The Fountainhead

Part of the thing with The Fountainhead is that if you read it with any doubt at all that Rourke's
buildings were actually GOOD, and that he might be a fallible being,
then it becomes the tale of a deranged rapist who blames the world
around him for his failures, then blows up a building.

Free Speech and Camping

(From the Palladium Forums, after a lengthy discussion about the right of protestors to camp during protest)

Wandering back into the conversation to address the "Protesting does not require that one camp" facet:

The statement is true, and I understand the sentiment.
Protesting does not, in fact, require one to camp.

However, protesting does not, in fact, require one to do many things.
Eat and sleep, for example.
these are things that nature requires us to do from time to time, in
order to survive, and we must survive in order to protest effectively
(in most situations).

In order to protest, one needs certain things.
space to protest, for example. Yes, one could assemble a group of
people in the middle of the desert or forest, with nobody else for 100
miles, and these people could exercise their right to free speech, but
is this really what the writers of the first amendment had in mind?
Free speech where nobody relevant could hear it?
I don't think so, though perhaps I'm wrong.
me, the point of the first amendment is that people have a right to be
heard by the public in general, and civic leaders and decision-makers
Which means that the people need to have access to the public, and to public places.
Likewise, I believe that this amendment was meant for everybody, not just people with a certain income level.
A person who is absolutely penniless should be able to assemble with others and to exercise their free speech.

Which brings us back to camping.
in theory, people can show up in a public place at a certain time, then
protest for a certain amount of time, then return to their homes to
But that's not true of everybody.
Some people have no homes.
people have homes, but the homes are too far removed from the necessary
location of effective protest to be effective. For example, if I were
to go to New York City to occupy Wall Street, I would not be able to
protest effectively.
The commute from southern Illinois to NYC and
back every day would, I believe, take longer than the day itself would
last, leaving no time to actually exercise my rights.

Which means that I need to sleep someplace closer in order to exercise my rights in this matter.
In theory, I could stay at a hotel. But not everybody can afford a hotel.
In theory, I could stay with a friend nearby. But not everybody has friends they can stay with.
theory, I could stay at a homeless shelter, but not every place has
homeless shelters, and not all homeless shelters have vacancies.
theory, I could sleep in public places, such as parks and such, areas
paid for by tax dollars that are accessible by the public at large, but
that brings us back to where we are right now.

purpose of the first amendment was to make sure that the government did
not infringe upon the people's assembling publicly and speaking their
By banning camping, public sleeping, and certain other
activities that are not necessarily directly necessary for public
protest, the government can (and is) attempting to keep people from
effectively assembling publicly and speaking their minds.
people need a place to sleep, and they need a place to eat, for any kind
of prolonged protest, and the government knows this.
This is why
policies against public sleeping, camping, etc. are popping into place
NOW, instead of last year, or any other time in the past.
Because the
government and/or public employees are attempting to use new rules,
obsolete old rules, and technicalities in order to keep the people from
exercising their rights effectively.
True, they're not keeping the people from exercising their rights entirely, only effectively.
But that certainly seems like an infringement to me, which goes against the first amendment.

there are limits on free speech, as there are on all rights- there are,
despite the letter of the law in the first amendment, times and places
where the people's rights can be logically infringed upon.
Whether or not camping during protest IS one of these times is debatable.
It's not something that can really be settled here, though it can be discussed.
It's more a matter for the courts to handle, and as cases turn up, the courts are handling them.
I think it's too early to say what ultimate consensus will be reached, as different judges make different rulings.

The point in all this is that it's not a cut-and-dried matter, and for either side to act like it was a simple situation, a "no-brainer," is to ignore some of the realities of the situation.

Biblical Literalism and Atheism

(from 2008)

There are two kinds of people who argue that the Bible is meant to be taken literally:
1. Bible Literalists
2. People who dislike Christianity and who are determined to make it seem as stupid as possible.

Both are problematic in their own way, but here I'm only going to address the second group.
There are different kinds of atheists, and the kind of atheist that is most disposed toward biblical literalism is the kind that isn't just atheist, but who is outright hostile towards Christianity as a whole, based on the actions and interpretations of certain Christians that the atheist has encountered and heard.
In short, a person who is prejudiced against Christianity.

In order for Christianity itself to be the buggaboo that he believes it to be, then any Christian who doesn't follow a strict, fundamentalist asshole interpretation of the Bible must be doing it wrong.

As one of the many, many Christians who is not a strict fundamentalist asshole, I take issue with this kind of prejudice, and will step up and call people on this BS every time somebody tries to lump all Christians in with the fundamentalists.

Fox News

(From a 2008 post on the Palladium message boards, prompted by somebody asking for opinions about Fox News)

Rush Limbaugh hit it big originally because he tapped into one of the Great Liberal Secrets of Success. He learned that while it was once advantageous to feign strength and power, it is currently (since the 70s in America, if not before) more advantageous to feign weakness and disadvantage.
When dealing with any large group of more or less moral people, you no longer want to be perceived as being a bully. You want to be the one who's being bullied, because that way you have people's sympathy and support instead of feat and hatred.
Every civil rights movement utilized this kind of tactic; they emphasized how badly they were being picked on by those in power, and consequently gained public support.
Everybody, especially in America, like to root for the underdog.

The difference being that the people in civil rights movements actually WERE the underdog, but the new form of Republicans spawned by Reagan's era were the over-dogs.

It's hard to feign nobility or justice when you're the one in power, but Rush apparently realized that this was the only way to win.
So he latched onto another of the Great Liberal Secret: "Everything is relative."

This secret was utilized by hippies and beatniks in order to rebel against the established order, against "The System."
They started questioning everything around them, and they reveled in the power.
They questioned authority, and it paid off for them, at least in the short term.

Rush used the whole "everything is relative, who are you to judge me, question autority" gimmick against the people who (at least in modern America) more or less invented it.

So he started churning out memes:
"It's not that MY show is biased towards conservatives, it's that the rest of the shows are against us! The Media is Liberal!"
"Welfare moms are bankrupting the country!"
"Liberals hate America!"
"White people, especially men, are a persecuted minority!"
"It is better to be corrupt than to be lazy!"

And a bunch of other crap that nobody in their right mind would buy into, except for those two stolen Liberal Secrets.
By playing at being the underdog, Rush gave neo-conservatives a get-out-of-guilt FREE card for their crappy behavior and agendas. They could do what they wanted, say what they wanted, and anybody who disagreed with them could be dismissed by claiming that the person must be an oppressor out to stifle the poor, perfectly-reasonable neo-cons.
Or they could be dismissed by Questioning Authority.
Sure, they might have a PhD in the subject, but who are they to say what is right or wrong?

So now we have FOX News, which is a couple evolutionary steps down from Rush. It uses his discoveries to great effect, spreading conservative propaganda while claiming that they're the only ones who aren't biased.
"The poor oil companies are just trying to make an honest living, but the whole global warming scam was invented by Green Power companies trying to con people and the government out of their hard-earned cash."
"Christians are always loving and peaceful people, but they're persecuted everywhere by haters (even though America is rightfully a Christian nation!)"

In short, they're doing what any other hate-group does, prey upon people's greed, hate, and paranoia, and stirring people up against each other.

They're not only a bad news network, since bias is what pays their bills, they're simply BAD for the country as a whole. They stir Americans up against other Americans, to the point of hating each other, in order to line the pockets of an Australian (and, of course, themselves).

Taxes and Theft

From the Palladium forums:

Subjugator wrote:
There are no examples of 'no participation [in tax systems]' out there.

Anybody living in a land (like, until recently, Somalia) where there is no functioning government.
Anybody who has no income and who does not buy anything that has a sales tax.
Anybody who lives in certain tax havens and/or lives a certain lifestyle in one.

There are ONLY societies with taxes and governments.

Except for places where there are no societies, places that have no government, and the places with no unavoidable taxes.

Places Where There Are No Societies:
The Bir Tawil Triangle
Macquarie Island
Dog Island
Kingdom of Redonda
Ashmore and Cartier Islands
Heck, there's a whole list of unpopulated islands on Wikipedia.
These are technically claimed by various governments, and some are used as military bases or wildlife sanctuaries, and others are simply too small to inhabit.
But there's some in there that you could probably either persuade somebody to let you use or buy, and/or ones that you could squat on unnoticed for quite a while.
Either way, tax collectors won't be coming around, unless they come by boat.

Similarly, there are lots of areas on mainlands that are uninhabited. Regions where nobody really ever even goes. A person could exist in such places almost completely isolated from any society.

Places That Have No Government

And there's international waters.
You cannot make an artificial island or platform and declare it a nation, but you could just get a boat and keep cruising, only touching down when necessary.
That's what Malcolm Reynolds would do.

Places With No Unavoidable Taxes:
Andorra has no income taxes, no sales taxes, and no estate taxes.

In Anguilla there appear to only be taxes on hotel rooms and other such accommodations. Avoid those, and you're living there tax free. There are no income, capital gains, estate, profit or other forms of direct taxation on either individuals or corporations, whether resident in Anguilla or not.

The Bahamas has no direct taxation. They have a stamp tax that only affects businesses that import goods. Move there, don't own a business that imports goods, and you're tax-free.

In the The British Virgin Islands, there is a payroll tax, but that won't affect you unless you employ a lot of people. There's a small land tax, but if you don't own land, that won't affect you. And there's a few other minor taxes that are nothing compared to the tyranny the US imposes on people.

Campione d'Italia "owes its tax haven status to a more or less laissez-faire attitude by the two neighboring countries (Switzerland and Italy) that rightfully, it would seem, have the jurisdiction to impose taxes on this tiny ink-spot on the map. Although properly the property of Italy, the Italians have never enjoined to levy taxes in Campione, partly because Italian tax agents would have to leave Italy and pass through Switzerland to impose Italian law in Campione, and partly because of a mutual understanding with the Swiss that has traditionally kept Campione safe from tax collectors. Switzerland, on the other hand, doesn’t impose its tax laws in Campione, because Switzerland has no jurisdiction to tax. The Italians are the legitimate landlords. Being small and self-governing, Campione has no income taxes and no local taxes. "

The Cayman Islands has no direct taxes.
"However, the Cayman Islands Government's primary source of income is indirect taxation. An import duty of 20% is levied against goods imported into the islands. Few goods are exempt; notable examples include books, cameras and baby formula. Duty on automobiles is charged on a sliding scale with the duty reaching 40% for expensive models. The government charges a flat licensing fee to financial institutions that operate in the islands. Each tourist that arrives on the islands is also charged a small fee, including 10% government tax added to all accommodations."
Again, the only taxes seem to be perfectly avoidable.

The only taxes on the island of Sark are "a poll tax on visitors to the Island and the Impot, a tax on alcohol and tobacco."
Become a resident, don't buy booze or tobacco, and you can live tax free.

I can't find any information on taxes in Kuwait, other than that there is no personal income tax, only a tax on corporations and businesses. You can google around for more info if you want it.

The nation of Nauru does not impose any taxes.

Saint Kitts has no income tax, sales tax, turnover tax, gift tax, or estate tax. There is a land tax, but if you're not a landowner then no worries there.

In The United Arab Emirates, there is no personal income tax. There is a land tax that applies to landowners, but again that is avoidable by not owning land.

I cannot set up my own country elsewhere. It's against the law and I will be put into the aforementioned scary cage with scary people if I try.

That's not exactly true, though.
There are micronations out there, as you and I have both mentioned before.
They might not be officially recognized, but that doesn't keep them from existing.

The Principality of Sealand has received an official diplomat from Germany to negotiate the release of German mercenaries who were captured while attempting to seize control of the nation, and (more importantly for this conversation) an English court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over Sealand, even though the tiny nation is only 6 miles off the coast, and was originally constructed by England.
England currently includes the waters that Sealand is in, but as far as I know they don't police the inhabitants.
I don't know if they try to tax them or not.
Sealand is up for sale, so an enterprising individual or collection of investors could buy it and try to make it more than just a micronation.
The royal family of this principality have never been put into any scary place by any scary people.

The Principality of Hutt River might not have full recognition from the Australian government, but they do have some official recognition due to the fact that they received an official letter from Australia that addressed the Hutt River Administrator by his title, which (along with Australia not acting within a certain time frame) gave the province de facto legal status.
Hutt River went to war with Australia, and apparently won the right to avoid taxation by the ATO.
So they don't pay Australia taxes, they tax their own citizens, they make their own currency, and their passports are even accepted on a "case by case basis" by other nations.
Australia might claim that Hutt River has no official recognition, but they are effectively their own sovereign nation in many ways.
Especially in the way that's most important to you; they aren't taxed.
And they were never put anyplace scary by any scary men.

Sure, a number of other micronations were invaded and shut down or destroyed by larger nations, but not all of them.

Get some good lawyers, dedicate yourself to the cause, and you could find some place to successfully succeed from today, maybe even the US (though we DO have a strong history of forcibly dissuading that sort of thing, Conch Republic aside).
The odds may not be on your side, but that doesn't mean that this isn't a possible choice for you.

I'm not asking that [the government] provide anything.

No, you're taking what they provide without wanting to give anything back.
It doesn't really matter if you ask for it; you're agreeing by being here.

And before you go into the old "but I never asked to be here!" bit, let me ask you something.

Say you own your own house.
One day, some people show up in your living room.
They don't want to be there, and they don't want to contribute to the upkeep of the house or any mortgage payments.
They only picked your house because it's the least worst option they could find.
All the other neighbors expect them to pay for the privilege of staying there, after all.
So what do you do?
Do you all live happily forever after?
Or do you tell them that since it's your house, you get to make the rules?

You elected to buy insurance. You have a choice of companies or a choice to self pay and self bond if you want. You have your choice of policy limits if you want to choose a carrier. You can manuscript your coverage to get any coverage type or limits that you want (within the bounds of what the government allows anyway, which I also object to).
I do not have such an ability with government.

I am forced to buy insurance because I own a car.
I could choose to NOT own a car, but then I'd have to change my lifestyle significantly for the worse.
Paying for car insurance is the least worst option I have.
Whether or not I feel that this is fair does not affect my contracts with the insurance company.
It's not theft just because I'd rather not pay them for their services.

And my hard-earned money that I'm forced to pay the insurance company is used to help people other than ME!
Now say that I HATE the fact that I have to pay for insurance.
Say that I spend all my time complaining about it, and calling it theft.
Say that despite my complaints and accusations, and my hatred for the system, I still take advantage of the benefits that insurance has to offer me.
Does that give me the right to call the people who willingly participate in the system immoral?

Sometimes I pay for services, and I end up paying for something that I don't want. Sometimes channels I never watch come with basic cable, for example, but they don't reduce my cable bill just because I'd rather pick and choose exactly which channels I get. Does this mean that part of my bill is theft, since some of the money I'm putting into the system goes some place that I don't want it to?
Should I try to find some way to get back the money that I've already paid them?

"Your Eloquence with a sledge hammer is a beautiful thing..." -Zer0 Kay

"The intolerance of some people on this board is rather frightening. My foe list has grown numerous times in the last 2 weeks." -Ranger

"God punishes us for what we can't imagine." -Jerome Wireman

The Pledge of Allegiance, and the Oh-So-Crucial Word

I'm pretty sure that we're all familiar with the Pledge of Allegiance, at least those of us who live in the United States, who are the people this post is geared toward.

We've probably all said it, countless times, and we can probably all say it by heart.
The question is, how often have we meant it?
How often have we said those words, thought about what they mean, and actually said the pledge as a literal promise to ourselves and our nation, instead of just something we were made (or asked) to do in school?
I know I've done it, quite a few times.
I have sworn my fealty to the nation I live in, and the government that runs it, represented by the American Flag, and I meant it.
Because I mean the other words in the pledge as well, when I say it.
We are ONE nation.
We are, IMO, Under God, although I believe that part should never have been added, and should be removed.
I believe in liberty, and I believe in justice, as ideals that I strive for for everybody.
And I believe in that other word, that crucial word that sometimes gets skipped over, the word that people seem to think about less and less over time.
The word that I'm not sure whether many people really mean, no matter how much they claim to take the Pledge of Allegiance seriously.

You know the word I'm talking about?
Yeah, that one.

As in, "One Nation, Indivisible."
As in, "Incapable of Being Divided."

I'd like to think that we all meant that word when we said it, that we thought about what it meant and chose consciously to say it, but more and more I think that a lot of people just go through the motions, with no more conscious thought about the meaning of that word than I had when I was young enough to think it probably was something like "invisible."
Because more and more over time, it seems like more and more of us are bound and determined to BE divided.
To turn us into a bunch of red states and blue states instead of a singled entity known rightfully as the United States.
We went to war with ourselves once, quite a long time ago, specifically over that crucial word.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, maybe I'm naive, but I believe in that word, just as I believe in all the old sayings and phrases associated with it.
"United States."
"A house divided can not stand."
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
"All men are created equal" (and, of course, I include women in that sentiment)
“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
"United we stand, divided we fall."
"E Pluribus Unum"

I believe that our nation is the best nation on the planet, and I believe that it is democracy above all the other reasons that makes it great.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, since the assassination in Tuscon, about the country and about that word.
To me, the word means that our nation, our entire population, cannot be separated from each other, cannot be divided.
To attack one American is to attack all Americans, because we're all the same.
We're all equal.
We're all on the same team.

I think that we need to work on our teamwork, because if we're fighting amongst ourselves, whether through words, symbols, or other weapons, we cannot protect ourselves from external threats.
And there are external threats.
Osama Bin Laden is still out there, and in my opinion still needs to be found and stopped.
Because he orchestrated a deadly attack on some of us, which means that he attacked all of us.
And he killed some of us, which means that he killed a part of all of us.
Because we're indivisible.
Then there's China, who are not actively trying to kill us, but who's way of life is so different from our own that we need to work together to keep them from out-competing us while we're squabbling amongst ourselves.
And there's the threat of our dependence on foreign oil, which requires us to have an active presence in the Middle East, where our troops are targets for terrorists.
And there's the general instability in the world, economically and socially, that threatens the stability of our own nation.
And I don't think we're all that stable lately to begin with.

In order to deal with these external threats, we need to stay united, and we need to remember that we're all on the same side.
Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and everybody else of every political label are all on the same side.
We're all the same; we all want what we believe is best for this country.
Even though we sometimes, increasingly often it seems, disagree about what exactly that entails; that's something that we can work on.
We can even work together on it, if we put our minds to it, because we're America, and we can do whatever we choose to do if we all work together toward the same goals.
Because we're indivisible, whatever differences we think we have, to think or act otherwise is to break that pledge that we all have taken at one time or another, and that hopefully we all have meant when we said the words.
Especially that one word, that oh-so-crucial word.
That word that is the heart and soul of this cluster of 50 states that we call united.

I tossed some quotes at you earlier, and I didn't ascribe them to the people who said them, because hopefully we've all said them. Here's one more, one that some of us are familiar with and that may be new to some of us, even if the sentiment is not:
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves"

Questions About Lost

Okay, so the series finally ended and many people are left with questions.
This includes me.
The difference between myself and a lot of these other people, though, seems to be that they are getting themselves all worked up in a tizzy because not every single question they can think of about the show can be answered to their satisfaction.
From Facebook to YouTube, there are people coming out of the woodwork to complain about how bad the writing is, how bad the ending of the show is, and whatever else they can come up with.

Here is a list of some of the questions posed by one of the disappointed, maybe original or maybe compiled from elsewhere, and my responses.
The "You" in the responses is not specifically aimed at the one person who listed these questions, but at the general body of people who have worried about them, and disliked the show because their questions weren't satisfactorily answered.

1) Why did the monster kill the pilot?
Because he's evil, and he could. The pilot wasn't on the list of candidates, and he apparently wasn't important to the smoke-monster's plans.

2) What did Locke see when he first saw the smoke monster?
"I looked into the eye of this Island, and what I saw... was beautiful."
In another episode, he describes it as a beautiful bright light.
If you want more of a description than that, you're out of luck.
But, man.... if that's the kind of question that bugs you, you must really dislike a lot of movies.
I mean, 2001: A Space Odyssey must REALLY freak you out.
Not to mention Agnes of God, Through A Glass Darkly, IT, Pi, Cube, Pulp Fiction, The Maltese Falcon, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, Sphere..... Hell, let's just sum up by saying, "all horror, fantasy, and science fiction films, as well as any film with any of these elements, and any film where you don't get to see everything that each and every of the characters in the film sees."
Which is to say, "all films."

Also, I'm not really sure what kind of answer would satisfy you here. If we found out officially that he saw a pretty, pretty butterfly, would that make you happy?
If not, what answer would?
If you can't think of anything that would satisfy you on this question of yours, perhaps you should be less pissy at the writers of the show for not being able to satisfy you on a point where you seem essentially incapable of finding satisfaction.

3) Why was there a polar bear in Walt’s (Hurley’s) comic book?
Okay... so did you REALLY want the last season of Lost to detail the plot of a comic book seen only briefly in the first season or so?
Is that really a gripe?
Why not just go out and buy a copy of the issue yourself, if you're dying to know?
It was a Spanish edition of
Green Lantern/Flash: Faster Friends Part One, printed in 1997 by DC comics.
The short answer is:
"Because that part of the comic book's plot took place in the arctic."
Beyond that, you'd have to ask the writers at DC who wrote that particular issue.

Overall, this seems a lot like complaining about the original Nightmare on Elm Street because by the end of the film they never explained what Ash was running from in the film Evil Dead, which was on TV in Johnny Depp's room.
It doesn't really matter, because it's part of the background, not an important part of the plot of the movie.

Now, perhaps you really mean to ask, "Was it just coincidence that there was a polar bear in the comic, and also polar bears running around the island?
THAT question is never specifically answered in the show, but a big part of the theme of the show seems to be that there are no coincidences.

4) Why wasn’t Christian Shepherd’s body in the coffin on the island?
Really think about that one for a minute.
You're asking why a coffin that fell out of a ripped-in-half airplane, then probably fell out of the sky and/or floated around on the ocean for a while before ending up on the island didn't have a dead body in it.
How about: "Because the body fell out somewhere along the way"....?
Is it really that important?

Are there people out there who are outraged that some of the suitcases that washed up on the beach were empty, or partially empty, and that the final season didn't explore the specifics of WHY some of the contents were missing?

5) Why did the psychic swear Claire had to fly on Oceanic 815, and why did he swear she had to be the one to raise the baby?
The most likely answer is that he told her to take that flight because he was paid to convince her to fly to LA. (as seen in the deleted scenes on the DVDs), and that just happened to be the flight he picked. He made a big deal about "it has to be THIS flight!" because that's what bogus psychics do- they pretend that things have to be specific, because it makes people think that they really are getting some special information from somewhere.
No matter how you slice it, it's a safe bet that he acted the way he did because Jacob set things up that way, in order to get Claire to the island. We know for a fact that he manipulated everybody into being on that flight, so that's your ultimate answer.
The exact methods and mechanisms of every step in how he accomplished that goal don't seem all that important to me.

However, I do agree that the question of why Claire "had to be the one to raise the baby" is something that I would have preferred to have answered somewhere in the series.

6) Why did the Others want Walt so badly?
Because Walt has special powers.

7) Why did Walt know about the hatch, and why would he warn Locke not to open it?
a) Because Walt has special powers.
b) Because he knew it would cause trouble? I mean, it does lead to quite a bit of infighting, and a powerful and weird magnetic explosion.

8) Why was Locke able to walk on the island?
Holy shit. I can't believe that this is one of the questions.
The island has special healing powers that affect everybody there to varying degrees.
That's also why Rose's cancer went away, and this detail comes up quite a few times in the course of the series.

9) Why does the smoke monster make mechanical / industrial sounds?
Why does Spock have pointy ears?
Because somebody thought it would look cool.

10) How could Walt communicate with Michael on the Swan station computer?
Any combination of the following:
a) Because the computers on the island were interconnected, and Walt had access to one somehow.
b) Because Walt has special powers.

11) What is the deal with Kate’s horse?
Sometimes a horse is just a horse. Maybe it was a Dharma pet that escaped.

Or maybe it was the Man In Black screwing with her, or trying to manipulate her somehow.
Why's it so important to know?
It's not like the horse was a major character or anything.

12) What is the deal with the ‘Hurley’ bird?
Could just be bird that makes a noise that sounds like "Hurley."
Any weirder than peacocks screaming "help"...?
Islands have weird birds, and sometimes weird birds make weird sounds.
Like Kate's horse, while I'm mildly curious, I don't think it's a big deal that this one wasn't answered.

13) Why are supplies being dropped on the island after the purge, by who, and how?
Because the outside world doesn't know that the Dharma Initiative died, and the order for supplies was never canceled.
Never specified, but I don't get why it's a deal.

14) What triggered the lockdown in the hatch?
Sometimes, 1970s technology left unmaintained in the jungle for 30+ years just kind of breaks down and malfunctions.
Why is this a surprise?

15) What happened to Libby in the original timeline between the mental hospital and being in the tail section of the plane?
We never get to find out, because the actress was booted from the show.
Which is a shame, because it looked to be interesting.

16) Who built the four-toed statue?
THIS is one of the few questions on this list that I was actually left wondering about.
Most likely, early inhabitants of the island, from long before the Dharma Initiative, and possibly even long before Jacob and his brother were born.

17) Why does only one bearing get you off of the island via boat?
Because of the time-distortion pockets that surround the island.

18) What was the significance of the hieroglyphics on the hatch’s countdown timer?
They mean
Which, I'm guessing, is Dharma Initiative code for "You're fucked."

19) Why did the Others wear beards and makeup? (Did they think the Losties would recognize them somehow?)
Seriously, did you even watch the show?
The Others were trying to get the survivors to underestimate them, to think that the Others were a bunch of barely-surviving island-dwelling hillbillies that couldn't even get a decent razor.

20) Who was Libby’s husband, who gave her the boat she gave to Desmond to get him to the island?
Her husband was named David.
He died, which is what put her in the asylum for a while.
It was his boat, named after Libby, and he never got to use it because he died a month before he was supposed to set sail.

21) How did Dharma get the polar bear(s?) to the island?
Okay, now you're just making up bullshit questions.
Why the hell would this even matter?
They had ships, planes, and at least one submarine... why the hell do you care which mode of transportation was used?

22) How did Locke and Eko escape the hatch implosion?
They didn't escape it- they just survived it.
Why do you ask? Have there been serious casualties in all the other bizarre, hatch-imploding energy pulses that you've seen in your lifetime?

23) Why couldn’t Locke talk after the hatch implosion?
An effect of the weird energy that was released.
Again, what kind of answer are you looking for here?
Did you think that this was a crucial clue to unraveling the island's secrets?

24) Why didn’t the smoke monster kill Mr. Eko the first time they met?
Because it thought that it could manipulate him.

25) Why did the smoke monster kill Mr. Eko the second time they met?
Because it decided that Eko could not be manipulated.
(And because the actor left the show)

26) Why did Danny claim Jack wasn’t on Jacob’s list when he was clearly number 23?
It's mentioned that Jacob had more than one list.

Apparently Jack wasn't on all of them.

27) Why can’t women become pregnant on the island?
They can, so that's not a good question.

28) Why was it necessary to hide the supply drop menu behind a game of computer chess?
The Dharma Initiative was paranoid, and they liked to hide things.

29) What was the significance of the ‘punishment mark’ Ben gave Juliet?
It means that she is under punishment.

30) What happened to Ben’s childhood friend Anna?
Most likely died with the rest of the Dharma Initiative. Since we never hear from her again, other than one flashback, I'm pretty sure it isn't really important.

31) Why did the monk Desmond worked for have a picture of himself with Eloise?
She gets around.
Also, could be a kind of in-joke/reference to the medieval story of Eloise, in which her lover ends up getting castrated and becoming a monk.
Kind of like how the name "Henry Gale" is Dorothy's uncle in The Wizard of Oz, and
"Nozz-a-La Cola" is a reference to Stephen King's works.
The writers like to toss in a lot of references and in-jokes.

32) Why did Ben see his dead mother? The smoke monster only seemed to be able to assume the form of those killed on the island, so it couldn’t have been it…
Yeah, it can't possibly be that your assumption about the nature of the smoke monster's powers is incorrect.

So I guess that only leaves the possibilities that a) Ben was insane, or b) it was her actual ghost.

33) Why did Desmond have a false vision of Claire and Aaron leaving in a helicopter, or did he just lie to Charlie, and if so, why would he do that?

Desmond's visions weren't 100%; he also saw Penny showing up on the Island.
And we know he could alter the future from what his visions saw in any case.

34) Who was the R.G. on Naomi’s bracelet?
Who the hell cares?
Somebody she knew, apparently.
If it makes you feel better, you can assume that it was either Rachael Green or Ross Gellar from Friends.

35) Why was there a 31:20 difference in time between the island and the ship?
Because of the time distortions around the island.

36) If the smoke monster is bound to the island, how was Christian Shepherd spotted on the freighter AND in a hospital in LA?
Because those actually were Christian Shepherd.

37) Why did the ghost of Horace direct Locke to Jacob’s cabin, claiming Jacob was waiting for him there, when it was really the smoke monster? Did ghost Horace lie? Why didn’t any other ghost lie?
You do understand that the Smoke Monster can appear as dead people, right...?

38) What is the deal with the frozen wheel that moves the island? How is it possible to move an island? Why does it teleport the one who moves the island?
a) It's a version of the one that the MIB's friends had built, back before his insane foster mother killed them all.
b) Teleportation.
c) Seriously, what the hell kind of question is that? The person who uses it teleports because that's how whatever energies the wheel is channeling works. It's not real- there's no real answer there other than that the writers wanted it to behave that way.
Asking why it happens is like asking how Flubber can bounce higher on ever bounce.

39) Who sent Sun a gun and pictures of Jack and Ben?
Widmore. Remember how she went to him, and said she wanted to kill Ben?

40) Who attacked Sayid at the hospital, and how did they have Kate’s address?
They're resourceful.

41) When did the temple become an anti-smoke monster fortress?
Again, what kind of answer are you looking for?
If you found out that it was Aug. 12, 1849, would that appease your curiosity?
Is it really the kind of thing that's important to settle before the end of the show?

42) How does a pendulum track the movement of the island?
It uses Flubber.

43) Why do those who had to return to the island have to recreate the same circumstances that took them there in the first place?
Because that's how it works.
Again, you're dealing with made-up physics of made-up phenomenon, and you feel the need to know exactly how they work?
They don't work- it's made up.

44) Why didn’t Sun wind up in the 70’s with Jack, Hurley and Kate?
See previous answer.

45) If they had to recreate the circumstances, and Christian wasn't really in the coffin, why did Ben kill Locke and put him aboard the plane?
Who says that Christian wasn't really in it?

46) How did Ethan survive the purge?
By joining the Others/Hostiles.

47) Why were there hieroglyphics under the temple?
Because ancient cultures used them for written communication, and the temple was very old.

48) Why did Charles Whitmore tell Ben to kill Rousso and the baby, and then let Ben keep the baby?
Because he changed his mind.

49) Why did Daniel leave the island in the 70’s, and why did he tell Jack that he doesn’t belong there?
a) To work on his research.
b) Because that's what he believed at the time.

50) Why does Richard claim he saw everyone in the 70’s Dharma picture die? (including Jack & Hurley)

Can't really say, because I don't even remember that part, and I have no idea why you think it's significant.
Are you deliberately focusing on trivial details, or do you really think it's important.

51) Why can Jacob leave the island, but the smoke monster can’t?
Because Jacob kept the smoke monster there, to confine him and keep him from getting out into the rest of the world.

52) Jacob’s last words are: “They’re coming.” But… who are ‘they’?
Widmore and his people.

53) How was the lighthouse built, and by whom?
You really, really, REALLY need to know the lighthouse construction techniques used by whoever built the thing/
What, are you planning to make your own...?
Again, who cares?

As for who built it, probably the same people who built the statue, the temple, and the other older structures on the island.

54) Why is there a pool that brings people back to life? Why did it seem to make Sayid turn evil? If he was evil, why did he sacrifice himself to try and stop the bomb in the submarine?
a) Why is there an island in the first place?
Because. is because that's what Dogen says.
And Dogen was a complete dick, so I wouldn't take his word as gospel.
c) Because he wasn't actually evil.
Remember Hurley's conversation with him in the last episode?
Hurley tells Sayid that people have always told him that he's evil, but that Hurley thinks he's truly a good person.

55) Why did the people at the temple insist that Sayid had to willingly take a poison pill to be killed?
-Because they were dicks.
-Why does saying "Open Sesame" open the doors in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves?
Why is Superman vulnerable to Kryptonite?
Why do vampires drink blood?
Because that's just how things work.

56) How could Sawyer see the ‘young Jacob ghost’?
Why not?
Desmond could see him too, and he wasn't exactly a ghost.

57) How was Dogan (at the temple) keeping the smoke monster at bay? (until his death)

58) Why didn’t Sun tell Jin to go, so that their daughter wouldn’t be an orphan?
Because she knew that he wouldn't listen to her if she did.

59) Where did Jacob & his brother’s mom come from? Where did the prior guardian (their OTHER mother) come from? Why did she hate the other island inhabitants?
a) Does it matter?
b) I'll explain about the birds and the bees later; then you'll understand where ALL humans come from.
c) Because they were trying to tap the Heart of the Island, and doing so could destroy the planet.

60) Why would Jacob bring the Black Rock to the island, only to allow the smoke monster to kill everyone but Richard? Isn’t Jacob supposed to be a good guy?

61) How does the magic wine / water from near the sacred light grant immortality?
The answer is in the question: it's MAGIC.
(or technology so advanced that we can't tell the difference)

62) Why does Desmond’s electromagnetic bombardment allow him to stand in the ‘cork’ pool without dying?
Again, why does anything in fiction do anything?
Why does Superman's alien nature mean that he can fly?
Why does Gamma radiation turn  Banner into the Hulk?
Why does Buffy the Vampire Slayer have superhuman strength?

63) Who were the other skeletons in the tunnel leading to the cork / cork pool?
Dead people who also tried to get to the pool

64) How did Jack get out of the cork pool / tunnel, when Desmond used the rope already?
He was expelled from the cave through other means. Kind of like how the smoke monster was kicked out after he floated down into the cave and died, only Jack didn't turn into a smoke monster.
Why didn't he?
That's a better question than the one you just asked, but I'm betting it's because he wasn't born on the island, but Jacob's brother was.

65) Why wasn’t Sayid’s soulmate Nadia?
Because that's the way the cookie crumbled.
You don't always get to choose your soulmate, and your best match is not necessarily the person that you have loved and obsessed over for a good chunk of your life.

66) Why weren’t Eko, Walt, Michael, Frank, Richard, Vincent, many others at the church at the end?
Michael wasn't there because he's permanently stuck on the island, because he was an asshole.
The rest weren't there because that time of their life was not necessarily the most important time for them, and the people on the island weren't necessarily the most important people for them.
Walt was a kid, for example. If he lives a long life, or even a medium-long life, then the island is going to slowly fade from his memory, and his life will move on.
Eko is probably meeting up with his brother.
And so on.

Oh, and one reason why Ben stayed behind was to gather up HIS people, the same way Desmond gathered up this group. Ben was included in this group because he had strong connections to the people in it (especially Hurley and Locke), but he's still got his own people: Richard, Alex, Rousseau, and others.

That clear things up a bit?

But really, as I keep asking, why bother crying over these questions?
The nature of the show was to be mysterious, and it ran for 6 years. 
Did you truly expect every single loose end, from lighthouse architecture to metaphysics to ever be completely explained?
If so, that was a pretty foolish expectation.
"Why" is eternal, and it can never be fully answered, because every answer only leads to more "Why"s.

Age of Consent, In Gaming Terms

 From time to time, I encounter people who argue that the age of legal consent for sex should be lowered from 18 to something else. Some people say 16, some say 12 (arguing that people used to get married and knocked up at that age all the time during certain periods of history), and some have even claimed that it should be eliminated entirely.

I disagree.

For anybody who is not familiar with online multi-player gaming, that's all you might get out of this post, but for the rest of you, I think I have a way of explaining the situation: Age of Consent Laws are Newbie Protection.

People under the age of 18 simply aren't on the same playing field as those who are older- they joined the game late, and they're competing against more experienced players who have the advantage of a good head start.
We all know how important a good head start can be in these games. Against a newbie, you have a lot more familiarity with the game, more resources, and all the psychological advantages this brings.

This is likewise true in life.
Note that I mention "experience" as an important factor in life, I'm not talking strictly about sex- I'm talking about life in general, and the many facets of it.
There are an unfortunate number of 12 year-old prostitutes in the world who have had WAY more sex with MANY more partners than I had by the time I was 20, but if somehow I was dating one* back when I was 20, I'm pretty sure I could have dominated the relationship, to the point where they wouldn't have a fighting chance. Simply because I knew more about people and how they work, as well as more about biology, psychology, and life in general. Not to mention that I'd be the one bringing in and/or handling the money in the relationship, and financial power is a large factor in control.

None of this would actually be a problem IF people were good-natured and purely benevolent as a rule- if an older player takes a younger player under his/her wing in gaming, it can be beneficial for the younger person to learn from a more experienced player.
Unfortunately, that is not how the vast majority of people behave in actual relationships and interactions.

In reality, the same thing would happen to (and does happen to) newbies in life that happens in gaming- they get Farmed.
Only in life the repercussions are greater; there can be (and is) real psychological and even physical harm that occurs.

There are plenty of people in the gaming community that argue against newbie protection. These people almost exclusively fall into two categories:
1. More experienced gamers who want to be able to farm the newbs with ease and impunity.
2. Newbs who think that they can hold their own against the rest of the players who have a significant head start on them, and who think that Newbie Protection is condescending at best. Of course, they only think this because they are newbs. Anybody who actually knows anything about the game knows that the difference in starting times can make all the difference in the world, and that it creates such an uneven playing field that the game would be ruined if newbs didn't have rules protecting them from the more established players.

From what I can tell, these two categories are the same people who argue against age of consent laws: the unscrupulous farmers, and the newbs who don't understand the game.

*And I'm not for a moment suggesting that I would do this, now or when I was 20! This is a purely hypothetical situation based on the premise that I had dramatically less scruples and a sexual appetite for children.

Faith, Reason, and Bludgeoning

Of the many, many people- living or dead- that I'd like to bludgeon, one of the higher ranked is the person who decided that faith was by definition divorced from reason.
As if random and blind belief was somehow a noble pursuit.

1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.

The link goes on to list a lot of the other definitions that spawned since that nameless wretch decided to muck things up, but I reject those because all they do is to turn a beautiful word and concept into something ugly.

Every time I flip the light switch in my bedroom, I have faith that the light will come on.
Because I have evidence that this is the likely result of that action: I have seen it happen many times.
I have trust that switch's ability to illuminate the room.

When I'm alone in a building at night, and I'm afraid that there's a killer lurking in the shadows, I have faith that there's really nobody there.
Because it has never been the case before, therefore it's not likely to be the case now.
I have confidence in my assumption that killers have something better to do than to wait in random, empty, fully locked buildings just in the hopes that I might happen along.

When I feel that life is purposeless, that it's all just a random zig-zag of energy in a meaningless void, I have faith that there actually IS a purpose to the universe, that God created it all for a reason.
Because I have seen things in my lifetime that indicates to me that there IS a God.

In any one of these cases, my faith might be misplaced.
I might flip that light switch one day and have nothing happen.
I might wander into a building one night and meet a killer waiting in the shadows.
I might actually be nothing more than a random zig-zag of energy in a larger mass of zig-zags of energy in a meaningless void.

But in each case, I have reasons for believing as I do- whether or not my conclusions are ultimately correct, and whether or not the processes of reasoning that brought me to them is flawless.

I haven't just drawn a religion out of a hat and decided to blindly do whatever it says.
I haven't clung to my beliefs in spite of what I've seen in the world.
I've chosen my beliefs because they're what make the most sense to me.
I've stuck with those beliefs that can reasonably co-exist with what I've seen in the world, and I've discarded and modified the rest.
I have faith, but not blind faith.
Blind faith is for people who don't actually want to see, and since I am of the belief that God created this universe, I wantto see; the more I see of God's creation the more I know about God.

How to Tell What Printing Your Book Is

From the Palladium Forums, topic: "

Fast way to tell it's a 2nd print RUE?

Ghost2020 wrote: It should say 2nd printing on the inside under credits or something, right?

You would think. Unfortunately, the fastest way that I can think of to tell whether or not you have a 2nd printing is this:

1. Purchase the following: a ball of string, scissors, a pencil, a yellow pad of legal paper, a bus ticket, a sapling Osage Orange tree, and the bezoar of a yellow toad.

2. Wait until October 15th, just after dark, then go to the graveyard nearest to the place where you live- but it has to be located north of your actual dwelling.
Anything to the south will not work for these purposes. Bring the yellow pad of legal paper, the string, the scissors, and the pencil.

3. Find the oldest tree in the graveyard (if the graveyard has no trees, keep heading north until you find one that does), and tie the string to the tallest branch, then drop the rest of the ball of string to the ground.
Climb back down to the ground (if the tree was tall enough to climb in the first place).
Search around the graveyard until you find a piece of broke off gravestone (it should weigh no more than 1/2 lb, and no less than 2 oz), then go back to where the bottom of the string is resting on the ground.
Set the yellow legal pad underneath the end of the string, then tie the pencil to the string, so that the tip rests on the top sheet of the yellow legal pad. Cut off the rest of the string, then use the spare string to tie the piece of headstone to the pencil.
Recite the following:
Winds of our fathers, winds of the dead
Answer my questions, by those who have bled

Soon, a small wind should start up (if one is not already blowing).
Recite this every hour until it the wind begins, or until daybreak- in which case you have to take everything down, and come back the next night and repeat everything.
The pencil should be blown back and forth across the paper, leaving strange markings and possibly even some sigils. Moons, stars, etc.
(Note: if the pencil ever draws an eye, then stop it from swinging, shout into the wind, "No! Not YOU!" then tear off the top sheet, burn it, and start this part over again. Never, under any circumstances allow it to draw two eyes on the same sheet of paper- if you do, then we're all in trouble.)
When the wind dies down, remove the top sheet of paper and fold it corner to corner seven times.

4. Before you leave the graveyard, go to the nearest tombstone and record the name. Then go to the phone book and look up the nearest psychic who shares at least one name with the name on the tombstone- first, middle or last.
If you can find a psychic that shares all three, that would be ideal.
Go to the psychic and have them unfold the paper and interpret the markings (they will be able to do this whether or not they are actually a fraud).
Among various bits of personal and hygienic advice, the interpretations should include a location the place that you need to go next.
Return home- your bus ticket will now be for this location. I'm not sure how that part works, but it does.

5. Get on the bus, taking with you the bezoar, the sapling, and your copy of RUE.
(Note: Some bus lines will require you to pay extra for the sapling. Also, expect extra fees if the location you are traveling to is an unusual one, like "The Shadow of Tuesday" or "The Forever Bogs." It should be less than $100, though.)

6. When you get to the location, but before you get off the bus, swallow the bezoar.
After the bus leaves, a large snake should show up and attempt to bite you.
When it does, you will be unharmed, but should pretend that you fall over dead. If you do this, then the serpent will coil itself up and go to sleep.
Grab a large rock (there will be one handy), and bash the serpent with the rock until it is dead (the serpent).
Then dig a hole (you will have to use your hands for this). Set your copy of RUE in the bottom of the hole, then wrap the dead serpent around the base of the Osage Orange sapling, and plant the tree in the hole.

7. Every year for three years, you will need to show up on the anniversary of the day you planted that tree. Water the tree while chanting, "Grow, grow, grow! Tell me what I wish to know!" repeatedly.

8. Ignore the tree for the following fifty years.

9. Return to the tree (in October) on the 53rd year after planting the tree, and count the number of fruits on the tree, and divide by three; this will tell you what printing your copy of Rifts Ultimate Edition was.

10. Enjoy your newfound knowledge!