Montana is California’s route to the sea

Dawn Duncan Harrell:

The problem is that we project our own definition of stupid, bad, evil, and satanic onto our Other (1 John 1:8). Then we can define ourselves as the opposite — smart, good, righteous, and godly — but within this tidy little package, we’ve created Satan in our own image (Rom 2:1).

Pro-life protesters:

Pro-life protesters in Chicago’s Daley Plaza on Saturday said that abortion was “worse than Hitler” and that President Barack Obama was a “Communist Nazi.”

“What children’s rights? They want to abort them before they can even become anything,” one protester told independent YouTube reporter DogStar7. “It is worse than Hitler. How many millions of people have they killed compared to Hitler?”

“He’s a Communist Nazi,” another protester [said].

* * * * * * * * *

George Marsden and Mark Noll on America’s Christian Roots.”

George Marsden: “I don’t think it’s ever a good strategy to exaggerate the facts, to change the facts in order to make a current point.”

The bad news for American evangelicalism is that this needs to be said at all. The good news is that we’ve got people as wise and knowledgeable as Marsden and Noll saying it. But then the bad news (again) is that they’ve been saying this for more than 30 years and don’t seem to be gaining any ground.

* * * * * * * * *

The first decade of the 21st Century — the Naughty Oughts — was the first (since the 1940s) that saw no such technological tsunami, making America rich enough to buy from the world.  As the internet boom petered out, we could have made sustainable energy our Next Big Thing. It was proposed, and the rate that China and Germany are getting rich off solar and wind is most impressive!

By coincidence, that was also the decade when the Fox War on Science hit full stride. When science became the right’s enemy number one.

David Brin

* * * * * * * * *

Matthew Soerens of the evangelical pro-immigration group (yeah, you read that right) G92 makes a bold statement:

I’m going to make a prediction that I don’t think is mere wishful thinking: 2013 will be the year that immigration reform finally passes.

I hope he’s right. Whether he is or not depends completely on what happens on Nov. 6.

* * * * * * * * *

This (funny) video highlights the barriers to healthcare women face in many parts of the world, such as in countries where a husband’s consent is required to get birth control.

The goal of this project is to help improve women’s access to health care around the world by working to remove such barriers. I’m worried, though, that someone like Texas Gov. Rick Perry will see this video and adopt its litany of obstacles to women’s health care as his legislative agenda for 2013.

Related: Christianity Today reports on glimmers of good news for women from Uruguay and Buenos Aires, mistaking it for bad news.

* * * * * * * * *

• Here’s one difference between England and American ca. 2012. In England, they have charming eccentrics whose fascination with unexplained phenomena and Forteana leads them to write books about local legends and to give the occasional lecture at the public library. In America, we have much angrier cranks who believe even stranger things, and we elect them to Congress.

• I don’t disagree with Dean Baker lightly, but the headline on this post of his is simply not true: “Not Just Tax Increases, but ANY Deficit Reduction Will Cost Jobs.” The substance of the post is fine, but that headline is just wrong. We’ve got 7.8 percent unemployment. That means that right now the best way to reduce the deficit is to put the unemployed back to work. Creating jobs is deficit reduction. And creating jobs will not cost jobs. Massive investment in infrastructure, right now, would reduce the deficit.

• “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to the skilful; but time and chance happen to them all.”

• Josh Romney is a handsome fellow. Rebecca Schoenkopf thinks he has Patrick Bateman-like good looks, but I’d say he looks more like a young Robert Redford.

The Dude abides: “We must end our national problem of hunger through national and political leadership. Charity is nice for some things, but not as a way to feed a nation. We don’t protect our national security through charity, and we shouldn’t protect our families and children that way either.”

 

 

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  • Hawker40

    I’m surprised at you, Fred.  Iran is linked to the Mediterranian via Syria by the Wadda Guesiam Canal.

    And you haven’t mentioned the deadly Dreadnaught Gap: in 1916, the United States Navy had 12 operational modern Dreadnaughts, today we only have 7 non-operational Dreadnaughts.  We must act quickly to re-activate our existing Dreadnaughts (starting with the oldest, USS Texas) and building new ones lest our Hapsburg enemies in Austria-Hungary gain a naval edge against us!

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     We must act quickly to re-activate our existing Dreadnaughts (starting
    with the oldest, USS Texas) and building new ones lest our Hapsburg
    enemies in Austria-Hungary gain a naval edge against us!

    Imagine what would happen if the Japanese reactivate their pre-Dreadnaught, the Mikasa before we have our seven battleships back online?  They’ll rule the world by default!  Default, I tells ya!

  • D9000

    Nought, not naught. Jacky Fisher’s little yacht was called HMS Dreadnought, with an O, so all the others are, too.

  • ohiolibrarian

     Dread+nought = Fear nothing. Kinda cool as a name for a class of battleships.

  • Hawker40

    “Nought, not naught. Jacky Fisher’s little yacht was called HMS Dreadnought, with an O, so all the others are, too.”

    Geds was following my statement, as I used the proper American spelling “naught”, meaning nothing.  Sir Jacky, being English, of course mispelled it both on the ship and his official motto (Fear God and Dread Nought).

  • D9000

    It must be admitted that spelling wasn’t Admiral Fisher’s strong point, but he was only following precedence, his Dreadnought being the sixth of that name to serve with the Royal Navy. English words spelt correctly in English English by Englishmen cannot, of course, be misspelt. The clue there is in the name of the language :-)

  • EllieMurasaki

    How many ways did Shakespeare spell his own name? I’ve forgotten.

  • D9000

    5. In six known signatures. Other people spelt him even more variously. All versions are of course correct (for a given value of correct) except for those jackasses who spell it ‘OXFORD’.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What about the people who spell it ‘Elizabeth Regina’ or however she signed her name? ‘Cause I’ve seen that theory too. Not sure how plausible, considering that some Shakespeare postdates her death, but seen the theory.

  • D9000

    Disqus ate my reply! Shorter version, all Shakespeare authorship theorists are conspiracy nuts, backed by nothing but numerology, spooky coincidences every logical fallacy you’ve ever heard of and (quite often) flat-out woo. See shalespeareauthorship.com for more.

  • D9000

    Eh, I’m sure you can spot the deliberate mistake there … I can spell, I just can’t type …

  • EllieMurasaki

    FYI to observers: the actual url is http://shakespeareauthorship.com/

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Up the Oxfordians! Are there any others here or have I just outed myself to awkward silence?

  • D9000

    Read Fred’s motto, and re-consider your stance (if serious … IMX most Oxfordians aren’t, they’re just trolling the Bard-worshippers, which is understandable).

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.paxton.94 Susan Paxton

    We want eight and we won’t wait!

  • Hawker40

    Ah, yes, the famous Labour Party “We can only afford 2 battleships” vs Imperial Party “We must have 4 battleships” and compromising on 8 battleships…

    (it’s complicated, involving early 20th century politics, economics, and German naval construction rates.)

  • D9000

    It was the Liberal Party who wanted fewer Dreadnoughts, and the (Conservative &) Unionist Party who wanted more. I don’t think the Labour Party of the day wanted any at all. People who want to know more, and indeed anybody who wants to read a thoroughly entertaining and informative history book should hie them to Robert K Massie’s masterwork ‘Dreadnought’ (which really ought to have an e-book edition by now, but hasn’t, dammit).

  • Hawker40

    I’ve read R.K. Massie’s wonderful book, and the sequal “Castles of Steel” and really wish he would continue the series to cover the Washington Naval Treaty…

    The fact that I misremembered the correct political parties doesn’t detract from the books… or the bizarre compromise.

  • D9000

    Indeed not. I was more interested in the geopolitics than the naval minutiae; is Castles of Steel worth reading if one is not into warships all that much?

  • Hawker40

    Castles of Steel is very much a naval history, but includes the political decisions that influenced naval ones… I’d have to say if you’re looking for the geopolitics of the great war, you’d probably do better elsewhere.  OR skip a lot of chapters.

    Winston Churchill doesn’t come out very well in it (micromanaging ships in the Mediterranean from London with early 20th century radios?)
    Nor does Admiral Beatty (if your battlecruisers find themselves confronted by the German High Seas Fleet, call your boss and TELL HIM, jerk!)

  • D9000

    I dunno, that sounds fairly interesting, If I can snag a copy cheap I’ll give it a go. I know bits of the naval history of WW1, it would be good to fill in the gaps. Yes, Winston wasn’t much cop as First Lord in WW2, either … 

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

    165% of Americans think the Middle East is on Mars, so Fred is a stupid liberalhead.

    /In before Aunursa

  • aunursa

    Nathaniel attempting to mock aunursa: Fred is a stupid liberalhead.

    Abortion opponent: He’s a Communist Nazi,” another protester [said].

    You should see the names that they call anyone who opposes President Obama’s health care law.

  • JustoneK

    If you’re referring to the frequently accurate names of racist, bigot, misogynist, etc…

  • EllieMurasaki

    Assuming the opposition to Obamacare is from the left, the word we use is ‘sensible’. JustoneK’s covered the terminology for opposition to Obamacare from the right. Only partially, though. ‘Plutocrat’ comes to mind for the people who think only sufficiently wealthy people deserve health care.

  • rizzo

     Like what exactly?

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

    A comment that isn’t a passive aggressive poll? Sacre bleu!

    Still, there is the self pitying victimization, so that’s something I suppose.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Geez, people, can we let aunursa actually say something on his own before we jump all over him? And let’s not be surprised he reacts defensively when people are calling him out on things he hasn’t even done yet this thread.

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

     I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt the moment he earns it. The preponderance of evidence is that he doesn’t argue in good faith or is even willing to actually states his positions. Until that changes I see no value any sort of interaction other than mocking.

  • SisterCoyote

    With all due respect, that approach works on opponents like Driscoll, Romney, etc. They’re in positions of power, and therefore their terrible positions entirely deserve mockery, even pre-emptive mockery like your comment. But Aunursa isn’t a person of power, and it seems more like bullying than anything else to jump into a thread like that. I’m not saying his actions are okay, but seriously, it just feels really hostile around here when people start threads with comments like that.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Mock away, but wait till he actually says something on the thread. Otherwise, you’re just being a jerk.

  • AnonymousSam

    So in other words, you’re saying, “So what?  That was yesterday. Give a guy a sixty-third chance.”

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    It’s taken me all day to get back to a computer where I was able to like this comment…

    (Seriously – ever since I upgraded my phone’s software, it goes round *selecting* the “like” button so I can… copy-paste it? or something? …and I can’t convince it that I actually want to *push* the damn thing.)

  • Donalbain

     You should see the names they call anyone who dares to oppose President Obama’s health care law.

    Damnit! I hate them.  I hate it when they say things like that.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I’m thinking of moving to Montana soon.

  • lowtechcyclist

    I can get you a good deal on a pygmy pony!

  • ReverendRef

     When I got called to serve two congregations in Montana, a friend of mine put together a traveling CD that had this song on it. 

    About a year later, she was also called to serve a cluster of 4 (and that’s a story in and of itself) in Montana.  We went out to visit her after she arrived and gave her a housewarming gift of a small planter with a row of dental floss planted in it.

  • VMink

    Ugh, I hate it when David Brin is even mostly right; I feel like I just drank milk of magnesia.

  • VMink

    Ugh, I hate it when David Brin is even mostly right; I feel like I just drank milk of magnesia.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    My bad. That’s the Caspian sea, not the Aral.

    As for people who oppose “Obamacare” – the fact that provisions in it are already kicking in and the sky hasn’t fallen yet should give pause and make people consider if it really is such a bad thing.

  • EllieMurasaki

    aunursa can probably find the polls that say people are happy with and want to keep any given provision of Obamacare, for definitions of ‘any’ that include ‘all’, but when asked about the law as a whole, it’s got to go.

  • Lori

     

    the fact that provisions in it are already kicking in and the sky hasn’t
    fallen yet should give pause and make people consider if it really is
    such a bad thing.   

    There you go, being all ridiculously reality-based again.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    BUT BUT BUT BUT CONSTITUTION

    Seriously, this fetishization of the Constitution as a reason not to do something beneficial, when the Constitution has repeatedly been flouted* by things like the Drug War and the War on Terror and nary a peep from the likes of aunursa —

    I suspect the real motivation is that it’s fine to jail and shoot at darker-skinned people but not to help them.

    (Seriously, even though 50% of blacks are now middle class, there’s still the fact that even Romney admitted the unemployment rates are higher for black people, and so health insurance for them is harder to come by if they can’t get Medicaid)

  • EllieMurasaki

    this fetishization of the Constitution as a reason not to do something beneficial

    I keep wanting to dump all these people in my eighth grade history class. The first infraction committed by any given person in any given week was punished by that person having to recite the Preamble. We all knew it quite well by the end of the year. More perfect union. Establish justice. Insure domestic tranquility. Promote the general welfare. Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. I realize I am leaving part out but these people are probably already familiar with that bit.

  • Lori

    We had to memorize & recite the Preamble in 8th grade history too, although for us it was an assignment not a punishment. One of my favorite memories from that year is the classmate who just couldn’t do it the usual way, so he received permission from the teacher to sing the Schoolhouse Rock song. (The only rule was that the rest of us were not allowed to sing along because that would be giving unfair help. That was really hard. You try hearing that song and not singing along.)

  • guest

    That’s a lovely story….  I didn’t realise until a few years ago (after running into a fellow expat of a similar age and baffling our local companions with cheerful renditions of Schoolhouse Rock ditties) that they were written by noted jazz composers.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    For us it was fifth grade and I think we all used the Schoolhouse Rock song, but we just recited the lyrics rather than singing them. 

    We didn’t hear anyone else recite, though.  My teacher knew that hearing the Preamble 24 times would give that 25th kid an unfair advantage, so she tested us on it in the hallway.  She sat on a chair with her gradebook and we each went out and recited it for her.  Then she checked us each off and sent us each in for the next kid.

  • Tricksterson

    No, no, you have to do the Schoolhouse Rock version.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    It seems they’ve suddenly, conveniently, forgotten about that whole “Constitution is not a suicide pact” thing they were tossing around about a decade ago.

  • KNicoll

    Seriously, this fetishization of the Constitution as a reason not to do something beneficial, when the Constitution has repeatedly been flouted* by things like the Drug War and the War on Terror and nary a peep from the likes of aunursa —

    Because of juxtapositions of topics, the first time I read this sentence I thought it was referring to Old Ironsides.

  • schismtracer

    I wonder if that “route to the sea” bit was a pro-Israel dog whistle, i.e. if Iran pushes militarily towards the Mediterranean, they pretty much have to go over Israeli land.

    Of course, that raises other questions, like why a US politician needs to use code words to slavishly suck up to Israel.

  • Lori

    If it was a dog whistle is was only heard by a really small group of people because I haven’t seen anyone commenting on it other than to suggest that Team Mitt invest in a map.

  • Carstonio

    Now I wonder if the Iran-pushes-to-the Mediterranean scenario has been used by LaHaye or any other End Times writers.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    I haven’t seen anyone commenting on it other than to suggest that Team Mitt invest in a map.

    Just not a Fox News map.

     if it’s *that* Brin, I’d rather not warp my enjoyment of a fiction by getting to know an author too well.

    Excellent idea. Avoid his short online-only near-future stuff too, unless your blood pressure is dangerously low and needs a boost.

  • Carstonio

    I didn’t think of that. Of course, the real point of the sucking up is to pander to the segment of US voters who value Israel only as a player in their interpretation of Revelation. That’s about as rational as effectively endorsing just about all of the President’s foreign policy positions while accusing him of making the US look weak, as if international relations were all about macho posturing like pro wrestling.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Best Foreign Policy Ever >.>  It’s got elephants!  Jumping off buildings!  Lawnmowers!

  • Tricksterson

    Sunce Syria already lies on the Mediterranean, no.  They would have to plow through Iraq first.  Understandable if you forgot about it though.  It’s not as though we’ve had anything to do with Iraq in recent history.

  • phranckeaufile

    You are giving Romney way too much credit.

  • Lauren

    Fred, I’ve lurked here for a while, and I guess this is as good a post as any to say.. thank you.

    I am a Christian much in the same vein you are, and it is endlessly frustrating to try and hold onto my faith against the onslaught of hypocrisy and stupidity that seems to be so prevalent in the American church. There are a handful of other liberal Christian bloggers that I’ve found, but even on their blogs, I feel like any battles in the “culture war” are fought with endless hand-wringing and an exceptional (at times, seemingly counterproductive) willingness to be gracious and understanding to rather atrocious people saying rather atrocious things.

    So, as a woman, I can’t even tell you how liberating it is to see you constantly calling people out on their misogynistic bullshit, no bars held. You don’t equivocate, you don’t go out of your way to try and see things from their side, or to police the tone of people with legitimate grievances. You call it like you see it, and stand up for the least among us.

    And for that, I want to thank you.

  • SisterCoyote

    Honestly, I’ve gotten so used to Godwinning and throwing out disproportionate, false insults that they don’t even bother me that much anymore. But “Communist Nazi” is literally a contradiction in terms! Don’t these people ever read history?

  • Lori

     

    Don’t these people ever read history? 

    Only the version by David Barton. IOW, no.

  • Lauren

     I know someone who once argued with me that Nazis were, by definition, Communists, because Nazi stands for “National SOCIALIST Party”. They explained off the mass persecution and murder of Communists in the Holocaust as mere party-line differences.

    *facepalm*

  • Hawker40

    Ah, yes, National Socialist Workers Party, because we know that Nazis were scrupulously honest in all of thier dealings, much like the Democratic Republic of North Korea, which we all know is a Democratic Republic just like it says in the name.

  • Lauren

     That’s actually exactly the example I used. He had none of it. We don’t talk anymore.

  • Hawker40

    I like to point out to people who use the ‘Nazi means’ example that while commuinst China and the United States are both technically republics, the United Kingdom is not… then I explain that the original meaning of ‘republic’ is ‘no inherited ruling class’.

  • SisterCoyote

    They explained off the mass persecution and murder of Communists in the Holocaust as mere party-line differences.

    O_o

    I can’t even.

  • Lauren

     I couldn’t even either. The absolute worst part, beyond the actual factual inaccuracy of it all, was the condescending tone that this guy used to explain how I had been indoctrinated by our liberal educational system that wanted to foist Nazism off on conservatives. If only I would just use my brain and do the RESEARCH, I would see the truth, just like he had.

    Of course, the guy is a respected pastor in my very small southern hometown. Hence, my original comment, about how infuriating it is to deal with other Christians sometimes.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Time Magazine articles back in the 30s almost always referred to it as the ‘National “Socialist” party’. They weren’t buying it either.

  • veejayem

    Uh … no?

  • Lunch Meat

    I thought Fred might find this article interesting: http://www.dallasobserver.com/2012-10-18/news/apocalypse-now-ish-irvin-baxter-s-end-times-empire/

    Although Left Behind’s popularity is waning, there are still preachers making money off end-times predictions and prophesies.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh, speaking of taxes and whatnot.

    Canadian personal tax calculator: http://www.ey.com/CA/en/Services/Tax/Tax-Calculators-2012-Personal-Tax

    If you want to do it for where I live pick British Columbia. :)

    Divide the after tax income by 12 to get the monthly amount (by 26 for biweekly paychecks, and 24 for bimonthly) and then for shits and giggles compare to your own paychecks. See if Canada is really the Soviet Canuckistan hellhole purported by Fox News.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …do y’all happen to have any need or desire for another data-entry professional in your province? Because an extra hundred fifty dollars every two weeks, assuming I get a job in BC with the same pay rate, is more than enough to justify the hassle of moving cross-continent and cross-border.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Best bet is to hit up monster.ca – seems to be weighted heavily to computer type jobs? <_<

  • EllieMurasaki

    Unfortunately I’m not serious. I’m locked in to my current job through May; they have trouble getting folks willing to work four to midnight with 2:30-10:30 Fridays and the occasional Friday that’s eleven to seven. (Real shock, this.) So they make sure that when they do get someone willing to work those hours, they’ll keep her for a while. (Division’s like eighty-five percent female and most of the rest are IT.)

  • Worthless Beast

    Well, um… Youtube didn’t get me a full clip (in English) like I really wanted, but here’s McBain fighting CommieNazis from “The Simpsons.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBef_JGNjLc

    Refusing to click the David Brin link simply because I recently picked up a used sci-fi book about space-dolphins that I am enjoying and if it’s *that* Brin, I’d rather not warp my enjoyment of a fiction by getting to know an author too well. If there’s one thing bad about the digital/blogging age – some authors get known by their blogs (has Fred written any books)? while… sometimes, knowing too much of an author’s personal life and views can sour you. I want to avoid them because I think I’d enjoy someone’s fiction best if I didn’t know them from Adam.  Maybe I’m missing out on a great blog, but I’d rather read the blog of an author I’ve begun reading *after* I’ve read some of the fiction.  (Best not to know someone’s politics before I know their space-dolphins).  

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    Yes, it’s the same David Brin. Startide Rising is reasonably good – but be aware that it’s book two of a trilogy, although the books are independent enough that you won’t be totally lost.

  • Joshua

    Best not to know someone’s politics before I know their space-dolphins

    I happen to be rereading one of the novels in that series now. With space-chimpanzees. I’ve found the politics and view of human nature he espouses in the novels to be consistent with what I’ve read online, so I doubt you’ll be in for a shock.

    I enjoy Startide Rising. Space dolphins may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s good fun if you can suspend disbelief. It’s part of a series of six or seven novels of frankly diminishing quality – he’s succumbed to celebrity author syndrome IMHO. The first, Sundiver, is my favourite, although the popular opinion is that it is exceeded by its sequel. Uplift War, with the chimpanzees, is very worthwhile I think.

    The second trilogy in the series could be vastly improved by cutting out all the padding shit, which would leave you with a short novel worth reading. Otherwise, not. I don’t know about his most recent prequel.

    I think his best work is contained in the two volumes of short stories released earlier in his career. My favourite is Thor vs Captain America, which is very dark but very imaginative. He wrote The Postman, which was turned into a Kevin Costner “vehicle” (is it a vehicle if it doesn’t go anywhere?). The book is better than the movie, but that’s not the same as saying it’s great.

    … And he was so right about Star Wars.

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, it’s that Brin.  Abnd the space dolphins are tres cool.

  • Damanoid

    Syria isn’t the nearest or most convenient route to “the sea,” but it is the route that runs nearest to Israel.  I guess Romney is trying to echo the old slogan about “driving Israel into the sea,” suggesting that Iran will make such an attempt via Syria if not curtailed now.

    In other words, it’s not so much an error of geography as a failure of rhetoric.

  • Carstonio

    The missing link between dreadnaughts and totalitarianism:

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Dreadnought!

    The novel at one point resembles a vehicle for the author’s political beliefs – the lead character wrote a paper at Starfleet Academy titled “Political Collectivism as Causal to Earth’s Third World War.”

  • VMink

    Dreadnought! and its sequel Battlestations! (and there was apparently a third book the author was going to write before Pocket realized how bad an idea that was.)  The action focusses on characters of the author’s creation rather than Kirk, Spock, McCoy, et al.  It is thus perhaps polite to refer to those books as professional fan-fiction.

    The main character is about as Mary Sue as they come, the author completely fails to grasp any of the politics of Star Trek, and based on the five-page lecture the main character gives to a Vulcan about the author’s version of Earth history pre-Trek, it transcends even the anviliciousness of most Trek episodes into some kind of Trelane Shrugged.

    The author appears to have been able to rein in her more obnoxious lecturing, as she went on to write Ship of the Line which was somewhat good, but still showed her trying desperately to drop her anvil on TNG-era Federation politics.  (Admittedly, the TNG-era Federation could use some clarification, but not the outright refutation Diane Carey engages in.)

  • Carstonio

     I’ve read both those books and generally agree with you. Back then I hadn’t heard about the Mary Sue concept, but when I did I immediately thought of the first book. I wouldn’t have pegged Carey as a libertarian, only because I almost always hear the term “collectivist” from folks who believe that the federal government’s only responsibility is national defense.

  • vsm

    Isn’t Star Trek fiction a tad strange of a venue for propagandizing for Libertarianism?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It is. The whole premise of TOS in particular stemmed from a kind of odd fusion of the ethos of the post-WW2 consensus and 1960s counterculture. It embraced attracting the best and brightest people into what was essentially a government-sponsored exploration/military/scientific arm of space exploration, stimulating their individualistic drive and competition with themselves and with others, but at the same time also embracing some fundamentally collectivist concepts and ideals, such as the very idea of a Federation, rather than an Empire.

    You can see the 1960s counterculture in the way money essentially disappears from the way society works, driven by a superabundance of energy drawn from the virtually bottomless matter-antimatter drives. Other futurists have posited that the instant humanity gains access to virtually unlimited energy, that’s when the very idea of scarcity will be nonsense and all economics goes by the wayside.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Other futurists have posited that the instant humanity gains access to virtually unlimited energy, that’s when the very idea of scarcity will be nonsense and all economics goes by the wayside.

    That doesn’t make sense. The energy’s only so much use without creativity to drive new applications for it, and surely creativity will be scarce and valuable even when energy and materials are not.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Imagine adding the equivalent of 2 billion new brains to the human race’s current capacity for innovation and excellence.

    That’s what a super-surplus of energy would do: allow all of Africa and Asia to live in such comfort and ease (and only make our Western lives even easier) that they would be freed of drudgery and lack of hope for a better life.

    Energy is the key: without it, all the creativity in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Optimist. More likely is that the infinite energy will be discovered by a Western scientist and hoarded by Westerners. And my point, which is that there will be a finite (if potentially growing) number of [insert author] books regardless of how many copies of those books it has become possible to make and how easy it has become to make them, remains.

  • Beleester

    Creativity is always scarce, so you will probably be able to get paid for that.  But what are you going to get paid with?  What exactly are you working for when you can get everything you need from a replicator?  Creativity might be valuable, but it can’t be transferred or traded, and its products are not scarce.  So it’s not a great thing to build an economy on.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The adulation of the crowd? I don’t know, really. I’m just not convinced that creativity will stop being worth something when energy and raw materials become free.

  • vsm

    Invisible Neutrino:
    That tension between rugged individualism and 1960’s idealism is why I like watching TOS (never cared for the other series). There’s something delightful about an alpha male like Kirk espousing fuzzy humanistic virtues, like when he saves that silicon-based life form from the miners, or that delightful episode where he brokers peace between the two planets who exterminate their own populations based on the enemy’s simulated attacks by threatening to nuke them from orbit. I also like the disconnect between the show’s misogyny and commitment  to racial equality: Uhura is competent, while every white female crewmember seems to be waiting for her chance to betray the Federation for some Übermensch conqueror. Thus, the the message seems to be that white women cannot be trusted.

    BaseDeltaZero:
    Calling Star Wars fascist is obviously silly, but it is a rather elitistic series.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The author of those books is a known Libertarian and is fond of putting words in the mouths of her characters to push that philosophy.

  • Alrightyeah

    The Northwest Passage lives! 

  • Tricksterson

    With Arctic ice melting at it’s current rate indeed it does.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    I wonder if that “route to the sea” bit was a pro-Israel dog whistle, i.e. if Iran pushes militarily towards the Mediterranean, they pretty much have to go over Israeli land.

    Of course, that raises other questions, like why a US politician needs to use code words to slavishly suck up to Israel.

    Or why the *heck* Iran would want to push militarily towards the Mediterranean.

    Refusing to click the David Brin link simply because I recently picked up a used sci-fi book about space-dolphins that I am enjoying and if it’s *that* Brin, I’d rather not warp my enjoyment of a fiction by getting to know an author too well.

    Yes, that David Brin.  He’s perhaps best known for the long rant on how Star Wars is fascist that reveals he clearly did not understand Star Wars…

    capable of outgunning a dozen Klingon cruisers, or subduing a galaxy.

    I like how she writes ‘capable of subduing a galaxy’ as though that were merely impressive instead of utterly ludicrous.  

    They explained off the mass persecution and murder of Communists in the Holocaust as mere party-line differences.

    Stalin killed his share of fellow communists, too, but… that doesn’t change that fact that it’s pretty wrong.

    Isn’t Star Trek fiction a tad strange of a venue for propagandizing for Libertarianism?

     
    Yes.  Very much so.

    You can see the 1960s counterculture in the way money essentially disappears from the way society works, driven by a superabundance of energy drawn from the virtually bottomless matter-antimatter drives. Other futurists have posited that the instant humanity gains access to virtually unlimited energy, that’s when the very idea of scarcity will be nonsense and all economics goes by the wayside.

    Maybe a literally limitless energy source could do that… but pretty much anything is going to be limited by the rate at which you can extract power.  In the Federation’s case, it’s pretty clear they *are* economically limited – it’s just that limit is well over ‘pay living expenses for everyone’.  At least in theory.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Yes, that David Brin.  He’s perhaps best known for the long rant on how
    Star Wars is fascist that reveals he clearly did not understand Star
    Wars…

    I find Brin’s Star Wars essays especially impressive because they don’t involve missing the point so much as going to great effort to avoid having to look at it. Such as his talk of Star Wars promoting fascist rule by bloodlines of “genetic overlords,”* or how in “The Apotheosis of Darth Vader” he very impressively managed to write pages and pages about the end of RotJ without using the words “redemption” or “sacrifice.”

    * I was greatly reminded of Brin’s Star Wars essays when RTCs attacked Harry Potter for advocating that “There is no good or evil, only power, and those too weak to seek it.” Apparently Brin shares their view that villains espousing a belief means that the work and the author endorse it.

  • Joshua

    In what way do you think that Star Wars doesn’t promote fascist rule by genetic overlords?

    Episodes V on establish that forciness is heritable, and every movie shows that having the force makes you invincible against anything apart from another force user, even if, like Yoda, you’re a complete moron.

    Force users seem to have been political powers in the story for tens of thousands of years, and periods where someone asks, “Why don’t I be in charge?” seem to have been common.

    My favourite way to conclude the movies, back when Lucas was talking about nine of them, was to have a storyline where a bunch of normal humans get sick of all the Jedi and Sith burning the galaxy to the ground every generation or so, and piss off to colonise another galaxy, which turns out to be the Milky Way. Linking the whole thing back to the opening words.

    Obviously, Lucas would never go for it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    In what way do you think that Star Wars doesn’t promote fascist rule by genetic overlords?

    The part where the fascist genetic overlords are the Sith, a.k.a. the Bad Guys.

    Episodes V on establish that forciness is heritable, and every movie
    shows that having the force makes you invincible against anything apart
    from another force user, even if, like Yoda, you’re a complete moron.

    And the only faction that espouses that such invincibility qualifies one for rulership is the Sith.

    Force users seem to have been political powers in the story for tens of
    thousands of years, and periods where someone asks, “Why don’t I be in charge?” seem to have been common.

    The Jedi were servants of the Republic, not its rulers. The force users who held great political power were generally (wait for it) Sith.

  • Joshua

    The part where the fascist genetic overlords are the Sith, a.k.a. the Bad Guys.

    Luke and Leia are absolutely genetic overlords. One wins a battle against the greatest weapon ever seen, plus a huge army, entirely single-handedly – the other pilots contributed less than the guy on the ground who maintains his X-wing. Leia starts out a princess and only gets more political power as the stories go on. The reason why is their parentage.

    In the Return of the Jedi, the Emperor clearly regards only Luke as being important in the big space battle – he only brings up the rest of the battle is to brow-beat him. When the battle starts to go against him, despite his prescience and insight, he doesn’t deign to notice – if he can get Luke on board, the rest doesn’t matter. The movies demonstrate repeatedly (Anakin in I and the start of III, and Luke in IV) that he’s actually quite right. When a force user from Anakin’s family is on their game, they are literally unstoppable and a galaxy-wide civilisation with ordinary force users and ridiculously advanced technology is no match.

    Luke and Leia may not personally be fascist, but being the only people even relevant in the fight against the Emperor is hardly democratic.

    And the only faction that espouses that such invincibility qualifies one for rulership is the Sith.

    And Leia just stayed at home working on her knitting?
    In the movies, the Jedi seem to be the primary recruiting ground for the Sith.

    The Jedi were servants of the Republic, not its rulers. The force users who held great political power were generally (wait for it) Sith.

    Ah so, the Jedi in III, like the Praetorian Guard in the Roman Empire, always stayed out of the process of choosing political leaders.

    Nah, the politics of the Star Wars galaxy is entirely the Palpatine and Skywalker Show, everyone else are pawns. Whether it’s fascist may depend on which particular Skywalker, but it’s never remotely democratic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Luke and Leia may not personally be fascist, but being the only people
    even relevant in the fight against the Emperor is hardly democratic…

    Nah, the politics of the Star Wars galaxy is entirely the
    Palpatine and Skywalker Show, everyone else are pawns. Whether it’s
    fascist may depend on which particular Skywalker, but it’s never
    remotely democratic.

    At what point in the films are Luke or Leia running the Rebellion? They are valuable members, and Leia occupies a position of leadership, but neither of them in are in charge. Following the EU, Leia is twice elected Chief of State of the New Republic.

    Elected. Twice. As in, “democratically elected to office, and stepped down once her terms of office ended.”

    I really don’t understand your argument here. Are you arguing that a
    work is ultimately fascist/anti-democratic if it involves individuals of
    tremendous personal power, who can affect events on a
    world-wide/galactic/multiversal scale?

    Because that basically
    dismisses whole genres as “fascist” due to the nature of their
    constructed worlds, regardless of how themes of power may be explored
    within such works.

  • vsm

    Which David Brin essay are we talking about here? This: http://www.salon.com/1999/06/15/brin_main/ ? He never calls Star Wars fascist there.

    I don’t think we should dismiss the genre, but its basic assumptions really are anti-egalitarian. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying art that’s politically questionable, but we should recognize it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Which David Brin essay are we talking about here? This: http://www.salon.com/1999/06/1… ? He never calls Star Wars fascist there.

     That’s one of them. Like the others, it features plenty of twisting and dancing around, deliberately ignoring the part where all the super-powered despots are the bad guys, and the guys guys are trying to preserve/restore democratic government.

    For all Brin’s  talk of “genetic overlords,” the only Skywalker who advocates rule by Force users is the one who has fallen to the dark side.

    I don’t think we should dismiss the genre, but its basic assumptions
    really are anti-egalitarian. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with
    enjoying art that’s politically questionable, but we should recognize
    it.

    Which basic assumptions? The ones where some people have super-powers?

  • vsm

    The ones where some people have super-powers?
    The ones where certain people have hereditary powers that make them almost the sole players in galaxy-spanning events. You can do a story about people with superpowers without implying they’re the only ones who matter. Alan Moore’s Watchmen does something that, even when one of the characters is practically a god, by focusing on the less-super supers and several ordinary people from the street. Spiderman is agile, strong and has cool tights, yet the world doesn’t revolve around him most of the time. Buffy never sidelined the characters who weren’t born with superpowers.

    Also, making the Rebellion democratic always seemed like a blatant retcon to me, what with all the princesses running around in the first movies, but let’s skip that. Luke goes on to re-establish the Jedi Order, yes? As far as I understand, it’s still extremely powerful and is ruled by a couple of unelected old guys with little government oversight. That sounds like a third world country where the army is always prepared to step in if the people happen to elect the wrong candidates. It’s quite telling that this is how Lucas decided to let Palpatine take over. The unprincipled and misguided senators choose him as their leader, leaving the job of deposing him to Samuel Jackson and the rest of wise men who know better.

  • Joshua

    I agree.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the original Star Wars trilogy, at least up until the Ewoks turn up. I even enjoy aspects of the three prequels.

    However, the story that George Lucas told in the movies is not democratic, democracy in the movies is only ever a failure or at best a bureaucratic waste of time, what good government occurs is good only by virtue of the personalities who happen to have the superpowers. From what I have read in interviews with him, this appears to reflect his actual attitudes, although that’s neither here nor there for discussing his work.

    That is a dictatorship, and in real life or fictional works by authors with a better grip on human nature, tends to work out badly. Just like unelected bodies with guardianship over the political process including succession.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    However, the story that George Lucas told in the movies is not
    democratic, democracy in the movies is only ever a failure or at best a
    bureaucratic waste of time, what good government occurs is good only by
    virtue of the personalities who happen to have the superpowers.

    You mean the Rebel Alliance’s leaders like Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, General Dodonna, Genereal Crix Nadine, Admiral Ackbar, General Solo, General Calrissian, and Senator Leia Organa (who had no knowledge of her potential for super-powers until the Galactic Civil War was hours from being effectively over)?

    From
    what I have read in interviews with him, this appears to reflect his
    actual attitudes, although that’s neither here nor there for discussing
    his work.

    That is a dictatorship, and in real life or fictional works by
    authors with a better grip on human nature, tends to work out badly.

    They tend to work out very badly in Star Wars, too. But the old Republic did not become one until it was subverted by Palpatine, and the only Force user to serve in high office in the New Republic was elected to that office (twice) and stepped down when her term ended?

    Just like unelected bodies with guardianship over the political process
    including succession.

    The Jedi were under the control of the Senate, had no authority over political processes, and their single attempt to interfere with the political process was an act of treason that saw them destroyed. That’s a tragic fall, not an endorsement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    The ones where certain people have hereditary powers that make them almost the sole players in galaxy-spanning events. You can do a story
    about people with superpowers without implying they’re the only ones who
    matter. Alan Moore’s Watchmen does something that, even when one of the
    characters is practically a god, by focusing on the less-super supers
    and several ordinary people from the street.

    Whose viewpoint is used to introduce the series at the beginning of A New Hope? Two droids, regarded by most sentients as objects rather than people.

    Lucas deliberately structured ANH like this because of Kurosawa’s A Hidden Fortress, where the “lowest” characters (two peasants) acted as the viewpoint characters.

    Spiderman is agile, strong and has cool tights, yet the world doesn’t
    revolve around him most of the time. Buffy never sidelined the
    characters who weren’t born with superpowers.

    In The Empire Strikes Back, the non-powered characters (and Leia is effectively non-powered in the films) save super-powered Luke’s bacon. In Return of the Jedi, Luke determines that his presence endangers the Endor mission and steps out, leaving the non-powered characters to successfully carry out the mission that enabled the Rebellion to destroy the second Death Star (which would have killed Emperor Palpatine regardless of what Luke and Vader did).

    So I’m just not seeing your argument.

    Luke goes on to re-establish the Jedi Order, yes? As far as I
    understand, it’s still extremely powerful and is ruled by a couple of
    unelected old guys with little government oversight.

    The Jedi Order is under the control of the Republic’s Senate.

    That sounds like a
    third world country where the army is always prepared to step in if the
    people happen to elect the wrong candidates. It’s quite telling that
    this is how Lucas decided to let Palpatine take over. The unprincipled
    and misguided senators choose him as their leader, leaving the job of
    deposing him to Samuel Jackson and the rest of wise men who know better.

    Palpatine took over the way that many real-world dictators have taken over. The parallels to Roman Emperors, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, and others were quite intentional.

    And the Jedi were not ready to step in at any time if the people “happened to elect the wrong candidate.” When they learned that Palpatine was a Sith and behind the Clone Wars, they decided to violate their mandate by assassinating Palpatine and taking over the Senate. As a result of their attempted coup, the Jedi were hunted down as traitors and destroyed.

    The super-powered Jedi Order failed, ultimately playing right into Palpatine’s hands by taking the exact sequence of actions he needed in order to legitimately issue Order 66. “The Jedi violate their code and die as a result” does not come across
    as a ringing endorsement of “the Jedi should have been running things.”

    Episode III is essentially a tragedy. Obi-Wan fails Anakin as a mentor. Anakin fails everyone by turning to the Dark Side and putting his personal desires over doing the right thing. The Jedi fail themselves and the Republic by violating their code, resulting in their destruction. George Lucas fails Padme Amidala by cutting the entire plot where she starts the core of the Rebel Alliance (all non-powered people, by the way).

    The only person who does not fail is Palpatine, who gets everything that he wants. And he is, again, the primary villain of Star Wars.

  • vsm

     Lucas deliberately structured ANH like this because of Kurosawa’s A Hidden Fortress, where the “lowest” characters (two peasants) acted as the viewpoint characters.
    The
    difference between ANH and Hidden Fortress is that the latter keeps
    using their POV for the whole running time. Lucas abandons it the moment
    Luke is introduced. Good for him, because nobody wants to see those two
    as the main characters of a story like this, but I can’t say it’s a
    particularly successful use of Kurosawa’s trick.

    In The Empire Strikes Back, the non-powered characters (and Leia is effectively non-powered in the films) save super-powered Luke’s bacon.
    I
    never meant to imply non-force sensitives are useless. It would have
    made for a pretty boring series if they were. As for Leia, isn’t it
    implied that force-sensitivity means more than just the ability to wave a
    sword and lift moderately heavy objects? There seems to be a great
    amount of destiny or something of the kind involved.

    leaving the non-powered characters to successfully carry out the mission
    that enabled the Rebellion to destroy the second Death Star (which
    would have killed Emperor Palpatine regardless of what Luke and Vader
    did).

    Alternatively, if the others had failed, Luke and
    Vader killing the emperor would have also ended the Empire. I wondered
    about that part even as a child, since it seemed curious that the hero
    could have just as well stayed home, aside from the status of his dad’s
    immortal Jedi soul. Apparently the EU has solved that problem by
    suggesting the Emperor was using Battle Meditation to help his side, but
    I don’t generally care about that. RotJ just might be the most
    egalitarian of the movies, though note that even there blowing up the
    Death Star requires the work of a single great (though not supernaturally so) person instead of, say,
    every ship in the Rebellion giving it everything they have.

    The parallels to Roman Emperors, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, and others were quite intentional
    They
    were all people who used a chaotic situation caused by complex social
    processes to rise to the top. Palpatine orchestrated a crisis and used
    it to rise to the top. This is pretty much all I need to be convinced of
    Brin’s case, really. That Palpatine is evil is irrelevant; that it’s even possible tells you a lot.

    The Jedi Order is under the control of the Republic’s Senate.
    Going
    by Wookiepedia, there’s a vocal faction that wants to act independently
    of the Republic if it considers it necessary, and the council elects
    its own members. Would you feel comfortable if the US Army operated like
    this?

    The super-powered Jedi Order failed, ultimately playing right into Palpatine’s hands
    They
    were still the only significant form of opposition we saw in RotS, and
    we were meant to find their attempted coup heroic. From what we see, everyone who isn’t a Jedi or a
    close personal friend is fine with their Republic being turned into a
    dictatorship.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    As for Leia, isn’t it implied that force-sensitivity means more than just the ability to wave a aword and lift moderately heavy objects? There seems to be a great amount of destiny or something of the kind involved.

    Nope. Without training, all Force sensitivity means is that you occasionally get hunches or unconscious premonitions. Having some kind of great destiny is a whole different thing, and being Force-sensitive does not make you destined for greatness any more than it makes you invincible in combat. Just ask the thousands of Jedi who died in the Clone Wars.

    In the films, Leia’s Force-sensitivity pretty much just means that she has the potential to become a Force-user.

    RotJ just might be the most egalitarian of the movies, though note that even there blowing up the Death Star requires the work of a single great (though not supernaturally so) person instead of, say, every ship in the Rebellion giving it everything they have.

    Which great person was that? The Battle of Endor was won because of the entire Alliance working together. While certain leaders were clearly instrumental in how the battle played out, none of them did it alone. Even the pilots who destroyed the Death Star’s main reactor were only able to do so because of the entire Fleet’s actions.

    Let me put it this way: What WOULD make the Star Wars films egalitarian and democratic in your eyes? Heroes who don’t do anything important? Problems solved entirely by political processes? Because that would be a very different genre from space opera.

  • vsm

    Sorry for the late reply. Here’s a few things, keeping the main elements intact:
    *Make the rebels move amongst the people as fish swim in the sea. That is, emphasize its role as popular movement supported by significant amounts of the population, at least on some worlds. Suggest the unsung heroes of the Rebellion achieve something without Luke and company around.
    *Make the characters consider the implications of some people being more super than others and all the crap the Jedi/Sith conflict keeps causing to ordinary people. I’d personally have Luke stay at the exploding Death Star to remove the last trained force-sensitive from the galaxy, but that’s just me.
    *If we must have big space battles, drop the part where it’s all about a single shot hitting true with everyone else acting as cannon fodder. Have them use unconventional and daring tactics instead of abusing an incredibly obvious design flaw.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’d personally have Luke stay at the exploding Death Star to remove the last trained force-sensitive from the galaxy

    That doesn’t seem bright, unless you’re counting on there never being any more Force-sensitives, or on being able to find and kill them all before they cause too much chaos due to being Force-sensitive and not knowing what’s happening or how to control it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    *Make the rebels move amongst the people as fish swim in the sea. That
    is, emphasize its role as popular movement supported by significant
    amounts of the population, at least on some worlds. Suggest the unsung
    heroes of the Rebellion achieve something without Luke and company
    around.

    Good stuff to have in novels, and the EU is full of it, but it is hard to do much of that within the structure of a space opera film. One of the most common complaints about the prequel trilogy is that it spends more time on politics than the straightforward “rebellion against a dictatorship” background of the original trilogy.

    Note that the films DO contain references to what the rest of the Rebellion is doing – the evacuation of Hoth in ESB, the Bothan spies in RotJ. We don’t see much of that stuff because those aren’t the characters the films follow.

    We also don’t see much of what the Rebel leadership does – contrary to what Brin claims, none of the focal characters are in charge of the Rebellion, but occupy places within its command structure.The big movers and shakers like Mon Mothma operate mostly off-screen.

    *Make the characters consider the implications of some people being more
    super than others and all the crap the Jedi/Sith conflict keeps causing
    to ordinary people. I’d personally have Luke stay at the exploding
    Death Star to remove the last trained force-sensitive from the galaxy,
    but that’s just me.

    Most of the crap that the Jedi/Sith conflict causes to ordinary people is due to the Sith being Dark Side-twisted, mass-murdering tyrants, and the Jedi being utter crap at stopping them.

    Ignoring the EU (and its multitude of Force-using orders, holocrons, et cetera) to focus on the films, a lack of trained Force users would seem to leave new Force sensitives much more vulnerable to corruption by the Dark Side, as it is far easier and faster to draw on. So in a few generations you would wind up with the same problem, but no organized group working to train Force sensitives NOT to abuse their power.

    *If we must have big space battles, drop the part where it’s all about a
    single shot hitting true with everyone else acting as cannon fodder.
    Have them use unconventional and daring tactics instead of abusing an
    incredibly obvious design flaw.

    The “situation is hopeless for the good guys unless they can pull off that one thing that gives them an Instant Win Condition” is a well-worn setup because it provides for a lot of drama, high stakes, and battles that can be resolved dramatically rather than through a more realistic slog. It’s basically the kind of stuff that space opera runs on.

    And I regard ANH and RotJ as good examples of this trope, because in both cases that Instant Win Condition was the focus of a successfully executed battle plan, rather than an eleventh hour Deus Ex Machina.

    And looking over the battles in the Star Wars films, I observe that the actions of a Force user were critical in exactly ONE – the Battle of Yavin in ANH – and that involved following an unconventional and daring plan that worked not simply because of Luke’s Force-enhanced aiming skills, but because the Rebels intentionally exploited the Empire’s arrogance and the power of friendship brought Han Solo back for a Big Damn Heroes moment.

  • vsm

    The genetic overlords bit was a reference to both the Jedi and the Sith, whose force-sensitivity is portrayed as at least partially hereditary. The system allows the fate of an entire galaxy to be largely dependent on the actions of a handful of special people, while the murder of an entire planet’s population is little more than a statistic. As for Vader’s end, Brin seems to understand the situation well enough, but doesn’t think the galactic mass murderer deserves redemption.

  • Joshua

    As for Vader’s end, Brin seems to understand the situation well enough, but doesn’t think the galactic mass murderer deserves redemption.

    Yes. What I have read of Brin on Vader, which might not be everything, is all about sacrifice and redemption. His sacrifice didn’t mean much stacked up against his crimes, and he did not deserve redemption.

    I’m not sure I fully agree, though. Vader’s sacrifice did allow him to kill Palps, which has got to be worth something. Palpatine’s wars and oppression probably add up to a lot more than a planet’s population, and it’s not like Darth Vader had much more to offer at that point.

  • vsm

    I don’t have a problem with Vader’s redemption in principle, but the way Luke fusses over the state of his immortal Jedi soul while his friends blow up thousands of ordinary soldiers and construction workers does rather reinforce the work’s elitism.

  • Joshua

    It does, although he was the guy’s Dad.

    Cue that bit of dialogue from Clerks.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Unfamiliar with Clerks. What dialogue?

  • vsm

    The guys talk about how the second Death Star was still being built when it was destroyed, concluding it must have been filled with innocent construction workers. http://youtu.be/dGOVbXF7Iog?t=51s

  • EllieMurasaki

    Will watch at home. Thanks.

  • Joshua

    Randal Graves: [talking about the second Death Star] A construction job of that magnitude would require a helluva lot more manpower than the Imperial army had to offer. I’ll bet there were independent contractors working on that thing: plumbers, aluminum siders, roofers.

    Dante Hicks: Not just Imperials, is what you’re getting at… 

    Randal Graves: Exactly. In order to get it built quickly and quietly they’d hire anybody who could do the job. Do you think the average storm trooper knows how to install a toilet main? All they know is killing and white uniforms. 

    Dante Hicks: All right, so even if independent contractors are working on the Death Star, why are you uneasy with its destruction? 

    Randal Graves: All those innocent contractors hired to do a job were killed – casualties of a war they had nothing to do with. 

    [notices Dante’s confusion] 

    Randal Graves: All right, look-you’re a roofer, and some juicy government contract comes your way; you got the wife and kids and the two-story in suburbia – this is a government contract, which means all sorts of benefits. All of a sudden these left-wing militants blast you with lasers and wipe out everyone within a three-mile radius. You didn’t ask for that. You have no personal politics. You’re just trying to scrape out a living.

  • Joshua

    Fantastically clever movie, although filthy as hell.

    If there is any kind of bad language or reference to sexual practices that might offend you, it’s probably in there. Not shown on screen though.

    Kevin Smith’s first movie, funded entirely with his own credit cards. A classic.

  • vsm

    The part that comes after that is what really makes the scene for me.

    I like Knights of the Old Republic 2 for essentially being a game-length criticism of everything the writer disagrees with in Star Wars. The villain is is an elderly ex-jedi/ex-sith who’s come to the conclusion that the force is a malevolent being that should be killed for what it keeps putting the galaxy through in its balancing act. She’s also a party member for most of the game and acts as a mentor to the main character, which allows her to criticize both Star Wars and CRPGs. She’s a very memorable character.

  • Joshua

    Yeah, but that’s where imdb finished the quote, alas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Yes. What I have read of Brin on Vader, which might not be everything,
    is all about sacrifice and redemption. His sacrifice didn’t mean much
    stacked up against his crimes, and he did not deserve redemption.

    You must have read a very different essay than the one I did, because Brin argued that the end of RotJ presented the following scenario:

    “Sure, this Vader guy is responsible for millions of deaths, but he saved the life of his own son, so the galaxy should throw him a ticker-tape parade.”

    Most people, including myself, would describe it as:

    “Darth Vader sacrificed his life to destroy the Emperor and save his son, redeeming himself in the eyes of Luke, Obi-Wan, and Yoda.”

    Brin’s whole “apotheosis” argument is pure BS – Vader doesn’t become a hero beloved by the Rebellion. During the post-battle celebration, how many people attend Vader’s funeral?

    Just Luke, and the spirits of Obi-Wan and Yoda. Nobody else, including Leia who had almost certainly gotten the full story about her father by the time of the funeral. (The EU establishes that it takes Leia a long, long time to come to terms with her parentage, and adopts an attitude similar to Obi-Wan’s regarding the distinction between Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader.)

    I’m not sure I fully agree, though. Vader’s sacrifice did allow him to
    kill Palps, which has got to be worth something. Palpatine’s wars and
    oppression probably add up to a lot more than a planet’s population, and
    it’s not like Darth Vader had much more to offer at that point.

    He offered his life. I’m not sure what more he could have given.

    Incidentally, the whole “Darth Vader’s crimes consist of the destruction of Alderaan” thing bugs the hell out of me. Vader was Emperor Palpatine’s chief enforcer, responsible for two decades’ worth of tyranny – the destruction of Alderaan was

    a) Just the worst of the crimes against sentience that Vader was involved in, and

    b) Only peripherally involved Vader.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I was greatly reminded of Brin’s Star Wars essays when RTCs attacked
    Harry Potter for advocating that “There is no good or evil, only power,
    and those too weak to seek it.”

    Did they miss the part where it was Voldemort who said that, and who is the bad guy in that series?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Did they miss the part where it was Voldemort who said that, and who is the bad guy in that series?

    As with Brin and Star Wars, they conveniently leave that out.

  • P J Evans

    I remember a song about getting ready to tie up the boat in Idaho. Close enough?

  • Jessica_R

    As for sci-fi authors and libertarianism I like Kim Stanley Robinson’s comment best, “That’s libertarians for you, anarchists who want police protection from their slaves. 

    And no Mitt, everybody knows it’s *Parmistan* that’s Iran’s path to the sea, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Mkl9rtttog

  • Turcano

    But if we run the dreadnought list, the international community will complain about us being cheap assholes.

  • Launcifer

    You can’t have six of those mothers in your army and still be a cheap asshole. Maybe a poor asshole, but still… ;).

    Not that I ever worked for that delightful company in any particular capacity, obviously.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    But if we run the dreadnought list, the international community will complain about us being cheap assholes.

    I’ve never gotten the furor over lists like that – it has ONE scoring unit, after all.

  • Turcano

    It’s mainly the Blood Talons and the fact that they can all go in drop pods.  Your opponent doesn’t need scoring units if he can just table you.

  • Madhabmatics

    Man, the hand-wringing over David Brin criticizing Star Wars is cracking me up, especially when “this sci-fi author thinks Star Wars is a lil’ too conservative” is practically goofy compared to all the other stuff.

    We’ve got Dan Simmons writing books about how Obamacare is going to destroy America and california will be ruled by the evil ethnic Mexicans, we’ve got that “Dies the Fire” guy getting banned from message boards where “What if the Nazis stopped being jerks and became heroes in an alternate-future” is acceptable for being over the top racist, we’ve got Weird Tales magazine recommending a series whose subtitle is basically SAVE THE WHITE RACE by an author who compares interracial relationships to “Beauty and the Beast.”

    If David Brin’s biggest flaw is he has a goofy analysis of Star Wars that isn’t leaking into his books, then I’m pretty happy for him.

    (Speaking of which, the Ian M. Banks book where he mixes his usual neat Utopian sci-fi plots up by making the protagonist a sympathetic galactic conservative looking at The Culture from the outside, as an enemy, ruled.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Man, the hand-wringing over David Brin criticizing Star Wars is cracking
    me up, especially when “this sci-fi author thinks Star Wars is a lil’
    too conservative” is practically goofy compared to all the other stuff.

    ((reads the description of “all the other stuff”))

    This is why I mostly just read the same dozen authors over and over these days. And why all the science fiction I read is space operas very distinct from real-world events.

  • Tricksterson

    If you’re referring to Stirling’s “Draka” series they do not stop being assholes and become heroes.  Rather, as he’s openly and repeatedly stated it’s meant to be a dystopia.

  • Madhabmatics

    I’m not referring to any of Stirling’s series, I am referring to the fact that he openly told the moderaters of an alternate history board that he advocated killing all Arab males, turn the middle east to glass, etc. He’s openly talked about how the only way to ~save the world~ is to face the ~hard facts~ that we have to genocide Arabs on multiple websites.

    Other authors there would do nazi althistory speculation, and the fact that he went so over the top that even those guys said “what the hell is going on with him” just shows how bad he was.

  • EllieMurasaki

    he advocated killing all Arab males, turn the middle east to glass, give their women to whites

    Yeah, that wouldn’t piss off the kids of the Arab women the least little bit. Especially the male kids, who might think the people who killed their uncles and grandfathers would also be willing to kill them. Not to mention that a world racist enough to do away with all Arab men would probably not be enlightened enough to treat Arab women with respect.

  • Tricksterson

    Ah, had not heard of that.

  • Madhabmatics

     I get more and more disappointed every time that happens to a popular sci-fi author. :(

    At least Ann and Jeff VanDerMeer are still badasses.

  • Tricksterson

    I looked for evidence of that and couldn’t find any.  Would you care to point me in the direction of some?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    “We don’t protect our national security through charity, and we shouldn’t protect our families and children that way either.”

    This is my favorite quote in quite some time.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Since I don’t know the context of Mitt’s quotes, I wonder if:
    he simply misspoke and meant Iraq, not Iran – if so, he should’ve corrected himself or somebody should’ve mentioned that it doesn’t make sense

    he had forgotten to update his Cold War notes about the enemy (Russia) needing access to an ocean and thought it applied to enemies generally.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Iraq is about as much of a threat as a wet blanket. Mitt just doesn’t know his freakin’ geography (and considering that many Americans surveyed have had the same issues, I suspect that he is not terribly fussed by that level of ignorance and knows it won’t hurt him in the polls).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Found the David Brin quote that sums up why I despise his arguments so much:

    But there’s a more important rebuttal: The whole Luke-Vader-Emperor scene in Return of the Jedi
    is IRRELEVANT! It makes absolutely no difference to the success of the
    rebellion. The only characters who matter a bit in the actual plot
    climax are the wookie and Lando!

    I’m serious. Watch Return of the Jedi again carefully. None of
    the “Force” people — from the Emperor and Vader to Leia and Luke —
    make the slightest difference at all to the actual victory achieved by
    the Rebel forces.

    THAT is the only part of the film I like, and hardly anyone noticed it. (Certainly not Lucas, or he’d have changed it!)

    That last bit of bile was what convinced me that I don’t want to read any of Brin’s fiction.


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