Osama Talks, Why Listen?

There’s a lot of discussion today about the new tape from Osama bin Laden. Apparently he talks about neoconservatives, Democrats, low taxes, and global warming, but does it matter?

We know what bin Laden thinks. We know what he did. Why would anything he has to say be worth discussing as if he is a civilized person who has anything meaningful to day?

The only thing I care to hear from Osama bin Laden is his request for his last meal before his execution. That leads to what should be the real question today. What happened to George Bush’s promise to capture him dead or alive?

SciFi Friday: Madeleine L’Engle Dies; Doctor Who and Star Trek Join for Production of Hamlet, Battlestar Galactica Rumors, Awards, and High School Musical Scandal

Madeleine L’Engle has died at age 88. L’Engle is best known for writing A Wrinkle in Time, which won the John Newbery Award as the best children’s book of 1963 and has sold over six million copies. L’Engle also received a National Humanities Medal in 2004 from President Bush.

The BBC has announced plans for upcoming episodes of Doctor Who. As previously announced, the fourth season will air on the BBC next spring, with a Christmas episode planned for December. The fifth season has been postponed until 2010 in order to allow David Tennant to star in Hamlet in 2009 before returning to Doctor Who in 2010. In a unique Star Trek cross over with Doctor Who, Patrick Stewart will be playing Hamlet’s uncle Claudius in this Stratford-Upon-Avon production which wil run from July to November next year.

In order to help us get through 2009, there will be three special episodes broadcast instead of the usual single Christmas special. The BBC has also verified that Kylie Minogue will be appearing in this year’s Christmas episode and that Catherine Tate, who was in last year’s Christmas episode will appear in all thirteen episodes of season four. Freema Agyeman will return in the middle of next season.

This week those viewing Doctor Who on the SciFi Channel will see the conclusion of the two part episode, Human Nature and Family of Blood. These are two of the best episodes ever to appear, and I previously discussed them here. The episodes are based upon a novel which is available for download here.

The Doctor Who spin off Torchwood premiers on BBC America tomorrow night. The show will also start later this fall on HDNet (in high definition, obvioiusly). It’s a tough decision whether to watch now or hold out for HD. SciFi Storm has additional news on another spin off, The Sarah Jane Adventures. So far there are no plans to show it here in the United States and even access to the official web site is blocked to those outside of the U.K. One episode will include the return of the Slitheen, a family of Raxacoricofallapatorians who first appeared in the Doctor Who episodes Aliens of London and World War Three.

It’s bad enough that we must wait until next winter to see what happens after this spring’s cliff hanger on Battlestar Galactica. Now there are unconfirmed rumors that SciFi Channel might show half of the fourth season in 2008 and the second half in 2009 to get an extra season out of the show. Slice of SciFi has more reliable news on the made for television movie planned for later this year, which will also be released on DVD. Form the synopsis:

Battlestar Galactica: Razor takes you on an edge-of-your-seat adventure with an epic untold story of Lieutenant Kendra Shaw and the other Battlestar, Pegasus. Battlestar Galactica: Razor tells the story of Lee Adama’s (Jamie Bamber) first mission as commander of the Battlestar Pegasus and reveals the story of how Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) served her ship during the original Cylon attack on the Colonies. With clues to the fate of the entire Battlestar Galactica universe, this explosive adventure on DVD is a must own for fans before the final season of Battlestar Galactica airs on Sci Fi Channel.

The Hugo Awards have been announced, with Doctor Who among the winners:

2007 Hugo Award Trophy

  • Best Novel: Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge [Tor, 2006]
  • Best Novella: “A Billion Eves” by Robert Reed [Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2006]
  • Best Novelette: “The Djinn’s Wife” by Ian McDonald [Asimov’s July 2006]
  • Best Short Story: “Impossible Dreams” by Tim Pratt [Asimov’s July 2006]
  • Best Related Non-Fiction Book: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by Julie Phillips [St. Martin’s Press, 2006]
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro. Directed by Guillermo del Toro [Picturehouse]
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who – “Girl in the Fireplace” (2006) Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Euros Lyn [BBC Wales/BBC1]

Doctor Who has a good shot at winning again next year. Besides the episodes mentioned above, the subsequent episode, Blink, is even better. (I have also reviewed the episode here but advise those who will be watching on the SciFi Channel to avoid these spoilers until after viewing the episode).
The Promethius Awards were also released from the Libertarian Futurist Society:

Best Novel: Glasshouse by Charles Stross

Hall of Fame Award: (tie) “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis and “True Names” by Vernor Vinge

Special Award: V for VendettaJohn Joseph Adams

There’s news on a number of upcoming movies. Keanu Reeves will star in a remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still. A script has reportedly been completed for a second X-Files movie, with no details released. Considering his role in Californication on Showtime, I wonder if David Duchovny is demanding that Gillian Anderson appear nude. There are also rumors of a new movie based on Dune. Morgan Freeman is working on a movie version of Rendezvous with Rama.

The big movie question is how the nude pictures of Vanessa Hudgens, which spread rapidly around the internet today, will affect further High School Musical movies. There were rumors Hudgens would be replaced, but it appears that Disney will be sticking with her. You would think that by now everyone would realize that privately taken photographs can still wind up making it on line. (Those wishing to see much more of Vanessa can see the photos spread on line today here.)

Sacrificing Goats To Fix Technical Problems

With all the technical problems we’ve had in the past couple of weeks, including extensive periods in which the blog was down and some features still not working properly, maybe I need to consider another approach rather than relying on technical support. Perhaps I should sacrifice a goat. Apparently some believe it helps with airplanes:

Nepal’s state run airline sacrificed two goats earlier this week, hoping it would please the gods and resolve technical problems with a troubled jet, officials said Thursday.

One of the airline’s two Boeing 757 aircraft has been grounded for maintenance since last month. The other jet has suffered technical problems that forced the airline to cancel several flights, stranding passengers.

Hoping to end those problems, the airline sacrificed the goats earlier this week, according to an airline official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

It is common in predominantly Hindu Nepal to sacrifice animals hoping for good luck and blessings.

On the one hand I really doubt sacrificing a goat will fix my technical problems. On the other hand, it is far less risky to read a blog which uses sacrifices to attempt to fix problems than to fly an airplane “repaired” in such a manner.

Bill Richardson’s New Realism in Foreign Policy

Bill Richardson recently received negative publicity after a joke was covered by some of the news media to make it appear Richardson was making a serious statement when he quipped that both the Constitution and the Lord supported keeping the Iowa caucus first. Some bloggers continued to smear Richardson even after both a campaign spokesman and Richardson himself verified that this was a joke. Congratulations to Richardson supporter Stephen Fox for defending Richardson and getting Richardson’s more significant words out in the blogosphere.Stephen Fox has commented here from time to time. In August he emailed me this excellent article on foreign policy by Richardson. While it certainly deserved attention, it came to me on a busy day and I never got around posting on it. It was also ignored by most of the blogosphere, but it is getting some attention today. Stephen left a comment for Michael van der Galiën following negative posts related to Richardson’s joke, suggesting he read this article. Michael both read the article and posted on it, with the post now listed at Memeorandum, helping to bring it more attention. There is also a briefer version of his post at The Moderate Voice.

For those who do not want to read the full article by Richardson, Michael does provide a good summary. Michael generally agrees with Richardson except in one area. He writes, “If he considers the war against terrorism to be so important, I cannot quite see how he can deny the obvious; namely, that Iraq has become a central front in the war against Islamic extremism.” This is hardly so obvious. The major problem in Iraq is a civil war which has little to do with the overall issue of international terrorism. Support for al Qaeda in Iraq is falling, and what support they do have is fueled by anti-American sentiment. Our presence in Iraq only acts to inflame the situation and increase support for terrorism.

While he has some disagreements, Michael calls this article “probably the most intelligent piece about foreign policy produced by any of the candidates thusfar.” Libby at The News Hoggers agrees with Michael about the quality of the article, and shares my disagreement with Michael over his major criticism on Iraq. It is a shame that there has been far more discussion of a joke Richardson told than there is of his serious foreign policy proposals.

Richardson’s article is on many major areas of concern with regards to foreign relations. Under the fold I’ll post an excerpt where Richardson discusses his ideas on terrorism.