Month: August 2012

The Greatest of America’s Heroes Has Passed Away

The Greatest of America’s Heroes Has Passed Away

 

Neil Armstrong really needs no introduction. I don’t have words to tell you what his accomplishment means to me. His one small step is the greatest achievement man has ever made. His tiny step dwarfs the pyramids, it makes the great wall look like a picket fence. His small step is the kind of thing that not only transcends the bounds of this planet it transcends the barrier of race, religion, and nation. His step was a step forward for all mankind. Let us remember this hero of heroes. I have no more words…

Review of Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016

I normally would not review a movie that isn’t science fiction or fantasy here. Since Joe Biden is in the film calling Dinesh D’Souza a “science fiction” writer I don’t feel too bad about doing this review. This is also a movie about the future and like the best science fiction this is a cautionary tale of a future that could actually happen.

I got out of work at lunch today and I thought I would just pop into the movie theater and watch the movie. The movie was at 12:20. I thought getting there right at noon would not matter. No one is going to be at some political film in the middle of the day. I was wrong. So wrong that I ended up sitting in one of the handicapped seats because the movie was already full when I arrived. I go to the movies almost every Friday after work. I have never been in a packed theater at noon. I went to The Avengers at noon and it wasn’t packed. What is going on?

So I watch some stupid left wing movie trailer about teachers and schools. A movie you could not pay me to go watch and I could tell the audience was not happy. I realize that the theater is obligated to show trailers and they had fewer trailers on this movie than any I have seen recently, only three. I could also tell that many in the audience had not been to see a movie in quite some time. This film was bringing in people who had boycotted Hollywood long ago.

Eventually the movie started and we watched as D’Sousa deconstructed Obama’s entire life and compared it to his own. The two men have some amazing similarities. Born in the same year, both ivy league school grads, and both products of colonialism. Their individual responses to colonialism separated the paths of these two men. Obama never really knew his father and his mother continually compared every man she was with unfavorably to Barack Obama senior. She created a saint in the eyes of the young Obama. D’Sousa uses Obama’s own writings about his father to illustrate how he idolized the man and how that idolization lead him to seek to fulfill his father’s dreams. Those dreams are the basis of Obama’s political philosophy. D’Sousa explores that philosophy through the writings of the senior Obama. These writings reveal a man deeply troubled by the colonial past of Kenya. A man who sought to steal back from those colonial powers the influence and resources he felt had been denied to his people.

D’Sousa then examines how Obama’s many mentors, all of them radicals or communists of one kind or another, gave him the tools and ideas he needed to realize those dreams of his father. He reaches into Obama’s past to show the motivation and inspiration for his rise to the presidency. He also lays out exactly what Obama plans are for the next four years if he is reelected.

This is an important movie. Very little of it was new to me beyond the interviews with Obama’s half brother and the graduate school adviser for his mother, but if you have a friend that is on the fence this election they need to see this movie. It will give you more information about our current president than any media outlet has been willing or able to as of yet. Don’t miss it.

 

Capitalism – The Key to the Stars

I have a bucket list and one of the things on my list is to stand on the surface of the Moon and look down on Earth.  You can’t die if some thing on your bucket list isn’t done right?  Robert Heinlein was the first I think to postulate that space would be better reached through corporations rather than government agencies.  I believe he was right.

Some would argue –  look the moon was reached by NASA.  My response is — did they stay there?  The answer is of course is NO.  This is very different from how a corporation or entrepreneur would have handled it.  Once they got there such corporations or individuals would have tried to figure out how staying there would generate them money.  They would have discovered something and made it happen.

Government agencies like NASA are for the most part goal driven but they have incredible difficulty redefining goals to achieve new and better results.  There is also the issue funding. A government agency is purely at the mercy of the government to fund it to a certain level.  The problem is funding can change depending on the goals of the administration involved in the government.  This can mean you can be reaching for a goal and then suddenly – Bam! – your funding as been cut and you can’t achieve your objective and have to throw out everything you have done to that point.  This is how government waste happens.

By contrast, a corporation is not  at the mercy of others in these issues.  They set their goals, get their funding and execute.  If funding runs short, the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of the people running the company come into play.  From an ethics point of view corporations are not tied down in some cases to what technologies or philosophies they can use to achieve their results.  This can be alarming to some but the fact is governments are much more concerned with how they are perceived than corporations are.  It is this freedom that will ultimately allow them to lead us to the stars.  It is the ability to create wealth and not be stuck with only one source of income that gives them this edge.

People ultimately act in their own best interests.  If it becomes the best interest of humanity to colonize other worlds, they will be colonized.  The most likely scenario is that humanity will reach out with an eye on profitability.

I hope in the near future to be standing on the moon and looking down at earth, but I strongly suspect that it will not be the NASA logo on the lunar rover that brought me to the vantage point to do so.  More than likely, it will be a corporate logo that has figured out how being on the moon is profitable.

Not Just No, Hell No… SyFy is remaking Blake’s 7

Not Just No, Hell No… SyFy is remaking Blake’s 7

 

SyFy is the channel of death when it comes to science fiction. It ruins franchises and destroys everything it touches. I just learned today that the Syphilis channel is about to remake Blake’s 7.  I have longed to see a new Blake’s 7 made by the BBC. The BBC understands science fiction and doesn’t treat it like a red headed step child. The morons at the SyFy channel can’t do justice to Blake and his crew. They don’t and can’t understand the source material. My prediction will be Blake will be treated with just about as much thought as the SyFy channel put into Flash Gordon or Sharktopus.

Avon pictured above is one of the greatest scoundrels in science fiction history. He is a cross between an evil Alexander Hamilton, Sherlock Holmes, and Albert Einstein. If they ruin Avon I might just go on a crusade to have the Syphilis channel dismantled. Since SyFy is owned by NBC I can guarantee you that the government of the Federation will be evil 1% types who have taken over the society of the future. Craptastic is the watch word on this.

Why They Still Died on the Paleo Diet

As a practitioner of the paleo diet (although not perfectly), I get a lot of questions about it.  One of them was aimed more at the philosophy of it.  “If it is so great, why did they not have as long a life expectancy as we do?”  I suppose this is a fair question given the claims of the Paleo Diet.

There are many factors that go into computing life expectancy and diet is only one of them.

1. Life expectancy also takes into account the infant death rate.  Remove this death rate and you actually get a fairer picture of what a group of people’s lifestyle and technology does to their life expectancy.  Along with this is mothers who die giving birth due to complications.  Modern medicine has caused these two problems to diminish significantly.

2. Environment – No, I am not talking about pollution here but the fact that modern man has learned to shield himself from the elements better as well as generate heat and cold better than our prehistoric brothers.  There are also the perils of hunting itself.  When I practice my Paleo Diet I head to the grocery store and buy my meat and veggies.  My ancestors had to grab a bow or spear and go kill something and some of those somethings had claws and horns.  In those situations, the hunted can become the hunter and even if it does not kill you a wound can be just as lethal.

3. Lack of Knowledge About Infection – this leads to of course how many people died from a lack of having germ theory or a proper understanding of what causes infection.  They also lacked the understandings of what to do when infection sets in.  Modern pharmacology did not exist and what did exist in the form of medicine was trial and error with herbs and superstition.  In the Paleo world a small cut could lead to death.

I could on and on about all the things that affect life expectancy, but these are the ones that jump to mind immediately.  The point we paleo people are trying to make is simple.  You don’t see the rapid plaque build up in the arteries, tooth decay and shorter weaker people in paleo societies.  You see them in modern agricultural ones.  You see it when grains and sugars become the staple foods instead of the occasional find by the gatherers.  Anthropologists simply do not see diet causing the early death of the paleolithic people or even tribal people of today.  We do see that in our modern one however.

It seems then that the best avenue for longer and healthy life is to combine the modern medical understandings of the human body with the diet of the past that our bodies are designed to accept.  That way the best of both worlds combines to make us healthy and stronger.  It may also be the key to extending our lives a little bit farther.

Gor – Christian Grey Ain’t Got Nothing on This!

Long before the 50 Shades of Grey series by E.L. James, the author John Norman created a world that was completely about dominance and submission. Throughout the 60s and 70s Norman captivated his readers with a world both fantastic and philosophically challenging.  That world was Gor or Counter Earth.  The Gorean Saga, which spans over 20 plus books, postulated a world in which men were completely dominant and women completely subservient.  Gor is located on the opposite side of the sun from earth in the same orbit.

The series is what I would call fantastic science fiction.  People from earth are abducted (particularly women) by aliens and their servants and find themselves on this world.  The aliens have restricted the people that live there to lower technology in many cases, particularly weapons.  The animals are fantastic as they are larger and more ferocious but this is explained by the aliens bringing creatures from other worlds and the lower gravity of Gor.  The most noted of these creatures are the giant birds known as tarns.  Tarns are ridden by tarnsmen and are the only true ‘air force’ of the world of Gor.

The underlying theme of all the Gorean books is domination and submission.  In particular, the domination of men over women is central.  While male slaves do exist in Gor, the idea of Gorean culture is that men are essentially free and women are essentially slave.  Marriage does not exist but a woman might earn the right to be a man’s free companion.  Because most women on Gor are slaves and need to be controlled, bondage also is an ever present theme.

Before readers label John Norman as a chauvinist pig, one of the books I have read is told from a woman’s perspective (Captive of Gor).  The woman is abducted from earth and the book is a compilation of her thoughts and feelings as she moves more and more from fighting her slavery to accepting it and feeling that it is superior to the life she lived and a spoiled rich woman in America.  The truth is John Norman has done his homework about bondage and many women into BDSM practice the Gorean type submission presented even to this day.  The thoughts and feelings of the woman involved are indeed the thoughts of many women who choose the servant role in domination/submission relationships.

So why do I, a libertarian Christian and pastor, enjoy and applaud the Gorean Saga? Why would someone like me read and try to digest its BDSM concepts?  Besides the fact that the whole of the Gorean Chronicles are well written and extremely entertaining adventures, it is because it is part of my continuing pursuit to define liberty and freedom as a libertarian.

It is not as easy as everyone thinks it is.  What makes us think of someone else as free?  In Gor, the slave girl is often more free than the free woman.  The slave girl can go more places and do more things because to be free for the free woman is to be constantly on guard against being captured and forced into slavery.  The slave girl is ultimately as free as her mind will let her be and often finds that the more she enjoys her bondage, the more she is truly liberated.

This ultimately leads to the question of what makes us free?  Is liberty a social status, cultural condition or legal question or is it something far deeper and higher?  Where does one find freedom?  Who is the more free – the man who has tremendous power but has no choices about what to do with it or the man who has limited power but unlimited choices?  All of these questions are beyond the typical black and white answers we try to give them.  The Chronicles of Gor constantly places before the reader and dialogue about these questions.

Compared to the 50 Shades series, the Gorean Saga is far more rich, intelligent and deeper in its treatment of the whole domination/submission questions.  Even more than this in the midst of being truly entertained, one may find oneself stretched in their understandings of freedom and liberty.  It is philosophically demanding as well as entertaining.    Christian Grey is a small little man compared to the powerful men of Gor and the fact that John Norman writes so well will keep you captivated.  The Gorean Saga is well worth anyone’s time to read it.

 

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Dr. Jerry Pournelle

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Dr. Jerry Pournelle

We have a special treat for our readers this morning. One of my all time favorite authors Dr, Jerry Pournelle.  Having co-authored my third favorite book Lucifer’s Hammer (1 and 2 are both Heinlein works) I was a little nervous to contact him and more nervous to actually ask for an interview. Luckily I got over that  and I am very proud to present this interview for our audience here at the Freehold.

Normally we like to ask four questions about the person’s work and a fifth question being about politics. Many of our readers are very familiar with Dr. Pournelle’s writing. In fact in my circle of acquaintances both on the internet and in real life Lucifer’s Hammer is referenced quite often along with many of his other work’s. So we focused this interview  on asking Dr. Pournelle political questions.

 The Hitchhiker asks…

1. My first conscious introduction to you was the forward you wrote for Heinlein’s Take Back Your Government In fact your forward and that book helped make me a politically aware person. It also influenced me to vote for Ross Perot that year. Do you think Perot was the right man at that time and do you think third parties actually accomplish anything in our society beyond being a spoiler for one of the large party candidates?

 

The goal of many adherents of the Perot movement was to alter the political process of the United States, and particularly the party nomination process; specifically to move some of the control of that process back down to the precinct and legislative district level where it had been for a century. It was not so much support of Perot himself as of the viability of a third party candidate with popular support.

 

 

2. Lucifer’s Hammer is a favorite in my crowd. I like to think of that crowd as the rational preppers. Do you have any thoughts about how and why the prepper movement has developed in this country to such an extent?

 

I’m not sure what you mean by prepper. It is not a word I use. Citizens ought to be prepared for local emergencies, and I was at one time an Emergency Preparedness merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts, and as Assistant Scoutmaster I insisted on Emergency Preparedness in our local troop. I was also involved with the Civil Defense network and activities. I do not believe that the Federal Government can establish an agency to take the place of what used to be Civil Defense, and it seems clear to me that the frequent FEMA failures illustrate this.

Self government requires citizens willing to participate in self government rather than rely on distant government organizations to take care of them. During the Cold War the primary threat to civilization in the US was from nuclear war. In my view the best way to survive a nuclear war is not to have one, but if that fails, then there are obvious steps one may take to make survival more probable. Today the threats are quite different, as are their probabilities.

 

At my age I would not expect to survive the collapse of civilization, nor would I expect to be able to conduct a point defense against organized marauders. Local Civil Defense organizations were the best preparation against the failure of national military deterrence – and had the merit of making that deterrence more stable. There are preparations that regions can make against threats to civilization – such as world power failure following enormous solar flares. They aren’t being made now. How effectively individuals or small communities can prepare against a million people with limited resources and time before starvation in a world without electrical power (no refrigerators, no pipelines, no food distribution system operating in a world of ‘just in time’ delivery to grocery stores, etc.. etc.) is not so clear or obvious. Again local Civil Defense organizations with a chain of command and some contingency plans would seem to have the best chance here.

 

The old notion of survival companies able to hole up and survive the first months following nuclear war and fallout with its casualties doesn’t apply when no one is sick yet but everyone is starving, and cars still run, bridges are still intact, but fuel is running out. That kind of Hobbesian world makes for rather depressing science fiction novels.

 

3.Our readers are concerned about the space program and NASA. While I believe personally that commercial space exploration is the future I can not stress how important the contributions of NASA scientists have been to our society. We certainly would not be doing this interview over email without some of the technology developed in the Apollo era and beyond. In light of all your work in the aerospace community do you believe NASA still holds an important role in space exploration?

 

I have long ago said that governments are supposed to look out for our grandchildren now that we no longer have kings and aristocrats who do that. The problem is that government does only a few things well. It can organize for defined missions like Apollo, but then the standing army created for doing that tends to stay around and absorb resources.

 

There are things that government can and should do. I summarize that as “Prizes and X Projects”. I wrote that briefing a long time ago, and it’s available as “How to get to Space” http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/gettospace.html

 

 

4. There is a belief that Republican administrations are anti-science. I can understand where some would feel that way because of the anti-evolution crowd among the religious right. However when I have looked at the numbers, presidents like George Bush increased NASA funding while the Obama Administration has slashed it. What are your thoughts on the political difference in spending for science?

 

I was campaign manager for the first (and successful) campaign of Barry Goldwater, Jr. for Congress. Barry was on the Science Committee and attempted to save a number of advanced research projects such as NERVA. My old friend Dana Rohrbacher has long been a congressional friend of advanced research projects. Newt Gingrich tried to introduce Prizes for space projects and has long been known as a space cadet. There is a place for government in space development. But I covered all that in the last question.  See http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/gettospace.html

 

 

5. Since the first four questions were political in nature I thought I would save a science fiction question for last. The modern trend in speculative fiction is away from hard science fiction and has moved towards a melange of vampire eroticism, mystical children, and medieval fantasy. Even when Hollywood attempts a science fiction story (see my review of the new Total Recall) they infuse the story with so much pseudo-scientific gobbledegook that it gives me a headache. Do you think that this lack of interest in hard science fiction says something about our society?

 

When I first got into science fiction, fantasy was a small branch of SF, and SFWA was the Science Fiction Writers of America; fantasy writers could join but it was a courtesy. Now fantasy is much larger in sales than SF. On the other hand, science fiction still sells. Lucifer’s Hammer was fifteen weeks on the best-seller list, and continues to sell well as an electronic book (and indeed eBook rights are probably worth more now than print rights for many SF works).

 

The American public school system has become a national disaster, and we have a generation unprepared for understanding science or science fiction; and a school system that believes that everything is relative and thus a matter of opinion (including so far as I can see the value of Planck’s Constant and the solution to the problem of 12.3 + 44) isn’t likely to generate students fond of works like The Cold Equations, or for that matter that kind of tales I tell which still have stories of honor and loyalty. Fortunately the Internet has produced a remedy, and those who really want to learn can turn to the Kahn Academy and various MIT and Cal Tech lectures, and such like. The means for learning are out there.

 

And, as Mr. Heinlein used to say, mankind will go to space, but there is no law of the Universe that says that the language spoken out there will be English.

 

America has the potential to go back to space, beginning with Moon Colonies and continuing to the asteroids and beyond. I wrote all that years ago in my non-fiction book A Step Farther Out http://www.baenebooks.com/p-922-a-step-farther-out.aspx and it’s still pretty valid.

 

Dr. Pournelle Thank you for this interview it was a genuine pleasure.

I Can’t Stand Gene Roddenberry

I Can’t Stand Gene Roddenberry

Sorry to all you Star Trek fans out there. I may be the only science fiction fan in the universe that really hates his guts. He stands in the annals of history with Karl Marx as one of the most vile perpetrators of socialism and communism this planet has ever known. I call him the used philosophy salesman…. and he was good at that job, one of the best.

Today is the anniversary of his birth and I have been constantly reminded of this all morning. Tributes everywhere I look to the man who turned the brains of a generation of science fiction fans to utter mush. If only he had passed on ten years earlier. We would never have had to put up with the inane techno-babble ramblings and neo-communist preaching of the Next Generation.

Twenty-one years after this man’s death and every single time communism is brought up I am forced to listen to some fool say, “But it works on Star Trek.” Well, to every idiot that has ever said that let me tell you… “Reversing the polarity of the trans-warp conduits.” That works on Star Trek just as well. The day that warp core conduits exist and how to reverse them is something actually useful to know, then we can talk about communism “working” on Star Trek.

Communism is as much a part of the techno-babble as the rest of Star Trek “speak”. Trek is a show about technology that is based on nonsense and philosophical nonsense that has proven unworkable every time it is tried. Worse than that, it is nonsense that has helped dumb down millions of people who should be the leaders in technology. I know what you are going to say….”look at all this technology based off of things on Star Trek“. Great and you know what made that technology possible. Capitalism pure and simple capitalism. None of those gadgets would have made it to the real world if someone wasn’t willing to buy them or pay money to bring those inventions to life. That very capitalism which runs counter to the entire utopian dream of Star Trek made those a reality.

I could write volumes on how Star Trek is actually a dis-utopia and the fact that Star Fleet is really a despotic government ruling over a vast empire of subjects who are virtual slaves of the state. The fans would not believe me. No matter how much I explain. All I ask is watch the show for yourself. Look at the clothing of characters that are federation citizens and not in Star Fleet. Look at the technology on Picard’s brother’s farm. Notice how there is no independent media and all communications are controlled by Star Fleet. Notice that all human’s are under the jurisdiction of Star Fleet, even when they live outside of it’s borders and break Star Fleet laws outside those borders. Watch Voyager and find out about how there are black markets on Earth. I don’t know why these little Easter eggs are in the show, but they are there, and they give a glimpse behind the curtain. Open your mind and look deeper into the rabbit hole and discover the dream Roddenberry really had for the future. I don’t like that future one little bit.

I had almost forgotten about this site. It goes into depth about the economic realities of the Federation-

The Economics of Star Trek

Are the Wonder Twins Really Mormons?

Are the Wonder Twins Really Mormons?

What religion does your favorite Superhero practice.  The author of this page has tracked down thousands of comic-book references to create a database of hundreds of heroes matched to their philosophical and religious belief systems. This is really worth taking a look at. I had no idea that Superman was a Methodist. They also list environmentalism as a religion….I have said that for years.  The link is here.