Friday, October 28, 2005

Department of Greenhouse Security

Bruce Sterling: The planet *is* an ark
I don't want to be a big cynic about this, but really, at this point, who WANTS George W. Bush to get all interested in climate change? Sooner or later, that guy poisons everything he touches. He'd probably start a highly secretive and utterly disorganized "Department of Greenhouse Security," where Bechtel apparatchiks took over abandoned army bases to install leaky nuclear power plants in dead of night with extraordinarily-rendered, off-the-books, union-busting labor. Would that help? If he fought the Greenhouse in utter sincerity and with all his might, would he win?
More at the always excellent Worldchanging.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005

The SF Canon

First a quick note: comment spam should be mostly taken care of since I turned on word verification for new comments. Sorry for the hassle.


SF writer John Scalzi, as part of his Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies, has compiled a list of the fifty definitive and essential science fiction movies. It's a really great list, and I thought I'd quote it here with my own quick notes about each.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension! Never seen it...

Akira. Mindblowing visuals, groundbreaking anime.

Alien. One of the best films ever made, equal parts SF and horror. Brilliantly designed and shot, and utterly gripping.

Aliens. The definitive action SF film that every subsequent movie has tried to emulate.

Alphaville. Never seen it...

Back to the Future. While I suppose it belongs on the list for cultural impact, I generally consider this to be a comedy first and SF a distant second. But I do love it!

Blade Runner. What this film lacks in snappy pacing it more than makes up in sheer atmosphere. Simply beautiful.

Brazil. Never seen it...

Bride of Frankenstein. Never seen it...

Brother From Another Planet. Never seen it...

A Clockwork Orange. A masterpiece.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Of Spielberg's genre films, this is one of my favorites, by virtue of his making the aliens both benevolent and incomprehensible.

Contact. With the exception of 2001, this is the closest thing to a true "hard SF" movie.

The Damned. Never seen it...

Destination Moon. Never seen it...

The Day The Earth Stood Still. I maintain that this is the best SF film ever made, and long one of my favorites.

Delicatessen. Never seen it....

Escape From New York. Never seen it...

ET: The Extraterrestrial. This had to be on the list, I know, but while I find it entertaining, it has never been a particular favorite of mine.

Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial). Never seen it...

The Fly (1985 version). I love this movie, it a way. Certainly it is my favorite film starring Jeff Goldblum, who is perfect in this particular role.

Forbidden Planet. This was a movie so ahead of its time it would have still been cutting edge in 1970. A little slow, but worth seeing.

Ghost in the Shell. I'm starting to wish I hadn't sold my DVD of this, probably my favorite anime. The alternate-universe spin-off series is golden as well.

Gojira/Godzilla. Classic camp.

The Incredibles. While clearly a parody, still one of the best comic book movies ever made.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version). It has been a long, long time since I saw this, but I remember it being quite good.

Jurassic Park. This movie broke such visual effects ground, I nearly cried with delight the first time I saw that brachiosaur placidly grazing in the treetops.

Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior. Never seen it...

The Matrix. I actually liked the sequels, but they really did distract from the brilliance of the original. Seeing Neo awaken in the pod having no idea it would go there was a true mindfuck.

Metropolis. Sorry, I recognize why this film is so loved, but I honestly couldn't get through it.

On the Beach. Never seen it...

Planet of the Apes (1968 version). So entertaining you can forgive the cheese.

Robocop. Didn't care for it.

Sleeper. Never seen it...

Solaris (1972 version). Never seen it...

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. KKhhhaaaannnnn!!!!!!

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Corny good-time fun, and clearly revolutionary.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. The best of the six, no doubt.

The Stepford Wives. Never seen it...

Superman. First half: the best comic book origin story ever told. Second half: almost unwatchable by today's standards.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day. I believe this is the ultimate action movie, with all the right ingredients in just the right proportions.

The Thing From Another World. Never seen it...

Things to Come. Never seen it...

Tron. Never seen it...

12 Monkeys. In my opinion, the best time-travel movie, and possibly Brad Pitt's most underrated performance.

28 Days Later. Never seen it...

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Never seen it...

2001: A Space Odyssey. I'm not saying you'll be on the edge of your seat, but even after the title year has passed, this is still what it will be like out there and it is the definitive SF film.

La Voyage Dans la Lune. Never seen it...

War of the Worlds (1953 version). I haven't seen this in so long I feel unqualified to comment.

The only film that I believe deserves to be on this list that isn't is Gattaca. I also think for SF purposes the first Star Trek picture is more relevant than Wrath of Khan, though the latter is the more entertaining film to be sure.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Everywhere democracy

I've said this before, but it's on my mind.

Why do we demand political democracy while accepting economic dictatorships? Why don't we demand economic democracy as well? We elect our political leaders, but our business leaders are appointed from on high. Despite its best efforts to the contrary, the government is still of, for, and by the people, and what power it has is granted by us. Buisness is of and by the workers, but for the bosses and the shareholders. They have the ability to hire, fire, promote, demote, and increase or decrease pay, all without democratic input from the people who actually make the goods and services that are ultimately sold.

I'm with David Schweickart when it comes to economics. A market is an efficient means of distributing goods and services, but business as it exists today is fundamentally wrong and serves to benefit the few to the detriment of the many. A company should be owned by the people who make it up: the workers. Managers should be elected by the workers, not appointed by those with even more absolute power. Profits from the company's success should be destributed equally among the workers, not hoarded by the bosses and paid out to already wealthy investors. In fact, investment should come from public banks funded by corporate capital taxation.

Economics of, for, and by the people.

A basic income guarantee and universal health care wouldn't hurt, either.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Illegal procreation

Unauthorized Reproduction bill has been drafted
Republican lawmakers are drafting new legislation that will make marriage a requirement for motherhood in the state of Indiana, including specific criminal penalties for unmarried women who do become pregnant “by means other than sexual intercourse.”


Only women who are married will be considered for the "gestational certificate" that must be presented to any doctor who facilitates the pregnancy. Further, the "gestational certificate" will only be given to married couples that successfully complete the same screening process currently required by law of adoptive parents.
This truly sickens me.

First you've got the misogynist woman-control brigade penalizing women who get pregnant outside of marriage, while as far as I can tell there is no penalty for the men who impregnate women outside of marriage. It is the same age-old tradition of forcing women to deny their own sexuality by refraining from extramarital sex while making no comment on men doing the same thing.

Then there is the whole issue of marriage even being relevant to having children, which is isn't. There are certain economic benefits to marriage, but there is no fundamental reason why two unwed partners can't raise a child identically to those who said a few words in front of an officiant.

On top of that is the ridiculous "natural is better" argument that implies that sexual intercourse is the only appropriate means of procreation.

[via Feministe]