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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?

I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.

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"The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson

"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin

"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton

"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt

"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley

"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss

"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire, the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind; and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon

"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
-- Socrates

"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook

"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr

"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion

"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson

"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices, intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation; a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition -- to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri

"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke

"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology; it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant

"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville

"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon, but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant

"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.

"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible, and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus

"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814

"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated. This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944

"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News

"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas

"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
-- Cicero

"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." -- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson

"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example." -- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance." --
H. W. Fowler

"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place." -- Kate Wilhelm

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein

"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms

"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).

"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman

“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison

"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France

"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128

"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)

"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)

"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden

"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
-- Batman


Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit. He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.

The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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Contents © 2001-2013 All rights reserved. Gary Farber. (The contents of e-mails to this email address of Gary Farber are subject to the possibility of being posted.)

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world

[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula

...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd,

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber

Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
-- Ogged

I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow

One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged

We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog

Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog


Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott

Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit

My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal

If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.

Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks

I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes

Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this?
-- Natalie Solent

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit

December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
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People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.

Thursday, March 14, 2002
YOU CAN'T BEAM BACK WHEN THE TRANSPORTER IS EXPERIMENTAL: Donna Minkowitz has, in this week's The Nation, the most colossally wrong-headed review of Enterprise I've ever seen in a professional publication. Remarkably, she's explaining what a right-wing show it is.
Science fiction routinely gets away with subversive gestures that would never be allowed in any realistic program.
Well, that was said of the original series, but it's pretty darned exaggerated; nevertheless, this is the myth fans of the original series like to tell each other, so we'll let that pass.
Thus it is that people who don't watch Star Trek are probably unaware that its vision of our future is socialistic, anti-imperialist and passionately committed to expanding the list of sentient life forms who are judged to have rights and acknowledged to be persons.
Um, well, you can certainly project those ideas onto the series, and many have, both to approve and to object. Largely, of course, this is silliness which comes from lack of experience with science fiction. Star Trek in all incarnations has strictly steered away from politics (quick, what's the political structure of the Federation?; how are people put on the Federation Council?; how is the President chosen?; all as unanswered as any other political aspect of the Federation), and has never even attempted to describe any sort of internal economic system, let alone philosophy, resulting in complete incoherency on the subject.

The closest it has come was portraying the Ferengi, in later series, as representatives of the flaws of rapacious capitalism. We don't even have a clue as to how planets in the Federation deal economically with each other, nor if individuals do at all. All is silent.

What sort of economics any other race in the Galaxy, including those of the Federation, have, we simply have no idea, and a few bits of contradictory examples. All we really know is that the basic needs of humans are all met, at least on non-hardship worlds, due to abundant energy sources and replicators; beyond that, humans are free to "fullfil themselves."

If you project that as "socialism," you're saying more about your own view as to an ideal economic system than you're saying about Star Trek. Basically, such a claim is made up out of wish fulfillment. We have seen, nonetheless, citizens of the Federation in the Original Series (hereafter TOS) speak of "getting rich," such as in "Mudd's Women."

I'll agree that it's entirely fair to describe the Federation as "anti-imperialistic," although one could of course point to some contradictory examples. haven't been watching Star Trek, which makes it clear that its disfranchised beings are surrogates for people of color, colonized workers, Palestinians--yes, there was an entire plot arc devoted to Palestinians--disabled people and others.
Oppressed people, sure; colonized workers, yes, in several cases; disabled people, well, there's Geordi LaForge, who eventually got real eyes again, and aside from that, a single episode of Deep Space Nine, "Melora," about a woman from a low-gee planet, who has to use a wheelchair in 1-gee situations (which, curiously, are 99.99% of ST episodes), but, sure, out of over 500 episodes, yes, there was one entire episode devoted to a "differently-abled" person -- this isn't precisely remarkable, but... wait, Palestinians?

I literally don't know what Minkowitz is referring to: the Bajorans, a race who at one point have their planet taken over, and many of whom live in refugee camps? They could have been stand-ins for Palestinians. Or Jews. Or East Timorans. Or Rwandans. Or any of thousands of other human tribes forced out of their homeland or oppressed in it, presently, or in the past.

Which was the point, not to represent Palestinians, just as it was in the other few such instances in Star Trek that dealt with rebellions or terrorism, or displaced peoples. Again, projection.

But it's still pretty damn good to see a popular series proposing that everyone is entitled to healthcare and abundant, no-shame-attached welfare.
Trying to put a future society with different economics, technology, and social situations, into a framework where it is alleged they favor "welfare" is just dumb. It's as accurate as describing the society of chimpanzees as being "pro-welfare." Or "anti-welfare."

It's an attempt to cram an entirely different culture into the petty political framework of a few decades of a culture of a small percentage of our planet. It makes no more sense than trying to analyze whether the Mongol culture of Genghis Khan was pro or anti the negative income tax, or a homeowner's deduction.

The first series, which began in 1967, was an odd amalgam of manly Buck Rogers adventure, cold war pro-Americanism and utopian social drama influenced by the civil rights movement.
Of course, ST had nothing whatsoever in common with Buck Rogers, other than both being in space. This is like saying that Giles Goat-boy, say, is an "amalgam" of Crime and Punishment and Dr. Seuss. After all, they're all set on the same planet!

Star Trek was influenced by Forbidden Planet and Voyage of the Space Beagle and a variety of other sf, but not Buck Rogers.

The rest I'll let pass, save to note that the pro-Russian bias of Mr. Chekov was a loud and pronounced caricature.

[...] So, watching the first season of the latest Trek vehicle, Enterprise, I've felt...nausea and horror. It takes Star Trek so far backward that it's like Buffy becoming a sex slave chained to a bed for the rest of her television career. Set in Trek's "past," 100 years before Kirk's time and just 150 years after our own, Enterprise depicts the first humans to have contact with alien races. Emphasis on races: the interplanetary politics seem to have been framed by Pat Buchanan. Though there are two token humans of color on the ship, humans are heavily coded as white and male.
This is, of course, false. There are 87 people on the ship; Donna Minkowitz can't possibly know how many are "of color" -- a concept immensely unlikely to be used by a unified planet in one hundred and fifty years, by which point it's quite likely that the concept that "different human race" has no scientific meaning whatsover will likely have pentrated to most -- because, of course, the producers have carefully only shown us some of them; nevertheless, out of a couple of dozen shown, one can count more than a dozen she'd likely conclude on some sort of basis of appearance, for whatever that is worth, are "of color", though it's not clear to me what degree of what genetic markers qualifies one to be "of color."

Perhaps Minkowitz refers to the primary characters, of whom there are a mere seven: three "white" males, one "black" male, one "Asian" woman, one Vulcan woman, and one alien of undetermined gender, though played by a male human. I'm at a loss as to how this is less "enlightened" than the original series (TOS), whose primary character "people of color" were a man from San Francisco of Chinese descent, and a "black" woman from Africa. The only other regular women on the series were a nurse and Kirk's "yeoman," more or less his secretary.

All the previous Star Trek series, over three decades, have been about becoming progressively more catholic, more aware of the astonishing diversity of the galaxy, the provincial limitedness of one's own assumptions and one's own potential to harm people who are different.
Indeed. Just as Enterprise is. At an earlier stage. At a bridging point between now and the other series.
The newest offering is a frank vehicle for white male suprematism and resentment.
Uh-huh. Let us know note that the entire point of the series seems to have flown at warp speed over Donna Minkowitz's head: Enterprise is out to portray how primitive human culture is compared to the later series! A goal is to show how humans, after slowly encountering new alien cultures grow into the maturity shown in later series. She notes this, only to complain about it. Which makes utterly no sense.

As for the "white male suprematism": more than TOS? Ha. This is complete nonsense, given Kirk's swaggering beddings of the woman-of-the-week; in contrast, Captain Archer has had two chaste kisses, and no other male Enterprise crewman has done more than make an admiring remark about a female. We have seen a human woman express interest in someone, but apparently Ensign Cutler doesn't exist, according to Minkowitz; but more about that later.

Lastly, of course, the second in command is a powerful non-human woman. Which Minkowitz than complains about as "castrating." One might think it good to show a woman as the brightest, strongest, member of the crew, but no, that's "castrating."

Let's start with white. The titles, set to a hymn that combines the first Christian references ever heard on Star Trek with some boasts about resisting alien domination, show drawings of the ships of fifteenth-century European colonial powers and European maps and globes from the same period. On one is scripted "HMS Enterprise."
Where to begin? Apparently Minkowitz is ignorant of the actual HMS Enterprise. Apparently she'd prefer that in a look back at the history of great exploration of the planet Earth of the past 500 years, history should be rewritten so it wasn't done by Europeans. Apparently actual maps shouldn't be used.
This jibes neatly with the plot, the first ever on Star Trek in which racism is applauded.
!!! Words fail.
The normal, virile, white spacemen of Earth are being held back by the ridiculous sensitivities of the Vulcans, pushy, geeky aliens who want them to respect the cultural differences of all the alien races.
Minkowitz appears to not get that Archer's early resentment of Vulcans is continuously and consistently shown to be something he is learning to grow out of. We are consistently shown both that human and Vulcan suspicion of each other is foolish.

This is all part, of course, of the slow process of showing how, by the end of the series, various races will come together to form the Federation. It is at this point that the reader begins to suspect that Minkowitz has not, in fact, actually watched the series, but merely the pilot, and a single other episode, which she didn't understand. Possibly she's seen three whole episodes, but I'm highly skeptical.

Further, she seems to not grasp the concept of future history, or to understand that to show how racism and fear are overcome, you first have to show its existence. It is as if she were to review Roots and complain that the white charcters were racist towards the black characters. Wow, what an indictment!

Lastly, she appears not to have noted the dramatic changes that have already taken place in episode after episode in both the Captain and other humans' opinions of T'Pol and Vulcans.

The Vulcans have withheld scientific information from "us" because they are envious, effete dominators who can't stand our vitality, our creativity, our closeness to life. Want me to spell it out? What they really hate is our balls. In this way, they are straight out of Nazi propaganda about Jews, so that I almost expected to see little comics of Vulcans poisoning the wells of Aryans and strangling Nordic farmers with their moneybags. Mr. Spock, the Vulcan in the original series, has been widely read as either a Jew or an Asian, but he was also the sexiest and most popular character on the show. If he represented a nonwhite race, he was one that the viewers desperately wanted to be. No such luck here. T'Pol, the Vulcan science officer that the humans are forced to serve with as a condition of getting Vulcan astronomical charts, is a caricature of a bitter woman of color, obsessed with human (i.e., white) evils, bleating endlessly about self-determination for Klingons and other people whose names sound dumb to humans. She's the unworthy affirmative-action hire foisted on "us" by cowards and spineless administrators.
T'Pol, as a full Vulcan, is, of course, not "bitter." That she is resented in the early episodes is true; that they show her and the humans on an arc of coming to understand each other is, of course, the point. The ravings about Nazism aren't even worth responding to. Nor, incidentally, is ever a word said about "self-determination for Klingons."

That would be hard to do, since the point is made in the pilot, repeatedly, and repeatedly throughout the series so far, that the Klingon Empire is far superior technologically at this time than Earth, and could conquer Earth in a jiffy.

[...] There's a heavily Freudian element in all this: His father's failed big ship is referred to in most episodes...
Completely false. It's referred to in only a single episode, the pilot. Minkowitz is reviewing a series she's not seen. Of eighteen episodes so far, she's apparently seen perhaps three, and is, apparently, outright lying about having seen "most episodes." That, or she's on drugs.
...and we get frequent flashbacks of little-boy Jonathan playing with a remote-controlled toy rocket with his father, literally trying to get it up. In the show's iconography, T'Pol represents a castrating woman as well as a scheming racial inferior, and when he talks to her, Archer often sounds like the hero of a 1950s movie beating back the heart-freezing bitch who's trying to crush his vitals..."
This scarcely squares with his behavior in the other 17 hours of the show shown so far, nor with the upcoming episodes so far described. Basically, Minkowitz is making this accusation based on 14 words of dialogue out of thousands, said 14 words being in the pilot, whose point were to show the pre-existing impatience and impetuosity of the Captain, along with his hostility towards Vulcans.

Did I mention that there are no rockets? She's making this up. There are no rockets modeled in Archer's toy starship. Also, no horseless carriages. Also no chariots.

There are no rockets on the Enterprise. And apparently Minkowitz believes that a big round dish, with two cylinders extending behind them, is a "Freudian symbol." Of what, I can't figure out. If someone has sexual organs like this, I'm frightened, and do not wish to know.

Castrating! Scheming racial inferior! Words fail.

[...] This is the first Star Trek really interested in punishing women. And the first Trek that makes women really punishable: A typical scene has T'Pol talking up how stupid and crude the crew are, telling them that they'll never be able to accomplish their mission, while trying to eat a breadstick by cutting it with a knife and fork.
This is again false, not a "typical scene" at all. It does allude to the first meal T'Pol is shown having, since the breadstick scene exists. It completely doesn't square with how T'Pol saves the Captain in "Broken Bow," nor is the most sensible member of the landing party in "Strange New World," nor with anything in "Terra Nova," nor with anything in "Unexpected," nor her growing admiration for the Captain in "The Andorian Incident," nor their respectful relationship in "Civilization," nor anything in "Fortunate Son," nor his accepting her advice, against his instincts, in "Breaking The Ice," nor anything in "Cold Front," "Silent Enemy," "Dear Doctor," "Sleeping Dogs," "Shadows of P'Jem," "Shuttlepod One".... Get the picture?

This is like denouncing "NYPD Blue" as a program centered around a hateful racist drunk, because in the first episode Sipowicz was a drunk who took an episode to go into AA, and then remained sober for the next eight years.

[...] And this Trek, as though someone had joined together Gene Roddenberry and the WWF, wants to cheer on men for sticking it to her on every planet the crew visits.
Really? Name three. Name two. Name, in fact, one.
The treatment of T'Pol isn't the worst part. If women aren't harridans like her, they're sexy, exotic alien wenches, completely inhuman, who only, only, only aim to please.
Name two. Name two episodes like that. Name one episode like that.
I thought I was in some different science-fiction universe altogether when, in the Enterprise pilot episode, two male crew members spent lots of time watching scantily clad alien dancing girls with three-foot long tongues flicking at insects and each other. "Which one would you prefer?" the manager asked the men.
Yes, indeed, in the pilot, two male crewmembers, both visiting their very first alien world, visting a place of high decadence, walk past such an alien female for an entire 16 seconds. 16 seconds. Out of 17 hours. This is a very peculiar understanding of "lots of time."

Compare to the amount of time we see Orion dancing girls in, say, the pilot of TOS, and the amount of time we see a woman punished, time after time, in that. Compare to the outright hookers of "Mudd's Women." Compare to the dozens of hours, the dozens of episodes, of TOS in which we saw women broken by Captain Kirk, or kidnapped, or held prisoner, or tortured.

Compare, in fact, to the dozens of hours of screen time in which B'Ellana Torres has been tortured, Seven of Nine was beaten or "violated," or Troi was kidnapped, or Kira was tortured, or Lwaxanna was kidnapped and stripped naked, or.... Again, Minkowitz is spewing absolute, factually completely wrong, nonsense.

In my recollection, this is the first Trek on which Starfleet officers have ever considered buying women.
Of course, this never happened in Enterprise. She's now apparently hallucinating. Moreover, she apparently never saw TOS "The Cage," and "The Menagerie" and "Mudd's Women," and....
The women were like insects themselves, fuckable insects, and in the time we spent mentally fondling their soulless, bouncy bodies I felt, for the first time, that Star Trek didn't consider me a person.
As we've already discovered, that was an extremely long sixteen seconds. Moreover, apparently she doesn't recall such STNG episodes as "Angel One," where we saw men as empty-headed sex objects. Moreover, since when do dancers seem like "insects," and why would anyone be attracted to insects or find them "fuckable"?
Oh, I forgot, there's one other possible role for women on the show. Hoshi, the one human woman on the ship,
Again, we see Minkowitz hasn't watched the show; the ship has dozens of women, as we've seen many times. Apparently she's not noticed two full episodes revolving around Ensign Cutler, for example. an Asian who's supposed to be great with languages, but she spends most of her time as a sort of secretary who relays messages from other ships.
Curious, in the series actually broadcast, Hoshi made a mission possible by translating alien languages on an alien ship in "Fight or Flight," did the same in "Sleeping Dogs," and was moreover responsible for saving the entire landing party by coming up with the theory of using certain of the alien devices to do so, and has translated endless other times; as for her "relaying messages from other ships," it would be a curious Communications officer who didn't do that; would it have made more sense for her to not?
[...] Vulcans know how to do a very cool self-defense maneuver that involves making people unconscious by pinching their necks from behind, but T'Pol somehow never gets to do it.
Funny, I guess "Strange New World" -- which, incidentally, is the third episode -- never happened. Also, Minkowitz seems to have missed out on the fact that humans don't yet know about the nerve pinch.
(She never gets to do the very cool Vulcan mind-meld, either.)
Funny, I guess "Fusion" never happened. Also, Minkowitz seems to have missed out on the fact that when Spock did this for the first time in TOS, no human knew about this ability.
And Vulcans have, in every incarnation of Star Trek until now, been supersmart. They aren't anymore. Every Vulcan on the show has been dumb as a rock.
Funny, that's why they are the superior, more knowledgeable race in every episode they've been in, that's why T'Pol has far more technical knowledge, wisdom, and knowledge of the galaxy than anyone on the crew, that's why Vulcans save the crew in "Breaking The Ice," the crew seeks their help in "Silent Enemy," Vulcans help them in "Shadows of P'Jem," and are shown in a new light in "Fusion."

In no case whatsoever have they been "dumb"; what they do have is a different political relationship to Earth, just as, say, the US had a different political relationship with Britain 150 or 250 years ago. Again, Minkowitz doesn't grasp the concept that things are different over a 150 or 250 year time span.

Why the gods of Star Trek have seen fit to radically change the show's politics is a question I'd love to be able to answer.
To show how they change. Happy now?
Enterprise was birthed before September 11, but it seems tailor-made for this time of alien-hating and macho heroism. The show actually has its mouthpiece characters say outright that Americans are better than other people, which even the first Star Trek had the taste to avoid.
No, the show has an American character make a single snotty remark, to be put down by the British character. Again, the point is to show how humanity grows out of this. How can Minkowitz miss the entire point of the series? (Moreover, it's clearly established that there is world peace, world government, and hunger and poverty have been abolished.)

Yet readers of The Nation are being told by Minkowitz that this is a right-wing vision. How sad.

Here, though, is the one point I'll grant her:

(At this rate, Star Trek won't admit the existence of gays and lesbians until 2150.)
Agreed; that ST has steered around and away from this is despicably cowardly. But it's part and parcel of the way all human society has been shown only in a way that would fit right into the Donna Reed Show, or, at least, the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

At no time have humans been shown to have even remotely the range of cultural differences on Earth today, let alone throughout history, let alone what might be possible on thousands of planets hundreds of years in the future. But, then ST has never been good science fiction, of course.

I can only think that this Star Trek was set in the past--uh, I mean 150 years into the future--so as to give it a convenient excuse for turning back the galactic clock on race and gender.
Not precisely, but to show a bridge for our flawed society to the more perfect societies envisioned for the 23rd and 24th centuries, yes. You've just barely got a clue there, Donna Minkowitz.
But given the place Trek holds in so many people's imaginations, the shift of the Trek world to the right makes it feel as though the future has suddenly been foreshortened.
Yes, from the 23rd century of TOS and the 24th century of TNG, DS9 and Voyager. Gosh, things change as years pass. That's, you know, something science fiction is about.

Of course, Donna Minkowitz doubtless doesn't understand Green Lantern, either.

Addendum: James Lileks said in e-mail, of this post: "That is, without question, the stupidest thing I've read this week - the Nation piece, that is, not your commentary. You nailed it (sorry, that's violent and penetrative.) You . . . correctly grasped her fallacies; nice job.".

I writhe in coils and pleasure. Or is that "write"? I confuse those, as you know.

3/14/2002 04:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | |
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