assertion to make. Local elected officials' hands are generally tied by policies set at the national and state levels. California is a strong example of this. Someone up above mentioned the extreme imbalance of tax payments made to the federal government vs. returns received. And I have experienced firsthand the enforced impotence of well-meaning school district officials in repairing severely outdated school plants due to positively Byzantine and constantly shifting state funding rules (which are typically rigged to benefit huge districts like Los Angeles). These are but two examples. The social engineering policies that define our society are set at the highest levels, and the power brokers at those levels do indeed come from an elite background or are validated by the elites who control the political and financial machinery. Populists and guys next door can make it to national office, usually in the House of Representatives, but they quickly learn to toe their party's line or be marginalized.

The American republic may have a system vaguely resembling democracy, but it is hardly participatory, and that is where the populist rage you decry comes from. It is especially intensified by the ease of individual interconnectivity that modern information technology enables. As these interconnected individuals come to feel more disempowered, their rhetoric becomes more intense. The same thing happened with liberals under Bush.

Comment Re:Worst Case (Score 1) 820

Part of it is that Next Generation ran longer and thus had a better opportunity to develop all the characters, making it more disappointing when the movies degenerated into Picard/Data stories. Insurrection and Nemesis were Rick Berman's incompetent attempts to balance the desires of both Star Trek fans and general audiences, something that JJ Abrams seems to have done quite deftly.

Comment Re:Hmmm... (Score 2, Insightful) 444

In a way, the wormhole aliens were simply a logical extension of the ideas they began exploring with the character of Q. Q chose to present himself as easily relatable, essentially a human with boundless control over space and time. However, it was easy for Picard to dismiss Q as a god due to his human appearance, which included such flaws as hubris and a willingness to pass judgment. The Prophets, on the other hand, had a completely different non-linear perspective that was not friendly to human comprehension (or easy writing). Thus Sisko and co. had a much harder time dismissing them.

The theme of relating to superhuman intelligences is found throughout Star Trek. It's just too bad that later attempts at exploring it failed so miserably, such as the Q episodes of Voyager.

Comment Re:Isn't it, though? (Score 1) 194

The front companies provide the illusion of choice, but the American Medical Association holds a monopoly on licensing for conventional care, the drug companies are focused mainly on securing patent monopolies above anything else, and the insurance companies themselves have an army of lobbyists to keep them in their places of privilege.

Note also that neither Clinton nor Obama seriously advocated for a single-payer system during the recent election. Both proposed federal subsidies for existing insurance companies, touting it as the more politically realistic choice. I don't support state-monopolized medicine myself, but I can't see such a proposal as anything other than crackpot realism, which is the first refuge of scoundrels.

Technology (Apple)

Submission + - Woz Details His Plans for Energy-Efficient House (

An anonymous reader writes: ECN magazine posted a long interview with the Woz. "Apple Inc. co-founder and legendary hacker Steve Wozniak recently found a new passion in energy-efficienct housing. Last month he told PC World magazine, 'I have a long dream to build my own house in a very energy-efficient approach,' and here at ECN we thought you'd like to know more. So we interviewed Woz by email. Here is a transcript of our questions and his answers." Good insight into the mind of a living genius!

Submission + - Carmack's Rage, plus games for the Wii & DS

ILikeRed writes: In a Quakecon 2007 interview, John Carmack introduced his new high end game Rage, and then went on to call the Wii "a spark of newness". He talks about creating a Quake Arena themed game for the DS, and porting Orks & Elves to the Wii. He was less than happy with current cell phone hardware and Java however.

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