Sci Fi Friday (Sunday Edition): Leaving The Island; An Alliance With Cylons; Sontarans Return; And Einstein on God

This week’s episode of Lost, There’s No Place Like Home Part I, was first part of the season finale, with the flash forward apparently being not very far ahead of the story on the island. Those on the island face death if they remain, but going out to the freighter might not be even safer, especially after we find there’s a bomb aboard. There’s the last ditch attempt to “move the island” which hopefully will be explained in the two hour conclusion. Could this mean moving the island in time?

In the flash forward we see the Oceanic Six first returning home and giving their cover story. The assumption is that this arrival home comes directly after the encounter with the freighter. While this is the most likely time line, for some time I’ve been wondering if they are misleading us. Perhaps the freighter is a dead end and the Oceanic Six doesn’t return home until a later date.

I’ve thought that Battlestar Galactica was moving a little slowly the last few weeks, but we are starting to see a pay off in this week’s episode, Guess What’s Coming To Dinner. The visions of Athena and Six become a reality for Sharon, but I wonder if killing another Six will make any difference. While presumably the killed Six can no longer be resurrected, she is not the only Six aboard Galactica. An even greater conflict might be in store should they succeed in unboxing the Threes and find out the identity of the final five. The four revealed at the end of last season are bound to try to prevent their identities from being revealed, and I sure doubt they have any interest in going off with the Cylon rebels.

We’ve received some hints about the possible outcome from the Last Supper photo. Now it turns out that part of the picture has changed.

We might have more of Battlestar Galactica to watch than anticipated. Up to three made for television movies might be made later this year.

Viewers of Doctor Who on the SciFi Channel saw a new menace to earth from an old Who villain, the Sontarans. As is common with two part episodes, they do a far better job of setting up the menace than they do of resolving it, but the conclusion is far less disappointing than some previous multi-part shows, such as last year’s stories on the Daleks in Manhattan and last season’s finale, The Last of The Time Lords. UNIT plays a major role but it is hard to think of them the same way after the darker way they were portrayed in Torchwood. For those viewing the BBC episodes, The Doctor meets Agatha Christie.

Moving from science fiction to science, an old letter from Albert Einstein made the news:

A letter the physicist wrote in 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, in which he described the Bible as “pretty childish” and scoffed at the notion that the Jews could be a “chosen people,” sold for $404,000 at an auction in London. That was 25 times the presale estimate.

While Einstein’s religious views do not prove anything either way, there have long been people who have felt a need to deny Einstein’s rejection of religion at an early age. While they have taken some quotes from Einstein to suggest he was more religious than he actually was, this letter provides little doubt as to his actual beliefs. For example, Einstein wrote, “the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”

A Future Woman President

The New York Times has an article today which serves as a good follow up to my post yesterday which argues that Clinton failed to win the nomination because she is a flawed candidate, not because of sexism. The article presents a plausible hypothetical description of a future woman president:

That woman will come from the South, or west of the Mississippi. She will be a Democrat who has won in a red state, or a Republican who has emerged from the private sector to run for governor. She will have executive experience, and have served in a job like attorney general, where she will have proven herself to be “a fighter” (a caring one, of course).

She will be young enough to qualify as postfeminist (in the way Senator Barack Obama has come off as postracial), unencumbered by the battles of the past. She will be married with children, but not young children. She will be emphasizing her experience, and wearing, yes, pantsuits.

Oh, and she may not exist.

This presents two major differences between Clinton and a woman who is more likely to be successful. First, she will win based upon having actual experience, not based upon who she is married to. She certainly will not resort to using time as a corporate lawyer on the board of Wal-Mart sitting quiet while they opposed unions as part of thirty-five years of experience qualifying her for the Democratic nomination. (On the other hand, such experience might be considered meaningful for the GOP nomination.)

Secondly, a postfeminist candidate will be far more likely to succeed. It has become increasingly clear that there is no good reason to support Hillary Clinton other than because she is a woman. She has far less meaningful experience than Barack Obama, and is on the wrong side of virtually every issue I, and many liberal bloggers, care about. If Hillary Clinton was either a man, or not married to Bill Clinton, she would not be taken seriously as a candidate. In order to be successful, a woman candidate must be able to provide a real reason to support her beyond the belief that her victory is inevitable, and certainly beyond the fact that she is a woman.

The article is pessimistic about another woman being in the wings but the key might be in their caveat that Barack Obama came out of nowhere to win the nomination. Similarly previous Democratic candidates such as Jimmy Carter and even Bill Clinton came out of nowhere to win. It is possible that a woman who is not being considered today might be the Democratic nominee to succeed Barack Obama as president in eight years.

This nomination battle is often viewed based upon making history with a black or woman candidate. Looking at this race as a loss for a woman candidate misses the fact that in many ways this nomination falls within traditional patterns.

Many Democratic battles are between the establishment candidate and an insurgent candidate. This year certainly falls into that trend, except for providing a different outcome than usual. In most years Clinton would have won as the establishment candidate. This year Clinton did more poorly than the typical establishment candidate not because she is a woman but because she was a flawed candidate, both in terms of her personal ethics and in terms of lacking a plan beyond Super Tuesday. Obama won because of having a better strategy, having the advantages of the internet which were not present in most past elections, and due to creating a coalition including those of us who typically support the insurgent candidate and black voters.

Another typical division in the Democratic Party is based upon two different interpretations of liberalism. There are those of us who are more concerned with reform of government, social issues, and defending civil liberties. Others concentrate more upon economic issues, creating the unfortunate situation where liberalism has been tainted as supporting “tax and spend” policies. There is also a definite overlap between the two groups, making the division less obvious. Young voters, as well as the increasing number of affluent, educated individuals recently voting Democratic, tend fall more in the first group. By not only winning this support but by bringing in many new voters, Obama has built an advantage over Clinton. I believe that both economic realities and demographic changes will also give such reform liberals the advantage in the future.

A successful woman candidate is more likely to represent such liberals, not dismiss us as “elitists” and cling to outdated concepts of big government and the Nanny State. One of several reasons Clinton has not won the nomination is that conservative populists such as her have fallen out of step with the times. Conservative populists are unlikely to win regardless of gender, explaining the losses of both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

For those who desire a woman president, there is one consolation in all of this. In coming very close to winning the nomination despite her major flaws, she has showed that victory is possible for a woman. If Clinton had run with a coherent election strategy, had refrained from resorting to Rove-style dirty politics, and was not on the wrong side of so many issues, she might have won. Most opposing her are doing so not because they do not want a woman president but because they do not want that particular woman. Clinton has opened the door for future woman candidates, but they will have to win based upon their own qualifications and positions, not based upon their gender.