Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Passing of Stansilaw Lem

One of my favorite science fiction authors, Stanislaw Lem, died yesterday. His stories were always unique, and original. Most of you will know him as the author of the story “Solaris.” Two different groups have made this story into a movie, including Andrei Tarkovsky, in 1972, and by Steven Soderbergh, in 2002. This last version starred George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. Both versions were visually stunning, and are an interesting exploration of the nature of love and grief.

My first introduction to his work is still probably my favorite, The Cyberiad. Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia entry:

The Cyberiad is a cycle of short, amusing and somewhat cartoonish science fiction stories by Stanisław Lem. It was first published in Polish in 1967, and in English in 1974. It details exploits of two robots, Trurl and Klapaucius, in a fictional universe populated practically entirely by intelligent and highly anthropomorphic robots (hence the name Cyberiad). However, some of the stories involve main characters other than these two, typically some knight trying to win the heart of a princess. The stories focus on problems of individuals and societies (as seen in the somewhat absurd fairy tale cum scifi framework) and on the vain search for human happiness through technological means.

I loved these stories. On first reading they were quirky and fun. They are deceptively simple. The ideas they explored were more about humans than robots.

He will be missed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Insert blog topic here.

It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has gone on in the news. Much of it is definitely blog worthy. Now I just need to decide what has me motivated enough to blog about here.


Nope. I got nothin’.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Gay-Straight Club Banl

Today is the last day of the Utah State Legislative session. After having wasted our time on several silly bills that will amount to very little, they are finally buckling down on some real issues.

One bill that was passed back on February 22 caught my eye, though. Utah Senate Bill 97 (Student Club Amendments) passed the Senate, 18 to 11. I don't know if it's hit the House yet. This is a bill that, in many ways, targets Gay-Straight alliance clubs (GSAs) in high schools and tries to ban them by using broader language.

Sen. Chris Buttars, the sponsor of the bill said, ``We're not declaring any club that's out there unlawful. What we have done is present an outline of criteria that schools can use to evaluate (clubs) of all sorts. It can apply to any groups. The only group that's made this their battle ground is the gay and lesbian community.''

In session, however, his rhetoric targeted gay-straight alliance clubs. He even got permission to have a citizen recount a family story of a niece who had attended a GSA at her high school and then said attempts were made to "recruit" her to homosexuality.

Most gay and lesbians I know would deny ever trying to recruit anyone, claiming it's not really a matter of choice. Many supporters of GSAs say that they are only there to promote tolerance of others. They're trying to reduce hate related violence in their schools.

Now that you've got some background, let me bare my neck and take a stand. I hope this bill passes the house. I really do. It has nothing to do with how I feel about homosexuality. I think people who commit violent acts just because someone is different from you should be prosecuted for each and every one of those violent acts. But I also don't think that a high school club should be based on sexuality.

"But they're not based on sex!" scream the pundits. Yes, they are. Whether you like it or not, the lines are drawn in that club based on sexual preferences. I don't think high school students are mature enough to even figure out how to deal with their own sexuality, let alone define it. The hormones unleashed on them at puberty are still raging in their systems and most of them are still trying to sort all of that out.

Guess what, in Utah schools it takes permission from parents to talk about the physical aspects of human sexuality. Why is homosexual sex being treated as something they don't need permission to talk about, when heterosexual sex is?

"But that's not what we're about!" the pundits scream again. It doesn't matter. There is a thing called the "law of unintended consequences" at work here. Kids are curious. At that age they're mostly curious about sex. They can't help it. They're going ask questions. They're going to invite each other to participate in sexual exploration outside of the confines of the club in order to answer those questions. Without intending to, these clubs will foster an atmosphere where sexual promiscuousness is encouraged, peer to peer.

Think my argument is baseless? Feel free to comment and blow holes in it.

Let the flaming begin.