SciFi Friday: Spoilers for Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Barack Obama’s Star Trek Connection


Entertainment Weekly has an interview with Matthew Fox which provides some spoilers as to the upcoming season of Lost. As became clear in the final moments of last season’s finale, we were seeing a flash forward as opposed to a flashback. Jack, Kate, and four others leave the island and become famous as the Oceanic Six. They apparently tell an “incredibly awkward” lie regarding how they returned and the rest did not. The person in the casket in last season’s finale is yet another person who left the island who is not one of the Oceanic Six. Other reports on line claim it is Michael, Walt, Claire, Aaron, Cindy, or Vincent in the coffin. Time travel apparently plays a part. Instead of asking where the island is, the big question might be when. As is foreshadowed in the finale, it also sounds like Jack actually does return to the island.



Entertainment Weekly also has a two page spread (above) with some spoilers regarding the upcoming fourth season of Battlestar Galactica. The picture, modeled on Di Vinci’s Last Supper, leaves a spot open for the final, as of now unidentified, Cylon. Ron Moore has admitted (assuming he is not misleading us) that this means that the final Cylon cannot be one of those shown in the picture. I had already assumed that Starbuck would not be the Cylon after reading previously that she would start out the next season in the brig as a suspected Cylon after her return. They’ve already gone as far as they should with the idea of Baltar being a possible Cylon. Having Roslin be a Cylon would take away from the story of her dying of breast cancer. I also doubted that Adama or anyone in his family would be a Cylon, especially as the family will pay a role in the spin off should the show ever get made.

The fourth season begins April 4, with Battlestar Galactica moving back to Fridays. The DVD collection of the third season will be released on March 25. I assume that it is common for DVD sets to be released so soon before the upcoming season in order to take advantage of synergistic marketing, but I wonder if it wouldn’t make sense to have a longer gap. On a couple of occasions I have watched an entire season in a week in preparation for the new season of a show, but there is a limit to how often I’d consider doing this. Being able to watch older episodes in a more leisurely manner might help shows add to their audience in the new season.


The Sarah Connor Chronicles begins this weekend and the show will be a reboot of the movie series. The show takes advantage of the time travel concept of changing the past to create new time lines. The series takes place after the events of Terminator II, but involves a new time line in which events don’t occur as in Terminator III. If this isn’t potentially confusing enough, there will also be a second trilogy of Terminator movies, without Arnold, taking place after the original trilogy. Summer Glau, best known to science fiction fans as River in Firefly and Serenity, plays the role of Cameron, a Terminator who acts as a protector to Sarah and John Connor. In an interview in Comics Continuum she reveals a little about her character:

Cameron doesn’t feel things, but she almost can. And she can absolutely mimick human emotion. And that’s been the most challenging thing for me. And as an actress approaching a scene, knowing that you can’t really feel anything thing is really complicated and complex.


Barack Obama’s connection to Star Trek became a topic of discussion in the blogosphere this week after The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute had a post about how Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager) influenced his Senate race. The messy details of her divorce to Jack Ryan, including being forced to go with him to sex clubs, forced Ryan to quit the race. While Obama might still have won a Senate seat, Ryan’s departure from the race allowed him to have an easy victory as Allan Keyes became his opponent instead.

John Edwards, Loser, But…

It should be pretty clear to readers here that John Edwards is one of the last people I would consider voting for. At the start of the campaign I had exactly the same question about him as I had in 2003-4, wondering how a light weight with so little experience, and who has been on the wrong side of major issues such as the war and Patriot Act, could be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Seeing him campaign through 2007 my opinion of him has fallen even further. (He gets some points for changing his mind on the war, but doing so after this has become the politically expedient viewpoint doesn’t mean as much.) While I still might disagree with some of the criticism of Edwards at conservative sites (along with agreeing with quite a bit of it), I generally agree with the criticism of him I see at other liberal blogs which are critical of him. However there is a post today which is getting a lot of coverage in the blogosphere which I can’t go along with.

I must admit I was somewhat amused by the start of Lawrence O’Donnell’s post:

John Edwards is a loser. He has won exactly two elections in his life and lost 31. Only one of his wins and all of his losses were in presidential primaries and caucuses. He remains perfectly positioned to continue to lose with a Kucinich-like consistency. Nothing but egomania keeps Edwards in the race now.

Well, its technically true. As a politician Edwards has been quite a failure. Besides this score, he could not have won reelection to his own Senate seat, he was a horrible VP candidate, and he couldn’t even bring in his home state in 2004. Still it does seem to be somewhat misleading to total up all the primary losses in a year which one candidate almost ran the table to come to such a score.

From there the post really goes down hill as O’Donnell demands that Edwards leave the race. I agree it looks very unlikely that Edwards can win, but that’s his call to make. It wasn’t long ago that Clinton’s prospects looked bleak going into New Hampshire, although I would still have placed her chances at a comeback as being tremendously better than Edwards’. There’s always the remote chance of a gaffe or a scandal arising which could totally change the race. Nationwide temporary insanity is always a possibility. A country which was crazy enough to reelect George Bush in 2004 just might be crazy enough to elect his mirror image from the left.

It gets even worse as McDonnell gives his reason why Edwards should drop out:

If John Edwards stays in the race, he might, in the end, become nothing other than the Southern white man who stood in the way of the black man. And for that, he would deserve a lifetime of liberal condemnation.

I hope Obama wins the nomination (for reasons which have nothing to do with race) but he is certainly not entitled to the nomination because of being black. If we accept this logic, as well as the premise that Edwards being in the race helps Clinton, then how come a black man deserves special consideration and not the potential first woman president? It is also far from clear that Edwards takes more votes from Obama than Clinton. Just yesterday I noted one analysis of the candidates which found Obama’s positions to be more unique, differing from those of both Clinton and Edwards. It is debatable whether Obama’s chances would be better in a two way race against Clinton. While I might not agree with their support of Edwards, I also bet most people who are supporting Edwards are doing so for reasons having nothing to do with standing in the way of the first black president.

Old News Accounts Contradict Paul’s Defense

Back in November I discussed how libertarians were beginning to dissociate themselves from Ron Paul, and even half jokingly suggested that Reason would eventually do so on its cover to differentiate themselves from Paul’s markedly non-libertarian views. For a while many libertarians hid their heads in the sand, ignoring what long time libertarians know about Paul, and deceived themselves into thinking they had a true libertarian candidate achieving national attention. The recent article in The New Republic was the last straw, with even many of the writers at Reason realizing that it was time to drop the pretense. I’ve noted some of the responses to the quotations from Paul’s newsletter from libertarians here and here.

Reason is now trying hard to redeem themselves. Paul’s defense has been that he wasn’t the author of the racist articles in the newsletter published under his name, and tried to write off the controversy as old news. Slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the Holocaust are also “old news” but it doesn’t result in us ignoring those whose beliefs remind us of these policies. The obvious question if this is “old news” is whether Paul has ever condemned the articles in the past or denied having written them. Reason has reviewed public statements from Paul over the years. The reports are quite incriminating. At times Paul defended the writings, and the context of the news reports suggests Paul wrote the articles. For example, the May 22, 1996 Dallas Morning News contains this (emphasis mine): “Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation.” This hardly sounds like someone who is either denying that he wrote the articles or that he agrees with them.

I don’t doubt that Paul sometimes had ghost writers, but question how much he disagreed with their views. Even if he didn’t personally agree, he never had any qualms about associating himself with those who hold the expressed views. As The Economist notes, Lew Rockwell is widely believed to have written some of the material. While Paul now tries to dissociate himself from the articles, he has shown no willingness to disassociate himself from Rockwell and other associates with similar ideas.

Without the benefit of a Vulcan mind meld I cannot say for certain what Paul personally believes. What matters is that he has tolerated the promotion of racism in his newsletter for years. Megan McArdle summed up the issue well (before the report from Reason):

It kind of doesn’t matter what he actually believes. A number of libertarians have argued that Dr. Paul is obviously not a racist because he has so many other crazy ideas that if he did hold repulsive racial views, he would have aired those too. I find this pretty unconvincing. Since my blog brought me out of the closet, pretty much everyone I know is aware that I think we should privatize Social Security, eliminate most forms of government spending, get rid of the corporate income tax, legalize heroin, etc. etc. Almost all of them think I am crazy. But they still associate with me. I myself am friends with at least one person who claims to be an actual communist, and doesn’t suffer socially for it. However, if either of us started saying “You know, the real problem with America is race-mixing” that would clearly put us in an entirely different category of crazy loon: the kind you shun. Ron Paul doesn’t have Tourette’s syndrome; I presume he is able to discern these find distinctions as well.

But regardless of whether he believes the things he wrote, we punish people (socially) for enabling racism. Dr. Paul should be abandoned because that is how American society, and the libertarian movement, says: “Helping racists publish their nastygrams is totally legal, but it’s not ok.”

The same sentiments apply to those libertarians who continue to find ways to rationalize Paul’s actions. It is not ok.

Yet Another Political Position Quiz

Electoral Compass is yet another site which asks a series of questions and then matches them with the candidates. As with many of these sites, it is entertaining but has limitations which prevent it from actually making the decision for you. Many positions can be altered by a change in wording. There is no attempt to prioritize the issues. I might disagree with a candidate on some issues which wouldn’t affect my vote, but other issues might completely rule out a candidate.

After taking the test you see where you line up on a spectrum of both social and economic issues. Questions on Iraq and terrorism are included in the test, but it would be more revealing if they were along a third continuum. One notable finding is that the Democrats and Republicans are clumped into two very discrete groups. Among the Republicans, Ron Paul is less socially conservative, but remains much less conservative than any of the Democratic candidates. Of course if they included questions on legalization of all drugs and prostitution the results might be quite different. Paul also falls right in line with the other Republicans on economic issues, but a true test would show real distinctions here.

All the Democrats are significantly more liberal on social as well as economic issues than any of the Republicans. This helps shoot down the idea that Rudy Giuliani is a social liberal. He is the most socially liberal Republican after Ron Paul in this study, but not by very much. Fred Thompson comes in as the most conservative candidate, and the furthest from my views on this test.

I won’t knock the test very much as it did tell me to vote for Barack Obama. He is shown as being a little more socially liberal and economically to the right than the other Democrats who are lumped closer together. One useful feature is that after taking the test you can compare your answers to the answers of the candidates. For whatever it might mean, I once took a different test which advised me to vote for Gravel. As he’s not included on this test I could not determine if a different set of questions would provide the same result.