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Thursday, March 19, 2009
 
"I Am" I Said, To No One There, And No One Heard At All, Not Even The Chair



Fandom takes many forms, and the "Star Trek" franchise knows all of them. Owning the Blu-Ray DVD set of the original TV series will mark you as a fan. Owning your own "Star Trek" uniform will mark you as a dork. Owning more than this, however, will mark you as an obsessive crank. And the New York Times reports on a number of obsessive cranks who have painstakingly constructed replicas of Captain Kirk's command chair and then dragged them into their living rooms.

The chair's design alone is bad enough: an ergonomic atrocity unfit for a spaceship, let alone a home or office. Placed in a living room, however, it creeps into the realm of nightmare. If chairs could talk, this one would say, "Divorce me".

Divorce would seem a sensible option for the woman whose hubby wants to go where no tacky home decorator has gone before. Yet apparently there are women who not only tolerate but encourage their husbands to leave reality behind at warp speed:

So what, beyond pushing buttons, do these men — as all Kirk chair owners appear to be — do with the most conspicuous piece of furniture in the room?

Some watch TV in theirs, or simply loll, and some seem to find the chair an empowering place from which to deal with others. “When we have a little family powwow — I have four children — I sit in it to lay down the law,” said Mr. Boyd, the auto parts manager.

And most, of course, indulge their fantasies, imagining doing battle with Klingons and otherwise cruising the cosmos. “Sitting in it,” said Mr. Bradshaw, the graphic designer, “I find myself striking an action pose quite unconsciously.”

Sitting in the chair and not feeling stupid seems like the most heroic effort you'd expend. Let's not even think about how psychologically damaged the poor guy's kids are going to be.

I will admit to my own obsessions, but I hope readers understand that they don't make me a crackpot. No.
For instance, the Lost In Space robot is not silly or useless. Robots are very useful. They can pick up heavy things, warn you of approaching meteor storms, and engage in witty repartee. They go with any decor. And this one can be mine for only -- only! -- $25,000.


Sunday, March 15, 2009
 
Gee, Our Old LaSalle Ran Great

America, sit down and have a good cry with John Derbyshire of the National Review Online, a man weeping for the "Lost Eden" that was the America of the 1950s.

Alas! cries Derbyshire. Alack! He is filled with the

“…nostalgia for the homogenous, egalitarian America of our youth. That America, however, is dead as mutton. There's a new one a-borning, and it looks much more like Brazil than like Robert Heinlein's U.S.A.”

Homogenous? Sure, it was whiter and WASPier, though not as uniformly white and WASPy as popular culture from that era would indicate. Egalitarian? For Derbyshire -- a white male Anglo-Saxon Protestant -- it would certainly seem that way. For everyone else, not so much.

Women had far fewer options in the "egalitarian" 50's than Derbyshire seems to remember. There is no question that blacks were treated as second-class citizens in Derbyshire’s “Eden”. There’s plenty of evidence for this even within the pages of Buckley’s National Review, which saw blacks as troublesome children who had to be denied the franchise at any cost. What’s more, there were deep prejudices even in all-white communities. Ethnic divisions were much broader than today – the Irish and Italians and Jews were seen as undesirable in many communities. It wasn’t until blacks began moving into northern white communities that these ethnic schisms began to lose their potency.

But it shouldn't come as a shock that 2009 is fundamentally different from 1959 -- as different as 1959 was from 1909. The past, as the old saying goes, is another country; we do things differently here.

Nostalgia is a cheap elixir and legal in all 50 states. Conservatives can’t seem to get enough of it. Recently the denizens of The Corner got into a discussion about when, exactly, America reached her zenith; they finally agreed it was in 1956.

Oddly, William F. Buckley had founded the National Review in 1955, declaring that he was “standing athwart history, shouting “Stop!”. Strange behavior for a guy living in Eden.

Climbing all over history and yelling isn’t the sort of thing you do when you see things going really well; so we can assume Buckley was himself looking back to an earlier “lost Eden” – presumably the antediluvian 1920s that Sinclair Lewis skewered in Babbitt.

Fifty years from now someone will no doubt be writing about the good old days of 2009, and how it was a golden age, a lost Eden, and can't we find our way back to those halcyon days?

I'll betcha a trillion dollars that lost soul will be writing for the National Review.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009
 
Tell Us Some More War Stories, Derb
John Derbyshire, who roosts in a coop full of chickenhawks at the National Review Online, waxes idiotic at The Corner:

I am glad (though a bit surprised) to hear that the "Fix bayonets!" command is still current in British army drill. There's nothing like giving the enemy a taste of cold steel. As that great veteran of the Sudan campaign, LanceCorporal Jones, was wont to say: "They don't like it up 'em."

Righty right, Colonel Blimp!

Typical winger: bloodthirstiness verging on the pathological, tough as nails, gung-ho as all hell -- and came just thiiiiiiiis close to serving in the military himself. It's a pity, really. No doubt he would have been first over the barricade to give the enemy a taste of cold steel and all that, he really woulda.



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