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Spring Bass

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About Spring Bass

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    Servant of the Sunken Ship
  • Birthday 01/01/1986

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  1. Technically viable, but logistically challenging. It couldn't take off from regular airports, meaning you'd have to travel to a launch site separate from existing major cities by some distance (either an off-shore platform or more remote launch site on regular ground). And it wouldn't just be competing with subsonic air travel - there are serious efforts underfoot to revive supersonic air travel, at least over oceanic routes.
  2. Spring Bass

    Chernobyl (miniseries)

    Two of them are, although one of them died back in 2005 (but not from anything radiation-related - it was heart disease). I've watched the first two episodes at least three times each - they're incredibly re-watchable. I'm trying to work myself up to watch the third episode again, but it's so incredibly sad to see what happened with the firefighters. Jared Harris is excellent unsurprisingly - only thing I can think of where he was underwhelming was as Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes 2, and that's because they didn't give him much to work with.
  3. Spring Bass

    SpaceX's Big Falcon Topic 2

    Don't celebrate yet. A bunch of astronomers on Twitter have pointed out that the full constellation for StarLink alone - never mind any additional ones put up by other companies - would have serious negative effects on both professional and amateur astronomy and stargazing. Musk claimed no one would be able to see them after dusk, but that appears to be wrong - some of the sightings were well into the night, and those same astronomers have pointed out that a couple hundred of the full constellation would be visible all night long in high-latitude locations. That makes it potentially a global problem for SpaceX, when opposition arrises to further deployment of StarLink.
  4. Spring Bass

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    The Koch Brothers were in the libertarian party until the 1980s, by which time the conservative movement that took over the Republican Party was nearly three decades old and had shown its power. They've played no small part in the 21st century in helping to promote that, but they were piggy-backing on a movement that already was strong and primed to listen to what they were pushing. Notably, whenever they deviated from that movement, they had little to show for it. None of their criminal reform stuff got any traction in the Republican Party. Money in American politics mostly matters when turnout is low and the candidates are a bunch of relative nobodies who have to get their profile out there (plus it does take some minimum amount of funding just to run a campaign). That's why it carries more heft in state and local politics than in higher-profile federal elections.
  5. Spring Bass

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    It's not actually clear that Russian industrialization and economic growth was any faster on overage over the nearly 30 years that it happened, than it had been in Imperial Russia in the thirty years prior. Germany and Japan also industrialized faster and more effectively during their periods of industrialization. Of course, as with basically all economic statistics before World War 2, it's hard to determine such things for certain. I'd be on board for making it much harder to inherit that much money (or impossible), but newly created billionaires tend to be drawn from a pool of ruthless, ambitious, lucky people. I consider it a virtue that we channel most of them into the private sector to compete over who has the biggest share value (sometimes creating valuable companies in the process and in any case being more removed from anything resembling straightforward political power), rather than creating a system where their inevitable competition for power and prestige has to go even more through the state , breaking the system in the process. The biggest problem is that we don't do enough to limit them from passing that on to heirs, and we don't have as strong countervailing forces in the form of unions and labor-friendly rules as other countries do.
  6. That wouldn't surprise me. I've heard that the main reason they filmed the Hobbit movies in New Zealand as opposed to somewhere cheaper was because Peter Jackson was still overseeing them. Without him involved and with a pretty big gap in when they're setting the show versus the movie stuff (the only characters present in both will be elves, and I'm pretty sure they're going to recast at least Elrond), they probably didn't feel any need to stick around in New Zealand.
  7. Spring Bass

    Pet Sematary Discussion (Spoilers)

    The book admittedly is a rather slow burn of a story, and like most King novels he can get pretty indulgent in his writing. That's a problem with even his good books (I like the original edit of The Stand much more than the unabridged version). For example, they cut the whole bit about Louis being on bad terms with his in-laws for this film, and it wasn't much of a loss. There's easier ways to have Louis and Jud be the only people to know that Church really died before resurrecting him, and have Louis send his family away so he can hatch the resurrection plan. EDIT: Actually, that's a weird bit in the movie. Louis tells Rachel that Church got killed before he comes back.
  8. Spring Bass

    Pet Sematary Discussion (Spoilers)

    Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers! I didn't see a thread for this, and I searched and nothing recent came up. I guess talk about other King adaptations as well if you want, but put those in spoilers if there are spoilers (and it's for something new, not a 20-30 year old book). That sucked, although I was mostly annoyed and disappointed. It really felt like they missed the point of the novel, and didn't replace it with anything good. The movie's in too much of a hurry to get to the horror, to get to jump-scares, so they can then do a Third Act that is mostly Ellie on a rampage. Whereas in the novel, Zombie Gage (it's Ellie in this one, which I find understandable given practical limitations in film-making) literally only appears on Page 491, less than 50 pages from the ending. He's not even really that dangerous - he kills Jud because Jud is a tired 84-year-old man who trips over Church, and he kills Rachael because she embraces him and he surprises her. The horror comes from the inevitability of Louis' downfall once he follows his friend up into the Little God Swamp, from the way that the Burial Ground warps his grief and despair to make him do something that he knows won't work, but tries anyways. Jud was the weirdest part of this. He's supposed to be this amiable old guy that Louis quickly becomes friends with, and that the family likes. But the movie mostly shows him as this unsettling weirdo with a spooky looking house, and he gets like one scene where they seem genuinely friendly together. When they have the bit in the Third Act where he's like "I'm sorry Louis, I screwed up, I wanted to help you and I screwed up" it just feels so unearned because they don't feel like friends. It all feels kind of small and claustrophobic, too. The Pet Sematary is tiny, it feels like they're five minutes away from where they do the cairns in the Burial Ground, and ugh. There's some cool shots in it, and I liked that Ellie initially comes back kind of dead and unsettling rather than immediately evil and sly (although since they had Church act nasty from the get-go even that isn't much set-up).
  9. Spring Bass

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    Speaking of competition for Amazon:
  10. Spring Bass

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    For sure, and I never called for that in this thread. I actually think we could do a lot more to winnow out the socially negative billionaires (the heirs, those running mostly predatory companies, etc), and I'm in favor of a much stronger safety net, job guarantee, better union protections, and so forth. I take a pretty broad approach. If you have an economy that runs on the price system, that allows for the entrance and exit of privately owned firms in various lines of businesses, and where stuff can bought and sold (and borrowed against), you've got capitalism. It's not a particularly picky system about what it's combined with, and such an economy allows plenty of room for government to meddle around with the baseline rules, offer services publicly, own firms competing in the market, etc. It does tend to be a bit of an exception to that rule, although a lot of those are member-owned credit unions rather than worker-owned. There's a history of partnerships in the Financial Sector here in the US too (all of the Big Five Investment Banks were partnerships for decades). No idea why that's the case versus other sectors, where large-scale cooperatives don't seem to do so well. I think there's a difference between a system where that kind of stuff can help you get rich, and where it's realistically the only way to get and stay rich. The business folks in Venezuela who didn't do that stuff were at serious risk of expropriation.
  11. Spring Bass

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    That's their global revenue and employee count. The US share of it is smaller. A single company having a quarter of the market can't even dictate prices in its market, much less monopolize anything. Who cares? It's discount retail. They all drive hard bargains with their suppliers, because the margins are so low.
  12. Spring Bass

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    Good point. So why didn't it happen when Walmart was a much smaller firm, when it would have all been much more feasible? Same for all other big firms, mind you. I'm not trolling here. This is something has come up before, with attempts by groups of workers in the 19th century US to run their own factories, and in modern day cooperatives. It just doesn't work very well most of the time beyond small groups, which suggests that the type of founders who get these things going actually are quite rare and valuable. It's the economic system that drove the adoption of such technology. The Soviets tried to separate such technology from the economic system that created it, and the results were . . . not as good, to put it mildly. In fact, it never really worked. You read economic histories of the Soviet Union in the 1930s through 1950s, and the various state firms had to engage in strictly speaking illicit trade and practices with each other to meet their quotas. Aside from the big retail companies that do compete nationally with Walmart (Target, Costco, the Kroger Conglomerate), there are regional grocery and retail chains that can basically match them on most prices, the dollar store chains (which Walmart actually considers to be the biggest threat to their bottom line), Amazon, and of course the companies that compete directly on the higher-margin stuff that Walmart sells. It's even tighter if you go abroad and count the foreign chains as well. As for 26% . . . so what? That's far, far short of a monopoly, or even a majority. Why are you sympathizing with suppliers griping about their profit margins in dealing with Walmart? In response to what Khaleesi wrote up-thread, I think it's actually worse than that. The type of folks who don't start off as billionaires but become them (versus the heirs who inherit it) tend to be drawing from a pretty ruthless, ambitious set of folks. If you make it so the only way they can climb the ladder and compete with each other is to bend the government around them to protect themselves and what they control, that's what they're going to do - that's how you get really bad crony capitalism. To use Venezuela as an example in the atypical sense, a lot of business folk got screwed over by the regime. But those who did well at forming crony, crooked relationships with high figures in the regime have done quite well economically, and are rich. But they're not rich because their firms are actually competing to provide some type of good or service - they're rich by playing the connections game and corruption.
  13. Spring Bass

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    You just need a countervailing force and institutions that weaken any attempt to turn money directly into political power. Unions, basically, plus easier voting rights and the safety net. Most rich countries do a much better job of that than the US, even though they got billionaires too. I was pointing out the shortcomings of cooperatives earlier, but I actually do think there is some merit in having employees elect part of the board of publicly traded companies. And of course their rights to unionize should be protected.
  14. Spring Bass

    SpaceX's Big Falcon Topic 2

    I've read that one before. They don't appear to have actually tried to stop Elon from developing heavy lift rockets, so it seems like it was just griping.
  15. Spring Bass

    Billionaires, making the world a better place (for them)

    And there weren't giant companies when the existing set of giant firms took off? Walmart started off in the hyper-competitive discount retail market. Facebook started when MySpace was already a company with a couple hundred million users in essentially the same type of business. Amazon was up against Barnes and Nobles and Borders, not to mention any other site starting up to sell anything on the web. Google was wading into a crowded search engine field dominated by Yahoo. And yet literally a ton of them do. Walmart doesn't even have a majority share in retail in the US or elsewhere, never mind a monopoly. You missed the point - why are Walmart's employees still working for Walmart (or Amazon's for them), when they could all quit and start up a cooperative that they own? They have the expertise and the knowledge of how to run the company, and capital is cheap. What is the Walton family gonna do if all their staff quits? They're not like feudal aristocrats - they can't send out the knights and men-at-arms to kill a bunch of them and force them to return to the metaphorical fields. They can't even send out the Pinkertons to beat people, like the robber barons of the Gilded Age. There's no evidence of that. And in any case, you missed my point - why would they even have a choice? If the employees of the big firms all quit and form their own worker-owned cooperatives, there's no other rival investments in the immediate future. There's also no particular reason to break them up. Amazon's not even a monopoly (or close to it) in online retail, never mind retail in general. The company is quite popular in the US, and it recycles its profits back into the firm for further growth and expansion rather than shoveling it out as buybacks to line the pockets of investors.
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