December 13th, 2012


So he's "evolving" too, now?

Glenn Beck Defends Gay Marriage: Republicans Need To 'Expand Our Own Horizon'

"Conservative firebrand Glenn Beck has joined a growing chorus of Republican commentators in defending gay marriage, laying out a strong case for ending government opposition to letting same-sex couples wed."
""Let me take the pro-gay marriage people and the religious people - I believe that there is a connecting dot there that nobody is looking at, and that's the Constitution," Beck said during a recent segment of his online talk show. "The question is not whether gay people should be married or not. The question is why is the government involved in our marriage?""
""What we need to do, I think, as people who believe in the Constitution, is to start looking for allies who believe in the Constitution and expand our own horizon," Beck said. "We would have the ultimate big tent.""

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Alternate History: The final frontier

To be honest I've never been a big fan of alternate history. It seems to me that actual moments where history truly "hangs in the balance" are staggeringly few and far between. Sure the details may be subject to change but the broad strokes history tend to be set in stone long before the participants take the stage. The kind of stories where the 3rd Reich wins WWII always reminded me of the sort of bad slash-fiction where Ron Weasly becomes a Death-Eater.

That said, what-if stories do occasionally make for some delicious mind candy.

This picture was taken 40 years ago today. The man in the suit is Eugene Cernan, the last human being to set foot on another celestial body....

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Godzilla, default

Now for the more sci-fi variety alternate history scenario:

Namely the really far end of the scale. This is called on the Alternate History Internet communities the Alien Space Bat (read Sufficiently Advanced Alien) continuum. This one is a very simple point of divergence: suppose that in the present we discover the existence, proven, of the many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics in one of the more flamboyant/sci-fi esque possibilities where a portal opens and people step out of another universe. Following this initial contact, we discover that there are truly infinite universes where everything that has ever been or ever will be can exist and does exist. Suppose also that in this process we discover non-human intelligences that are bizarrely alien to us (and we to them) and that this goes for them, too.

Now, as the quantum theory is infinite, we would discover that a staggering number of universes contain no life at all, and we would discover all the myriad ways that a general nuclear exchange or earlier detonation of the Yellowstone supervolcano could happen and reduce civilization as we know it. We would also discover equivalent universes to both our fiction and to that of the aliens of other dimensions. We would of course also discover a tremendous number of timelines where the religions, ideologies, and cultural systems we take for granted do not exist and are never likely to exist in the immediate, the medium, or the far future. What would be the cultural impact of this discovery?

Personally I think a great many science fiction fans would be ecstatic at first until they realize that in a truly infinite universe, things like the Domination of Draka (perhaps the most dystopian of all science fiction series, making 1984 look like Paradise), Galactus, and all the mythological Gods, Demons, and Eldritch Abominations of fiction *also* exist. I think religious fundamentalists would herald these dimensions as demonic illusions and advocate exorcist experiments to destroy them. Which of course would not work. I think also that it would force a fundamental revision and broadening of our understanding of reality, especially if people started using technology from the more bizarre universes to accelerate the technology of our own artificially, presuming such a concept would work. I also think that this kind of contact would lead to new ideologies, including new versions of nihilism that would hold that since everything happens somewhere, and that since parallels of individuals in this world also exist in great quantities that whatever they do does not matter, as there are parallels of themselves who would be far superior to them as individuals.

What say you?
The Captain's Prop

A Safer Nuclear Future?

On December 8, 1953, President Eisenhower made an address to the 470th Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, a speech now called the Atoms for Peace speech. In it, he noted that the US and the USSR, both with atomic weapons, had the power to do unspeakable damage to the planet if those weapons were ever actually used, and which resulted in a stalemate now called the Cold War, where the two nuclear superpowers reserved the right to destroy each other if one flinched:

To pause there would be to confirm the hopeless finality of a belief that two atomic colossi are doomed malevolently to eye each other indefinitely across a trembling world. To stop there would be to accept helplessly the probability of civilization destroyed, the annihilation of the irreplaceable heritage of mankind handed down to us from generation to generation, and the condemnation of mankind to begin all over again the age-old struggle upward from savagery towards decency, and right, and justice. Surely no sane member of the human race could discover victory in such desolation.

Pres. Eisenhower then continued, suggesting an alternative direction to a hopeless standoff. He proposed formation of a UN-led "international atomic energy agency" to "be made responsible for the impounding,storage and protection of the contributed fissionable and other materials" and, more importantly, "to devise methods whereby this fissionable material would be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind."

Experts would be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine and other peaceful activities. A special purpose would be to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world.

Thus the contributing Powers would be dedicating some of their strength to serve the needs rather than the fears of mankind.

Here's some interesting alternate history fodder: Collapse )

NB: I'm pulling double shifts at work all week, so this is a quickie, full of the flaws most quickies have. If I do further research on this and find it to be full of crap, I'll note such a thing later.