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Does That Make Libertarians Chaotic Neutral?

10 Jun

Tybalt christens this response to Alberta Law School post about a speaking engagement at a Canadian Libertarian Party conference the comment of the year:

Bring your twenty-sided dice!

I’d find this a funny non sequitur if it weren’t for this aside in a recent post by George Mason’s Bryan Caplan:

One of Milton Friedman’s most famous lines: “You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.” He said it in a 1999 ISIL interview, and I’ve heard it quoted dozens of times. It even inspired me to write a Champions scenario, “The Law of Unintended Consequences.” (Want to play it? Email me for an invitation to Capla-Con, July 12&13!)

I hadn’t realized there was some sort of connection between libertarianism and role playing games (I had realized, however, that there is a strong correlation between blogging, comic books, wonkishness, and role playing games, insofar as I am representative of this trend).

And while I’m on the subject of D&D geekery, I might as well point out an interesting post by Tim Burke about the new 4th Edition D&D which was supposed to have integrated a new set of online tools, but has yet to actually make those tools available (and likely won’t for some time).

Also, this comment by Tybalt himself is pretty good:

I only find it believable because right now I find myself about 5 minutes of bullshit away from a half-hour rant about “whitey” myself… and I’m white.

Who Will Want to Watch “Watchmen”? (Part I)

2 Jun

I’m in general agreement with most of Mike’s observations about the Watchmen movie: that the source material is dangerously close to unfilmable and that it’ll be turned into a action film–albeit an action film uselessly layered with pseudo-political commentary and psychodrama window dressing. But contra Mike, after reading the wikipedia page (and having just finished rereading Watchmen), I think there are some signals that Zack Snyder might have a shot at translating the graphic for the screen. Let’s start with the bits that seem promising:

1. Synder has decided to keep the movie in alternate-1985 America: This seems like an important feature of not only the political environment the characters live in, but also in the look of the movie itself. This is a successful but inwardly empty America that has gotten much of what it wanted during the Cold War, thanks to Dr. Manhattan. America wins in Vietnam (and seemingly every other proxy war) and rides high on its sense of invincibility. Remove that stuff and you’ve got a different writer’s social commentary. If there’s going to be any sense of intelligent political musings, it’s best that it be in the context of Watchmen’s world rather than a botched gloss on current political events or turned into some generic screed against nuclear war.

2. Nite Owl looks kinda badass: Like Mike, this made me wince at first. Sure, spandex and bright colors look better on the page than on the screen (a not unwise choice, as Bryan Singer’s X-Men demonstrated), but the characters seem needlessly “sexed up”. But then I read this from Snyder:

The costumes, as they’re drawn, might not be accessible to many of today’s audiences. I also felt that audiences might not appreciate the naiveté of the original costumes. So, there has been some effort to give them a slightly more… I would say modern look — and not modern in the sense of 2007, but modern in terms of the superhero aesthetic. It was also important to me that they appealed to my own taste as a moviegoer. Lastly and possibly most important, I wanted to be sure that they comment directly on many of today’s modern masked vigilantes — who shall remain nameless…

If this is going to be a real movie–and not simply an action flick using the names and characters from an Alan Moore comic–then the movie has to be a commentary (or examination, or whatever) on superheros as they’re portrayed in the movies, just as Watchmen was, to some extent, an examination of heroes as they’d been written and drawn in comics up until 1985. These are two different media with their own tropes and cliches to be poked at and examined. This new Nite Owl seems pretty (movie) Batman inspired.

I also think Mike places too much emphasis on visual absurdity of the costumes: Continue reading

Harry Potter is the Chosen One (But I’m Still Not Reading)

14 Aug

Though I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books, this Jane Espenson essay in TNR¹ does a good job explaining why thebooks-of-magic.jpg story of a boy wizard is so captivating–he’s the Chosen One:

The Chosen One paradigm is the most positive, most comforting, most affirming metaphorical version of change, of growing up, that I can imagine.

And as Espenson argues, it’s also why Luke Skywalker and Buffy Summers have greater appeal than Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica; intricate worlds have their niche followings, but the Chosen One is a universal archetype.  Keep that in mind during your next pitch meeting.

For my part, I’ve never been much interested in reading Harry Potter because I found the strikingly similar Books of Magic before Harry Potter was published (and I was a little old to get caught up in the first wave of Pottermania, though it’s pretty common for adults to read the books now).  Besides, The Books of Magic also features everyone’s favorite trench coat wearing, chain smoking, itinerant magician.  Honestly, who’s a cooler mentor: Dumbledore or John Constantine?

¹  A BtVS writer!  In TNR! I nearly geeked-out.