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    Back in 2008, giddy Obama voters in California approved $10 billion to build a high-speed rail system to get you from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes, which would be nice. The latest announced plan, however, reverses the former notion to start with the difficult Southern California to...
  • @Mark Green
    Besides the staggering building costs, the problem here is density. California lacks it. We are not Japan.

    Therefore, high speed rain in California is a nice idea only; since once you reach your destination (unless it's SF or downtown LA) you still need a 'personal transport vehicle' (car) to get around.

    Even in the crowded northeast (between NY and Washington) Amtrak (rail service) loses millions each and every year. Personal vehicles are essential in vast, spread-out, non-urban areas; which describes most of California.

    Then there's price of completing this green project. Each leg of this Democrat jobs program will consume tens of billions of dollars just to build. Maintenance costs are extra. These immense costs will never be recovered via paying customers.

    Why not simply add dozens of (subsidized) buses (providing a real cost incentive) to all our major highways so that people can roll along in collective comfort while they play with their smart phones and computers? With fracking and emerging hybrid technologies on the rise, fossil fuel-powered vehicles could remain a affordable transportation option for decades to come.

    Ramped-up (and super-cheap cheap) bus service (using the 'car pool lane' in existing highways) could save California one hundred billion dollars going forward. With that in mind, let's put high speed rail back on the shelf where it belongs--at least for now.

    Not true.
    The AMTRAK NE Corridor breaks even. The rest of the routes lose money.
    If Amtrak were run more like a commuter rail system rather than an airline for business types, it would do even better.
    The new trendier Mega and Bolt intercity busses have hurt the intercity rails in the NE (young college types seem to like them, and they don’t have the stigma of Greyhound or Trailways), but they may be paving the way for a revival of rail.

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    • Replies: @gruff
    Have you ever noticed that the Bolt Bus logo is almost identical to the logo of the old British Union of Fascists?
    , @Ed
    Thanks for making the point I was going to make. In a discussion of rail, the claim that Amtrak loses money on the Northeast Corridor is so ignorant as to make me stop reading the rest of the comment. It subsidizes the rest of the system. And you don't even have to know much about transportation to know that.
    , @CJ

    The new trendier Mega and Bolt intercity busses have hurt the intercity rails in the NE (young college types seem to like them, and they don’t have the stigma of Greyhound or Trailways), but they may be paving the way for a revival of rail.
     
    Bolt Bus is owned by Greyhound.
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  • From the Washington Post right now: The first example shown is Sir Alec Guinness as Prince Feisal in Lawrence of Arabia. Is that really the best leadoff example of how bad movies are because of all that white privilege? Also from the Washington Post right now: And where are the organized complaints about the rampant...
  • @Lagertha
    Sheeesh, I read the whole list...how silly. I thought Emma Stone as a half Swedish-1/4 Chinese & 1/4Hawaiian was cast well, her face makes sense to me. Plus, the WaPo article didn't include the Egyptian, Omar Sharif playing the Russian, Yuri Zhivago. Or, Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya. Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig playing Swedes in Girl/Tattoo...they don't look Swedish, at least to me. Or the Wayans brothers in White Chicks...ok, dopey...digressing.

    However, in defense of the WaPo writer, now I know why I was annoyed with 'Carol' (I know, we're not discussing gay, here, but that's next) in that, they couldn't find actual lesbians to be the lovers in 'Carol?' I mean, I did not sense the passion/love...and I was grossed-out watching Cate and Rooney having sex. Or, was this just a porn flick of awesome babes, meant for teenage boys and men? Ha, ha, maybe I missed that angle.

    And, Omar Sharif as a German officer in “Night of the Generals” (opposite Peter O’Toole).

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  • Hey, what about Dean Martin being cast as a cowboy in some of those 1960s Westerns?

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    • Replies: @Jacobite
    Deano was famously obsessed with the genre his entire life.
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  • I had only been vaguely aware of the Elizabeth Holmes saga until recently. My impression from all the magazine covers had been that the celebrated Silicon Valley startup foundrix had invented some revolutionary disruptive new method for testing blood and made the Forbes 400 off her invention. Back in 2014, this high tech startup's board...
  • @tbraton
    "Brings to mind those hipsters in Brooklyn who were caught marketing imported, melted down French chocolate as their own home-brewed bean-to-bar artisanal chocolate at $10 per bar."

    That sort of "scam" has endless varieties. Many years ago, when I moved to Florida, I thought I would improve my language skills in a foreign language. I saw an ad in a magazine (NY Times Sunday magazine, as I recall) that offered tapes and books to go along with the tapes, so I ordered the set. "Audio Forum" was the company's name. When the materials arrived, the tapes all had the labels of the private company on them, but the books were from the U.S. Government Printing Office and labeled Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State. It was a good product, using native speakers on the audio portion, and I never thought much of it. After a while, I decided to order the second part of the course. I then discovered you could order the exact same course from the U.S. Government Printing Office for about a third of the cost. These were the same tapes and materials used by the State Department to train their personnel who were going overseas for assignment. Every language imaginable was covered. Since the materials were produced by the Government and were not copyrighted, what the clever private company was doing was buying the tapes and books from the GPO, relabeling the tapes with a label of their own, keeping the books in their original form, and selling the same product to the public at three times the price.(Or rerecording the tapes and just ordering the books from the GPO, which might have reduced their cost even more.) When I discovered that I could order the second part of the course from the GPO at 1/3 the price, I did so, of course. A few years ago I discovered that you can get the same stuff now for free just by downloading the recordings to your computer along with the accompanying written materials. It's a great resource for anyone who is trying to master a foreign language. I only wish that stuff was available when I was studying French in high school many years ago, but that was long before the technology like the Sony Walkman and the later Apple iPod came along to make its use convenient. I can't fault the private company. It was providing a useful service by advertising the product to the public and making it available to people who otherwise wouldn't know about the cheaper Government resource. I'm sure that kind of "thievery" goes on all the time in one form or other. It is the essence of trade: bringing products (like spices from the East) which are cheap in the place of origin to places that lack them (like Europe) but find them highly desirable but selling them at a much higher price. The prices start off high and enrich the people conducting the trade, but eventually market forces bring the prices down to the point where anyone can afford them.

    Chocolate is slightly different in that it involves a food product and that involves government regulation about "country of origin" and the like. But I understand that much of the olive oil that one buys from Greece or Italy is made from cheaper olives that are grown elsewhere in the Mediterranean area, such as North Africa or Spain. Greek or Italian olive oil commands a higher price because of the quality associated with those countries, but you have to be careful when you read the labels to make sure the oil is designated as made from olives grown in those countries and not from olives grown elsewhere and merely processed in Greece or Italy.

    Great.. What’s the link or website to those free audio files and materials for language learning?

    Thanks

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    • Replies: @Paco Wové
    Google "Foreign Service Language Institute".

    Some links:

    http://fsi-languages.yojik.eu/

    https://www.livelingua.com/fsi-language-courses.php

    http://www.openculture.com/2014/06/lessons-from-the-u-s-foreign-service-institute.html

    Mostly just repackagings of the same material, I think.
    , @tbraton
    Try this link: http://lifehacker.com/5523114/foreign-service-institutes-extensive-language-courses-are-available-free-online (scroll down the text to the bottom left and click on "FSI Language Courses"). Apparently, the free courses are provided by some non-profit outfit which is benefitting from the fact that the original material was not protected by copyright. I would ignore that reference to 1989. How much does a language change in 25 years? The basics remain the same.

    BTW I see Paco Wove has responded with other links that I haven't tried yet. But you get the general idea.
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  • From the New York Times: I see an ever-increasing amount of argumentation from brute numbers like this: liberals in the past couldn't possibly have been imprudent upon immigration policy because, uh, now there are 59 million immigrants here: Q.E.D! In your face! The quality of argumentation stays at about the same level as the headlines:...
  • @Anonymous
    Where is the 'immigration dividend'?

    Surely, if such a thing exists, then it's payable to the original stockholders, ie Americans of pre 1965 vintage.
    Now, reliable students of the subject are pretty certain that the immigrants themselves captured virtually all of the GDP growth attributed to their settlement into the USA.
    In other words, there was as darn to hell no such thing as an 'immigration dividend' in any way that that term can be honestly and truly understood.

    But there most definitely *is* an 'immigration tax' paid for by pre 1965 Americans.

    Hey,
    dividends?
    (1) the food is better
    (2) it’s more interesting now to work in a lab with a lot of females from China, Korea, etc….

    Other than that, I can’t see a lot of dividends. Most of my age cohort who were good mechanics, craftsmen, factory workers, landscapers, artisans, can forget about joining the middleclass though.

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  • It sucks being young, male, and single. Don't think so? Go to the Interactive Singles Map of the United States and see how it looks for the 20 to 39 age group. Almost everywhere single men outnumber single women. And the real picture is worse. For one thing, the imbalance is greater among singles without...
  • In order to assess this situation in a more realistic way one must somehow disentangle morbid obesity from age-bracketed ratios of single (available) men to single (available) women for each race. Many more women (20 or 30% ?) are simply grotesquely fat and are out of the romance/market pool for most men.
    This exacerbates the shortage of desirable women. It may also explain why there are seemingly more available (slim) asian women. Quite frankly, there are effectively three ‘genders’ 1) male, 2) female, and 3) morbidly obese. There are few pairings with gender category (3). On the other hand, many more men are marginalized and out of the marriage market due to 1) low intelligence, 2) physical disabilities, 3) drug addiction 4) legal problems and incarceration, 5) mental health issues, or are sequestered in the military on bases, ships, or overseas.

    Also, the shortage of marriageable women has been a constant of american history from colonial or frontier days till about WWI, when mass immigration ended for a while. On the other hand, Europe had the opposite problem: Too many women couldn’t find husbands for a variety of demographic reasons 1) war, 2) emigration, etc….. American women never had to try too hard to find a husband, which many explain the high incidence of obesity, ill-feminity, vulgar/un-cultured behavior so prevalent. This is a common observation among male AND FEMALE foreign visitors to the USA.

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  • Aaaagh! Enough. I keep reading that I should Honor Our Troops. On airline flights, I am asked to applaud Our Young Men in Uniform. Why, for God’s sake? What have Our Troops done for me except cause me great embarrassment, cost money better spent on anything else, and kill millions of people that I have...
  • @Truth
    You don't live, in Metro Detroit, any more than you do Karachi, so what do you care?

    who said I cared?

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    • Replies: @Truth
    Well you took time to give your opinion, and you even used ALL CAP EMPHASIS.
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  • @Truth

    It’s paradoxical that Fred views the thugs of the militarily as the hired criminals they truly are, yet, in at least one other article sees the police, who differ very little from them in mentality and behavior, as misunderstood heroes.
     
    I think he's nailed you between the eyes there, Freddy-boy.

    There is a mitigating difference between the US cops and US military.
    The US military invade, occupy, destabilize, and inflame ethnic and religious tensions in
    OTHER countries. The US cops in the inner cities are mainly repressing (if excessively) black on black crime. If the cops left the inner cities, these places would quickly descend into chaotic hellholes and the murder, violence, and crime would go up by a factor of at least ten. The blacks would then be begging for the return of the whitey cops. The root of this problem is that US blacks will not do anything for themselves. They should police their own neighborhoods, run their own schools and hospitals, maintain the infrastructure and buildings, and run the stores and businesses. As long as they won’t take charge and instead rely on ‘outsiders’, then they get what they get.

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    • Replies: @Priss Factor
    "If the cops left the inner cities, these places would quickly descend into chaotic hellholes and the murder, violence, and crime would go up by a factor of at least ten."

    I say let this happen. Let the jivers kill one another.

    Pull all cops out of black communities.
    , @Truth
    You don't live, in Metro Detroit, any more than you do Karachi, so what do you care?
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  • "What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. ... We can give them training, we can give them equipment; we obviously can't give them the will to fight." Thus did Defense Secretary Ash Carter identify the root cause of the rout of the Iraqi army in Ramadi. Disgusted U.S....
  • @Eustace Tilley (not)
    BBB: And you, in turn, took the words right out of my mouth.

    Right about the Iran/Iraq War in which Uncle Sam backed the aggressor Iraq, providing Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons, among other things.

    Right about 9/11, in which the Mossad inserted explosive devices into the three WTC towers while the security systems were conveniently down and in which a cruise missile was fired into the Pentagon, conveniently obliterating certain financial records. George Walker Bush knew, in Sarasota, that the first tower had been hit, yet still went forward with his silly photo op of reading "My Pet Goat" to schoolchildren!

    Buchanan, despite his eminent virtues as patriot and anti-globalist, is a slapdash historian who writes carelessly. He also accused Hanoi of being responsible for the Khmer Rouge; again, 100% backwards history since the Khmer Rouge were clients of China.

    @avery.
    Picky picky. I think Mr. Buchanan knows his history.
    Of course he knows Iraq was the intitial aggressor that precipitated the
    Iraq/Iran war. Obviously, what Pat was alluding to
    was that once the course of the war changed and Iran had the upperhand, Iraqis were
    willing to fight and defend their country, as well as the curious fact that average Iraqis seemed more willing to fight and die for Sadam Hussein’s regime than the current US puppets.

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    • Replies: @iSteveFan

    Obviously, what Pat was alluding to
    was that once the course of the war changed and Iran had the upperhand, Iraqis were
    willing to fight and defend their country, as well as the curious fact that average Iraqis seemed more willing to fight and die for Sadam Hussein’s regime than the current US puppets.
     
    Right. It is similar to how the Germans, who had invaded the USSR, were by war's end frantically fighting to defend their homeland from a Soviet invasion.
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