Archive | 8:45 pm

Your Tax Dollars at Work

24 Jan

January 25, 2011

According to Forbes.com, New York is the sixth most taxed state.

 

 

Since that article was published in 2008 things have only gotten worse. Everyone wonders where the money goes and no one can tell you. Obviously, much of it gets frittered away due to gross mismanagement, as evidenced by the following sign.

 

 

 

 

Though I didn’t take that particular picture (lucky for me someone else did) I saw it on a bus this morning. It reads:

If it’s broke, fix it.
Instead of waiting to fix everything in a station at once, we’re fixing critical parts as soon as they need fixing. We’re now at over 100 stations and counting.

They are so proud of their common sense policy that they post it all over the transit system. They should be ashamed that they ever did it any other way. How many mothers give their children the same advice? If you break it or it is broken, fix it. It is the correct and responsible thing to do.

What the MTA used to do was not fix anything. How many New Yorkers have put up with broken stairs, out of order elevators, missing signs, burnt out bulbs, and non-working speakers? Instead of replacing or fixing them, the MTA used to wait until so many things went wrong that they had to renovate the station. And in the meantime the riding public was inconvenienced.

And some fool in the MTA’s advertising or public relations department thinks that these signs make the MTA look good. My tax money pays for those signs.

To make matters worse, while New York City has nearly 470 subway stations the sign proudly says that “We’re now at over 100 stations and counting.”  That means they are only fixing a pathetic 21% of the stations. And since the sign points out that they are fixing “critical” parts, I doubt that speakers and bulbs are being fixed at all.

It says nothing about cleaning the stations and trust me, they aren’t doing that either.

Thank you Mr. He-Had-to-Change-the-Law-to-Get-a-Third-Term Mayor Bloomberg.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
A stitch in time saves nine.
And replacing a few light bulbs and fixing some speakers is cheaper than renovating an entire train station.

The Sad History of Star Trek Trading Cards

24 Jan

January 24, 2011

Star Trek. We’ve got to support this little TV show or it’ll never catch on.

Captain Kirk. Mr. Spock. Dr. McCoy. The red-shirted guy who is always the first one to die. Today they are all cultural icons. You don’t have to be a nerd to know the Enterprise’s number. (You do, though, have to be one to speak Klingon.) These things are modern icons.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. Before there were a dozen movies, before there were four spin-off shows, before Star Trek was a franchise, it was a struggling television show that NBC didn’t like. It is television lore how Star Trek was cancelled in the sixties and fan support brought it back. In those early years the poor show got low ratings and no respect. What do I mean? Take a look at these early Star Trek card sets and see for yourself.

All  images are from www.wixiban.com, a great site to learn about the worlds of Star Trek merchandise than and now. They were the inspiration behind this post.

In 1967 the first card set came out. They are pretty basic, with black and white pictures and plain text captions. Despite that, it happens to be my favorite set because, even though some of the pictures seem too dark, they lend the series a sci-fi quality not seen in other card sets. On the other hand, they do have some drawbacks. Some extreme drawbacks.

From wixiban:
“Most of the backs have text that is pure fabrication and is unrelated to any episode, let alone the one the image is from. They appear to be written by someone who never saw an episode”

Into a New World

CARD BACK- Captain Kirk, Spock, and crew members step off an elevator into a new world. Orbiting unknown planet Thorasian II, Kirk learns that any downward movement beams him onto the planet. He can return his crew if the ship moves upward. In one bone-jarring move, the Enterprise frees itself.
 
Ah, I can see the solicitations now: “Captain Kirk gets trapped in an elevator. Can Scotty get him out? Find out tonight at 10! Only on NBC!”

 

 The next set of cards moved ahead into the wonderful world of color. For some reason, the set only covers one episode, “What are Little Girls Made of?” That’s the vaguely HP Lovecraft inspired season one episode where Kirk finds Dr. Roger Korby and the robot Ruk, created by “The Old Ones.” Korby makes a robot duplicate of Kirk and tries to take over the Enterprise, but Ruk turns on him and helps destroy Korby, who turns out to also be a robot. (BTW- I am not worried about spoilers for a show which even your dog knows.)

It isn’t a bad episode to base a whole set around. It has interesting sets, a bunch of guest stars, and a whole lot of mistakes in the card set.

From wixiban:
“Kirk’s first name is given as ‘Roger’ on the first card; Spock is described as part ‘Martian’ on card #2; and the android is named ‘Rock’ instead of Ruk consistently throughout the set.”

Captain Roger T. Kirk

CARD BACK- Roger Kirk, Captain of Star Cruiser, United Space Enterprises. Out on a 5-year mission in space to complete research, explore and enforce space law. Each journey brings new challenges and danger for Kirk and his experienced crew.
 

No, I didn’t make a typo there. It really says “Captain of Star Cruiser, United Space Enterprises” so I guess the ship is named “Star Cruiser” and Kirk works for “United Space Enterprises.” I hope that one day Kirk gets out of middle management and gets promoted from Captain to Vice-President in Charge of Marketing.

The next Star Trek set came out in 1975 and is actually a sticker set from Canada. Oddly, four of the images are not from Star Trek at all but strange drawings of things never shown or hinted at on the program.

What episode did I miss?

I can find nothing that screams Star Trek any less than that robot.

The 1976 Topps Star Trek set consisted of 88 cards and covered all the episodes. All the episodes, but not all the characters.

From wixiban:
“Sulu fans were out of luck with this set as he is neither pictured nor even mentioned on any card or sticker, not even the cast listing on card 13!”

"Men" of the Enterprise

Interestingly, Nichelle Nichols is one of the “men” of the Enterprise. Do they know something we don’t know? I know that Kirk and Uhura had the first interracial kiss on television, did they have the first homosexual kiss too?

 There were no more sets based on the TV series made until the 1990’s and by then they unfortunately got it right.

So there it is, the sad history of Star Trek trading cards. I miss the old days when Star Trek was so little regarded that you could get away with sticking a random drawing of a fishman in a deck and calling it Star Trek. Today Star Trek fans are so obsessive we get technical manuals of imaginary starships. Imagine if this came out today? Thousands of guys in rubber ears declaring “worst card set ever” all over the net.

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