Saturday, July 27, 2019

Science Fiction media and more

A bit of a sci-fi media roundup today.

How long have we waited for a television anthology series to be based upon (not just occasionally) genuine published short stories crafted by fine authors? Netflix has one, at last, titled Love, Death & Robots. See descriptions of some of the stories and authors featured.

31 Science-Fiction Things That Actually Exist Now… alas every one of them from TV or movies. How long would the list be, if they just took the forecasts of Frederik Pohl?  Including meat substitutes and tissue culture steaks that could help save us all. Oh, and today's cell phone with Siri. Yes that.


I want to see this... A famous “lost film” almost on a par with Jodorowsky’s DUNE, would be “Giraffes on Horseback Salad,” Salvador Dali’s attempt to sketch a possible film collaboration with the Marx Brothers! And now the pieces have been put together for a surrealist graphic novel: Giraffes on Horseback Salad: The Strangest Movie Never Made.

LATE NEWSthe composer of the concept album has announced that the sound track to "Giraffes" has just been released. Drop by for free samples.


== All SciFi news is miscellany! ==

Any Trekkies out there, Alec of the Axanar team (the fan production so good that Paramount took serious (&legal) notice) interviews me about Star Trek, my graphic novel, the missing concept re Klingons and comparisons to Star Wars.

Here are five science fiction themed music videos that take a look at unfolding, futuristic societal dilemmas. Janelle MonĂ¡e’s 2009 “Many Moons” is lavish and way fun. Rosamund Pike does an amazing marionette dance, and others.

A classic: my 1999 "Open Letter To Alien Lurkers" helped fill in a gap in SETI: "what if there are aliens or probes currently in the solar system, watching and reading our Internet, yet withholding first contact?" The Invitation To ETI site filled in that gap by formally asking for contact... but nothing happened. In my page on the IETI site, I contemplate 11 possible reasons why! (This list was dramatized and expanded and woven into the plot in EXISTENCE!) Watch the terrific/fun video trailer for Existence!


A fun look at the Captain’s quarters in various Star Trek shows.

Some folks say XKCD was referring here to my (Hugo-winning) short story “The Crystal Spheres” from The River of Time. I doubt it. But I’ll bask in the mistaken assumption.

== Sci Fi is “Speculative History” and so… ==

Extra History is one of the best things on YouTube. Quick, animated summaries of past eras that shaped our age. A 6-parter filled in my gaps about Sun Yat-sen and the Chinese Revolution. Another swept me across the end of the samurai era. This one about the Gracchi brothers shows how oligarchy undermined the Roman Republic, which was then torn up by radical populism. It all makes clear how fevered and harsh was "history" and why our present oligarchy plots against the new, modern, grownup ways of doing things.



The animations are way fun! But the narration is so good I get everything while turning my back to cook or do busywork at the computer. And dig it... he has a series on sci fi authors! Not comprehensive but cool.

Oh, also look at HISTORY BUFFS, which compares "historical" movies with actual events. I sometimes disagree. For example, the only good thing about the incredibly stupid flick  LAST SAMURAI was the fact that it made some more people aware that the Meiji Restoration happened. Treating the brutally oppressive lords as some sort of noble, repressed native tribe was silly. Nick Hodges understandably goes apoplectic over APOCALYPTO, though the simplest excuse for the 600 year gaffe is that one city survived the Classical Collapse and somehow kept going till the Spanish came. (Absurd, of course.) He waxes effusive over WATERLOO and ZULU and I agree -- while filling in a lot of interesting background.


On Tor.com “8 Books to Help You Rebuild After an Ecological Catastrophe.” The list doesn’t go back to tomes that were prescient about it all, though.

Along a similar topic… a new Swedish Sci Fi flick about a ship escaping Earth that gets waylaid… Aniara


I gave a club permission to translate and publish my short story ”Reality Check” (from Insistence of Vision) into Romanian. And here is the link for a few of you to enjoy.  


Every now and then someone sends me or links me to a semi-tribute song or composition based on one of my works, often inspired by some dolphin-poesy… in this case some trinary musings by the brain-damaged dolphin captain of Streaker, Creideiki.  Funky and strange use of poesy, yet catchy.   The key refrain is "where there is mind... there is deception..."


== short takes and news ==

Bill & Ted return? Oy. Forget the actors. Hire the old writers! Few flicks were ever more original. Alas, while the ‘third movies curse’ is no longer as perfectly true as it was in the 1980s and 1990s, it still is pretty strong. Bogus! 


Another theory that attempts to make sense of the utterly stupid Luke-Obiwan-Yoda story arc. And yes, it makes some sense… within the larger context of my STAR WARS ON TRIAL assertion the Yoda is probably the most-evil character (if you go by body count) in the history of all human storytelling. By far.


They Live is a 1988 movie directed by John Carpenter, based on Ray Nelson’s Sheckleyish 1963 short story "Eight O’Clock in the Morning." Rent it! It is truly wonderful. There's this scene that will make you laugh and cry at the same time, in which these two big, decent-but-dumb guys beat the crap out of each other in a fair-fight-of-honor over whether one of them will simply put on a pair of special sunglasses that will let him see the aliens who are enslaving the Earth. Oh, but what a perfect metaphor for our divided politics… how hard we’ll fight for our illusions! Oh, if only it were as easy as forcing our neighbors to put on some sunglasses. The fight scene. Truly classic.

== ... more... ==

An interesting video about a utopian experiment in the midwest in 1960’s America. A visionary scientist and a team of committed experts plan a domed city for 250,000 people whose futuristic technology and innovative design will eradicate the pollution and waste of the modern city, and lead the way toward 21st-Century urban life. But before the city of the future breaks ground on a virgin site in isolated northern Minnesota, rural citizens and mistrustful environmentalists rise up in protest, doubtful of its pollution-free promises. 


In my own yet-to-be-published SF comedy, my character muses about an even greater Lost Film, “The Road To Transylvania,” one of the “road” flicks of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, set in Dracula’s Castle with villains like Duchess Succubus. But it’s the song they sing – a variant on their traditional “Thanks for the Memories” – that got the film banned, never viewed until the year 2102. Want more? Hope I find a good publisher!

How wonderful! Science fiction is flourishing. It long ago took over Hollywood (though could use more depth from real novels). It’s on the upswing in China (for now).  Few cultural shifts could do more good in Latin America. So NYC area folks should drop in on “Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas,” (alternative worlds) currently on view through Aug. 18 at the Queens Museum. According to this review, there’s quite a bit of humor, too.

Kinda cool how the producers of a film NOMAD flew to an exact spot to film two lovers with a perfect solar eclipse in the background. The premise sounds cool, too.

Lawrence Schoen, author of BARSK and other way cool sci fi, has an amusing and fast-paced series starting with "Buffalo Dogs." -- The Amazing Conroy, the greatest hypnotist in known space, hits a snag when one of hypnotic suggestions is taken literally by aliens who only understand objective truth. Over the course of the day he'll lose everything, get blackballed from his profession, and smuggle an insanely valuable alien creature that can eat anything and farts oxygen.  Download it for free(!)

Science fiction scholars! Prof. Tom Lombardo has published the first volume of his epic work “Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future “Prometheus to the Martians” – dealing with how ancient myths all the way to HG Wells have dealt with a timely topic – how humanity might change. Or catch an audio interview about the book (skip about 5 minutes in).

Lombardo's followup - Volume Two: The Time Machine to Star Maker had been completed and scholars chafing at the bit to see it might write to him.

Rising SF star David Walton has a new novel from Simon & Schuster — Three Laws Lethal — about the inventor of a virtual world in which AIs train to be released into the economy, who begins to recognize that these entities are developing goals of their own—goals for which they are willing to kill. 

39 comments:

Laurence said...

Another theory that attempts to make sense of the utterly stupid Luke-Obiwan-Yoda story arc. And yes, it makes some sense… within the larger context of my STAR WARS ON TRIAL assertion the Yoda is probably the most-evil character (if you go by body count) in the history of all human storytelling. By far.

My own theory regarding the prequels - Padme was Palpatine's stooge. Palpatine's established M.O in the prequels is running both sides, the separatists are led by his apprentice Dooku. It would make perfect sense for him to run the opposition to the war as well. He set Padme up to make herself indispensable to the opposition, then ordered some laughably ineffective fake assassination attempts on her so she would go into hiding during the crucial vote on the clone army. This would also explain why Padme started to reciprocate Anakin's feelings once he showed some serious leanings to the dark side, she was encouraging him. After Anakin had turned and the empire was in place however, she quickly realized she had outlived her usefulness and would soon meet the same fate as the separatist leaders, hence her efforts to persuade Anakin to go into hiding with her. (alternatively the prospect of her children being raised as Sith and likely forced to fight one another to the death was a bit too evil for her) Unlikely maybe. But it would have made a better film!

David Brin said...

There are levels of wretchedness to all but the first couple of SW films. In some cases, just an overdubbing of ten minutes of different dialogue could have saved the film. RETURN OF THE JEDI for example. Give me ten minutes of dialogue shift and it would no longer be stupid+evil. All the visuals remain!

The prequels are harder... much harder. But they could be made at least slightly logical with the same surgery.

ROGUE ONE wasn't so awful. FORCE AWAKENS would need that ten minutes of audio... and maybe 5 minutes of new footage.

Larry Hart said...

Laurence:

My own theory regarding the prequels - Padme was Palpatine's stooge.
...
Unlikely maybe. But it would have made a better film!


Actually, the entire mess is Qui-Gon's fault.

There's an entirely forgettable scene in the first prequel--except I remember it for some strange reason--in which Qui-Gon makes the apparently-silly decision to bring Jar-Jar Binks along on their mission. I think the audience mostly just thinks this is played for laughs and forgets about it. But then, in the second prequel, Jar-Jar is instrumental in elevating Senator Palpatine to his role as Emperor.

Qui-Gon is also responsible for the seemingly-inept negotiations which bring young Anikin on board but leave his mother as a slave and hostage.

So it's pretty clear that Qui-Gon is responsible for the rise of both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. The question is, is there some story reason he might have done so intentionally?

Larry Hart said...

Jerry Emanuelson in the previous comments:

Just because a lot of other people are doing something badly gives you no excuse to exhibit the same behavior. (I am using the word "you" generically, not to refer to you personally.)

...

I think that Christianity is basically a horrible and destructive ideology, but I would never ascribe any of the worst ideas of Christianity to people who just happened to call themselves Christian.


I appreciate what you're saying, but I still think we're having two slightly different conversations. I'm not blaming individual libertarians (or Christians) for the sins of their worst fellow travelers. But that's a bit beside the point.

When I hear a politician or other public influencer proudly proclaim himself to be a Christian, I expect he's using the term to signal to the same voters or followers that the general public expects when they hear that sort of talk, which is "I believe this is a Christian nation in which non-Christians are second class citizens at best. I believe that women are meant to be subordinate to men. I believe that Jesus bequeathed North America to white Aryans." I expect that for the simple reason that the politician in question would have to be savvy enough to understand that if he actually meant something else (like "I believe in the Sermon on the Mount"), he would necessarily have to explain that position, because that is not what his audience would expect.

More generally, if I hear someone identify as "a Christian" without the need to elucidate further on what that means to him, I have to go with percentages as to what I'm guessing he means by that. And if I assume what I said above, I'll be right more often than wrong. If I try to presume the best possible interpretation of the word until proven otherwise, I'll just be disappointed over and over again. The colloquial definition of insanity.

The same is true with "I'm a libertarian." Sure, you, Alfred, and Dr Brin all identify yourselves as libertarians, and you mean something other than "Free-marketer who wants police protection from your slaves," but I contend that you only do so self-identify to people who you already know well enough to expect that they'll accept your more detailed expression of what "libertarian" means to you. To a stranger on the street, I doubt you'd start off using that term, precisely because you'd have a certainty that you'd be misunderstood in a negative way.

(continued...)

Larry Hart said...

continuing...

I just don't see what is so difficult about avoiding the conflation of ideas with their most obnoxious advocates. It is necessary to learn to do this if we are going to have a civil society.


Part of the problem, again using Christians as an example, is that as long as a large segment of self-identifying Christians who aren't Trumpist authoritarians nevertheless treat Trumpist authoritarians as their tribesmen and refuse to condemn or thwart them, then (from my POV), there is no difference between them. What use is a "good Christian" who believes in the Sermon on the Mount if he votes for Trump and McConnell? What good are Susan Collins and Jeff Flake and God help me, Lindsay Graham if they are uncomfortable with Trump's indiscretions, but always vote for the Trumpist agenda? This invokes Dena's advice to Gordon in The Postman about the vast majority of men being neither heroes nor villains, but they don't matter.

If self-identifying Christians are not going to stand in the way of the term's most obnoxious advocates, then they're part of the problem. Hence the conflation. If 5% of Christians are Trumpists and 60% despise Trump but won't stand up to him in any way, then 65% are the problem.

Same for libertarians. If you don't take back your own word, or if you'll vote for the "Libertarian" candidate even if you disagree with his definition, then you're effectively part of the Libertarian Party. And if you--Jerry--don't do that, then I'm not condemning you. Just explaining the terms that I'm using.

Jon S. said...

Dr. Brin, I must beg to differ with you on one point.

What brought Alec Peters to the attention of CBS/Paramount's legal departments wasn't the quality of that film trailer he made; it was the fact that he was using it, and the promises of a complete film to follow, to leverage sales of his own personal Star Trek-branded tie-in products, from T-shirts to coffee blends, in an effort to make money to be spent on his own independent production studio. In short, he was using someone else's intellectual property to line his own pockets, in defiance of US trademark and copyright law.

(Put it this way - if someone was writing a series of spinoff novels based on The Postman, turning a large profit, selling T-shirts and other ancillary products, pocketing the cash, and had neither asked you first nor offered to share the money afterward, would you still congratulate them on their work? Or would there be attorneys involved?)

The YouTube series Star Trek Continues provided, in my opinion, also a very high production value (although I still don't think Todd Haberkorn has the personal gravitas to play Spock), but never tried to turn a profit - they held Kickstarters (or, as they termed them, "Kirkstarters") to fund each episode's production. CBS' reaction? To protect STC from YouTube's management when someone decided to file a complaint on CBS' behalf.

(Then Peters decided that he would force CBS to define precisely what was and was not allowed in fan productions, which resulted in all fan-produced series ending immediately...)

Jon S. said...

Oh, I am also reminded that when the case went to trial, Peters was forced to admit under oath that he didn't even have a draft of a script for the movie he'd bee promising, and raising funds for with Kickstarter and GoFundMe. It's held by some that the only reason production has (finally!) begun on Axanar was because his backers were threatening to sue for fraud.

David Brin said...

Jon S interesting.

LH, Yoda and the Jedi Council could have bought Anekin’s mom at any point across a decade.

Tim Wolter said...

History Buffs is great fun. His selection of films is quirky, his research is extensive...but mostly its that great British accent!

I also highly recommend Red Letter Media. Or rather, selectively recommend it. This is a group of independent film makers in, of all places, Milwaukee Wisconsin. They are old friends and passionate about movies. They sit down, drink (apparently way too much, but this might be part of their con) and have the most insightful discussions on popular media and culture anywhere. Oh, and sometimes they are just crude and boorish but their batting average is very high.

Their recent long take on the Picard trailer, comicon, etc is worth watching.

http://redlettermedia.com/half-in-the-bag-comic-con-2019-the-picard-trailer-streaming-services-and-midsommar/

Basically they are lambasting Picard for what appears to be the standard dumb Trek plot. Squeeze old characters back into their uniforms and back into roles. Said roles being merely ways to get to where they want to go....Big Spaceship 'Splosion battles, an ultra Mary Sue Badass Chosen One, and a rag tag crew of leather clad Space Mercenaries.

But they go beyond simple slagging to suggest their own plot lines and elements, most of which would be far superior if anyone ever decides to back up a van full of sweet, sweet, Hollywood cash to their back door.

TW

scidata said...

A 100m asteroid "flew past the Earth at a startling 24 kilometres per second" on Wednesday at 73,000km. This is what I'm always on about when I talk about the 20th time in the oft-used and highly misleading, "considered accurate to within 3%, 19 times out of 20". Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Deuxglass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deuxglass said...

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

John Kennedy
March 13, 1962

There is a school of thought that the Kennedy brothers were our version of the Gracchi brothers and shared their fate of being killed because they had become too dangerous to the oligarchs. Their deaths were a warning not to go too far. The 60's were full of political assassinations and all those killed were advocates of change. In that sense we are following in the footsteps of the Roman Republic. After the Gracchi brothers things in Rome seemed to have calmed down for 50 years or so till an existential crisis in the Cimbrian War brought the reformer Marius to power followed by the reactionary Sulla. the bloodletting between the factions continued on in the following generation with Pompey and Caesar and by that time the Republic's ideals were a joke and everybody knew it. The sheer amount of money and power brought by empire corrupted the political class. Octavian came in and took over, gave the Senate fake, powerless roles and put the day to day running of the Empire in expert administrators. It looks a lot like today.

The Founding Fathers had studied the Roman republic in detail and wanted prevent the same thing happing to the United States hence our complicated Constitution with extensive checks and balances. They had a good founding in the Classics and most of our leaders the next century also had that type of education. How many of our leaders in our time have studied the Roman Republic?

Quin said...

Hi David. By strange coincidence, you have posted your mention of "Giraffes On Horseback Salad" the very day after we released the soundtrack to it. (I'm the composer of the concept album). I'm delighted that the book has caught your attention-- I've stopped by here before a few times simply as an interested reader. If you happen to be in a particularly generous mood, would you consider adding a link to the album as well, to the roundup above? And if not, well, at least I'll invite everyone here go take a listen to some track samples. :-)

All the best,
Quin Arbeitman

Quin said...

Just to clarify because one should always make these things as clear as possible-- the album link would be the same as the hyperlink above. https://smarturl.it/GOHS

David Brin said...

Quin. Done! - Brin

TCB said...

@ Larry Hart, re: Jar Jar Binks. Robot Chicken got you covered.

matthew said...

I agree with your assessment of Love Death and Robots. One of my favorite surprises of the last year in entertainment. Did not expect it to be good - instead it was great. I told all my friends to check it out. Not one would watch it.

Larry Hart said...

@TCB,

Yes, they blame Jar-Jar, but they miss the point that Qui-Gon was responsible for bringing Jar-Jar along. At the time, I wondered why he made that decision, and came to the conclusion that it was simply because it was funny. But maybe there was method to the madness?

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin:

Quin. Done! - Brin


I thought that was some allusion to Qui-Gon Jinn. :)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dali is what would have happened if Harpo could paint. Paint a foot long pencil thin mustache on Harpo and lose the fright wig. Have those two ever been seen together. For that matter, have they ever been seen separately?

Quin said...

Thank you very much for the edit!

David Brin said...

Heh, all the last 4...

Jon S. said...

Deuxglass, there's also a school of thought, with far more factual support behind it, that John F. Kennedy was killed by a lunatic who thought it would impress the KGB so much that they'd hire him, and that people since then have spun conspiracy theories around it because they don't like the thought that one crazy person in the right (wrong?) place can create so very much chaos.

OTOH, given Bobby Kennedy's enthusiasm for nukes (he reportedly argued in favor of deploying them in Vietnam and using them to destroy the missile bases in Cuba), maybe Sirhan Sirhan was actually a time traveler here to stop RFK from being elected president and subsequently starting WW3...

Brian said...

Fascinating list, Dr. Brin, you've successfully added multiple content to my "must consume" list that already far exceeds any reasonable projection of my lifespan (something in my household referred to as "literary mortality").

Now, if nobody else is going to bring it up, I will. There have been exactly two television productions that have echoed the SF books of my youth--that approach (no TV will ever equal them, and given my emotional attachment, likely no other form of media either) those classics of Asimov, of Clarke, of Heinlein. The first was Babylon 5--I'll never forget the premiere of the pilot, where a couple of minutes in one of the StarFury fighters did a proper "flip and burn" maneuver. For some reason I was standing, and I immediately dropped to the footstool behind me, mouth agape. This of course on top of having a proper O'Neill colony... Hook, line and sinker. Sweated through the next five years with the rest of the fanbase wondering if Straczynski was going to get the chance to complete his story. Obviously he did--with predictable adjustments as he had to react to the vagaries of Warners and the rest. But he got it done. When it ended, I never thought I'd see its like again. At least not onscreen. Happily, I was wrong. It only took twenty years, but it seems to have the same nine-lives quality B5 had.

The Expanse.

Perfect? No. And having done my homework, the criticisms of our host were noted--and I hope he's correct by the way, given that the primary criticism consisted of it being too pessimistic about resource distribution with access to the riches of the asteroid belt...

It's real, dyed-in-the-wool space opera in the grand tradition. It even has the advantage of adaptation from actual novels, rather than originating as a screenplay. This can annoy purists who complain of changes from the source material, but I heard an excellent description at Comic-Con (I forget which panel) that really struck me--that the written and filmed versions of a story are sisters, not twins. I like that--and it supports my approach of reading the novels before watching it brought to life.

The first three seasons have been a delightful and compelling romp, and from what I've been hearing, the story gets even better from here. Say what you will about Bezos and Prime Video, they've got an impressive track record of quality content. The production values and storytelling of The Man in the High Castle has been some of the best television I think I've ever seen.

And now, with the announcement of S5, before the release of S4, leads me to believe Amazon is all in on this one--esp. since Bezos himself is not only apparently a huge fan of the books, but was annoyed when SyFy picked it up initially. He can also have it made for his own amusement for what for him is pocket change. Producers seem pretty savvy, too. No spoilers here, as this was in the Comic-Con trailer; The Rocinante, (our main characters ship) was recently refitted to allow for planetary landing--using landing struts that appear to have been cribbed from those on New Shepard. Well played, Naren, well played.

--Brian

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Same for libertarians. If you don't take back your own word, or if you'll vote for the "Libertarian" candidate even if you disagree with his definition, then you're effectively part of the Libertarian Party. And if you--Jerry--don't do that, then I'm not condemning you. Just explaining the terms that I'm using.

Hmm… How do you propose we take back the word? Language is notoriously difficult to own. The word many of us would take back is ‘liberal’. Progressives should NOT be using it, but they outnumber us and made it their own. Nowadays we have to distinguish between ‘modern liberal’ and ‘classical liberal’ as though the differences were matters of degree. They aren’t that small when it comes to certain parts of the belief system.

As for voting for someone when we disagree with his or her definition, everyone does that. It is the fundamental compromise people make in a political system that allows for parties.

I am not knocking you, but Jerry has been at this long enough he could rightly say ‘I told ya so’ to everyone who wanted to create the actual political party and then lost control of it to the very people that worried Jerry. It is exhausting and at some point... we admit to the futility. As with taking back ‘liberal’, we make some small distinction and move onward.

Jerry is a self-admitted libertarian, but not a Libertarian. If he is not registered with the party, he gets to make that small distinction and save himself from the association. I AM registered with the local (county level) party and avoid registration with the state and national parties. That too is a small distinction, but it matters because it is my way of signaling that the larger party groups have no business being on general election ballots… yet. Getting past primary season is difficult for small party candidates here in California, so that actually works as a TRUE distinction. Jerry argues they should not have organized. I argue that they should pay attention to local politics until party members can demonstrate they represent more than a sliver of the electorate.

So… when y’all (progressives mostly) want to surrender ‘liberal’ back to us, let us know and we will be able to consider abandoning ‘libertarian.’ 8)

Alfred Differ said...

History rhymes, but people who think the parallel between Rome’s collapse into empire and a US collapse out of empire have a steep burden to argue.

1. The US has more people in it today than the entire world had during the height of Roman power. That means our institutions have a great deal more inertia for resisting change AND preventing it from happening. [Ask your typical USian which nation has the most people and many can get it right. Ask about #2 and we might get it right. Ask about #3, though, and you will learn about our ignorance of ourselves.]

2. Many in our institutions ARE educated, thus they will not miss the rhyming couplets.

3. There is a great deal of truth in the notion that one person with a high velocity rifle can sow chaos and make a hash of the elaborate plans of powerful people. No conspiracies are necessary to explain events when a million people are individually powerful, thus the rhyming couplets might be statistical noise. We spot patterns in noise often enough we should assume a non-zero probability for doing it again.

When presented with multiple-choice questions for why historical event X happened, I usually chose ‘all of the above’ if the setting is complex… which it usually is.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I am not knocking you, but Jerry has been at this long enough he could rightly say ‘I told ya so’ to everyone who wanted to create the actual political party and then lost control of it to the very people that worried Jerry. It is exhausting and at some point... we admit to the futility. As with taking back ‘liberal’, we make some small distinction and move onward.


I get that Jerry has history and that you are closely involved with it. I'm not trying to denigrate his frustration at watching exactly what he knew would go wrong going wrong with everyone else going, "Who could have known?" It's the story of my life too.

I was just trying to answer his specific question about why outsiders seem to automatically equate "libertarians" with the worst excesses of big-L Libertarians, saying it's because that's what I've come to expect from anyone who announces himself as a libertarian without further clarification.


Hmm… How do you propose we take back the word? Language is notoriously difficult to own.


You probably can't. You just shouldn't be surprised each time someone perceives the word to mean what it means now. Just as I shouldn't be surprised each time someone uses "irregardless", even though doing so justifies homicide. :)


The word many of us would take back is ‘liberal’. Progressives should NOT be using it, but they outnumber us and made it their own.


Heh. Funny, I thought liberals came to use "progressive" because right-wingers had successfully turned "liberal" into a toxic label.


As for voting for someone when we disagree with his or her definition, everyone does that. It is the fundamental compromise people make in a political system that allows for parties.


Compromise is fine. Tribalism is not. It's one thing to vote for Trump even though you think he's uncouth because he gives you tax cuts and deregulation. It's another to vote for him even though you think he's uncouth because he's the standard bearer of conservatism and Christianity, and those are your team. I mean, you're allowed to do the latter, but when you do, you shouldn't be surprised why others think "conservatism" and "Christianity" are now exemplified by Donald Trump.

David Brin said...

Brian thanks for excellent news re the Expanse.

Jerry Emanuelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerry Emanuelson said...

Larry Hart said:

Same for libertarians. If you don't take back your own word, or if you'll vote for the "Libertarian" candidate even if you disagree with his definition, then you're effectively part of the Libertarian Party.

I essentially agree with everything that Alfred just said on this matter.

I've been trying to take the word "libertarian" back for nearly a half-century. I sometimes regret not taking the ten-minute drive to the meetings where the Libertarian Party was being formed in order to make my doubts and objections to formation of the political party known more clearly and more emphatically. I was personally invited to participate, and I'm sure that I would have (at least) been welcomed as a neutral observer. I don't believe, however, that my objections to what they were doing would have been taken very seriously at the time. They were pretty narrowly focused on what they were doing.

I was sufficiently opposed to the formation of a "Libertarian Party" that, at the time, I just wanted nothing to do with it. Also, some of the most important meetings in the formation of the Libertarian Party happened to be scheduled on exactly the same nights that I was leading a libertarian discussion group, and I would have had to abandon that group to attend the political party meetings.

Also, note that all of my postings on Contrary Brin last week were part of my decades-long effort to take back the more-inclusive meaning of the word "libertarian." If anyone doesn't like the present narrow definition of the word, then there are few people in the world than me who can more rightfully say, "Don't blame me. I told you so."

Regarding my current involvement with the Libertarian Party, I don't have any direct involvement at all. I am, however, currently registered to vote with the state of Colorado as a Libertarian. I usually don't vote for individual candidates. (I usually leave most of those blank, only voting on questions on constitutional amendments, propositions, etc.)

The only presidential candidate that I have ever voted for in my life is Gary Johnson. As for always voting for the Libertarian candidate, I did say on this forum last week that, of the candidates now running for president, the one I would vote for is Tulsi Gabbard. I stand by that statement. Last time that I checked, she was not a member of the Libertarian Party (although she does seem to be gaining a fair amount of libertarian support).


Jerry Emanuelson said...

I don't like for the conversation to drift too far away from David's original post, but since Larry brought up the subject yesterday, I should make one additional thing clear.

The one and only reason that I am registered to vote with the state of Colorado as a Libertarian is so that no one will be confused about my personal philosophy. In the state of Colorado, voter registration records are very easily available to anyone on the internet.

Most people are scientifically illiterate, and I have written a lot about scientific matters on the internet.

I have been rather vocal about the seriousness of climate change. Many people seem to believe that human-caused climate change was invented by the Democratic Party. This is one way that many Republicans actively display their scientific illiteracy.

I have also written very extensively on the internet about the dangers of nuclear EMP and severe solar storms and about the importance of disaster preparation and the development of resilient societies that can resist threats to the collapse of our fragile electrical and electronic infrastructures. Large numbers of people seem to believe that these are issues that were fabricated by the Republican Party members. This is the way many Democratic Party members actively display their ignorance of science and of modern technological fragility.

Even though a lot of Libertarian Party candidates are crackpots, being registered with the state as a Libertarian Party voter is a way of distancing myself from the scientifically-illiterate crackpots of the major parties (who are far more dangerous). I know that it is a very imperfect solution, but it seemed to be the best of the other imperfect options.

Tony Fisk said...

I agree with David about how little it takes to redeem some of the SW films (I once tinkered a bit with Revenge of the Sith). I can't say I can be bothered with the latest instalments. The plot-free TFA at least had some interesting characters whose backstories were worth expanding on. However, those backstories were comprehensively blowtorched by the equally plot-free Last Jedi, which reminded me of "Fury Road" in having the longest and *slowest* action vehicle sequences I've ever seen.
Anyway, have fun with Skywalker Rising. I don't I'll be going. (Gotta keep them porgs offa my lawn!)

David Brin said...

"The plot-free TFA at least had some interesting characters whose backstories were worth expanding on."
Exactly. JJ Abrams is a GENIUS at characters and dialogue! And those are hard!!

Alas, he has no sense of plot and I suspect he suspects this and resents it, refusing to hire people who could help him overcome a limitation. Our loss.

Jerry E. I have spoken at libertarian events. Freedom Fests and once an LP convention! I try to wean some back to Adam Smith and to the c-word "competition," which in turn justifies liberal programs that uplift children an d empower them to compete.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Okay. You are essentially saying the common person builds a working definition of 'libertarian' that equates to the political party identity 'Libertarian' that equates to what the most vocal zealots lead them to believe it is. Glenn Beck said he was a libertarian, therefore…

Very well. As long as you aren't trying to convince us that you've taken that approach, I'll live with it like I've had to learn to live with the theft of 'liberal'. You've actually met libertarians (online) who demonstrate the failure of that lazy working definition, so we won't let YOU do it without a challenge.

[Irregardless always rubbed me wrong, but my mother taught me to react with more anger to "ain't". I waited many, many years into independent adulthood before I would use it in very informal settings.]

Progressives took 'liberal' and made it almost its opposite by enabling an authoritarian interpretation the right-wingers are using to bash them now. Not that right-wingers are less authoritarian, mind you. It's frustrating to face a ballot where my choices are between authoritarians and no one remembers the other option. THAT'S what has many classical liberals annoyed. Blood was shed for that idea.

As for tilting at the tribalism windmill, good luck with that. Who among us pointed out the lovely little book by Bob Altemeyer? That windmill is real and composed of bricks made of 'human nature.' The best I can offer you when people suggest Two Scoops is their standard bearer is they are making @#$T up too out of a desperate need not to look at the shape of the trap within which they are caught. Think about all the people who will say good things about their spouses and marriages even though they know in their hearts that a flood is sweeping it all away. Denial is a difficult river to cross and people rightly fear drowning. [I think I've merged and mangled enough metaphors for the night, don't you?] 8)

scidata said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scidata said...

Alfred Differ:
It's so nice to hear some empathy and even camaraderie for those caught in a trap. Human nature has indeed ensnared us all. Happily, there is a ghost in this machine, and it ponders the stars. Hinted at by Mary Shelley, brought into full bloom during the Golden Age, and alive and well in the darkest corners of our little planet.

First and last lines from a truly great lullaby:
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
...
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.


Not who, where, or even why, but what. Where's Bill Nye when you need him?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Irregardless always rubbed me wrong, but my mother taught me to react with more anger to "ain't".


I had a mother and a grandmother who were teachers. "Ain't" was always the traditional bugaboo of English teachers who insisted that it was not a real word. However, "irregardless" bothers me because there's no point. It means the same thing as "regardless", and the extra "ir-" would usually mean "a different thing, in fact the opposite thing" from the word that follows, but instead just means "the same thing as". I know this isn't really the case, but the impression I get when I hear someone say "irregardless" is that they're intentionally trying to sound illiterate. Same with "Democrat Party".


Progressives took 'liberal' and made it almost its opposite by enabling an authoritarian interpretation the right-wingers are using to bash them now.


Exactly what bothers me about "irregardless". :)

But seriously, I grew up in the 60s, and I still think of "liberals" as more hippie "Do your own thing, man!" types than as the nanny state Thought Police that right wingers portray us as. I'm not convinced that Frank Luntz is entirely our own fault.


Not that right-wingers are less authoritarian, mind you. It's frustrating to face a ballot where my choices are between authoritarians and no one remembers the other option.


Here, I agree. Back in the late 70s/early 80s, before I had heard of Ayn Rand or any particular Libertarians, I thought of myself as a small-l libertarian because I thought government should stay out of personal business until and unless it was required to mediate between competing personal business. I stopped using the word when it became clear that the right had hijacked it to imply something more like "Government should not exist at all," which to me leads inevitably to the law of the jungle in which the richest and most powerful entities are free to use force and fraud all they wish.


As for tilting at the tribalism windmill, good luck with that...Think about all the people who will say good things about their spouses and marriages even though they know in their hearts that a flood is sweeping it all away.


I'm not trying to wipe out tribalism, but to point out the inevitable consequence. If you stand behind your wife even when you know she's being offensive, then don't be surprised when people find you offensive too. You can't say "Well, I defended her in public, but in my heart of hearts, I knew she was wrong, so don't blame me for her excesses." I mean, you can, but it won't have much credibility.

That's what I was trying to say about the labels of both "Christianity" and "libertarian". If you line up behind the public faces of the tribe, then don't be surprised when the tribe is viewed by others as being like those public faces. It is being that way, even if individual members are lukewarm about that fact.

And remember, this was simply in response to the question about Why people automatically ascribe the characteristics of the most visible members of a tribe to the tribe as a whole. I feel I've answered that question, and you just don't like the answer.

Jon S. said...

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
Now we know just what you are:
A ball of plasma bright, they say,
That is oh so far away -
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How can we get to where you are?


Then again, my kids always preferred Voltaire's "Goodnight Demonslayer" as a lullaby. Perhaps not coincidentally, they had very few nightmares...

David Brin said...

onward

onward