THE PAVILION ANNEX

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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FrankChurch
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby FrankChurch » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:54 am

A little too sharp. Watch it kid..lol

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Harlan gets pissed at me all the time, but then turns into the milk and cookies. The guy is complex. He yells at Josh all the time and they are close friends.

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Chuck Messer
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Chuck Messer » Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:40 pm

Gore Vidal is interviewed in the current issue of The Humanist. In the interview, Vidal was asked about suggesting we have a constitutional convention. He suggested that we could use a little house cleaning, like getting rid of the Electoral College.

DN: I’d be worried that if a Constitutional convention was held—

Gore Vidal: Oh, I know—they’d get rid of the Bill of Rights. They’ve already done it. You can only restore it. That’s the only radical thing you can do.


So what do you think? Is a constitutional convention a good idea? Is it even possible anymore? What issues do you think need to be addressed in such a convention?

Chuck
Some people are wedded to their ideology the way nuns are wed to God.

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markabaddon
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby markabaddon » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:15 pm

A constitutional convention might be the best way to get rid of the electoral college, which I think is an outdated concept, but I think it will be very difficult to have anything ratified in the current politcal climate. Even ideas that should be bipartisan, like taking away federal funding for companies that make employees sign away the right to sue them (an Al Franken amendment) become polarized.
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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Jan
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Postby Jan » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:16 pm

Joao: You write in Portuguese, which is also the language of Brazil, which has a larger SF/F community and perhaps more magazines. Portuguese also has the advantage of being easily translateable into Spanish later on.
You mentioned elsewhere the cost of having books shipped in from America - you should get them from England. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk (prices include shipping - but not your sales tax) or http://www.play.com (free shipping) come to mind for new books, and for medium quality used books (often with library stickers but never damaged) try http://www.betterworld.com (USA) or http://www.awesomebooks.co.uk. You may find better places depending on what you need. They all deliver fast (two weeks) and cheap. Right now the Euro is weaker than usual.



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"Robbie is spoiled, recalcitrant, sassy, narcissistic, self-absorbed, pugilistic, jejune, imperious, truculent, and LOUD!" - Rob

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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Moderator » Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:54 pm

I have had the unfortunate experience in living in what is as close to a true and actual "democracy", and I'm not impressed. After the debacle of 2000 I thought the best resolution was to abolish the Electoral College. Take a straight vote and let the majority rule, that was my philosophy. This, of course, died in 2004 when the majority re-elected GWB to a second term.

California has experimented with a process that is roughly equivalent to an actual one-vote-per-person democracy and found it sincerely lacking. The current fiscal crisis is largely a result of democratic voting. We, in the Golden State, are regularly asked to vote on spending in Sacramento. Yes, we ought to spend on that; No, that we will not pay for. Sounds good on paper. Except that left to our own devices -- and the vagaries of a political campaign -- Californians have been encouraged to vote for things that make no economic sense. We pay for things that do nothing for the state economy, while at other times turn down proposals which would do us good.

The voters, it turns out, are not paid to make the difficult choices. We'll gladly vote for something with a good ad campaign, while at the same time do stupid things that cost us the value of our schools, our public services, and other government-provided programs. Prop 13 is an ace example. Let's freeze tax values at a certain level, ignoring the fact that while I can pocket an additional fifty bucks a year, our schools are forced into near bankruptcy. And Prop 8? Prop8? Yes, let us, the goodly progressive Californians of the world, vote for bigotry and sexism. Fear for the kiddies. Ad campaigns: your new friend.

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent and perceptive voter, but I cannot hope to be as learned as someone who I pay to act in my best interest. What we've done is to give the legislature permission to do nothing, while the taxpayers of the state vote for those things which are bright and shiny, and feature the best ad campaign.

No. As much as I dislike representational government - instead of direct-voting democratic equalitization, it does service a purpose -- and that is to shield us from the truly ignorant dumbfucks who know nothing more than putting an X in a certain box will endear us to Sarah Palin for the next four years. Purely because "she says so".
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Chuck Messer
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Chuck Messer » Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:06 pm

Hmm. And the dumb fucks certainly have had too much say in matters as it is. Suppose we leave the electoral college and turn to other matters. Like maybe shoring up the Bill of Rights? I sure miss the fourth amendment, victim of the 'drug wars'.

Chuck
Some people are wedded to their ideology the way nuns are wed to God.

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David Loftus
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby David Loftus » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:05 pm

I haven't traced this particular conversation back to its sources -- just happened by and noticed Steve Barber's last post -- but I gotta chime in here with my disillusionment toward one person/one vote democracy.

When I was in high school, we trumpeted Oregon's tradition of initiative petitions, which goes back many decades. The voters had the right to circulate initiatives and gather signatures equal to a small percentage of the total number of registered voters in the state, so that they could propose new legislation in their interests, or overturn bills that the state legislature had passed but which appeared to be not in the public's best interest, and have their fellow citizens vote on the issue. Some good legislation came out of this process in the past.

In the years since, I've witnessed an array of pernicious developments that encrusted this option with a proud history, to the point where I'm ready to junk it.

First, corporate and activist interests (usually conservative or downright reactionary) have increasingly launched initiative drives and sold voters on the idea of referendums that are often not in their own best interests.

Second, these same interests have poured huge amounts of money not only into advertising that can be misleading and even downright mendacious in the effort to get their pet projects into law, but also paid signature gatherers to hustle up the names to put these measures on the ballot.

Third, when these stupid bits of legislation get passed by a majority of the gullible public, more knowledgeable parties have challenged them in court, and as often as not, they get struck down -- and rightly so -- at great expense.

Fourth, the state legislature has become even more cowardly, not only fearing to pass controversial legislation but referring measures to the voters for a referendum even when they DO pass useful legislation -- thus making themselves largely redundant and useless.

Of course legislators are always prey to the blandishments of high-paid lobbyists. But many of them still think of their constituents' best interests, and sometimes pay attention to them, in a way that many voters simply do not consider their neighbors and the effects of their vote on what are sold to them as very simple issues.

It's been a helluva waste. Bring back representative government, I say. The people are not smart enough to govern themselves.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Duane
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Duane » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:26 pm

Speaking of the public voting on wasteful spending:

Proposition 1A: A bond measure to raise 30 billion dollars to put high speed rail between Northern and Southern California. Two areas with high urban concentrations 350 miles apart, serviced by no less than three freeways and at least 75 flights by Southwest alone. Oh yeah, and an AmTrak route.

Siemens is running commercials nonstop talking about how great it will be when this shiny new toy is ready to go. I'd type more about it, but my fingers are speechless.

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Duane
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Duane » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:29 pm

From an analysis of the proposition:

Currently, California does not have a high-speed intercity passenger train system that provides service at sustained speeds of 200 miles per hour or greater.


OH, NO!!!!

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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby cynic » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:13 pm

Duane wrote: shiny new toy
that sums up high speed rail well
the vastly more energy efficient rail system took big hits from the more flexible, low initial investment trucking and petrol industry (stinky buses wiped out trolleys nationwide).
any serious goods transport system overhaul will include a shift back to rail, with local truck cartage an important part.
the "need" and practicality of high speed passenger rail seems to me as little more sensible than having your own flying car (remember those, in popular mechanics?)
i don't recall the specifics, but of three proposed high speed systems (US), only one showed a likelyhood of benefit (i think it was on the east coast).

David,
in case you haven't seen this
"Oregon ballot measure system under scrutiny "
http://www.tdn.com/news/article_da30fb8 ... e9dd1.html
"There’s no doubt that Oregonians are fond of their initiative system — they have voted on nearly 350 initiative measures since 1902."
follow your bliss,mike

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robochrist
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby robochrist » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:15 pm

Jan...

I have many fine quotes to my legacy. My own personal favorite, one I consider my trademark: "The difference between myself and a sociopath is that I DO empathize with my victims".

Just supplying you with qualitative ammo!

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robochrist
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby robochrist » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:29 pm

On the political front re: what fragments remain of the health care bill, I used some of my time over the week sending letters to senators and congressmen around the country.

Interestingly, the other day, I wrote Kucinich, mostly with words of encouragement to the effect that outrageous nub they're calling a bill can hopefully be built on over time, the way Medicare was originally, and while his heart is in the right place this is something we should push through; that, to curb the inevitable bullshit efforts of the Right to call him a "flip-flopper, like all 'liberals' are", he should partake in a long-run campaign to develop decent coverage using the bill as a basis, and CONSTANTLY remind the public of the work ahead of them.

I like Kucinich - I appreciate him more than I use to - and I want to see him gain popularity.

Here's the interesting twist: my letter digressed, with a summation of serious grievances on issues ranging from the grip of big corporate lobbies on DC to Wall Street abuses of our tax money. Since I'm a California resident, he forwarded the message to Diane Feinstein, a Conservative Democrat representing this state, and she responded with all sorts of defenses in behalf of big business lobbies!

I replied, assuring her that she and others sharing her position in Washington are contributing to the steady erosion of the system and the middle class.

cynic
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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby cynic » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:58 pm

rob,
wednesday press conf.
"Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich announced that he will vote in for the health care bill. He previously voted against the legislation."
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/292577-1
follow your bliss,mike

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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Moderator » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:14 am

Duane wrote:Speaking of the public voting on wasteful spending:

Proposition 1A: A bond measure to raise 30 billion dollars to put high speed rail between Northern and Southern California. Two areas with high urban concentrations 350 miles apart, serviced by no less than three freeways and at least 75 flights by Southwest alone. Oh yeah, and an AmTrak route.

Siemens is running commercials nonstop talking about how great it will be when this shiny new toy is ready to go. I'd type more about it, but my fingers are speechless.


I have to disagree with you in the extreme on this one Duane. We badly need HSR in California (and America, for that matter). First, the pollution from aircraft and all those cars, not to mention the fuel costs. Having an HSR line will seriously decrease traffic on those highways, as well as reduce the carbon footprint of the state.

In addition, HSR is an excellent way to travel.I've been fortunate enough to have ridden on three of Europe's HSR trains (The TGV, Thalys and Eurostar), and found them to be far better means of travel than an airliner. More comfortable; easier boarding and departing; capable of being loaded in downtown districts instead of driving across town to LAX or SFO.

I'm a very strong advocate of the new rail line, seeing it as a vitally needed form of transportation versus an economic boondoggle. I love to travel, and have seen my fair share of airports. Give me a rail station any time. Particularly when it's as fast between two points as a crowded Southwest flight out of LAX, and far more environmentally friendly.

For anyone who wants to learn more about the project: http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Re: THE PAVILION ANNEX

Postby Kafkahead » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:36 am

Wow...Harlan thinks I'm peaches...Excuse me, but I gotta lie down. I mean... usually, around people of my daily life, I'm a smartmouth annoyance, at best, and a complete prick, at worst. My school colleagues automatically ignore everything I say, apparently out of spite (or maybe because they don't understand some jokes about literature...they still think a book is a good way to start a...nevermind, bad analogy. Let's just say they consider book pages as a source of toilet paper). :(
But to get a compliment from big HE himself, no matter how minor...woohoo, there goes my ego.
Here's what happened after I read the message: I sat down to write my story (no names given, obvious reasons), and managed a good two thousand words.

Well, sorry for the off-topic. As for the rail system story, could anyone explain me what actually what's the main problem of building the railway system? Sounds a cleaner alternative to highways, cramped roads or polluted skies (for those of you who might prefer a plane). I agree with Barber on this point.


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