Friday, 17 December 2004

I, Robot

I just watched I, Robot (DVD, Book) and have a couple of questions for you sci-fi buffs out there. Not surprisingly, the movie is no better on its second viewing than on the first. However, it did make me want to read the book—which is one of my holiday to-do items—and it’s not bad as pure entertainment.

Having me question sci-fi logic is about as useful as watching a Hollywood movie discuss economics, which this one does—badly. Even so, I have a question: why not just modify Asimov’s first law to say that a robot shall not harm the life or liberty of a human? Because it might ruin the potential for future books pondering this dilemma?

Next question: one of the reviews of the copy of I, Robot (the book) says Asimov is part of the “ABCs” of sci-fi, with the others being Bradbury and Clarke. Why not extend it by one letter and have “D”, as in Dick, Philip K.? Is he not as respected as the other three? If not, why not?

Dead again

Sign up for the one, the only Dead Pool 2005, and tell Lair we sent you—we’re currently tied for second in the referral contest, so every roster counts!

Incurable ignorance?

Greg Goelzhauser has returned from haïtus at Crescat Sententia with some thoughts in response to Dan Herzog on whether or not the public is “incurably ignorant” about politics. My general thought on such matters, oft-repeated here, is that any democratic society in which it might be rational for the public at large* to not be ignorant about anything beyond the most trivial of political matters would be incredibly unstable politically.

That said, Greg’s point about social norms is well-taken; knowing things about politics is excellent fodder for cocktail-party discussion, even if the details don’t matter for voting behavior one whit.† Clearly the answer, then, is to invite more people to attend cocktail parties, a program I’d fully support.

* As opposed to journalists, high school civics teachers, political science professors (at least those who teach American politics courses), and politicians, who have various incentives to know and care who the Secretary of Veterans Affairs is.
† It is hard to conceive of how knowledge of current political events in Darfur or the Ukraine, for example, might impact one’s voting decisions or other forms of meaningful political participation.

The lew rockwell fetishists strike again

I hate these f*cking guys. They’re as bad as Illinois Nazis. Not only do they use opposition to the Iraqi war—which can be done in a principled fashion, as it is by many—as a means for bringing, Trojan-horse-like, xenophobia to mainstream outlets that would otherwise be revulsed by it; now, it’s come to include homophobia.

To begin with, I’ve had run-ins with these idiots before. They worship Rockwell—whom I despise, it’s no secret—and lose all sense of proportion when his views are challenged. They’ve been big supporters of, and have used it as a means of pushing rather radical notions: every attempt to support democracy abroad is seen as interference; every foreign supporter is a neocon stooge, or quisling. Even Pat Tillman, who died with the idea of protecting his country in mind, is fodder for their ends. It’s disgusting.

I would write more, but this is getting me a bit angry. Plus, it’s getting late; I was hoping for a peaceful cruise across the blogosphere before bed. Tom has more here and here. Read the comments; follow the links.

(þ: Volokh)

Currently listening to: Dio