Sunday, November 13, 2005

A new Star Wars Anthology... plus more on betrayal of America...

The (apparent) success of my anthology of essays KING KONG IS BACK has inspired the publishers to go for another -- one taking off from my infamous denunciations of Star Wars.


The Politics of Star Wars – A discussion of the underlying politics and of the Star Wars saga

It will be organized as a trial with prosecution and defense arguments in a number of categories:

Star Wars and the battle for SF readers and shelf space – A hot button issue for many SF writers – the shelf space and mindshare that Star Wars books take up; is this a positive or a negative
thing?

The Impact of Star Wars on SFF writing today – To what extent is current SF writing influenced by Star Wars and how?

Star Wars as an SF Film and the impact on SF Film – To what extent is current SF filmmaking influenced by Star Wars and how?

The impact of SW on the public's perception of SF/F – To what extend does SW define how the general public sees SF, and is this a good thing?

Star Wars is a fantasy hitching a ride on the tropes of science fiction

The Evolution of an SF Writer: The impact of Star Wars – This is a chance for essayist to reflect on how Star Wars impacted them.

Star Wars as Fiction: Plot Holes and Logical Gaps

Women in Star Wars

Summation For the Prosecution
For the Defense


Most of the essayist positions are already assigned. But if any of you know individuals who have written on these topics elsewhere, who might be especially well-suited, feel free to speak up. Deadlines are going to be rapid... before the end of the year.

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on other matters.... The political world keeps catching up with things I was saying months and years ago. (I know that Truthout is a biased source of information. So? Look at the SOURCES that they cite.)

In 2003 I began predicting what has relentlessly gone farther than I ever imagined possible. After the shocks of 9/11, we have relentlessly seen an administration do everything in its power to REDUCE our ability and flexibility to respond to NEW unexpected surprises! Military readiness (except at sea) has plummeted to levels not seen since Pearl Harbor.
US 'Can't Maintain Iraq Troop Levels'

I cannot prove that a myriad disparate and separate events add up to a systematic purge of the United State Officer Corps. Oh it’s proved enough at the State Department, when political cronies and former S’audi hands have been appointed to every possible supervisory slot... but who cares about State? And it is blatantly obvious at the CIA... but they hate the administration anyway, so it’s biased reporting.

The REAL scandal, though, the ferocious political culling of flag officers, is harder to back up because these men traditionally bear anything in loyal silence.

Here, however, is more on the other end of the “Scudder Plan”.... the stocking of the Officer Corps from below with religious zealots. Not satisfied with the 1/3 of every class that is appointed by extremist Congressmen, they are starting to do yet more. Air Force Ministers Evangelize Cadets

A private missionary group has assigned a pair of full-time Christian ministers to the US Air Force Academy, where they are training cadets to evangelize among their peers.


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26 comments:

Anonymous said...

what you have been saying is terrible. What is to be done?
Oh I'm sure you may think that by talking with people about what has been going on is at least something. But perhaps you are preaching to the converted. As to what any alternatives we might have.... let's just say that we can all read through the lines....
I don't want to alarm you but the situation is going critical.

Doug S. said...

Orson Scott Card has written some commentary about Star Wars (before the prequels were released). He describes Star Wars as "a world in which it's obvious what we're against, but it's not at all clear what we're for." He goes on to complain that actions seem to be good or evil depending on who performs them; good is defined as that which is done by the good guys. He goes on to say that this warped morality explains a lot of hypocrisy in partisan politics: consider the difference between the reactions of the feminist left to the accusations of sexual harassment made against Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton.

Anonymous said...

do you think it would be OK to
REPROGRAM Star Wars?

Anonymous said...

To a limited extent, every author who has written a Star Wars novelization or authorized "expanded universe" (I think that is the term) novel or comic has "reprogrammed" Star Wars.

A lot of savvy SF authors have worked in the background, adding details and inserting rationalizations and explanations in an attempt to work around the nonsense.

This difficult and brave work has kept the franchise alive despite Lucas' best efforts to dumbify it.

Stefan

Tony Fisk said...

You want a 'redemption of Darth Vader?'

(Actually, when you think about it, it's amazing how much effort goes into extending, poking holes into and generally shoring up these fairy tales. You see the same with Star Trek.)

On more serious fairy tale evangelism at the Air Force academy:

That this pair have to 'pray for wisdom' is a worry. Haven't they picked any up?

Eugh! This reminds me of an incident that happened to my father (British Army) whilst he was stationed in Berlin post-war. He was stopped on a stairwell by some strange officer who proceeded to 'enlighten' him. Apparently, these characters did have an official capacity, and it was an offence to ignore them! (they were *real* popular!!)

The REAL scandal, though, the ferocious political culling of flag officers, is harder to back up because these men traditionally bear anything in loyal silence.

Which suggests that said men (and women) should come to realise that 'loyal silence' on this issue is an oxymoron.

But, the above poster is right: most regulars here know the score.

Meanwhile, I notice that the Culture of Lief is going on to the offensive wrt the justification for invading Iraq.

Excerpt from Wobbly's Veteran's Day address:
"...While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs."


[These critics also know that Plame's wife was outed in reprisal for not backing up the claim that Sudan was exporting Uranium to Iraq. But, to continue...]

"They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will."


That Bush is still playing the 'Iraq was a nuclear terrorist haven' card is laughable. But, he does appear to be. And, do I detect a few veiled threats amid the applause?

A 'redemption of George W' might have to wait until another time.

Anonymous said...

RE rampant evangelization out in Colorado Springs:

This problem hasn't gone unnoticed.

A month or so ago, there was a bit of a shake-up in response to complaints of harassment.

Hah! Hot off the presses. Senate sticks an amendment permitting prayer at the academy onto the spending bill:

http://www.gazette.com/display.php?id=1311971&secid=1

Stefan

WatchfulBabbler said...

The AF Academy has been politicized for quite some time now -- and given over to the eschatological evangelicals of Colorado Springs for almost as long.

It's no coincidence that Ted Haggard's church, sitting in the middle of a conservative military town, holds courses on "spiritual mapping" and "spiritual warfare," and has a real-time prayer center, complete with a mission-control system, described in evangelical centers as the "spiritual NORAD."

It's fair to say that the entire movement Haggard belongs to -- a mystical evangelical religion derived from the Latter Rain movement -- is a church militant led by a self-selected van of "prophets" and "apostles" who intend to remake America in their image.

One of their most effective tricks has been to convince others (in particular the media and Republican party) that they represent "real" Christians, as opposed to a small group of charismatics who came into their own in the 1980s. (They've also managed to politically co-opt conservative mainstream Protestants, such as the Southern Baptists, who would be more willing to condemn the hard-right evangelicals' heterodoxy if the SBs weren't so busy focusing on stopping gay marriage.)

As to why they spend so much effort on recruiting inside the military and the AF Academy, I can't say -- but considering the influence of the idea of "Joel's Army" (also known as "the Overcomers" which, at its most crude formulation, is literally supposed to be a generation of evangelical ubermenschen with superpowers) on modern evangelicals, I have to worry. It is foundational to these groups that Christianity must seize control of every aspect of society -- from government to military to education to the arts -- in order to prompt the Second Coming. To see them meddling with our military just can't be a good thing.

David Brin said...

Agh. I would not like... but need... to hear more about Joel's Army.

Rob Perkins said...

Having Evangelicals openly proselytizing the AF Academy, without also permitting groups who want to do the same, such as Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses, or, for that matter, UNICEF fundraising children, or Wiccans establishing a presence (a coven?) seems inappropriate.

If the Academy were forced to recognize and admit *all* such groups, they'd quickly see that situation as entirely untenable and disruptive of cadet training and learning.

Trouble is, they're encouraging their own members to proselytize by training them during the hours on Sunday or whenever they get them. If the cadets themselves are willing participants in the process, then that reduces to an organization of willing people doing something in common, which happens to be protected by the Constitution: you *may* tell others about your religion and why it animates you.

If they have the training officer corps involved in any way, though, that's a problem, in my opinion. Like my friend, who in the Coast Guard became addicted to tobacco because smokers got a break, but non-smokers didn't. He wanted a break with his coworkers. Not good.

'Bout the only thing, I think, is just to make such things known to Senators and Congresscritters not of the Evangelical persuasion, and hope they can bring balance to it all. And, if it's a problem, speak up to our own individual Congressmen.

HarCohen said...

I hope you won't treat the economics of SF/F as a zero-sum game. How has total shelf-space changed over the years? With no further movies planned for Star Wars and Star Trek, we've seen the peaks of their product life cycles. You can start filling the void with another generation of mythology.

Sure Star Wars and Star Trek have great brand recognition, but is it any more significant than Stephen King? And I don't see JK Rowling sharing the the workload. Have we considered that perhaps Oprah Winfrey does not read enough science fiction?

We're all aware of the demise of independent bookstores over this span, replaced by the category killers Borders and B&N, Wal-Mart, the virtual shelf-space of Amazon on one hand and e-books on the other.

HarCohen said...

The Air Force Academy situation really demands a separate blog entry.

Starting with the premise "there are no atheists in foxholes", we (as a country) want to promote the moral courage that brings someone to the military. That courage often comes from religious training. And we do not want to discourage all the aspects of religious practice that reinforce that training.

One cadet promising to "impact the lives of 200 men with the Gospel" before he graduates gives one serious pause. He sounds intent to evangelize. With no military experience and having been the target of evangelists from time to time,
I could deal with it philosophically at 20 and was pretty tired of it by 30. There is a definite limit to the number of times and frequency. Nor would I look forward to being evangelized by a manager or subordinate, much less a military commander or subordinate.

Religious evangelism has no place in the military. I can only imagine it frays or break esprit de corps, depending on the source.

The Air Force Academy football coach, lamenting he doesn't get enough black athletes last month, is the same coach who had to remove his "I am a member of Team Jesus Christ" banner and pre-game and post-game prayers last year. Perhaps he hasn't really gotten used to making his life alone an example, rather than putting on external trappings of religion.

Anonymous said...

Joel's Army -- interesting. How about this from one of the "peak oil" websites:

http://www.peakoil.ie/newsletters/588

A snippet:

"Probably the greatest obstacle to the scenario with the best chance of success (in my opinion) is the Western world’s unintelligent devotion to political correctness, human rights and the sanctity of human life. In the Darwinian world that preceded and will follow the fossil fuel era, these concepts were and will be meaningless. Survival in a Darwinian resource-poor world depends on the ruthless elimination of rivals, not the acquisition of moral kudos by cherishing them when they are weak. In fact, human civilization in the fossil fuel era has been totally anomalous, fuelled by the unthinking exploitation and exhaustion of all the world’s resources, not just fossil fuels. Sir Fred Hoyle pointed out, decades ago, that Western civilization was a 'one-shot affair', for this reason (Duncan 1997).

So the population reduction scenario with the best chance of success has to be Darwinian in all its aspects, with none of the sentimentality that shrouded the second half of the 20th Century in a dense fog of political correctness (Stanton 2003 page 193). It is best examined at the nation-state scale. The United Kingdom will serve as the model.

To those sentimentalists who cannot understand the need to reduce UK population from 60 million to about 2 million over 150 years, and who are outraged at the proposed replacement of human rights by cold logic, I would say 'You have had your day, in which your woolly thinking has messed up not just the Western world but the whole planet, which could, if Homo sapiens had been truly intelligent, have supported a small population enjoying a wonderful quality of life almost for ever. You have thrown away that opportunity.'"

--Todd

Anonymous said...

Joel's Army -- interesting. How about this from one of the "peak oil" websites:

http://www.peakoil.ie/newsletters/588

A snippet:

"Probably the greatest obstacle to the scenario with the best chance of success (in my opinion) is the Western world’s unintelligent devotion to political correctness, human rights and the sanctity of human life. In the Darwinian world that preceded and will follow the fossil fuel era, these concepts were and will be meaningless. Survival in a Darwinian resource-poor world depends on the ruthless elimination of rivals, not the acquisition of moral kudos by cherishing them when they are weak. In fact, human civilization in the fossil fuel era has been totally anomalous, fuelled by the unthinking exploitation and exhaustion of all the world’s resources, not just fossil fuels. Sir Fred Hoyle pointed out, decades ago, that Western civilization was a 'one-shot affair', for this reason (Duncan 1997).

So the population reduction scenario with the best chance of success has to be Darwinian in all its aspects, with none of the sentimentality that shrouded the second half of the 20th Century in a dense fog of political correctness (Stanton 2003 page 193). It is best examined at the nation-state scale. The United Kingdom will serve as the model.

To those sentimentalists who cannot understand the need to reduce UK population from 60 million to about 2 million over 150 years, and who are outraged at the proposed replacement of human rights by cold logic, I would say 'You have had your day, in which your woolly thinking has messed up not just the Western world but the whole planet, which could, if Homo sapiens had been truly intelligent, have supported a small population enjoying a wonderful quality of life almost for ever. You have thrown away that opportunity.'"

--Todd

Nicq MacDonald said...

Now, I've been playing with these peak oil scenarios myself, especially in conjunction with a novel that I'm currently working on (in the research and outlining phase at the moment)... but one thing I keep asking myself, that the doom prophets don't seem to want to recognize- are other energy sources available that could potentially stop a crisis? Could nuclear fusion pan out? Perhaps some energy source we haven't even thought of yet? Perhaps rapidly increasing energy costs will force us to build a massive wind network, or start putting up solar power sattelites?

Maybe "western civilization" isn't such a one-shot affair... aren't there other possibilities for abundant (and, potentially, endless) energy?

Anonymous said...

"There are no atheists in foxholes" is an interesting premise, but a flawed one. My grandfather fought through the entire Great War: Ypres, the Somme, Palistine -- and yet he wasn't religious at all. And I know an ex-Ranger sniper who's an avowed atheist.

Anonymous said...

". . . has to be Darwinian in all its aspects . . ."

The first ones to be herded into the culling pit:

Cretins who submit the same article twice. Obviously unfit to breed.

Anonymous said...

"The first ones to be herded into the culling pit:

Cretins who submit the same article twice. Obviously unfit to breed."

Wow -- you sound as ruthless as the peak oil guy I quoted. So I guess you agree with him. In case it matters to you, I don't.

-- Todd

Anonymous said...

Comments shot off...

David, I wouldn't bet that the Sea Services aren't losing thier edge. The Navy's been cutting 10,000 people a year since 2001, many of them the mid grade enlisted needed to keep the fleet running. (I was one of them.) 10,000 people is enough to man a Carrier Battle Group... and we've done it 4 times in 4 years.

Todd and Nicq...
As a firmly looking forward kind of guy, I look at peak oil and wonder... what will we replace oil with? Because I KNOW we will replace it with something.

Anonymous...
There are athiests in foxholes, including some who became athiests because of thier experience in foxholes...

HawkerHurricane
SM1(SW), USN, ret.

HarCohen said...

Whether you can find atheists in foxholes or not was not really pertinent to the argument. It was a WWII? soundbite.

My point is, an evangelist screwing around with your mindset before, during, or after battle is troubling at a very pragmatic level.

If s/he's leading a life worthy of emulation, I'll arrive for advice sooner or later. And I think that holds true from Ypres to Palestine and from Colorado Springs to Iraq.

Anonymous said...

"Wow -- you sound as ruthless as the peak oil guy I quoted. So I guess you agree with him. In case it matters to you, I don't."

It matters, and I'm glad you don't. That wasn't immediately clear.

My post was an attempt at sarcastic, belittling humor at the expense of sociopathic dweebs intent on adding yet another chapter to the long history of Darwin Abuse.

Anonymous said...

So.... is religion the sixth column? And if so does it always work to undermine the rational material outlook that has done so much to lift us out of misery?
Well we have certainly reached a rubicon. When we have religious fanatics in charge of the government we can conclude they are not the government. Because it is direct violation of the constitution. And what now? You know there are thirteen stars shining in the darkness.

Palliard said...

It's important to keep in mind the difference between "Religion" and "Fundamentalism". Being that you're never going to get rid of religion (at least, not in the foreseeable future), trying to stamp out religion in the name of dethroning the crackpot fundamentalists that have seized power is unlikely to produce any practical results.

The question is, what is it about the fundamentalist worldview that its adherents find attractive? And how can that be duplicated in a less-destructive context?

Anonymous said...

"The question is, what is it about the fundamentalist worldview that its adherents find attractive?"

It fulfills many human needs: On the positive side, it provides a sense of security and stability in a changing world.

Less attractively, it allows people to indulge in hate and self-righteousness highs.

For cynical, manipulative people, it is a great way to control folks. ("Sincerity is the key. Once you can fake that you have it made!")

Fundamentalism also lets your society justify its crimes and bad habits. Today's crop of fundies love to talk about how evangelicals were some of the first to oppose slavery in the U.S. They never mention that southern preachers were just as adament that slavery was condoned by the Bible and that it was their "Christian" duty to perpetuate it.

Stefan

daveawayfromhome said...

Well, I cant say as I like the idea of packing the Military with Fundamentalists, but at least it keeps them from knocking on my door (I hope). Really though, some one needs to find out why they're packing the military. Do they just want to be sure to get a seat near Jesus when he returns to the Middle East? If they just want to be on the front line for Armageddon, well let 'em because I'm pretty sure they're gonna be disappointed. I worry sometimes about Dubya and his "scatology" remark to Harriet Miers: did he mean "eschatology"? If so, I can put on a nice hershey's-kiss-like tinfoil hat and really go to town on why this might be worrisome idea in the most powerful leader in the free world, but I'll save that for another time.
I can see two reasons why this trend might be truly worrisome (I'm sure there are more, these are the two I see):

1) They are planning a coup of some sort, รก la Cromwell. This one doesnt worry me too much. Not that I dont think there isnt a leader out there stupid enough to try it, but because I dont think there are enough soldiers, however fervent, stupid enough to back them up. Plus, thank Heston, we've still got a lot of guns in this country. (Ha! Remember how bootleggers became heroes for fighting gov'ment revenooers; imagine drug dealers gaining the same status in a religious civil war.)

2) Thinking that perhaps Jesus just needs a hand gettin' here, some double-secret Fundie uses pliant (much of the Fundamentalist movement is rigidly hierarchical), yet (possibly) unaware underlings to gain control of some nuclear missiles, and launches them at the Middle East in an attempt to force the Second Coming. This one worries me, because being a smaller plan, it has a greater chance of success should someone attempt it. Plus, it's based on the idea of the "regrettable, but necessary" killing, not of your countrymen, but a bunch of anonymous, gibberish-speaking, foreign heathens.

The only plus that I can see would be that should Fundamentalists try to do something like this and fail, we would probably see their power wiped out of the country like a brown recluse on the bathroom tile. For that matter, should they succeed (assuming we survive), I suspect they'll eventually be gotten rid of anyway, it'll just take longer and be more painful (but hopefully more permanent).

WatchfulBabbler said...

Dave, the hard-right evangelicals don't need to mount a coup or somehow get their hands on nuclear weapons: their plan is to co-opt institutions by working from within. More precisely, their intent is to change the culture of the military (as with other "kingdoms") to be d'accord with their own religious beliefs.

Just look at the latest contraceptive contretemps over the "Plan B" pill, and the politicization of FDA recommendations. Or consider the politicoreligious beliefs of General Boykin and his influence on our warfighting (and imagine what would happen if the AF GO list was staffed with similar persons). One doesn't have to control policymaking when one is already the influencer.

Of course, the hard-right evangelicals would deny they are engaged in any kind of conspiracy: most of their work is done in more or less plain sight, and to them it's just a matter of making powerful men Godly and Godly men powerful. Nonetheless, it can't be denied that their strategy, and intent, shows a contempt for democratic institutions and debate that would do a Sayyid Qutb proud.

Woozle said...

Possible fodder for Star Wars analysis:

Friday Star Wars Security Blog