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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
04/24/15 -- Vol. 33, No. 43, Whole Number 1855
Table of Contents
Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films, Lectures, etc. (NJ):
May 14: WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) (film) and THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H. G. Wells (book), Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM May 28: Poul Anderson "Call Me Joe" by Poul Anderson and "... And Then There Were None" by Eric Frank Russell (both in SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME VOLUME 2A), Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM June 25: TBD July 23: "Universe" by Robert A. Heinlein and "Vintage Season" by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore (both in SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME VOLUME 2A), Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM Speculative Fiction Lectures (subject to change): May 2: Caridad Pineiro, He Said, She Said--A Discussion on Dialogue, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N June 6: TBD, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N July 7: Leanna Renee Hieber, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N August: no lecture September 12: Carlotta Holton, Applying Local Myths & History into Speculative Fiction, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N October 3: Ellen Datlow, The State of Horror Fiction, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N November 7: Jennifer Walkup, Finding Your Voice in YA Speculative Fiction, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N December: no lecture Northern New Jersey events are listed at: http://www.sfsnnj.com/news.html
More Hugo Nominations Changes/Corrections:
In the "Best Fanzine" category, "Blackgate" has been withdrawn. However, Sasquan has said that the ballot had already been sent to the printers, so it will appear on the ballot. It is not clear how votes cast for it will be treated. [-ecl]
My Picks for Turner Classic Movies for May (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
In March TCM ran a series of films directed by Bert I. Gordon. I wrote a list and put it in my column of the most interesting films of March on TCM. Later I realized that I had the wrong date for every film. I had claimed they would all run about six days before they actually did. How could I make such a blunder? It was easy. I think that when Turner tells us what will be showing in the following months, they are probably still scheduling at that point. I think they just moved the block of Gordon films from one day to another. There is nothing I can do about it. You should not entirely trust the dates and times I give. Turner even does last minute rescheduling. I should have expected that because an actor may die on Tuesday and TCM may have a series of that actor's films that Friday. That would require making last-minute adjustments to the schedule. In general you can't believe anything I say. I am the WORST liar and this only makes it worse. Anyway...
Back in the 1930s with a virulent depression crippling the country people wanted to feel that a better tomorrow was coming. In that bright future people would be prosperous and happy. Popular art forms were Art Deco and Futurism, which seemed to give a taste of a beautiful luxurious future that was just around the corner. Buildings were decorated with Art Deco for a time coming that was going to be great, and it was going to be full of giant-scale projects to make the world better. Among the best known of such projects was the immense Hoover Dam that dwarfed humans with many generators the size of merry-go-rounds. The then-recently completed Empire State Building, the largest building in the world, was decorated in Art Deco and was topped off with a dirigible dock (still seen in KING KONG). This promise of giant machines building the future was catered to in an eye-popping sequence of THINGS TO COME (1936).
In a bridging sequence in that film we see the huge machines pulling from the ground the raw materials that would make humanity rich. In the sequence we see huge and strange digging tools stripping the bejesus out of the earth and build the city of the future. You might call it mechano-porn. THINGS TO COME is fondly remembered today, but the previous year there had been another mechano-porn film known either as THE TUNNEL or the more descriptive THE TRANS-ATLANTIC TUNNEL. It is about an industrialist who wants to perform the greatest engineering feat in history. He wants to build a tunnel to hold a highway between London and New York. With an ordinary motorcar you could drive nonstop from one city to the other. Of course, in our history the airplane would prove to be a better way to cross the Atlantic. THINGS TO COME will be shown Saturday, May 16 at 8:00 AM. THE TUNNEL will be shown as part of a separate event: a short series of British science fiction films. For more than 24 hours they will be doing mostly fairly good science fiction films from our friends across the pond. The only occasion I can see is I have a birthday coming up just a few days later. Maybe it is a birthday gift for me. Anyway, starting Thursday morning, May 14, and going to Friday, May 15, Turner will show
5:45 AM: THE (TRANS-ATLANTIC) TUNNEL (1935) 7:30 AM: FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (1968) 9:15 AM: VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1961) 10:45 AM: THE COSMIC MONSTERS (1958) 12:00 PM: THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959) 1:30 PM: FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1964) 3:15 PM: THESE ARE THE DAMNED (1962) 5:00 PM: X THE UNKNOWN (1956) 6:30 PM: SATELLITE IN THE SKY (1956)
As I said THE TUNNEL is a real rarity. But I think even more rare is SATELLITE IN THE SKY, though I personally think that SATELLITE IN THE SKY is rather mediocre as a science fiction film.
What is the best film of the month? Well, I'll tell you. Back when I was in grad school I sort of invented home video for myself. I had two films that I thought were exquisite treasures. One was science fiction and one was a straight historical drama. The films were FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (1968) and A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1966). I had them on audiotape and I played those tapes over and over visualizing what was on the screen. This was years before the video revolution and it was as close as I could get to owning copies of the film I could watch whenever I liked. Both of these films will run on TCM in May. The most idea-filled science fiction film I had ever seen was FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (1968), these days it is better known by its original British title QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. The story is writer Nigel Kneale's crowning achievement. In one fell swoop he explains ghosts and other psychic phenomena, telekinesis, race prejudice, why similar myths show up in widely separated cultures, and more. This is one great science fiction film.
The other great film this month is Fred Zinnemann's A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, an eloquent and beautiful adaptation of Robert Bolt's play. It will be of particular interest to fans of WOLF HALL, though Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell are each shown in a very different light. [Saturday, May 30. 2:15 AM]
What to Do About "No Award" (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
People have, in the past as well as this year, expressed a desire either to see "No Award" win in a Hugo Awards category, or just to vote some items below "No Award" because they dislike them.
So let me explain how to do this, because it is not obvious.
Let's say you have read one story and really hated it. It might seem that you want to vote "No Award" first, that story second, and nothing else voted on. WRONG! When you do this, you are basically voting *for* the story.
Here's why: The ballot uses the "instant runoff" method. It takes all the first place votes and counts them up. If anything receives a majority (not just a plurality), it wins. Otherwise, whatever has the fewest votes is dropped and the second-place votes from those ballots distributed to the remaining items. This is repeated, with the lowest nominee dropped and their votes redistributed to the remaining nominees until one gets a majority.
Think of the votes as tokens. Each ballot in a category gets one token. It is given to the first choice on that ballot. If/when that nominee is eliminated, it passes that token on to the next choice on that ballot that has not been eliminated (and does this for all tokens it holds), and so on.
Since under normal circumstances "No Award" is usually the first one eliminated, voting it first and "Detested Story" second means after the first round, your vote goes to "Detested Story" over all the others.
In order to rank something low, you either have to rank-order all the choices--including "No Award"--or you have to stop once you have ranked "No Award". That way, your vote never gets counted for anything you have not ranked.
This brings up the second point: If you want "No Award" to win, YOU MUST VOTE FOR IT. If you really like story "I Loved This Story", but if it doesn't win, you want "No Award" to win, you need to rank "I Loved This Story" first and "No Award" second. Otherwise, "No Award" never gets your token/vote.
"No Award" is treated like any other nominee; you need to vote for it for it to win. (But if you love everything else, just rank-order it last.) So, to recap:
1) Either rank-order everything, or stop after ranking "No Award".
2) Rank-order "No Award" just like any other nominee.
I hope this clarifies Hugo-voting, at least to the extent that you are able to vote the way you want, even if *why* it works is not entirely clear. [-ecl]
Fear the Reaper: HELIX and 12 MONKEYS (television review by Dale Skran):
TV seasons are completely crazy these days. It was once the case that the "school days" were filled with the regular season, with repeats in the summer. Now we seem to have a never-ending launching of "seasons" all over the calendar. For example, SyFy channel started the 2nd season of HELIX in January 2015 and it just ended in April 2015 after 13 episodes. It ran concurrently on Friday with 13 episodes of a new series, 12 MONKEYS. These two series are quite different in tone, with HELIX being horror-SF while 12 MONKEYS is a tightly plotted hard-SF timewar story. However, both share the common theme of a vast world-wide plague. In 12 MONKEYS most of the Earth's population has been killed by a protean virus released by an "Aum Cult"-like band of terrorists called the "12 Monkeys." The virus mutates rapidly and defeats the best efforts of the CDC to contain it. The situation in HELIX is more complex, but the plot revolves completely around fear of biological technology, including several different plagues. Just as SF films of the 50s brought us giant radiation-mutated ants and similar horrors, the brave new world of DNA splicing has created a new catalogue of fears, giving rise to HELIX and 12 MONKEYS. It is said that SF is always mostly about the present, and that is quite true with HELIX and 12 MONKEYS. We sit today on the leading edge of a growing moral panic as it starts to be generally understood that at long last the technology (CRISPR-cas9) now exists to make both our hopes and our fears of a genetic Brave New World a reality at last. As rumors fly in the scientific blogosphere that the alteration of the human genome has already started, we can always hope that SF will balance the profoundly pessimistic worlds of 12 MONKEYS and HELIX with equally compelling but more optimistic visions.
12 MONKEYS is loosely based on the 1995 movie of the same name directed by Terry Gilliam, and starring Bruce Willis (as James Cole) and Brad Pitt (as Jeffrey Goines). The general story is that Some time in the future after a plague has killed most humans, a daring team of scientists send someone back in time to prevent the plague. Things do not go as planned. If you have seen the movie (as I have), you will still find the series entertaining. I'm not going to spoil any of the many twists and turns in this complex time-war story. Things go back and forth as the scientists in the future send James Cole (Aaron Stanford, perhaps familiar from his role as Birkhoff in the 2nd NIKITA TV series) back to stop the 12 Monkeys, and the 12 Monkeys retaliate with seemingly impossible foreknowledge. Things are complicated by the power dynamics of the future world as factions compete to save the world (time travel vs finding a cure with a giant computer), and ruthless scavengers, Amazon armies, and blue-faced religious fanatics hunt them all. Among the most fully realized of the future world characters is Katarina Jones (Barbara Sukowa), the leader of the time-machine faction.
Part of the charm of 12 MONKEYS is that the characters, once they understand what is at stake, are "all in." With 7 billion lives at stake, and the certain knowledge of a seemingly unstoppable doom, present-day Dr. Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) slowly morphs from a selfless doctor dedicated to fighting disease to a ruthless gun-toting operator willing to torture her ex-husband when he betrays the future to the 12 MONKEYS. Cole, the biologically enhanced scavenger from the future, grew up in a heartless world inconceivable to a modern sensibility, and faced with certain death from time-travel strain if he fails and non-existence if he succeeds, fights with a grim desperation to defeat the 12 MONKEYS.
12 MONKEYS is hard SF, and reminds me of late 1950s ANALOG time-travel stories. There is some aspect of the closed time loop that drove the TERMINATOR series, but this is a complex and well-thought out, if grim, story. 12 MONKEYS is fine for teens and up, although some may find it too dark for their tastes. 12 MONKEYS is one of the best SyFy series I've seen--and should be compared to ASCENSION. I'm happy to report that Season 2 of 12 MONKEYS will be returning in 2016.
HELIX has returned for a second season of large dollops of horror stuck into a Phillip Jose Farmer SF story. One part of HELIX is a long series of set-piece horror scenes, all of which you have seen in some other horror movie. The other part of HELIX, a part that remains hidden for most of the first season but is much more on display in the second season, is a Farmer-esque tale of a secret cabal of immortals ruling the world. There is quite a bit of Farmer's LORD OF THE TREES and THE MAD GOBLIN in HELIX. The general back-story of HELIX is that the world is ruled by a secret group of immortals who operate out of a front called the ILARIA Corporation. Theirs is a strong yet limited form of immortality. Once you have it, and a mortal can acquire it, although not easily, and not without consequence, you become "static"--unable to age or to reproduce--and immune to all disease. Your powers of recovery are superhuman, but not unlimited--decapitation and fire will finish you off. However, little things like being sealed in a jail cell for three decades won't. With their years, the immortals become highly skilled at many tasks and quite formidable fighters, yet increasingly distant from human concerns and ever more paranoid.
A recurring theme in the series is that it turns out that one of the major characters always was immortal (Dr. Julia Walker played by Kyra Zagorsky) or becomes immortal (Dr. Sarah Jordan played by Jordan Hayes). Both seasons end with a "shocker" where a character that you've come to think of as one of the heroes is now immortal and working for ILARIA. Like all large old institutions ILARIA reacts strongly to threats, and in their view human environmental destruction is a threat to immortals that must be managed by reducing the size of the non-immortal population (a theme that occurs in the Farmer books I mentioned). Another theme is that doctors are just as susceptible to the temptations of money, power, immortality, and revenge as anyone, as one by one the CDC team members fall from any sort of pedestal you may have put them on.
The show also does a good job of showing the evolution of Dr. Julia Walker and Dr. Sarah Jordan as they start to more fully realize the implications of being immortal and more or less invulnerable. In the second season Julia is a representative of an ILARIA faction seeking to sterilize all mortals who arrives with her personal killer as a companion, and who defeats her immortal (but now totally nuts) father in an axe vs samurai sword fight, and eventually shoots her ex-husband. Sarah takes to doing risky experiments without any protective gear and ends up torturing an admittedly very bad woman for information needed to further one of her "projects," a project that no non-immortal would pursue. And yet neither woman is a comic-opera villain--and they may even be the most heroic characters in a series filled with shades of gray--their desire to do good and be good is still there--but being an immortal in a world of mortals is an isolating and transformative experience. Since all non-immortals are going to die anyway in a relatively short period of time, there is a tendency to use humans, shall we say, a bit more instrumentally.
HELIX is recommended for adults only, and only for adults with a strong toleration for horror themes. However, there is an interesting SF story being told, which is why I am watching. So far HELIX has not turned into anti-science propaganda, although it plays with this at times. It will certainly scare the bejezus out of you once you realize that virtually all the terrible stuff that happens is for the most part based in real science. [-dls]
THE PERFECT THEORY: A CENTURY OF GENIUSES AND THE BATTLE OVER GENERAL RELATIVITY by Pedro G. Ferreira (book review by Gregory Frederick):
This book looks at the history of Einstein's famous theory of General Relativity which he published in 1915. Einstein used his new theory to better understand exactly how gravity functions. The theory uses the concept of a 4-dimensional space-time continuum. Space-time fills the Universe and is warped by large massive objects like the Sun and this warping of space-time will cause the planets to orbit it. When Einstein developed this theory the scientific community generally believed that the Universe was eternal and static. This static cosmological idea was known as the Steady State theory. Einstein initially did not accept all of the predictions of his new theory. Georges Lemaitre discovered that most solutions of general relativity predict either a collapsing Universe or an expanding one. He found that using general relativity to support the concept of a steady state Universe required a very special case. And this special case was what Einstein used to support the existing Steady State theory. Later observational evidence from astronomer Edwin Hubble convinced most cosmologists to accept an expanding universe which had a beginning. Eventually Einstein also agreed.
As time progressed and others studied general relativity additional interesting ideas came out of it. The belief in black holes or a singularity can be derived from the theory though many in the early 1900s including Einstein did not really think they existed. As early as late 1915 Schwarzschild came up with this result using general relativity. The entire notion of the Big Bang came from general relativity also. In the 1930s Lemaitre proposed that the Universe came from a single small thing like a primordial egg. Researches at Bell Labs in the 1960s using a huge radio wave antenna found evidence of a hot dense state early in the history of the 13.8-billion-year-old Universe. This was convincing evidence for the Big Bang to just about all cosmologists. This afterglow of the Big Bang discovery spelled an end to the Steady State theory. Stephen Hawking created theorems which proved that an expanding Universe with relic radiation like that found by Bell researchers must have started as a singularity. This was further support for the Big Bang theory.
This book is a very good introduction to General Relativity and is written in an engaging style that makes it a very enjoyable read for the casual science reader. [-gf]
LAUGH KILLER LAUGH (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: A diamond thief and occasional killer lives with no emotions or humanity after having been abused as a child. He daily lets himself be berated by his memory of his boyhood tormentor. He is however intrigued by a woman he meets accidentally and who seems to want him for a friend. William Forsythe plays a man who has lost his humanity and wants to get a piece of it back. LAUGH KILLER LAUGH (no commas in the punctuation) is a dingy film with a portrait of a man emotionally dead who finally reaches out for his last chance at life. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
The aptly-named gangster Frank Stone (played by William Forsythe) has the emotions of a stone behind a stone face. With one exception he has no human relations with another human being. The one human he talks to or more accurately he listens to, is the vicious headmaster (Tom Sizemore) of the orphanage where Frank grew up. The headmaster's verbal, sexual, and sadistic abuse haunts the man and dominates him. The headmaster rides and haunts Frank all through the day. Frank can partially channel his callousness to be useful in his job. His job is diamond thief. And occasionally he is called upon to kill people. None of this bothers him as his conscience had long since been deadened.
Frank leads a dismal, humorless, and grim existence. One day Jackie (Bianca Hunter), mistakes Frank for a classmate from her creative writing class. Frank is intrigued and follows her to see her class, all the time behind the same impassive face. Next thing, he has enrolled in the class. The writing teacher has Frank writing about his own experiences. This may be a good way to write, but there are definitely people who are worried that some of Frank's experiences will be a little too revealing.
William Forsythe is a familiar face from a multitude of films as a character actor. He rarely if ever has gotten a lead role. That is certainly not from a lack of acting ability. But he has very ordinary looks and so rarely gets a chance at a lead role in a film. Here he must express his emotion (or lack thereof) through a fixed facial expression. That calls for some acting chops. It is an acting task similar to the one that Conrad Veidt had in THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. Admittedly this is not nearly so taxing a part, but it still must be a challenging role. There are only two actors in LAUGH KILLER LAUGH with much of a name, Forsythe and Sizemore. The apparent budget has been kept low. The writer/director is Kamal Ahmed, former member of the comedy group The Jerky Boys.
Do not infer from the title and the writer/director's history with humor that this film is in any way a comedy. It is a grim, dark, and sometimes violent gangster film. I rate it a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. LAUGH KILLER LAUGH will be released to theaters and VOD on April 24, 2015
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3326880/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/laugh_killer_laugh/
1915 (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: This is a fictional story set in the present about the production of a fictional play about the 1915 Armenian holocaust when 1.5 million people were killed. That is too many layers of fiction between the viewer and the historic fact. The film covers the issue of today's people and their responsibility to keep alive the past. But this is a film with better intentions than execution. There are stories about this period that desperately need to be told, but we are just too many levels removed from what is at heart certainly not the most compelling story of the experience. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
If one wants to come to understand what happened in the 1930s and 1940s European holocaust there are any number of film dramatizations of those events to help. There are films like SCHINDLER'S LIST, THE PIANIST, NIGHT AND FOG, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, and THE GREY ZONE. But these films are about another holocaust. There is very little information in cinema about the 1915 to 1923 genocide of the Armenian people by the Turks. Wikipedia list only thirteen films on the subject and only two or three are in English. The only one I have seen was Atom Egoyan's ARARAT (2002). But that film was not about the history of those days primarily, it was about a (then) modern-day film company making a film about the genocide. The film that was desperately needed so people will not forget the genocide was not ARARAT, but the film that was being made in ARARAT. Sadly, that film within a film was not made instead of Egoyan's film.
Simon (played by Simon Abkarian) has written a play that will have one single performance. And then the play will be performed in what appears to be a tiny audience in a beautiful antique theater that mysteriously has gone unused for seven years. There are several things happening that stand in the way of the production. The theater is as intriguing as the play being presented. There are mysterious accidents. There is even a suggestion that what is happening is in the realm of the supernatural. Understandably the local Turkish community is protesting a play about Turkish barbarity. But even the Armenian community is protesting the play's production because they are afraid it would distort history. Even the play is unsatisfying. In it, an attractive Armenian woman is given the choice of escaping the killings with the protection of an amorous Turk or dying with her people. One could argue that the real horror of the history is with the people who are given no choice at all.
1915 is a film written and directed by Garin Hovannisian and Alec Mouhibian. It is a short 82 minutes long. Yes, it is about the Armenian genocide, among other things. It also has discussions about the nature of acting that I would have expected more from BIRDMAN. There are philosophical nuggets like, "The wound has to sting before it can heal." What we learn of the genocide is in five or six sound bytes. It fails in precisely the same way that ARARAT fails. Obviously Simon's play cannot be a big spectacular production within his budget, but he could tell more directly the history in a small personal story like THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.
This is not a bad film by any means. It is intriguing, but it could have been more effective. It leaves the viewer with bewilderment where it could have left him with conviction. Admittedly, it is not quite fair complaining about what 1915 *was not* instead of what it *was*, but there is a real need to document the Armenian experience before too much time passes and too much is forgotten. I want to know more about the history of the Armenian Massacre but found myself being told of the problems producing a play in current-day Los Angeles. The film suggests that that this is history that is being forgotten while doing almost nothing to preserve the memories. I rate 1915 a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3781762/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/771415682/
Home Video (letter of comment by Peter Trei):
In response to Mark's comments on Baird Searles and home video in the 04/17/15 issue of the MT VOID, Peter Trei writes:
SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE is also notable for another reason: It was the first videotape to be widely pirated; about sixteen months after the first VHS machines were sold in the United States. The idea was so novel that it made the news.
Of course, home taping of music had been around long before that. [-pt]
Terry Pratchett and Discworld (letter of comment by Philip Chee):
In response to Gwendolyn Karpierz's review of REAPER MAN in the 04/17/15 issue of the MT VOID, Peter Trei writes:
The first two books were basically slapstick comedy and if you only read the first two you might wonder why Pratchett was so popular. [-pc]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
UTILITARIANISM by John Stuart Mill (ISBN 978-0-486-45422-1) is (in my opinion) one of the basic texts of the collection of philosophies often lumped together as "socialism". (Mill and Jeremy Bentham, among others, suggest that the principle of "the greatest good for the greatest number" is a rational basis for morality. There are limitations to this principle; in science fiction, the most famous one is "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas".)
Mill had this to say about what we would probably now think of as non-discrimination: "Impartiality, in short, as an obligation of justice, can be said to mean, being exclusively influenced by the considerations which it is supposed ought to influence the particular case in hand; and resisting the solicitation of any motives which prompt to conduct differently from what those considerations would dictate." Mill is, of course, speaking of the governmental treatment of people, though it might reasonably be extended to include personal interactions. While Mill might have balked at *requiring* impartially from individuals, it seems obvious that he believed that it was the *moral* thing to do.
Regarding punishment, Mill said that to punish someone as an example to others is the "acknowledged injustice of singling out an individual, and making him a sacrifice, without his consent, for the benefit of others." However, to punish someone for their own benefit is the "admitted injustice of forcing one person to conform to another's notions of what constitutes his good." And to punish some whose character, education, and surroundings have made him a criminal is the injustice of "punish[ing] any one for what he cannot help." I do not think Mill was claiming that criminals should incur no punishment, but he did recognize that there were serious moral objections to just about any rationale for punishment.
Mill thought, "It is reckoned justice, not injustice, that a dealer should charge to all customers the same price for the same article, not a price varying according to their means of payment. This doctrine, as applied to taxation, finds no advocates, because it conflicts strongly with men's feelings of humanity and perceptions of social expediency; but the principle of justice which it invokes is as true and as binding as those which can be appealed to against it." Even the flat tax that people do endorse is not a single fixed value paid by everyone regardless of wealth or condition. The reason one does not (cannot?) apply the "same-price-for-all" to taxation is that (almost) everything else is "optional"--if you cannot pay the price, you do not buy a new coat, or go to Olive Garden for dinner, or get an Xbox. However, people have no way to opt out of taxation. (If they did, then it would not be "same-price-for-all".)
"The entire history of social improvement has been a series of transitions, by which one custom or institution after another, from being a supposed primary necessity of social existence, has passed into the rank of a universally stigmatized injustice and tyranny." The obvious example here is slavery. What is notable is that he is not saying anything about things which are stigmatized becoming acceptable, which is what many conservatives decry. If anything, he is claiming we are becoming more moral, rather than less. (Interestingly, Mill was an early advocate of what we now call animal rights; when asked what we do now that will horrify our descendents, I always answer, "How we treat animals.") [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: If I were again beginning my studies, I would follow the advice of Plato and start with mathematics. --Galileo GalileiTweet
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