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Babylon 5/Star Trek and Serious Sci-Fi about the Shape of Things to Come
Posted: 01 June 2010 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 301 ]
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I watched each of the incarnations of Star Trek from the beginning, and I’ve found that both TOS and TNG were well done and with a minimum of unnecessary fantasy.  I also enjoyed some of the more far-out episodes (such as those you mentioned, D-M), not for any attempt at reality, but rather as metaphors to examine present social conditions. 

Of course a socialist utopia can work.  As we develop more and more automation, people will need to work less and less to produce the value society needs.  We can either lay off workers who will sink into poverty while the business owners collect more and more of the value (money).  The latter leads to a plutocracy, as appears to be happening now, and this is inherently unstable.  If we’re still around 400 years from now I’d guess that much of the world will be a “socialist utopia.”

By the way, D-M, the correct comparative of “much” is “more”, not “better.”

Occam

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Posted: 01 June 2010 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 302 ]
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Of course a socialist utopia can work.  As we develop more and more automation, people will need to work less and less to produce the value society needs. We can either lay off workers who will sink into poverty while the business owners collect more and more of the value (money).

How so?  If we continue to increase automation, rendering work unnecessary—for those who don’t maintain the machines anyway, unless machines maintain themselves—then what motivation is there for people to do anything?  Why would people bother to work if they can get everything they desire at any time?  Where is the motivation for people to enter into high stress, highly demanding but necessary careers if there is no tangible motivation?  Sure, some will do it for the challenge or because they like it, but surely such motivations would not fill society’s demands.  Even innovation and research would slow and degrade without compensatory motivations.

As for laying workers off: What other option is there?  No one is going to keep people on payroll if they don’t do anything.

The latter leads to a plutocracy, as appears to be happening now, and this is inherently unstable.  If we’re still around 400 years from now I’d guess that much of the world will be a “socialist utopia.”

Or a horrifically impoverished and soul crushing dystopia.

By the way, D-M, the correct comparative of “much” is “more”, not “better.”

You are correct sir.  Please excuse my error.  I have a bad error of not proofreading my posts.

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Posted: 01 June 2010 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 303 ]
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Quoting D-M:

If we continue to increase automation, rendering work unnecessary—for those who don’t maintain the machines anyway, unless machines maintain themselves—then what motivation is there for people to do anything?  Why would people bother to work if they can get everything they desire at any time?  Where is the motivation for people to enter into high stress, highly demanding but necessary careers if there is no tangible motivation?  Sure, some will do it for the challenge or because they like it, but surely such motivations would not fill society’s demands.  Even innovation and research would slow and degrade without compensatory motivations.

I’ve been retired for 20 years and have had no monetary motivation to expend any effort.  However, I’ve been a youth advisor, treasurer for an organization, write articles, contribute to helping disabled, helped a young neighbor with a plumbing problem, etc. 

When I was employed at a fairly high pay rate, I spent about 60 hours a week on my “job”, but I only worked 4 hours a month.  That was filling out my expense reports - the rest of the time was fun and play.  I enjoyed the people, I enjoyed solving problems creatively, I enjoyed learning new things, I enjoyed researching new areas.  I don’t feel I’m unique or even unusual.  I believe that as people are raised with early inculcation of ethics and humanism, almost all will occupy themselves in helping others, learning, developing and inventing, doing research, and enjoying themselves. 

I realize we have very different outlooks on our lives and society’s future.  Unfortunately, neither of us will be around long enough to see which of us is right.

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Posted: 01 June 2010 02:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 304 ]
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I realize we have very different outlooks on our lives and society’s future.

Yeah, I’m rather pessimistic and cynical in my view of humanity and how we ‘function’ together.  The sad thing is, being cynical leaves me right most of the time.  Kind of depressing, huh?  wink

Unfortunately, neither of us will be around long enough to see which of us is right.

Indeed.  Unless some breakthrough in life extension comes along and we can actually afford it.

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Posted: 02 June 2010 06:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 305 ]
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We have been screwing up the technology with our social-psychology since 1900.

For all practical purposes efficient assembly lines are replicator technology.  Henry Ford almost did things right with the Model-T.  He should have updated the design every 5 years instead of making the same thing for almost 20.  The mechanical engineering technology was actually advancing significantly then.  But since it was possible to make planes do 400+ mph in WWII what has been the point of changing the designs of cars every year for the last 60?

So now our nitwit economists can’t tell us what has been lost on the depreciation of all of the crap and our so called educators can’t suggest that accounting be mandatory in our schools.  So in school we get crap science and crap economics.

Here is some sci-fi economics from the 50s.

Cost of Living by Robert Sheckley
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29458/29458-h/29458-h.htm

and 60s

Subversive by Mack Reynolds
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/23197/23197-h/23197-h.htm

And of course there is Star Trek

House of Quark
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWQWs6Z3NNc

Watch this from 1:10
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TUct3CUNYU

Entire episode:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNSxaOtc_Pk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8BezGKZH3Y
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKSslPChvQw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TUct3CUNYU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbxP2G3QKdM

There is no way of knowing what this society would be like if accounting had been mandatory in the schools and teachers had been telling kids about planned obsolescence in the 60s.  But there is no excuse for having economists that can’t do algebra.

Now we have the planned obsolescence of computers.  Macro$cam Vista and the iPad that doesn’t have a USB port.  My 3 year old PMA400 has 2 USB ports, a 30 gig hard drive and fits in my pocket.

[23670]
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Posted: 03 June 2010 11:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 306 ]
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I enjoyed SNG when it was on the air, but I refused to watch the re-runs.  (I just didn’t want to see it again, leave well enough alone.  The re-runs always ruin the shows, making them into photocopies of what they original looked like.)  I saw some of ST-Voyager too, and that was pretty good, I liked the Capt. Janeway character, the writers really ran her through the ringer and so that was interesting to see, she had good poise and seemed intelligent through trials.  smile 

They were fun shows, the SNG had a good atmosphere, the ship was a great character, (that’s the engineer in me).  I thought that Will Wheaton’s (Westley) character was good, wide-eyed, intelligent, curious.  I liked the Gates McFadden character too, she was intelligent, care-taking, clever.  And, of course, I liked the engineer character, Geordi.  And yes, Mriana, I liked the Deanna Troi character too.  smile  Both of those shows are fuzzy memories for me now, I’m surprised that they are fuzzy.  I had to look up some of the names.  It was fun to hear them explain all the technology (as I studied real technology in school, discovering the Internet, sending emails using pine, logging into the Sun mini-computer with the Sun Sparc stations or with Kermit on the IBM compatibles, I was steeped in tech.! grin ), I glad that they kept the explanations consistent.

I’ve seen a couple of the movies, but can’t say anything good about any.  I did like the laughs that I got from the original show when they’d throw giant Styrofoam rocks at each other and they’d bounce right off, then the actor would ham-it-up.  That must have been fun-for-all!  So campy.  LOL  I’ve only seen that one as re-runs, I can’t say many good things about it, I thought that the Capt. was a marauder, not a discoverer. sick

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Posted: 30 June 2010 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 307 ]
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Hey, the thread is beyond 24,000!  500 views in a month.

I think Star Trek is really rather AUTHORITARIAN.

All that talk about careers and it comes across like only people in Star Fleet matter.

Sisko made a crack about the authoritarianism of Cardassian culture and how it showed in the architecture of the station but it permeates the Star Trek series.  Thou shalt worship thy captain.  Whorf supposedly intimidated by Sisko.  LOL

TV sci-fi is really about us here and now.  Science fiction literature is much more intellectually wide ranging.

This is from before Star Trek.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30339/30339-h/30339-h.html

psik

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Posted: 30 June 2010 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 308 ]
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TV sci-fi is really about us here and now.  Science fiction literature is much more intellectually wide ranging.

Which is why I read much more sci-fi than I watch.  And why most of the TV sci-fi I do watch is stuff like Doctor Who and Eureka.

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Posted: 01 July 2010 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 309 ]
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Sci-fi is fun and campy.  But learning real science and technology is so much more fascinating and enthrolling, to study the true greats of history, to really touch even just a small bit of their brains… I find it to be humbling and amazing, our society is wonderful to give people that opportunity.  All of the amazment of sci-fi, but all real, if you really look for it.

Sci-fi is fiction, and so it is in a different rehlm… people are free to take a grain of truth and dream of the wonders that might happen.  It’s good that it stimulates people, its easy to access, so it touches more people.  The only aspect that really upsets me is that I wish more people would realize that fiction is not an end to itself, there’s more reality to discover.  I’m sure that many people here know that already.  smile

In the end a balance of fiction and reality is pleasant, I think.

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Posted: 02 July 2010 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 310 ]
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Are you saying that reality and fiction aren’t the same?  But….but….I’m a level 20 wizard dammit.  FIREBALL!

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Posted: 05 July 2010 11:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 311 ]
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Oh, I always try to discuss reality… try anyway HA!

John G. Roberts is not really the Chief Justice, Roberts is really keeping his record setting number of promises of respecting stare decisis, Roberts isn’t overturing decades of precedent, Roberts isn’t treating fictitious legal entities as though they are citizens with real rights of speech and such (show me a mouth on a company and I’ll show you a invisible pink unicorn!), Roberts isn’t opening up sex offenders (including merely the consensual adult S&M players; party, football game, and wardrobe malfunctioning streakers; seventeen year old lovers who don’t break-up after one has their eighteenth birthday; people with copies of Penthouse magazine, and a vibrating dildo; and other non-consequential cases) opening them to infinite re-encarceration, Eddie Tabash’s pre-2008 predictions that the Supreme Court is just a numbers game and the right-wing extremists will take it soon is not coming true ...  <he clicks his red slippers together three times, plugging his ears with Toto tightly, eyes squeezed closed, saying “There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.”>

Don’t worry about me man, just keeping it real.  cool smile

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Posted: 07 July 2010 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 312 ]
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You know, I like sci-fi and other works of fiction because they’re less horrible than real life.  The real world sucks.

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Posted: 07 July 2010 07:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 313 ]
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Dead Monky - 07 July 2010 02:12 PM

You know, I like sci-fi and other works of fiction because they’re less horrible than real life.  The real world sucks.

You really think that, DM? I think we enjoy fiction because it delivers sadness, adventure, romance, laughter, etc., in concentrated doses. If anything, I think one could say (I personally would not) that the real world is boring compared to fiction.

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Posted: 08 July 2010 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 314 ]
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George - 07 July 2010 07:57 PM
Dead Monky - 07 July 2010 02:12 PM

You know, I like sci-fi and other works of fiction because they’re less horrible than real life.  The real world sucks.

You really think that, DM? I think we enjoy fiction because it delivers sadness, adventure, romance, laughter, etc., in concentrated doses. If anything, I think one could say (I personally would not) that the real world is boring compared to fiction.

So many people are boring compared to SF characters by some authors.

Heinlein sort of made a comment on that with his short story It’s Good to be Back.

It is almost a comment on humanity. We can’t solve our problems because of so many dummies.

So it gets worse and worse and ....  But there is no Moon colony like in Heinlein’s story.

http://books.google.com/books?id=ybXzaTipwLsC&pg=PA20&lpg=PA20&dq=heinlein++“it’s+good+to+be+back”&source=bl&ots=WX0adZZw1A&sig=ONltLcQrJ5BXlKBFm6dUInvhKFc&hl=en&ei=N-41TK-QMMHcnAernvH_CQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBEQ6AEwAA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0yQunhOaU0

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Posted: 08 July 2010 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 315 ]
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You really think that, DM? I think we enjoy fiction because it delivers sadness, adventure, romance, laughter, etc., in concentrated doses. If anything, I think one could say (I personally would not) that the real world is boring compared to fiction.

*shrugs*  Boring may be more apt.  The real world is boring.  Sure, there are some really freaking awesome things in it.  Like neutron stars and quasars and whatnot, but everyday life is rather tedious and dull.  It’s also hard, frustrating, arbitrary, and seems designed to crush the life out of people.  So yeah, in some ways fiction is more fun.  Why do you think people do drugs?  They let them forget about their shitty, shitty lives for a while.

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