Category: Curmudgeon Corner

Where did Generation X go?

This post has nothing to do with speculative fiction. I am just rambling on about something that has been bothering me lately. I can do that, I own the blog. I am solidly a member of Generation X. I was born in 1970 which is in the middle of every estimation of when Generation X started. Yes, there is debate about when Gen X began and ended. I  believe anyone born from 1965-1985 is a member of Generation X. Others give the dates as a little earlier or a little later. Regardless of which way it goes Generation X is missing from our society. In media, entertainment, and academia, we are no longer seen as a group worth talking about or even acknowledging.

We constantly hear about the Millennials and the Boomers. The Millennials get press because their slacker status actually exceeds that of Generation X. Laziness is not the worst trait of Gen M they have been coddled for so long and their parents have treated them as special to the point they can’t cope with reality. Which leads me to wonder who the hell their parents actually were?

The Boomers, what hasn’t been said about that self absorbed group of losers. They dominate politics, the presidency, and make life a living hell for the rest of us with their constant demands for a tighter regulatory state. The Boomers are like a bunch of suffocating nannies. They want to plastic wrap the world.

Where did Gen X go? I have savaged both the Millennials and the Boomers, but I think I have the worst things to say about my own generation. I think we dropped out and left our responsibilities to others. I spent more than half my working life traveling from job to job working as an archaeologist. I am finally settling down in my forties. How did the children of Gen X get so messed up? I think we let our grandparents do to much of the rearing of our children. Those cloying nannies in the Boomer generation seeing the mess they made of Gen X, by being to permissive, went too far the other way. Participation trophies and safe spaces. They created a generation of emotionally stunted children and it is Gen X’s fault. We let the Boomers do this to our children.

I don’t like to leave an article without some hope. That hope is that as Gen X ages we will settle down and raise our second generation of children to be outgoing and brave. We will get our grand children away from the Millennials for a weekend at a time and let them get dirty and let them play outside. We need to make the next generation brave and Gen X is just the ones to do it. We are the people who invented extreme sports, created MMA, went camping in the most remote places on Earth, swam with the sharks, or in my case waded with the alligators. We are an extreme generation, lets make our grand children extreme.

I realize not every Gen Xer let their parents raise their children and I realize every Millennial is not an age stunted attention whore. These are just my observations of trends in our society.

Trop de Trompes de Tropes (or, say “trope” one more time….)

Trop de Trompes de Tropes (or, say “trope” one more time….)

thestupiditburns

 

Every time someone misuses the word trope (which is approximately 99.999 percent of the time when it’s used on the Internet), I get ….really upset. Call it blind rage, call it a flash of insanity, but even though Weird Al Yankovic’s “Word Crimes” immediately starts playing in my head, what I really want to do is subject said person to the same mutilations Al wants to subject to himself in his song “One More Minute.” I want to slam their laptops down on their knuckles so hard that their fingers start twitching like spastic hog-nose snakes, and then repeatedly whack them over their head with it while yelling “IDIOT! IDIOT!” in my best Norwegian death-metal voice.

 

In other words, I really don’t like it when it happens.

 

Settle down. It’s only a word.

 

Tell that to a biologist whenever someone mixes up genus and species, to an astronomer when someone confuses galaxy and solar system, or to a chemist when someone says atom when what they meant to say is molecule. For that matter, ask any scientist in any field not to get worked up when laypeople demonstrate they don’t know the difference between theory and hypothesis. To get excessively recursive, definitions are by definition an attempt  to provide an exact meaning for a word, term or phrase that will eliminate confusion in speech. The word trope has been very useful to people studying literature, language and rhetoric because until recently, it did stand for something very precise. You see, a trope isn’t just any recurring cliche, idiom, or motif; it’s one that helps turn a literal representation into a figurative one (hence its derivation from the Latin word meaning “to turn”), particularly (as outlined by Kenneth Burke) metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche and irony. It’s not a coincidence that the same people who have decided to make the word “trope” stand for any frequently recurring cultural object are those who continually confuse the words literally and figuratively, or who don’t care that Alanis Morissette popularized the misuse of the word ironic, because if it has a good beat and you can sing along with it so screechingly that you annoy everyone else in the coffee shop, who cares?

 

That’s right, I don’t care. The meaning of words always changes, and besides, the new definition is in the dictionary…

 

So what? The dictionary routinely includes the incorrect and improper definitions of words, or rather, the vulgar definition of a word.  Many dictionaries now regularly include a definition for “ain’t,” but that doesn’t make its usage acceptable either. And here’s something you don’t seem to realize: the continual incorrect use of the word trope popularized by a silly pop-culture website has not only sanctioned a new incorrect definition, but it has been stretched so far that it now almost means anything the speaker wants it to be. For instance, because the original use of the word meme by Richard Dawkins now has been co-opted to describe pictures of cats wielding machine guns and videos of people water-skiing into lifebuoys, people now use “trope” instead as a substitute.  I hate to say it, but Anita Sarkeesian seems to be one of the few people left who actually knows what the word “trope” means and how to use it, because her research is based on how certain imagery and characterizations in computer games allegedly carry with them a loaded, figurative meaning beyond their literal representation. (There, you forced me to say something nice about Anita Sarkeesian. Are you happy now?)

 

No. Tell us how to properly use the word, wise guy.

 

I will. First, to illustrate what a trope truly is, here’s a classic picture by Matisse.

CkDfQXAUgAE0tRK.jpg large

As the writing says this is not a pipe; it is a picture of a pipe. Likewise, this picture is not a trope, even though you’ve seen it repeatedly, and read countless references to it. But when does a pipe, or rather, the representation of a pipe become more than just a pipe, but an honest-to-goodness trope? Well, take a look at these photographs here:

 

pipeeinsteinpiperussellpipejungpipeoppie

 

I presume you already know who the first person is, but the other three are also renowned intellectual figures of the Twentieth Century. Yet even if you didn’t recognize their faces, , you probably said to yourself “hey, all those guys must be really smart because they’re smoking pipes.” That’s because the pipe itself has become a trope, an actual honest-to goodness trope, as it serves as a form of  visual metonymy, a defining characteristic establishing that someone is highly educated and/or who pursues intellectual inquiry, as well as a metaphor for intelligence itself. Most of the tobacco-addicted academics I know prefer cigarettes, and Sigmund Freud himself preferred cigars; it was in fact his response to the misuse of psychoanalysis “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” that inspired Matisse’s painting in the first place. Yet we still have in our mind the notion that academics prefer pipes, or the image in our head of Sigmund Freud smoking a pipe instead of a cigar, because a pipe has been rendered this particular figurative force. In two science fiction spoofs with cult followings, the big-budget Mars Attacks! and the lesser-known indie film Top of the Food Chain, the characters played respectively by Pierce Bronsnan and Campbell Scott are supposed to be parodies of the “Richard Carlson role” in the science fiction films of the Fifties. Even audience members who have never seen a movie of the era will instantly recognize that the characters are satirizing a certain antiquated image of the intellectual because they continually have oversized pipes in their mouths. The aforementioned Richard Carlson role is a just a cliche but the use of the pipe itself to identify the character as a cliche is a trope. See the difference?

But a pipe can be more than just one kind of trope. Who’s the first person who pops into your head when you hear the word “pipe?” Chances are, it’s Sherlock Holmes, because one of English literature’s most famous characters is associated with a number of a particular visual cues: a spyglass, an English deerstalker’s hat and of course, a corncob pipe. The pipe, the hat and the spyglass are all tropes, being examples of synecdoche, since they are all parts representing a whole, specific figure in our mind. It doesn’t matter that in the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Holmes neither wore a deerstalker nor carried a spyglass, and that he not only usually smoked cigars or cigarettes, but when he did smoke from a pipe, they were cheap clay or cherrywood ones. All an actor has to do just stick a corncob pipe in his mouth along with one or more of the other accoutrements and presto!  We instantly recognize him as Sherlock Holmes.

holmesrathboneholmeswotnerholmesbrett

holmescushingholmesleeholmesnimoy

 

Now lets move on to the proper use of the word trope in science fiction itself. H.G. Wells introduced in his novel War of the Worlds the new trope of the alien invasion story. Not the notion of an alien invasion itself; that’s a premise which over time has become a convention. What makes it a trope is that under Wells, the alien invasion became a metaphor, specifically an allegory for British imperialism. The trope of irony comes into play as well, since it’s Britain getting invaded by aliens instead of being the alien invaders themselves this time around, and it’s the the would-be colonists that wind up being felled by disease instead of the native peoples of Earth. We can now see how the notion of tropes, when used properly, are powerful objects because of how they work together to get a writer’s point across; in this case the use of irony helps to support the use of metaphor or allegory. Since then, there have been many variations of this particular alien invasion trope, most famously in the way alien invaders in Fifties science fiction films stood in for communism, but also consider how such works as Mary Doria Russell’s novel The Sparrow and Ursula K. LeGuin’s novella “The Word for World is Forest” invert them by making us humans the malign invaders but retaining the allegory for Western colonialism (and you thought Avatar was so original). In the example of Fifties science fiction movies, the trope is modified while retaining the basic conventions of the alien invasion story originated by Wells, whereas in the Russell and LeGuin stories the premise is inverted (again, the use of irony as a trope)  while retaining the Wellsian trope of alien invasion as a stand-in for imperialism and colonialism. There are other cliches and motifs associated with the alien-invasion premise, but not all of them are tropes as well, since not all of them stand for anything else beyond their literal depiction.

Hold it. You said that the “Richard Carlson role” is just a cliche, but isn’t it a trope as well?

See, you are learning! As my own rhetoric professor, Bernard L. Brock (who introduced me to Burkean theory and the notion of tropes in the first place) was fond of saying, “yes and no.” The role itself is just a cliche or stereotype, but it’s the term “Richard Carlson role” that’s the trope, specifically yet another form of metonymy.  You simply need to say that “Hugh Marlowe (or Arthur Franz or Jeff Morrow or John Agar) has the Richard Carlson role” and fans of Fifties science fiction films will instantly know that the actor is not just playing the lead, but is playing the role of a heroic scientist. You can also say “Gloria Talbott in the Beverly Garland role,” “Marshall Thompson in the Kenneth Tobey role,” “Mara Corday in the Joan Weldon role,” “Whit Bissell in the Morris Ankrum role,” and so on, and this same community of fans will again instantly know what you’re talking about because a particular actor or actress is cast in a certain role that another performer has become associated with. It’s much the same way Trekkies used the term “Red Shirt” to define a walk-on role whose character doesn’t survive past the halfway mark in their first and only appearance on the show, and that term has since been used to denote other expendable bit parts, regardless of the color of their garments or regardless of the show they’re on. So if someone were to say that “the cast of Game of Thrones is made up entirely of Red Shirts,” you’d immediately grasp that they meant that every character on the show is expendable. It’s not the role that’s the trope, but the use of words to describe it, as they have moved beyond a character literally having a red shirt to figuratively having one (and they may be literally covered in red by the time the show is over, but that’s another matter altogether). Beyond the obvious, what additionally annoys me about the  TV Tropes website (yeah, I had to mention it by name eventually) is that the people who originated it may have indeed had at least an inkling of what the word “trope” really meant, and possibly had intended for people realize that the tropes were not the various recurring elements in popular culture themselves, but the usages of language to create an identifiable shorthand at recognizing them.

(And another pet peeve of mine I need to address. You may have scratched the side of your head when I mentioned the Richard Carlson role, but when I explained that it’s the role of the heroic scientist in Fifties science fiction film, you probably then slapped it in recognition and said “Oh! You meant the Russell Johnson role!” If you did, you really should punch yourself twice on both sides of your skull, because no, it is not what I meant at all. Russell Johnson was indeed a regular in the genre films of the decade, but he rarely played a scientist, and never played a lead! Instead, the “Russell Johnson role” denotes supporting parts as telephone linesmen, radio operators, and the like. Somehow, people got his movie roles mixed up with the character of The Professor he played on Gilligan’s Island).

OK, I think I get it now. But what do you expect us to say in place of “trope” instead?

There’s already an umbrella word for motifs, conventions and recurring themes and premises in fiction and rhetoric that don’t necessarily have a figurative meaning: it’s topos or in plural form, topoi.  What’s even more annoying about the misuse of the word “trope” is that there was an already-existing perfect term used to describe and classify literary and rhetorical devices, but now that word has also become practically useless in common conversation as the result of another word’s exaptation  to cover what it used to define.  So you see, when you misuse one word, there’s a domino effect on the rest of the vocabulary. Sure, topos and topoi are awkward-sounding words and it’s easy to forget which one is plural and which one is singular, but if you can master the English language with all its messiness, contradictions and already too many words as is, I’m certain you can get used to it.  Better yet, use the specific words to describe particular topoi, the ones you are undoubtedly all already familiar with: cliche, stereotype, archetype, convention, motif, idiom and even just plain old theme and premise.

There has to be more to this than just the misuse of the English language. Really now, why is it such a big deal?

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, my degrees are in communication studies with a concentration in rhetoric, so I get very frustrated at poorly thought-out and uninformed attempts at armchair criticism. It’s gotten to the point that the continual overuse and misuse of the word “trope” means that outside of academic papers by people in the field, it’s a good indicator that the person using the word knows next to nothing about what they’re talking about. They apparently think if they just say the word “trope” repeatedly it will somehow make them look smarter and seem knowledgeable about the topic at hand. It doesn’t; it only drives home that you haven’t taken the time to properly research it and need to rely on buzzwords in order to puff yourself up.  In other words, it becomes just another form of sophistry. This particular misuse of the word has also encouraged a lazy and simple-minded approach to observing and studying culture. Just pointing at something and shouting “Trope!” does not constitute valid cultural criticism, yet that is what now passes for it nowadays on the Internet. Worse yet, it has started to infect professional criticism as well, although in doing so, it helps one distinguish the good critics from the hacks. And that’s a shame, because the notion of tropes and topoi have been useful tools for many years in the study of literature and rhetoric, as well as in film and media studies. They help us to understand how genres originate and evolve, and how words and language serve as a means of persuasion and identification.

OK, I get it now. I won’t say something is a trope again unless I’m absolutely sure it actually is one.

Good. Don’t let me down.

Are you sure “The Russell Johnson Role” doesn’t constitute a true tro-

DIE

 

machinegunkitty

 

 

 

 

 

Convergent Evolution: an Opinion

Convergent Evolution: an Opinion

cover

About a year ago I created this meme during a discussion on a Facebook group about alien life. The group consensus was that we would never meet an alien race with a humanoid posture or upright bipedal locomotion because it was highly unlikely that this arrangement would evolve independently again. Now I am at best a curmudgeon and at worst an asshole, so I got to thinking about that contention and the more I thought about it the less it struck me as a hard and fast rule.

Evolution is essentially conservative, there is a conservation of form and function in evolution because of the way natural law interacts with living beings. For instance a creature that swims in water on Earth or on a planet 20 light years from Earth is probably going to look roughly the same. Since life seems to favor an aquatic origin as that life emerges from the sea of an alien planet evolution of that terrestrial life may already be based on bilateral symmetry. Of course something like an octopus might be the first creature on land, but at least on our planet the race to the surface favored creatures with hard internal or external structures whose bodies were structurally streamlined. I believe these types would most likely emerge first elsewhere as well.

If my conjecture is correct, that bilateral symmetry is favored by aquatic environments leading to quicker more agile creatures, then that conservation of form will follow onto the land leading to creatures that mimic our own evolution. In the meme above the T-Rex and the Ankylosaurus predate the Terror Bird and the Glyptodon by 60 million years, but the body forms are essentially the same…in fact the T-Rex probably had feathers. What does this mean for future encounters with alien life? First, don’t discount the possibility that creatures with similar capacities to ourselves may have similar body structures. It is very possible that higher intelligence requires a bilateral body plan and whose ancestors went through an arboreal stage of development before developing true upright posture.  Second, don’t discount running into a nightmare like a Tyrannosaurus when exploring alien environments.

This is just my opinion.

On Our Responsibility to Futures Past

I moved homes recently, and the most painful part of the process was, as it would be for any other bibliopath, deciding which books to keep and which to sell. I had built up a substantial collection over the years, maybe not as extensive as some collectors but still impressive, and I had to decide which books had the most merit, the most re-readability value, and the ones I had the greatest personal attachment with in order to makethese difficult decisions. Like many others, I have strong memories related to my first reading of a particular book-Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales From Planet Earth while on the shores of a beach in North Carolina, Ben Bova’s Mars while atop the massive red boulders of Ontario’s Killarney National Park-that makes me treasure the joys of returning to them even more.  Ultimately, after making my decisions, about 75% of the books in my collection-a large number of them duplicate copies-were sent to a charity book sale while those nearest and dearest to me remained on my shelves. A difficult task, as unfair as asking a parent to choose between their children (OK, I exaggerate a little), but a necessary one.

Even as I gave up part of my collection, I did not dispose of it; I made sure those books would be given a home elsewhere, so someone else could share in the joys of reading and re-reading them. My greatest hope is that those books continue to be passed on and be enjoyed by future readers, but surveying where fandom is headed, I am cautiously pessimistic. I am not speaking of the unwillingness to read books unless they appear on a Tablet or a similar electronic device; I am speaking of the lack of interest in and outright lack of respect for writers and books of eras past by the current generation of so-called science fiction fans. A particularly infuriating piece on The Daily Dot (found courtesy of Gregory Benford) sums up this at-once contemptuous and contemptible attitude quite well, providing a telling look at how a combination of cultural illiteracy, youthful arrogance and political correctness is poisoning the science fiction community. The author drips with sneering condescension towards the “old-timers” making up the guests and attendants at WorldCon, the leading literary science fiction convention (where the Hugos are awarded each year), attacking them for unspecified “offensive” comments they made at panels (none are actually given) and generally being “out of touch” with not just current fandom  but for their “exclusionary” behaviour and attitudes. Since the author further doesn’t name any targets of her derision other than Robert Silverberg, whose progressive and liberal bonafides are impeccable, I seriously doubt the accuracy of her reporting, something borne out by the article comments refuting her version of events.

From this wholesale trashing of Worldcon, the author then proceeds to a rose-eyed, insufferably gooey praise of the Nine Worlds convention, which she squees over for its allegedly “inclusionary” policies where people can freely discuss sexism and racism (as long as, obviously, you have the right opinion on such matters), and attendants can wear colour-coded lapel clips to signal whether or not they want to socialize (“Green means yes,  Red means go away”). The author obviously regards this as a Great Leap Forward (Maoist reference made without irony), but for anyone who has ever seen conventions as an excuse to socialize and meet people with similar interests in the first place, it’s a depressing regression, reminiscent of dystopian science fiction stories where social interactions are controlled and regulated by government fiat out of a misguided benevolence. I hope neither the author nor any of the other people at Nine Worlds ever reads Silverberg’s The World Inside, lest they suffer massive emotional and psychological trauma.

Most annoying of all is the way the author thinks she and fellow fans of the media branches of science fiction-TV, movies, games, anime, even comic books to an extent- are somehow being “oppressed” and “marginalized” by the old guard at WorldCon. How dare a convention originally founded to honor the best and brightest in print science fiction continue to give primacy to the written word! Indeed, why shouldn’t it, when the majority of conventions now cater not to science fiction readers but consumers of media instead? Why can’t there be even one convention left that remains dedicated to the literary faction of fandom, is focused specifically on science fiction instead of fantasy, and reminds attendants of the rich history of the genre instead of catering to the trendy and faddish and reinforcing for younger attendants what they already know and are continually exposed to? If the author wants to know what exclusion what really is, try being a fan of written science fiction other than Neal Stephenson or Tolkien (authors she name-drops who, along with Douglas Adams, happen to be the favorite writers of readers who don’t like science fiction), or a fan of classic movies (meaning: before Star Wars) and TV at the type of allegedly “inclusive” convention she drools over.

Her attitudes are not anomalous, I regret to say. Much as classic film lovers find themselves frustrated in trying to persuade a younger generation to appreciate the cinema of years past, so to do those of us who grew up reading science fiction find themselves vexed by the current fracturing of the genre, and trying to make the case for the primacy of books and the importance of retaining its literary heritage.  Instead, younger audiences seem to think that the science fiction of years past is only good for mockery at best, outright contempt at worst.  The importance of the so-called “Sad Puppies” campaign to get fans to nominate the Hugos on the basis of literary merit and entertainment value rather than political dogma or author identity lies not just in its push back against the toxic leftism that has infected the field, but in its attempt to reclaim the past. At the very core of the campaign is a revival of the classical values of the science fiction community, where science and fiction alike were equally important and respected, which embraced the free discussion of ideas and where not only was literary merit more important than politics, so was the cohesiveness and friendship that existed within the community. That Harlan Ellison and Jerry Pournelle, two writers so diametrically opposed in politics and well known for their great intellects and short tempers, could remain friends for so long even during the most divisive and turbulent of times, is a testament to this and an example for the rest of us to follow.  Beyond trying to rehabilitate the current state of the field, I also urge the Sad Puppies to do the same for the past as well. Keep alive not just the values of old-time science fiction, but the old-time science fiction stories themselves. Defend them against those who would censor them for not complying with contemporary progressive dogma and mores, and encourage them to be read. If science fiction is to have a bright tomorrow, it cannot extinguish the lights of its past.

The Greatest Challenge to the 1st Amendment: A Follow Up

The Greatest Challenge to the 1st Amendment: A Follow Up

3D-printed-gun-modelsThe Government has forced Cody Wilson’s company, Defense Distributed, to take down his designs for 3D printed firearms. I can’t say I’m surprised, and if you had read my other article earlier in the week you would understand why: This is a blatant attack on the first amendment. Forget, for a minute, that these plans can be used to create guns. What is the difference between banning these plans from distribution, and banning a book? There are quite a few books out there that could be considered just as dangerous. I downloaded a PDF book on building machine guns last night. Will we see books like that banned next?

Just this week Obama gave a speech in which he said, “Reject voices that warn about government tyranny.”

Let me quote the words of a document that president Obama would have you reject.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security”

Is this computer file any more dangerous to the government than the words of the *actual* Declaration of Independence? Will these words also be banned?

I am not saying that we need to rise up in armed revolt, and I am not saying that we have become a despotic state. I am saying that, when a government feels it has the right to censor public information and ban the people from looking at what are, at their most basic,  just “drawings” of an item that the government fears, we are not far away from the very tyranny that the founders warned about.

I quoted the movie Serenity at the end of the last article, “You can’t stop the signal”. The file was downloaded over 100,000 times before it was taken down. I was able to find the file in about a minute with an online search this morning.  The real irony is not that the government is helpless to stop the signal. The irony is that the government has the gall to even try. Banning knowledge is the hallmark of desperation and a stepping stone to true tyranny. So, yes I am one of those voices warning you about tyranny, but don’t listen to my voice, listen to the much more eloquent voices of history…

 

When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.
Robert A. Heinlein

 

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day
Thomas Jefferson

 

The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.
Maximilien Robespierre

 

The Framers of the Constitution knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.
Hugo Black

When I researched these quotes, I did not look for quotes that linked censorship and tyranny. I merely typed in tyranny and hundreds of quotes linked the two. Try it for yourself. Tyranny and the suppression of knowledge are invariably linked. Censorship is ever the companion of despots.

Why the 3D Printed Firearm Will Be the Greatest Challenge Ever to the…..1st Amendment?

Why the 3D Printed Firearm Will Be the Greatest Challenge Ever to the…..1st Amendment?

3d gunYesterday when I saw the picture of the first fully 3D printed gun (I realize the firing pin is a nail and was not printed) I almost wept for joy. This is a first important step away from the dominance of the state over their citizens in many parts of the world.  Americans enjoy the protection of Second Amendment, but many places that purport to be free countries have banned all guns outright or have made ownership so restrictive that getting a firearm is almost impossible. Other parts of the world are not so free as even that. Firearm ownership for people in places like China or North Korea could mean the death penalty. This new technology makes it possible for anyone anywhere with access to a certain level of technology to take the power of the state and place it into the hands of the people. The 3D printed gun is either the beginning of the end to those repressive regimes or the beginning of one of the largest and most sweeping crack down on civil rights in the past fifty years.

The argument to restrict these rights will not be over firearms. Oh, guns and violence will be used as an excuse, but the argument will be over the right to freedom of speech and expression. This 3D printed weapon and each subsequent generation of it is a triumph of information technology. It has been made possible by the revolution in information sharing that has taken place in the last thirty years and in the ease and ability to pass information about technology freely between people. This ability of information to be exchanged will become a battleground and the government’s goal will be limiting the freedom of speech. This goal will at first be packages as only limiting information that the state finds dangerous, but it is the ultimate slippery slope. Never underestimate the willingness of government to push its subjects down that hill.

The battle lines are already being drawn and in the United States. Don’t immediately expect the Republicans to side with freedom. They have often been much more willing to censor information available to the public than the Democrats (although Obama has certainly given them a run for their money). Both sides will ultimately unite against 3D printed weapons. This is a prediction you can take to the bank. You can expect them to see this in more broad-reaching terms than just firearms. If either side can convince the public that this information is too dangerous to be allowed to freely be passed from hand to hand, and they are able to limit it, then expect them to broaden the definition of what is dangerous over time. Enjoy your internet while you have it. The government has long been trying to find an issue that resonates with the public so they can use it to limit information on the web. The public is also likely to fall for any and all scare tactics the government decides to employ.

The good news is they will not win. This is a genie that will not go back into the bottle easily. This is a Manhattan project level event in terms of personal self defense and the ability of a people to arm themselves. This simple one shot pistol is just the tip of the iceberg. In the long run there is just about no small arm that can’t eventually be build with a 3D printer. One might equip an entire army with a combination of plastic and metal printers. I foresee a day not too far off in which our own military will print their weapons as they need them…that is the future reality. We are living in an exciting time. This must be similar to what it felt like to those first peasants in Western Europe that figured out that firearms made them equal in power to the most well armored knight. The day we moved from the strangle hold of feudalism to just a hint of representative republic. It is not something to scorn. This is a technology that embraces freedom and puts power back into the hands of the people. How many police state Nazi bullies would have had second thoughts about dragging the Jews out of their homes had they known that the citizens of the Warsaw Ghetto had armed themselves and would resist? How different would the civil rights movement have been had blacks in the South had access to quick cheap 3D printed guns to defend themselves from corrupt local sheriffs? Would there have even been a need for a civil rights movement at all?

The government can try to stop it. They can shut down the internet at the risk of global economic collapse, or they can try to limit the spread of this information in other ways. If they think that people can’t find a way around any restriction the government tries to put into place to limit data….then they don’t know much about computers or those that program them. They will also try to restrict the physical 3D printers, but even that is folly. They might slow down the growth (don’t bet on it), but the technology is far to useful to be stifled for long. It is also a technology that will eventual be able to replicate itself fully. That technology is still in its infancy, especially when it comes to the metal and computer parts, but it will not be long before even that hurdle is overcome. 3D printing is the future and it is going to change the world in ways that the government and those who want control can’t even yet imagine. I often quote this line from the movie Serenity, “You can’t stop the signal.”        So why even try.

Modern Science Fiction: The Downfall of a Once Great Genre

Modern Science Fiction: The Downfall of a Once Great Genre

ar12819814138667I was suckered into looking at IO9 this morning. I know, generally I avoid that place like the plague. I was enticed in by an article about science fiction fonts. The article wasn’t even actually on their site. Some writer there had just written a story about a blog that had links to classic science fiction cover fonts. I honestly wish the person that posted the IO9 story had cut out that particular middle man. That is neither here nor there at this point because once on IO9 I saw article after article of the most pernicious and condescending left-wing constipation. From anti-Human environmentalist rhetoric to socialistic political screeds disguised as science fiction commentary. The problem at IO9 is not an isolated case. It has become all but the norm. For instance all the major science fiction awards are dominated by liberal political hacks, who pick the winners based on how well they write polemics on ludditism masquerading as fiction. Writers like Robert Heinlein would not even merit a mention among our modern scifi elite.

 How do you write a disparaging sigh into an article? “Uuuuuuuuuuuugh” I know better than to read the drek on IO9 or even look at the state of modern science fiction because it depresses me to no end. The once great experiment in literary freedom is now the bastion of socialist nonsense and home to environmentalist green weenies. Forgive me when I say screw those mother fuckers. Science fiction has always been socially liberal, but that social liberality was married to the belief in individual liberty and the aggrandizement of the rugged individualist. Science Fiction has always been the home of the libertarian, even before the word was coined. Today it is a sad shell of its former glory, overcome by schlock pseudo-science fantasy and vampire romance fed to an increasingly ignorant, apathetic public. The state of the art mirrors the state itself.

Why am I being so harsh? Well let me summarize the entirety of current elite science fiction in one sentence…

It is too bad that humans, who are destroying the Earth, are so adaptable that they will probably survive and pollute space with their ignorance and bigotry.

Do these idiots understand science fiction? Do they realize that the vast majority of that fiction is about humans surviving against all odds and overcoming obstacles through inventiveness and adaptability. Science Fiction is the cheerleader for the human race. While there is depressing science fiction in which humans make mistakes, it almost always ends with hope for humanity. Hope that we become better and learn a lesson from our mistakes. Sometimes a great science fiction classic works with a bleak premise about human nature, for instance 1984, but these are few and far between and the authors of these are universally warning the audience not to follow that path. The writers of today aren’t warning us of our folly. They are lamenting our very existence as a species.

Do people on the “Left” know what species they belong too? If they are so interested in our extinction is it possible they could do us all a favor and lead by example? I can not understand the mentality that leads someone to think that humanity is not the most precious gift evolution has given the universe. We are the beings that will take life to the stars. We are the gardeners of forever. We are life’s vessel, the pinnacle of evolution with the ability to turn the universe green. This is what science fiction should be about. It is the fiction we should be basing our future on. A future we will never realize if the environmentalist agenda is realized, or if the socialists turn our world into what they believe is utopia. We can not give the Universe the gift of life if we remain tethered to this pile of rocks. If that means the extinction of 90% of the life on this planet, or that there will be inequality due to capitalism then I am willing to make that trade so our descendants stand on distant shores…free and proud.

(This is not a blanket condemnation of science fiction today. There are authors working hard to live up to the true legacy of the genre over at Baen books and other places. They are just outnumbered by those who don’t deserve the title of science fiction author)

What Would Robert Heinlein Say to Ron Paul and his Supporters?

What Would Robert Heinlein Say to Ron Paul and his Supporters?

You may not agree with what Heinlein says here but he is speaking directly across the years to Ron Paul and his people at the Republican National Convention.


Quoted from Take Back Your Government…

“In some states the right of a person to participate in a primary may be challenged and he may then be called on to prove his right by taking an oath to support the ticket which results from such primary. Such a procedure is morally correct; if universal it might do much to put a stop to the present eat-your-cake-and-have-it-too attitude of some irresponsible politicians.”

“Party regularity and party discipline are pragmatically necessary and morally correct in any political party if that party is to carry out its responsibilities. This is especially true with respect to unsuccessful candidates in a party primary; no man should offer himself as a candidate in a party primary unless he is prepared to abide by the majority will of the political group he seeks as a sponsor. Running in a primary is a voluntary action, very similar to joining a caucus; it carries with it responsibilities as well as privileges. A candidate need not enter a primary at all; he is always free to run as an independent instead.”

 

Robert A. Heinlein

 

I don’t often speak directly to political issues on The Freehold but Ron Paul is ripping the party apart. – Jonathan Baird

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.

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