Fun/Entertainment: January 2004 Archives

Will Baude has a nice discussion of a tough legal issue that would come up if vampires turned out to be real. If I were a vampire, would I have the right to make my own kid a vampire? One of the reasons this does have a point is because it deals with what parents have the right to do that they believe is in the best interests of their children but most people think is against the child's best interests. We know that I can't deliberately make my child dead and give such an excuse, but making a kid a vampire doesn't make the kid dead. It just makes the kid undead, which is to say not alive. Not alive doesn't mean dead. Remember that the binary opposites of alive/dead are not the only possibilities anymore if there are vampires. Baude concludes that a state does have the right to outlaw this, given the constitutionality of assisted suicide bans, but he also thinks a state would be able to allow it.

Maybe this should go in the forthcoming The Undead and Philosophy, in the same series as the esteemed Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book About Everything and Nothing, The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer, The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real, and apparently other forthcoming ones on The Sopranos, Bob Dylan, and The Onion.

I recommend none of these. It only sounds fun. A quick browse of the three volumes already out led me to believe fairly quickly that there wasn't much philosophy of value being done in these. Only a few of the philosophers in here were people I'd heard of, also, and that's not a good sign, though some of them were big names, a couple even people I like. It still didn't seem to me to be worthwhile philosophical work.

Even worse was a growing sense that most contributors had little connection to the pop culture item they were supposedly commenting on, often oversimplifying, or in some cases even misunderstanding, what was going on in the show or movie. This isn't true of all of them, but it's true of enough to discourage me from wanting to spend much more time or any money on this series. If they do Babylon 5 or Stargate SG-1, that might be harder to resist, but at this point I'm not too thrilled about the series.

War of the Blogs

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I just discovered that there's a major war between blogs that support Instapundit and those who want to dethrone him from first place in the Ecosystem at Truth Laid Bear. Truth Laid Bear includes a section on alliances, and two of them have formed on each side of this war. The Alliance of Free Blogs sounds like a nice, independent sort of organization until you discover what's required to be part of it. In addition to declaring war on an insightful commentator, members must have a fake quote attributed to Glenn Reynolds. Members are required to vote in Truth Laid Bear's weekly New Blog Showcase, guaranteeing maximum support from their side. Other dishonorable activities are encouraged, including direct lies about Instapundit (although at least these lies are required to be listed as lies).

On the other hand, those who actually support the fine commentator can join The Axis of Naughty by doing nothing other than posting something in support of Glenn Reynolds and making sure those in charge of the Axis find out about it. When I first saw the lists of alliances, I thought this one must be about those willing to align themselves with some sort of sexual impropriety, so I was surprised to find out it was simply those committed to supporting Instapundit. After comparing the two groups, and given all the insights I've gleaned from Reynolds, I see no choice but to side with the ill-named group over the ill-conceived group.

Update: It's come to my attention that most of the Alliance are conservatives who just want to get Instapundit more attention but do it in a funny way. Still, I don't like the deceit. I just had a strange quote attributed to me falsely, but I won't link it. Apparently Instapundit himself joined the Alliance, but that doesn't surprise me. He thinks he's overrated and often links to other people rather than saying something himself just so his readers will read other blogs. This is totally in character. I still support him.

This is the absolutely funniest thing I've seen in a long, long time. Discoshaman lists some highlights, though I don't think he picked all the funniest ones. It's not just that it's brilliant. It's obvious this guy spent a long time working on this.

This is hilarious. A British historian has argued that Queen Elizabeth is illegitimate, and so is every monarch since Edward IV (1461-1483), who was fathered by a French archer. During the five-week period that Edward could have been conceived, the man who was supposed to be his father was at war and nowhere near Edward's mother. Therefore, Edward's younger half-brother, the Duke of Clarence, should have been the legitimate king, and the rightful king now is Michael Abney-Hastings, a forklift driver in Australia. The royal family at the time had been aware of this and tried to avoid the scandal by suggesting that the conception date was earlier, which would have led to an 11-month pregnancy!

Update: For those who aren't inclined to look at the article, go to it at least to see the picture of the guy, whose whole demeanor and physical shape stand in stark contrast to the in-bred, uptight, sickly royalty who have now been shown to be illegitimate after over 500 years. Terry Pratchett is probably enjoying this.

Amazon.com has a feature today on J. Michael Straczynski, best known for Babylon 5, the best show in the history of television, but also more recently for his work in comic books, especially The Amazing Spiderman. Unfortunately, it says nothing about the new B5 project that he's working on and won't say anything about, but it does have a new short story by him that raises some very interesting ethical questions.

Update: JMS has informed his readers that Amazon moved the story after the first day. I've updated the link. In the event that anyone tried it after the move and therefore missed it, you can now read it at the new location.

Thoughts on LOTR movies

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Now that I've had a couple weeks to think since having seen the third episode in Peter Jackson's visualization of the best novel in history (Tolkien saw it as one novel), I've finally put together my thoughts on the overall project. I haven't seen every extended scene in The Two Towers extended edition yet (but have seen all the completely new scenes), and the final version of The Return of the King isn't done yet, but here's what I've come up with.

I should say that almost all of what I say in this is a critical evaluation of what I didn't like, focusing on the more deep and meaningful things Jackson left out or ruined. I haven't focused as much on things I did like (which I should probably do at some point just for balance, though that sort of thing is much harder for an ISTJ inspector/troubleshooter), so it might be easy to get the impression that I didn't like these movies. That would be a mistake. I enjoyed them thoroughly. The Two Towers was the most disappointing of them all, and I still look forward to going through the special features of the extended edition with a fine-toothed comb when I get it, as I did with The Fellowship of the Ring.

I also haven't bothered as much with things I was just disappointed not to see. The important stuff that really should have been there is my focus in these reflections, including significant character-twisting, huge Tolkien themes that were ignored or contradicted, and major plot points that were dismissed as unimportant but were in fact crucial to the storyline. As always, feedback and evaluation are welcome.

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