Michael “Worf” Dorn’s New Kickstarter Project

Michael Dorn, Mr. Worf from “Star Trek: The Next Generation TV” series, started a Kickstarter project to raise $750,000 USD for a new romantic-comedy movie, “Through The Fire,” featuring a who’s who cast from the Star Trek universe.

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, you can make a pledge to fund a creative project. If the project meets its initial funding goal after 60 days, the project gets funded and your credit card gets charged. There are different pledge levels with various incentives. The more you pledge, the cooler the incentives.

The coolest incentive for this particular project is a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” pinball machine signed by the ST:TNG cast for a $5,000 USD pledge. Alas, it’s out of my price range. I pledged $35 USD for an autographed picture of Michael Dorn, my name in the credits and a digital copy of the movie.

Updated 24 September 2012: This Kickstarter project was cancelled after it became obvious that the minimum funding goal would fall short by $700,000 USD.

A Lacking Curiosity About NASA’s Mars Rover

NASA Curiosity Rover

On Monday night I was busy writing a new blog post. At least, I was trying to. With the 2012 London Olympics blaring from the TV in the living room and NASA TV blaring from my roommate’s iPad in the dining room, I was getting a conflicting headache in my office. If that wasn’t bad enough, Twitter was going bonkers. Seven minutes of terror became seven minutes of distractions as NASA landed their newest rover, Curiosity, on the planet Mars with picture-perfect precision.

Since I’m taking a summer break to restructure my writing business, I’m busy staying on top of current tasks like blog posts and implementing some big changes. I’m so busy that I don’t have time to watch NASA drop a one-ton vehicle on the Martian surface or the pair of Redbox DVDs —“Lockout” and “Piranha DD”—that I picked up for the weekend. I couldn’t avoid it entirely. I live in a crowded studio apartment, where the living room, dining room and office with a pair of twin beds in between are crammed into an L-shaped room.

Like the Olympics, I wasn’t going to avoid NASA TV. Although I didn’t watch it, I caught the grist of the audio feed and monitored the Twitter tweets that raced across my timeline. The tweets before, during and after the landing were what really distracted me (listed below in no particular order).

  • Some people found it ironic that they were watching NASA TV on an iPad that has more computing power than the flight computer for the Apollo 11 moon launch. (Monday was also Neil Amstrong’s 82nd birthday.)
  • The best way to watch history in the making is to have NASA TV and the Twitter timeline opened in separate side-by-side windows on your computer.
  • Editorial cartoonist Jeffery Koterba tweeted a Curiosity cartoon that he drew. Yes, you have to go out a long ways to find someone with an unbiased opinion about the 2012 presidential election. Mars is definitely a red planet.
  • Adrianne Curry’s Star Wars themed birthday pictures of her in a black bikini.
  • Since the initial black-and-white pictures of the wheel looked like ultrasound pregnancy pictures, I tweeted: “Bad, Rover, bad. You know you need to use protection.”
  • Here’s the proud father of all these ultrasound pregnancy pictures (via @Oatmeal).
  • Quote: “NASA scientists at their monitors, I think Jerry Lewis will break in and tell us to keep calling in w/donations” (via @EverettMaroon)
  • Quote: “If there is intelligent life on Mars, can you book me a room, thanks, because I am outta here?” (via @HogsAteMySister)

After the brouhaha was over, I took some Nyquil, went to bed, and woke up the next morning to finish the blog post before starting my non-writing tech job (i.e., the job that really pays the bills). As the search for extinct extraterrestrial life continues on the solar system’s most barren planet, I had an excellent idea for a science fiction short story involving the new Mars rover.

GOP 2012 Convention Supports Strip Clubs

Strip Club Sign

When Republicans hit Tampa, Florida, for their 2012 presidential convention in late August, they will drop their hard earned money on the strip clubs, spending three times more than Democrats—$150 USD vs. $50 USD, respectively—for lap dances. According to one club owner, the biggest spenders were from the Christian evangelical  groups like the Promise Keepers.

This isn’t surprising. When you’re in the business of telling people how to live, the rules applies everyone else—except you, of course. While everyone else has to live the straight and narrow Christian life, you can end a long night at the convention by blowing your money at the strip clubs and maybe bringing back a sweet young thing to your hotel room. These are small businesses and less fortunate women who need the financial support that a big convention brings to town. If there anything that Republicans support, it’s business and hypocrisy.

Remember Senator Larry Craig? The Republican from Idaho got arrested for picking up an uncover cop for gay sex in an Minneapolis airport bathroom. Now he’s claiming that he was on official Senate business in the bathroom to avoid being busted by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for using campaign funds to defend himself in court. (He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.) In particular, he was traveling from Idaho to Washington when he inadvertently foot tapped himself into a sex sting operation.

The Republican Party of California is on the verge of becoming a minor—if not, entirely third-rate—political party. The southern strategy that put Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan from California into the White House doesn’t work anymore. Being holier than thou and far-right of Barry Goldwater isn’t popular here since white folks are now the minority. The Democrats can bankrupt the state government and California can slide into the Pacific Ocean after an earthquake, but no one will remember the Republican Party.

Perhaps Professor Arnold Schwarzenegger can help the Republicans become a moderate political party—or bang the maid without having a love child.

Making Policy With Professor Schwarzenegger

California’s favorite maid-banging action hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger, turns up at a new gig to make policy at the Sol Price School of Public Policy with the Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy. If you’re a University of Southern California student interested in learning “post-partisan” policy, Professor Schwarzenegger—he earned an honorary degree from USC in 2009—will pontificate on his views of body building, acting, entrepreneurialism, governing and maid-banging. And let’s not the forget the fine art of leaving a hidden F-bomb in a public policy statement.

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The Las Vegas High Speed Rail Connection

Although the California high speed rail project looks like Governor Jerry Brown’s last attempt at establishing his legacy (or another boondoggle, it’s hard to tell), there’s a surprising new twist in the tracks: travel from San Francisco to Las Vegas in four hours. With a connection at Palm Springs, you can transfer to the privately-funded XpressWest high-speed rail train to speed across the desert to the City of Sin. The four-hour train trip will set you back $140 USD in today’s dollars. Or you could spend $80 USD on a ninety-minute airplane trip, if you’re not afraid of flying.

As reported in The San Jose Mercury News article:

Renamed last month from DesertXpress to XpressWest, the private venture eight years in the making is bankrolled chiefly by Vegas hotel developer Tony Marnell and supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Southern California politicians. One day, they dream of extending the line to Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Denver.

It’s at least a decade away for the Bay Area, however. First, California, which received $8 billion in tax funds Wednesday to begin construction on a separate, government-owned bullet train line, hopes to find the full $69 billion to send trains between San Francisco and Los Angeles by 2029. Meanwhile, the Vegas train developers must secure several billion dollars to build a rail line to connect to the state project at the desert city of Palmdale.

The California high-speed rail has the making of a very expensive boondoggle. If you look at the map, the most direct route between Los Angeles and San Francisco would be to run the tracks straight down the middle of the I-5 and make whatever connections needed to tie in the outlying communities. Unfortunately, politics came into play. The most indirect route was chosen to go east through all the towns in the Central Valley before coming back over west to connect with the San Francisco Bay Area.

Subsequently, the first section of the high-speed rail tracks will be laid in the Central Valley to connect Nowhere A to Nowhere B.

This reminds me of the compromise that Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority made for building the main light rail line. The objective was to move people from the bedroom communities in the south to the jobs in the north. Unfortunately, politics came into play. The main light rail line went through downtown San Jose, which reduced the light rail train speed from 65MPH to 35MPH and added an extra 30 to 45 minutes to the rush hour commute. A more direct route would have bypassed the downtown area and sent the line passing by the San Jose International Airport. If you’re heading to the airport, you can get off at the Metro station on North First Street and take a ten-minute shuttle bus into the airport.

The United States needs a major infrastructure project to connect far flung areas in the West, but I’m not sure if the high-speed rail as configured in California is the way to go.