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Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon's Blother

May 8, 2006

This Is Such A Pity
Back again. And you'll surely regret it.

For some reason, I'm disinclined towards this whole breezy school of three-sentence blogging about what I consumed for breakfast, the silly things my cats did today, and other incredibly mundane personal trivia. Yes, yes, you quickly finagle yourself more frequent updates that way. But in the process I'd venture you'll also drive away a good portion of the Real Content™-seeking audience before too long with breathless tales of toenail clippings -- leaving behind a sticky, geeky residue of obsessed fetishistic loons who'll then openly inquire how it was humanly possible for Kendra Wyatt to live through a two-kiloton nuclear explosion, expound upon scientifically rigorous organ-cloning techniques, etc.

On the other hand, virtually none of this same clique, upon viewing this sketch, would proclaim "hey, isn't that Vanessa Warfield's Manta in the background?" Because there are theoretical limits to dorkitude (and knowledge about old non-Hasbro toy cartoons easily surpasses them):

Speaking of total lifelessness, this week, on a whimsy-filled lark/nostalgic fit of despondency, I visited an old local role-playing supply store for the first time in something like two decades -- and wouldn't ya know it hasn't changed a single iota. Same shelves of luridly illustrated supplements, hostile painted-pewter infestations safely walled off behind glass... and dice. Lots of dice. That's the only gaming implement whose future is assured, methinks. The gamemaster's screen may've been replaced by a laptop's LCD, the rulebooks/modules now a folder full of easily-referenced PDF files... hell, even players themselves may be monitor/camera combos, teleconferencing their moves from some far-flung section of the globe. But when the game is afoot, every participant ultimately wants those polyhedronic shapers of fate in their hands. Relinquish that sacred right, and we all might as well be singing hymns to Christ, Marx, Wood and Wei in our People's Jumpsuits, dammit.

IAE, I'd been meaning to pick up the Serenity/Firefly (Serenifly? Gotta consolidate that franchise) themed game, not so much for its unique play value ("...I'll use my +6 Witty Rejoinder against the slavering Reaver horde!"), but personal interest in the RPG 'industry' side of things. Unfortunately, they were out of copies. Which, like my previous trips to Compleat Strategist, then meant I'd be indulging my inner hoardy nine-year-old, and buying ittle-bitty miniatures instead. And then -- har -- vainly attempting to paint them. Because, y'know, if there's ANY useless, unproductive activity out there guaranteed to foster eventual blindness, Tom Gordon just has to sign on as a lifetime member! Cthulhu help me when nanotech becomes the hobbyist's 21st Century equivalent of building model trains: "...tunneling electron microscopes? Who needs 'em? I'll just squint really, really hard!"

Incidentially, why doesn't Serenity (the ship, not the goofy transcendental state) have any weapons about her creaky flank? I mean, if you're alone out in The Black, hauling crates of undoubtedly valuable cargo, while roving bands of insane rapist-cannibals are on the loose, wouldn't investing in SOME measure of self-defense be a Darn Good Idea? Oh, who am I kidding? That question will be answered to exhaustion inside five years when convention halls are jam-packed with pimply young men sulking in brown coats and hawking poster-sized four-color-process cutaways of every square meter of Malcolm Reynolds' bucket o'bolts. Because Serenifly/Fireity really IS the new Trek now -- and that's not necessarily a good thing. And on the subject of Mal:

Yep. This is about as pathetically far as I've gotten (and likely to get) on the afforehyped pic, in case any of y'all were wondering. Caricaturing/portraiture has never been my strong suit (just ask an unfortunate lass I was gaga over in high school), and Nathan Fillion is one of those unique class of rugged heroic-archetype actors who NEVER looks the same twice. I mean, one picosecond he's the living embodiment of an Ayn Rand supercapitalisthero, the next he's a boyish Michael J. Fox, and the one following he's Huey maglefargin' Lewis. At this Zemeckisian rate, maybe he'll transmogrify into Crispin Glover or Flea next -- the important point is, as a pale imitation of an artist, I'm esthetically required to hate him. (Sorry, Nathan -- if it's any consolation, I still hope you'll inherit Indiana's whip.)

Embittered Snotty Rant time: a downside to being one of those Reich-Wing Apologists For Oily Imperialistic Genocidal American Hegemony (as my "friends" and "family" affectionately call me) is that every day, some seditious item or another still manages to pierce through my thick shell of fear/intolerance/ignorance/blind authority worship, and impart an oh-so-fleeting glimpse of True Political Enlightenment.

For instance, one of the above "others" recently described the September 11th massacre attack incident to me as a 'faith-based initiative.' If Karl Rove's mind-control beams had been working properly that day, undoubtedly I'd have just dismissed it as another bit of puerile hate-fueled posturing from an intellectual class wholly incapable of honestly confronting the death cult of Islamofascism, without the caveat that we also drop MOABs upon harmless Utah Mormons as well, in the name of secular consistency.

But alas, I got to think about it (always a bad thing for a redneck thug like yours truly) and the comparison actually began to make sense! Why, in one instance, we have a group of people lobbying to make charitable services less a province of distant alphabet soup government agencies, and more the responsibility of local community organizations -- thus leaving thousands of trapped unfortunates the choice between going on Food Stamps, or eating someplace where there's a non-urine-submerged crucifix in plain sight.

And in the other, we have a group of people hijacking a few jumbo jets, and crashing them into skyscrapers -- thus leaving thousands of trapped unfortunates the choice between being burned alive, or splattered against the pavement below.

Yes, the parallels were so plainly evident that before long, I started to question ALL my premises. Why, maybe an image of Mohammed really IS hate speech, deserving of censorship and/or death! Perhaps natural disasters CAN be miraculously turned away if the United States (but not China) signs the proper worthless transnational petition! And maybe humanity's irresponsible burning of hydrocarbons really IS contributing to the Martian polar ice cap's meltdown! (Darn you Pathfinder! Darn you to HECKFIRE!)

Yet before I could load up my web browser and join those all-knowing, obscenity-flinging ranks of Patriotic Dissenters that Thomas Jefferson always talked about, a song burst forth from a nearby radio. It was the triumphant strains of "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus! The timeless anthem of my people! And, thankfully, the spell was broken. Now I'm back in the fold again, safely comforted by all the Federally Centralized national news outlets running nothing but positive stories out from Iraq, ingratiating "Bush is the best President EVAR" puff pieces, and televised executions of leftist Hollywood celebrities. Yepperoonies. For Little Eichmanns like myself, life here in America is right jolly good!

(And so endeth my sarcasm-athon. "Don't push me, and I won't push you.")
Blogger Scott LeMien babbled...

Yes. It is a faith based initiative. we could probably be on hydrogen power or some other power effing years ago..

sheesh, why bother. I hate arguing--suffice to say I think objectivism is wrong to place it's 'faith' in the republican party of this country--which is exactly what it seems to be doing.

5/08/2006 4:45 PM  

Blogger Tom Gordon babbled...

Well, if you hate arguing, maybe you shouldn't have agreed with the exact stupid comment I just spent several paragraphs taking apart. Duh.

There's no objectivist 'faith' about it. If there were some other prominent political party more committed to wiping Islamofascism off the face of the globe -- and without those eeeevil Christian Suicide Bombers in its membership (something Barry Goldwater founded in an alternate reality? dunno) the Randites (and I) would've gladly supported them, instead.

There ain't. Certainly not the effin' Dhimmicrats, who've basically become contemptible leftist isolationists of the worst sort. I mean, the West is facing its greatest military challenge since WWII, and half of the United States (the Western nation that suffered the worst damage to date) either doesn't give a damn, or else secretly supports the position of her enemies.

And yeah, assuming you can circumvent the laws of physics whereby it can safely be stored in a magically embrittlement-proof tank either the size of a Humvee or twenty degrees above absolute zero, I'd be all for hydrogen. Of course, then you also still have to MAKE the stuff. And the only eco-friendly/borderline economical way America could've done that -- namely, nuclear powered water electrolysis -- got entirely taken off the table, thanks to the concerted efforts of the present Patriotic Dissenting crowd. Feh.

5/08/2006 5:54 PM  

Blogger Scott LeMien babbled...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/08/2006 9:43 PM  

Blogger Scott LeMien babbled...


I must admit, I barely understand your blog entries. You're going to have to assume the obvious: that I am stupid. I also can't decipher sarcasm from your typed responses.

I disagree with what I understand of your argument, but there's not much point in debating-- we'd have to actually name the point in contention to do that, wouldn't we?

I think objectivism is mistaken in allying itself with the religious right, you are fine with that. I see it as a conflict of interests on its most basic epistemological level--the level of reason vs. faith, you counter with a political argument for the destruction of a new ideology: islamo-fascism that caused a specific terrorist event: 9-11.

Why would I rather have a democratic president? Because they at least pay lip service to rational arguments, and try them on for size. You can't argue with someone who has God on their side.

You seem to assume it is common knowledge: the means by which this 'war' should be fought, who should pay for it, or how you know when it is won. You don't define your terms ot the less than knowledgable. Please be aware, I don't read the objectivist postings on this, so if it's common knowledge you'll have to share it with me.

I don't believe fundamentally you can win a war against an ideology with soldiers and guns. You can kill specific people, but you can't kill an idea, even a bad one if people aren't offered a choice. Why is there no attempt to institute free schooling to these children? That is how you root an ideology, isn't it?

I propose, if we are in any way going to claim to offer more to someone who is raised to believe they have no other choice but to kill americans is to:
1. Give them something else to consider and
2. Give them something else to do.

Waging war against people who are trying to be covert is similarly impossible to comprehend--how is it dissimilar from waging war against psychotic killers? individuals spurred to action, to strike for something they believe in, at the worst possible time. What is the republican party doing for this that the democratic party would not do?


My understanding is hydrogen buses are already being run in iceland. is that incorrect and/or incomplete knowledge?

5/08/2006 10:19 PM  

Blogger Tom Gordon babbled...

Scott, I really, really wish you'd stick to one comment, and not delete your rough-edged, more obnoxious 'first draft' after I've already spent an hour or three offline writing a grouchy reply to it. (Gah. The bit about 'no links, let's do some real thinking here' was especially chafing.)

First, I actually don't follow/know the objectivist 'party line' or whatever on this subject; I'll assume that (like me) the Randroids want the obvious terrorist-supporting mullahs and dictators smashed and their lunatic regimes torn down and replaced with Western-style democracies (like what we did with Japan), while the terrorists themselves deserve anything from nukes to an assassin's bullet, depending on the circumstances/battlefield. Lo and behold: those foreign-policy objectives are also largely shared by the present President and his right-leaning, Christian-rife party (as well as more than a few underpublicized left-leaning welfare state types across the aisle).

So what? It's called making common cause against a shared enemy.

Your argument, I think, is that since Bush and co. subscribe to the notion of 'god.', they're inherently incapable of dealing with religious-extremist aberrations like al Qaeda, Iran, etc. Fine and dandy... I don't. For a number of reasons, but mostly because, developmentally, methinks present-day Christianity -- through a process of being constantly exposed to the healthy idea-exchange that occurs in any open Western society -- has grudgingly come to grips (if not entirely accepted) the complexities of the modern world. While the younger Islam, largely rooted in hermetically-sealed theocracies and dictatorships, is still presently stuck in full-blown Dark Ages/Inquisition mode.

(Also, have you considered the possibility that maybe their same irrational belief makes them MORE qualified to deal with America's enemies, not less? 'Know thy enemy' and all that? Just a thought.)

As for the left's secular-iciousness better equipping THEM to deal with the Islamofascist threat (yeah right; like they don't also have their share of nutty Godders, and apocalyptic environmentalism to boot) I must've missed the part where the administration ever made its case for Afghanistan or Iraq as 'Jeebus says we must layeth the smackdown, and so it shall be done.' My understanding was that they presented before the American people, (and Congress, AND the freakin' useless United Nations) well-reasoned arguments and evidence a-plenty for their military decisions, just like their predecessors. Presumably if the Democrats/Greens/whoever ever get back in charge (and I'm on the record right now as predicting "not bloody likely, anytime soon") they'd probably scrap the present policy of preemptive action, ignore the terrorists' state sponsors, and just start prosecuting 'em as criminals, as you apparently seem to recommend.

(Oh, joy. We fought the entirety of WWII in the time it took us to convict whats-his-face, last week! And now that he's in prison, he'll be subsidized by American taxpayers for the rest of his worthless life! Take that, evil Islamobots!)

Back to sentient-ham worshippers -- the former/'kill 'em all' option, of course. This is war, not an internet forum. It'd be nice to think that in a couple decades, some Westernized Arabian cultural synthesis will take place (see Japan again). But in the unfortunate meantime, it's smash the first 500 scheming bastids, and the next, and the next. Until they recognize the futility of their enterprise, or else make Larry Niven's Kzin. And frankly, given the anti-American climate that has festered abroad over the past thirty-something years, I think force is the only argument/option we have, anyway. No brainwashed jihadist is going to give up his fight by being exposed to 'new ideas', World of Warcraft, or anything else -- indeed, they've been infuriatingly expert at co-opting our glorious technologies and enjoying the fruits of popular culture while simultaneously wishing us all dead.

Nevertheless, there IS also an effort being made in the educational/bridge-building department, which nobody acknowledges. It's called 'Iraq'.

Already read about the Iceland thing last year in an issue of PopSci -- nothing especially earth-shaking there. As both articles state, that nation's got plenty of natural power on tap to electrolyze water. But the United States, being a hundred times larger geographically, a thousand times more populous, and just barely scraping by with a dozen or so power sources, doesn't have the luxury of that arrangement. Once again, you're back to the problem of affordably MAKING the hydrogen (surely you're not going to usefossil fuel plants, right?). And as I've said earlier, the only way that can be done with a nation as large/energy hungry as the US is via lots of nuclear power.

(But then, if you've already attained that level of massive electrical output, there's no need for the hydrogen anyway, is there? Why not just go with batteries instead, and avoid the prospect of rolling Hindenburgs? Oh, never mind.)

IAE, you still have to build the infrastructure/distributed network of fueling stations necessary, and distinguish the 'safety' difference between a fuel cell (the chemical converter which takes stored hydrogen and chemically turns it into energy) and the container which actually HOLDS the hydro itself. If you're going with the gaseous form, you're talking a humungo pressurized tank. Opt for liquid, and you'll have something that has to be cyrogenically kept near absolute zero or the fuel will boil off. And in both instances, you're still dealing with an element that has an annoying tendency to (a) go BOOM! with astonishing ease and (b) embrittle metals it comes in contact with.

I don't think these are minor problems.

5/09/2006 4:29 AM  

Blogger Scott LeMien babbled...

I still want to drill home, that, for me, peace with myself is more important than whatever crazed ideological stance I seem to embrace--and that hostility, while it might be my first reaction, is not who I consider myself overall. I've been in one too many below the belt internet arguments.

I'll stay out of your politics and just assume you're more informed than I am, it's not like i need to act on what i read here. I can't afford to have vanity on a subject that big with my limited understanding-- I barely have time for my real passions.

Sorry to drag this out on an old friend. If you ever find some kinda simple reading list of some kind for this, i may hit you up for it.


PS--you're a nutsyface. PFFFFFFFT.

5/10/2006 10:52 AM  

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