Orphans of the Sky

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Another one down on my "Reread Heinlein" project. Four left to go!

It was originally published in Astounding, in two parts, five months apart, in 1941. It's a masterpiece of plopping the reader into a bizarre tech/social setting, and only eventually revealing "what's really going on".

But I'll tell you, stop reading if you object:

A slower-than-light starship, designed to travel to a distant star system over a couple generations, has gone horribly wrong. A mutiny has killed most of the crew, leaving the worst in charge. Over the years, the survivors breed, some of them mutated. The cylindrical ship still rotates, providing "gravity" to the inhabitants. "Lower" high-gravity levels are occupied by the non-mutated. The "higher" levels hold the "muties". Conflict is common, and cannibalism is practiced. The origin and purpose of the ship gets lost in mythology. The world is the ship.

Into this comes Hugh, a wannabe "scientist". He's captured by the muties, and one of their clan, a two-headed "twin" named Joe-Jim, takes him to the Captain's Veranda, where he can see the stars. Gasp! And so starts a plan to fulfill the ship's mission. But there's a lot of bloodshed along the way. (This may be Heinlein's most violent book.)

According to the Wikipedia page, Heinlein revealed the ship's ultimate fate in Time Enough for Love. So I'm looking forward to that.

Please Don't Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain

[3 stars] [IMDB Link]

[Amazon Link]
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I think it's fair to classify: this is a 92-minute high-budget Saturday Night Live sketch, except with a lot of words you can't say on TV. The movie's protagonists (played by Martin Herlihy, John Higgins, and Ben Marshall) are SNL writers, and they occasionally have small, bizarre, bits on the show. Cast members Bowen Yang (a major role) and Chloe Troast (minor role) appear in the movie.

The plot is (roughly) that three disrespected losers realize that, back in their youth, they discovered an artifact that contained a vital clue to locating the titular treasure, worth millions. But they only realize that in their adulthood. And they proceed to try to track it down. Along the way, they encounter two quirky park rangers, a weird cult led by a not-particularly-charismatic leader (that's Bowen Yang), and a creepy hawk. The skills they've accumulated over the course of their misspent lives occasionally turn out to be useful.

I admit: I laughed along the way. I mean:

"What's your favorite bagel?"

"Everything bagel with the stuff shaken off!"

Oh, God, I can't fight it. You're perfect, girl."

I'm not proud, but I stayed awake all the way through, and that's an accomplishment these days.

This Post is for Mature Audiences Only

Via Power Line, some rough language:

Okay, you ready to learn about the six lessons? Here you go, from Clint Smith: The 6 lessons of Ludwig Von Mises.

And he proceeds to itemize seven lessons. Oh well, give or take. They are (1) Methodological Individualism; (2) Subjective Value; (3) Praxeology; (4) Spontaneous Order; (5) Business Cycle Theory; (6) Economic Calculation Problem; and (7) Critique of Interventionism.

That last one may be a bonus. Perhaps produced by spontaneous order.

Also of note:

  • Unwarranted Optimism Department. Kevin D. Williamson has some unsolicited advice for the Biden campaign: Democrats think that simply not being Trump is enough to beat him — but it won’t be.

    Democrats seem to have lost one of the most basic of all political skills: asking those who are not already committed supporters for their votes.

    It is an elementary thing, but, as with many other elementary things, Joe Biden does not seem quite up to it.

    If he wants to win, he should figure that out.

    I am not sure that there is such a thing as a “Nikki Haley Republican,” but the former South Carolina governor beat Donald Trump in the Vermont and DC Republican primaries, took about 40% of the vote in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and finished up her campaign having won more than 20% of the vote in the races she contested.

    That’s not nothing.

    True, that support wasn’t nearly enough for Nikki Haley to beat Donald Trump in a Republican primary.

    But it would be more than enough for Joe Biden to beat Donald Trump in a general election.

    The share of alienated Republicans who don’t want to vote for Trump isn’t 40% — it isn’t even 20%.

    And it doesn’t have to be.

    Well less than half that would do it for Biden — if he would lift a pinky finger to try to win those votes.

    Note KDW seamlessly adapting the New York Post editorial style of one-sentence paragraphs.

    He doesn't do that in any other forum, as far as I can tell.

    But as to his main point: I'm not sure what Biden could do to win my vote in November.

    That's just not in the cards, Joe.

  • The windmills of his mind. James Lileks has an amazing essay at Discourse: Art That’s Just for Me.

    I’m working on a book celebrating the work of a commercial artist, Chester Gallsworth Dahleigh—“Chet” to his friends. He signed his most personal work “Petey,” so I suppose Chet G. “Petey” Dahleigh is the proper term. This summer, I plan to release an online collection of his most striking work, an examination of the works he did not for paying corporate clients, but instead rendered in his sleep.

    There are hundreds of such works, and they all express a peculiarly cheerful nightmare about American culture in the 1950s.

    Some say they’re a result of his wife’s long effort to poison her husband with various herbs and mushrooms from the family garden—a theory bolstered, no doubt, by her conviction for murdering her husband by poison in 1960—but others insist that Dahleigh’s daytime work painting anodyne scenes of commercial joy posed an affront to his talent and soul, and he would rise at night to explore the id of the American dream in the 1950s. In his work, there is always joy:

    Eventually, Lileks confesses: "Chet G. Petey Dahleigh" is actually Chat-GPT Dall-E. And those illustrations (seven at the link) were AI-generated, and they are, indeed, cheerful nightmares. Check 'em out.