Saturday, January 24, 2009

Love Thine Enemy.

On another board I was stuck by an unnecessarily vicious attack on the different major religious denominations in the United States. While I think of religion as nothing but superstition, attributing base motives to the followers and leaders of religious faiths is just plain wrong. So I responded to the attack thusly:

[quote]Human history does not reflect very many divine attributes to human endeavors.[/quote]

To me this was the most striking line in a particularly dour post. I get so tired of people choosing to attack the motivations of others with whom they disagree. The Protestants want to keep people from thinking, the Catholics deliberately plot to deceive their flock, humanity stinks. Most people, most churches, most church leaders genuinely believe in the honesty and "truth" of what they are doing. They aren't trying to secretively enslave humanity, they are trying to uplift humanity to a state of grace. You and I can certainly agree that they are misguided in the way they are trying to do this, but to suggest that it is done purely out of cynicism and guile is as misguided a belief as theirs.

Until you can see this "truth" you will never understand, nor be able to successfully argue against, their movements. By failing to see the the depth, sincerity, and positive nature of their messages, you give them far to great an advantage in our struggle of ideologies.

If you truly feel that human history does not speak well of humanity, then your belief in SH almost seems like the Xian equivalent of satan worship. If humanity is so bad, then you should be hoping that there is a god to save us from ourselves.

I see a different truth. A humanity that has its flaws, but is largely generous, hard working, noble, inspired, and inspiring. I run a division of a dozen people. With one exception they are kind, generous, hard working, and making the world a better place. They have no need of a god to tell them what to do, or to threaten them with eternal punishment for bad behavior. They are simply good people. That's why I am able to rejoice in my SH beliefs.

The history of mankind is a history of triumphs, progress, sacrifice. More so with each passing year. For every tyrant there are a dozen heroes. For every monster there are a hundred who are hard working and quietly noble. And for more triumphs than tragedies, the motivation of many is their faith in god. So disagree with it as a superstition that we are outgrowing, but denigrating it unnecessarily should be beneath us. The man was right who wrote "Love thine enemy."


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Science Fiction and Homosexuality

A discussion about a new science fiction series and the lack of gay characters in science fiction led me to some Hairy Thoughts on the subject.

Going to a lot of SF conventions and reading a lot of SF, it has always seemed to me that a disproportionate percentage of female SF fans and authors self identify as lesbian. But an awful lot of them seem to be of the overweight mannish variety. I have often wondered how many of the claim to be gay in order to seek out other unattractive women for "safe" relationships. If you are unattractive it is easy to want to avoid rejection by the men you find attractive. They are all chasing after the hot chicks. Plus SF offers and opportunity for both male and female gay folks to create and imagine worlds where they fit in.

Of course the primary demographic for SF is young men, so putting in a major male gay character has a very good chance of killing ratings.

Homosexuality is probably a genetically controlled tendency. As with many aspects of physiology and psychology, homosexuality is not a digital function. Most men are primarily attracted to women, but some men are sexually attracted to other men. To a greater or lesser degree. That means that some guys are only going to hook up with gals. Some may occasionally dabble in gay sex and relationships. Some will be attracted to anything with legs. Some will only be interested in other men.

As we unravel the genetic code we will figure out which genes in what combination cause gay tendencies. The next step will be to give parents the ability to select or eliminate different genetic traits. By the time we get to the far future of SF, it is entirely possible that gayness will be eliminated from the gene pool. Possibly it is most accurate to represent a purely straight future society.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Cube

In 1969 NBC had a show called Experiments in Television. It gave young directors a chance to put pretty much anything they wanted on the air. One weekend afternoon while I was still in grade school this show came on. Probably the only episode I ever saw was called "The Cube". It was about a man trapped in a cube. People could come in and out, but he was never able to escape.

Today I see it was a study of alienation and reality. Then it just blew my mind, opening up thoughts I had never before experienced. It made a huge impression on me. For the next 35 years I would periodically remember The Cube, tell others about it, and try to find it. In all probability it was just lost in the mists of time, but I continued to search for others who had seen it.

To my amazement I was not the only pre-teen out there who was profoundly impacted by this show. The internet has created an unprecedented means through which people of like (and unlikely) interests can connect.

We all had slightly different recollections of the show. I had misremembered the gorillas in tutus. I thought they were on trikes. Turns out they just danced around, and the next tormentor was a little kid on a trike. I had completely forgotten about the Nazis. But I remembered the chocolate bunnies, and most of all the strawberry jam. Everybody remembered the strawberry jam.

Hundreds of us have been bothering friends and relatives about this dimly remembered but profound experience. And now many of us have found each other.

There is a Yahoo group with over 300 members:

There are hundreds of ratings and dozens of comments on IMDB about it:

And now it is available in color, in its entirety, on the web:

So why am I posting this? Couple of reasons. First for fellow travelers who are still looking for The Cube. Second, to comment on the web's ability to provide quest fulfillment.

I have long noted the changes in our society brought about by our no longer being reliant on our physical neighbors. Many of those changes are bad. Most are wondrous. Like the ability to find like thinkers and fans of obscure subject matter. Sure we see the concentration of craziness (Ronulans anyone?), but good things are happening as well.

I have never seen anything like the fans of The Cube. There was such joy, relief, satisfaction, and fulfillment in finding that others felt the same way. Soon a black and white copy surfaced, and was sold on ebay. Then a color version surfaced. Lore was found (It was one of the most requested films at the Museum of Television in the Midwest). The show was created by Jim Henson, of all people. It may have been influenced by experimentation with LSD. And now anyone can watch the color version any time. Amazing.

But maybe there are lots of little quests and fangroups out there on the web. I just haven't noticed them because they are not one of my "unscratchable itches".

Does anybody have a feel for it? How unique is The Cube phenomenon? Is there anything else out there quite like it? Or is it just another drop in an ocean of web connections.

I feel as though the depth of passion around this finding is pretty rare. I talk to civilians about re-discovering The Cube and they tend to start edging away from me. There is no shared experience of "Oh Yeah, I had a similar experience this book, or this movie, or this song."

So I ask you, what childhood quest have you had fulfilled by the expansion of the web? Tell us your story.