I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Petty and cruel dictator

One of the bigger political stories of the week was the visit to the US by Iranian prez Ahmadinijad. The university that invited him to speak denounced him as a petty and cruel dictator. And, there is a long list of evidence that Iran is run by cruel dictators--but no evidence it's run by Ahmadinijad. A dictator has the power to issue dictates. In Iran that power rests in religious leaders who decide that teenage girls will be stoned to death for getting knocked up, or who make it possible for Ahmadinijad to assert there are no gays in Iran--since if anyone is caught with homosexual tendencies there, they are put to death. Ahmadinijad is just a puppet. The only power he really wields is the power to give speaches and the power to decide whether or not to wear a tie. If the plane he flew over on had fallen from they sky, it wouldn't have altered the governance of Iran in the least.

The most thought provoking thing about his visit for me, however, was the counter-question: can anyone imagine George Bush going to Iran to speak to a college class where he'd face hostile questioning and an audience that would openly laugh at him? Which then led me to this question: Can anyone imagine George Bush going to an American university to speak to an audience that could ask him questions that weren't approved in advance?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Noah's Ark

Among the news sites I like to visit, the most conservative site hands down is World Net Daily. They make the Drudgereport look positively left wing in most of their editorial positions. Most WND stories are written from a decidely fundamentalist Christian viewpoint. Peel away the veneer of most liberal causes, they believe, and you will find Satan's fingerprints. This is especially true of science that runs contrary to the Bible. It's a rare week that WND doesn't run some headline trumpeting the overthrow of Darwinism due to new incontrovertible evidence that God alone is responsible for creating all species, and that the earth is only a few thousand years old.

I actually enjoy reading the occassional stabs at overthrowing Darwin and/or all modern astronomy, geology, and physics. I find it makes for a nice thought experiment to involve in the sort of magical thinking that fundamentalists engage in. It's useful for a science fiction and fantasy writer to occassionally stop and ask: What if everything we know is wrong? What if the moon really is made of cheese and we don't know it because the moon landing was faked? In fact, all stories about space travel is faked because the rockets always crash into the crystal sphere that the stars are painted on? We don't need satellites to bounce the TV signals around the world--we just bounce the signals off the sphere? And why haven't the scientists told us this? Why the charade? Because the devil has gotten his fingers into all our politicians, scientists, and teachers and encourages them to twist the truth so as to spread doubt among the ever dwindling pool of the faithful.

Of course, most fundamentalists don't believe in crystal spheres. However, one thing that fundamentalists do believe in passionately is Noah's Ark. They believe the world was completely submerged by flood waters approximately 4000 years ago because God was angry. Every living thing you see now has descended in a few thousand years from the descendants of Noah and the two of every kind of animal that wound up on the ark. It's a pretty hard and fast test: If you doubt this story, you doubt the inerrent word of God. You have to believe in the Ark if you are a "true" Christian (as defined by the WND gang).

This was brought to mind by a recent story at WND called, "Did Noah's Flood Spark Global Warming?" The gist of the story is that a scientist named John Baumgardner, a scientist, says, "Yep! All the evidence points to the fact that the world is still warming up after being cooled by the global flood." It's a pretty daring article for WND, because it argues that global warming is real, and normally it's treated as just a lot of hoodoo meant to trick people into adopting Satanism and communism. But, thanks to a little mental acrobatics, now fundamentalists can accept global warming--but evidence that the world is warming is now just evidence of the litteral truth of the Bible. A long held belief of fundamentalists is that the ultimate evidence of the truth of Noah's Ark is still out there--the Ark itself, hidden in the snows of Mount Arrarat, occasionally photographed by plane or satellite. Perhaps if global warming melts off the snow, they'll be able to find the ark a little easier.

It's interesting the hold that Noah's Ark has on certain people, but this definitely isn't a mindset limited to Christians. I've met my fair share of Goth's, for instance, who take it as an article of faith that vampires are real. Or, if not real now, it actually describes the symptoms of some blood transmitted disease that was once common but is seldom seen now. There are also plenty of people convinced that aliens visit the earth, either in the ancient past, or out among us now.

It's interesting how some fairy tales we here in childhood we learn to recognize as fairy tales, while others, like the UFO myths, persist among some individuals throughout their lives. The world still has its flat-earthers, too, and I think the world is slightly better for their presense. I sometimes hope to one day find an otherwise ordinary person who believes in the reality of, say, the three little pigs. After all, pigs are mammals, and mammals have been proven to have the ability to evolve language, so there's nothing impossible about a talking pig. Some mammals evolve bipedelism and tool use, so it's plausible that a small group of mutant talking pigs could also learn to walk around and use tools to build houses. And, it also makes perfect sense that the pigs wouldn't be very good at their carpentry efforts, and might build structures that wouldn't be very stable, and might even blow down in the slightest breeze. It doesn't violate any laws of physics. Really, it could happen. Probably has, if you think about it enough, given the sheer number of pigs that have existed. And, no doubt the talking, home-constructing pigs made quite an impression on their neighbors, which is why their legend has passed down through so many generations. Now, all I need is a good research grant, and I bet I can even track down archeological evidence of the building sites of the pig's houses.

Unless all that got washed away in the flood.