Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Silver Lining of the Trayvon Martin Case

Trayvon Martin was a black teenager who was killed by an aggressive neighborhood watch member in a gated community in Florida. 

The killer has not been arrested. So far, the local police seem to have barely investigated the shooting.

There has been national outrage that, as it seems now, a trigger-happy vigilante is getting away with murder because his victim was a black boy in a hoodie.

So what is the silver lining?

That there is national outrage over the killing a black boy in a hoodie in Florida. And, as a result of that national outrage, something like justice may be done.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Capitol of Panem is Galt's Gulch

Mrs. G. and I are working through the Hunger Games trilogy, as are many around the world. The story of a slave rebellion in a dystopian future America is gripping.

The inspiration for Panem, the brutal dictatorship in which the Capitol forces the oppressed Districts to send children to die in gladiatorial combat, is obviously the Roman Empire. Suzanne Collins, the creator of this world, says her inspiration came from watching a juxtaposition of a reality show and the Iraq war on television.

I have had another strong feeling while listening to the story, though: The Hunger Games is a kind of sequel to Atlas Shrugged.

In Ayn Rand's novel of a dystopian future America, the competent few are besieged by the incompetent many.  The competent must run everything and invent everything to maintain the little worlds of the helpless masses.  These Atlases carry the world on their shoulders.  All they ask is to be unrestricted in making a profit and living as they please. I will not be spoiling the plot to reveal that these Atlases get tired of carrying the world, and shrug it off, to let it collapse into Dark Days.

Atlas Shrugged is the most preposterous story I ever finished, for reasons I have detailed here.

The place these Atlases all sneak off to is an impregnable valley in the Rockies known as Galt's Gulch.

The Capitol of Panem is an impregnable location in the Rockies.

I can see a direct line of continuity between the little city of the competent few who should rule over the incompetent many, and the brutal capital of a police state in which the technologically advanced control the many, whom they regard as incompetent.

I don't mean that Suzanne Collins intended Panem to be derived from Atlas Shrugged.  But I can see how the descendents of the intentionally selfish John Galt and Dagny Taggert could become the intentionally cruel President Snow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Main Points of the "Book of Mormon" are OK.

Mrs. G. and I went to see "The Book of Mormon." It is quite funny in the over-the-top way that you would expect from the "South Park" guys who wrote it.  The show is also respectful and even affectionate about Mormons as clean-cut, decent, nice people who want to help everyone.  They are not as respectful of some of esoteric elements of Mormonism, but mostly they just tell them straight and let the audience react.

The main points of the musical are:
a) prophets speak in metaphors; and
b) kind acts are not wrong.

I can't go all the way with them to the actual conclusion of their story, but I can accept these main points.

Oh, and there is a subsidiary point with which I heartily agree: Orlando is not all it's cracked up to be.