My Very Last Post About the Recall. Probably.

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The Infinite Matrix has invited a bunch of science-fiction writers to share their thoughts on the California results. I like Michael Blumlein's comments the best, but Pat Cadigan may be onto something:

…the universe is in fact a movie and we are all in it. God is the director. It's a production that has been plagued by problems from the beginning and, in fact, has already had a number of directors prior to the one now at the helm.

In an effort to rescue this production from a fate worse than the fiery pit–i.e., becoming the Heaven's Gate of its time–the current director, or God, has dispensed with dogma and embraced dogme. It's one of the few techniques nobody's tried yet and in a situation this desperate, there isn't a whole lot to lose.

Thus, the lousy lighting, muddled sound, all those badly-framed shots with things off-centre (not to mention camera-shake!), and the improvised sequences that go on and on and on and don't end until some of the characters end up painting themselves into a corner with their tongues (so to speak).

But there is a script. It's based on things taken from many different books and stories, all of them by Philip K. Dick.

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  1. Pardon me while I have strange interlude. Why you couple of baboons…

  2. You call this a universe? This is the worst tripe I’ve reviewed yet. I’m pulling the plug.

    I’ve got to consider another profession. This cosmic reviewer job is far too unpleasant.

  3. Two things stuck me about the comments at the Infinite Matrix.

    First so many of the author?s expressed a decidedly pessimistic view of America and the state of humanity in general (which consistently has improved ? a point Reason has rightfully made over the years).

    Second, the comments for the most part seem to be nothing more profound then the jealous rantings of a few high school misfits who cannot get over their envy of the ?popular kids? and allow it to color their perceptions of anyone who becomes successful (Jonathan Chait take note).

    Schwartzenagger won, get over it.

  4. Forget about Philip K. Dick, the recall is exactly the kind of thing Robert Heinlein forsaw in California in his novel Friday. He envisioned democracy as having become a total circus in the state, subject to constant re-elections (something like every few months, I beleive) and the total rule of the majority’s whims. Isn’t this what recall’s and direct voting on propositions is?

    Make’s me worry as to what else the man may have been right about (the deciline of western civillization, etc..).

  5. Of the nine billion names of God, who knew he’d end up with Alan Smithee?

  6. Second, the comments for the most part seem to be nothing more profound then the jealous rantings of a few high school misfits who cannot get over their envy of the ?popular kids? and allow it to color their perceptions of anyone who becomes successful (Jonathan Chait take note).

    A whiny subspecies of conservative loves to trot out this bit of amateur psychology, even — or especially — when there’s no basis for it; it’s a convenient substitute for real argument, kind of like calling someone an “angry white male.” In the real world, as opposed to your projections, virtually nothing in the Infinite Matrix forum suggests jealousy or high-school resentments. As for Chait: Sorry to burst your stereotypes, but I’ve known the man since he was 18. He’s a jock.

  7. Forget about Philip K. Dick, the recall is exactly the kind of thing Robert Heinlein forsaw in California in his novel Friday.

    Someone e-mailed me a nice quote from that book right before the election:

    “San Jose does not seem to have any justification save politics. But California gets more out of politics than any other country I know of — utter unashamed and uninhibited democracy. You run into democracy in many places — New Zealand uses it in an attenuated form. But only in California will you find the clear-quill, raw-gum, two-hundred-proof, undiluted democracy….

    “I will not try to pass judgment as I was a grown woman before I encountered democracy even in its milder, nonmalignant form. Democracy is probably all right used in sparing amounts. The British Canadians use a dilute form and they seem to do all right. But only in California is everyone drunk on it all the time….

    “I suppose they can afford it. They have a mellow climate from British Canada to the Mexican Kingdom and much of the richest farm land on Earth. Their second favorite sport (sex) costs almost nothing in its raw form; like marijuana it is freely available everywhere. This leaves time and energy for the true California sport: gathering and yabbering about politics.

    “They elect everybody from precinct parasite to the Chief Confederate….But they unelect them almost as fast. For example, the Chief is supposed to serve one six-year term. But, of the last nine chiefs, only two served a full six years; the others were recalled except that one who was lynched. In many cases an official has not yet been sworn in when the first recall petition is being circulated.”

  8. I was surprised that not a single author could dredge up anything positive to say about the resounding defeat of two of the most corrupt and incompetent officials in the US today, or even bring themselves to contemplate the notion that Arnold Schwarzenegger might have the abilities and tools to do something positive.

    I wonder if the people who consistently refer to Arnold as a “bodybuilder” refer to any other politican by his or her first job. Actually, I don’t wonder – I know they don’t. Fairness would require that they refer to Gray Davis as a “grocery bagger” or whatever his first job was, but nobody does that for anyone but Arnold.

    “Whiny” pretty well nails it in my book. I was disappointed – as a science fiction reader, when I saw what the site was about I expected much better.

  9. What a surprise. A group of writers whose careeers are nearly all past their sell-by dates (or were always tedious wastes of paper) are as bereft of ideas about real-world events as they are about fiction. They all seem to reside, mentally if not physically, in San Franciso. (The only major state urban center to go against the recall.)

    Harlan, as always, is amusing but completely out of touch with reality.

  10. I like how the coyright notice for Harlan Ellison’s blurb is in bold and all caps, and everything else is in a smaller font. Harlan’s really taking that “Kick Internet Piracy” thing seriously, I suppose.

  11. A group of writers whose careeers are nearly all past their sell-by dates

    Actually, a lot of them are young.

  12. Jesse: that quote is pure richness. I wish I had seen that more in the reporting on the recall biz.

  13. wha? a bunch of you are critizing these guys? you are just a bunch of whiny conservatives with bunk psychological theories…just like the jocks that beat me up and stole my lunch money in high school.

  14. Oh yeah, dogme. That illogical set of rules that magically turns crap into art. It’s the anti-blockbuster. But listen kids, just because it’s non-Hollywood, non-studio, indie and artsy does not mean that it’s worth the silicon it’s printed on.

  15. Jesse Walker wrote:

    A whiny subspecies of conservative loves to trot out this bit of amateur psychology, even — or especially — when there’s no basis for it; .”

    Actually the basis for it is in endemic in snide little comments throughout the Infinite Matrix in which attacks are made on Schwartzenagger for his perceived lack of intelligence or his physique. More below.

    it’s a convenient substitute for real argument, kind of like calling someone an “angry white male

    Or referring to someone as a member of a ?whiny subspecies of conservatives.? However since you’re implying that I said that in liue of having to make an argument, please tell me, which of the comments in Infinite Matrix do you think were making a salient point that would warrant an ?argument? as opposed to merely throwing out snide insults at the Governor-elect of California?

    In the real world, as opposed to your projections, virtually nothing in the Infinite Matrix forum suggests jealousy or high-school resentments.

    I disagree (and I note that ?virtually nothing? is essentially an admission that there is something). Comments such as Ellison?s comparison of Schwarteznagger to a ?seven-foot-tall brain-damaged, muscle-bound giant? or or the snide dig at his and President Bush?s intelligence are pretty much the sort of impotent rantings from someone who carry a chip on their shoulder over the success of the popular kids later on in life.

    As for Chait: Sorry to burst your stereotypes, but I’ve known the man since he was 18. He’s a jock.

    Actually it wasn?t a stereotype, it was based on his recent ?why I hate Bush? column in which as he admitted that part of the reason he hated the President was because he reminded him of a type of kid he didn?t like from high school. This along with the obvious lies in his column made his the subject of much ridicule in the blogosphere.

  16. However since you’re implying that I said that in liue of having to make an argument, please tell me, which of the comments in Infinite Matrix do you think were making a salient point that would warrant an ?argument? as opposed to merely throwing out snide insults at the Governor-elect of California?

    It’s true that they weren’t making arguments. The page I linked to was mostly a collection of jokes, some of which I thought were funny. You evidently disagreed, which is fine, but instead of just saying so, or putting forward an argument for why they were all wet, you made an unjustified ad hominem.

    I note that ?virtually nothing? is essentially an admission that there is something

    It was an admission that there may be something, because I couldn’t remember everything everyone said when I replied to you. You wrote that the comments “for the most part” fit the picked-on-in-high-school clich?; I’d say that few or none of them did. Harlan Ellison is an ass, but you’re making a giant logical leap if you assume that anytime someone suggests a man isn’t bright it’s because he’s still got a chip on his shoulder from his school days.

    it was based on his recent ?why I hate Bush? column in which as he admitted that part of the reason he hated the President was because he reminded him of a type of kid he didn?t like from high school. This along with the obvious lies in his column made his the subject of much ridicule in the blogosphere.

    There is a difference between saying someone reminds you of people you disliked and saying you resented anyone who was popular, let alone successful. Anyway, while I don’t doubt that Jon really hates the president for the reasons he listed, he clearly listed them in a way that was also supposed to be self-mocking. I’m surprised you didn’t get that, just as I’m surprised you can’t distinguish a statement you disagree with from a “lie.”

    That said: I’m sorry I called you “whiny.” It was uncalled for.

  17. Jesse makes some good points, but Thorley’s comments captured my reaction to the Infinite Matrix list. My $.02: science fiction writers tend to be smart and educated, but unfortunately, like lots of smart and educated people, they tend to fall prey to (non-classical) liberal/lefty notions of government. The thought of non-professional pols in control of the machinery of state scares them, ignoring the fact that history shows it’s the smart, professional pols who are the greatest danger.

  18. I believe that we are nothing more than actors in some absurd cosmic theological production. How else could one explain why so often fact is truly stranger than fiction? At various times, God probably laughs, cries, and becomes angry while watching His grand theatre. Occasionally, God probably even intervenes in the production, or jumps on stage Himself.

  19. someone has been reading the Birth of Tragedy.

  20. Suddenly I feel like I’m living in a Wilson/Shea novel.

  21. bughunter, we *are* living in a Wilson/Shea novel. fnord.

  22. Far more beneficial than getting rid of a criminally venal politician, recall finally outed California newspapers as wholly owned subsidiaries of the Democrat National Committee.
    15 gropes in 30 years? Hell, we’ve got priests who do that many in 30 months.

  23. Papayasf is onto something. In the novel for the first Star Trek movie there is a brief notation on what type of individual made the best space traveller in terms of representing the human race. The conclusion was that too much intelligence would leave a crew susceptible to being seduced by the advanced nature of an alien race, thereby rejecting their native culture in favor of the alien one.

  24. I wish you NERDS would shut up or I will crush you like a bug.

  25. “On closer examination, I am wearing loafers.”

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