Sunday, July 22, 22:41 CDT

Eric pointed me to a Salon piece by David Brin, doing some heavily unflattering criticism of Star Wars. Think I linked to this a while back, but it was worth reading over. I can't exactly say I agree with him wholeheartedly, but Brin says plenty that's worth thinking about. (Not to mention entertainingly written - which only makes sense, if you've read much of his fiction.)

Then there's this review of sorts, also by Brin, which I can't remember reading at the time... Well written Phantom Menace bashing, anyway.

I think Brin's opinion that SW is morally misguided is a far more interesting one than repetitive assertions that the films are simplistic, cartoonish, overblown, badly plotted, poorly acted, or whatever. Such complaints are at best irrelevant, and mostly false - As is self-evident from my own deeply felt enjoyment of every one of the films, the intensely flawed Episode One included. And yes, dammit, I'm serious about that last bit. At the end of the day, a great story is one that I love; not one that I'm told I ought to.

On the other hand, what Brin has to say is interesting because it demands some deeper thought about the subject, and about SF in general. I do wonder if George Lucas hasn't lost track of something in SW's original direction, or let it be supplanted by something less worthy of its status. I'm afraid this much is probably true, though I'd love for the next two installments to prove me emphatically wrong. It's not really too late, midichlorians and virgin births aside.

I don't expect to win this argument any time soon. As Joseph Campbell rightly pointed out, the ways of our ancestors tug at the soul with a resonance many find romantically appealing, even irresistible. Some cannot put the fairy tale down and move on to more mature fare. Not yet at least. Ah well.

There, I think, is where I part company with Brin. I'm a true fan of the SF he depicts in stark opposition to a tradition that includes Homer, Star Wars, and William Blake. I'm arrogant enough to believe I understand it as well as nearly anyone. But I can't believe that we need to leave the fairy tale (in all its myriad shapes and guises) behind in our journey towards maturity. It can't be the sum total of our spiritual sustenance or our entertainment, but it's a thing worthy of more respect and understanding (not to mention more fun) than casting it as a relic of a dark and nightmarish past allows for.

(Ok, I also take issue with Brin's casting Star Trek in direct opposition to SW. Sure, Trek may be more egalitarian and democratic in spirit - then again, taking more than a superficial look at the Trek-verse seems likely to dredge up much the same sort of ugliness that he's pointing out in SW. Not to make blanket statements or anything... But I'm not sure I buy it.)

No doubt I'm overstating and simplifying some things here. Ah well, it's late, and I should most probably go get some sleep.

This would be a good place to mention an American Gods review, since Gaiman is a modern master of the fairy tale, and said book certainly touches on the subject at hand, but I haven't yet *written* that review. How about a gallery of stuff by the guy who did the cover art for AG, which seemed rather stylish?

Sunday, July 22, 16:43 CDT

I'm messing around a bit with GnuPG.

GnuPG stands for GNU Privacy Guard and is GNU's tool for secure communication and data storage. It can be used to encrypt data and to create digital signatures. It includes an advanced key management facility and is compliant with the proposed OpenPGP Internet standard as described in RFC 2440. As such, it is aimed to be compatible with PGP from NAI Inc.

Er, yeah. Anyway. Why not? Encryption is cool, right? I've been wanting to play with it ever since I read Cryptonomicon, and Stephen just mentioned it in an e-mail, which was enough to distract me from whatever it was I was doing before this...

Anyway, if I ever figure out what I'm doing, I'll stick a public key on this page. Seems like a good idea, even if in practice the reason that most people (even those who know it exists) don't use encryption on a regular basis is that it's just too much effort.