Thursday, September 29, 2005

Finding Serenity

"Once you've been to Serenity, you never leave."

Television is often seen as mind-numbing poison - and in most cases, that's precisely what it is. But every once in a while, something truly brilliant appears on the telescreens: something different, unique, unusual. Such was Firefly, in the fall of 2002. And because it was so different, it was smothered quickly by the suits at the network that has made lowering the lowest common denominator a profitable mission.

Something happened then the suits did not expect. When it came out on DVD, Firefly became a runaway hit. We wanted to know what happened to Captain Mal and his raggedy bunch of misfits in their struggle to "find a job, any job," and "keep flying," always a step ahead of the tyrannical Alliance. And tomorrow we will.

"Serenity," the long-anticipated feature film sequel to the 13 episodes of "Firefly," opens Friday across the US. If you value liberty, despise tyranny and hanker for an old-fashioned adventure, see this movie. You won't regret it.

Monday, September 12, 2005

This is why...

Since the news, rumors and images started coming in from the lost city of New Orleans, I've seen many interesting opinions about the man-made disaster that followed the natural one. I have yet to see a better take than this piece by Butler Shaffer, on today:
"Once again, the Events in New Orleans have brought into focus the long-standing question that we have heretofore preferred not to face: is society to be organized by and for the benefit of individuals or of institutions? Does life belong to the living, or to the organizational machinery that the living so unwisely created? We are confronted – as was Dr. Frankenstein – by a monster of our own creation, which must control and dominate us if it is to survive. We continue to feed this destructive creature, not simply with our material wealth, but with our very souls and the lives of our children. [...]

In the outpouring of individual compassion and cooperation following the disaster in New Orleans, the state discovered a threat to its existence. Political systems thrive only through division and conflict; by getting people to organize themselves into mutually-exclusive groups which then fight with one another. This is why “war is the health of the state.” But if people can discover a sense of love and mutuality amongst them, how is the state to maintain the sense of continuing conflict upon which it depends?

This is why the state must prevent the private shipment of truckload after truckload of private aid to victims; this is why flood victims – including those who want nothing more than to remain in their homes – must be turned into a criminal class, against whom state functionaries will “lock and load” their weapons and “shoot and kill... if necessary.” The state is fighting for its life, and must exaggerate its inhumane, life-destroying capacities in order to terrify the rest of us into structured obedience.

Forcibly tossing people out of their homes, seizing their weapons and depriving them of their property is obviously not about "helping" them - it's about helping the state. It's not about compassion, but control. This is the true face of government - not just this government, here and now, but government in general! - and it sure is ugly.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Imaginary Outlets

It isn't often that I can laugh uproariously upon reading what is supposed to be a serious quote from the legacy media. Usually, their stuff is so out of touch with reality, it's painful, frustrating, or both.

In today's New York Times there is an article (warning: they may require you to register) on the runaway success of "World of Warcraft." It's a massive multi-player online game that appeals to both player-vs-player and role-player crowds, and has over 4 million subscribers worldwide - a phenomenon in the industry that used to be proud of half a million. Anyway, the Gray Lady quotes a skeptic thusly:
"I don't think there are four million people in the world who really want to play online games every month," said Michael Pachter, a research analyst for Wedbush Morgan, a securities firm. "World of Warcraft is such an exception. I frankly think it's the buzz factor, and eventually it will come back to the mean, maybe a million subscribers."

"It may continue to grow in China," Mr. Pachter added, "but not in Europe or the U.S. We don't need the imaginary outlet to feel a sense of accomplishment here. It just doesn't work in the U.S. It just doesn't make any sense." (emphasis added)
No need for imaginary outlets? Why, then, are millions of Americans investing money they don't have into plywood palaces at obscenely inflated prices, courtesy of Boss Greenspan's cheap credit and fiat currency? Why are thousands of bureaucrats intent on reshaping the world against the wishes of its "reality-based" community? The world would be a better place if they all paid $15 a month to stay at home and play "American Empire" or "The Sims." Or "World of Warcraft," come to think of it; having to earn money the hard way - fighting monsters and crafting products people can use - might teach people a thing or two they appear to have forgotten.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Empire vs. America

My criticism of the Empire has frequently been mistaken as criticism of America, as if they are somehow one and the same. In the eyes of the imperialists, certainly - but anyone else should be able to easily see that not only are they two different things, but also mutually exclusive.

Libertarian columnist Vox Day offers an explanation that might help:

The "freedom" espoused by the utopians should never be confused with the unalienable freedoms that are the American birthright, however. It is no accident that despite the fact that they speak of an American empire, the quasi-democratic systems that result from American military invasions and occupations are inevitably free of the not only the checks and balances of the American Constitution, but also a good part of the American Bill of Rights. [...]

The reason that advocates of utopian empire are inherent traitors to the United States and enemies of its Constitution is because without respect for national sovereignty and self-determination, the United States itself has no raison d'etre. The protections of its constitution are nil and its unalienable rights are void if they are in conflict with the wishes of the utopians. In the same way that neither the Serbs nor the Kurds are permitted the right of self-determination under this utopian scheme, Americans are denied the very rights that they are supposed to be guaranteed. [...]

And because it offers the promise of freedom while delivering its opposite, the neocon's utopian concept of empire is doomed to failure by its inherent inconsistencies. The World Democratic Revolution is no more tenable than the World Communist Revolution, and like its intellectual parent, will eventually collapse into totalitarian tyranny. The particular danger for the United States is that following the tradition of imperial overstretch, its abuse as the utopians' primary weapon will cause the remnants of its constitutional system to break down as well.

Quoted from "On global empire" at Vox Popoli.