Ghostbusters 2016?

In the run-up to the new Ghostbusters movie, much of the marketing had a clear undertone: “Go see this movie so the anti-woman internet trolls won’t win,” it seemed to say. In fact, in an odd parallel with the 2016 presidential campaigns, this message has eclipsed any discussion of the movie’s actual quality.

Lost in the discussion about whether a female-led Ghostbusters franchise reboot can succeed is this: Why is “Ghostbusters” considered a franchise? There was the excellent original movie in 1984 and a cash-grab sequel in 1989. There were tie-ins: the toy-driven kids’ cartoons from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s and the 2009 video game with  a plotline that, on the big screen, could have been the third part of a trilogy. Importantly, most of these center on the same characters as the original movie.

But media coverage of this year’s reboot seems to accept the idea that Ghostbusters is on par with the likes of Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel’s Cimematic Universe, Superman, and other film properties with long track records of success. That’s just not true. As an example, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters last year, it was the seventh movie in a lineup that enjoyed mixed critical reviews but scored big box office numbers across multiple decades, and – this is important – inspired an expanded universe of new characters. Ditto with recent Star Trek movies, which recast characters while, incredibly, keeping the old ones. And that’s in a universe which has enjoyed multiple successful spinoffs only tangentially related to the adventures depicted in the original televeision series. Again, until last week just about every successful incarnation of the Ghostbusters centered around the same four original characters.

That creates really unreasonable expectations of Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters 2016, which flushes the old story completely in a very limited universe where the old story was pretty much the only story.

If the new Ghostbusters see their box office returns dip, don’t blame sexism. Blame Sony Pictures’ green light to build a new house on a pretty shaky foundation.

 

A bicycle built for failure

Google’s new bike-friendly option on GoogleMaps (GoogleBike?) came just in time for DC.  Your Nation’s Capital will connect the Capitol and the White House with a bike path – right down the middle of the road, removing traffic lanes.  Luckily, DC doesn’t have a traffic problem or anything.

DC’s bike commuters doubled in the past decade or so, going from 1% of the commuting population to over 2%.  Meanwhile, Metro’s ridership has only risen about 25% in a similar time period – to a total of 726,000.  One out of five commuters use Metro, which has its share of well-documented safety issues.

A bike path sounds like a great idea.

Is DC ready?

Your Nation’s Capital has been scrambling to prepare for Tuesday’s inauguration day. Restaurants are getting ready for crowds, the homeless have been swept under the rug, and Metro is issuing more expensive fare cards and telling people to walk.

Nope. This is what the Farragut West Metro platform looked like on Thursday night, without the crush of people who will be in town today through Tuesday. And those are just people waiting to get on a westbound train heading out of the district at 6:00 p.m.

Earlier that day, I picked up Metro’s guide to getting around during the inauguration. Tips included looking for alternate means of transportation – including walking.

In a December WTOP interview, Metro’s head conductor, General Manager John Catoe, said the system can move up to 1 million people but that “a million and a half is not a number we can physically move.” Metrorail handles about 750,000 commuters daily, and the disctrict is expecting an influx in the millions. So do the math: Metro cannot handle the crowds they know are coming.

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Is DC ready?

Your Nation’s Capital has been scrambling to prepare for Tuesday’s inauguration day. Restaurants are getting ready for crowds, the homeless have been swept under the rug, and Metro is issuing more expensive fare cards and telling people to walk.

Nope. This is what the Farragut West Metro platform looked like on Thursday night, without the crush of people who will be in town today through Tuesday. And those are just people waiting to get on a westbound train heading out of the district at 6:00 p.m.

Earlier that day, I picked up Metro’s guide to getting around during the inauguration. Tips included looking for alternate means of transportation – including walking.

In a December WTOP interview, Metro’s head conductor, General Manager John Catoe, said the system can move up to 1 million people but that “a million and a half is not a number we can physically move.” Metrorail handles about 750,000 commuters daily, and the disctrict is expecting an influx in the millions. So do the math: Metro cannot handle the crowds they know are coming.

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Gaian dictator?

“When will people learn: Democracy doesn’t work!” – Homer Simpson (a Barack Obama voter)

A bunch of scientists got together and determined that a single multi-billionaire could probably fund a project to combat climate change by spraying sulfur particles in the atmosphere. It is, of course, controversial even among scientist; some theorize that this “solution” may destroy the ozone layer. (“Egon, this reminds me of that time you tried to drill a hole in your head.”)

But beyond the technical challenges, talk turned to what practical issues would arise in building a global consensus for any such undertaking. As New Scientist correspondent Fred Pearce reported:

“Some enthusiasts for geo-engineering – or eco-hacking, as some have taken to calling it – said we might one day have to ignore democratic niceties in order to get the job done.

Democratic processes are not “niceties” – they are government systems that prevent oppression.

Environmentalists may make the argument that Homer Simpson made – that ignoring the will of the people may be necessary to follow a path that promotes an overall good for mankind. But considering that they can’t even agree on which path that is, let’s not burn the Constitution just yet.