Author Archive | Roderick

Born to Be Badhwar

In my first video interview for my YouTube channel, I chat with philosopher Neera K. Badhwar about backyard buffaloes, wild attack monkeys, Ayn Rand, airline deregulation, eudaimonia and virtue, paternalism and suicide, sociopathic grandmothers, child abuse, Aristotelean business ethics, 19th-century robber barons, charitable Objectivists, friendly Manhattanites, charismatic nationalist leaders, and national health care. In more or less that order.


Primitive Accumulation of Pretzels

In my latest YouTube video, I discuss the distinction between markets and capitalism as drawn in the 1919 textbook THE ABC OF COMMUNISM (written by two Soviet apparatchiks, Nikolai Bukharin and Yevgeny Preobrazhensky), as well as in the Marxist tradition generally, with attention to how Marxism twists itself into a pretzel to avoid endorsing free-market anti-capitalism.


Kite Boy, Hell Yeah

The 1957 movie The Invisible Boy – a sort-of sequel to 1956’s better-known Forbidden Planet – is available in its entirety on the Internet Archive (حفظه الله) to view for free. (Wait, how can it be a sequel when it obviously takes place centuries earlier? Well, the explanation is gestured at quickly, in passing; let your attention wander for a minute and you’ll miss it.)

This film can’t seem to decide whether it’s a drama or a comedy. Most of the time it’s a drama, indeed sometimes quite a dark one with, e.g., threats of death by slow torture for the child protagonist. But the unfazed attitude of the adults to Timmie’s accomplishments is bizarre and hilarious. This ten-year-old boy has just assembled, in a few minutes, a mysterious disassembled robot whose assembly has baffled multiple scientists? Ho-hum, go away, kid. And now he’s managed to make himself invisible? What an annoying prank; he’d better be visible by morning if he wants any breakfast! (No curiosity as to how he’s done either of these things.) And now the robot is violently interfering with the father’s attempts to discipline Timmie? Ha ha, oh well, here Timmie, have an apple. And one for you too, robot guy. (Because everyone knows robots love apples.)

Anyway, it’s not the classic that Forbidden Planet is, but it’s quite enjoyable. And some of the actors have fascinating faces.


Plato, Space Ranger

A new episode of my YouTube channel is up! This one focuses on the connection between philosophical thought experiments (from Plato’s Ring of Gyges to Judith Jarvis Thomson’s defense of abortion) and science-fiction (and fantasy) literature.

In related news, a combination of unexpected expenses (e.g., high medical co-pays for kidney stone surgeries, plus my car’s imminent need to have its electrical system serviced) and my reduced summer salary means that any support via my PayPal or Patreon would be especially timely and welcome.


Be Still My Beating Suit

One thing that every adaptation of Dune seems to get wrong: throughout the book series, the Fremen are always described as wearing robes covering their stillsuits. And a passage in God Emperor of Dune makes clear that “covering” means completely covering:

The grey slick of a stillsuit could be seen underneath, exposed to sunlight which no real Fremen would ever have let touch his stillsuit that way.

In the 1984 adaptation, the Fremen wore no robes at all. In the 2000 adaptation, they usually wore robes, but seldom entirely covering their stillsuits. The upcoming 2020 adaptation looks like we’re getting exposed stillsuits once again.


Anarchy in the Tube

My second YouTube video (and first substantive one) is up on Agoric Café! In this one I discuss Steven J. Shone’s book on 19th-century American anarchism:


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