No More Crying Now

So yesterday I went to see Interstellar. Go see it. It’s hated by all the right people. It was also the first time in years that we went to a movie in a theater and possibly the first time Dan and I went alone since Robert was born. (We used to go out with a group of friends, but that hasn’t happened in a long time. Money. Work. Time.)

Anyway, if I were writing interstellar to order, there would be some different things, some plot points made more explicit, and definitely more of a cigarette moment at the end.

I wasn’t writing it to order. It’s a decent movie and if you’re a regular at this blog, you’ll like it. It makes the choice very stark: stay on Earth, maybe forever, and die. Or go to the stars and live.

In the movie they have a contrivance to make people leave the Earth. Movies are like that, they need immediacy and crisis you can see. But the premise is true, nonetheless. We can stay and die. Or we can leave and live. And the time is getting late.

The decision is made very clear when the school principal tells the ex-astronaut dad that the Apollo missions were faked, a propaganda coup to fool the Russians into bankrupting themselves. We can accept this rewrite of history and these petty, slighting dreams which betray us and all of the human race. Or not.

CC, my eyes on Twitter, sent me the Puffington Host’s scathing view of the movie:

“Let’s create cinematic masterworks that exhort us to cherish the planet we have, and all the wonders upon it, rather than jettison it in favor of new turf to kill.”

Note the double whammy of “let’s not dream of bigger things” and “all humans do is kill.” And note the smug self-satisfaction with it.

Look, guys, I understand why our civilization got shell shocked. The first world war came atop this idea that we were past hatreds and past irrationality, and the new classically liberal brotherhood of man would never have these irrational wars.

And then this war happened, and the press exaggerated it. And it was a war that you could take the train to, a war in our backyard.

The seditious elements among us, the enemies of civilization, starting with the “romantics” who were mostly sympathizers with the old feudal system (or rather dreamers who identified with the feudal lords and the old ways that never were) took advantage of the massive mortality, the emotional wounds the war left, to push their agenda of guilt and self-loathing, which turned into loathing for their culture, their civilization, their world, their species.

Read that line from the Huff Po.

This is not a mature attitude. This is not a sane attitude. Can you see the flouncing around? The acting like “You’re so stupid, duh, you just want to go out and kill other planets. You’re supposed to cherish this one, that is, give up every dream and do what we tell you to, until you’re perfect – PERFECT I TELL YOU – and then you can maybe go off. If we let you.”

This is not a sane view of your own species. This is not a survivable view of your own civilization. You can’t live and grow and expand, and care for the new generations while pounding your chest and shouting “mea culpa.” And worse, it’s never “mea culpa” it’s the pointed finger and “these people who look like me” a definition that can be as narrow as race or as wide as species, when it comes to science fiction, “are evil and I want to denounce them.”

Humanity cannot – will not – survive the continuing mourning for a past that never was; the endless self-denunciation sessions of all that’s human.

Humanity isn’t perfect. Neither are our accusers. We’re all just people. Denouncing your own doesn’t make you better than them: it makes you smaller and petty.

There might be perfect aliens out there in the stars, but perfect according to whom?

I’m human and I love humans – the feisty and the foolish, the brilliant and the broken. Do I love humans in the collective? Oh, not usually, because humans aren’t a collective, they’re a number of fascinating individuals, and a number of boring ones too. They are of me and I’m of them. What are perfect aliens to me or I to them that I should subject myself to their rules for perfection? What do I care if they’re nicer to turf? Turf is maybe in the galactic sense, a cousin, and we’ll likely take it out of this world with us. But my loyalty is to humans, because I’m human. And if humans pass from the universe, something great and important will have died: a curious monkey who dreamed of the stars.

And if we don’t work towards that goal of the stars, we’ll surely let the crepe hangers win. And humans will shamble to their end.

The culture of death and mourning, of denunciation and lamentation is over. I declare it so. It’s by definition a dying culture, anyway, an enshrining of the poisonous social vices of envy and malice, of selfishness and pride (a more forthright age called them sins.) It is destroying humanity because that’s what it’s designed to do.

And it’s over. In its place I choose to believe that humanity exists for a reason; that humanity has a place in the universe; that humanity is not less nor smaller than other races we might meet.

Have we made mistakes? What race, what culture, what individual doesn’t?

But the healthy ones move on and grow up.

It’s time we moved on. It’s time we grew up. A hundred years of crepe hanging and blaming civilization is enough.

Eschew the clichés of “the ape that kills” and “a bad species” and “responsible for extinctions” and “guilty of everything.”

Those of us who are religious know only one creature can judge us, and it’s none of the finger pointers. Enough of the witnesses for the prosecution. Now rises the defense: we’ve nurtured and loved; we’ve created and invented and dreamed. Those of us who are religious know we’re made in His image, and love the image of the eternal even in the ephemeral.

The clay of the Earth we’re made of is the material that made the stars.

We’re made of stars. We’re made of eternal. We’re made of eternity and joy. It’s our destiny to dream and create and reach ever farther.

We’ll shoulder our sins along the way, those sins that are truly ours, those we can hit our breasts over and say “mea culpa” and repent and strive to be better. Everyone and every culture stumbles.  The good ones struggle on.  We will not accept blame for everything. And we will not accept blame from accusers who admit no guilt, no stain, no brotherhood with us.

The time for mourning is over. The time for dreaming and creating has started.  Pull down that crepe and those black curtains.  They look ridiculous on the grand edifice of Western civilization.

Tell the finger pointers and self-righteous blamers to take a hike.

However long it takes, however hard it is, however many times we stumble and fall, listen to this and listen well: We’re going to the stars.

713 thoughts on “No More Crying Now

  1. They are welcome to stay behind. I, in fact, encourage them too. Then once we’re all off planet they’ll have the right kind of people to create the “Communist Utopia™” and live happily ever after.

    “The cowards never started
    The weak died along the way
    And only the strong survive”

    1. What a great formulation of the concept; I don’t recall ever seeing it quite that way. It’s in quotes, so is it from something? Is it your formulation?

      1. It is a quote, I’ve heard it quoted a lot, but I don’t remember where it is originally from. Usually I heard it quoted about the American Frontier.

      2. I’ve heard that saying all my life, pretty much — it was said about the pioneers who came West on the wagon trains (which included some of my ancestors, thus why I heard this saying, pretty much as he wrote it).

      3. It’s not mine. It was told to me one night at a renaissance faire after too many bottles of mead. I don’t know it’s origin.

        1. “The meek will inherit the Earth, those with balls will have gone to the stars.”

          Get that “your car model one year advanced” insurance and let angry feminists buy you a replacement car every few years months weeks days. (Not recommended for old folks with stiff spines.)

        1. The only significant differences between Hell and Texas is that in Hell it’s miserably hot all the time. In Texas it bounces between miserably hot and miserably cold. And the denizens of Hell aren’t deluded that they live in Heaven.

          1. Michigan has both Paradise and Hell. There is also a Hell in California, one in Norway and one on Grand Cayman. But if you want Hell for Certain go to Kentucky.

            1. Well Hell’s Gate is less than fifty miles from me; and My Blue Heaven is about the same distance the other direction.

  2. The thing I heard was “We shouldn’t TRY to explore!” and “TOO MANY PEOPLE ALREADY” (unsaid) *whisperedmuttergrumble* “more people need to die, just not MY people, the ones I don’t like, so the ‘correct’ viewpoint survives…”

    It’s a new variation of the same old whimper. Same old insanity where they go “WE HAVE ESTABLISHED A VOLUNTARY EXTINCTION PROJECT! JOIN US!” and splutter when someone else goes “You first.”

    These people have given up hope, love and joy, and claim they haven’t, and want us to step on the landmine for them.

    And people are getting tired of listening to emo, self-defeating, self-hating crap.

    Waiting for the movie over on my side of the planet, to come out on DVD. Belated happy birthday and it sounds like you had fun!

    1. I have this dark fantasy of someone trying to sell me on the Voluntary Extinction Project, and I pull out a pistol and tell them to PROVE their commitment to the cause, before I will consider their arguments. . .

      1. Essentially, the left is composed of defective humans with serious emotional, and often physical problems. So Voluntary Extinction may be an appropriate response to their condition that is biologically programmed into their DNA. No need for us to get in their way…..

        1. The problem is that they want everybody else to “go first”. [Sad Smile]

          1. Actually, I think the argument is that we shouldn’t have any kids. I don’t know that they’re actually advocating for the violent and abrupt end to the species, they just kind of want us to stop having kids and age out.
            Of course, the fact that the “Voluntary Extinction Project” exists as a thing (found their Facebook group a couple of weeks ago. NO idea how I got there.) is tragic. It makes me think that those people are very coddled, very wealthy (speaking globally), and heavily indoctrinated.

            1. The worst of it?

              The “stop having kids” group is winning. People aren’t entirely stopping procreation. But the number of new births each year is a problem in pretty much every country around the world.

              1. …every modern country around the world.

                There, fixed it for you.

                Turkey and the rest of the stans aren’t having problems with low birthrates, their populations are growing and are exporting people.

                Modern, pluralistic democratic countries are having problems with population decline, mostly because the leftists aren’t reproducing.

                1. Actually…

                  I’ve been hearing recently that the Arab countries are seeing birth rate declines as well.

                  1. The Arabs, Persians and Turks are all ahving birthrate problems on par with Italy and Japan.

                  2. Longer life spans and “estimates” really booger things up, too. Plus the bragging about how many kids you have.

                    See also: don’t trust multiple birth statistics out of China. (where it’s an open secret that some “twins” are years apart, or have different parents, or….)

                    1. Given the history of governance in China – not just since Mao made himself Emperor, but for all of written history – why would you trust word one coming out of the mouth of any Chinese Government spokesperson?

                    2. It’s useful? *shrug* Every time I do something like, say, point out that comparing the UK’s murder rate to ours is ridiculous because they only count it as a murder when it’s solved and all the appeals are used, that seems to be what it boils down to.

                2. Actually, William, in the immortal words of Independence day “that might not be precisely true.” There are leaks that the statistics on birth are largely faked and they’re in a faster downward slope than the west.
                  They’re exporting population because, even with it crashing, they are so spectacularly bad at HAVING an economy.
                  Exporting is not a sign of anything except home sucks. Portugal, whose population growth is non existent is also exporting.

                    1. *lightbulb*

                      Of course! Because the group that moves is mostly the younger folks– look, if you compare the US military birth rate to the rest of the US, or to any country we’re in, it’s going to be off the charts. Because the military is almost entirely good reproduction age people in fairly good health, and “the whole country” is everyone.

                      And that’s before we get into issues of benefits fraud, activism pushing for more little martyrs, etc. (I know that people claim more kids than they have, and a multiple food pantries, and that’s part of how we get ridiculous stats about one in five kids going to bed hungry. Another is counting “didn’t get to eat what I wanted, and as much as I wanted” as being a matter of being HUNGRY, rather than mom saying no to another poptart, or allowing peanut butter sandwiches for all meals.)

                    2. When they get to another country their offspring count into that other country’s birth rates.

                      In spite of large numbers of emigrants now in resident in France, the country still has overall falling birthrates. And now it has no-go zones, too.

              2. They’re only winning because civilization is disincentivizing larger families. It’s hard to support a large family if you live in a city. Or even the suburbs. Plus, there are so many leisure activities today that people don’t want to give them up to take care of children.

                  1. And it creates something of a vicious circle. Since there are so many two earner families, prices go up, which encourages more people to have two-earner families to bring in more money…

                    1. Not only do prices go up, but wages go down, due to the lack of incentive to automate things, because there are more people to do the work.

                      I’ve thought long and hard about how to encourage people to go back to single breadwinner families (whichever one stays home – I would have, had that been an option), but I got nuthin’.

                    2. A simple solution might be to increase the child/dependent exemption to restore historic levels of income shield eroded by inflation. That would offer a family with two dependent minors about $40K* before paying a penny of income tax.

                      Alternately, increase the Earned Income benefit, both in amount and range, but that program has proven highly susceptible to fraud.

                      *Guesstimate — it has been something like two decades since I last did the math and G-D only knows what actual inflation in child-rearing costs has been since then.

                    3. Lack of incentive to automate? Well this is one thing that Obama Care has addressed by making low end employees significantly more expensive to hire.

                    4. Simple expectations training works pretty well there. I expected that we’d do better with one parent staying home, so we looked for situations that would support that. Which meant, among other things, waiting four YEARS before even looking at houses because of a little thing called the housing bubble. Whose popping was predicted, BTW, no matter what the popular narrative says, and correctly so within a year four years in advance. On that note, we hadn’t tried to “time the bottom”—that way lies madness—but we bought pretty near that point anyway.

                      And our house isn’t perfect (still a lot of unrealized potential. and a lack of proper storage.) And by modern standards it’s small. (1500 sq ft for a family of five… plus books. And musical instruments. And a developing guitar-building hobby…)

                      But it’s nice enough, and it’s in a nice neighborhood with very nice neighbors (remember when that used to be a thing?) and it’s within a single income, full stop. I haven’t contributed even a grand to the household income stream in the last two years. Which means I’m home for the kids (no daycare costs) and can have the luxury of #3 without feeling as though THIS child will drain our finances past bearing. (Not having more, though; later childbearing really is harder on the body. I think I’ll encourage my kids to shoot for having their kids younger, if possible.)

                    5. It sounds as though what you need is a shop. Build as big as you can afford (not bigger, but as big as). No matter how big you build it, you will soon have it full. If you build it three or four times bigger than you can imagine ever needing, then you will have room to actually build/work on something in it, without moving a bunch of other stuff out in the rain.

                  2. Not to worry, ladies — you can always freeze your eggs and do the mother thing later, once you’re too old to be a productive worker and don’t worry, keeping up with several toddlers when in your 50s is a breeze.

                    You’ve got to lean in in order to bend over.

                    1. I am authorized to report that the child arrived safely. Have fed and changed and are returning as sent, as the first word out of the dear’s mouth was a gleeful, “Again!”

              3. Because I haven’t had a chance to brag on them yet….

                We were talking to the realtor that’s finding a house for us last week. It was a weekend, and her husband works in the same office, so they were both there. They’re in the not-quite-grandparents-yet age zone, at best guess from him. She’s so awesomely put together that my only guess is “older than me.”

                I was actually struck speechless (in a good way) when he looked at our kids and asked if we were heading for double or triple the number, because that’s important in planning out a house purchase.

                That’s never happened to me before… even our families are horrified that we’re actually going on when we “finally” got a boy.

                1. It’s sad.

                  When I was growing up, the average family size at my LDS church was probably around five kids. Now it’s three.

                  And even that is considered large by most in the US.

                  1. Catholic here, same story, but a generation earlier implementing.

                    I really miss the Mormon couple we had next door, their kids alternated with ours perfectly.

                    1. My dad was one of nine SURVIVING. I was one of five. I’m stopping after three (more from how taxing it is on my body; I’m old enough that it’s hitting me hard.) Catholic as well, though you won’t see the huge families as often, even in church. I do have a couple of younger friends from a family of nine, so such families aren’t entirely kaput.

                      I go to a local Baptist mom’s group*. At least there, nobody looks at you funny if you have three or more.

                      *They have daycare for an absurdly small suggested donation. And I’ve also been told they’re not classic Baptist, which means nothing to my Papist upbringing.

                    2. The local Protestant community church I go to doesn’t have any theological objections to birth control*, and I haven’t really heard any of the individual members object to it. It is however, not overly popular among the members by the number of children many of the families have.

                      My father came from a family of eight children (and they quit when grandpa finally got the daughter he wanted), and my mother came from a family of nine (eight brothers, and as far as I know, the only reason they quit was because her mother got cancer). I, however, cured my parents of any desire for multiple children. 🙂 And haven’t contributed to the population myself, so I can see the trend plainly in my own family.

                      *The church does not have the strict formalities and hierarchy of a larger denominational church, but I have not heard the subject alluded to one way or the other by either the pastor or any of the elders. It is entirely possible that some or all of them could have theological objections to certain types of birth control (chemical/hormonal) due to the fact that they work by preventing implantation rather than preventing fertilization. It is not a subject I have heard discussed, and being single it isn’t one I currently have a personal stake in.

                    3. All the German Catholic farmers in Glasscock County the same age as my parents all had between 4 and 10 kids. Their Kids are having only between 3 and 6.

                    4. My wife’s parents generation was 12 on one side, 13 on the other (American Chinese families, one of them farmers; my father was an only child, mother one of three kids). My wife’s one of three kids (as am I, my sisters had no children), and we have three (adult) kids. No grandchildren yet, and it’s probable that only one of our kids will have any at all.

                      I have any number of ex-coworkers (how *do* you ork a cow?) who either chose to have no children, or who have encouraged their children to not have any kids. Not that they complained when, years later, their kids tended to finally start having kids in their 40s.

                      One thing I do notice is that enrollment numbers in the elementary and secondary schools that our church (worldwide) operates have declined a lot since the ’50s and ’60s. Some of that is the Boomer generation/their kids tailing off in the population, but a lot is just plain smaller families.

                  2. In my part of Utah, which is not that rural, the average may be three, but nobody bats an eye if you say you have six or eight. I have four, and the curious part is not the amount, but the spread: my oldest is 20 and my youngest 4.

                2. *wistfully* I originally wanted half a dozen kids. That was the number that sounded ‘right’ to me. I may have to settle for 3 (I’m secretly hoping for surprise twins, muahahahahahaha)

                  We’re daydreaming of owning property and building our own house. The plans about that can be rather entertaining, as we occasionally talk about building into a hill as opposed to ‘on top of a hill’ and make like dwarves.

                  Three kids seem about average here, but this is a garrison town with semi-rural orchards, farms, and there’s some mining nearby, so we do see the ‘family with half a dozen kiddies’.

                    1. Another thing to consider then would be Ground-Source Heat Pumps, which are WAY more effective than Air sourced ones (the normal kind). And if you can stick the heat exchangers in a pond or other body of water, you’re golden!

                    2. One consideration for in-ground houses is: What is the yearly average temperature in your area? Because that’s what the ground temps are going to be. In my region, it’s pretty good, at an average 56F, which works well for both summer and winter to make it easier to keep at a comfortable temperature. But if you’re in an area where average temp is 80 or so, not as useful as otherwise.

                    3. I refuse to believe that it is not possible (and ought be economically feasible) to pump in sunlight to avoid those SAD times. We shouldn’t even be limited by time of day, except from dusk to dawn, as active collectors can be designed to optimize angle of light received.

              4. The sick joke for all those countries with those fancy social benefits? They all depended on population increases and lots of jobs being available. When the downside hits, and it’s already started, it’s going to be ugly.

              5. Some people are continuing to have children. Six, eight, ten children.

                Evolution in overdrive, folks.

                It has been my experience that a professed willingness to teach it in school is in inverse relationship with grasping any practical implications of it.

      2. Won’t work. The scary thing about the VHE types is that the ones who truly believe it will likely stay alive long enough to make sure everyone else is dead, and then kill themselves. With a smile on their face.


    2. “…We shouldn’t TRY to explore!” and “TOO MANY PEOPLE ALREADY…”

      I vaguely (snark) recall that a major reason that so many German farmers were willing to risk everything to come to North America was that there were ‘too many people’ in the old country and there was not enough farm land available for future generations.

      1. But mostly it was wars among German states that had the draft, people’s princes messing around with taxes or crazy laws, and then Bismarck deciding to Kulturkampf everybody who had backbone.

        1. And freedom of religion, because most German states had serious freedom of religion/freedom from established church problems even before Bismarck; and if your prince wasn’t messing with you, the neighbors might be.

          1. Hoo, boy, this in SPADES. I don’t know the exact stats, but a massive bunch of the “Christians in Europe were horrible” stats– inquisitions, witch hunts, etc– should be crossed out and replaced with “German-ish princes hitting each other with everything they can get a hand on, up to and including the neighbor’s furniture.”

            1. And it wasn’t just Catholics (the common assumption when “the inquisition” is invoked) it was mostly secular ‘princes’ using Catholicism, Calvinist, or Lutheran ‘beliefs’ as a handy excuse. Those beliefs were often nominal, at best, for those ‘princes’ but they provided a handy excuse, and had the added benefit of helping to fire up their subjects who had stronger beliefs.

              1. I just barely ran on the edges of it when I was doing my research for a Catholic Stand article, but holy cow– you know the whole Henry the 8th and the next two or four, I can’t remember, royals? That was mild.

                Add in shifting boundaries. And sons disagreeing. And relations with neighbors that makes the English and Scots seem chummy.

                Heck, when I was looking into the witchcraft stuff, it seems that the crazy predates Christianity– a lot of the early stuff was basically saints going around “CUT THAT NONSENSE OUT!”

                1. Nod, the Witchcraft stuff was a superstitious belief that “bad things happen because evil people made it happen by wishing for it”.

                  As you said, there were plenty within the Church that spoke out against this superstition.

                  Oh, the African Witchdoctor got the name “Witchdoctor” because he was the “person to go to” when you were “cursed” by a Witch. Of course, the “curses” included stuff that we would call illnesses or just accidents.

                  1. Nod, the Witchcraft stuff was a superstitious belief that “bad things happen because evil people made it happen by wishing for it”.

                    Whilst in today’s more sophisticated times, it’s “global warming” that’s to blame. 😕

                    1. Well IMO “it’s Global Warming’s Fault” is only part of the modern version. The bigger part of the modern version is “somebody else is at fault and I’m going to sue”. [Sad Smile]

                2. Another thing that contributed in the Germanies was civil asset forfeiture. Witch hunting was a pretty lucrative trade because of it.

                3. Witchcraft beliefs are found in every known culture except modern industrialized — really modern, England and France had problems at the end of the 19th century — and certain hunters and gatherers.

                  1. They are found in contemporary America, which is purt’ near the definitiion of modern industrialized culture. They may be called Wiccan, they may be called Quantum Physics or AGW or even Progressive Economics, but the fundamental mental pattern is present throughout our society.

                    1. Res, IMO when Mary is talking about “witchcraft beliefs”, she talking about the belief that “misfortune is caused by witches casting curses onto others”.

                      This belief existed (and still exists) world-wide. Stories about “evil Witches” wasn’t started by the Church to get people to hate Pagans.

                      Pagans believed in “evil Witches”.

                    2. There are those in modern America who do believe in such witchcraft, but I was broadening the term as well, incorporating those who simply believe in witchcraft in another guise. It is in the belief of supernatural agency, such as shirts with nekkid wimmin acting as a charm to expel women from STEM programs. Or pumping more money into programs PROVEN to deliver no lasting benefit nor any kind of an actual Head Start because it shows we care and that is what is really important.

                    3. You forgot -isms.

                      Like a fire department having more men than women is sex-ism, a school expelling more black students than white (even if expelling is only used in place of criminal charges) is rac-ism, pictures of people going up stairs is able-ism…..

                      Nothing ever just happens, it’s all because of a malicious action on someone’s part.

                    4. Sorry. My error. I am getting old and forgetful. Doubtless the fault of a resentful something or other. Probably too much dohydrogenmonoxide or perhaps consuming GMO-salt.

                      Is homeopathy not witchcraft? Folk magic? Unbearably stupid?

      2. That was one big reason. The area I grew up in West Texas was well over half German Catholic farmers. The dichomotomy with the other half – mostly had shell Baptist ranchers – was highly amusing. The preachers would rail at all of us hungover teeners sitting in the back pews the Sunday after the monthly CYO dance……..

  3. Ayn Rand’s “return of the primitive” provides a contemporary account of the reactions to the Apollo program’s first moon landing as it happened. I believe it was the essay “Apollo and Dionysus”, which is polemic and intends to make certain points, but does highlight the dichotomy:

    You would think, in the moment of the Apollo program, people would be awestruck and thrilled at the achievement and promise of this new frontier. You would be wrong: Only certain types of people were. The popular mechanics/sci fi crowds, certainly. Even scientists and engineers among our bitter enemies in Russia, to the extent they were allowed to speak. Others reacted with almost stark and reflexive loathing to the event. Ayn quoted some contemporary news coverage, now lost to history, where apoplectic talking-heads were fumbling for the words and concepts to belittle it as it was happening in front of them. It was awkward then, but with some of them you could see the seeds of the “we shouldn’t be doing this! We should have our aspirations firmly fixed on the mundane! It’s arrogant hubris! It’s … etc”

    1. We should have our aspirations firmly fixed on the mundane!

      That is the kind of thinking you get from those with their heads firmly fixed up their aspirations.

      1. I can have some sympathy. I may want to bash their heads in, especially when they go out of their way to try and stop those of us who want to go, but still… I suppose it mostly could be just some old monkey fears. Here is safe, here we know what to expect, where the monsters are, where to find food, where to find shelter. Over there is scary. Lets stay here. And just in case, lets make sure everybody stays, just in case. If there are new monsters there those upstarts might bring them here, if we allow them to go… and they might take stuff we’d need… and maybe they would grow big and strong and then come back and conquer us… yes, best to keep everybody here. That way there will be no surprises. Surprises are bad.

        1. that way lies bloody war. If everybody is forced to stay here and stagnate without the possibility of going elsewhere, The bottled up frustration will explode. I mean that if everybody must conform to the normals’ standards with out the possibility of exploring new frontiers, bad things will happen.

          1. Yep. Bashing heads will happen if we become too frustrated. All I’m saying that this drive towards cotton wool wrapped always predictable world (not that it would be, as the world does not work the way these people think it should) does seem like due to some sort of atavistic fear more than anything else.

    2. “We should have our aspirations firmly fixed on the mundane!”

      There’s a scene early on in Interstellar, where a teacher tells Cooper pretty much that.

      1. The teacher was a true believer in the government’s propaganda. The principal is at least embarrassed and makes the attempt to explain the position as a matter of pragmatic practicality.

        1. I remember the textbook scene slightly differently. As I recall, the teacher said that the federal textbook had the moon landings as real, but the corrected (Oklahoma-specific) textbooks had the real truth. I saw it as tweaking the backward educational systems of a red state.

          1. I thought that the textbook that had the moon landing was an old textbook of Cooper’s that his daughter had found.

            1. You’re both right. It was Cooper’s old text book, though the teacher didn’t know its provenance and simply called it the old federal textbook, while the school used the new and “improved”.

              1. That matches my recollection. The book was described as “federal” and it was an old book of Cooper’s.

                I still think it was a subtle dig at Oklahoma.

                1. Christopher Nolan is London-born and wouldn’t know to take a shot at Oklahoma.

                  Matthew McConaughey, OTOH was born in Uvalde, Texas.
                  IMDb: His mother, Mary Kathleen (McCabe), is a substitute school teacher originally from New Jersey. His father, James Donald McConaughey, was a Mississippi-born gas station owner who ran an oil pipe supply business. He is of Scottish, Irish, English, German, and Swedish descent.

                  So, not the kind of guy to insert a subtle dig at Oklahoma. Probably John Lithgow’s doing.

                  1. I dunno about Uvalde, but when I lived in the Texas Panhandle, people would certainly take digs at Oklahoma.

                    Not subtle ones, though. 🙂

                    1. Q. Do you know why Texas doesn’t slide into the Gulf of Mexico?

                      A. Because Oklahoma sucks.

                    2. Why is the Texas Panhandle called that?

                      They’ve been begging Oklahoma to take them for years…..

              1. You know, the daughter’s room was not exactly girly. It had a lovely wall of book cases full of books, real books. I liked it.

  4. I am encouraged that Interstellar isn’t another Avatar. I boycotted Avatar.

    I will go see Interstellar on your recommendation. Always support good art, always boycott bad art.

    1. Interstellar is literally the anti-Avatar. Some of the most viciously negative reviews seem to be coming from that difference in message much more than from its flaws as a movie.

      1. Many of the most strenuous complaints focus on the fact that the disaster IS NOT man made, that they missed a chance to warn about the dangers hazard whoop-ti-do threat of Global Warming GLOBAL COOLING Klimate Change.

        Because nobody has been ringing that cowbell enough and all it would take to move the populace to take action and reduce our energy footprint by turning off our HVAC equipment and abandoning our cars is ONE MORE MOVIE exposing the threat.

          1. Y’know, i like hot pepper in my foods, past the point of rationality, but I don’t imagine the world would be better if everybody shared my taste. I have long argued that one of the things that made America great was the lack of need to consider the politics of even a minority of our daily decisions.

            Oddly, there seems a correlation between things being more political and America becoming a worse place to be in almost every measurable manner.

            Like your blog post, BTW.

            1. viz everybody sharing your taste – my attitude has always been “you can have mine, and maybe I can help you out with the stuff you don’t like”.

              1. “It’s a good thing we don’t all like the same things….. think what a haggis shortage there would be!”

                  1. Now, you know that if some woman sprawls out in a subway car and any guy complains …

                    And yeah, the campaign is specifically targeted at men.

                    What if the guy sprawling is actually a cross-dressed female, or perhaps “in transition” or whatever?

                    1. I would guess it’s not so much targeted at “men” as “teen to twenty something boys of a specific subculture involving baggy pants and picking fights, say by taking up three seats on one side and two seats on the opposite side of the isle.”

                      Freaking useless, but that’s hardly news.

                    2. IOW, targeted at the people who are not only least likely to be persuaded by such a campaign, the guys who are most likely to view such a campaign as a challenge to exacerbate their behaviour?

                      The issue is not their actions but what best acts to encourage behavioural change … and whether there is a double standard in play. Because we all know how much the Progressives revile and despise hypocrisy.

                    3. I think it illustrates all the usual Liberal issues wonderfully– misidentify the problem (as sex, not subculture– I’d guess that the females who assaulted the guy with a shoe do this as well, if less commonly) and applies a solution that is unlikely to work even if they’d identified it correctly, since the people who listen to “sit politely” are the ones… already doing it.

                1. I am currently sitting here, reading this, kicked back in my computer chair, with my feet kicked up, one a foot stool, and the other on my easy chair, and my feet about two and half feet apart from each other.

                2. They’ve been “thinking” about this for a while. I saw stories about all the stupid feminist blog and Twitter complaints back at least six months ago, and it was stupid then.

        1. I saw an interview with Jessica Chastain in which she basically came out and said that it WAS man-made, which made me go “huh? That wasn’t in the movie…”

          1. Sounds like a case of the actor making an assumption based on their own beliefs.

            Or, it could be a case of a director telling an actor whatever it takes to get them to do the job.

              1. Nope. Because, if we did it, we could undo it.

                I suspect Chastain was going for the “climate change caused this” kind of man made, but I really think that was her own assumptions.

                  1. Maybe, but they do make it pretty clear that there is nothing that will stop it. Not even organic crops. In fact, they explicitly state that there are NO ocra crops, and most other crops for that matter, being harvested anymore because of the blight.

                    My guess is that Nolan skipped the anti-GMO hysteria and just went with something that was pretty scary.

                    1. Speaking of anti-GMO hysteria, here’s a new one:
                      GMOs are bad because (some) are resistant to herbicides, which are the same as– well, similar to– well, OK, have some of the same chemicals, MADE BY THE SAME COMPANY— AS AGENT ORANGE!

                      Therefore, we need to get rid of GMO crops, and we explain it all at the Agent Orange VA meeting next week in Portland!

                      From memory, but was a caller to the Lars Larson show.

                    2. Dang, I missed that. My AM house radio pretty much sucks, so I usually only listen to him when driving, or at least outside where I run one of the truck radios, but I was inside this afternoon and didn’t listen to him.

                      Let me guess, this conspiracy theorist (it is Conspiracy theory Thursday 🙂 ) was calling in because Lars has been talking about the new GMO Potato the last couple of days. You know the one designed to no bruise so easily and be LESS carcinogenic than a normal potato. And of course the one that McDonalds immediately said they would sell.

                      By the way, did the caller give a reason why a crop that was resistant to Agent Orange would be A BAD THING?

                    3. She read the article he shared about the rice, after he talked about the potatoes, and a bit in he figured out she was trying to promote the Agent Orange conference so he gently steered her into that and went to commercial.

                      She had no idea that part of the good of using Roundup Resistant plants is that you can use way less, because you don’t have to spray when your plants aren’t growing.

                      I think he found that obvious enough that he didn’t have to embarrass her more that she’d already done to herself; you could hear her starting to tear up when he was only halfway harsh in response to the “some of the same chemicals made by the same company” thing. (He pointed out that table salt has some of the same chemicals as… argh, one of the gasses. Nerve gas? Mustard?)

                      I stream talk radio on my computer most of the time– gives another adult voice around.

                    4. I’m just checking replies, so I haven’t see if there’s an answer yet, but I’m going to guess that their argument is that if it’s resistant to Agent Orange, it’s because it has Agent Orange in it.

                      BTW, FWIW, my favorite piece of anti-GMO hysteria is the non-GMO salt someone is selling. Um…how the hell are you supposed to modify the genetics of something that lacks genetics?

                      Someone post on Facebook that they needed the laugh, and the company actually defended the label.

                      So much stupid.

                    5. Saw a list of “things to avoid” once that included Sodium Chloride. Not “too much” Sodium Chloride. Just Sodium Chloride. Because it’s not Salt. They actually claimed that because it’s not Sea Salt, with the miniscule amount of impurities in it, that Sodium Chloride is not Salt, and was bad for you.

                    6. Okay, I googled. And am now dying of laughter.
                      There are more and more traders offering GMO-free salt:
                      This one is not only GMO-free, but doesn’t contain any chemicals either!
                      Many thanks to Dianne Rycroft, who anonymously shared this link with us!

                      It’s a facebook group, and oh dear god I hope it’s satire, because the sheer stupid is not to be believed!!!!!!

                    7. This one is not only GMO-free, but doesn’t contain any chemicals either!

                      But I want NaCl in my NaCl.

                      Oh I do hope it is a parody, because if it isn’t I have to turn my estimate of the general education system down even lower.

                      The Daughter will cite the chemist’s lament: It is all made out of chemicals.

                    8. Sadly, they probably put “Non GMO” because of a pattern I’ve seen that boils down to people refusing to believe that something is non-GMO (even if it’s something where there IS no GMO possible, either because no GM version of that organism exists or because it’s not an organism) unless it says so on the cover.

                      I wanna see one that says “certified organic” on the salt. 😀 Hey, it was grown with ZERO pesticides…..

                    9. Actually, this kind of crap has been going on since some marketer realized they could put “cholesterol free” on veggies……

                    10. The candy corn is low in fat content, but not low in calories. So yes it will make you fat if you eat enough of it. But this sells product, because people have come to know that fat is bad.

                      And now, with this in mind, consider why it is so hard to get the general population to navigate and process rational political discussion.

                      …Starving children! Dying babies in Biafra!

                    11. Sorry, awkward joke attempting to riff on the misleading advertising of no fat = not fattening.

                      ‘Twas unclear, my jester bells are muffled…

                    12. I figured.

                      After I smiled, it caused me to think (yes, think!) about the problem in thought processing in the general public that this kind of labeling is successful illustrates.

                    13. Thinking! AH! There’s somebody thinking over here!! Do something! Somebody, please! Think of all the helpless, little bags of money!

                      Or, so I imagine the marketing gurus.

                    14. Low fat candy corn, that’d be the empty package, yes?

                      It would be like a bag of sugar labeled “low fat.”
                      Candy corn is made of sugar and corn syrup mixed with water in two different forms, plus marshmallow (which has egg white protein and gelatin-protein).

                      See also, 100% pure butter labeled “contains no hydrogenated oils.”

                    15. or the foods that two or so years ago were being labelled ‘no trns fats’ that never had trans fats?

                    16. Some of this is likely marketing in defense.

                      X is demonized: “We don’t have X, we never had X, we can’t have X!”

                      To be (moderately) fair, if a marketing department told me something that aligned with my assumptions — I’d check my assumptions.

                    17. There’s a reason the lard says “no trans fats”. The standard blocks that are labeled “lard” are often hydrogenated and do have trans fats. To get real pure lard that hasn’t been hydrogenated I have to go to the local grass-grown yadda yadda butcher.

                    18. XD

                      The clincher for that is that it’s the pink Himalayan salt. (I’ve had it, it actually tastes slightly different from normal white sea salt) They’re touted to have more minerals that are good for you – something that isn’t a factor for me because I like how it tastes different, and my brain starts going ‘oh this would be nice on…’

                    19. The problem with such parodies is that they often become national policy. Never underestimate the gravitational mass of stupid.


                      So pure, you’d think it was chipped from Lot’s wife herself!!!, November 8, 2013
                      Will G
                      This review is from: Salt Himalayan Pink Gourmet FDA No Chemicals Non-gmo Organic Halall Kosher 2 Lbs Fine Grind (.5mm) (2 Pounds) (Grocery)
                      For too long, godless agronomists have harvested their Haram, Non-Kosher salt from a bland albino monoculture, pumped full of artificial sodium hormones and spliced with chloride transgenes. But now there’s No-Chemicals Non-GMO Organic Halal Kosher Gourmet Himalayan Pink Salt! It’s the perfect garnish for my Margarita made with All-Natural Unpasteurized Non-Homogenized Andean Tequila and Sustainably-Raised Free-Range Jhatka Aleutian Lime Juice.

                      It needed making fun of.

                    21. If anyone asks, I prefer pre-industrial sea salt.
                      From Austria, as a matter of fact.
                      How about gluten-free dairy products?
                      Gluten in Milk? Yogurt? Eggs? Butter? Margarine?

                    22. Wheat has been used in a lot of things you wouldn’t think of– inexpensive thickening agent, y’know.

                      Kind of like how many things have soy in them now. (My mom finally gave up on avoiding it entirely– it mimics estrogen, so breast cancer survivors are supposed to avoid it– and just avoids stuff where it’s in the top half of the ingredients.)

                    23. A friend’s son is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, milk and eggs. Like wheat and soy products, milk and milk by-products are a standard element of pre-packaged foods in this country. My friend spends a lot of time cooking from scratch. (She bakes a cinnamon bread that just thinking of makes my mouth water.) Probably better for the whole family, but not easy.

                    24. Robert and I are allergic to soy milk. ONLY soy milk. It reacts on us like syrup of ipecac. When we could eat carbs, baked goods and frozen deserts had to have ingredients read VERY carefully. (And yep, I’m aware that doesn’t make any sense. Must be something in the process. I tried to have soy late to lose weight. Projectile vomiting ensued. Then later, we gave Robert a frozen treat that had soy milk. Our back seat was never the same again.)

                    25. The one I always like is the ‘fat-free’ refried beans, right alongside of the regular refried beans. You will see to people in the grocery store and the lady with the brussel sprouts, I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-butter and slim-fast in her cart will immediately buy the ‘fat-free’ ones, while the lady coming along behind her with the real butter, to fry her broccoli in, and Nestles chocolate milk, will immediately by the ‘regular’ beans because full fat stuff tastes better.

                    26. Well, chemical free salt is — vacuum bottles? Fresh until opened?

                      I say we give ’em the oxygen for free, charge ’em for the nitrogen.


                    27. My sister who’s allergic to soy is always having to check the list whenever they bill their stuff as “New, enriched”. Usually means they added soy.

                    28. A while back I found a “Natural Sugar” called “Florida Crystals” which proudly proclaims that it is “Carbon Free”. I have to admit it’s pretty solid and tasty for just H and O atoms. (or possibly H2O molecules?).

            1. Or it could be something that was written and shot and ended up on the cutting room floor. The fact that I didn’t see it in the movie, and the things I saw in some of Nolan’s earlier work (Dark Knight Rises, in particular) have me… well, I’ll go see his next movie, whatever it is.

              1. Heh. Sometimes a director will do that (shoot a scene and dropping it on the cutting room floor) deliberately, to coax the performance he wants out of an actor. Sometimes the director won’t bother putting film in the camera …

    2. The movie does a great job of showing how miserable “going back to the land” would really be.

    3. I am okay with Avatar, because I believe that “Avatar 2 : exterminatus harder” would introduce the N’avi to the magic of orbital bombardement by the terran military.

      1. In the “Real World” that would likely happen but “Avatar” wasn’t set in the “Real World”. [Sad Smile]

        1. In the real world, if someone got in the way of a strategically important resource, something would be done to get them out of the way. That something may be as simple as “Give them enough money to make them move” to “find the right politicians to make them move”. Personally I’m a fan of the former but the latter happens as well. And it isn’t just “evil” oil companies that would do it. If it were Apple needing Unobtainium, the same thing would happen and the liberals wouldn’t bat an eye about where their iWhatever came from.

          As an aside, I don’t think that Avatar should have gotten a nod for Best Picture for many reasons but chief among them was they couldn’t find a better name than Unobtainium.

          1. There’s also the old “arm the enemies of the people getting in the way of our project” idea. While I have not seen Avatar, it’s silly to think there was only one tribe of the people living on that world.

            1. See, that right there is proof you don’t understand the film: they were living in harmony with their biosphere, so it was a monoculture.

              Yep, no cultural diversity allowed there.

          2. As an aside, I don’t think that Avatar should have gotten a nod for Best Picture for many reasons but chief among them was they couldn’t find a better name than Unobtainium.

            My working assumption is that they saw the name somewhere and assumed that it as an actual element. It sounds sciency and all.

          3. As an aside, I don’t think that Avatar should have gotten a nod for Best Picture for many reasons but chief among them was they couldn’t find a better name than Unobtainium.

            I actually kind of liked the Unobtainium name myself — thought it was clever. What ruined the movie for me was the “a real Marine just wouldn’t act like that” problem — James Cameron clearly doesn’t know many Marines (in fact, he probably doesn’t know any). I’m not even talking about the later parts of the movie, which I never reached: what turned me off was in the first ten minutes.

            See, when they hook up the dumbass protagonist (can’t remember his name, so hereafter he shall be DP) to his remote-controlled avatar body, they specifically tell him to take it slow at first, don’t try any sudden movements, it’ll take a while to get used to it, that sort of thing. They emphasize this. So what does DP do the minute he’s hooked up? Disobey orders and start trying to do all kinds of things. Which results in wild flailing about, knocking over medical-equipment trays, etc. All of this right beside a window to the outside. The low-pressure outside, whose atmosphere isn’t conducive to human life.

            That’s the point at which I went, “If John Ringo were writing this, that medical tray would have gone through the window, depressurizing the entire base (I’ve seen no evidence of pressure doors) and sealing the expedition’s fate.” Which immediately inserted itself into my personal head-canon, and I can’t dislodge it (nor, at this point, do I want to). As far as I’m concerned, Avatar was 10-15 minutes long, a cautionary tale as to why young Marines should follow orders and listen to their instructors when operating unfamiliar equipment for the first time.

            … Except that that’s where the “Cameron clearly doesn’t know many Marines” part comes in. Because while Marines, like any other group of young men with lots of testosterone, will get up to some pretty stupid s**t when bored and left to their own devices, they’re pretty well-trained to follow orders. If a real Marine is operating an unfamiliar piece of equipment (say, a crane) for the first time, and the instructor is right there telling him what to do, is he going to ignore his instructor’s advice and start flailing the crane around trying to learn on his own? No. No, he’s not. Later on when he’s trained, you might find him using the crane to make a Minecraft creeper head out of containers or something… but during training? He’s going to listen to his instructor and do exactly what the instructor says.

            So Avatar, for me, is ten minutes long. DP was a dumbass, killed everyone in the base, and that was the end of the expeditionary force. (And the movie).

            Okay, I’m done with the soapbox now. Who needs it next?

            1. It was a dumb movie, but the special effects and the 3-d were spectacular – even the monitors were 3-d for crying out loud! I just watched it for the wonderful scenery and somewhat thoughtful alien biology – the backstory behind quadrupeds and hexapeds would be fun to explore.

            2. I like your movie better. Shame we can’t see it. I had the same ‘you idiot’ reaction. (giggle points for the Minecraft Creeper head construction.)

              I liked the special effects and went to see it for the special effects. I did not find the ‘inspirational speech’ inspiring, or the plot or characters engrossing (except for the touch talking Latina – I always like that actress, but that’s just me). Great special effects.

              Story? Boring. I had more fun with The Last Samurai.

              1. I went to see it because it was a Big VFX Film That I had Friends Who Worked On.
                (Other friends worked on Last Samurai as well…)

        2. My objection to Avatar was a little more basic (I haven’t seen it, BTW, just had people gush at me about it until I felt ill). Like a lot of movies lately that garner plaudits from people who don’t know their SF history, and have no interest in learning, I reacted badly to the idea that this was a “new” story idea. “New”? Men being projected into artificial bodies to explore new worlds; Seems to be I ran into that one back in the 1970’s, and I doubt like hell it was new then. Hero changes sides to fight with the natives against the Bad Humans? That one’s got whiskers on it. Fidel’s whiskers.

          The Matrix was full of “new” ideas? Really? I didn’t see ONE.

          The Liberal Intellectuals have stumbled across Science Fiction there eor four times in history. Each time they have acted overjoyed to discover this new tool of propaganda. Each time they have learned the hard way that nobody will READ your propaganda if you can’t flipping’ write, and discarded SF as “corrupt” and “childish”.

          I’d say F*ck ’em, but I’m picky about what I touch with that.

          Very little in film or on TV that is labeled Science Fiction actually is (it’s mostly Space Opera. Fun space opera, but not about science and technology), and most of THAT is badly rehashed ideas that Heinlein or Bradbury or someone of that stature was kicking around in the 1950’s.

          Honorable exception; the Japanese animation THE GHOST IN THE SHELL STAND ALONE COMPLEX. Makes reasonable projections about technology (cyber organs, ability to record the human mind into a mechanism, burgeoning AI) and then asks, “OK, what is society going to be like?”. What’s it like being a cop when someone can hack your eyes? Where does recording humans onto tech end and artificial intelligence begin?

          Plus great animation, top notch voice actors (both Japanese and American), and good suspense oriented action.

          The Movies (GHOST IN THE SHELL, and GHOST IN THE SHELL; INNOCENCE) are more allegorical than SF. I’ve only seen two of the four episodes of GHOST IN THE SHELL: ARISE, but it looks good so far.

          1. I think that it says something that the most mind blowing SF ideas come from places other than the magazines and traditional publishing. We are lucky to have Baen, manga and anime. All of which seem to be doing more or less Ok, unlike the traditional publishers.

            1. We are lucky to have Baen, manga and anime. All of which seem to be doing more or less Ok, unlike the traditional publishers.

              Yes. All the stuff the SJWs are whimpering about ‘not being represented?’ Yeah, they have loads of that in Japan- especially for the non-heterosexual fiction and games. And frankly, it’ll all be much more interestingly written.

            1. The very first time I ran into ’70’s nostalgia, my gut reaction was “We’re going to have nostalgia for ’50’s NOSTALGIA? Are they THAT tricking desperate to avoid having an original thought?”

          2. Avatar is just a bad ripoff of Poul Anderson’s “Call Me Joe” from 1957. Cameron didn’t even change the skin color.

              1. Well, yeah but those are Westerns. I never read westerns, only watched them. Plus, I’m fine with a (good) ripoff of another genre. If you’re going to stay in the same genre, you need to do a whole lot better.

          3. Personally, I prefer Shirow’s Appleseed to GitS. But unfortunately, it seems as if signing a contract to write an Appleseed script immediately causes a drop in IQ…

  5. This is not a sane view of your own species. This is not a survivable view of your own civilization. You can’t live and grow and expand, and care for the new generations while pounding your chest and shouting “mea culpa.” And worse, it’s never “mea culpa” it’s the pointed finger and “these people who look like me” a definition that can be as narrow as race or as wide as species, when it comes to science fiction, “are evil and I want to denounce them.”

    I think you get to the heart of it here: It *isn’t* self-loathing. It isn’t them wanting themselves to give up their dreams and die to make room for more hypothetically perfect beings. It’s them wanting you to give up your heathen dreams, and your children to die to make room for theirs. The morals they preach are a suckers game. They aren’t supposed to help you live better and avoid avoidable mistakes – they’re supposed to teach you your place relative to the moral-giver.

    1. One of the things that struck me a while ago about one of the themes in science fiction:
      The omnipotent/ (supposedly, even though they want to kill everything?) benevolent/good aliens that Judge humanity from On High (and yes, you can substitute certain religious viewpoints about God in my heretical opinion also – the two concepts match quite closely) Why in the world should we just roll over accept being judged like that? Where does the supposed moral authority to find someone else wanting and decide they just shouldn’t live anymore come from? Why does a complete third party to our lives and world get to decide what we ‘deserve’? (I have to go through mental contortions to even parse this idea, so I may be doing a bad job of it)

      Let’s map this concept: As a far more capable, aware, and possibly older and wiser beings, we humans can probably roughly fit the “superior being” (superior is really the wrong word here) category relative to, say, cats or the squirrels out back. And in the case of stray cats and dogs, it’s true that sometimes we do euthanise them – for our own purposes, not because of anything the cat did. It’s not something that has anything to do with morality of the cats/dogs.

      Suppose there was a guy who rounded up a bunch of stray cats and dogs and found that they were “bad”. Yes, they are all “bad dogs.” (He can admonish the cats too, but the cat’s don’t give a carp what he thinks. The dogs would be ‘properly’ ashamed and wondering where they went wrong.) Not bad because of anything specific that they did, but in general. Their natures are wrong. They are a blight upon the world. They are aesthetically displeasing to the superior being. Whatever. Then this guy pulls out a flame-thrower and roasts them all alive.

      This guy isn’t some wonderful or good or more deserving creature who was properly wounded by the dogs/cats failure to measure up to his standards, who saved the wider world from a blight on creation. This guy is a freaking psycopath maniac who really shouldn’t be let anywhere near other animals, not to mention high energy devices like flamethrowers.

      Inverting the map – that’s my take on most ‘superior beings’ who get offended by humanity and decide we all need to die. It’s a really weird plot device, one that can probably only be driven by some deep loathing of someone else. Maybe in those settings it would be futile to fight back, but people/($anycreature) with self respect shouldn’t be falling for the crazy. My sympathies would be to those who fight.

      1. The recent remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, with its grating corruption of the original story and an ending that means the death of at least three quarter s of the human race (something not touched on in the film, btw) is a great example.

        1. I will occasionally meet someone who thought the “return to nature” message from that movie was wonderful. I take malicious glee in pointing out how many people would die from lack of medicine, housing, heating/cooling and food. I then point out how infant mortality would skyrocket, (people conveniently forget how dangerous childbearing has historically been).
          I usually finish my diatribe with an explanation of how the survivors would promptly chop down all the remaining trees in order to make houses and to heat those houses in the winter. Humanity performed huge amounts of deforestation long before modern technology ever existed. It’s only that same technology that allows us to live in such large numbers without using up all the available resources.

          1. Like I would say to people who longed to live like the Navi after watching Avatar: “Yeah, a life where women are given away as a prize in marriage to the greatest warrior, a boy failing his rite of passage means a gruesome death, and everything on the planet wants to eat you. I’m sold!”

        1. Write more novels! (poke poke poke) It’s been forever^N since I’ve read A Few Good Men. 😛

          (Well, okay. Make sure your eye heals up first.)

          1. Actually the eye is not the issue. Through Fire is the issue. But it’s progressing. And I’m reading all about the guns and cartridges of WWI (fascinating stuff) for To The Dragons.

            1. *tips hat in homage* I’m trying to slide around that level of detail. OTOH, I’m learning more about Italian propaganda and the conflicts between Austria and Hungary than I really wanted to know. There was a reason I only took 19th Century European history . . . *sigh because of the Great Author’s sense of humor*

                1. Since I’m trying to keep the A-H Empire together (in a different form), I need to know how it came apart, both what pushed it from inside and who pulled it from outside. There’s some interesting stuff, and some slogs.

                2. IDK, Italian propaganda can be pretty funny.

                  At least from a distance of almost a century.

            2. You know that there are some ODDs who learn about such things just because they find it interesting. Are you looking at the beginning of WWI, or the end where the Browning Automatic was finally fielded? 😉

              I am sorry to hear about struggles with Through Fire as I do really look forward to it. I can understand that you really want to do justice by to the underlying subject. (You know my weakness for things USAian.)

              While not on the same vein, but I>To The Dragons looks to be promising as well.

            3. Crazy period, yeah? Transitions in cartridges, powders, mechanical designs. Many designs from the broad period surrounding WWI carry through to today.

              And I always get a kick out of how many things have John Moses Browning’s name on ’em.

                1. Steal away! No need to acknowledge — but I’m not gonna go out of my way to stop ya.


                  Hope the rest served as a springboard to fun places.

        2. I’m working on something now (almost at the end of the first draft) where there are elements who are strongly against exploration and settlement of another world. I have trouble with their POV, and can’t tell whether I’ve made it believable because it’s so very, very wrong. I’m going to save that Huffington Post quote.

      2. MadRocket, have you read John C. Wright’s review of “Childhood’s End?” He hits many of the points you do vis a vis the Overlords and their controllers.

        1. Childhood’s End! That’s almost a pure example of this. Here are some of my reactions (from a moment when I was more coherent) to that (from a post I made on one of Eric Raymond’s blog posts:)

          don’t know about “anti-sci-fi”, but there might be something to your point. Childhood’s end never sat well with me for a reason that I think you’ve put your finger on.

          I never really understood why mankind, when faced with basically being erased from existence – it’s children appropriated to feed this “Overmind” thing, that they went quietly, that the implied attitude we were supposed to have was that the alien purposes of this Overmind were “something greater”, an improvement. Maybe resistance would have been futile in the setting, but on the one hand you have humanity with it’s works and technology and deliberate purpose – the lives they’ve built and the means they’ve developed to sustain themselves by choice. On the other hand, you have this outside force wiping all of that out by coopting the next generation, and leaving the rest of mankind to fail and die. Why wouldn’t humanity resist, however futilely?

          Ants get understandably pissed when we go at their mounds with a backhoe. Perhaps the most terrible thing was (my memory of Childhood’s End is a bit dim at this point) the race of alien invader lackeys.that the Overmind used as it’s pawn to prepare the way, regarding their own grand civilization and it’s achievements and understanding as something categorically “inferior” (inferior to whom?) to the Overmind and the things that it does.

          There was something spiritually broken, for lack of a better term, about the lackey-aliens, and about mankind when the lackeys were done with them, that was very much the antithesis of the typical sci-fi optimism about a rationally knowable world.

          1. Interestingly enough, C. S. Lewis praised Childhood’s End because all he apparently took from it was the idea that humanity could change drastically, that people could become something else. It matched his SF kind of idea of Christian Heaven, I think, not in detail, but that the blessed change into something wonderful, rather than wings halos and white robes.

            1. You can find C.S. Lewis’s letter to Joy Davidman about Childhood’s End here:


              I find this interesting and slightly disappointing because when I read Lewis’s Space Trilogy I found a refutation of Clarke, despite the fact they were written earlier. Specifically, the climax of Childhood’s End is a pure example of what Lewis in Perelandra called The Empirical Bogey:

              That opposite mode of thought which he had often mocked and called in mockery The Empirical Bogey, came surging into his mind – the great myth of our century with its gases and galaxies, its light years and evolutions, its nightmare perspectives of simple arithmetic in which everything that can possibly hold significance for the mind becomes the mere by-product of essential disorder.

              …whither will you lead me? Surely not to the enemy’s talk which thrusts my world and my race into a remote corner and gives me a universe, with no centre at all, but millions of worlds that lead nowhere or (what is worse) to more and more worlds for ever, and comes over me with numbers and empty spaces and repetitions and asks me to bow down before bigness.

              In Childhood’s End, the new organism which replaces humanity and consumes the Earth and all Earth’s creatures to fuel its emergence is simply bigger, stronger and smarter than humanity; Clarke seems to just assume that that makes it better, and it never seems to have occurred to him that there could be anything else by which value could be measured. I don’t remember a single hint that the new gestalt is, say, kinder, more loving, more just. It made me think of Shakespeare’s tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

              1. I’m not sure this is entirely fair to Mr. Lewis.

                In at least one of his published essays, Lewis makes it clear that he had no problem–and in fact had ethical problems with *not*–separating the quality of a work of fiction from its underlying assumptions when he was reviewing it. If something was a “corking good tale” he would say so. If it might lead someone to Hell, he might say that, too–if he thought the audience for the review cared. But he would not condemn the work just because it didn’t match his own beliefs

                In that letter, he compares *Childhood’s End* to Wagner’s *Ring* cycle–which he certainly wouldn’t have approved as a theological work–and David Lindsay’s *A Voyage to Arcturus*–which he once mentioned in a published essay as a wonderful work that he reread at least once a year, even though he disagreed with almost every aspect of the philosophy in it. Doesn’t sound like an endorsement of Clarke’s viewpoint to me.

                In fact, the letter seems to say that Lewis liked two things about it:

                1) the sheer quality of the writing

                2) the fact that such a rabid atheist had communicated a vision that was that close to what Ms. Hoyt and company refer to as “superversive.”

                Neither of those “likes” imply that he agreed with the details of Clarke’s vision.

                (In the interests of economy of posts, I will also mention that I read the aftermath of the *Great Transformation* not so much as a plilosophical decision on the part of “adult humanity” as a case of species-wide PTSD. (Quite in keeping with Clarke’s view of the universe, he said sadly.))

      3. Reminds me of the plot of the super awesome anime “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann” (aka Crowning Moment of Awesome: The Animated Series). For the “Greater Good”, Humanity must be kept oppressed, less they ruin the universe.
        As team Gurren says, “Just who the hell do you think we are!!”

        1. I brought it home from convention at The Daughter’s recommendation. Haven’t yet had time to sit down to watch it. I am now looking forward to it even more. 🙂

          1. I just finished watching the series about a month ago. It is pure, undiluted Humanity Fuck Yeah! in animated form.

            1. IIRC, it’s what happens when Studio Gainax makes a Saturday Morning Cartoon. Ah yes, right there in it’s TVTropes page.

        2. Just started watching it based on this recommendation, about 12 episodes in after they find Nia, and holy crap! Especially – when you figure how indirect the culture often is, the character of “Bro”.

          He’s awesome! Sheer unmigitated, unashamed, “guy”. And a lot of wisdom behind that facade.

          Actually, there is a LOT of wisdom in that show

          FWIW, while it has other aspects that render it more “serious”, and Del Toro (as you can see in the excellent but very dark Pan’s Labyrinth) has some leanings towards the communists, Pacific Rim certainly has the “rule of cool” physics (a merchant ship as a club?), and the “We are humans, we will NOT bow down” attitude inherent in the “Canceling the apocalypse” speech. It is unashamedly pro-human, even to the extent of taking the “pacifist scientist” trope common in anime and twisting it around part way through.

          And the soundtrack is suitably epic…

        1. Jumping off of that a little, I watched part of the X-Files episode Kill Switch with the lads last night, and I kinda found myself somewhat amazed at how much of the stuff discussed in that episode came through to reality (64 bit encryption, tracking a person’s location through email and phone, etc. )

          Turns out it was written by William Gibson and Tom Maddox.

          Quite cool.

          1. When x-files was running, all kinds of people urged me to get into it. I just couldn’t. You see, I read the ILLUMINATUS trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. It is a rare exception to me personal rule that surrealist narratives are tolerable for 5 pages or fifteen minutes, whichever comes first. They are full of absurd bullish*t and wildly funny.

            But ever since, Conspiracies make me giggle.

            I think it’s the scene – it may be in the SCHRODINGER’S CAT books – where Jogn Dillinger (who faked his own death, mind) is watching President Kennedy get shot by all the various conspiracies he’s supposed to have been killed by and is muttering “Goddamnit, we should have sold TICKETS”

            1. The Illuminates Trilogy, the Shroedingers Cat trilogy, and the Steve Jackson Games edition of the Principia Discordia hold an honored place on my bookshelf.

              DAMN funny books.

              Too bad the rest of RAW’s stuff is “meh”

    2. I’d believe you if many of them were having children. But… no they are disgusted that we want to succeed at all, and they make no move to take that initiative, except on the levers of power.

      But they are so uninterested in the long term that they refuse to even have a legacy. But when you repeatedly trash ANY tradition, you don’t need one, I guess?

  6. “…you could see the seeds of the “we shouldn’t be doing this! We should have our aspirations firmly fixed on the mundane! It’s arrogant hubris! It’s … etc”

    I remember. I parted ways with a friend over it. In his case, and I would guess others, it was because of the blow to the USSR. My jumping up and down and yelling, “Look at what we did.” pissed him off. Tough.

  7. I just bought this
    The Science of Interstellar
    “A journey through the otherworldly science behind Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated film, Interstellar, from executive producer and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne.

    Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights—many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar—describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible.”

    1. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one tickled at that.

      “I am good and magnificent and all that…until things don’t work out for me, then I’ll show you what I’m really like.”

      1. I think Nolan putting Matt in that role was deliciously wicked.

        Nolan I’m sure got Matt by giving him the opportunity to “break typecast” and be the bad guy. Him BEING the bad guy is a little bit of a surprise – especially to those who admire his politics. Finally, Matt gets to be a bad guy spouting the same kind of shit that comes out of the mouths of others who agree with him. This is indeed the logical end for the philosophy he’s adopted.

            1. The Spouse, The Daughter and I are generally ignorant of Matt Damon. When I saw him I knew he was someone famous, but who?

              Anyway we saw the movie in an almost empty theater so when we got there we felt free to mutter to each other about it. Our conclusion, maybe, just maybe, if the planet surface had something like volcanic hot springs to heat it up, but we couldn’t see how the air would be acceptable, so really…something is very fishy. The best excuse for the film’s Dr. Mann’s behavior we could come up with was that he had gone insane from despair and the loneliness.

              (I have heard that that Dr. Michael Mann of the global warming hockey stick graph fame has threatened to sue the film makers?)

              1. Oh, so that’s who they were sticking it to? I like it.
                And yes, we also (unfortunately) saw it in an almost empty theater. Which is why I recommended boys go see ASAP.

                1. Agreed on recommending people try to see it soon. The visuals are worth seeing on a big screen, and the film’s attitude is worth supporting.

                  (I was charmed by the visualization of time as a dimension…)

                2. Mark Steyn has been chortling over that for two weeks at his blog:

                  Christopher Nolan takes that to the next stage: What happens to a society that turns its back on ingenuity and innovation? It becomes necessary to rewrite and diminish even the glories of the past – for to believe we faked it is easier and less painful than to believe we actually did it.


                  So America has returned to that locally-grown environmentally sustainable family-farm elysium “progressives” have been pining for since Woodstock. As someone says early on, “The world doesn’t need any more engineers. We didn’t run out of planes and television sets. We ran out of food.” Even as the Blight wipes from the earth wheat and okra, a society of farmers scrambles ever more feverishly to grow corn – the last crop left. When the last corn has been cut, mankind will starve – and those that don’t will suffocate as the Blight sucks up the atmosphere. “We’ve forgotten who we are,” says Cooper. “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.” To quote again from After America>/B>, this society has succumbed to a poverty of spirit.


                  The movie “Mann” is one of several astronauts out there in search of new worlds. The other guys are just referred to by one-word surnames, but “Dr Mann” is never referred to as anything but “Dr Mann”. In other words, the Nolan brothers appear to have consciously chosen to give their villain the character of a “climate scientist”: “Dr Mann represents the best of us,” says a starry-eyed Anne Hathaway early on. Given the film’s themes, it’s difficult to believe the Nolans’ choice of name for their bad guy is pure coincidence.


                  Don’t miss the thrilling sequel to Interstellar: Dr Mann returns in Interlocutory, which opens at the DC Court of Appeals at 9.30am on November 25th!

                  Mann’s suit against Steyn goes to the DC Court of Appeals Nov. 25th.

              2. lol

                Michael Mann launch another lawsuit? That would be hilarious…

                Matt Damon is well known for being in quite a few films. iirc, he got his big hit with Good Will Hunting, and he used to always work with Ben Affleck. It’s been a while since they worked together, though. His biggest hits lately (though it’s been a while) have been the Bourne films (spoiler warning – apparently the plots have little in common with the original books). And while he wasn’t in the most recent one (which, oddly enough, is my favorite…), I think I read somewhere the other day that Bourne #5 will include him in it.

                1. I had the … “opportunity”…. to see Good Will Hunting lately. Sortof paid attention out of the corner of my eye while working on other stuff. Not terrible, but had the obligatory scenes talking about Iraq and oil production/etc.

                  Those stupid tells where you can recognize the “look I’m clever” politics of the script writer.

                  Like in Supernatural where it wasn’t enough to just say “they may be convicts but they don’t deserver to get killed by a ghost” – had to say “are you from Texas all of a sudden?” first.

                2. He produced & starred in Promised Land , the anti-fracking film:

                  A salesman for a natural gas company experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources.

                  Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: The earnest and well-intentioned Promised Land sports a likable cast, but it also suffers from oversimplified characterizations and a frustrating final act.

                  1. I think I remember reading that even he had second thoughts about that film once he realized (after the fact, of course) that the Saudis had bankrolled it.

              3. Crud, I actually hadn’t caught that the coward know-it-all in had the same name as the character in the movie……


  8. “Do I love humans in the collective? Oh, not usually, because humans aren’t a collective, they’re a number of fascinating individuals, and a number of boring ones too.”

    When the left talks about “humanity,” it means a collective ideal it has imagined. That ideal involves communal life led by enlightened leftists.

    Folks on the right are loyal to actual people and actual, historic communities, blemishes and all.

  9. Prediction; IF the Proggie Intellectual Twerps haven’t self-destructed by then, when it becomes possible for man to explore and colonize other planets they will smugly stay behind, prattling about “Cherishing Gia”. The rest of humanity will spread out, learning the do’s and don’ts of terraforming and ignoring the shrill criticisms emanating from mankind’s home. There will be horrible failures, but there will be startling successes and we will learn from both.

    Meanwhile, back home, the porgies will go their old Politically Correct (and scientifically absurd) way; building “Renewable Energy” (™) systems that don’t work, recycling materials where the recycling does more damage to the environment than burying them in the ground would, and so forth. Over the centuries they will create an absolute hell on Earth; a Progressive Theocracy so all encompassing, corrupt, and stupid that risen Humanity will start running an “underground railroad” to get out those sufferers who aren’t stupid enough to buy it.

    Eventually, moved by the environmental devastation wrought by the Gia lovers, risen humanity will take Earth back from them, put them on an asylum planet for the invincibly backward, and start the long, heartbreaking work of undoing the damage done by their idiocy.

    Eventually, Earth will become a nature reserve, inhabited by the terraformers who restored her (and their descendants). People will be allowed to visit, but not settle. And there will be a cycle of incidents involving Progressives who insist on trying to settle, and who have to be thrown off.

      1. It’s a bit of a stamina issue. I’ve started a book or three, but medical/mental health issues crop,up amd progress goes to hell. Also, while the public school system failed to keep me fromreading they managed to miss mild dyslexia and so i always need HEAVY editing.

        Sorry, but I’m a dillitante.

        I get some traction when I write essays. Had a blog I was proud of for a while, then my Father-in-law died under grevious circumstances (the details would only depress you) and I’ve been dog-paddling somewhat desperately from crisis to crisis since (not quite a year).

        I think I could start again soon. When I start posting, I’ll let you good people know. Some of it might amuse.

        1. I don’t want to dismiss the Father-in-law death, but this morning the London Telegraph had this item, which certainly bodes for awkward family gatherings in future:

          Man accidentally burns future father-in-law alive in 280C oven
          Future son-in-law accidentally trapped Alan Catterall in industrial oven used to manufacture kayaks, switching it on to 280C and burning grandfather alive

          There is ALWAYS somebody with a tale to top yours.

        2. It took me years to actually finish any works. . . .

          circling back to half-finished works is wise if you gain energy enough to work.

    1. I’ve kinda had a story idea like this floating around, inspired by a song by Two Steps from Hell (“Back to the Earth” on _Skyworld_).

          1. Ah, much better, I assumed you were have a rebuttal to the song I posted percolating around.

            I hadn’t heard Two Steps from Hell before, thanks.

            1. Um yeah, that song you posted . . . 😛

              You may find some of Two Steps’s music familiar, depending on how many movie and game trailers you watch. “Protectors of the Earth” always makes me think of Commander Ni Drako and Joschka waltzing. 🙂 As battle scenes flash in the background.

    2. The second paragraph appears to be pretty much what has happened in the ‘Prince Roger’ series by Weber and Ringo. iirc, the pro-environment star empire is the one that controls Earth, and their planets are hell-holes where political prisoners work themselves to death to “correct” ecological damage.

      I think you’re a bit too optimistic, though. The Gaia-lovers will insist on tagging along if off-world colonies ever get large enough. Some will be genuinely (if mis-guidedly) interested in the environments on alien worlds. Others will be looking for a quick and easy source of money, with fewer competitors to fight over it with than on the home world.

      On a somewhat related note, the new Civ-related game, ‘Beyond Earth’, acknowledges that viewpoint, but also allows others. The three possible technological victories involve –

      1.) Keeping humanity as it has always been in the midst of an alien world and rapid technological advancement
      2.) Going genetically transhuman in order to adapt humanity to fit the new world and minimize the disruptions to the ecology
      3.) Going mechanically transhuman in order to use technology to put the new world under its sway.

      1. Actually in the Prince Roger series the Earth based Empire of Man is at war (kind of a cold/lukewarm war) with the pro-environment empire. But much like the US today and in the Cold War, there are a lot of sympathizers for the enemy in the upper echelons of government.

        1. I’ll grant that, but plead that this is merely a matter of observing the historical world. The Western Intellectuals have consistantly favored as “clean”, “natural”, and “sustainable” technologies that are far dirtier and less sustainable than the industrial technologies they are supposed to replace. They have repeatedly moved to areas where the criticised the locals for “raping” the land for profit, and proven that they can do more damage with fewer people. They don’t pick up after themselves. They don’t run the numbers. They are willfully ignorant of nature and science.

          Predicting that these fools will, given a chance, create ruin and wreckage is like predicting the behavior of a column of drover ants.

      2. Would the Greens oppose terraforming worlds but accept transhuman genetic manipulation to adapt man to other planets?

        1. Yes.

          Look at their reaction for The Pill vs cows whose mothers were given hormone shots to synchronize their cycles. (Yes, really. It makes the “milk from cows given hormones” crowd look calm.)

    3. Counter-prediction:
      Same as yours up to the everything sucking on earth– it’ll just lag way behind in advancements, leeching them off of the expanding folks.

      As planets get civilized and the population forgets what it took to get there, the Earth-holders will abandon Earth for the better life at the colonies– and start getting people to do exactly what they did to Earth.

      It’s tempting to not take any risks, and basically NIMBY it, even if you moved to a place BECAUSE they were so much better.

      1. Interstellar half-backs?

        In the North Carolina mountains and at the shore we see people who moved to Florida, regretted it for various reasons, and moved half-way back to NC. They laud the quaint walkable towns, with the comfortable pace. At the same time they complain because they want modern shopping conveniences and accessibility. Eventually shopping centers are built. Then they complain because they got what they wanted and all that comes with it: the crowding and the traffic-jams they deplored.

          1. Chicago people who moved into the farming communities 60 miles from the Loop and whine about having to drive 15 miles to shop…….

          2. And our legislators trying to welcome them and make them feel at home by passing the same laws that made California so wonderfully “Liveable”, mostly to try to get their votes.

            1. “But we got so much demand for these laws!”
              (Which is true, since they ignore the people yelling heck no and only listen to “do this or I’ll throw a fit.” Or “I will give you money to pass this law I moved away from.”)

        1. Kinda. Maybe the ones who stopped off in Oregon and Washington first, despoiled them and then moved on.

    4. Well, I really like Gia and her recipes are good without being too fussy for normal people … but cherish takes it a little too far …

    5. There’s a hint of that in my short story “Tell Me a Story,” which was published in the anthology _Rocket Science_ (there’s a link on the bibliography on my website). It’s in the last scene, with the family in the Kuiper Belt habitat, talking about how Earth has gone on a retrograde technological course.

      If you read both it and “The Angry Astronaut Affair” (now up at Liberty Island), each of them will read a little differently than they do singly. (It’s been a couple of years since _Rocket Science_ came out, so I may double-check the terms of my contract and see if I can reprint “Tell Me a Story” as a mini e-book).

  10. The possibility to go somewhere else – to live, or for resources- undermines their ‘finite resources’ narrative. Whether we can go find another planet to live on, or just get metals out or rocks floating in space, it means one of their basic narratives is wrong, so they *need* these things to be impossible, just like they need energy to be expensive. Expect them to have kittens if LockMart successfully makes their fusion rectors.

    1. There’s always some safety hazard that they can point to. Or just use the standard “NUCLEAR REACTOR MELTDOWN!” scare tactics that they have in the past.

      1. I think that there is a pastiche of a Dorothy Parker poem somewhere starting from:

        Nuclear will meltdown
        Wood produces particulates
        Coal is filthy
        Solar irregular
        Wind unsteady
        Tidal limited
        So is geo-thermal
        We might as well curl up and die.

  11. I had a feeling you’d enjoy it. Great review, and I agree. It was the best film I’d seen in a long while.

    1. The Family saw it by default.

      We rarely go out to films, but we had a reason to celebrate and decided to go see Big Hero. Just ahead of us there was a stretch limo emptying a batch of what looked to be eight year olds — part of a birthday party. Ultimately there were a total of some thirty or forty of them bearing noisemakers in line ahead of us. We quickly decided that if they were going to see Big Hero we wouldn’t.

      The next choice that we had interest in was Interstellar. This proved a fortuitous default indeed. We throughly enjoyed it.

      1. I have to admit that I love going to kids’ movies in the daytime, with somebody else’s noisy kids in the audience. They are my MST3K without irony. The perfect audience member is a three year old who is explaining to Mommy all the points of the film. Kids today can be very genre-savvy, so it makes it even cuter. You get a lot of “That guy’s the good guy!” and “Don’t worry, Mommy. You can hold my hand if you’re scared.”

        1. There is a charm to that.

          Sadly, these were eight year olds bearing noise makers and only a few adults to supervise. We wanted to be able to actually hear the film.

          1. Quiet in a movie theatre can be overrated. I treasure the experiences I had, before the video revolution, watching Kung Fu movies in run down inner-city theatres. There is a scene in THE LAST DRAGON that gives some of the feeling, but the moment I will always remember is a packed theatre in Baltimore. The movie is THE CHINESE CONNECTION. Bruce Lees, unarmed, is finally facing the Top Baddie, who has just produced a katana. A suburban audience might have shouted “look out!”. The inner city kids? “Tear his head off, Bruce!”

            1. There’s nothing quite like sitting in a movie theater at 12:30am in the morning, and hearing the *entire* theater shout, “Inconceivable!”


              1. Then there’s the difference between a normal suburban audience for AMERICAN WEREWOLD IN LONDON, and the audience at,a showing on the Homewood campus of johns Hopkins. When you get to the scene where the poor slob is trying to tell his family goodbye via longdistance and then opens his pocketknife to,slit his wrist, the Suburban audience gave forth with a susseration of sympathy; an inarticulate sound meaning “oh, you poor bastard”

                The Hopkins crowd?

                “You’re doin it the wrong way!”

                1. Back when I was getting the Communications BA the mandatory 500-level 1st Amendment class had a section on pornography (squeamish allowed excuse that day) and you could tell the film majors in the course because they were offering the running critique on shot selection, lens choice, camera angle and movement, film stock, lighting filters and positions …

                  1. I can just imagine. There’s a great energy to a theatre full of people who’ve come to throw popcorn at the screen and boo the bad guy. The problem is, it’s hard to define the difference between the kid yelling “Tear his head off, Bruce!” and the happy moron behind you doing a (stupid) running commentary to his date (who is rapidly deciding she’d rather walk home).

                    I wonder if there are theaters that have that kind of loud Kung Fu fan audience anymore. Anyone know?

                    1. At times, yes, a crowd is nice. The Daughter and I saw one of the Naruto movies (probably the worst one made) in the large screening room at a con. There came a moment when the king was questioning the bad guy while he was being marched out on the plank to his doom and in one breath we all shouted, ‘No, Mr. King, we want you to die!’ High point of the movie.

                      On the other hand there are other times when you want to strangle someone. The first time I saw Yellow Submarine there were two guys behind me loudly singing the wrong words along painfully off key…

                    2. “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. People showed up with toast, lighters and costumes. If you were lucky, someone mirrored the dance routines just under the screen.

  12. Sarah, I think that slowly you are coming to the same point I’m at. I’m a Christian, and believe in helping people. I even believe in second, and third, chances; However, I believe that people also _must_ help themselves. I’m also a “prepper/survivalist.” I grew up in “Hurricane Alley,” so I learned to prepare for “bad times.” If you’ve ever read S.M Stirling’s “Dies the Fire” series, I’m at the end point of the early years, for the “good” guys, psychologically. At first, I was, “I’ll offer food/shelter/etc. to anyone I can, within reason. Of course, me and mine come first, but excess would go to them. Not anymore.
    I’ve reached the point where it’s more like. “You want me to shelter/feed/clothe/etc. you, but you don’t want me to commit violence to do it? Fine, All your children under 16 can stay. Those over 16 get a choice. Accept the rules, with the pain of one chance, or exile, if you fail to keep to them. Your spouse can stay, with the same conditions. _You_ get no assistance beyond two meals, and some water. If you are old enough to have children, you are “old enough” to make good decisions. Your refusal to understand how the world actually works, does *not,* nor does my Faith, require me, to do what you refuse to do. Your children under 16 get a chance to become useful, productive citizens. your spouse, and the ones over 16, will be given an opportunity. If they choose to be just like you, they will have made their choices, and bear the consequences. If you reject this offer, do not expect it to be changed. If you are attacked/can’t feed/care for yourselves, those under 16 will have it extended again. If they again refuse, except for those too young to choose for themselves, there will not be a third chance. If you plead in extremis, I will feel sorry for all of you. My duty, as a Christian, and a Human being, extends to those depending on me already.”
    That applies to everything from complete systemic collapse to disasters, and DV situations. If someone comes to me for help, and refuses to take minimal self help steps, they forfeit more than the minimum. If they “object” to my willingness to “stop” a violent spouse, the children will be protected; However, I will call the police, and a DV shelter for them. If they don’t like my conditions, I am under _no_ obligation to die for them, and their idiot “values.”
    In a “city” me and mine, will depart as quickly as we can. Those who support the “Peace and Light will protect us,” nonsense, can shift for themselves. They forfeited my protection, when they tried to prevent my having it.

    1. Stirling’s Dies The Fire is an excellent series, though it’s starting to make Tolkein’s work look like a novella.
      Premise is that physics does a bit flip and suddenly all electronics and any process based on high pressures no longer works. Note that all engines and all firearms utilize high pressures to function.
      Early in the first book your typical bimbo, once the situation is explained to her, remarks at how wonderful that guns no longer work. The ex army bush pilot who just glided his plane and her family to safety just shakes his head in disgust.
      Not to give anything away, but as one would expect there is a great die off and what remains of humanity reforms into feudal groups.
      Will mention that there is a certain amount of magic scattered through as well. Also, I’ve lost count of how many books Steve has written in the series so far, but with the last just out he’s on his third generation of survivors of the initial event.
      As for Walter’s observations, amen brother. Under extreme conditions eventually a grownup just has to say no and back that up with force as needed. Under lifeboat rules you either make the hard choices or risk death for all involved.

      1. His Venus and Mars books are much better IMHO. The whole change thing is just Magic. I have an easier time with alternate universes and histories.

      2. I like the first three, with elements of our world still very strong, the best. Then it got too magic-y.

  13. Perhaps I misjudged the movie based on having seen the trailer. As soon as the main character was told that due to the food shortage the world needed “farmers, NOT engineers” I tuned the rest out. I grew up on a farm. Engineering is a hugely important component of farming. Both the formal engineering of more and better farm equipment, conveying equipment, storage facilities, etc. and also the uh… informal “agricultural engineering” that gets done to keep equipment moving at critical times of the year or solve some odd problem in the field. Anyone who would write that line had to know so little about both farming and the history of engineering that I just assumed the rest of the movie was bunk too.

    1. You’ve seen the meme of Neil Tyson Degrasse and Bill Nye saying, “Bro, do you even Science?” I finally came up with my response:

      “No, I are an engineer. My shit has to actually work.”

        1. Not to be a downer, but supposedly Bill Nye is a mechanical engineer by education. Though from what I seen what ever school he went to should be very embarrassed.


            1. To be honest, while his politics disgust me now, he was pretty funny on his original show. Beakman was just a little over the top.

                1. Okay, so I’m the only one in this joint that misses Jim Shortz and all the rest of the cheesy stuff? He made it fun, my daughter still occasionally says “I remember that from Beakman”. Kids learned stuff without even feeling it. Bill Nye was just Mr. Wizard without the personality. My $0.02.

                    1. Sure does. Predictably, another of my favorites. Silly makes things easier to remember, at least for me.

                    2. The Daughter used to love to watch Good Eats for the science parts. She also likes to read similar articles in Cooks magazine.

          1. Oh, funny!

            He HAD a bio on his website with this information; the page has been removed.

            A quick scan suggests that he has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (electric). At some point he worked for Boeing, but that search result suggests it may have been political. (just in the last decade)

            For contrast, my mother has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, with a minor in education.

            I wonder if I can have her start having her report that as “a degree in biology”?

        2. well, I certainly hope y’all are better than a few of the engineers I have had to deal with. (~_^)
          They do get grumpy when the $8.50/hr temp hire walks past their work and says ” That’ll never work … you’ll be lucky if it runs 20 minutes”
          Then it turned out that version of the design, intended to run 24 hours for testing, had run once all the way to 15 minutes.

          1. Techs v engineers, v scientists? Always trust the tech first.

            And yeah, I’ve dealt with some arrogant, ignorant engineers. Kind of reminded me of the Science! guys. The worst are the ones who look down on their own techs as worthless garbage, when it was usually the techs that figured out how to make their stuff work.

            1. picture a small fan (15″ maybe 20″) in a housing … the shaft, 12″ or so protrudes a few inches out the fan, and hangs there … no support.
              the other side of the fan is a standard Arbor bearing. just the other side of the arbor is a single u-joint attached to the shaft. the Ujoint is attached to the shaft of a Kubota diesel about 5hp sized (forget the actual hp, but it is the size of a Briggs 5hp engine). Then, the engine is bolted to a plate, but to “rubber mount” it, it sits on a battery mat of about 3/8″ thicknes but the bolt pass straight through the engine, the mat, and an aluminum plate then the nuts are not nylocs, or any kind of locknut … just a flat washer and a split lock washer on the underside of the mounting plate.
              After changing to a grid style coupler instead of the u-joint, it lasted long enough they sent it to the customer … who sent it back shortly after as it broke again. It finally seems to either have lived long anough for the customer to be happy, or they gave up sending it back.

              1. “Split lock” washers should be illegal. Or renamed to “Split cover up the problem for a little while” washer.

            2. Boeing institutionalizes that. Nobody listens to the guys who put the things together, because their 3D Models show that the two fasteners clear each other, except they don’t leave room for the TOOL to get between them, or to put the nuts ON the bolts that nearly touch….

              1. That reminds me that for 3D plant design, they started adding the accessways for manholes, maintenance access panels, etc. of equipment to avoid similar problems. People need to be able to get at things, and it helps if the 3D design can reflect that ahead of time, rather than being discovered after they’re building the facility.

              1. Yeah, I was trained by the US Navy as a tech first, then went into engineering when my enlistment ended. And I know all about the problem of “designed by people who never had to work on it.” It can be tough to avoid, but at least I know the problem exists…

                I’m an electronics engineer at a valve company. Our management despises the shop guys, but all I can think is that I make lights blink, but they shape metal. It’s impressive as hell to me, and I try to treat them with respect. Not to mention that without them, my job goes away too.

      1. Neil Tyson Degrasse can study stars, but he cannot build one. He’d have to get an engineer to do it for him.

          1. Nah, once it lights it either keeps running by itself, or pretty much everything in the area is being rebuilt from scratch.

          2. No, but once he got the materials ordered and the design set, it’d still take a bunch of techs with excellent skilz to put the sucker together right (and troubleshoot in inevitable oversights in the design) – and I’m the engineer in that scenario!

    2. Oddly – to me the trailer sold me the movie I actually saw – it didn’t make promises it didn’t keep about theme/etc. I loved, LOVED the theme. Grow, or die. We WILL find a way to survive.

      It was, as Sarah noted, a kick in the teeth to the “make do with less” crowd.

      Not only the parent-teacher conference mentioned, which could have been dropped into “Fallen Angels” (or its prequel) without editing, but the scene on the porch where Coop expounds on how we as a race are explorers, and shouldn’t be looking into the dirt as if that’s all there is.

      So yah, there were a few plot holes, but the story was well enough constructed, with attention to detail, that even most of the “holes” are explainable.

      Nolan either spent some time thinking through the logic of the story or has a deep sic-fi nerd background, because the “closed time loop” was utterly the classic “you can’t change the past , you can only do what has already happened” style loop.

      Sound, especially the launches, was a bit heavy on background rumble.

      Loved it, would watch it again, would buy it.

        1. Is this a “take a 7 year old too” kind of movie?

          I haven’t been to the movies since…2008?

          1. It really depends on the 7 year old in question. Some of the best parts require a bit of knowledge of the world and how it works. At nearly three hours some 7 year olds might find it long, boring and a bit baffling. Others could find it frightening. A few might adore it.

          2. Well, it probably will go over her head, William. I don’t know. Marshall at 7 would have eaten it up for the big spaceships but not GOT the story.
            Yeah, we were that long. I was reminded that sharply that the last time we’d been in that theater it was with our friend Alan (and his wife) before he was even diagnosed with cancer.

            1. OTOH, a seven year old might appreciate a daddy’s love for his daughter and his willingness to sacrifice for her.

              Is all in how you explain things, ennit?

            1. Dunno — we didn’t. I can’t imagine it would hurt the film although it would certainly hurt the wallet. Some of the landing sequences would probably be stellar.

    3. One movie I missed, and regretted missing when I later saw it, due to the trailer, was Oblivion.

      Well worth it – see ion netflix or redox or whatever.

      The trailer makes it look like “we met the enemy and he is us”

      Given modern trends, it looked like a shoo-in for self loathing.

      Well, it turns out the trailer didn’t really lie, but the story was far, far more interesting than that. And not depressing dreck.

      1. I have to admit that, after half a lifetime of being lectured on how bad humans are, I am sick of “We have met the enemy and he is us” and much prefer “We have met the enemy, and he is lunch.”

        Besides, I always found Pogo trite, smug, opaque, and over-praised.

      2. Second on Oblivion – watched it on Netflix disk a couple days ago, and was very impressed. Not depressing at all – the humans keep trying. My comment to my wife was “That was solid science fiction.”

        1. Wait, wrong Tom Cruise flick. Oblivion was not bad, and I still second it for the Hun video backlog, but the movie we just watched that led to my “real science fiction” comment was Edge of Tomorrow – it exceeded my expectations.

          For avoiding at all costs along with Avatar, I nominate the predictable Matt Damon class envy paen Elysium.

          1. Edge of Tomorrow

            It’s got to have Directors cut there seems to be parts missing or nog explained that I think got cut for time.

          2. Agree wholeheartedly, just saw Edge of Tomorrow last night – holy crap, and no “but maybe we deserved it” about it. Great story of a coward learning courage.

            Strongly recommend that and Oblivion, as well as Pacific Rim and the anime series Gurren Lagann for their “go humans” attitude.

          3. Edge of Tomorrow was fun, and we were quite happy watching it. We’ll buy the DVD.

            Then I found out that it was based off a Japanese Light Novel, and they went with a Lighter and Happier ending (Which I was okay with, tbh).

            Oblivion was not bad, and I did like the ‘Humans are NOT GIVING UP!’ angle.

            Johnny Depp’s Transcendance I found somewhat interesting in concepts, but we found some of it rather annoying – there was some preachiness, the ‘end solution’ was rather demented to us but ultimately the focus was on humanity. The ending annoyed.

            Housemate pointed out that a good deal of the infrastructure in Australia is still analog-run and wouldn’t have been affected, as well as us shaking our heads over the “global rationing and starvation” result.

    4. I had planned to miss the movie because of the whole notion of the planets running at different time rates. Sure, it can happen in the vicinity of a black hole, but would not be a place you would want to live.

        1. And, no, the vicinity of a black hole is not really a place one would want to live … and I think it is confirmed in the story.

      1. Yes, there are spoilery reasons why the wormhole leads to that system with that black hole.

  14. Interesting those who make such a heavy point of their “belief in” evolution as an established scientific fact fail to observe in their demands for human perfection is that survival usually isn’t about perfect, but about good enough. It’s first past the post, not top scores. I only have to run faster than you, not the fastest ever.


    1. They don’t want to survive, they want to evolve. Or at least get the rest of humanity to evolve up to their level, even if that means killing a bunch of them.

      1. That’s generally how evolution works. Those with non-viable traits don’t breed, or don’t live to breed.

        Thing is, that’s mostly the Progressives and the Neo-Rousseaunians.

        1. Yet, while they believe they are superior, one of the point they insist upon advocating is the limitation of the number of children they (or anyone else for that matter) should have. In extreme cases they even feel that the matter should be legislated.

          1. No woman should be burdened with a pregnancy, after all.

            And they’ll be sure to teach your kids that when your kids start attending elementary school.

      2. The don’t want to evolve, either. What they want is for the rest of us to evolve to the point where we can see their obvious superiority, and stop resisting their commands.

        I’d be for crucifying them, but they’d think that made them as important as Christ.

  15. I reblogged this one because you are right. I die a little every day when I sadly acknowledge that my generation will not see the stars we were promised. I wanted to go. I wanted to explore. I want others to have the same dreams and achieve them.

  16. And for anyone afraid that it’s full of environmentalist hectoring: don’t be. The ecological disaster is a crop blight. Humans are not blamed. It was very refreshing to see a Hollywood movie avoid the easy leftie cliches.

    BTW, the bit from the HuffPo piece that really enraged me was this:

    “In this day and age, I find it boring to celebrate being human without discernment. From a planetary point of view, (appropriate for a story about planets) our species has little basis for such pride. We may create beautiful music and art and extend our reach into the far reaches of the galaxy, but by dint of violence, toxic effluvia, and unmitigated growth we often behave more like a malignancy than a miracle.”

    1. *delurk*

      Thanks for this first note. That is precisely what was discouraging me from seeing this movie.

    2. They are the malignancy not us. They are the people Heinlein mentioned who approve of a beaver’s dam for a beaver’s purposes. They hate humanity and they should put themselves out of our misery. They are the grit in the gear, the monkey wrench in our development beyond this planet.
      They don’t care that their disguised will to power and miseducation of the next generations, ranging from subtle propaganda to threat of naked force, will keep Mankind tied to his cradle permanently.

      As for those who espouse the human extinction program: You first! I intend to thrive and invent and expand our boundaries out into space beyond this solar system I will go, with you or through you! If you want power do something that earns it honestly! The problem isn’t overpopulation or lack of natural resources. You are the problem! You seek to control people’s lives in the name of: overpopulation. global freezing, lack of resources, and global warming.

    3. Of course, with the contemporary standards they are promulgating, the creation of “beautiful music and art” is not ongoing. As for the “malignancy not miracle” that babe needs to get over the anti-anthrocentric view being expressed. Whether we are shoving dirt mounds around to create parks or to mine copper, we are still just shoving around dirt mounds. Any aesthetic view of the results is strictly idiosyncratic and should not be imagined reflective of higher thought.

      It is easy to deride “little houses made out of ticky-tacky” when that is not all you can get.

    4. (From Huffpo – just to be clear where my own comment is pointed) – We may create beautiful music and art and extend our reach into the far reaches of the galaxy, but by dint of violence, toxic effluvia, and unmitigated growth we often behave more like a malignancy than a miracle.

      Got news for ya, chickie. Survival means either violence or unmitigated breeding, or both. Toxic effluvia? Now that technology is advanced to the point it is, “toxic effluvia” is dropping like a stone – to the point that enviro-whackos have to attack the products of friggin’ respiration in order to have something to complain about. So go hide in your Ivory Tower Treehouse and let us get on with life.

    5. If they want to talk about toxic effluvia, I would invite them to consider what the National Mall looked like after the Tea Party rally in DC, vs what it looked like after Jon Colbert’s* rally with the stupid name. And hand them photos of the aftermath of each rally, with trash either littered everywhere or else bagged up and neatly stacked. And then I’d say, “Tell me again about how you can judge a group’s moral character by the toxic effluvia they leave.”

      * … Or was it Stephen Stewart? I always get those two mixed up. 😉

      1. Here’s a handy trick for distinguishing them: one is insufferably smug while the other is unbearably smug.

        Glad I can help.

        1. That reminds me of the time I figured out how to tell Bruce Boxleitner’s two emotions apart. Unlike Keanu Reaves, who can only project a single emotion (dull surprise), Bruce Boxleitner can project two — TWO! — emotions. He can project earnest seriousness, AND he can do serious earnestness!

          (Kidding, really. He has a lot more range than that, but the roles I’ve seen him in — John Sheridan in B5, and Alan Bradley / Tron in Tron & Tron Legacy — all have him in earnest-seriousness mode 90% of the time.)

          1. Funny, that Huffpo quote mentioned above reminded me of a line from Babylon-5 where Delenn speaks favorably of humanity:

            “Their only weakness is that they do not recognize their own greatness. They forget they have come to this place through two million years of evolution, struggle, and blood. They are better than they think and nobler than they know.”

          2. Check out The Scarecrow and Mrs. King sometime. He plays a spy who, for various reasons, is working with a housewife (though, in all fairness, she was one of Charlie’s Angels, so…).

            1. Yeah, Boxleitner got a _lot_ more to do when he played Scarecrow. It got to the point where the writers were just throwing all kinds of crazy stuff at him to watch him emote. And everybody in that show got to be funny.

            2. That was a fun show! I wish they’d bring something like that back, rather than Yet Another Reality TV Show.

          3. To be fair, that puts Boxleitner two emotions ahead of Kristen Stewart. That woman is a black hole of non-acting. Nothing escapes her event horizon.

          4. Which reminds me of a Dorothy Parker review of an early Katharine Hepburn performance: She ran the whole gamut of emotions from A to B. (She is reported to have later apologized as it was unfair, but the line was so delicious.)

      2. All that litter has to be cleaned up, probably by people making a good government union wage. Those selfish TEA Partiers were just trying to kill jobs.

    6. Ah, this Huffpo quote:
      “We may create beautiful music and art and extend our reach into the far reaches of the galaxy, but by dint of violence, toxic effluvia, and unmitigated growth we often behave more like a malignancy than a miracle.”

      Oh dry up, you misanthropic prog twit.

    1. Meh. I adopt cats, children (including some thirty something year olds who are one year too old to actually be Dan’s and mine (if we’d got a clue which we didn’t for four years)) writers and other lost creatures 😉 Den mother is about it, though I always thought of myself as “The mother thing.”

  17. OT: I am having trouble finding Sabrina’s guest post here a couple years ago about using CreateSpace could you possibly post a link to it?

  18. I have been observing a philosophy that never gets talked about much, but is pervasive in our culture and helps me understand how we’ve gone so wrong.
    It’s the inherent belief by so many that their ideal perfect world is one where they still live at home where mommy and daddy care and provide, but have been released from any and all rules, duties, responsibility, or blame. Seems to mesh quite well with most of what the lib/progs want to accomplish. Just substitute an omniscient and loving government for mom and dad.
    It’s not the only motivating force of course, a lust for power and control is always a major factor as well.
    But like petulant children when their poorly thought out schemes for nirvana fall apart, they lash out, blame the practical folk who always said their plans wouldn’t work instead of themselves. It’s always that we sensible ones frustrated their work, didn’t contribute enough, somehow made their ideas fail not on their own merit, but because we hate and envy the wondermusness of them.
    It would seem that every society generates both doers and leeches. In the great diaspora that formed America the doers came here, the leeches took over Europe. A gross simplification of course, but helps explain the pervasive socialist bent of modern days. But now there is no where for our doers to go. They must stay, find productive work, and suffer the constant whine of the leeches that they don’t care, aren’t trying hard enough to make impossible ideas work. Given such a condition a great die off appears inevitable. I expect the lib/progs to be very surprised at who falls first.

      1. They want to be children forever with no restriction and no punishment. They want to be speshul snowflakes forever with no responsibilities while heaping loads of responsibilities on others.

        1. I read an article a while back that explained this is a real problem in Italy. You’ve got proud “Momma’s Boys” who still live in their mother’s home at age 30, with no social stigma attached. And she’s happy to be able to still take care of them.

  19. The HuffPo moron (apologies to any actual morons taking offense at conjoining with the deliberately stupid), the Atlantic’s Rose Evelyth* and their ilk all seem to miss one significant point about the Earth: it is a cheaply built, ill-maintained tenement in a bad neighborhood. The world is a ghetto, as the song said. Not because we have run it down (although we have, just not nearly as much as those twitters imagine) but because it is fundamentally hostile to human life.

    I mean, Dude! The effing continents ramble, there’s a gigantic blowtorch of a caldera in the central US which is overdue to explode in a way to make Krakatoa trivial, there are monstrous damn asteroids roaming about untethered without eve radar transponders, crossing our orbit on a regular basis, any one of which could crack this planetary crust like an eggshell.

    We need to apply ourselves and leave the old neighborhood while we can. It was never an Eden and all the Green policies ever proposed will not make it a new Eden (rather the opposite — y’all need to spray some DDT around here, STAT.) Instead, just like ghetto gangbangers the Watermelonheads are determined to pull us back down, to hold our dreams hostage to their fantasies of mattering. It is past time we stopped indulging their vicious nonsense and blinkered vision and kicked this small orb dust off’n our shoes.

    *Viewed in context with that HuffPo twit, I think I see what her Matt Tower wears an icky shirt was actually about: she has no effing idea what a magnificent feat that cometary landing was and can more appreciate it than my cat appreciated the original moon landing. Building a better can opener or constructing a new way for her to convey her ennui to the world, that’s as far as their brains extend. Okay, maybe as far as a better litter box, but that’s about it.

    1. They kind of touch on this point in Interstellar as well. Michael Caine’s character comments on how so much of our atmosphere is nitrogen, and we can’t even breathe it. (IIRC…it’s been a bit since I saw the movie and I’m kind of tired from too short a night of sleep)

      1. Ayup. Not to mention that the thermal balancing is highly erratic. We’re bloody demmed lucky that our rise on this planet has occurred during a prolonged interval between glaciations and worrying about man-caused klimate change is akin to fretting over the number of life jackets on the Titanic.

        1. I’ve often joked that southwest Georgia wasn’t really meant to be inhabited by humans. The heat in summer is brutal, winter involves high humidity that makes our temperatures feel even colder than they should, and spring and fall involve massive amounts of pollen that results in a very high percentage of the population having allergy problems.

          When people look at it that way, they start to wonder what the hell we were doing building a town here. Of course, a Creek Indian told me that if we left they’d be happy to take their land back. 😛

          1. Not to mention six frickin’ feet of snow in Western New York state nor the routine “circuit breaker outages” that require massive hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons to reboot the atmosphere.

              1. Pfff.

                If you think *this* world sucks, try farming on Mars or finding a decent manhattan on Venus.

                  1. It’s not the bacon that’s the problem (pigs’ll thrive anywhere) it’s the delicate beef cattle.

                    See, you need to ship in some hardy longhorns (they’re stubborn)…

                    1. It’s not even that. Using imported beef (admittedly, frozen) they still can’t get it right. I’ve used the beef myself and it’s perfectly acceptable. Not as good as fresh beef, but acceptable.

                      There’s something in the air scrubbers that seems to make it impossible for a long term resident to get a bacon cheeseburger right.

                      On the other hand, the pizza is the best I’ve had outside of Chicago. Go figure.

                    2. Well, the M’vlick-orians own all the pizza joints. Those squids know pizza.

                      Not so good with diplomacy, but — pizza…

                    3. I kinda like it about them. There’s no ambiguity about where you stand with M’vlick-orians.

                      Mostly it’s “You have money? Stand here I’ll get pizza.”

                      Winds the xeno-diplos up. Which makes me smile. Around my pizza.

                    4. As long as we’re talking the cheap commercial stuff and not the round bottles from the Kandorzian Clans…

                      I see a diplo with Clan beer — well, me and the clan sons are gonna have a chat. I’ll cut off the termite egg shipments if they start wasting good Clan beer on diplos.

                    5. Just tell ’em it’s a special batch and only — um — particular people ever get their hands on it.

                      Then you’ll be golden.

                    6. Ah, you know this dance.

                      I’ve got a globe-pack of Clan Klasoo’s Special Purple, we’ll have to meet up at J-Intersection-Down and get a couple of N’vluper-loy’s special pies with the spicy pepperoni — talk about the state of interstellar journalism.

                      Or, you know, pig smuggling. Since you let the cat out of the bag and the Israeli station-master is gonna be on us about discretion. Again.

                    7. If it’s artificially recreated bacon assembled from the molecules up, having no connection with a pig it’s ok.

                    8. “It’s not the bacon that’s the problem (pigs’ll thrive anywhere) it’s the delicate beef cattle.

                      See, you need to ship in some hardy longhorns (they’re stubborn)…”

                      Yeah, but have you ever tried to milk a longhorn? That cheese has to come from somewhere, and since good cheddar gets all crumbly and stuff when frozen, all they ship in is that nasty plastic cheese stuff.

                    9. Hmmm … Portugee dairy farmer, insanely logical thinker … folks, I think we found the inspiration for Larry Correia’s Faye Viera. Sure, she was only Portugee by adoption (as Sarah is American by adoption) but that’s just where he filed off the serial numbers.

                    10. “didn’t realize that I’d posted fightin’ words.”

                      Those are almost as bad as… turkey bacon.

                    11. it’s the delicate beef cattle

                      You’d think that a moon named after someone turned into a cow would be more hospitable to cattle.

                    1. Ship in a breeding pair? They have to have some animals for the students to work on. Europa might be better than IO. OTOH pilots love beef, putting a cattle ranch near the transfer point on IO is a good idea. I’m sure UT alumni like JGW Bush IV would be willing to donate to the Bush memorial cattle Ranch on IO.

          2. Out here the climate is considered semi-arid, with some years more semi than others. And then there was 1940, when twice the average rainfall fell, and people rediscovered that water does not drain well from flat plateaus.

          3. I suspect that the only spot in the US that’s got the “appropriate” environment for humans is Southern California.

            But it doesn’t have anywhere near enough water…

            1. I recall reading somewhere that the US has is one of the more stable places on the planet for agriculture.

                1. Try riding a motorcycle through (and by “through” I mean one end to the other) Texas Hill Country in late December. Then try it in Central California (Southern California is like a combination between the worst parts of Texas, and a mall parking lot. Oh, wait. That’s Dallas. And Houston.)

                  The area around the San Francisco Bay is practically eden. Except for the inhabitants, who are quite mad.

                    1. So do certain crops. Rhubarb needs cool weather. Certain fruiting trees require a period of freezing tempertures to prosper. On the other hand a number of fruits have to have tropical conditions to thrive.

                    2. Celery was a traditional dish at Thanksgiving because its flavor is milder when raised in cooler weather.

                  1. The area around San Francisco Bay is cold and damp. And there are scorpions and rattlesnakes. And that fungus in the air that causes Valley Fever, which apparently my family genes do not like one bit.

                    California isn’t fit for life. It’s pretty, but it wants to kill you.

                  2. Used to ride around Central California; Mendocino to Big Sur to Yosemite … truly wonderful terrain and climate, and most of the people.

                    The urban areas, however, are run by crazy people, and from Sacramento, the entire state as well. So we bailed after 64 years and moved to Minnesota.

                    We may have overreacted a little, climatewise. On the other hand, in a couple of weeks we should close on 40 acres in the north-central part of the state, wooded, bounded on the west side by a small river. With enough left over to build a home.

                    And we’re close to oldest daughter and son-in-law up here. I think it’s going to work.

                  3. Mad, I tell you MAD!!!!

                    The climate here in SIlicon Valley is one of things keeping us here. Yes the politics are nuts. Yes, so are the housing prices. Yes from all reports we apparently export the nuts in noticable quantities, or at least we export enough folks that look like nuts where they land (here they are probably thought of as a flavor of centrists who are crazy enough to leave).

                    The best comparable climate that I’ve encountered in person is in spots around the south half of Oz near the coasts or in New Zealand, though South Island gets all cold and snowy, but otherwise it’s very pretty. I hear parts of Europe are really nice as well. Except the politics are nuts..

            2. Southern Australia–Adelaide’s a pretty nice town. Never made it to Melbourne, but some people seem to like it.

  20. Thank you for the review. I had gotten tired of the same old “Humanity destroys everything!” storyline in sci-fi movies. Thus, I have not watched many in recent years.

    1. That’s why I find the idea of interstellar commerce and warfare so engaging. Even if we learn and grow, we won’t stop being human.
      In the books I’m writing, there are peace loving aliens with no aggressive tendencies that live on a utopian world of plenty. They never evolve beyond the stone age, have no concept of art and music, and are discovered by some species to be borderline useless as slaves.
      While the aggressive species of the universe (humans among them of course) have conquered hostile climates, contacted alien cultures and grown their civilizations.
      And yes, bad things happen, like tyranny and war. But the alternative is stagnation and a people who are good for nothing.

      1. *musing* There’s two ways of good for nothing– one is seeing people as a means to an end, and the other is seeing people BEING as an end in itself.

        The “never passed the stone age” folks (besides any logical issues in how that works) seem rather horrible. Rather personal example, I’d have been dead with my first child in such a group, because nobody tried to make anything better.

        An entire culture that doesn’t try to make things better? *shudder*

        1. I suppose I should be careful when I say “good for nothing”. Because you are correct.
          I guess I’ve come to value people by their strength of character, which is not something easily quantifiable. Striving to overcome obstacles and personal shortcomings is really the best sign of a culture/individuals character.
          I’m just tired of sci-fi with the peaceful, highly advanced aliens that are incapable of aggression. You know, the ones that are appalled at the barbaric humans.
          I just don’t think that kind of society could evolve technology necessary for interstellar travel. Or anything higher than cracking nuts with a rock.

            1. I am actually squealing in delight that you answered my post. I realize it’s not very manly of me.
              I’ve been reading your blog for months, but I’m only commenting just now. Thank you.

          1. Fred Saberhagen had a twist on the “highly advanced peaceful species” in his Berserker series. They apparently appreciated the humans being able to deal with the Berserkers. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of reading Saberhagen’s Berserker stories, the Berserkers are alien war-machines that seek out and destroy all life. Apparently one side of a past war between two alien species created war-machines to fight the war for them. The Berserkers did their job very well but decided to destroy their creators. OPPS!!!!

          2. FWIW, I’m only twitchy about that one because TOFspot recently linked yet ANOTHER “all those people need to be killed off, preferably in a way that leaves me as innocent feeling as possible” article.

          3. The Traveller RPG introduced the Hivers, who weren’t a violent species but ended up going into space due to intense curiosity.

            …and yes, they are very odd.

      2. I am thinking interstellar warfare is likely to be logistically impractical — although the parameters used to avoid sub-light speed limits might affect that. At interstellar distances the Battle of New Orleans occurring months after the signing of a peace treaty would represent lightning fast.

        Interstellar piracy and slave trading, OTOH …

        Consider the Mutiny on the Bounty trilogy in space. There be reason so much space navy is derived from Hornblower.

        1. Well, you have to consider your choices when writing about space travel. The people in question have either 1) followed the sciences as we understand them now and either take centuries/millennia to get too a destination, or 2) have devised a science we are not familiar with and can travel between worlds at a much more reasonable speed.
          The first does not allow for warfare or commerce between worlds. The action/drama of such a story would only exist in the limited field of an individual ship/world. And I’ve read some excellent books in that vein.
          The second allows for the many wonderful Harrington/Vorkosigan novels that bless my life.
          But then, I’m crossing my fiction with reality in this discussion. I hope you’ll forgive me for that.
          In reality, I have to agree that interstellar warfare and commerce would not be possible. It would be centuries before the home planet even learned of the fate of any ships that left.
          If they ever learned at all.

        2. At interstellar distances the Battle of New Orleans occurring months after the signing of a peace treaty would represent lightning fast.

          There was an old Science Fiction Roleplaying Game called “Traveller” which had something like that. Huge interstellar empires using a feudal structure of government (though individual worlds were all over the map), with communications comparable to the Pony Express.

          1. X-Boats, using some dinosaur-like riding animal from another planet as it’s emblem. It was called a “poni” on that world, and someone in the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service made a typo when using the Pony Express as an example.

      3. Point being that utopia is a non sustainable temporary condition, and once mama nature kicks in with her usual tricks and treats any species conditioned to utopia quickly becomes a “former” race.

        1. John Campbell had a story where a Great Machine visited Earth and eliminated anything on Earth that could harm mankind. IIRC it also provided plenty of food bearing plants for humans. After it left Earth, humans migrated to warmer climates and got fat & lazy. Earth was then invaded by another species who enslaved humans. Oh, in a latter story it turns out that the invading aliens started breeding humans into various types. One breeder accidently creates a race of super-humans who then take over. [Wink]

  21. I have to admit, Matthew McConauhey’s character became awesome during that scene where the teacher is talking about how the Apollo program was a hoax used to bankrupt the Soviet Union (slight spoilers follow, but nothing that kills the movie for you).

    His daughter had been involved in a fight with other kids who bought the official line, and the teacher asks what he plans to do about his daughter’s attitude.

    McConauhey responds that her favorite baseball team was playing a game nearby, so he reckoned he’d take her to the game.

    Yes, it sounds like something I would do. Hell, it sounds like something most of you guys would have done. 🙂

        1. Sadly, the teaching profession allows those with a natural tendency towards bullying to inflict their sickness on the young. Best response is to bully them right back, as they are almost certainly cowards as well. Kids cannot do it of course as they are at the mercy of the system, but we parents most certainly can. With restraint, I will add. It was only a strong grip on my right arm by the wife that kept me from punching out a particularly offensive and despicable vice principal on one memorable occasion. Would not have ended well. Once I got my words back we cut the officious bastard down to size together verbally and in front of witnesses which was much more effective and ultimately rewarding in that situation.

          1. Well, right now, my wife and I are joking about putting up a “kill” wall in the house with pictures of teachers we’ve gotten fired.

            only two now, but my eldest is only in 8th grade and the youngest isn’t even toilet trained yet. Lots of time to take care of business.

            In fact, I wonder if that was part of why teachers played nice during the last parent/teacher conference. After all, I opened up reminding the vice principle that we met at the appeal hearing for the last teacher we got fired. 😀

                  1. I’m willing to bet they’re not, but mostly because there are so few Catholics in this town.

                    I’m pretty sure the last one is out of teaching permanently, however. The fact that she decided to appeal, make a stink, get a lawyer that would try and make it racial, and lost horribly is probably not going to work out well for her in her job hunt.

                    Fun story: The first one was in pre-kindergarden. She got canned part way through the year. At the time, my mother worked at a temp agency as a staffing specialist. It was understood if she walked in, she was to talk to Mom.

                    And her “Shrine of Eldest Grandspawn” behind her.

                    Too bad she never showed up.

              1. In high school my mother and the dean of students were on a first name basis before long, much to the displeasure of the dean. My father could walk into the office any time, unannounced and the dean would speak to him no matter what else he was involved in at the time. Once the dean actually left a meeting to speak with my dad. By the time I was done with high school my parents had gotten a tenured! teacher forced to retire. Of course all this was after the hell we all went through when I was in middle school so the dean already knew to fear my family.

                1. Yes, I felt a bit guilty about the convent.
                  This was the one who decided the kid who was reading at fourth grade level and doing long division was “learning disabled.”

                  1. I, of course, don’t remember it, but my Mom would tell the story about how in first or second grade, I was walking around with my sneakers untied, and she told me to tie them, so I did. The teacher was shocked, assuming I couldn’t do it. “We were going to send him to small motor skills,” she said. Mom Replied “It’s not that he can’t, it just that he doesn’t care.”

                    These days I wear sneakers with velcro (Which are surprisingly getting harder to find).

                    1. My wife, who just got fitted out for MN winters (her CA-winter gear really wasn’t up to snuff, surprise surprise surprise), found something to help with her increasingly-arthritic hands and lacing of boots. The Boa closure system is slicker than all get out.

              2. I made my 8th grade history teacher quit teaching and check himself in for treatment at the local psych hospital…. no parents required.

                Mr. McNeil had a few other issues, mostly involving grain and grape, but he’d lasted 6 years before he encountered me.

                1. I had an 6th grade teacher who once embarrassed my cousin in class. Got a visit from my Aunt (all 4′ 6″ of her … sha also worked for the Middle School) who proceeded to embarrass him in front of a class and then left. Then he got a visit from both brothers to said cousin who were very much NOT the sub 5′ like their mom. Both were state champ quality wrestlers one in heavy weight classes. They were not as nice as their mother about telling him what would occur if he persisted in harassing their sister.
                  The next year, I had him and he gave us make-work for xmas holiday (clock work sheets … yes, those things you got in kindergarten and 1st grade. He made up for the ease by giving us many pages of them) … I got the pleasure of replying to his “Mr. Kalishek, where is your homework?” with “My dad saw me doing it and threw it away. He said if you have any problems with that, to call him.”
                  He never called.

                  In High school my sis had issues with one of her teachers. We got grades and a “Attitude/deportment/etc” grade of 1 as best down to a 5 … sis got a B (which she was embarrassed by … unlike me she did homework and studied) and a 4 for her attitude …dad went ballistic until she told him the reason. Slimeball teacher would hit on the girls, was known to give grades for favors (sexual) and general low life things like that. Sis did not play ball and would even call him out when trying it on any other girls in her class period..
                  After a visit from my dad at his house, sis got 1s the rest of the year, and the girls in her class were ever grateful.

                  1. We got an ‘attitude’ (actually called effort) grade in grade school. It wasn’t actually a grade we got our regular letter grades, but it was another column that the teacher filled in on the report card. Probably under the assumption that they give you a 5 (1 being worst and 5 being best) to show your parents you really tried hard, but you were stupid so you only got a C or give you a 2 to tell your parents you got a C because you were lazy, not because you were stupid.

                    I had a sixth grade teacher that I DID NOT get along with. He taught my math class, and I got an A in that class but a 1 for ‘effort’. Because I argued with him, and wasn’t very politic about it. Then when we really got into an argument I quit coming to his class except one day a week to get my work, and started going to the library where there was a kid who was taking pre-algebra and having the vice principal grade it for him. I just started doing the same and brazened my way through it, ignoring all instructions that I couldn’t do that. I have no idea what the vice principal thought of this kid he had never seen suddenly turning math work into him to be graded, but he eventually just threw his hands in the air and graded it. That REALLY ticked off the teacher, who threw a screaming fit at me in front of the class, I walked out of it and never came back except to turn in each weeks work and to take the weekly test, which I would fill out, drop on his desk and walk out.
                    Apparently they didn’t know what exactly to do with a kid who was doing all his work, plus another course, while ignoring all instructions. I’m not sure what my mom said to them when they called her, I just know the teacher said in the middle of a screaming fit (in front of the class) that he was going to call my parents. But after that the teacher never said another word to me the rest of the year. But I know my mom thought the straight A’s through all four quarters plus the four mid-quarter reports, with the straight 1’s for effort and scathing notes about my lack of ‘work ethic’ rather strange.

                    1. The teacher I was talking about was mostly Math as well (6th and 7th grades) Thinking back more, It had to have been the same year as the cousin he belittled was a year older than I, and for whatever reason, I went to a different school the next year. (I lived a mile away from the school I am talking about and over 7 miles to the place I spent 7th grade (with yet another teacher I had troubles with .. he tried to put me in special ed).
                      I spent my high school years getting mostly C grades with low attitude scores due to being bored. I was notorious for not doing the homework and yet almost always passing the tests. Even in the classes I liked. I got my best grades in Small Engines, Machine Shop, and really oddly as I hated the subject, in English the last year I took it, but that was due to the teacher’s methods. He gave us things to study, and rare;y take home work that one was normally able to get done in class. Come exam time, I got every single answer right including spelling and definition to 110 words (only 100 needing to be right with the 10 as a bonus to fill in any wrong answers, I was the only one who didn’t need any), and I was always, (and well, still am) horid at spelin.

                      I only had one teacher I walked out on regularly … and she was mostly relieved when it happened (~_^). 11th grade study hall was monitored by the Spanish Teacher, and I and one of the Seniors (who now I cannot remember his name would either banter with her, usually giving her a hard time or we would walk out and go to Gym class and watch, or to the library to read. As we never caused trouble (either helping with the Gym class, or just being quiet and actually reading something in the library, run by “The Dragon Lady”) she never minded we never got the Pass paddles from her.
                      Knowing her, if we’d got in trouble once, the hammer would have fallen.
                      The only reason I had study hall that year was I broke my leg first day of school and had to change my classes. I think she also figured helping in Gym was good for my leg once I was out of the cast.

                    2. …I was always, (and well, still am) horid at spelin.

                      I saw that…

                      As to your study hall teacher, sounds like somebody actually using their brain to see that her charges were getting the best use of their time.

                      Do they allow that now?

                    3. Well, she was also outspokenly (in the teachers lounge and out of school mostly) “A Warhawk” and quite un-leftoid as only a Transplant can be (she was from Mexico originally). You probably can still get away with that in small town USA, and much of Texas, but probably not many other places now-a-days

          2. But soooo many parents apparently just submit to this crap meekly. Why? What the &^%# ever happened to “Whatever you do, don’t get between a mother and her child?”

            Fairly notorious case in point; Ryan Gibbons DIES because his school confiscated his asthma in haler. “Policy”. His mother is working to get the government to adopt a better plan.

            In her place I would be in jail, because I would have beaten his Principle to death, screaming “You killed my son! You killed my son!”.

            That Principle, and whatever human waste came up with the policy in the first place, NEEDS to be beaten to death.

            But I feel the same way about the pious Drug Warriors who find it acceptable to keep some chronic pain patients IN chronic pain, so long as nobody is getting to use prescription painkillers to get high.

            Christ and Buddha on a flaming see-saw, why do we TOLERATE these human piles of dog-poo?

            1. “But soooo many parents apparently just submit to this crap meekly. Why? ”

              Because the authorities have no compunction about showing up with a SWAT team and taking kids if you say anything or do anything except comply. And there aren’t that many parents who aren’t working with the time to fight anyway.

                1. Just like there are no official stats for defensive gun use… it isn’t in TPTB interest to publicize it.

                  1. Fairness, it’s hard to quantify.

                    “Citizens shot by criminal”– easy to collect.

                    “Citizen grabbed their gun, criminal ran off”–hard to collect, especially if the citizen isn’t too keen to walk up to a cop and say “Hey, I pulled my gun on a guy that threatened me!” (Washington State has open carry; we still have cops that threaten to shoot people for open carrying in a totally peaceful manner.)

                    “Citizen injured in home invasion, criminals fire through door, citizen fires back, one of the criminals is carried out of the house, his buddies apparently shot him 20 miles away” is really hard to collect data on.

                    “Citizen exchanges gunfire with criminals who are holding a gun to a clerk’s head while a buddy shoots at the citizen, bystander is injured, not sure whose bullet” is also really hard to figure. (In at least one case the bullet still in the bystander was the citizen’s, probably via ricochet, but there is no reason to think the guys who were busy trying to kill off witnesses would’ve let anyone live.)

                    “Citizen stops mass shooting in area where they weren’t actually allowed to have a weapon, so they escape and everyone they saved suddenly has memory loss” could be counted for both sides– after all, the citizen did break the law and shoot someone, even if it never would’ve been discovered if they hadn’t acted to defend innocents.

            2. But I feel the same way about the pious Drug Warriors who find it acceptable to keep some chronic pain patients IN chronic pain, so long as nobody is getting to use prescription painkillers to get high.

              Drug Warriors, hell– I’m still jibbering mad about the supposed doctor that goes around on TV getting paid to tell people there’s no such thing as chronic pain, just incorrectly treated injury. Uh, BS. There might be support for SOME chronic pain being incorrectly treated, if you include “person with pain cannot stop working completely for however many years it takes to “correctly” heal.”

              1. Worse to me is the ‘pain is just weakness leaving the body’ types who have obviously never been in persistent chronic pain. If ‘pain is weakness leaving the body’ then by now i should be strong enough to go toe-to-toe with the Hulk.

                1. Hell, have never had real pain, period, if they’re totally serious and in their right mind.

                  Look, I beat the frick out of my body in the Navy. I got pulled up in front of the Marines and praised because I tripped in a running formation, rolled, got to my feet and kept going. (Embarassment is a REAL motivator, and I was already mortified.) I had times when I could barely move the next day because I pushed myself so hard… and then I went and did it again.

                  That, compared to a c-section or infected tooth or broken bone, really shouldn’t have the same word applied to it.

                  I drive doctors nuts because I usually will NOT say that something hurts unless it really feels like there’s something in the flesh. Because it doesn’t REALLY hurt.

                  If you are getting honest-to-Zod PAIN from exercise, STOP! If, on the other hand, you go until you ache, like your whole body is a bruise, so you flinch when you move like this– well, yeah, we CALL that pain. But it’s a totally different animal.
                  Doesn’t mean that ache shouldn’t be taken care of, but it’s like comparing the way I miss the old World of Warcraft to the way I miss my grandfather.

                  I haven’t had chronic pain, yet. My parents deal with it, because they’re ranchers. The closest I’ve come is the aforementioned tooth ache. (My mother has climbed out of a wreck with a broken collar bone and walked five miles, along with a long list of other injuries and giving birth three times without medication, and she still says a real toothache is the worst pain she’s felt, because you can’t DO anything.)

                  1. Well, I pretty much trashed my legs in the Army and have lots of joint damage, so more often than not i am in pain…

                  2. I hate the doctor’s ‘On the scale of one to ten, how do you hurt?’ question. I start my definition with the assumption of, ‘If I was at 10 I would be incapable of answering this question, or any other for that matter.’

                    1. Have you seen that cartoon that shows a guy hiding and whimpering ‘one’ and a nurse saying “But I just asked him ‘on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst pain you can imagine…” and his wife saying “he has a really good imagination.”

                    2. I haven’t, but YES. I figure that if it the pain is at a level 10 I would be out of rational communication. Now I have gotten up to involuntary leakage out of the eyes…and praying to be put out of my misery.

                    3. I blew the mind of my pre-op nurse last week; she tossed off that question of had I ever experienced suicidal thoughts, and I said “Of course; I have a living will and Do Not Resuscitate. Means I’ve carefully considered it at least a few times.”

                      After she popped her jaw back in, she said they might have to revise that question.

                      Medical staff walk softly around me….

                    4. Buwhahaha, I am SO stealing that!

                      I still feel bad about upsetting the poor priest in the Navy… he asked if I was experiencing thoughts of suicide, and I was tired enough to be totally honest and say something like “not really, if things were bad enough to end a life I’d be looking for who was causing the problem.” It’s not like he didn’t have enough issues with that job. (Problem was basically that I hadn’t seen sunlight in two months and I don’t deal well with the “trading favors” that involves violating regulations, and the guy in charge of our shop was a major wheeler-and-dealer in his own mind.)

                    5. I absolutely despise the question. I usually respond with ‘on whose pain management scale?’ I’ve found out that some of my ‘I’m having trouble dealing with it’ levels = someone else is begging for morphine. And my begging for morphine level is “Please put me in a coma” for others.

                    6. Yep. THIS is my issue. Part of the reason Marsh was almost born without a doctor in attendance is “She’s too coherent to be in hard labor” until Dan made them LOOK. Then they ran for the doctor.
                      Hey, it wasn’t worse than period cramps.

                    7. *snarling* I wish I hadn’t gone to the hospital when I gave birth to Vincent. The largely female staff (and the one male nurse was gay) were either too flirty or too jealous to really should have stayed around me. I knew they were deliberately hurting me by checking my dilation WHEN I was giving contractions, and playing on Rhys’ nervousness that I would die to get away with it. My pain levels were such that I’d triggered a ‘flight’ reaction, and I could feel my body start to resist giving birth. I asked to be knocked out for that.

                    8. I have had doctors try to explain why using pain killers can be helpful in the healing process. I understand this can be true, such as when one is unable to sleep for pain. I don’t like painkillers. I really don’t like the effects on my brain. I will take them, but the pain must be what I find intollerable.

                    9. Yes! Same here. This is why when we moved from NC I still had a full bottle of morphine from giving birth to Robert. Once the pain stopped making me black out, I stopped taking them. (But not before writing Thirst.)
                      I have only had “real painkillers” once in recent times — when my tooth went nuclear on Christmas day and my entire jaw was swollen and I couldn’t stop crying with pain.
                      Now, I’ve gotten rather cozy with aspirin for arthritis in the knees, to avoid what I consider “discomfort” so I can haul suitcases, etc. BUT that caused my eye problem, so… that’s over.

                    10. Seasons here are more of a challenge to breathing than anything else. At the height of the spring/summer pollen season it can be so bad that everyone seems to have acquired green cars.

                  3. “f you are getting honest-to-Zod PAIN from exercise, STOP! If, on the other hand, you go until you ache, like your whole body is a bruise, so you flinch when you move like this– well, yeah, we CALL that pain. But it’s a totally different animal.”

                    Yes, this.

                    I am not a masochist, I do NOT like pain; but I LIKE the burn you get from exercising hard. They are NOT the same thing.

                  4. @Wayne I like that scale better.

                    @ Foxfier : Have you gotten the question of ‘oh my god how can you walk?” when you have that delightful sciatic nerve getting pinched between bones pain? My reaction is “…and how did you think I was supposed to get here?” and a desire to claw whoever asked such a dumb question.

                    Rhys: “On a scale of one to “soaking in a tub of acid with sexually active piranhas and electric eels, how much does it hurt?”

                    1. Worst pain I ever experienced? Silver Nitrate applied to the interior of my nose in an attempt to cauterize a severe nosebleed. It hurt unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.

                    2. All the way up in the mucous membranes of the nose.

                      It wasn’t funny, I was bleeding like an anime guy in a sultan’s harem. even if it stopped, a single sniff and it started again.

                      And the worst part of it is way too gross to describe.

                    3. Yeah, they don’t go to the sticks for the easy bleeds.

                      I’ve performed the procedure, but never endured it. I’m given to understand it was not a party. Apparently the smell was also “not rosy.”

                    4. I can’t help but think it is better than having a red hot poker shoved up you nose for the purpose. In my mind that is something that would be just up Torquemada’s line.

                    5. No, but when my mom had a blood clot she called in twice and the nurse treated her like a normal person… two minutes after she hung up, the doctor called her back and told her to get to an emergency room immediately. He’d been walking by when the nurse was entering that mom had called about pain.

                      He knew that mom admitting it hurts at all was an “I can’t walk” for most of his patients, and that if she said it was “really swollen” then it was REALLY swollen.

                      She had a blood clot pretty much solid from the ankle to above her knee.
                      I did have a nurse check to see if my pain killer dose was too high, only to find out I hadn’t had anything but motrin in two days. (there was a lot of residual, I’m thinking– takes me two weeks to be normal) I’m good at walking without using stomach muscles that hurt.

                    6. Yeah, one of the things that would be beneficial is the ‘doctor who knows the patient well’ again. But that’s not really an option for a lot of people. ESPECIALLY military families.

                      I’m finding that empathy is something people aren’t able to do much of these days.

                    7. No, empathy is out of fashion. What they are good at these days is compassion.

                      Compassion! It’s empathy that doesn’t demand a personal connection! Compassion – it’s abstract, it’s general, it’s free from burdensome demands for efficacy! Compassion! Try some today!

                      Available through your local government agency.

                    8. My response to the query was “I’m in an ER with no insurance $300 to my name yet gave you a debit card to take half my money so I can see a doctor because I think it might be possible appendicitis even though it seems to be in the wrong place, levels of pain”
                      Turned out to be Gastroenteritis and needed most of the rest of my money for the prescription. Took me 5 years to pay off everything.

                2. Ok, I admit to using the “pain is weakness leaving the body” quip, but I use it either a) as a joke b) as a mind game.

                  a) is pretty self explanatory, somebody stubs their toe and is hopping around on one foot, “ow-ow-ow.” Yep, “pain is weakness leaving the body.”

                  b) can be used either on yourself or someone else, when something hurts and you don’t think you can go on, just convince yourself that “pain is weakness leaving the body” and if you push through it you can accomplish what you need to.

        2. The movie might be worth it just for that scene. [Very Big Evil Grin]

          Note, haven’t seen it yet.

              1. Well, I was right there with ya.

                When they went through the wormhole? I have no clue how accurate that was scientifically. What I do know is that it was cool as hell to watch.

                And a little dizzying. 😀

                1. That was part of what they hired Kip Thorne for. Then they found out Kip Thorne had actually dealt with them just to get free computer time for running his equations, and a graphical visualization. 🙂 Very old school.

                  1. This is called “Free Trade”. You have something I desire, I have something you want, and in the end we’re both richer.

                  2. How cool is that. Sounds like a deal of the kind that doesn’t happen very often in Hollywood, one where everybody gains and it’s more than just dollars and cents.

                    1. I think I also heard that the special FX graphics programmers may be getting co-author credit on the papers Thorne is writing. I’ll be interested to see how that works.

              2. I love the scene of the Endurance crossing the face of Saturn, a tiny gleaming speck against the immensity of the planet.

                As a wise man once said, “Space is big. Really big.”

                    1. Aieeee…. I tried to scroll through that one night. Barely got past Mars before I gave up. 😮

      1. I got the impression that teacher was a true believer — she really thought that the moon landing had been faked.

        I have to wonder what she made of it if she knew that Cooper (McConauhey’s character) had been in the space program before joining his father-in-law in farming.

        1. She’d probably either think that Cooper was lying, or that just because Cooper had been in orbit didn’t mean that the Apollo program itself wasn’t faked.

    1. That part about the Apollo program is going to make it very hard for me to keep watching, when it comes around. I’ve argued with too many people who actually believe something like that.

      1. Don’t worry. The character argues against it as well.

        Alternatively, choosing the parent/teacher conference part as a good chance go to the bathroom wouldn’t be a bad way to handle it.

  22. I was six years old when we first landed on the moon. If you had told me back 1972 that we would not only NOT have moon base by now, but would not even have been back to the moon, I’d have thought you were crazy. Now that that’s become reality, of course, I’m saddened. I long for the day when not only do people want to go explore space, they demand that we do so.

        1. And me. My father took me to a revival screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was kid and said that I would live to see everything on that screen. I’m still waiting.

          1. You know, I’ve never seen 2001 on the big screen. I really have to remedy that some time.

        2. Yes.

          There might have been challenges that would have to be overcome that would slow us down. I certainly did not think that we would simply end up simply walking away.

          The Spouse bemoans: We came. We saw. We collected a few souvenirs.

    1. I congratulate Dr Taylor on his spectacular achievement. However I am sad that it wasn’t an American scientist who made it.

      I have crossed fingers for SpaceX’s future success.

        1. Okay, I made it just over four and half minutes into that. I really like the fact that we are supposed to taking advice and social cues from a woman who wipes snot all over her sleeves on camera, and can’t speak without stuttering all around her non-existent point.

        2. She’s got nothing to say I want to hear other than “After so many years my conscience started to bother me, so I’m admitting in public that I did this for the money and fame and frankly it was so much horse shit”.

          Other than that, I hope she has a heart attack in her sleep.

          1. You’re too kind, I hope she’s a victim of her own policies. And last long enough for the yawning realization to overcome her just before the darkness falls.

      1. But…but…but… I can’t help thinking Robert Quarles!

        I know it is wrong to type cast a fellow, yet Neal McDonough’s performance made such an impression.

    2. I keep asking myself; “Where did we go wrong?” I have slowly come to the realization that the Apollo project was done for all the wrong reasons. It was a statist project that like the pyramids, was done as a monument to the power of the state. But I’ve come to realize that states are fickle and abandon stuff, sometimes for no good reason. And they are jealous of their perogatives. It’s not so much that NASA couldn’t go back, but that they worked very hard to prevent anybody else from doing it. Add to that the amounts that the FEDS suck from the economy and nobody else CAN do things like moonshots. Well at least until recently.

  23. I keep hearing the Brad Pitt Character from Inglorious Basterds……
    “You owe me a dozen dead nazis a day!”
    Only I hear “Libprog Democrats” which are none of the above!
    I think we could bring in the millenium if we’d just go on the offensive!

  24. Many of the moments I loved have already been covered (“I think I’ll take her to that game”; space!; machines in space!; tiny ship against Saturn…), there’s one I haven’t seen:

    !!SPOILER!! Big one, if you haven’t seen the movie don’t read! !! SPOILER!!

    !! SPOILER!!

    Really, spoiler.

    When Coop goes to see Murphy in the med ward, and her family’s all there. Her big family, unto the next generation, and the next…

    Nearly lost it. Screen was a little blurry for a bit. For a couple of reasons:

    Coop got to see his legacy, to see why he left home on this mission.

    Murphy got her hope back!!

    And then she sent her father back out to explore the new frontier, to find and build a new life, to be what he was in the core…

    Maybe I did lose it, then. Maybe.

    1. I suppose the film could have spent some more time with that, but it was already pushing three hours at that point. But it was heartwarming to see that his family had survived and grown.

  25. Here’s the thing, any person in a biological field worth their salt knows that Mother Nature doesn’t care. It doesn’t care about Humanity, it doesn’t care what we’ve done for ourselves or done to the planet. There is no end point to evolution, there is only the drive to adapt to the environmental pressures at hand to survive.
    This idea that evolution means driving us to some perfectable form is ludicrous. The louse that lives inside the nose of an elephant is perfectly evolved for its environment, but that doesn’t mean it can survive any place outside of the elephant’s trunk.
    By that mark, Humanity is only imperfectly adapted to any environment. Which is why we tend to occupy them all. I look forward to Humanity attempting to occupy even more diverse and unusual environments in the future.

  26. I think a lot of the “humans shouldn’t dream, humans are evil, and I hate your shirt” is the crab bucket phenomenon. When we dream, when we achieve, it makes the crabby ones mad because we just proved that yes, humans CAN do that–and *their* failure to achieve is not inherent in the human condition. It’s them, being a failure. Pointing this out makes them even more crabby.

    (Which reminds me of the wonderful Dave Barry column about land crabs, wherein he castigates a crab that is threatening him during mating season — ” ‘I don’t WANT your woman. Your woman is a CRAB, for heaven’s sake.’ Which only made him madder, because deep in his crabby heart he knew it was true.” )

  27. I saw “Interstellar” the Tuesday before it came out. (I have no idea how she got them, but my Lovely and Talented Bride(tm) got tickets for a 35mm film showing at the local Alamo Draft House. I can’t imagine why they landed on the first planet because I don’t have a clue how there can be a habitable planet that close to a black hole’s event horizon. That place has got to be bathed in X-Rays. They should also have realized the consequences of the time-dilation effects before landing rather than after.

    The mission was also poorly designed. They sent a dozen explorers to a dozen potentially habitable planets and told them that they’d only be rescued if they reported the planet as habitable. I think it would have been better to tell people that they’d be eventually rescued once the new colony was established and to use their suspended-animation devices to wait for them. You never want to make people choose between the success of the mission and their own personal survival. You want to give them a hope of survival, no matter how long the odds.

    The problem is that making those two changes eliminate all of the conflict that drives the action in the middle third of the movie. So, you’d have to make up some other conflict. The universe is a hostile place. Maybe you could take advantage of that fact to imagine new conflict.

    1. As to the first planet and time dilation, they had not expected to get swamped and have return to space delayed, so some slack should be cut for that.

      As to the mission design, that would have been a simple patch requiring no real reworking of the plot other than Dr. Mann’s ego being out of control.

      1. The thing about the time dilation is that they knew that every hour spent on that planet was like 20 years on earth. They mention it before they go down to the planet. I just can’t help but think they’d at least consider that whoever had landed on the planet before them would have only been there a few minutes before the rescue showed up. Why wouldn’t they approach the planet and attempt radio contact before landing themselves? Or maybe just look at it through a telescope to see what it looked like. Better still: Why would the first person have landed before taking a good look at the planet? That would mean that the two missions should have met in orbit before either one went down to the surface.

    2. Hollywood does the weirdest things to create “conflict” for a story. Some years back some twit made a film called THE CAVE or something close, about a bunch of overconfident twits exploring a deep cavern with water in it.

      It was a monster movie. They thoght they had to put in a MONSTER for the characters to be in danger.


    3. That individual choose to go on the mission was, in part, attributed to the charisma of Dr. Mann and the belief that their self sacrificing was to save mankind.

      People who become true believers will do insane things, like move to Guiana with Jim Jones or ruin their economies because of supposed anthropocentric global climate change.

  28. Bravo! Well done. I shared it. Your writing reminded me very much of some things I’ve written and I thoroughly enjoyed your style, your prose and most of all your message. Thank You!

    1. OK, not sure what happened. That should have been a reply to Statist Josh and his comment about why Texas doesn’t slip into the ocean.

      WordPress. *shakes his head*

  29. People have now posted more than 10 bits (2^10) comments on this thread. “Interstellar” and this blog post appear to have struck a chord. I haven’t seen it yet, but just the description of it as the “anti-Avatar” is promising enough I now want to see it.

      1. Thanks for that, Josh. (Sorry for the stupidly long reply. Been busy re-doing program install and setup on my art Mac, whose hard drive was hours away from complete and total death. Yeesh. All in all, I got off easy and didn’t lose any actual work. ~_~ )

  30. JC – What happened to nasa was the same thing that happens to any corporation. As the third generation comes in o take over, most of thenm are bean counters of=r lawyers and neither of them have any interesting in taking chances. This is especially true in .gov operations. The driving force is grow but saaaaafely.
    Thus we have a nasa more concerned with muzzie outreach then space.

  31. Question:

    If the world population is increasing, but if everyone is having smaller families; what is going on?

    Something to consider child mortality rate has dropped of the roof. Used to be you needed a large family so as to insure some of them reach an age to start families of their own.

      1. Note: it’s both true and false to correct the old claim about “everyone died at 30” by pointing out that people have occasionally lived to 100 for a very long time. It’s true, because those folks are generally quoting life expectancy stats. It’s false, because it wasn’t that odd for someone to die “of old age” in their 50s when my grandmother was a kid.

        It gets messed up in even more because of the question even now of who gets counted as being born at all.

          1. My point wasn’t about longevity, but getting through childhood to the point of being able to start a family.

            Today we do not need to have as many children to continue on and replace us, statistically speaking.

          2. I believe that the average life expectancy in the US around 1900 was somewhere in the mid-40s.


            If you made it past five you were likely to make it to an age to reproduce.

            If you were a female and made it past child bearing age you were likely to make it to a very ripe old age.

            Men? Well, life could be rough on them. If you had to hunt for your food it was dangerous. Farming was dangerous. If you were conscripted it was dangerous.

            Life, in general, was dangerous.

        1. Foxfier,

          Yes, I understand this. It’s an average and the 30 number is do to the high mortality rate of children at that time. If you made it into your 20’s, you could reasonably expect to live into your 60’s & 70’s, and it wasn’t uncommon for people to live into their 80’s & 90’s.

          1. I don’t think you understand my objection– you couldn’t expect to make it to your 60s and 70s, unless “expect” is used in a really odd way.

            You could reasonably expect to make it to know your grandkids and maybe ggrands depending on how quick folks moved, and you could expect that you’d have a couple of people in their 90s in the area, but dying in your 40s and 50s was like dying in your 60 or 70s is now. Not really surprising, but nobody is going “oh, wow! Cut off so early!”

            The folks correcting the average keep overstating their hand– because the “nobody lived past 40” story is so strongly ingrained– but they’re wrong, unless you take “could reasonably expect” to reach that age the way that I could reasonably expect to live to 100, even though I think the record for my ancestors is in their 80s.
            It’s not unheard of, it’s just not highly probable; folks would probably have a living relative or two that made it to that age, if you include extended family.

            There’s some truth to the dying young aspect of the lower life expectancy, but it can be very misleading. (Part of the issue is that a lot of older records are of those who’d have more help to live when they were old anyways, I’d guess. I know that looking at the gravestones REALLY doesn’t support the idea of it being common to live into your 70s, even if you ignore all the kids’ stones.)

              1. Complementing ones, definitely!

                Here’s the source for life expectancy in that article:

                Click to access KaplanHillLancasterHurtado_2000_LHEvolution.pdf

                (yaaaaay, I found a free one!)
                it’s based on interviews with various tribes, and still has a mean age at expected death of 54 years.

                It’s notable that when there’s records, that estimated life expectancy at 15 (ish) goes down– I’d wager that the interviews were self-editing “well, there was my sister, who got eaten by a lion at 35, and that cousin that ate something and turned blue, and….”

                Either way, while the “dead by the median age” thing is false, so is the “you’re fine if you live to adulthood” one that tends to get pushed in its place. (Then again, reading your article I realized that a lot of the foundation is false, too– “I’m over the median life expectancy, so I’d probably be dead” is pretty accurate as a statement of probability… the assumption that it would be old age is an assumption.)

                AaAaaaargh, didn’t need another rabbit hole…..

            1. My uncle was over here a month or two ago and looking at a CD of pictures and information on his (and mine) ancestors. The original man who moved here from Ireland in the early 1800’s died five days short of his 98th birthday. Many of those that had children were relatively long lived, but that means dying in their 60s and 70s, or rarer 80s there are some that are in their 90s now, but I don’t recall any between the original and those alive now who made it that long. There are also any number that just kind of disappear, maybe a death certificate, or date of death anywhere from birth to their thirties with no kids, or simply nothing (possible they disappeared, not died, but a couple have notes saying something to the effect, “went west, assumed dead”).
              A lot of the average is those that die not only in their childhood, but early of various factors that are no longer common. A lot of longevity if you didn’t die of primitive* causes was genetics, but a lot was antibiotics and medical advances also. I know families today that very seldom have people live past their fifties, and that is primarily genetic.

              *trying to come up with a word that incompasses all the no longer “normal” deaths, whether that be infection, being trampled by draft horses, scalped by Indians, or childbirth.

              1. “Occupational hazards”?

                “Lack of modern medicine”?

                That second one, coupled with “if you do not eat, you die” means a lot of deaths that don’t happen now– like you noted, 90s now instead of 60s-70s with a few outliers. Yeah, a lot of ranch folks work into their 90s– but it’s not that or die, it’s that or give up. (Do a search for Range magazine’s “Red Meat Survivors.” Is awesome.)
                And the folks who have tendencies to cause them to give up on hard physical work like that– be it my grandfather’s heart attacks, or lacking that certain indescribable thing you find in a lot of ranchers– do so without dying.

                It’s the ones that “just disappear” that I keep thinking about– kind of like how they check out the graves of hunter/gatherers and compare it to the ones of farmers, and believe that it’s an even sampling. I know how paperwork gets when everyone just assumes it’s someone else’s job.

              2. Bearcat,

                Small quibble.

                “I know families today that very seldom have people live past their fifties, and that is primarily genetic.”

                Is more like poor gene expression caused by crappy diet.


                1. Not necessarily. Diet cannot solve everything. For example: there are some people’s bodies that simply manufacture ‘bad cholesterol’ no matter what the diet or level of exercise.

                  As much as we have learned we still don’t know that much about how the human body works.

                  1. Agreed to appoint.

                    We know far less than we think when it comes to how the environment and the food we eat effect gene extortion and our health.

                    Let me finish clearing all this new e-mail, I have links to some current studies on this you might find interesting.


              3. L’Amour, The Sacketts:

                After serving in the civil war, William Tell, the eldest brothers of three brothers, was believed by the family to have gone west, but nobody knew for sure. When the two younger brothers met up with him they ask why he never wrote ma to tell her he was alright because she was worried. His simple explaination: he never learned to write. 😉

            2. You could reasonably expect to make it to know your grandkids and maybe ggrands depending on how quick folks moved…

              Yes, when I was growing up, it was HIGHLY unusual for someone to meet their great-grandkids, and even the ones who did, only expected to see a couple, for a few years, before they died. And that’s from a time when the average age for a middle-class woman to be having children was younger than it is today.

              Note: My own parents only got to see their g-grandchildren for a few years, but that’s because my mother was in her late 70s when the first one was born, whereas many women her age would have seen their first between the ages of 50 and 60, and could reasonably expect to see another whole generation get started before they reached the same age.

          2. But my original point that I was trying to make is that used to be you need to have a 8 to 9 kids to have an reasonable expectation that 2 to 3 might make to the point that they will have kids of their own.

            And that today you can reasonable expect “any” kids you have to that point that if they want to.

            The problem isn’t that we are not having large families it is that we are choosing to not have kids.

            1. Best estimates I can find for surviving to adulthood is 50%; if we double the US fertility rate now, it would be 4. I can’t find stats on fertility rates for the middle ages (…holy cow, there’s a lot of bad yahoo and questions spoiling THAT search) but I did find an article that mentioned that France in the 18th century had an incredibly low birth rate of only 6 or 8 children per woman, in part because normal people married so very late.

              It most likely is being extremely skewed by the folks who don’t have any kids, yes, same way those 19 and counting folks skew their local statistics.

    1. The world population isn’t increasing. I bet you it will come out in the next twenty years. We “estimate” cities upwards, and it’s US. The rest of the world? Pah. Smoke and mirrors.

    2. The weatherman Willard Scott used to wish anyone who reached his or her 100 birthday ‘happy birthday’ on morning network television. Now so many are reaching that age (or more) that they pull names out of a hat to choose a select few to be mentioned on air. It is not only the drop in child mortality rates that effects population, it is the steadily rising life expectancy.

      When My Momma was about 10 she got gangrene. She was possible the first civilian to receive a skin graft. She also survived long enough to have me because anti-biotics had been developed. The world changed a lot in the last century.

      1. I interviewed a gent who may have been the first person west of the Missouri River to get penicillin as an experimental treatment after a catfish bite turned septic. (Yes, he was noodling.)

  32. I just read another review of Interstellar which included the following quote, which those here will appreciate, from Cooper:

    “Mankind was born on Earth, but it was never meant to die here.”

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