Saturday, March 19, 2011
PUSHING ICE, Alastair Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Janus, one of Saturn's moons, has started moving on an outbound course for the stars. The comet-mining ship Rockhopper, captained by Bella Lind, is sent to shadow it and find out what's going on. As Rockhopper draws near, things get weird.
Then they get really weird.
I've always enjoyed Alastair Reynold's books, but in all the ones I've read before this, there's usually a point where the story starts to drag and I feel like I have to push through. That didn't happen with PUSHING ICE; the story hooked me early on and kept me turning pages. It's one of those books I found myself picking up in every spare moment, just to see what happened next.
As some other reviewers have observed, character development is not Reynold's forte, but there's enough great story here to make up for the lack, with catastrophes, mutinies, murders, betrayals, friendships lost and found, and some truly alien aliens. This is space opera done right.
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Friday, March 18, 2011
The Revolution Is Being Downloaded
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
HELL Is Coming to Breakfast
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Oh, My God! Sharia Law IS CALLING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!
It seems that "Sharia law," that favorite bugbear of the hard right, is back, and it weighs heavily on the fevered minds of some lawmakers.
#The latest crusader is Alabama state Sen. Gerald Allen. Allen has introduced a bill in that state's legislature that's very much like a measure voted in by referendum in Oklahoma a few months ago, in that it bans the states' courts "from using Sharia law or international law in making legal decisions."
#Never mind the fact that, as in Oklahoma, no one has ever used or attempted to use Sharia law (a term which Allen admitted to a reporter he couldn't define) in the state courts.
#That's not the point, Allen insists.
#"It's not about what's happening right now," he told a local paper. "I'm thinking about 10 years down the road, 20, 30, 40. Time has an effect on these things, and I'm thinking about the future."
#Got that? It's not that Sharia law is a threat right now. It's that, 20 to 40 years in the future, someone might try to impose it, so we've got to be ready.
#Good to know that in a state facing a $110 million budget deficit, unemployment rates of up to 18 percent in some counties, and a corresponding flight of its citizens from the state, someone has the wisdom and foresight to take the long view and prepare for the time when the overwhelmingly Christian state known as the "Heart of Dixie" might possibly become a hotbed of Islamist agitation.
#After all, it's happened in other places. Just ask failed Nevada senatorial candidate Sharron Angle, who managed to turn what looked like an easy pickup of a Senate seat from the feckless Harry Reid into a debacle by, essentially, talking like a raving loon.
#Responding to a question about Muslims "taking over a city in Michigan," Angle responded, "First of all, Dearborn, Mich., and Frankford, Texas, are on American soil, and under constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don't know how that happened in the United States. It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States."
#Only problem with Angle's rather confusingly phrased expression of outrage is: First, Dearborn's "government situation" is indeed still solidly under American law, with American cops and judges and everything; and second, Frankford, Texas, the other city Angle was so exercised about, doesn't exist. It's a former suburb of Dallas that was absorbed into that metropolis in 1975.
#Who knows, though? Maybe Angle was talking about Muslims from "20, 30, 40 years down the road" who'd learned to travel back in time to before 1975 and impose Sharia law in a vanished Texas -suburb. You never can tell with these people.
#It would be easy to dismiss this nonsense as fringe craziness from a backwoods state legislator and a rejected Senate candidate. But the newly elected Republican majority in the House apparently intends to try to mainstream anti-Sharia hysteria.
#Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert told radio host Frank Gaffney (a guy so insane he insists right-wing icon Grover Norquist is a Muslim agent) that he was going to "push for hearings" on "creeping Sharia." Florida uber-wingnut congressman Allen West has indicated he wants to do the same.
#Yes, my friends, fear is where it's at this year. Fear of the Creeping Sharia. Fear of the Stealth Jihadist, the guy who only looks like a moderate, reasonable Muslim, but luckily for us poor saps, those in the know (and in the GOP) can see that inwardly he's cackling and plotting the next 9/11.
#Which is why, this past week, we had Rep. Peter King's Homeland Security Dog and Pony Show in which he trotted out carefully selected witnesses to prove that, while he's not actually saying all Muslims are terrorists, he is saying they all would be happy to kill us in our sleep and convert our babies to Islam.
#Because fear sells. Fear distracts. Fear, King and his fellow travelers hope, will keep us from noticing that they have no real answers to the problems that plague us, just the same failed coddle-the-rich, screw-the-middle-class policies that dug this hole for us in the first place.