Journey to Manzanar

Hello, all.

First, very sorry for being so slow in updating over the last six months or so. Mea culpa.

Second, before I launch back into EoA, I want to discuss my experiences and thoughts about my time visiting Manzanar. I was in Los Angeles for another reason last week, but as I had a rental car, I knew I wanted to, if at all possible, take the opportunity to go to Manzanar. It turns out to be a three and a half to four hour drive from LA, and I went up on July 5, 2014.

Because of the heavy image content of this post I have hidden them under a cut.

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Libertarianism Comics Redux

I’m actually a bit shocked. The latest comic here actually has a classic tale of corporate malfeasance in the name of securing power and profit instead of engaging in the usual Libertarian hagiography about the wiseness of corporations and the wrong-wrong-wrongity-wrongness of governments.

I think Quantum Vibe is definitely becoming more nuanced and less doctrinaire than Escape from Terra. (and certainly less heavy-handed than the Probability Broach) That said I might still nitpick some of the gratuitous lesbian sex and the fact that the women are drawn with rather well-endowed body parts, but that’s more symptomatic of a general trend in comics generally of still tilting to catering to a young straight male audience rather than a more general audience than anything specific to Libertarianism generally.

Libertarianism Comics Follow-Up

So, in the vein of my commentary here, which I reproduce below:

At the same time, however, look at Mercury. There’s a labor dispute and the author, in developing an analogy to 20th century history, happily references the United States (gee, would that be the same US government he caricatures as the Eeeeeeeevil World Government spending (HAW HAW) CONTINENTALS) sending a boat to guard the tribe from the Panamian government in the same way a “belter ship” would somehow guard the workers from retaliation by the wealthy employers.

Never mind that such a labor dispute, absent a government, would’ve been settled the way it was in the Gilded Age: send in the Pinkertons. None of this “Create a provocation” business, it would be just straight up the bosses telling the workers to quit getting ideas.

And in another instance, a shop proprietor legally (because ofc governments passing anti-discrimination laws is baaaaaaad) can discriminate against “beltapes”, but la-di-da, changes his mind when another rich guy with socially egalitarian instincts (Seamus) wants to dine there. Discriminatory behavior shouldn’t be subject to the benevolence or malevolence of the wealthy.

And check the latest strip. One of the guys casually suggests “spacing” the lot of workers in the labor dispute on Io, and the other one doesn’t object on humanitarian grounds. Oh no. “Recruitment is expensive. AND I own some Gensaxwal stock.”

It’s all about money, money and more money with Libertarians.

I’d like to follow up and note that the recent plot arc of rebels invading the ship to “deal with” the pilot, crew and passengers really points up the necessary Plot Armor that is given to the main characters, but which does so in a way that almost renders Seamus, Nicole and Murphy Mary Sues. While the other people interviewed by the rebels are venal, mercenary, unpleasant and in general wastes of space, the trio of Seamus et al are praised in almost glowing terms, and it becomes obvious he has a history with them that includes compelling them (unsuccessfully) to stop executing people they run across.

It’s patently obvious that Libertarians set great store by the Great Man Theory of historical development – the idea that the movers and shakers of history are but a few select individuals rather than a much broader pictrue which takes into account not just political and economic leaders recognized by “official” accounts of history, but also the social forces among populations as a whole and even unrecognized leaders left out of the official accounts.

As a result fictional stories such as the aforementioned “Quantum Vibe” almost inevitably have to contort their plotting in ways which are oddly reminiscent of a completely different sector (a-ha! Now we get to the theme of my blog. 😛 ) – Christian fundamentalist End-Times writing, such as Left Behind or Edge of Apocalypse.

In fact, the story of Joshua Jordan is an interesting parallel to Seamus O’Murchadha’s, although Seamus is generally kinder and far less of a jerk to those he considers his good friends and family. But both men are, if not the centerpiece of the story, certainly major players and excused from their actions in ways which would not pass muster for realism or for the test of “would the same thing happen if someone else were in the same situation?”

Just as the almost Mary-Suish release of Seamus et al from the rebel tribunal in QV tends to leave one a bit skeptical about the depth of plotting in the series, so too does the entire arc of Josh’s brushes with Congressional hearings and courts of law. In both cases it’s as though the arcs were designed to show off the main character(s)’s “virtues” rather than for any attempt at a realistic resolution-of-conflict (in the literary sense: we know there is person-vs-person, person-vs-nature, and person-vs-self) which then moves the story forward in an organic sense.

And that is the failure of works of fiction that are purposely constructed around ideologies*: they become at times ham-fisted vehicles of presentation, rather than riveting stories in their own right.


* I don’t excuse Bellamy’s Looking Backward either. While aspects of it are memorable, the sheer Utopia it creates is far too perfect, and while the reader is invited to have hope for what a future world might be under Bellamy-style socialism, the narration is somewhat heavy-handed in that respect.

Some Thoughts on Libertarianism

First: Apocalypsereview is a very bad blogger. Sorry about that. 😦

Second:

There was cause to discuss things like the Probability Broach and other comics that have been featured on Big Head Press’s website. Most notably I have read the “Escape from Terra” and “Quantum Vibe” arcs; I couldn’t really get into the others.

Anyway, some common themes leap out at me:

1. The stories are set in a far enough future to allow the characters to be space explorers within the solar system; the author clearly has a fascination with space exploration, and likes to show his work.
2. The stories, while they have engaging plotlines in their own right, are largely showcases for the author’s Libertarian political views.

Because of #2, this is where implausibilities rapidly start to mount up.

To begin with, all the major conflicts in the comic series are always initiated by an obviously caricatured Big Worldwide Earth Government and/or subsidiaries thereof. It is supremely ironic, as well, that the author blithely features corporate-backed governments without in the least recognizing how nongovernmental forms of coercive power also emanate from large monopolistic corporations dominating the economies of places in the solar system.

Flowing from this, how do the Libertarian “belter” settlements get the things they don’t have, but they need them to survive? They have to trade, don’t they? Yet I don’t see any evidence of a wide trade between Earth and the outer settlements, which would surely have had to spring up if only because the asteroid belt could specialize in, say, mineral extraction and water extraction, while Earth, having the pre-existing manufacturing base, could supply necessary final goods like books, food, machinery and what-have-you.

The stories try to handwave the relative economic isolation of the settlements by insisting that settlements use gold as their currency, while the Evil World Government uses “Continentals” (haw, haw! GEDDIT? Continentals! – the sheer hamfistedness of this reference to a worthless currency would be absurd if it wasn’t so matter-of-fact in these comics), and happily prints money as they need or want to obscure pressing economic problems.

As a result the exchange rate obviously fluctuates wildly and so trade flows are understandably restricted.

Just to really hammer the omgevilgovernment thing home, in one of the comics the Moon’s government is run by a bunch of people who are barely smarter than morons, and they have intrusive security screening at immigration, plus overly complex exchange controls. And then to put the cherry on top, the omgevilgovernment tries tilting the deck against the main character by having her arrested on trumped-up charges and throw into jail. The deus ex machina of a sympathetic judge and a wealthy patron of the main character leap in to save the day.

Which reminds me, everybody’s rich in this series, naturally. Or has a buddy who’s rich. Like in some cases, fabulously fucking rich who can command absurd access to resources with no conception of where the materials would come from or how long it would take to get them built (although there is a kind of effective immortality through the “rejuv” process…), and there is never a case where a rich person could ever possibly use their economic and financial power to coerce anything from anyone.

Unless of course it’s an EVIL rich person in which the author again unthinkingly brings up all the kinds of abuses rich people could undertake and blithely handwaves the lack of a government to be a countervailing agency in a dispute involving a rich person and a poor person. But then to put the cherry on top of that sundae, characters in a comic even admit that a wealthy person could hijack an arbitration process and get a verdict in their favor.

It’s like the author can consider issues like economic coercive power, or regulatory/corporate capture of a government, etc, but only in isolation and without reference to an analysis of a deeper and more fundamental problem underlying the stories he’s trying to tell: that in order to ‘sell’ Libertarianism as a viable doctrine, he has to create caricatures of governments, turning up their bad aspects to eleven, while presenting an idealized frontier society as the basis for “real true Libertarianism”.

Translating Corporatespeak and Old Economy Steve

A rather amusing “translation dictionary” of direct phrases to the usual bland indirectness of modern management corporatespeak is a nice accompaniment to Old Economy Steve. 😛

Explanation: The world has more bullshit going around today in a lot of spheres than it did a generation ago. “Your call is important to us” being a classic example, as is “this call is being recorded to ensure accuracy and quality”.

Translated: “We’re just fobbing you off with a meaningless catchphrase”, and “we don’t trust you, and we think you’ll lie like a rug if you can get away with it so we’re taping your call.”

I would actually be kind of happy if the voicemail maze system said something like, “your call will be recorded; be aware that we can and will use it against you in the event of any civil or criminal proceedings.”

And in terms of the job market – well, the B.Sc is the new high school diploma only you have to pay up front for that part, or get your parents to put the house in hock so you can walk out without a debt and run like a hamster in a Kafka maze of spinning wheels to get a job.

Sorry for the hiatus.

So yeah, hello ‘n all. No excuse, really – just me being a really lazy ass about updating this thing.

So I’m gonna switch it up a bit and do EoA, but intersperse with some Christian/Rapture-themed movies I got my mitts on because I was bored and wanted to watch crappy stuff.

I ran across The Moment After and its sequel, The Moment After II. I was not disappointed at the sheer hokeyness inherent to the low-budget nature of the productions, nor in all the standard shout-outs to Rapture dogma.

So, without further ado, I’m going to start reviewing the first movie! Please stay tuned. 🙂