Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stupid Galactica
I was mostly enjoying the new TV show Battlestar Galactica, but the last episode was full of really lame writing. You can throw the money you want at a show but if the story is bad, if the characters and their actions are not believable then it's just a kids show with better effects (and that's probably an insult to kids).

Spoilers ahead, so bug out if you want to remain pure.

Two incidents jumped out at me, the first was minor, the second major. Firstly when the troops boarded the crippled Cylon base-star and began finding dead Cylons lying around they asked each other "what happened here!?" a BUNCH of times. When some of the Cylons began waking up, coughing and spluttering, staggering around, they asked a lot of "what's going on!?" AGAIN. Not one of them said "maybe they're sick" and when the word "disease" was spoken by one of the Cylons, they all seemed really, really surprised. These are not rocket scientists and I'm going to remember their inability to spot the damned obvious later on. It surprise me that they didn't go aboard with breathing gear and biosuits etc, given that SOMETHING had crippled a base-star and disease was a possibility. If Galactica doesn't carry any, which is certainly possible, or bio-gear isn't part of standard procedure when heading into an unknown area (hello Trek!) then I expect our dumb heros to stumble into more situations like this in future.

The real stinker, though, was the lame-ass death of the Cylon prisoners at the end. If you were in charge of a plan that could end the war with one action, wouldn't you protect every part of that plan? But no....lets leave 5 Cylon prisoners that we NEED to be alive, alone in a room that any morally confused crewman can access. This was a Rumsfeld-level of dumbness and I think Adama should hire a 5-year old child to provide Planning Oversight. Also, why did the prisoners not have guns to their heads at the second the fleet jumped into range of the Resurrection ship? Why the minute-long walk by the soldiers TO the unsupervised prisoners? In that minute, a lot could have gone wrong with the fleet being attacked by Cylons.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. This crap would never have happened on Babylon 5, which is back in production, thank goodness.

Oh, and Helo's moral dilemma with wiping out the Cylons with biological warfare? STFU Donny, you're out of your league. You don't compromise with wiping out an enemy that IS all military and has no "civilian" population. You don't relent against an enemy that has killed 99.99% of humanity and shows no signs of wanting to spare the remaining 50 000 people left alive. They're not human, they're your enemy. And by the way any comparison to terrorism and meatspace politics are null and void: terrorists may be psycho, but they live in and among civilian populations. You can't "kill 'em all and let God sort them out" - it's morally wrong when you can't tell them apart from non-combatants. But Cylons are all fair game and so far I've not seen anything from the writers of this show to change my mind.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Reality Pushes Back
The 2006 elections are over and the Democrats won, thank goodness. I've lived in the USA since 2000 and it was kind of depressing to see how the whole country, especially the media, had been hoodwinked by the Republican party. The distortions and half-truths were instantly and uncritically parroted by most of the news shows, and Republican "framing" was the status quo on all discussions. This is well documented at a site called Media Matters and I'd urge you to read it; I also hope they continue their work even if the target is a Democrat, because in government (not politics, but GOVERNMENT), nothing matters more than a full accounting of all the facts and evaluating them with a mind to bringing the most happiness to the most people.

"Reality pushes back" is a favourite phrase of mine. It means that you can only lie about the facts in a given situation for so long, before reality pops your bubble. Any example you can think of where someone lies, or tells half the story on any subject, is prone to having the truth revealed, because facts never stay hidden for long. The Republicans used this tactic on a wide range of subjects: fear, gay marriage, terrorism, the intentions of the Democrats and I was surprised that they were able to use it for so long. "Gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage!" they cried, hoping nobody would notice that many other countries around the world allow it and are doing just fine. The state of Massachussetts has allowed it since 2004 and the hyperbolic claims of looming disaster have obviously failed to materialize. Remember, if you make a ridiculously overblown claim that fails to come true, *someone* is going to notice and remember that you are not to be listened to. Slowly but surely this is becoming a non-issue for many people, especially the young. In 50 years time it'll be as un-remarked as interracial marriage is today.

Reality has pushed back on a grand scale, with the Republicans attempts to scare the populace into trusting ONLY them fell on deaf ears. Their loud and repeated claims of impending disaster should the Democrats take power USED to work, but enough people looked at their track record and came to the conclusion that the Republicans have had 5 years of screwing up everything they touched, putting party before country, making decisions based on ideology instead of facts and REAL expert advice, and therefore their attempts to put words in other people's mouths should be ignored. And they were.

I hope this horrible flirtation with ideologically-led policy making will be seen as a historical anomaly, and taught in civics classes as a warning to future generations about what happens when critical thinking is under-utilized, when a party appeals to fear and abuses power and leads the country astray. Even if someone else dares to try it, I hope they get smacked down a lot quicker than the current adminstration was, which is STILL trying to get around the U.S Constitution (see their warrantless domestic surveillance program).

Whew, ok, I feel a lot better :) I didn't really used to be interested in politics but when I see a government so disdainful of reality it makes my blood boil. And if you only have time to read one blog about American government, make it Glenn Greenwald's work. His clarity and passion are a sight to behold. And if you really like it, kick him a few bucks to help him keep going - the ideas he examines and discusses are the kind of thing that fortify your political mind and help you spot bad ideas when you see them.