Back in Black

Recently while reading Bob Black’s 1997 book Anarchy After Leftism, I was startled to find a citation to Mary Ruwart’s article “Keeping Our Freedom in an Unfree World,” which appeared in the Spring 1996 issue of Formulations, a periodical I edited for the Free Nation Foundation. (The bibliography calls her “Ruhart” [p. 166], but the reference in the main text [p. 73] gets it right.) I had no idea that we were on Black’s radar; I wonder how he came across us?


The Fire Down Below

This story about the scientific controversy over the extinction of the dinosaurs (asteroid or no asteroid?) is interesting; but what I want to comment on here is this passage:

The impact [of the asteroid, if there was an asteroid] unleashed giant fireballs, crushing tsunamis, continent-shaking earthquakes, and suffocating darkness that transformed the Earth into what one poetic scientist described as “an Old Testament version of hell.”

Was Fantasia right after all?

Was Fantasia right after all?

The “poetic scientist” is not identified. I suppose there’s no reason to expect scientists to be any less ignorant about the Bible than most Bible-believers are about science (and the Bible, for that matter), but – what “Old Testament version of hell”? It remains controversial among Biblical scholars whether Hell is even a thing in the Old Testament; but even if it is, it goes pretty much undescribed. All the lake-of-fire-and-brimstone stuff about Hell is in the New Testament. The Old Testament does have some bombastic apocalyptic prophecies, but they describe a future condition of Earth, not Hell. (Some Christians [e.g., Adventists] believe that all Biblical references to Hell actually are references to a future condition of Earth, but that hasn’t been the traditional view.)

I suspect the “poetic scientist” simply assumed that any lurid passages about Hell must belong to the Old Testament, given the New Testament’s “kinder-gentler” reputation. But whether or not the New Testament really is kinder-gentler than the Old depends very much on which parts one focuses on (unsurprisingly, given that both texts are collections of works by a variety of authors from a variety of time periods and with a variety of viewpoints).


Hunting the Question, Questioning the Hunt

In honour of the late Steve Ditko, here are some great episodes from the excellent 2000s Justice League animated tv series featuring his iconic character The Question. (And to think I had to grow up with the dreadful 1970s SuperFriends cartoon.)

Left to Right:The Question;  Mr. A;  Rorschach

Left to Right: The Question; Mr. A; Rorschach

The show’s version of the faceless detective also draws in part on Ditko’s later Randian superhero, Mr. A (hence such Randian lines as “Everything that exists has a specific nature; each entity exists as something in particular and has characteristics that are part of what it is: A is A” – though the show’s Question puts those lines to the un-Randian use of denying free will), and in part also on Rorschach in Alan Moore’s Watchmen, a character who was in turn based on The Question (hence the obsessive mumbling and paranoid conspiracy-mongering in which the show’s Question engages, though he’s rather gentler than Rorschach). [In related news, Alan Grant’s character Anarky appears to have been based in part on The Question and Mr. A, and in part on the central character in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.]

Huntress and The Question

Huntress and The Question

The show also placed The Question in a delightfully goofy relationship with Huntress, a somewhat dissident member of the Bat-family.

If you don’t have time to watch all five of these, then just watch the third one, “Question Authority.” (But you should really watch all of them.)

(You’ll notice that some of these videos are reversed left-to-right, while others are inset within an animated border. I assume these are ways of disguising the video from programs searching for “copyright” “violations.”)


Five-Year Plan

“I start with the individual and strike at the state. … Down with the state in all its forms and incarnations: the state of yesterday, of today, and of tomorrow; the bourgeois state and the socialist state.”
     — Benito Mussolini, 1920

“Our formula is this: Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, no one against the state.”
     — Benito Mussolini, 1925

Quotations to keep in mind when alt-right types claim to be libertarians ….
 
 
[Sources: First quotation, James H. Meisel, “A Premature Fascist? – Sorel and Mussolini,” p. 16; Western Political Quarterly 3.1 (March 1950), pp. 14-27; second quotation, David D. Roberts, The Totalitarian Experiment in Twentieth-Century Europe: Understanding the Poverty of Great Politics (New York: Routledge, 2006), p. 272.]


Daughters of the Dragon

Is it just me, or does Ann Ogbomo (Jayna-Zod on Krypton) sound almost exactly like Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones and Captain Phasma in Star Wars)? (Close your eyes and listen.)


Fragment of a Memoir

As I’ve mentioned previously, my late mother had planned to write her memoirs. She never had the opportunity to do so, but I’ve come across some notes she made for them, dealing with the first ten years of her life, that some may find of interest. I’ve posted them here.


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