Archive for January, 2012

Dialogue on Goodness.

January 31, 2012

Daniel Fincke is following up on his dialogue on Hell one on Goodness, and I think I’ll comment on it as well:

Jaime: … If a modern day person tried to sell me on the idea that a god had told him to commit genocide, enslave people, and to force women to marry their rapists, and told me that I had to simply accept the goodness of all these apparent evils on faith that his god’s knowledge of goodness was simply beyond mine, then I would judge him to be both wicked and deluded to inordinately dangerous degrees.

Stoic: Well, let’s try a simple case. Let’s say — to use an example from Space: Above and Beyond — that someone told you to abandon 25,000 people to almost certain death and certainly great suffering because doing so will save even more lives, and you know that they are in a position to know the situation better than you do, is it better for you to follow their advice or to go on your own judgement? Ultimately, if there is a God and God knows what is good and right and moral better than we do, it is indeed hubris to suggest that your limited judgement should trump that. You are free to judge God as immoral if you wish, but it wouldn’t make you right, anymore than someone asserting that those things are right would make them right. If you accept the idea that we can determine what is or isn’t moral, then you need more than simple intuitive judgements to settle these things.

Jaime: No, that’s absurd. But before I get into why, let me quickly note that even were you right and only God could create good and evil, it is still possible that God could be evil as it is clearly possible for any lawmaker to violate his or her own laws.

Stoic: I don’t think the argument is that God is good simply because He creates the concepts of Good and Evil. Those seem, to me, to be independent principles. So while it might be possible starting from “God creates good and evil” for God to violate those rules, if those rules really are good and God is all-good as He has been defined to be, then He will never break those laws by definition. But we risk mixing two notions of God and morality here, so let’s not go further into that for now.

Jaime: I’m sure ordering these people to keep slaves and commit genocide in more “godly” ways than their neighbors did had a “comparatively civilizing” effect that made them relative models of humaneness. But how is this the evidence of a God who establishes an absolute Good and Evil? Can I be like your god and use this “absolute” Good and Evil to command genocides as long as they’re slightly less barbaric than Stalin’s or Mao’s?

Stoic: You are missing the point of the reply, to the point of almost being offensive. It’s not that what God did was better than what the others did, but that it was as good as it possibly could be in order to achieve the greater goal. You couldn’t survive in those barbaric cultures using the same sort of civilized model we use … and, in fact, it’s debatable given things like terrorism that we can survive in ours. You’re starting from a presumption of how the decisions are made that meets the model you want it to be to make your argument, not the presumption that people are actually using. You can claim that we don’t know that our presumption is valid, but you can’t simply avoid the issues by making claims about how it works that we’ve never argued or advocated.

In short, you presume a capricious God and answer as if you could be as capricious as you think God is. But the evidence given is not necessarily that of a capricious God, and so you misinterpret the reply and assume that’s all about simply being better than others. It isn’t.

Jaime: There is nothing “consistent” about the moralities of Mao or Stalin and nothing about atheism that either logically or practically necessitates their violence and authoritarianism. It is your conception of goodness—which has it as a matter of assertion of raw might—that would justify their oppressiveness, not my conception of goodness as intrinsic.

Stoic: Who said that the conception of goodness was simply assertion of raw might? No one has said anything like that. It’s not that God has more power than us that would make these things right. For people who think that morality is independent of God’s will — ie that God tells us what is right — it’s epistemically justified. For those who take the other tack and say that God defines what is or isn’t moral, then it’s definitional; God creates it and so God says what it is. None of this is based on it being right because God has the power to punish us if we don’t do it.

Jaime: Right, when humans commit genocides and enslave people it’s ghastly hubris—unless they did it several thousand years ago and claimed a perfect being made them do it. In which case it is totally copacetic. Godly even! And the alleged god behind their violence is a paragon of moral virtue.

Stoic: Well, it’s only not hubris if a perfect being told them to do it, or any other basis where they are saying that doing that is the morally right thing to do based on something other than their own personal opinion and limited understanding. Of course the person you’re arguing with is going to say that anything short of God is hubris, but there may be other levels where it isn’t hubris. You can ask how we are to know that a perfect being actually told us to do that, and that’s a good question … but not the one you’re asking here. Which isn’t as good a question, honestly.

Jaime: When you make claims about what does or does not allow for the creation of morality, you implicitly rely on beliefs about what makes a norm authoritative or not. You seem, for example, not to think that human feelings which differ from person to person are sufficient for creating a genuine moral norm. You seem also to think that there are some criteria which you think the god you believe in adequately satisfies to give him the rights to legislate legitimately where mere human dictators may not. Now, you might claim that your god specially revealed to you the ability to discern the conditions by which his true authority could be validated—in which case it is humorous that you keep trying to convince me with reasons that your views are sounder than mine and trying to get me to understand rationally why your god has legitimate moral authority. Or you think that investigating the intrinsic and rationally knowable nature of moral authority itself leads you to your belief in a god who is a legitimate source of moral norms.

But if you believe you can rationally assess, and rationally prove to me, the ontological necessity and moral legitimacy of your morality-giving god, then apparently you think you know the essence of morality and of moral legitimacy on rational grounds that could be communicated even to a non-believer like me. And if that is the case then apparently morality and moral legitimacy are not only graspable a priori but they are more fundamentally real and knowable than your god since your god is subject to, and could only theoretically gain legitimacy from, a moral order that is both more basic to reality and a more fundamentally understandable reality than he is. So, if we need to understand moral categories in order to infer your god’s existence and to legitimate claims that your god is morally good and authoritative, then apparently we must know these moral categories logically prior to any beliefs or lack of beliefs in gods.

In this case, I would necessarily be able to intuit these moral categories as an atheist, without any need for learning of the existence or dictates of your god. This means I do not need to believe in your god either to understand or accept the legitimacy of morality. In fact, since grasping and applying moral categories is the prerequisite for determining whether your god is moral or immoral—independently of his arbitrary, self-serving alleged claims about himself—I am perfectly in a position to judge that he is in fact disproven as a candidate for existence. Yahweh cannot both exist and behave as described in the Bible and be perfectly good, given the wickedness he is purported to have carried out and commanded throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

Stoic: The big problem here is that you confuse understanding moral authority with understanding the moral principles and rules, or even better assuming that if you can determine if someone has the authority to make rules you must have already determined what the rules are. This, is, of course, absolutely false. Let’s use this example: Imagine that you go to work for a company. Your job description is written by your manager. Because of the authority of that position — let’s put aside whether having it that way is good or not for now — you know that they legitimately define your job description by virtue of that authority. Does that mean, then, that you definitely know intuitively or a priori what your job description is? Of course not. If God has legitimate moral authority, it is for reasons that do not necessarily lead you to or are derived from some sort of intuitive notion of what is and isn’t moral, and so you don’t necessarily have the moral categories. If God’s moral authority comes from greater knowledge and a definition of goodness, then it’s an epistemic justification — ie He knows more than you and is moral — and you may well be wrong in your judgements. If it’s because God determines what is and isn’t moral, then the authority of being the one that defines the terms does it. All of this does not imply that you can indeed judge God based on your own moral intuitions. In fact, it’s only the former case where you can have any hope of judging God’s morality by any standards at all, because in the other case God sets the standard.

Now, you can ask how we know this, and it does come down to whether or not God exists, or if God has the right properties. That’s still a completely different question than the one you’re riding.

Jaime: Ah, and so those of us who think genocide is evil and that it has nothing to do with goodness just don’t really understand goodness. Only if we add an entirely superfluous concept to goodness—that it is a personal being—and then add an entirely contradictory concept to goodness—that this personal being of goodness itself commands evil actions like genocide—can we finally understand what goodness itself really is. The normal human a priori grasp of goodness is inadequate for this task.

Stoic: While I’m not sold on having to have a personal notion of God, I think it pretty obvious that the normal human intuitive grasp of morality is inadequate for morality, whether we have God in the picture or not. Our intuitive morality often does seem heinous, and is also often contradictory. We need to do better than our intuitions. Whether that’s a priori or not — I tend to think it is — does not impact that normal human moral intuitions don’t seem to be good enough for morality. God as proposed either has knowledge — whether it’s intuitive or not — or simply defines it. By the way, you might have noticed that I keep giving two answers. That’s because there are two ways to think about God and morality, as stated above, and your replies seem to straddle the two. Theists of the first sort might have an actual problem with God advocating genocide, but won’t have issues with it until you can settle all disagreements about what is moral. Theists of the second sort have no actual problem with genocide being moral only when God does it, but are the ones that are making the sort of arguments you’re talking about here. At least someone in this debate is confused [grin].

Jaime: So then there is no absolute Good and Evil, after all, on your view since your god can reverse the properties at any time. So, how is that a basis for belief in a true and absolute morality?

Stoic: Under this view, we have an absolute definition of what Good and Evil is, which is that it is what God says is Good and what is Evil. If these things are in any way to be considered things, they were created by God, and God defines what properties they have. Think of it this way, to borrow from Plato: the Forms of Good and Evil are defined by God, and everything that is Good and Evil only is such by participating in that Form. If God changed the Form of Good or Evil, then all of that would change … but since they would still be Forms they’d still be absolute in that sense, at least. You seem to want a true and absolute morality to be immune from change in principle, while all that’s required is for it to be immune from change in practice.

Jaime: How does it make any sense that the essence of dogs could become the essence of cats or vice versa? If a dog changed its features and the DNA which causes them, that’s not a dog taking on a cat essence, it’s a dog being replaced by a cat! The kinds of beings are still totally distinct. Properties cannot be made into their opposites in any rationally coherent way.

Stoic: True, but again that’s not the point. The point is about the Form of dog or cat, not about the properties that an individual dog or cat has. If the Form of cat changes so that things that bark and pant are now cats, then the Form has been inverted and their essence has been inverted. This would make what we used to call dogs cats, by changing the Form. If God can change the Form, then He can do this without any trouble and without contradiction or irrationality. And so if God changes the Form of Good, then what was once Good may now be Evil and what was Evil may now be Good.

Jaime: Except for when he told his “original” chosen people to commit genocide and keep slaves but started telling his modern ones that those things are evil?

Stoic: Again, you presume that making a command circumstanital means that it isn’t absolute, and so this would have to be a reversal of the concept. No absolute morality requires this. Take Kant and lying. He insists that lying is always wrong not because his moral rules have to be absolute, but because there aren’t any cases where lying wouldn’t violate his universal maxim. It’s actually consistent with Kant’s view that if you could find an exception where it wouldn’t, then you could universalize on that maxim and thus get different behaviour based on circumstances. This is one of the myths that really bugs me, that either you have to be a consequentialist or you can’t consider circumstances or even consequences ever. That’s not the case. It’s the principles that matter, not the individual cases.

Take Virtue theory, for example. All virtue theories insist that there are at least somewhat absolute properties or values for morality, the virtues. But how you apply those virtues to everyday situations depends not only on the virtues, but on the situations as well. Sometimes to be brave means running away, sometimes it means staying and dying. You take general principles and then apply them to specific cases, considering specific cases to the extent you need to to work out how the absolute principle applies in it. Thus, genocide might have been more acceptable in more brutal times where a reputation for mercilessness was required, but not as much now where you don’t need that reputation, without ever changing the rules of absolute morality.

Jaime: But he could and in principle is unconstrained by morality, since it is his invention and not something that he is subject to in any binding way. By your own logic, he created it and can dismiss it whenever he wishes. He can be systematically deceiving us all and having a good laugh at Christians like you who simultaneously believe in, first, his supremely malignant Old Testament deeds, second, his absolute independence of morality as its total creator, and thirdly and most hilariously naïvely, his “perfect moral goodness”. He might just be the most mischievously wicked tyrant of all time. Maximum evil with maximum praise for his “goodness”. I admit, this is a much more plausible prospect for a real god given the world we live in!

Stoic: This boils down to “Maybe God isn’t how you think He is”. Conceded, but it doesn’t address the comments and points being made. We could be wrong, but you aren’t going to get there by judging the world by your morality and then expecting everyone else to go along with it. All the first type of theists need to do is show how genocide could be moral and your argument is merely so much text. For the second, there is no way to judge Good or Evil apart from God’s standards. Again, you start with an argument from the second type of theist and argue that they are bound by the first type of theist’s problems. It doesn’t work.

Jaime: Then we can prove the god of the Bible is false, a fictional character and not the real god, by pointing out all his wicked deeds unbecoming the god whose goodness we can understand a priori.

Stoic: That we can understand good a priori does not mean that we do. We would be seeing the evidence of good all around us and might be coming to the wrong conclusions. As soon as you come up with an a priori understanding of morality that everyone agrees with and agrees is proven, then we can talk. We aren’t there yet.

Jaime: No, I just think Goodness is a basic, a priori discoverable feature of the world. If you want to rename it “God”, then be my guest—as long as you don’t ridiculously claim it is a personal being with a Son, a thing for the smell of blood sacrifices, and a creepily excessive interest in consensual adults’ sex lives.

Stoic: Why not? Who is to say that when we actually discover that feature of the world that those things would be seen as acceptably moral, or at least things we couldn’t determine the morality of without more knowledge? You continually judge God’s actions by standards that you hold that you can’t even convince other humans to accept. Why would we think that your limited knowledge would trump God’s, if He existed? There’s more work to do here, but your insistence on claiming immorality for things that you find personally offensive is not doing it and is, in fact, becoming quite strained.

Jaime: No, if there is your imagined highly willful personal god, then morality and goodness are just subject to arbitrary assignations of properties by that being. But if we do not confuse ourselves by invoking your metaphysically and scientifically baseless being, we can rather look for goodness right here in the natural world as one of its intrinsic discoverable features.

Stoic: This is a false dichotomy and, in fact, also makes a mistake on what it would mean for morality. For the latter, take this analogy: In the game The Old Republic there is, in fact, a very specific — and very much impacting — definition of Good and Evil, that was written by the game designers. If you step outside the world, you can argue that it is arbitrary, because the game designers simply invented it and could change it at any time. But from inside the world, this is just as intrinsic and discoverable as any of the fake laws of physics that it follows, and so inside the world is not, in fact, arbitrary at all. That’s the sense of non-arbitrary that we need; if the laws of morality are as non-arbitrary as the laws of physics, then that should be fine by most people.

And that’s why your argument creates a false dichotomy: you can have the laws of morality defined by God and still have it be something that you can look for in the world as being discoverable, by looking at how the moral world works, just as you can by for the physcial laws by looking at how the physical world works. If there is a problem here, it would be that you likely can’t get morality descriptively and so can’t get it by looking at the world.

Jaime: Goodness is a matter of effectiveness relationships in the natural world. When I say that vegetables are good for me, I do not mean that they have an arbitrarily assigned property granted to them by an invisible supernatural super-being that makes the statement true independent of empirically and a priori analyzable real world functions. Instead, I mean simply they are good at effectively keeping me alive. And this effectiveness is wholly independent of my feelings too. Personally I hate vegetables, but they are good for me. I don’t even feel any special love for this fact that they are good for me—I rather begrudge it, truth be told! But it’s just true. And unless a god changed their effectiveness potentials to harm me in objective ways, no simple ascription of “properties of badness” by any god would make them bad for me.

Stoic: You’re generalizing goodness beyond morality to try to show how we can determine moral goodness naturalistically. This doesn’t work. What we are interested in here is, in fact, moral goodness when we’re talking about God and morality and all those morally heinous things you claim He’s done. Now, if you decide not to eat your vegetables, are you going to consider that in and of itself some kind of moral failing? Almost certainly not; it’s pragmatically bad — or at least not good — but not morally bad or not good. Where, then, is your evidence that moral goodness is the same type of goodness as that? We’re risking major equivocation here, and all of your argument relies on, in fact, that definition of good. A definition of moral good that I, and the Stoics, strongly disagree with.

Jaime: If that is all you mean when you say that your god creates goodness, then we can dispense with worrying about whether or not he exists altogether and can certainly ignore your holy books. We certainly don’t need him or Christian churches for knowledge of goodness or morality.

… because the objective effectiveness relationships would exist and be subject to rational investigation independent of any reference to the being that set up such relationships. Such relationships need no such intelligent design to come about or to be maintained and there is no evidence of such a creator behind them. They just are. And even were they set up by some super-mind in the first place, as long as they are rationally investigatable (as they are) then that is our best route to truth about them. The arbitrary (and often wildly wrong) hunches and fantasies of ancient nomads and modern egomaniacs who are bad at statistics provide no extra help in figuring out the differences between good and bad or right and wrong. Frankly, they can only be expected to hinder any progress on this score.

Stoic: The problem, though, is the argument that without having some kind of outside the world intentional force defining this, you don’t have it. And so if you actually discover one, you’d effectively discover and have to discover God to do that at all. Otherwise, your investigations will only lead you to justifying your own personal prejudices and calling them moral. Note that this is an argument for the second type of theist. The first type of theist will agree with you and simply argue that the proof is independent of this moral question, but that this doesn’t in fact make the morality of religions or the Bible immoral or even irrelevant to figuring that out. Pick your poison; you aren’t going to get rid of God that easily no matter which way you go.

Fincke on Hell …

January 30, 2012

Daniel Fincke over at Camels With Hammers returned from computer problems with dialogue on Hell, and it’s a good springboard for some of my comments on it, especially since I find the dialogue to be a bit harsh, and his theist advocate a bit unprepared to deal with that. Of course, it’s hard to give different replies in a dialogue and keep the narrative flow, so I’ll try to write my responses as dialogue responses but won’t try to fill in the atheist side too much. Note, of course, that this will be using my belief system, and so the Stoics will be mentioned a time or two.

Jaime: The other option is hell! That’s like some sick abusive husband telling his wife that she has two options—either she stays in the physically and emotionally damaging relationship or he “divorces” her—and keeps her chained up in the basement being subjected to non-lethal torture the rest of her life. And, as a bonus, he has the power and the unchanging will to make her live and continue suffering in that dungeon forever. By your definition, a woman who refused to be in this relationship would be “choosing” this torture. But this is ridiculous. For “choosing” your god to actually be “freely done”, under these circumstances, it is clear there has to be another option—we have to be able to be without your god and not suffering at all for it.

Stoic: Well, there is a lot to say here, and let’s start at the end. You assume that for a free choice under these circumstances it would have to be the case that no suffering would arise from not choosing God. This might be consistent with the idea of Hell, in this case, as being a punishment, but isn’t consistent with the idea of Hell being a consequence. Even the punishment model does not lend itself to that sort of conclusion. After all, there is the threat of punishment if I murder someone, but that doesn’t mean that I never freely choose not to murder. Ultimately, you are looking at it in a sense that if you are under a threat, you can’t make a real choice and so cannot be held responsible for it, but I’m on-board with the Stoics here and deny that. If someone puts a gun to my head and says “Murder that person”, I still make a free choice. We might, of course, completely understand someone making the wrong choice and killing someone and so be more lenient, but they still made that choice. If you really think that you should not believe or worship God, that’s your choice … and then you live with the consequences. And I don’t just hold this for you, but for myself as well. There are things that I disagree with when it comes to religious morality, at least in part the idea that morality is to be determined separately. So I act in ways, knowingly, that are called sinful. I do so because I decide they are what I should do, and I’m prepared to accept the consequences of being wrong, no matter what they are or, in fact, even if I get punished, no matter what that is.

Your analogy with the abusive husband and battered wife is also a bad one. First — again, starting at the end — it isn’t the case that if we reject God that God “divorces” us. We “divorce” him, and separate ourselves from him, and God is always willing to accept us back. So, in essence, the choices would be between her staying in the relationship and her leaving it herself and separating herself from God. Second, you simply assert that it’s a physically and emotionally damaging relationship, but religious people certainly don’t feel that way, and in fact feel quite the opposite. So from the religious point of view, it would be her leaving either a fulfilling or potentially fulfilling relationship for … something else, thus separating herself from God who is always patiently waiting for her to return, but where the consequences are bad. It doesn’t seem like a good choice for her to make in that case, and not because God is some kind of abusive monster.

Jaime: I’m sure that’s what every bullying husband tells his battered wife—he knows she really needs him and is too stupid to understand that herself.

Stoic: But God really would know better and we might really not understand ourselves. It’s easy to get caught up in chasing indifferents and ignoring the real virtues, to think that the less restricted life is better. Humans have a tendency to choose things that seem like they’ll provide the best life that actually don’t, like say people who think getting plastered all weekend is great despite the hangover and damage to their bodies. The sarcastic reply, here, still simply carries on the misunderstandings shown earlier; you consider God abusive, and so deny that the advice may be in the best interests of the people involved, whereas if you don’t look at it that way it certainly, at least, isn’t clear.

Jaime: There are plenty of indications that your own Bible and influential Christian theologians teach that the dead are resurrected—and not that they simply become disembodied spirits. You do claim Jesus’s body came back to life, right?

Stoic: That Jesus rose bodily from the dead doesn’t mean that we do. Remember that the NT says that his body went missing from the tomb. That clearly doesn’t happen to us, so if that’s what’s meant then you have an obvious way to falsify Christianity. But things are not that simple. Since it isn’t our body, then, what does it mean for us to have a body, or do we even really have a body at all? This can only be settled with a lot of theological work.

Jaime: But my life as an atheist not even believing in your god is not miserable. Why would it be any more miserable were I sent somewhere after life where I wasn’t around your god either? Why would this suddenly start eating me up inside then, when it certainly does not now?

Stoic: Living in the world, you aren’t actually separated completely from God. After death, you would be. Simply not believing that something exists does not mean that you are separated and not influenced by it. After death, you might actually be separated, which would be a completely different experience.

Jaime: I would think it would be impossible to be miserable and not realize it! How could I be confused that I was happy when “in reality” I was secretly miserable? If I feel like I’m experiencing pleasure—or even just indifference, or even feeling, you know, just “blasé”—then how could that be misery unbeknownst to me. What do you even mean by misery if it’s something someone could not know they were experiencing. If hell is an eternity of thinking I’m as pleased as I am here on earth but “secretly” and “unbeknownst to me” being miserable then I’ll start packing for my eternal “suffering” in hell.

Stoic: Misery may be too strong a word, but you may simply be not realizing the true and greater pleasures, and you’d feel miserable if you had experienced them and then tried to find fulfillment you would indeed feel miserable. So it might be that you don’t feel miserable now, but would if you knew what real pleasure was. I, personally, resist basing my arguments for this on happiness versus misery, feeling that decisions should be right without considering the traditional notion of “happiness”, but that’s just me.

I don’t know, I feel pretty damned fulfilled. And I feel like there is plenty of good in my life without your god. In fact, I would say I know there is plenty of good in my life without your god. Saying your god is identical with goodness and that all badness is identical with being separated from your god is meaningless. Sex is good—is your god sex? Food is good, is your god food? Power, respect, fame, accomplishments, friendship, romantic love, and all the people themselves whom I love—they’re all good; are they your god too? What about all the virtues I have that lead to good things in my life without any need for your god’s intervention and which are themselves delightful to have? Is my generosity your god? Is my sense of humor your god? Are my powers to investigate truths your god? All these things are good and I can have them without your god because they are totally distinct and independent from your god.

Stoic: On what grounds do you say that those things are good? You need to distinguish between good used in the colloquial and Good as used in terms of ultimate ends. Is sex good? It’s generally pleasant, so in the colloquial it is. Is sex Good? Well, is sex a virtue? No, it seems like sex is not intrinsically good in that way. So, then, again borrowing from the Stoics I see sex as an indifferent when we talk about Good. So, then, you have an indifferent in your life. The same applies to pretty much everything you listed until you get to the virtues, and of those only generosity seems to be undeniably a virtue. Now, I personally think that we can find the virtues without believing in God, because I consider them — as the Stoics do — to be the base principles of morality, and I believe theologically can we have the capacity to learn to be moral without having to appeal to scripture or God directly. So, if you really are virtuous without believing in God, that’s fine. A theological argument — and one I support — would be that subscribing to real virtue is far more like a proper belief in God than lip service of declaring belief in a God. So acting virtuously may well be argued to actually not separate you from God, even if your web of belief doesn’t include the proposition “God exists”. At which point, it wouldn’t be independent. I’m not sure how far I want to push that argument, though; it’s pretty controversial in many ways and may even look like a way of defining atheists as really being theists. Suffice it to say, though, there’s a lot more to say here about good, Good, virtue, God, and separation from God.

Jaime: Not believing someone exists is not “refusing to be with” that person. I mean, seriously, Robin, why do you refuse to be with Aquaman? Why do you reject him so? Don’t you see how you will one day deservedly suffer emotionally forever with an Aquaman-shaped-hole in your heart after you die because of the ways you “deny” Aquaman in your life? Why won’t you just accept that Aquaman loves you and that only in Aquaman will you find fulfillment? Why won’t you accept that all the good things in life that you currently enjoy are not nearly as good as they would be if you also knew Aquaman? Don’t you see how an eternity in which you have all of Aquaman’s gracious gifts except for the presence of Aquaman himself would be a terrible fate from which you should want salvation?

Stoic: For novelty, I’ll start at the top. I agree with you that not believing someone exits is not a rejection, and so lean towards explanations that allow for the missing belief while still allowing room for real and legitimate rejection. As long as you don’t reject God, you won’t be separated from him, and so would not, one presumes, go to Hell on the “Hell is living without God” model (which always reminds me of the Alice Cooper song, BTW). But if you reject God, then you would be separated from him on that model. Now, are comments like “Seriously, even if he was up there in some heaven, I could never love—let alone worship—someone who offered me the choice between loving him and being burned alive for eternity.” indications of rejection? Is your stance that God is completely and terribly immoral a rejection? It might be, but note the difference between that and simply lacking belief. It’s much more active and much more rejecting, which would bring us back to the original comment.

So, let’s take Aquaman. Do I reject Aquaman? No, I merely do not believe that Aquaman exists. I do not deny Aquaman’s supposedly intrinsic qualities; if Aquaman existed, I accept that he can swim, breathe underwater, and talk to fish. But I think him a fictional character. That’s not a rejection … but it also isn’t what you do.

Also note an important difference here. I know that Aquaman does not exist except as a fictional character, because I can trace the history back to Aquaman’s invention and prove that. Do you really know that God doesn’t exist? I have seen nothing that rises to that level yet, and so this weakens such analogies; it is difficult to compare something that we know does not exist to something that we may not know exists, but that we also do not know doesn’t exist. But without that move, these analogies don’t work; it is not as unreasonable to believe that something exists when you don’t know that it doesn’t exist (and have evidence outside of your mind, at least, for it) as to believe that something exists when you do know that it doesn’t exist.

His deeds are ugly—and none is uglier than the gruesome child sacrifice in which he has his own son brutally crucified.

Stoic: None uglier? Why? Is life a virtue, or an indifferent? I think it reasonable to claim that giving up your life and enduring suffering for the virtues is, in fact, morally superior to avoiding it. As with most of your examples, you have a specific idea of what is good and right and moral in mind, and you use that to bludgeon your opponents. But your idea of morality is not yet proven. Neither is mine. Under mine, there are certainly good reasons to think that death and suffering are indifferents and that a virtuous end might have been achieved by sacrificing those indifferents, and if that was the case all virtuous beings must allow this sort of thing to happen. Yours is different, perhaps, but we don’t know if you’re right and I’m wrong. Your “gruesome child sacrifice” is my “noble and virtuous death”. The same applies to the other examples, in some sense: can you think of no cases where it is morally questionnable whether or not genocide is right or wrong, for example? If you can’t, then you don’t watch or read enough science fiction, I submit. The cases may still be wrong, but there are interesting questions there, that you ignore when you make such pronouncements. That you do so knowing that those you are replying to do not see the events the way you do smacks of simply ignoring them, something that you yourself seem to get quite upset about when you perceive it happening to you.

Above and Beyond …

January 27, 2012

So, I’ve recently started re-watching Space: Above and Beyond. And after watching the first disk, I think that:

1) It’s a better show than the revamped BSG.
2) It’s a better show than “Firefly” was.

Now, the second one is certainly controversial, and I even think that it’s a bit unfair. Firefly and Space: Above and Beyond aren’t the same type of show, and have little in common other than both being in space and both being killed by Fox after one season. The type of person who really likes the more actiony, less serious, quicker show that still has excellent characters and character dynamics and even, on occasion, drama will like Firefly better. Space: Above and Beyond has humour, but is much more serious and is indeed darker overall, and if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll prefer it. As someone who likes both, right now I’d say that I still think that Space: Above and Beyond is the better show overall, mostly because it’s better science fiction. It goes into more detail about its setting and goes out of its way to highlight what has changed and what hasn’t. Firefly’s setting is less important to it; we know that it is futuristic, but there’s not as much emphasis on it. Also, Space: Above and Beyond has characters with more relatable flaws that are still likeable, although it isn’t by much.

But, sure, that’s debatable. I don’t think there’s much debate, though, that the revamped BSG is not as good a show as Space: Above and Beyond. They are more directly comparable because they have similar tones and even similar content, but where S: AaB gives us likeable characters that still have major flaws that add drama, BSG fails to do that. And part of that is focus. S: AaB’s focus is small; we focus on one squadron of marines and their place in the big picture, while in BSG we start at the big picture and try to work down to the individuals. It’s a split of focus that doesn’t leave enough time or room to make your flawed characters seem human and likeable. Both still cover the same ground, but we get involved more with our heroes than BSG delivered, at least for me. Add in that it is better science fiction and has a better dramatic plot that is desperate but never seems overdone, and it’s a better show.

It’s a shame that it only lasted a season.

What we need theology for …

January 26, 2012

Jerry Coyne has commented on Peter Enns’ article about accommodationism, and argues that it proves while accommodationism won’t work. One of his charges against Enns is this:

While I admire Enns’s frank admission that Evangelical Christians must deal with science, he weasels out on the most important questions: the effects on Christian faith of trashing the Old Testament as a literal document, and the reasons why we’re supposed to accept the Old Testament as metaphor but the New Testament as literal. I challenge Enns, who knows these things perfectly well, to come clean about these. His failure to deal head on with the important questions shows, more than anything, why the ministrations of BioLogos won’t work.

So Coyne essentially accuses Enns of ignoring the big questions of the impact this change in attitude will have on Christianity and about when to take parts as literal or metaphorical. The problem is that the first part is, in fact, work for theology or philosophy of religion, two fields that Coyne has continually denigrated while feeling free to engage in speculations about theological conclusions. Yes, there may be an impact that has to be addressed, but it won’t be addressed by science or the theory of evolution itself, but by theologians and philosophers looking deeply at what things mean and if you can indeed maintain Christianity if you don’t take these stories literally. So, big questions, but Coyne continually talks as if he has the answers to them, and that the answer is that there’s a solid, unresolvable incompatibility there that no amount of theological work will fix. We should do the work first before coming to the conclusion, no?

The second one is worse, because Coyne is concluding for no good reason that the argument is that the Old Testament should be taken metaphorically and the New Testament literally, presumably on the basis that if someone in the Old Testament is to be taken metaphorically it all must be. This is like arguing that because Chalmers’ zombie argument is a thought experiment and not to be taken literally nothing else in “The Conscious Mind” should be taken literally, which is clearly absurd. No one argues that everything in the Old or New Testaments is literally or metaphorical. They have to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis using the proper criteria.

What are those criteria, you ask? Well, one of them is the possibility of it being true if taken literally. Coyne will likely argue that I’ve conceded his point, but I haven’t. If a story or passage can be taken literally, then that means that you can either take it literally or metaphorically; it might be either. But if you discover that it cannot be taken literally, then you cannot take it literally, and so must take it metaphorically. And before Coyne or other atheists roll their eyes or chortle, note that I argue that you are not done at that point. You then have to ask if the passage will still fulfill its purpose if it’s taken metaphorically. If it doesn’t if taken as a metaphor or a parable, then you have to abandon it, and everything that depends on it. This might mean that you then have to abandon, in this case, your religion entirely. If it does, then you can move on with only a few patch-ups. Ultimately, if you discover that it cannot be taken literally, then you have to drop everything that requires that it be taken literally … but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything that depends on it.

Now, I don’t think that we lose anything important by taking the Adam and Eve story as a metaphor as opposed to literally. But I might be wrong about that. There’s a lot of theological work to do to figure this out, and if Coyne and Rosenhouse want to participate I’m willing to go along with it. But only if they’re willing to get into the theological and philosophical trenches and understand how to go about figuring this stuff out. At the end of the day, I might be convinced of their position, but they’ll have to convince me first.

All-Star Ovechkin?

January 26, 2012

So, Alexander Ovechkin has decided to skip the NHL All-Star game because he was suspended right before it.

Now, I have to admit that in the whole Crosby/Ovechkin debate I was solidly on Ovechkin’s side, which might be considered heresy (I hope Don Cherry doesn’t read that I was passing over the good Canadian kid for the Russian). But the main reason for that was that Ovechkin seemed to love the game and have a strong zest for life that was nice to see, if not to share. Crosby was always more measured, which is fine but made him less entertaining than Ovechkin. Ovechkin celebrated his goals and goals by his teammates with the same enthusiasm that indicated a great enthusiasm for the game.

So it’s no surprise that he was the one who made the shoot-out competition at the All-Star Game an event instead of just a show of skill, and no surprise that at last year’s draft he was the one filming and laughing at and with the last player to be selected.

But this is disappointing. Ovechkin comes off like someone in a snit as opposed to someone who’s interested in the game. Even his GM’s patch-up of “He doesn’t think he deserves to be there” doesn’t work when Ovechkin’s first reply is that he doesn’t feel like being there and that reply is the after-thought in his discussions.

Now, Ovechkin’s performance has also dropped over the past few seasons, and my worry is this: with the suspensions and with the change in style of play and even with other teams making huge efforts to contain him, Ovechkin might no longer be as enthusiastic about the game. So all of this might simply be a reflection that he doesn’t find the game fun anymore. He can’t play the way he wants to play and win or even keep from being suspended, and this whole incident just drives home for him that hockey’s not as much fun anymore. Maybe it’s turning into just a job for him.

If it is, that’s probably a problem, as it seems to me that most of his success came from his not thinking of it as just a job. So it would be unfortunate for everyone if he ends up that way.

Breaking All the Rules …

January 25, 2012

There was a lot of coverage of President Obama’s state of the union address here, and I want to comment on part of it because a lot of the ideas that those who lean left come up with there end up coming up here as well.

What was most ironic about the speech was that in one breath Obama was saying that he wanted everyone to follow the same rules and then in the next breath he was saying that the rules should be different for different people — but it’s only for those who are rich, so that’s okay. The different rules came from his talk about saying that anyone who earns 1 million dollars or more should have a 30% tax rate, which is in response to comments from people like Warren Buffet that the rich don’t pay enough, as people like Buffet and Mitt Romney have revealed that they have a lower tax rate — but not, you’ll note, a lower absolute amount of tax — than their secretaries at times. Obama and others are going to town on this being unfair and something needing to be done to fix it. The problem is that they are comparing apples and oranges, because the problem isn’t what you make — it’s not the case that making over 1 million dollars will automatically give you a lower tax rate (quite the opposite) — but it’s that those who have the lower tax rate are earning their income in different ways than those who are earning it more “normally”.

So, in order to see how this is treating people by different rules, consider these two cases. Person A makes 1 million dollars a year using certain methods. Person B makes 100,000 dollars a year using the precise same methods. Presumably — although in the real world things never work out this evenly — because the tax rate is a ratio they both would pay the same ratio of tax, which is 14%. Now, let’s take Person C, who earns 1 million dollars the same way Buffet’s secretary does. Presumably, again, that person would pay the same rate as the secretary. The rules and rates, then, change on the basis of how you earn your income, not on how much of it you earn (mostly, since most countries do have progressive tax rates where people who earn more do pay a higher rate, but we can ignore that for now).

So now we introduce Obama’s fair plan. Now, A pays 30%, but B still pays 14%. But other than the amount they make, there’s no difference between them. Which is unlike the case we have now, where how you earn the money is what matters.

So you can argue that maybe how the money is earned shouldn’t matter. Maybe it shouldn’t. But if certain forms of income are taxed less, in general it’s because the government wants to encourage people to earn their money that way. So, for example, investment income in both Canada and the U.S. is in some sense exempt from taxes, or at least part of it is. More of it is exempt in the U.S. than in Canada, I’m told. Investment is risky, but can have big payoffs, and it helps to keep companies going and the stock market going as well. So, you have to think about why some forms of income are taxed less and see if you still want people trying to earn their income that way. Because if riskier forms of earning income are not encouraged, a lot of people won’t use them (that was indeed the point), and that would be bad.

And let’s hope that these calculations are based on income after deductions, because that’s a whole other mess if it isn’t.

The point is that saying “Everyone who makes over 1 million dollars pays 30%” is a nice, simple thing to say that everyone can understand. But it may not be a good thing to do. It may cause massive problems and actually end up hurting the middle class more than helping by chilling investment, research and development, and job creation. There’s no simple way to untangle this if you want to preserve what the actual tax laws are supposed to do. But I suspect that Obama knows this, and suspect that he never would actually implement this. He may try before the election knowing that the Republicans will stop him, but he’d never try it if it went through because it’s just a bad idea. It sounds nice, but won’t work.

Up here, the Liberals might talk about it but would never implement it. The Conservatives won’t talk about it. The NDP might actually try to implement it, which is one of the reasons having them actually running the country is scary.

Anyway, if there is a problem with these tax breaks being used by people or by people with incomes for what it was not intended and in a way that’s actually harmful, then you need to tighten up the laws. This suggestion, however, is not fair, not just and generally not a good idea.

Battlestar Galactica: Miniseries.

January 23, 2012

So, here I finally sit down and start talking about the revamped Battlestar Galactica series. As I said in the preface, I was a big fan of the original series, and the revamped series was, of course, very little like it other than in name, names and the big event that starts it all. Beyond that, it’s a much darker, serious and dramatic series, that also contains a lot more sexuality than the original series did. One of the things that I found off-putting about the revamped series was that it seemed to be trying to pack in far too many updates and cool things: shaky camera, deep drama, highly-charged sexual atmosphere, so much so that it kept forgetting why it was doing those things in the first place.

But I’d made another mistake before watching it for the first time, which was to watch the “Making Of” episode first (or at about the same time). So I’d heard about some of the changes and was predisposed to dislike them. For example, I’d heard about Starbuck’s sex change and was skeptical, but then I watched the “Making Of” or read something about how that was done because they want to show how men and women could work together as colleagues without sex coming into play. Yeah, and look how long that lasted. But it was also the cause of the breakup of the main triumvirate that made the original series memorable. We all remembered Apollo and Starbuck as well as Boomer, the three fighter pilot heroes and friends who did pretty much all the work. Well, with the way the revamped series did it that was completely lost. Apollo wasn’t part of the Galactica’s crew originally, and came on later. He had a past with Starbuck, but didn’t know anything about Boomer. Boomer was friends with Starbuck but not Apollo, and her story arc had her associating more with Chief and Helo than with Apollo and Starbuck. Since Apollo and Starbuck’s relationship was definitely more abrasive and sexually charged in the revamped series, that main core was gone. And there was nothing to replace it, except again a more sexualized Boomer, whose first introduction includes having sex with the Chief.

Add to that that a lot of the elements in the revamped series were closer to DS9’s than the original series — prophets, how religion was done, and enemies that can hide among you and the paranoia that that fosters — and it’s hard to see how the two series relate at all. And so starting from the premise that the two series are supposed to be linked it’s hard to like this series, since it seems to ditch a lot of what made the original series good, and I, at least, was not convinced that the new things made up for it. It took, as I’ve said before, the board game to get me thinking of this series as its own series, and not just a crappy remake of a cheesier and yet somehow much better series. So, on its own, does the series stand? That’s partly what these recaps/reviews are aimed at trying to answer. So let’s get onto the actual series, starting with the miniseries.

Now, one of the first things to note is the change in the origin of the Cylons. In the original series, the Cylons were at least nominally an alien race that had attacked another race near the humans, and the war had started when the humans intervened. Here, the Cylons were built by humans who used them as slaves — or, rather, as machines — who attained sentience, rebelled, started a war, and then took off for parts unknown. Right off the bad, the moral ambiguity is introduced, and I’m not all that impressed by it. Considering how this starts, some unambiguous evil or at least malice might have been preferred. But then maybe I just like my morality a bit less gray than some people do …

Anyway, the intro is effective, but just highlights how sexually charged this is. Since about 90% of the time you see a 6 model it’ll be doing something sexually, I really wondered if she was supposed to be a sexbot. Here she walks in in a sexy manner, and starts trying to answer, it seems, if the Colonial diplomat is alive by kissing him. I’m not sure what kissing is supposed to prove, and she never really explains it. And, of course, while that’s going on, the Cylons blow up the station, killing everyone — but since the Cylons resurrect (although we don’t know that yet) that 6, at least, is okay. One problem with this is that later they’ll reveal that resurrecting too often can be problematic for them, which is a little inconsistent. But that’s minor compared to the other inconsistencies we’re going to have.

Anyway, the main theme and intro comes in at this point. You’ll not be surprised to learn that I like the theme from the original series better, but that was a more epic and heroic series. It’s a better song, but it wouldn’t really fit in this one. As it is, this theme works well and seems more cinematic, especially when you watch it more than once.

Anyway, what we have next is the opening credits, which intermixes some of the main characters on Galactica going about doing their everyday business. It does work not too badly to show some of the people whose survival we’ll hopefully be cheering for over the next four seasons. Let’s see how that turns out.

So after we see Tigh getting drunk and everyone else working, Adama comes down to the main hangar deck and is presented with his old fighter, that they’ve recovered and rebuilt, and a picture of him with his two sons standing by it when he was still in service. And in the picture, Adama really looks like “The Fonz”. I mean really looks like “The Fonz”. I’m not sure why that happened, but it did.

Anyway, now we have our first introduction to Starbuck, in the card game, and our first introduction to Boomer, which is basically her being called a rookie by Starbuck and punching her, well, like a girl. Sheesh.

Anyway, Tigh and Starbuck get into a name-calling session, with Tigh calling Starbuck out on her lack of discipline and Starbuck making a reference to Tigh’s wife. We’ll find out why that’s a problem later. Anyway, Starbuck wins the hand and does a little celebratory dance, and Tigh — demonstrating the stability and vindictiveness that we’ll come to expect from him — flips over the table. Starbuck reacts by slugging him, and the other officers like Boomer and Helo get in-between them, and Starbuck pretends like she’s okay and then tries to get at Tigh when they relax. It doesn’t work. Tigh orders her to the brig pending charges.

Now, this is where even if you are okay with the gender change you’ll see that the Starbuck in the revamped series is the inferior Starbuck. In the original series, Starbuck was your typical rogue character: he had a temper, sure, and wasn’t above cheating and manipulation, but under it all you were sure that he cared, and was generally a good guy. Boomer and Apollo were both straight-laced enough to make good foils for him without it being antagonistic. But Starbuck in the revamp is basically mean and angry and stupid. Why in the world would you strike a superior officer for flipping over a table? What good would it do? None. At least original series Starbuck would have known it was stupid, even if he’d done it. This Starbuck will show no such insight or remorse. She’ll be good at her job, but won’t be in any way admirable or even trying to do the right thing. Or so it seems, anyway.

Adama and Tigh discuss Starbuck, and Adama gets Tigh to drop formal charges by essentially pointing out that Tigh started it, which Tigh denies and then admits that he might have done. I guess he was too drunk to remember what he did. Yep, again, the model of stability and generousity. If you come out of this part of the miniseries liking either Tigh or Starbuck, I have no idea what you could be thinking. Adama comes across well, though.

Next, we move to Caprica City, on Caprica, and future President Laura Roslin sitting in a very large and empty room, waiting for the doctor. It doesn’t seem that empty at first, since she’s in a little alcove, but as the doctor walks in … yeah, that’s a very empty room. And I’m not sure why it was done that way. Why would any doctor have an office that big that actually echoes when he talks? I mean, on a very overpopulated world — something like Coruscant or Mars in Babylon 5 — the argument would be that empty space is at a premium, and so having the money to have space be empty is a sign of status. But we’ll see later that Caprica still has wide open fields and even parks. It’s not that crowded. So what does this serve, if it serves anything? And this almost had to be deliberate; you could have found an office in any building that could have done this scene. Anyway, we don’t find out really what the doctor said until later, and so move ahead to Roslin, presumably, taking off in her ship to head to Galactica. Where we meet her aid, Billy, and see Roslin essentially shattered. And from her reaction, we can pretty much guess what the doctor said, if we were paying attention.

Oh, look, it’s 6 again. Are we going to have a sex scene? Surprisingly, no. This is the famous/infamous baby scene, where 6 makes small talk with the mother of a small baby, holds it, puts it back, and then snaps its neck. Now, I’m not sure why the snapping of the neck was needed. We already pretty much considered her evil; she didn’t need more villain cred. So it would have been better, I think, to leave it out and give her some humanity, especially considering how the character plays out. But from the scene itself it could have been accidental. Still, this is an odd scene.

Anyway, moving on, we now meet Gaius Baltar, and 6 the sexbot again. Baltar will be revealed as someone who is selfish, egotistical, and randy, and that’ll be pretty much his entire character throughout the whole series. He does re-introduce the idea of the ban on computer research, but that’s shorter than the sex scene with 6, and about as relevant. It’s here that they introduced the “glowing spines when having sex” bit, which they thankfully dropped.

And in the next scene, we meet Lee Adama, or Apollo, as he lands on Galactica to take part in the ceremony decommissioning it and retiring it. And he acts like an arrogant jerk for pretty much all of this scene, but at least he’ll get better later. But so far, almost everyone we’ve seen has been a jerk. That’s not a good sign. I’m supposed to want these guys to live, and I’d almost rather these guys all die.

And here we get our first introduction to Boomer other than as an aside, and it’s that she’s not good at landings and … is having sex with Chief Tyrol. And if it wasn’t clear before this, the revamped series is clearly not meant to be a family show, with the very large amount of sex in it. Which is a shame, since I got into the original series watching it with my parents when I was a kid. Just more evidence that the two just aren’t related beyond the name and general story.

So, we get the introduction of Apollo to the rest of the flight team, in a scene that does nothing other than to hint of problems between Apollo and his father … which, since later they’ll spell that all out, makes this a fairly pointless scene. But at least it’s short.

So now we have another short scene with 6 and Baltar, where 6 makes it clear that she was playing around with Baltar’s code and, in fact, talks about her religion. But it seems that the religion she talks about was a valid religion, and one that Baltar isn’t surprised to hear about. She doesn’t talk like it’s the religion of Kobol, and yet he doesn’t even bat an eye. It’s not until Caprica that we discover that there was a religion like that, but it’s not as accepted as this would seem to be.

I didn’t like the museum thing as a tribute to the original series.

Billy starts his tradition of getting lost on Galactica, and runs into Dee in the communal bathrooms. That scene seems to add little. The later run-in would set everything up just as well.

I also don’t see the point of the next scene, where Adama and Roslin get into a discussion over networks on the ship. We already knew that there weren’t networks — Doral told us — and it’s not likely that there were going to set them up right before the decommissioning speech. Adama is not likely to be commanding the ship once it gets turned into a museum full time, so why even talk about it? This is another of those little short scenes that doesn’t really seem to do anything except drag the show out just that much longer.

And now, we get to the scene where Apollo goes to visit Starbuck in the brig, and we get told about their past. It all starts with Zac, who is already dead. I liked the original series’ death better, as it was more poignant. Anyway, we get the hint that Zac’s death has caused problems between Apollo and his father. And again, Starbuck turns out to be angry, bitter and mean as opposed to roguish. Apollo’s being the nicest he’s been this entire time, and gets called “a superior asshole” because of it. Now, what Starbuck gets ticked off over is a reference to Zac, when she’s calling out Apollo over his falling out with his father over it. Apollo says that Zac was his brother … and now it’s suddenly all about Starbuck, as she makes a comment as if Apollo had said that Zac was nothing to her. Well, from the perspective of the audience he wasn’t. I mean, we just learned that Zac was Adama’s son and Apollo’s brother, and we don’t learn what relationship Starbuck and Zac had until much later in the series. But, sure, maybe she could be upset if that was what he had said. But it wasn’t. He wasn’t even talking about her, and she jumps down his throat over a perceived slight that doesn’t exist. This is not the way to build a character that we’re going to want to come home every week. Starbuck, in both series, was a pivotal and important character. Is it too much to ask that I be able to like her in this one?

So now we have another of those short little meaningless scenes. Baltar is in bed with another woman — surprise, surprise — and 6 wakes him up and shoos her out. That’s pretty much it. We’ll continue this a little later.

Now we have a scene that’s actually relevant, which is the scene with Adama and Apollo. This could have replaced most of the other scenes with Apollo so far, making it shorter but just as interesting. Adama and Apollo fence for a bit, with Adama originally wanting to talk to Apollo, and then they get into a fight over Zac, with Apollo blaming Adama for pushing Zac into being a pilot and Adama saying that it was his choice and that he didn’t do anything for Zac that he wouldn’t do for anyone else. When Apollo beats him over the head with the fact that Zac shouldn’t have been flying, suddenly Adama doesn’t want to talk anymore. But it does reveal a human side to Adama, and Apollo comes off as less of a jerk than he has been so far. So it’s a decent scene. More like it and less of the other short meaningless scenes would have been a vast improvement.

Back to 6 and Baltar. She explains the situation to Baltar so as to panic him, and then promises that he’ll be saved. Later, she saves him … by standing in front of him as the window explodes behind him from the shockwave from the bomb. Uh, really? Her body would save him from that? Yeah, it’s not quite a human body but, still, really?

I liked the use of the original theme in the fly-by in the ceremony, but it could have been longer. Anyway, Adama changes his speech from a generally depressing one to a really depressing one, likely because of Apollo’s brow-beating. Roslin is the one to start the applause for the surprisingly depressing speech, which starts the process of making her be likeable.

And as we saw with the last Baltar and 6 scene, the attack has started.

Adama gets a call about the report of the attacks, and Galactica springs into action. Tigh is distracted from burning a picture of his wife — oh, how fun is he — and comes running up to command, claiming that it’s all a joke. Adama gives an inspiring speech — he gives a lot of speeches, actually — about them going to war. He then goes through a big checklist of things to get done, which includes getting Starbuck out of the brig.

We then see the Galactica fighter squadrons with Boomer and Helo acting as recon, and we’ll flip back and forth a bit between the two as this goes on. Starbuck comes into command and acts like a jerk again, taunting Tigh. Adama tells her they need fighters and pilots, and so they try to bring up the old ships in the museum and get them ready to go. Back in command, Dee points out that they’ve been having a lot of malfunctions, which is odd. Back at Galactica’s viper squadron, we discover why. Two raiders approach, stick their heads up with a side-to-side flashing eye … and the vipers go dead, and are blown out of the sky by missiles from the raiders. Boomer and Helo hightail it out of there, but will be damaged and will need repairs at some point.

So now we hop to Roslin in her ship, where they’re informed that something isn’t right. After a short conversation, they hop back to where Boomer and Helo get damaged. This hopping around is making it hard to do a recap, but it actually isn’t that bad when you’re watching it. Anyway, they’re heading to Caprica unpowered for repairs.

Back to Galactica, Adama is relating the damage they know is happening, and pushes them to get Galactica into the fight. Back on what will become Colonial One, Roslin comes up to the talk to the captain as one of the passengers has picked up the information. The very scared captain reports that Caprica has been nuked as well as a number of other colonies. Roslin takes charge and volunteers to tell them what they know, and ask the captain to see what he can do to help. She also starts organizing the passengers to get ready for an extended stay. Doral opposes her taking charge, but it’s hard to see why if he knows he’s a Cylon. Why would he want someone else to lead, or even lead himself? Is Doral a sleeper at this point? Anyway Roslin comes across really well in this scene; she leads calmly, shows concern for Billy whose family was on one of the nuked colonies, and does a good job. One character who comes across really well in the miniseries is, in fact, Laura Roslin.

Anyway, the Cylons launch a missile at them, and Apollo pulls it off the ship, shoots it, and then has it disable his ship, meaning that he has to come on board.

Now, we see Boomer trying to fix the ship and Helo trying to fix his leg, and a whole host of survivors show up to try to get off the planet. Baltar is among them. What will ultimately happen is that they’ll agree to take all the children, and then something like three others. Baltar will be tempted to cheat and steal the randomly chosen spot of someone, but will wait too long, but Helo will give him his spot anyway. The problem with this is that at that point we didn’t really care about Helo, so his sacrifice doesn’t mean anything. It makes Helo look good, but that’s about it. It would be nice if it had been with a more developed character. He also will shoot someone who tries to jump on after, making him, basically, the most likeable and maybe most effective character in the whole miniseries.

As Apollo comes on board, Doral continues his attempts to get someone other than Roslin to take charge by asking him to do it. Apollo looks at what she’s doing and decides that she’s doing a good enough job, telling Doral “She’s in charge”. But I still don’t get why Doral is doing this; all this seems to be for is to give Roslin some adversity, but it’s handled too quickly to really demonstrate anything. That being said, both Roslin and Apollo start to look like a lot better characters from all of this.

Anyway, a couple of raiders move in on Galactica, and they launch their antiques to deal with them. Although Starbuck’s won’t launch, leaving the rest to try to deal with the raiders. And they don’t. Now this is one of the problems with the revamped series. In the old series, the Cylons had the numeric advantage, the technology was equal, but the humans had better pilots, and won through that and iron will. Here, the Cylons have the technical advantage — since only the antiques worked –, seem to have the better pilots, and still have the advantage of numbers. The humans should be totally slaughtered in any battle. Every battle would be a desperate struggle to survive, with only blind luck carrying them through. That’s, well, depressing. This whole series is depressing, to be honest. I would at least have liked the humans to be more creative pilots and so have at least that advantage.

Anyway, Starbuck kills both raiders and shoots down two of the three nukes one of them fired, but the third hits Galactica and leaves it in big trouble. They have fires heading for really bad places and Tigh — oh, ye gods, Tigh — has to decide what to do. He hesitates, another officer almost takes over, and then Tigh decides to seal everything off and decompress everything, over Tyrol’s objections. This stops the fire, at the cost of quite a few crew members. Did Tigh do something competent? Well, he did kill a lot of people, so maybe, maybe not.

As we now finish out the Caprica scene, I just noticed that the old woman who was looking for her glasses had them on her head.

Back on what will become Colonial One, they receive a call to determine who is the next in line to lead the government. Roslin asks for her code to be transmitted, and there’s a very short discussion while Roslin tells us how far down she is … and then we get told that she is next in line. I found this part a bit rushed. It would have been nice if this had been extended a bit to let it really hit home. But, after this, Laura Roslin is the President and now I can say that this ship is Colonial One instead of that it will become Colonial One.

As they pull out the bodies from Tigh’s decision, we discover that 85 people died because of it. Tyrol isn’t happy about this, and complains about it to Adama, and Adama says that he would have done the same thing. Adama doesn’t really seem to show much compassion here; I would have liked a less cold delivery, but I think that’s too much to ask for that character. Anyway, they decide to make a risky jump to Ragnar Anchorage to get some weapons. We also learn that most of the battlestars have been destroyed. Adama then says that he will take command of the fleet.

Meanwhile, back on Colonial One, Apollo gets the message that Adama is taking command of the fleet, and Roslin — as if the President is the Commander-In-Chief — orders Adama to help them with rescue operations. Adama, of course, takes this about as well as you’d expect, and gets into a conversation with Apollo about it. It’s an entertaining conversation, actually, with decent banter. It gets interrupted before Apollo has to make any decisions by Cylon raiders leaping in. Apollo recommends to jump away, but Roslin won’t leave the civilians. Apollo then runs off to figure out how to defeat them, and ends up doing so with an EMP pulse. It looks to Adama, looking on, as if a nuke had exploded, and he finally shows that he actually cares about something, and really cares about his son, in this scene. This scene’s well-done, and shows a human side of both Adama and Tigh. If Tigh wasn’t such a jerk, this could make him seem almost likeable.

This is followed by a short scene about Starbuck’s viper damage and the supposed death of Apollo, and how Boomer is still missing.

Now we have a scene between Boomer and Boxey. Considering what comes later, Boxey would have made a good morality pet for Boomer, but he drops out shortly into the series and is never seen again (one of the novels actually outlines, in part, what happened to him).

Galactica jumps safely to Ragnar Anchorage, but that’s not a surprise. We then return to Colonial One, with everyone waking up after Apollo’s trick move, and he explains what he did. And I liked Roslin’s line about “Thank you, Captain Apollo, for saving our collective asses”.

Anyway, we now have some reaction shots about the deaths as Galactica docks at the Anchorage, including a morgue shot and Starbuck praying for Apollo. Which is definitely muted because we know that Apollo’s alive. They could have done the whole docking scene first, and then hopped back to Colonial One to let the audience in some way feel what Starbuck was feeling.

Anyway, they go into the Anchorage, and find Leoben. And then we flip back to Colonial One where Boomer has found them and explains to Apollo about how all the new vipers are shut down. Both Boomer and Apollo express the hope that Baltar was worth Helo — and since he was responsible for the trouble in the first place that’s not likely — and Apollo again comes across as, well, not being a jerk. He’s come a long way from where he started, in just a few short hours. Anyway, Roslin co-opts Baltar into helping her, and then asks Boomer to bring all the ships she can to Colonial One so that they can build a fleet to move to Ragnar for protection.

Now, all through this, Baltar had been having fleeting glimpses of 6, but here he has a full on conversation with her, and he starts trying to figure out what she really is. And there’s more sexing up. 6 pushes the love line really strongly throughout this, making me wonder if they really were supposed to be the actual love couple before Helo was kept on (scuttlebutt has it that he wasn’t supposed to appear past the miniseries, but they liked him so much they kept him on). Which would have a lot of things make more sense, as well as make the later associations with Hera an aside at themselves.

Adama then comes on board, and talks to Leoben, who pretends to be an arms dealer/smuggler/thief, and the crack crew of Galactica tips over a rack of explosives, and one of them rolls towards Adama and Leoben, who dive behind a bulkhead and survive. Naturally. Anyway, they were going to dig them out, but Leoben says there’s another way out. Adama tells Tyrol that’s what he’s going to do, and Tyrol asks if that’s wise. Adama says it is, and then leave Tigh in command. It seems to me that Tyrol should have asked “Is that wise?” to the second order and not the first …

Back to Colonial One. Roslin tours a botanical garden ship, and we meet a young girl called Cammy, who tells Roslin that she’s supposed to meet her parents in Caprica City. Which has been nuked. Now, in any other show, this would just be a scene to drive home the human side of the disaster. But not this one. You just know that something bad’s going to happen to her.

Anyway, Boomer returns with the last ship, and a raider jumps in, sees them, and jumps out. Then we have a really annoying circling camera work scene as they debate what to do. Apollo says to jump now. The captain and Doral argue that they should wait, and get more people off the ships that can’t go FTL. Roslin eventually decides to just go ahead and jump. Billy goes over to say something to her, and she just blurts out that she has cancer, which is generally how she reveals it. It’s never a case where it comes up or anything like that, she just blurts it out to Billy. Who, interestingly enough, already knew. Anyway, Roslin feels guilty about thinking about her cancer when all of this is happening, which makes her more likeable. Billy then tells her that Cammy’s ship will not be able to make the jump. Told ya that something bad would happen to her.

Anyway, they prepare for the jump, and the other ship captains are asking for help or at least the co-ordinates, but Apollo says not to because if they’re captured the Cylons will know where they went. Cylon raiders jump into the middle of the fleet and launch missiles, just as Apollo warned. We flip back to a few people, including the dear, sweet little girl Cammy on her ship as they all jump away safely, with the remaining ships destroyed.

Yep, something bad happened to her.

Anyway, Leoben and Adama proceed through the Anchorage, and Leoben is showing signs of illness. He dismisses it as allergies, and then pontificates. But remember that he’s trying to pretend that he’s a human, and yet he talks about God as if it’s perfectly normal for humans to do that, except that the humans tend to talk about gods. But Adama doesn’t seem to blink an eye at that. This is an inconsistency that’s never really addressed. It’s not addressed at all until Caprica, and not done well there either since the God religion was not standard.

Anyway, Roslin arrives at Ragnar Anchorage, and runs into Tigh. Who is staying completely in character and being a jerk, refusing to offer any help to them. Tigh says that there’s a war on and so preparing for that is his priority. Roslin says that the war is over and they lost. Tigh denies it, and Roslin tries to give Tigh orders, implying that the President is indeed the Commander-In-Chief and so is legally able to give those orders. Tigh says that she doesn’t give orders there — likely because she’s a school teacher, as Adama griped earlier — and things get heated. Apollo steps in and asks for some disaster pods to get at least some help, and Tigh says he’ll do it because Adama will be so glad that Apollo is alive, and promotes Apollo to CAG.

Anyway, Billy is walking with Baltar and is lost again. We then cut to Tyrol meeting Boomer and Boxey, and being overjoyed that she’s alive, which was a nice scene. Back to Billy, he sees Duala again — and she just kisses him, for no reason. The music was good, though, for the reuniting scenes.

Apollo meets up with Starbuck, and there’s some really good banter there. Things will get awkward later.

And now we get to the famous scene where Adama figures out that Leoben is a Cylon and bludgeons him to death with the flashlight. Adama reveals that he’s smart enough to figure a lot of things out, but I don’t really know why Leoben said so much (like about transferring out).

Gaeta and Baltar talk about finding the virus in the new navigation program, and they talk about purging all of it. Gaeta talks about how it must be making Baltar guilty that he was responsible for it, which Baltar takes as Gaeta figuring out Baltar’s real involvement. So we find lots of hints about how Baltar is more worried about himself from his 6 imaginary friend and then she reveals a Cylon device on Galactica and leaves Baltar to decide what he’s going to do about it, since it reveals that there is a Cylon on the ship.

Baltar eventually decides to pin Cylonness on Doral, and 6 gets her line of “I’ve never seen him at the Cylon parties”. Tigh and Adama talk about Leoben, and Tigh tells Adama that Apollo is alive. We see Apollo in his father’s quarters looking at pictures, and Adama comes in. Since Apollo’s mother — Adama’s ex-wife — is likely dead, Adama says “I’m sorry”. They share a short hug revealing that they do care about each other, which is nice … although the latter part of the miniseries does that an awful lot, so much so that it loses some of its emotional impact.

Adama and Tigh basically put Baltar in charge of creating a way to screen for Cylons, which plays right into his hands.

Starbuck gets sent out to recon to see where the fleet is, and somehow decides to confess to Apollo that Zac should have failed basic flight and so should not have been in that cockpit, but Starbuck passed hum because she … felt something for him. I’m guessing it was love. Anyway, Apollo asks the question we’re all asking, which is why she told him at that point. She replies that it’s the end of the world, but that doesn’t help. There’s no reason for her to say that, really, and if Starbuck as a character could have the emotional maturity to actually know why she did say that we might be able to figure it out as well. But she doesn’t, so it seems out of place, at least slightly hurtful, and she’s hurt when Apollo reacts that way. This is not going further to make Starbuck likeable, even if it should.

And surprise, surprise, we see some armed guards deciding to escort Aaron Doral to the brig. Seems that Baltar’s Cylon screenings have identified him as a Cylon. They stick him in the brig, and Tigh asks why Doral isn’t sick yet if he’s a Cylon. Of course, Adama already knows the answer because Leoben not only had progressive sickness, he told Adama that it would take some time and so the Cylon Fleet would be able to wipe them out if they stayed. Baltar theorizes the exact thing that we know is true. Did Adama not tell anyone that, while telling them everything else?

Doral, throughout the whole thing, does a good job of acting like he’s shocked by all of this. So either he was a sleeper, or he was a really good actor.

So, using the fact that Doral is a Cylon, Baltar then blames him for planting the device. It turns out that Gaeta had noticed it and not said anything. And Tigh is surprisingly not a jerk here, saying that Gaeta wasn’t the only one who missed it and that he didn’t notice it either. Tigh, while still a jerk, softens as the miniseries weighs on, which will be really important later.

Starbuck completes her recon, and discovers that a very large Cylon Fleet is waiting for them at the exit to the Anchorage. So, no easy exit, then …

There’s a status report given by Billy, and we find out a few things, like about the prisoners on the Astral Queen. There’s a lot of that sort of thing: set-ups for the rest of the series that won’t make sense until we get there. Normally, that’s considered part of good writing, but with a full series in the offing it could have waited, and it detracts since it seems like we, the audience, are wasting time listening to little details that add nothing when we want to get to the good stuff, like the discussion between Adama and Roslin.

Adama and Roslin banter for a bit. Roslin repeats her line about the war being over and we lost, and introduces her line that the survival of the human race is about them getting out of there and starting to have babies. Adama clearly doesn’t find it as good a line as we do, and leaves. He returns to Command, and they talk about how to get out. Billy comes in, and talks to Dee. Dee says she doesn’t know why she kissed him, and neither do we. Adama is watching their conversation, and in the middle of the discussion blurts out “We better start having babies”. Apollo, Tigh and Gaeta look at him, puzzled, and then Tigh says the genuinely funny comeback of “Is that an order?”. Anyway, Adama does a full 180, accepting all of what Roslin had been saying, and deciding to take the civilians away, jumping past the red line, and going away to, well, have babies. They leave Doral behind on the Anchorage, protesting that he isn’t a Cylon the whole way.

They then engage their risky plan of having Galactica cover the civilians while they jump away, and we get the first real battle of the miniseries. And as this is in the last twenty minutes, it’s the only one. So, not an action series, then? Galactica moves out, the raiders move in, and the battle commences. The vipers are launched and there’s a lot of firepower being expended. I’m not sure I like the addition of missiles. It might make sense, but it changes the combat up quite a bit. Anyway, the battle is chaotic, the civilians jump away and Galactica is about to jump as well. Apollo is hit and his ship is crippled. Starbuck tries the very insane move of basically pushing him into the hangar. This is nice for two reasons. One is that Starbuck does realize how stupid her plan is, when he asks if she isn’t coming in a bit fast and she replies nervously “No. Not really.” The second thing is that it establishes better than anything else just how good a pilot Starbuck is. So now we have something else proven about her other than that she’s a jerk. And Apollo’s reaction when he figures out what she’s doing is priceless. Anyway, they make it in and Galactica escapes.

So, then they have a service for the dead on Galactica. The crew gives a weak “So say we all!” at the end, and so Adama, glaring at them, browbeats them into repeatedly giving a better and stronger one. Which to me reveals a problem with his understanding of religion. Most people at religious services kinda mouth the platitudes. He’s taking it as a sign of weak morale, and is probably right, but it would have annoyed me more than boosted my morale. Anyway, Adama goes on to give a speech again. He’s turning into Captain Picard. He then talks about Earth, and says that he knows where it is, and that that’s where they’re going, which seems to boost morale.

However, when he meets with Roslin later, she calls him on it. She’s sure that if anyone knew where it was, the President would have, and he didn’t know. Adama admits that he lied about knowing where it is, but was trying to give the people hope. This is another change from the original series that’s worse. In the original series Adama, due to family history and interest, had some knowledge of Earth that others hadn’t, and so it was credible that he might know or be able to figure out where it is. Here, it’s just a bald-faced lie. Given that Adama was more intellectual than others, it wouldn’t have cost much to have him have studied the myths and so believe that he has an idea where it might be. It would have taken a lot of the burden of the mythologizing off of Roslin and Elosha and made it so that there was one less source of conflict between himself and Roslin.

Tigh then comes to see Starbuck, and he essentially apologizes to her due to what she did for Apollo, about how impressive she is as a pilot. Starbuck can’t even take an apology well. She turns around and says that he’s a bastard and dangerous, because he’s weak. But Starbuck is dangerous, too. Tigh storms out, but the thing that really makes this bad is that dangerous or not, they’re all that’s left. Starbuck, again, is acting like a jerk while at least Tigh has softened a bit. Why, then, am I supposed to like her? I don’t like Tigh, and yet still like him better than her. Can we not get something that would make her seem at least a little likeable?

So here, then, is the meeting between Roslin and Adama. She calls him out on not knowing where Earth is, and then they decide to split the duties, where he makes all the decisions that are military and she takes all of the civilian. Did she, then, give up power? Is she really the Commander-In-Chief?

The split between President and Commander in this series doesn’t work that well either. All it does is introduce conflicts at the beginning of the series, conflicts that are stupid. These were avoided to some extent in the original series because Adama was both Commander and President. Yes, you had politics interfering but at least it wasn’t Adama acting like a child demanding his own way, or the President overstepping her bounds. Adama was the noble character we could admire, and we could see the others getting in their way as being the ambitious or closed-minded ones. If the conflicts were more sensible, were more about differing ideas, then it might work. But even then I’d like to see their power being more equal, with both of them having power over each other if they cared to use it and them being forced to work together despite often not viewing things the same way. But in this series of flawed characters, that isn’t to be. And so it becomes an annoying distraction.

Then we have a cool down that summarizes the characters for us as they go about their new lives. This probably could have been cut since it didn’t add much, but it’s short so it’s not a problem.

Finally, we cut back to the Anchorage to discover that Baltar got lucky and that Doral really was a Cylon. We also get a reveal that Boomer herself is a Cylon, and then the miniseries ends. It would have been better to leave the Boomer reveal for the actual series, because doing it here will cause two major problems. The first is that when we go through Boomer’s sleeper arc, we’ll know that she’s a Cylon even though she doesn’t, so we lose some of the potential suspense of wondering if she really is a sleeper or if it’s someone else. This, of course, will also cause issues for the Helo story arc since we’ll know that she’s a Cylon from the start. Now, with these two story arcs we were going to know that anyway, but all we needed was a hint that maybe Cylon models were based on real people as real infiltrators and that would be solved (even if it wasn’t true). 6 could have lied about that to make it work. But as it is, these story arcs are made less impacting by the fact that the main question is already answered for the audience.

I’m not going to give scores for these reviews, but I’d like to give a finally summary of what I thought of it. If you start from the original series and try to link to this one, you probably won’t like this miniseries, or the series itself. Taken separately, is it a good series? Well, it’s watchable. The characters, though, tend towards being unlikeable, the drama can be overdone, it’s a bit dark, and the camera work can be too fancy and annoying. The real issue is that it seems to try to do too much, and you get overloaded with all the realism and drama and flawed characters and all the gimmicks. If you put that aside and filter out what’s over the top, you can get some decent entertainment out of it, despite its flaws.

But the board game is still much, much better than the series, and it’s not in the same league as shows like Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9.

Lies and Jokes …

January 23, 2012

Edward Feser has been talking about how lying is always morally wrong lately, but if you’re going to hold that position you’re going to run into some issues. Feser recently made a post addressing whether joking lies are actually lies and so are actually wrong. The example he gives is of telling someone who owned a Jaguar that a car had hit it. He doesn’t think this is lying, and nor are cases where a receptionist says that her boss is not in when he is in, but unavailable. Feser’s argument for this is a rather involved one that relies on assumptions of what the listener would or should actually believe, and it’s worth going to his post and reading it. I, however, am going to make the distinction in a much simpler way by appealing to intent.

Let’s start with the joke case. Imagine that I’m talking to someone and I slip in a falsehood as a joke. For example, a while ago I had a standard joke of “Did you know that they thought about filming ‘The Empire Strikes Back” in Manitoba, but when they came up to look at it in winter they changed their mind because they didn’t think anyone would believe that anyone could live in that weather?” To which I usually got “Really?” and then I’d reply “No.”. Now, this is a joke, and I did say something that was false, but I’ll argue that my intentions mean that I wasn’t lying. Why? Because my intention was not to get someone to actually believe a falsehood beyond the scope of the existing conversation. I was not, therefore, really trying to get them to believe something false. I was just joking. I was joking, then, in the same sense that all jokes are; no one really believes that a rabbi, a priest and an imam walked into a bar, for example. My intention, then, is to tell a humourous story or create a humourous situation but no one is supposed to come out of that context with a false belief about the world. They’re supposed to come out with a laugh and with a set of beliefs that were just as accurate as they were when they went into it.

So since my intention was not, in fact, to deceive someone, I was not lying, because lying is indeed stating something with the intent to deceive someone. This aligns neatly with Kant’s view on lying, where you cannot have a moral obligation to lie in any circumstances because if that became known everyone would know that you were lying there and so wouldn’t be deceived. This case, then, falls out of that because there is no intention to deceive, and since lying means deceiving you cannot be intended to lie if you do not intend to deceive.

An objection can be raised here that my view is too strongly intentionalist, and that a consequentialist view would say that it isn’t what you meant to have happen that’s the issue, but what actually happens. They were deceived — even if only for a moment — and so you lied to them. But this strong a consequentialist stance has worse problems than jokes, as it would mean that if I say something that is clear to me but not to someone else, and so they end up being unintentionally deceived by what I said, that strict a consequentialist view would say that I lied to them. Under that view, my expressing anything false — even if I don’t or could not know that it’s false — would be lying. But that’s utterly absurd. Surely lying is not making genuine mistakes or unintentionally deceiving. If you want to claim that all of these things are lying, I’d still say we need to distinguish between intentional and unintentional lies, and would have a good case for arguing that unintentional lies are not morally wrong at all. At which point, we’d have the same distinctions and same moral status as if we were intentionalists, as I’ve suggested. Otherwise, I’d ask strong consequentialists to justify why unintentional lying should be morally wrong under any of their consequentialist views.

So it seems to me that the intentionalist view captures a lot of our moral intuitions about lying. It explains why jokes aren’t considered lying and why the receptionist using the form response “He’s not in” is not lying (that being said, using “He’s not available” would be better since it isn’t lying and does all the work of “He’s not in”). It also allows us to see, for example, cases where you do make a lying joke but force the person to find out themselves that it’s not true are more morally dubious (I consider it wrong), but if the person was called away before you could correct them we wouldn’t consider it anywhere near as dubious. And the intentionalist view is a lot simpler than Feser’s view.


January 22, 2012

So, now WordPress sets a goal for posting for me and, I suppose, all of its other bloggers. It gives me a goal of essentially posting five posts, so every five posts it says I’ve achieved a goal, and resets to five posts ahead.

I don’t have the heart to tell them that a) goals work best when they’re your own goals and b) if you’re going to use more universal goals, it’s better if they’re special and take some effort to reach. So even every ten posts would be better, or every twenty-five, or fifty.

Cap it off …

January 22, 2012

So, I have, and wear, a NY Islanders cap.

I became a fan of the team back when they went on their Cup run, and they’ve always been one of my favourite teams since then. If they aren’t playing Ottawa or Edmonton, I’m pretty much going to be cheering for them instead of the other team. The logo is also actually pretty nice. Since it’s now a good idea for me to wear hats when I go outside in the sun, I needed to actually buy some. I picked up an Ottawa one, but since I like good Ottawa caps better than Islander caps and my last one got pretty discoloured from sweat, I decided to wear the Islanders cap more of the time, for when I was going out but when I was just going out to wander around.

I have gotten a lot of comments on that cap, more than I ever got for Ottawa caps. Well, three, but that’s still pretty odd. I guess it’s because you don’t see a lot of them around here; it’s special and stands out.

And they’re still nice caps.