Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Caesar’s Bath Meme

I saw this on John Coleman’s blog and thought it was an interesting idea. You should be reading Coleman’s work, by the way. He is on the staff of Crux, the pro-ID magazine, but he is a really bright and thought provoking writer. Anyway, the meme is this:

Behold, the Caesar’s Bath meme! List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over. To use the words of Caesar (from History of the World Part I), “Nice. Nice. Not thrilling…but nice.”

Well this could be interesting. Only five? Okay, in no particular order…

1. Beer. I just don’t get it. It tastes like crap. And so-called “good beer” tastes even worse. And I’m tired of hearing people tell me that you “acquire a taste for it.” Why on earth would I want to?

2. Jim Carrey. He’s not funny. He’s never been funny. Tripping over things isn’t funny and it has never been funny, nor is bugging your eyes out or acting like a hyperactive child on crack. It wasn’t funny when Jerry Lewis did it, it wasn’t funny when Chevy Chase did it, and it’s not funny when Jim Carrey does it.

3. Amusement Parks. I actually have a theory that no one enjoys amusement parks, but they’ve spent so much time and energy going to one that they can’t admit to themselves that it sucks. The closest one to me is Cedar Point, and the routine goes something like this: You get up at 4 in the morning and drive 4 hours to Sandusky; you park approximately 11 miles from the front gate, then join 175,000 of your fellow masochists on a withering Bataan death march to the front gate, where you wait in line for an hour to spend $45 per person just to get in the front door; once inside, you stand in line at least an hour for every decent ride, each of which lasts approximately a minute and a half; if you want to eat, you’ll pay 12 bucks a piece for a soggy hot dog and a watery coke; by the end of the day, you’re sunburned, broke and exhausted, you’ve had a total of 6 1/2 minutes on actual rides, and now you must make the same march back to your car and drive home. This isn’t fun, it’s an exercise in psychological endurance. Just admit it; it sucks.

4. Science Fiction. Don’t get it, never have. More than almost any other genre of books (probably second only to the vile form known as romance novels), sci fi can be cranked out by the metric ton and most of it is just crap. The same is true of movies. The original Star Wars was good, and like every other kid my age I saw it 10 times. But Star Trek? I never understood the appeal. And in a million years, I’ll never understand Trekkies, including the one I’m related to. I have a sister and brother in law who are major trekkies, so much so that I can guarantee you one thing: I could take a dump in aluminum foil, wrap it up and call it “Klingon dung”, and not only would they buy it, they’d actually take pride in the fact that they had it and some other dork only has a set of Spock ears.

5. Reality TV. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I’ve never watched a single episode of Survivor and I never will, I don’t care who wins the Amazing Race, and I couldn’t possibly care any less who was voted off American Idol last week. I’d love to know what percentage of the people who take the time to vote on that show have ever voted in an election.

Comments

  1. #1 carpundit
    April 19, 2005

    I am interested and pleased to see your list. Two of your five are my personal pet peeves: Jim Carrey, and Reality TV. Amusement parks upset me less, but I sure don’t go to them – crowded, sticky, slow, stupid.

    Science fiction can be crap, that’s true. But it has some gems. William Gibson. Neal Stephenson. H.G. Wells. Many more. At its best, it speaks to the human condition as well as traditional fiction, which can also be crap. I think you paint too broadly there.

    Hot day. Hammock. Shade. Baseball on the radio. Cold Beer. Ocean view. Paradise.

  2. #2 Orac
    April 19, 2005

    Labeling a whole genre as crap is a bit unfair. Sure, there’s a lot of crap in SF, but there’s a lot of crap in most genres. At least 90% of almost every genre is crap. SF has no less its share of great work than any other literary genre. In fact, I could say the same thing about mysteries, horror, techno-thrillers, etc., all of which can be cranked out by the metric ton as easily as SF.

  3. #3 Uber
    April 19, 2005

    ‘but he is a really bright and thought provoking writer’

    Sometimes, except when he discusses science and/or religion then he becomes pretty dense.

    On another note I love fried chicken and good SciF, which is becoming harder to find.

  4. #4 GeneralZod
    April 19, 2005

    Hey, I live in Toledo, OH and go to Cedar Point. The trick is to go on a Tuesday or Wednesday in May. There are MUCH MUCH fewer people there then and you actually get to RIDE the rides! Quite a novel idea, I know. Obviously it is easier for me since I am closer. But if I cannot get to the park early in the season (before the high schools get out) I will not go all year. If you can get that one good day, you actually can ride so many rides so often that you get bored. If I cannot get there in May, then I agree 100% with you: it sucks.
    As for reality TV, I do not get it either! My best friend has never seen Scrubs since it conflicts with Amazing Race!! Why is this crap so popular!??!??

  5. #5 PZ Myers
    April 19, 2005

    90% of everything is crap.

    That happens to be Sturgeon’s law, proffered by one of those annoying SF authors.

  6. #6 Ed Brayton
    April 19, 2005

    I didn’t label a whole genre crap. I said “most of it” is crap. And sure, that can probably be said about any genre, but this is my personal list of things I just don’t get. Your mileage may vary, of course.

  7. #7 PaulNoonan
    April 19, 2005

    I agree with 2/5, but perhaps I can make a case for a few of these.

    1. Beer.

    Acquired tastes are like fine art, or dense literature, or a complex piano concerto. It may look ugly or confuse you, or sound like white noise, but if you stick with it you will begin to realize that there is a more going on than meets the eye, and that there is joy to discovering it. Such is the case with beer.

    Sure frat guys drink in “beer” in vast quantities as some sort of primitive manliness ritual, but this activity shows no appreciation of beer. It’s just a rebllious indulgence in a taboo. Real beer has a combination of subtle flavors.

    It is sweet followed by bitter. It finishes both at the front and back of your tongue, and this sensation is somewhat unique. It provides just the right amount of alcohol, in that you can drink at a leisurely pace without becoming an obnoxious drunk. It comes in a wide variety of flavors, strong porter and stout, creamy ales, biting pilsners, and sickeningly sweet weisses. And like wine, certain beers compliment certain foods. (Stout with red meat, ale with pizza, any lighter beer (not “light beer,” just lighter in color) with chicken.)

    Now if you genuinely don’t like beer, that’s fine. But hopefully this will explain “the fuss.” Some of the fuss is undoubtedly based on drunken college nostalgia, but sometimes it just hits the spot.

    Acquired tastes can be a very pleasant thing. After all, without them we would eat nothing but candy.

    (Should the mood strike you to attempt beer, I will make a strange recommendation that may intrigue you. Get yourself a Redhook ESB (Extra Special Bitter), most liquor stores should have it. It is an admittedly mediocre beer. Here’s the kicker: Get some carrot cake to go with it, preferably with cream cheese frosting. These two items compliment each other unbelievably well. Start with the cake, alternate with sips of beer. No pressure though. Especially if you also dislike carrot cake.)

  8. #8 flatlander100
    April 19, 2005

    Three good choice, two bad ones [beer and SF]. But hell, three out of five ain’t bad.
    Now in place of your two misses, I’d put as no. 4, the designated hitter. Baseball line-up cards handed to umpires should contain only nine names, like God intended. Not ten. And for no. 5, Orin Hatch.

  9. #9 PaulNoonan
    April 19, 2005

    3. Amusement Parks.

    Amusement parks become less amusing as you get over. However, if you are a teenager with a free summer, and live within an hour of a theme park as a Idid growing up (Six Flags Great America) they can offer some fun.

    1. If you’re a teenager, what else are you going to do? You can’t drink (sort of), there’s nothing on TV (let’s face it, The Price is Right gets old after a few days), and there are only so many sports you can play. I suppose you could get a job, but hey, you’ve got the rest of your life to work.

    2. Some rides are actually fun. Not many, but a few.

    3. In the summer, theme parks have a high density of relatively scantily clad teenage girls.

    4. They spend some of their time upside down, or under larger than usual g-forces. This is a good thing if you are a teenage boy.

    5. If you’ve just turned 16, driving to the theme park seems like a cool road trip. In retrospect, I realize that this is not the case, but at the time, it seemed pretty cool.

    As I said before, the older you get the less fun these parks get. I haven’t been to one in at least 5 years, and I’ll be surprised if I return before I have kids, but I don’t think that we’re their target audience. But I do remember when I was.

  10. #10 Enigma
    April 19, 2005

    To be fair, most of the stuff that comes out (on tv and movies at least) claiming to be Science Fiction, really isn’t. It’s either action or horror set in a “Sci-Fi” setting. To get good Sci-Fi, you really got to go to the source, the written word. Granted, not all of it is good, but what’s good is gold.

  11. #11 GeneralZod
    April 19, 2005

    In addition…
    1. I agree with you on beer. I never drink it and my friends make fun of me for it. They ALL think they have the one special beer that I will like, and cause me to start to like beer. Of course it ends up tasting like ass, just like the 1000 other beers they “knew” I would like.
    2. Sports. I never got into it. I never played in school. I do not follow any sports enough to know anyone’s stats. I am missing that male gene that causes me to be obsessed with sports. Perhaps there was some coding/seuqencing defect in my DNA which duplicated the male gene responsible for the love of video games (which I love). (I am sure there are people who would put video games on THEIR 5-item list).
    3. Cars. I like them. I know which ones look good to me. But I do not drool over engine size or horsepower or any of that manly stuff. I do not know why my car broke down and I certainly cannot fix it. That is what my friend Mike and my dad are for. I TRY to learn this stuff, but it never lasts.
    4. “Reality” TV. I also cannot stand this crap. I do not know which is the worst, but I know which one I hate the most. That would be the Simple Life. Why is Paris Hilton a celebrity? She is basically famous for the sake of being famous. She is a spoiled trust fund baby who partied enough to somehow gain celebrity status. And for some reason, people actually CARE what she does or thinks!! WTF??! My girlfriend is one of them!! What a nightmare.
    5. (cannot think of any ONE thing right now, and besides this is long enough already. Sorry).

  12. #12 PaulNoonan
    April 19, 2005

    4. Sci-Fi

    The reason that there is so much bad sci fi is actually similar to the reason that romance novels are unifomrly horrible. They exist solely for purposes of escapism. For romance, it’s women’s escapism. For Sci-Fi, it’s nerd’s escapism. As a nerd myself I can sympathize, but trekkies and people who show up to Neil Gaiman book signings are unifomrly scary. So I’ll give you that, Ed. Ners like to fantasize about a world were being smart makes them cool. Ergo, Star Trek.

    That being said, a lot of Sci-Fi is very high quality, and due to the nature of the beast, it allows for more creativity than your other, more formulaic genres. After all, a western has to take place in the old west. Sure, you get your Deadwoods and your Unforgivens which defy Western conventions, but in the end, they still have that old west feeling.

    Good Sci-Fi can serve as great political commentary, like Brave New World (or The Time Machine, or Cat’s Cradle).

    It can serve as epic fodder, like Star Wars, or Tolkien.

    Great Lit? Pynchon.

    Comedy? Douglas Adams.

    Horror (and political/philosophical commentary: Anthony Burgess

    And my favorite book of the last ten years is Neal Stephenson’s “Cryptonomicon,” which is less sci-fi than Neal’s older books (more historical fiction) but still sci-fi enough.

    Sci-Fi allows people to envisions scenarios, technology, and ethical dilemma’s that we don’t encounter on an everyday basis, but that may arise at some point, possibly on a grand scale.

    It is the most free-form, open-source genre. Such systems will undoubtedly produce a great quantity of garbage, but the will create a few truly unique gems as well.

  13. #13 Ed Brayton
    April 19, 2005

    General Zod wrote:

    I agree with you on beer. I never drink it and my friends make fun of me for it. They ALL think they have the one special beer that I will like, and cause me to start to like beer. Of course it ends up tasting like ass, just like the 1000 other beers they “knew” I would like.

    Exactly! And I know that some people feel the same way about wine, but I don’t. I like wine very much, and it wasn’t much of an acquired taste for even my American tastes.

  14. #14 Ginger Yellow
    April 19, 2005

    You’re weird, Ed.

    Beer is great, although if I lived in America I might not agree. Budweiser is the blandest beer known to humanity, and yet it’s ubiquitous. There’s some really good American beers around but a) nobody drinks them, and b) they’re hard to find.

    Jim Carrey is great too, but only in straight(ish) roles, not gurning ones. The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are superb films. Man on the Moon isn’t bad either.

    Amusement parks. Is there really a great fuss about them? Which of your friends are “wild” about amusement parks?

    Sci-fi: as said above, a lot is crap, some is fantastic. Like any other genrified genre. I can understand not getting Star Trek, but to dismiss the genre it inhabits as a result is just obstinate. There’s an astonishing array of good sci-fi: besides the names already mentioned, the likes of Dick and LeGuin can stand proudly alongside any 20th century authors. Sci-fi is unsurprisingly rich in the comics/graphic novel field as well, with the likes of Watchmen, Transmetropolitan and The Invisibles. And in cinema as well, without sci-fi there would be no Alien (or Aliens), no Terminator, no Solaris, no 2001, no Gattaca, no Dark Star, no Battle Royale, no Akira, no Brazil and so on and so on. Sci-fi, as Paul says above, is about envisioning alternative scenarios, alternative societies. What’s not to get?

    Reality TV: you got me there.

  15. #15 Ed Brayton
    April 19, 2005

    Well I don’t deny being weird. The point of all of this is not to start arguments. It’s a personal list. By all means, do your own.

  16. #16 Roadtripper
    April 19, 2005

    I have to agree, it’s sadly unfair to critique science fiction on the basis of Star Wars and Star Trek, as mass market “franchises” are poor examples of the genre. Would you quit dining in restaurants altogether, solely on the basis of a critique of MacDonalds and Waffle House?

  17. #17 Ed Brayton
    April 19, 2005

    Some of you people are seriously missing the point here. This isn’t a treatise of logical arguments, it’s a list of personal likes and dislikes thrown out along with some pithy comments about them. Don’t like mine? Do your own. I’m not passing a law here, I’m just having fun. I recommend it highly.

  18. #18 PaulNoonan
    April 19, 2005

    I took your advice and did my own, and it was fun.

    My point wan’t to convince you to like these things. When someone doen’t like beer, no amount of talking will convince them otherwise. My purpose was to attempt to explain why some people are more fanatical, or at least appreciative, of your five items. For instance, I don’t like Nascar, at all, but I can understand the appeal.

  19. #19 Sergio Méndez
    April 19, 2005

    Ed:
    You forgot to add Golf :P

  20. #20 DonM
    April 19, 2005

    Hey Ed
    4 out of 5 ain’t bad. But Beer… nectar of the gods :-)

    just for your edification http://beeradvocate.com/

    Don

  21. #21 Ed Brayton
    April 19, 2005

    You forgot to add Golf :P

    I actually like golf. I’m horrible at it, but I still enjoy it on the rare occasions that I play it.

    Paul-

    I wasn’t referring to you, by the way. I was referring to those who insisted it was “unfair” of me not to like sci fi.

  22. #22 PaulNoonan
    April 19, 2005

    Cool. I was trying to distinguish myself from those people who were vehemently disagreeing with you. I’m glad it worked.

    I’m terrible at golf too, but I enjoy it. It’s a nice walk.

  23. #23 Jason Kuznicki
    April 19, 2005

    Yikes… I love beer AND sci-fi (though with the others I’m either so-so or against). Now I must construct a list of my own…

  24. #24 spyder
    April 19, 2005

    The choice of amusement parks reminds me of an essay Umberto Eco wrote a number of years ago after visiting the US and being taken to several of them. He was fascinated that people could disassociate from reality so easily and in such immediate time constructs. First you arrive at the park, and realize you have to pay to park for the day. Then you pay this exhorbitant amount of money to walk into the park and immediately wait an hour to ride in a crammed little space for two or three minutes and think you had this amazing and fantastic time. Then you spend another huge chunk of change on a soft drink that you already know costs 80% less because you bought on at a quicky mart driving down to the park. After the vastly overpriced snack you wait inline another hour to ride another two to three minutes. One would think that during these dreadfully long waits someone might ponder how ridiculous the whole experience is.

    No, i don’t understand the attraction of them either.

  25. #25 John
    April 19, 2005

    Lol..nice choices, ED. I am with you on four of five. I think I’ll keep the specifics a mystery…

    Incidentally, thanks for the kind words. You are a sharp guy, and I wish I had more time to blog so we good have a few good debates. I will pick a fight soon enough, I am sure:)

    Have a good night.

  26. #26 Michelangelo
    April 19, 2005

    Ed, you must never have actually had good beer. I personally hated beer until I lived in Germany. Germany’s worst beer is a dozen orders of magnitude better than America’s best. There was no “acquiring a taste” for German beer–it was just instantly delicious, rich and smooth and pure. I know there are some places in the Detroit area where you can get, for example, Erdinger Weissbier. The Red Wagon on Rochester Road a little north of South Blvd…yum…

    As far as reality TV goes: I am proud–proud!–to say I have never ever watched even one minute of “Survivor.” People at work talk about it and I think, “What a pointless exercise.” But, hey, maybe I’ve never seen really good reality TV…

  27. #27 Dave S.
    April 20, 2005

    Stuff my family and friends like that I don’t get.*

    1. Cigarettes.

    Practically every male (and most females) over the age of 16 in my family smokes cigarettes but I never have and never will. Not only are they dangerous, but smelly and expensive too. Just a single whiff of cigarette smoke feels like being punched in the nose. I just don’t get it.

    2. Reality TV

    I did see some of the first Survivor, and that was interesting as it really was (for the most part) a reality show. However it set the standard that the only way to win a reality show, any reality show, was to be scheming and manipulative like that Richard Hatch fellow. Now I just groan in agony when yet another reality show is announced.

    No, I don’t give a crap about Rob and Amber or who’s getting fired by Donald Trump.

    3. Hockey

    O.K., I know it’s practically sacreligious for a Canadian, but I don’t get hockey. I never cared much for cold weather, and skates hurt my ankles. If the NHL never returns, then I won’t be bothered a bit.

    4. NASCAR

    I was waiting for a bus the other day and killed some time browsing in a kiosk that sold all sorts of colourful NASCAR, logo encrusted items. I was flipping through some jackets and some shirts when the cashier came up and asked “Who’s your driver?”. “Huh?” I dumbly retorted. “Well you were looking at #24’s jackets but #3’s shirts” she replied. Apparently it’s some sort of faux pas to even look at the items of any but those as marked belonging to your driver. This must have been what gladiatorial combat was like. You have your gladiator, you go to the colloseum, and you cheer your man even though he may die (we hope it’s only figurative death when and if his car crashes). I don’t get it.

    5. Hot Tubs

    Hot tubs (or spas or jacuzzis or whatever else you call ‘em) remind me of those old cartoon depictions of cannibals cooking the missionaries in the big pot. I fail to see the desire to have one, let alone get in one. Maybe if Halle Berry was in there, but otherwise, no thanks.

    *Note that this is merely my personal list. I’m sure others have good reasons for liking them. But I don’t.

  28. #28 Ed Brayton
    April 20, 2005

    Dave S wrote:

    I was waiting for a bus the other day and killed some time browsing in a kiosk that sold all sorts of colourful NASCAR, logo encrusted items. I was flipping through some jackets and some shirts when the cashier came up and asked “Who’s your driver?”. “Huh?” I dumbly retorted. “Well you were looking at #24’s jackets but #3’s shirts” she replied. Apparently it’s some sort of faux pas to even look at the items of any but those as marked belonging to your driver.

    Ah, you see, you’ve stumbled upon one of our culture’s great Rorschach tests. There are certain issues where your opinion pretty much tells everything one needs to know about your personality and this is one of them. You can be a Jeff Gordon fan or you can be a Dale Earnhardt fan, and whichever one you are defines almost everything else about you. For Gordon fans, Earnhardt and his fans are ignorant rednecks who are living vicariously through one of their own who managed to get rich by doing all of the things they imagine themselves doing. And for Earnhardt fans, Gordon and his fans are johnny-come-lately pretty boy dilletantes who are just too clean and refined for Nascar.

    I live in a small town, so Nascar is all the rage with the locals and I don’t get it either. A few months ago I was standing in line at a convenience store/gas station to pay for my gas and there was this woman in front of me who was pretty much everything you’d imagine an Earnhardt fan to look like (she was wearing a #3 jacket). In front of us was a display of cigarette boxes that were shaped like cars and painted to look like various Nascar racing cars, so people could pick their favorite. This woman reaches out and picks up one of the cars, declares that that driver is a “pussy”, flips it over upside down and says to me, “Well that’s what I think about him.” It left me baffled as to how to respond. Is there some sort of book of redneck ettiquette that I haven’t read that tells you what you’re supposed to say in that situation? I didn’t know whether to say “yee haw” or maybe just to spit on the floor or what. And she clearly wanted a response because she was looking right at me for a good 5 seconds after she said it, and all I could do was stand there with this blank look on my face wondering what the hell I was doing in a town full of people like her.

  29. #29 Chris Krolczyk
    April 20, 2005

    Ed on SF:

    Don’t get it, never have. More than almost any other genre of books (probably second only to the vile form known as romance novels), sci fi can be cranked out by the metric ton and most of it is just crap.

    As a reader of SF, let me say that I’m actually in partial agreement with you – up to a certain point. That point is where you started down the beaten Star Trek/Star Wars path and away from the written stuff.

    As much as I loved both Trek and Wars when I was a kid, let’s face it – both have aged gracelessly as of late, and it’s gotten to the point where I would’ve been in the same boat as you had I not discoved back in high school that written SF contains some gems that bear very little resemblance to the utter slop that Rick Berman and George Lucas have been churning out over the last few years.

    Granted, there’s a load of crappy SF in book form out there as well, but like all popular fiction you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. Although you went off on an amusing tangent about Trekkies (no argument there, believe it or not), keep in mind that they’re not universally beloved in SF fan circles; in more than a few cases, they’re considered a major albatross around our collective neck – much for the perceptions that they cause in people like, oh, Ed Brayton.

  30. #30 Chris Krolczyk
    April 20, 2005

    My turn concerning The Five:

    1) Paris Hilton: a plasticine, Quaaluded-out Barbie doll if there ever was one; easily the most pointless celebrity of the last five years, and somebody whose complete lack of charisma or common sense (remember the sex tape?) will have to be eventually documented by anthropologists, historians or psychiatrists specializing in abnormal psychology.

    2) NASCAR: Two hundred-plus left turns in a glorified gas guzzler. Wheeeee. Weirdly enough, I have more respect for Formula One or Indy-class drivers, as they have to compete in an international league and actually aren’t encouraged to swap paint.

    3) Reality TV: Okay, I can stomach The Amazing Race. Other than that, am I actually supposed to give a rat’s ass?

    4) Country and Western: Hey, remember the much-voiced complaint that all rap and/or hip-hop sounds the same? Hardly. I have to occasionally scan past a C&W station here in Chicago, and it’s almost impossible to hear anything that doesn’t sound like a goat-roping yahoo singing nearly identical crap while fronting an nearly identical sounding band. And while there are “country” musicians I like (Steve Earle immediately comes to mind), they’re sure not played on C&W stations – matter of fact, they’re usually played on eclectic rock stations like WXRT up here, which is fine by me. That way, I can safely ignore unibrow good ol’ boys like Toby Keith with the apathy that they deserve.

    5) American “beer”: I speak to you not of microbrews or specialty breweries like Anchor Steam or Sierra Nevada, but of “breweries” like Anheuser Busch and Miller. Uuuuck. Oh, and then there’s the perception of the average joe who actually drinks their swill; granted, I’m going by the image that’s portrayed in the less funny beer commercials, but if I’m actually supposed to get down with the social retards portrayed in those goddawful Coors commercials I’ll stick to my imports and microbrews, thank you very much.

  31. #31 raj
    April 21, 2005

    I pretty much agree with Ed, but two points.

    On beer. Beers in Munich (Germany, not North Dakota) actually aren’t bad. Most beers are somewhat bitter, but the beers I’ve had from the Munich area (in Munich, not imported into the US) are a bit sweeter. It’s interesting that the beers from the Augsburg area are more like the bitter beers that people in the US are used to. And Augsburg is only some 30 km or so northwest of Munich. Brewing in Germany is very regional.

    On SciFi, I definitely agree that modern-day scifi appears to be mostly crap. (I say “appears to be” because I’m only sampling the genre.) SciFi reached its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s with authors like Heinlein and Asimov (and many others), who were encouraged by John Campbell, then editor of Astounding Science Fiction (renamed Analog in the 1960s). I have a book that is a collection of SciFi stories called Famous Science Fiction Stories, published by Modern Library, a division of publisher Random House, and most of the stories are really very good. The editor of the book had an introduction in which he was decrying what the next generation of SciFi authors appeared to be doing to the SciFi genre. The book was published in–1959. But by 1959, Asimov had pretty much stopped writing science fiction (he was primarily writing popular science books, many of which were pretty good), and Heinlein had started writing his “preachy” books. Nowadays the SciFi genre is often conflated with the fantasy genre, which doesn’t help, either.

  32. #32 Dave S.
    April 21, 2005

    This woman reaches out and picks up one of the cars, declares that that driver is a “pussy”, flips it over upside down and says to me, “Well that’s what I think about him.” It left me baffled as to how to respond. Is there some sort of book of redneck ettiquette that I haven’t read that tells you what you’re supposed to say in that situation? I didn’t know whether to say “yee haw” or maybe just to spit on the floor or what. And she clearly wanted a response because she was looking right at me for a good 5 seconds after she said it …

    Maybe you were supposed to take the #3 Cigarette box/car and pee on it … “And that’s what I think of him”!

    It’s clear dominance establishment behavior. If she was a chimp, I’d say splashing around in water would be check and mate as far as determining who was top primate (since chimps fear water). With Nascar, I can’t say what the proper rejoinder would have been.

    Apparently, there’s even subcultures within the individual driver genre. My nephew is gazongas over Jeff Gordon (#24), but only the DuPont cars, not the Pepsi cars. These being the principle sponsers, the ones whose logos are the largest and appear on the prime location (the hood).

    Nascar would be fertile soil for a Ph.D. or two in social-anthropology.

  33. #33 Chris Krolczyk
    April 21, 2005

    A slight problem, here (quoting Coleman):

    List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over.

    Ooooooops.

    Most people who are either my friends or in my peer group don’t get the significance of Paris Hilton, NASCAR, C&W, reality TV or crappy beer, either. Ah, well.

  34. #34 wm
    April 25, 2005

    I’ll give you 4/5, but criticizing SF based on Star Trek and Star Wars? I’m with you on disliking Star Trek and not being too impressed by Star Wars, but I love science fiction.

    Star Wars is clearly fantasy, with the focus on the magic of the force, and rarely even tries to touch on science (and is amusingly wrong when it does, using parsec as a measure of a small amount of time for example.) Star Trek is a Western or Hornblower-clone set in space, which technically makes it SF, though as a phyisicist, I occassionally watched ST:TNG with friends to make fun of badly they misused physics terms.

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