SciFi Friday: Kara Thrace is Still Dead, Veronica Mars Might Warp Into The Future, and Extermination by Chocolate

No news might not necessarily be good news, but this week no news was bigger news than any real news. That’s no news on Starbuck’s fate. Katee Sackhoff’s name is off the credits for Battlestar Galactica, but otherwise we found out nothing beyond the hints mentioned last week. There was something about preparation for a big trial, but was anyone really paying that much attention beyond searching for clues as to whether Kara will be back? My bet is that we’ll get a teaser in the season finale to keep people guessing over the summer. Maybe we’ll see her eating lunch with Elvis in a restaurant at the edge of the galaxy.

Those who recognize the allusion to Douglas Adams might also be interested in this collection of quotes in honor of his birthday last Sunday. Other recent science fiction posts include this listing of classic science fiction novels.

While Starbuck’s fate remains a mystery, hints about the cast of Heroes are being released, most likely to keep the attention of fans while the show is on a brief hiatus. Slice of SciFi and SciFi Wire reveal that “Linderman has superpowers of his own, that he was once a member of a group of heroes, that the members of the group eventually used their powers for personal gain—and that he is behind the plot to blow up New York as a way to engender widespread fear, which he believes will bring the nation together in hope. Linderman also reveals a prophecy that Nathan will eventually wind up in the White House.”

Looking into the crystal ball with regards to the CW Network is very hazy. Nothing is official, and as of now Veronica Mars might wind up remaining a student as she solves mysteries, the show might be cancelled, and there is yet another possibility. Kristin Veich reports that the show might leap four years into the future and show Veronica as an FBI agent after graduation. This scenario makes it less likely that many of the regulars will return (with some minor characters already getting parts on other shows).

The rumor is that negotiations are not going well for another season of Gilmore Girls. Melissa McCarthy, who plays chef Sookie St. James, has already signed for a role on a comedy pilot on ABC. Alexis Bledel apparently isn’t very interested in another season, and Lorelei says she won’t return without Rory. If this must be the end, at least Dave Rosenthal has managed to pull off something that Amy Sherman-Paladino and Dan Paladino could not. Rory’s idol, Christiane Amanpour, has agreed to appear on the season (series?) finale. Speaking of Rory, anyone else notice that, now that she’s back living with Paris, she has a poster for Fahrenheit 911 up in her bed room?

While I hope to see Vernoica Mars and Gilmore Girls return, even if this wasn’t the greatest season for either, hopefully CW will do the right thing and put Seventh Heaven out if its misery. If they don’t end the show after this year I suspect that God might personally intervene to end it. (Incidentally, to get this back to SciFi, Katerine Hicks, who plays Annie Camden, also played Dr. Gillian Taylor in Star Trek IV.) For those who haven’t been watching this year, Eric Camden finally died of heart disease, but was sent back to earth after an episode in heaven, which appears strangely like Glen Oak. The other big crisis of the year is that Ruthie Camden got a tatoo with the name of the homeless guy she fell in love with going across her rear end. As I said, put this show out if its misery.

Rory’s sign for Fahrenheit 911 isn’t the only sign for anti-government ideas on television this week. I already noted last week that the new character on Lost is named after Russian anarchist Mikhali Bakunin. There must be some meaning to having seen Bakunin killed as a result of Locke’s actions beyond the obvious that destruction seems to follow Locke around ever since his actions led to the destruction of the hatch. Also in last week’s episode we saw Sawyer sitting on the beach reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.

Finally, for those who enjoy various “death by chocolate” recipees, this one takes it to a new level–Extermination by Chocolate. ChocaBlog has the recipe.

Diagnosing Dick Cheney

Charles Krauthammer has a column about an upcoming article in The New Republic speculating that Dick Cheney’s heart disease has left him “demented and mentally disordered.” I haven’t been able to find the article on TNR’s site so I’ll have to go by Krauthammer’s account but I am looking forward to reading the actual article when published.

Krauthammer does have a valid point that the fact that circulatory disorders can affect the brain proves nothing specifically about Dick Cheney. It is no more valid to diagnose Dick Cheney from afar than it was for Bill Frist to diagnose Terri Schiavo based upon video tapes, only to be proven wrong on autopsy.

Being reluctant to diagnose any psychiatric or medical conditions with regards to Dick Cheney without actually examining him I have an alternative theory to throw out. Maybe he’s just an evil bastard.

Update: Found the article here. The author notes warnings against making a “pop diagnosis of this sort.” She concludes by noting that the medical causes are a possibility and warns, “So, the next time you see Cheney behaving oddly, don’t automatically assume that he’s a bad man.” Warning noted. He might be an evil bastard, or he might be demented. Neither possibility makes me feel good about the amount of power he has.

Web Censorship Spreads

While recent posts have noted a favorable trend in China with regard to greater respect for property rights, China and other countries remain restrictive with regards to internet access. The Financial TImes reports on the goblal spread of web censorship:

A recent six-month investigation into whether 40 countries use censorship shows the practice is spreading, with new countries learning from experienced practitioners such as China and benefiting from technological improvements.

OpenNet Initiative, a project by Harvard Law School and the universities of Toronto, Cambridge and Oxford, repeatedly tried to call up specific websites from 1,000 international news and other sites in the countries concerned, and a selection of local-language sites.

The research found a trend towards censorship or, as John Palfrey, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said, “a big trend in the reverse direction”, with many countries recently starting to adopt forms of online censorship.

Ronald Deibert, associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said 10 countries had become “pervasive blockers”, regularly preventing their citizens seeing a range of online material. These included China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Burma and Uzbekistan.

New censorship techniques include the periodic barring of complete applications, such as China’s block on Wikipedia or Pakistan’s ban on Google’s blogging service, and the use of more advanced technologies such as “keyword filtering”, which is used to track down material by identifying sensitive words.

China Approves Law Protecting Private Property Rights

In follow up to Saturday’s post on the Withering Away of Communism China, The New York Times has a report on the expansion of private property rights:

After more than a quarter-century of market-oriented economic policies and record-setting growth, China on Friday enacted its first law to protect private property explicitly.

The measure, which was delayed a year ago amid vocal opposition from resurgent socialist intellectuals and old-line, left-leaning members of the ruling Communist Party, is viewed by its supporters as building a new and more secure legal foundation for private entrepreneurs and the country’s urban middle-class home and car owners.

China still has a long way to go towards developing liberal democracy, but the move to legally protect property rights is a move in the right direction, and suggests that the risk of backslding towards socialism has been reduced.

Iraq War Protesters Arrested on Capitol Hill


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Kudos to Bill Richardson on Fighting For Legalization of Medicinal Marijuana

While Clinton and Obama hardly showed courage on the culture wars front in their cautious handling of their responses to General Pace’s comment that homosexuality is immoral, Bill Richardson is showing some real courage. Richardson is preparing to sign a bill which he pushed to legalize medicinal use of marijuana in New Mexico.

“So what if it’s risky? It’s the right thing to do,” said Richardson, one of the candidates in the crowded 2008 field. “What we’re talking about is 160 people in deep pain. It only affects them.”

The legislation would create a program under which some patients — with a doctor’s recommendation — could use marijuana provided by the state health department. Lawmakers approved the bill Wednesday. The governor is expected to sign it in the next few weeks.

Richardson has supported the proposal since he first ran in 2002. But he pushed especially hard for it this year, leaning on some Democrats to change their votes after the bill initially failed.

Richardson has already attracted some interest among libertarians, and this could enhance that view:

Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico said Richardson will be the first presidential candidate ever to advocate medical marijuana “by vocally supporting and signing legislation.”

In signing the measure, Richardson “will be sending a strong message that states can and should exercise their right to do what is in the best interest of their citizens free from intrusion from the Federal government,” said Reena Szczepanski of the advocacy group.

Richardson said he has been asked about the issue by only a few voters while campaigning in Iowa. He said the White House had urged him not to sign the bill.

“I don’t see it as being a big issue,” he said. “This is for medicinal purpose, for … people that are suffering. My God, let’s be reasonable,” he said.

Hopefully Richardson’s strong advocacy of legalization of medicinal use of marijuana will force the other Democrats to take a stand, possibly making this a national issue and bringing about changes in the federal laws which restrict medical marijuana use. Richardson’s stand might also provide a contrast should the other candidates try to avoid taking a clear stand on controversial issues. If Democrats really hope to win, as opposed to benefiting from people voting against Republicans as in 2006, they need to differentiate themselves from the authoritarian right by becoming a party which consistently defends individual liberty.

Obama Gaining on Clinton in Two Polls

I’ve been avoiding posting much on polls about the 2008 contenders as they mean so little this far out. I’ve seen too many front runners like Edmund Musky and Howard Dean collapse. I’ve also seen dark horses come out of nowhere like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and have seen John Kerry go from an early favorite (along with Joe Lieberman who also collapsed) to trailing Al Sharpton in the polls, to coming back to win.

While the polls have limited predictive value, there is some excitement when the front runner changes. We’ve seen Rudy Giuliani pass early favorite John McCain, but I doubt that many would argue that the GOP race is settled. We might also be looking at a coming change in the top spot in the Democratic race. The New York Post reports that an upcoming Time poll shows Obama Surging. Obama, who trailed by nineteen points in January, is now within the margin of error, trailing by seven. Obama’s campaign might also be helped by the finding that he leads Giuliani in a head to head match up by one point while Clinton trails Giuliani by four percent.

Other polls show Clinton still having a more significant lead over Obama but the American Research Group Poll shows Obama trailing Clinton by only three points.