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Comments by Sully
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On “Books in Brief: THE LIFE OF BELISARIUS; I, SNIPER; THE WAR THAT KILLED ACHILLES

@ fuster:

Shhh! There are serious scholars here. I'm not sure we should be in here.

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Seven words - Forrest Gump, the movie not the book.

On “In a world of their own: Conservatives and Avatar

@ narciso:

This thread is never going to end

In the soteriological sense it then may be thought of as the afterlife of Avatar.

"

The Tsar enters the ring punching hard.

so·te·ri·ol·o·gy (s -tîr - l -j ). n. The theological doctrine of salvation as effected by Jesus. [Greek s t rion, deliverance (from s t r, savior, ...

Alt. - The assertion of dominance in an esoteric field by use of a technical term known only to the illuminati of that field. :)

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@ Ken Bickford:

Welcome to the blog Ken! An interesting review about which I shall offer no further comment, it being clearly addressed to and more suitable for discussion by our august members whose approach and judgment I tremblingly await.

P.S. I counsel tolerance for the amusing pets that sometimes wander into the discussion threads.

"

@ El Gordo:

Traditionally, movie directors didn´t have and didn´t need a university education.

Movie directors still don't need a university education. As Lincoln didn't need one to be an effective lawyer, and as Bill Gates didn't need one to be an effective corporate executive.

University degrees are the equivalent of brands on cattle, and serve the same purpose for companies that hire herds of employees by the head.

"

.@ narciso:

a film that really isn’t worth all that

The market is very possibly in the process of deciding it's worth more than any other film ever made.

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@ CK MacLeod:

Re John Podhoretz - perhaps you were a tiny bit too harsh about him. He's seen his name and opinions taken seriously in print for a very long time and thus understandably suffers from Maureen Dowd Syndrome, a very common disorder also called Printed Opinion Objectivity Paralysis Syndrome that causes sufferers to believe they're qualified to deposit comments heedlessly at any time in any venue on any subject matter. Writers for print media are especially prone to it; but many, if not most, humans who post on the web are also sufferers. It's even been observed and studied in non humans, most specifically among members of Genus Rana.

A corollary of Feynman's mot re scientists applies:

'. . .a published writer is just as dumb as the next guy'

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@ fuster:

perhaps you can help list the wars of the last 50 years that weren’t worth denouncing.

I’ve got VN , Gulf 1, Afghan, Iraq as the possibles. The first and last are full FUBARs , and Gulf 1 was a war lacking much of a moral imperative.

We're very far apart.
VN - necessary as a holding action, execrable in its execution - starting, of course, with Saint JFK who ordered the assassination the leader of the acceptable half.

Gulf 1 - lack of it implies Saddam in control of the whole Gulf - there's a thought - we wouldn't have to worry about OBL wanting a Caliphate because there would already be one, in the care of an expansionist with certifiable sons.

Afghan - no hitback would have been the equivalent of declaring isolationism - I agree that turning it into an 8 year effort to turn Afghans into constitutionalists was foolish, but my prescription in preference to that (which I still think impossible) would probably not be desirable to you - install a tame dog and a set of reasonably tame warlord dogs who knew not to make us come back.

Iraq - The man had to go - for trying to assassinate poppa Bush and because he was obstinate and showy in his defiance at a time when we still needed to send a message to a lot of other leaders following 9/11. I would prefer it had been done by putting in place a slightly tamer dog who knew not to cross us but who could be depended on to maintain power without too many embarassing massacres for a decade or two.

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@ CK MacLeod:

I'm on your side here because I'm used to accepting the conventions that make science fiction possible. What I was getting at is that this is an argument you can't win with someone who doesn't accept those conventions.

The avatars are fabulously expensive on a full cost basis because the corp had to ship a factory for making them and all the technicians on a starship that can transport people light years in cold sleep and is thus out of time synch with Earth, or else in real awake human time which implies an energy source that obviates almost any problem for which unobtanium could be needed. That plus it had to complete a Human Genome level project to achieve the mixed genome.

We accept Heinlein as quaint when he describes ship sized computers but we don't accept that in current "realistic" sci fi writers because we know about chips. Niven's a good example. His oldest stuff has clunky computers but by the 80's he was writing about handheld know it all machines. Similarly we can accept Heinlein's cripples because he had no way of knowing about biotech.

Avatar is fantasy rather than SciFi. Accepting it as fantasy doesn't detract from your main points.

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@ fuster:

McGovern denounced a bad war not the need for moral worth.

And that made him acceptable, which is my point.

I'm trying to think of a nationally prominent living Democrat who did not denounce at least one war while his country was engaged in it. Perhaps you can help.

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@ CK MacLeod:

For some reason we assume that the medicine of 2154 will necessarily be as superior to the medicine of 2009 as the medicine of 2009 is to the that of 1860

Fiddle-dee-dee: Maybe one reason is because the corporation is growing avatars from scratch in tanks - and those avatars are part Pandoran and part Human in genetic makeup. Maybe another is because the corporation can put a human in a box with some wires around his head and link him to control the avatar that shares part of his DNA seamlessly by radio or subspace tachyon transfer or whatever.

But, as I pointed out before on the wall, it is somehow a mysteriously hard medical problem to allow a human to control his own seemingly intact (and not atrophied - now that I'm thinking on that one scene where we see them) legs, something that is being done on an imperfect basis today along multiple technological tracks.

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@ J.E. Dyer:

You've touched, as CK did, on something the elite left is in utter denial about. They portray the Nav'i and other "noble savages" as living idyllic peaceful lives when left alone in part because the reality of life closer to nature ensures that real noble savages must commonly do things in everyday life that liberals abhor. And, lacking written rule of law and complex procedures, must ultimately contend for leadership among their own on a who is strongest basis where they live in large groups, like the Nav'i. No liberal dares ask how the chief of the Nav'i tribe got and holds his position, so Cameron invents the physical feat criterion (capture the big bird and tame it) for excusing what looks like a descent of power by birth. As though such rulers never have to take action to preserve their power against upstart challengers.

Some lefties are intellectually honest enough (especially when forced) to confront this issue. So, for instance, Larry McMurtry, in his modern novels is the perfect liberal; but in his western novels (Comanche Moon, Lonesome Dove, etc) he is forced to confront the fact that real life Comanches were not nice peaceful Nav'i in their dealings with other tribes. In those novels he may sell some liberalism around the edges, but at the core he must admit the moral equivalence of the modern and the primitive when contending for the same resources and even in living side by side.

Sarah Palin became governor of Alaska by her organizing talent and hard political work and her willingness to buck the system; but as an outsider she also needed the atmospherics of moose hunting and the mystique of having worked hard with her hands, like ordinary Alaskans. She also needed connection with her impressive all by himself husband, the made good part Eskimo (with a big tight family connected all over rural Alaska) who built his own small business while working on drill rigs and finding time to engage in ultimate snowmobile racing.

The left celebrates false heroes (in the case i.e. of John Kerry - my opinion at least), but it privately recoils from the reality of the deeds of those heroes (hence Kerry is acceptable because he denounces as criminal the heroism he claims for political purposes). And the left celebrates real heroes like George McGovern who performed in past mythic "clean" wars, but only if they renounce the need for the deeds that prove heroism in the current day.

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@ CK MacLeod:

6-D total immersion

Hadn't thought of that. Those of us still alive will experience the sequel in feely suits floating in individual tanks. We'll get to choose a character to experience. Cameron will be assailed with lawsuits from the GLBTDP/GA community activist groups when its learned that suitable characters have not been created to fully satisfy all variations of feely experience.

"

@ narciso:

what to do for an encore

That's easy. The evil empire strikes back with a massive neutron bomb strike from orbit that wipes out all life in the vicinity of the unobtanium deposit; but our hero Sully's grandsondaughter is off on the other side of the planet dancing in a trance with a bunch of other fetchingly semi-clothed blue lassies under the influence of hisher wire to Eya at the time. She leads a massive counterstrike of all the blue dudes and dudettes along with every other life form on the planet. Eya meanwhile erupts a volcano under the unobtanium deposit.

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@ Jim Wrenn:

Your links are on whole most amusing,
But you seem to be sorely abusing,
Sainted Al Gore, and Deacon Cameron, for,
They're less funny than they are accusing.

You'd best watch your back,
Lest an acolyte hack,
You down, for Gore's Gaia's re-using,
Or Cameron's Eya's in-fusing.

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@ fuster:

http://www.tvacres.com/creatures_bunyip.htm

Bertie was a happy, friendly creature who lived on frogs and other comestibles in the Australian swamps.

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@ narciso:

Was that Avatar, get it, randomly assigned like the zombie crowd one

I'm certainly no expert; but I think any avatar other than the crowd scene means the person set himself up to have it, or else the Tsar set him up to have it - and I've never seen CK assign an avatar without discussion.

Unless he says different I'm assuming the finger fellow chooses to present that image to the world wherever he posts, and that he knows how to do it.

"

@ fuster:

That was very inhospitable to a new commenter; although I tend to think the finger avatar is rude beyond the point of simple annoyance. One has to wonder at the nature of the person who chooses to put forth that image. Confronting it leads almost to sympathy with Hannibal Lecter's preference in comestibles.

"

@ CK MacLeod:

their plugged-in’d-ness to the natural planetary biocomputer – is more valuable than unobtanium.

Assuming facts not in evidence, since we don't know the extent of unobtanium's uses. In the case of Pandora, the whole planet sustains a massive permanently elevated chain of floating mountains reaching toward the sky. Sigorney Weager's character might not have fully appreciated the significance of that, she being both a woman and of obviously western descent and thus unacquainted with sympathetic medicines.

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@ Dave C:

Welcome.

An interesting comment but see David Brooks' column (referred to in a couple of my comments and CK MacLeod's comments above) re the racist angle. Brooks beat you to the White Messiah analysis, although he was sloppy and identified it as something new in our age.

As to the Nav'i not recognizing or exploiting their resources, the Saudis sat on their oil resources even though they were literally seeping out of the ground in places until others came in to develop them. American Indians sat on gold and silver resources, not seeing them as having value. South Sea islanders sat on guano deposits, having no use for them and no ability to exploit them, besides having no knowledge of vast markets for fertilizer. Amazon natives are sitting on potential resources right now, not knowing how to exploit them, or not caring to exploit them.

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@ CK MacLeod:

Good point, although it could be argued that evolution would economize on mass and make thinner bones given stronger material. Of course on Pandora, Eya is no doubt guiding evolution; so I guess intelligent design rules there. Why is it that primitives are allowed to have Gods worthy of deference, but moderns aren't in the lefty world view?

Also, youre comment about Quaritch reminds me of my reaction when he pulls out that big bowie knife with his exoskeleton's mechanical arm. Even as I was thinking how ridiculous it was to pull a knife in a future tech age, I was enjoying the sheer campiness of the scene.

A great movie.

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@ Zoltan Newberry:

I enjoy Bear Grylls' show; but I see him as a good example of remaining within the bounds of reason. Even carefully choreographed (no doubt) he keeps his physical feats just within reasonable.

In a rare instance when I was moved to Good Samaritanship I once helped a tall gawky fellow change a flat tire on his Chevy Nova in DC. You can imagine my surprise when I later realized he was Ralph Nader.

I've never thrown rocks at cops; but I did once throw an apple through the drivers side window of a cop car that made the mistake of appearing next around a bend of the road where I was exercising youthful exuberance. Damn cop chased me quite a way. Fortunately he had not been attending to his physical fitness.

"

@ CK MacLeod:

I don't disagree with you about the captivating nature of the action and pace of the movies; but I always get a bit put out when physical feats of the actors go too far over the top in a movie. An example from Avatar would be the leaps from the high branches and breaking their falls on the leaves and vines on the way down. Such a feat done once without injury (ala the cliff jump into the river in Butch Cassidy) stretches credulity. Done multiple times it breaks it.

Sylvester Stallone was barely within bounds when he jumped from the cliff and fell through the tree, breaking his fall on the branches just before the timeless scene of him sewing up his own arm. In Avatar the height was a branch too high and the reaction time to execute the grabs on each leaf and vine a smidge too short, at least for me. Similarly with Bourne; I'm okay with him until he leaps an alleyway too wide into an opposite window after one too many previous athletic feats.

It's a question of how much disbelief the director requires me to suspend and how long he requires me to sustain that suspension. I can still very much like a movie where that happens; but I'm not French to actually treasure a mouche on the face of a beautiful woman to set off her perfection.

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David Brooks' bottom line - Avatar is racist; and David Brooks is the White Messiah who can point that out effectively for the downtrodden not white people and thus prevent them from being condescended to.

There's a helpful picture of our hero accompanying the column so the sun people can recognize their pale saviour.

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