Sci Fi Friday


While not much goes on in television SF over the summer, there’s a few recent news items.

Battlestar Galactica has an upcoming episode, The Story So Far, which recaps the first two seasons. It will air on some NBC affiliates and on Universal HD. (I wish Universal HD aired BSG episodes as they are broadcast on the SciFi Channel rather than months later). If you have not watched the first two seasons, I recommend that you do not, repeat, do not, watch this. If you haven’t seen the first two episodes, the only sensible thing to do before the third season starts is to pick up the DVDs of the first two seasons. They were just too good to settle for a quick recap. Just make sure you get Ron Moore’s remake, and not the dreadful original show this is loosely based upon.

Dr.Who will also resume with the second season in the US this fall, but the Christmas episode, which first shows the regenerated Doctor in action, will be held back until Christmas. I’m sure glad I downloaded the Christmas episode (as well as some of the second season) with bittorrent. Meanwhile, fans in Great Britain are getting ready for the third season–and I hope they continue to upload the episodes to the internet.

The Prisoner will return. A while back there were stories of a remake of the television show but I haven’t heard anything on this lately. Now Sci Fi Wire reports that Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins) will be directing a movie version.

Under the fold I’ll reprint some of my older posts on science fiction television, including Karl Rove with the Cylons.

Lawrence O’Donnell Believes Lieberman Will Drop Out

Lawrence O’Donnell writing at Huffington Post believes that Joe Lieberman will drop out in September to avoid a humiliating loss:

Now, both Clintons and everyone else in the Party are carrying Lamont on their shoulders. By late September, Bill Clinton will be onstage hugging his new best friend and starring in Lamont commercials. Connecticut’s much better liked senator, Chris Dodd, will be campaigning for Lamont this time. The Clinton and Dodd defections will cost Lieberman ten points in Connecticut. If Dick Cheney continues to say nice things about Lieberman, it’ll cost him another ten points. And Lieberman campaigning alone, all alone, will look bitter, very bitter. His smile will look faker than ever. Voters aren’t drawn to bitter.

I sure hope he is right on this. I’d rather have Bill Clinton going all around the country hugging Democratic candidates in states where Democrats can pick up new seats.

Bush and Republicans Continue Slide in Latest Polls

George Bush showed a mild recovery in approval earlier in the summer. His recovery, which was limited as his approval remained under 40% in most polls, has ended. The latest AP-Ipsos Poll shows his approval is back down to 33%, matching his low from last May. The large majority who disapprove of George Bush include many people who voted for him back in 2004 but now plan to vote for Demcrats in this fall’s Congressional elections.

When the polls first started showing approval of under 40%, Bush worshippers would frequently attribute this to bias in the polls. If there is “bias”, then Fox News shares it as their poll shows Bush’s approval at 36%. They found that 48% would vote for a Democrat for Congress while only 30% say they would vote for a Republican. This eighteen point edge for Democrats is up from eight points in mid-July.

Conservative blogs frequently discount recent polls with claims that they over-sample Democrats. While true that most of the recent polls show more people identifying themselves as Democrats than Republicans, this is what should really have them scared. For many people who don’t live in the partisan blogosphere, party affiliation is fluid. Those who plan to vote for a Democrat for Congress are more likely to call themselves a Democrat, even if they identified themselves as a Republican when saying they would vote for George Bush in 2004.

Conservative Skeptic Questions Right Wing and Religion

Liberals are often frustrated by the right wing’s use of religion and claims to having a monopoly on morality. Some conservatives agree. Heather MacDonald, writing in the American Conservative, also cringes when she heard John Ashcroft crediting God with keeping America safe after 9/11, or when George Bush basis his foreign policy on conservations with God. She notes that not all conservatives share the views of the religious right. “Skeptical conservatives—one of the Right’s less celebrated subcultures—are conservatives because of their skepticism, not in spite of it. They ground their ideas in rational thinking and (nonreligious) moral argument.”

I have heard it said in the last six years that what makes conservatives superior to liberals is their religious faith—as if morality is impossible without religion and everything is indeed permitted, as the cliché has it. I wonder whether religious conservatives can spot the atheists among them by their deeds or, for that matter, by their political positions. I very much doubt it. Skeptical conservatives do not look into the abyss when they make ethical choices. Their moral sense is as secure as a believer’s. They do not need God or the Christian Bible to discover the golden rule and see themselves in others.

It is often said, in defense of religion, that we all live parasitically off of its moral legacy, that we can only dismiss religion because we are protected by the work it has already done on our behalf. This claim has been debated ad nauseam since at least the middle of the 19th century. Suffice it to say that, to many of us, Western society has become more compassionate, humane, and respectful of rights as it has become more secular. Just compare the treatment of prisoners in the 14th century to today, an advance due to Enlightenment reformers. A secularist could as easily chide today’s religious conservatives for wrongly ignoring the heritage of the Enlightenment.

A secular value system is of course no guarantee against injustice and brutality, but then neither is Christianity. America’s antebellum plantation owners found solid support for slaveholding in their cherished Bible, to name just one group of devout Christians who have brought suffering to the world.

Dixie Chicks Stay Out of Dixie

The Dixie Chicks may have a top selling album, but they still aren’t very welcome in Dixie. Reuters reports that, “Facing lackluster ticket sales in many U.S. cities where radio stations had banned their music to protest the band’s anti-Bush remarks, the Chicks’ promoters have revised their tour with new stops in Australia and Canada.” In summarizing the controversy, Reuters writes:

Lead singer Natalie Maines sparked an uproar in March 2003 when she declared during a London concert that the band was “ashamed” to come from the same state — Texas — as Bush.She later said she was sorry for “disrespecting the office of the president” but fanned flames anew when she retracted her apology in a Time magazine interview this year, saying: “I don’t feel he is owed any respect whatsoever.”

Previous stories on the Dixie Chicks under the fold.