The Devil and Thomas Jefferson

Hey, hey, I’m back.  I said I’d be posting more, and so far so good.

First up, for those unaware, I’m participating in Borders.com Babel Clash for the next two weeks.  So drop on by and leave a comment if you feel like it.  Finding topics to post isn’t always easy, and anything that makes my job easier is always appreciated.  http://bordersblog.com/scifi/

Also, I wrote a post for http://sfsignal.com/ that will be posted in about a week or so to coincide with the release of DIVINE MISFORTUNE.  Although I’ve already seen Misfortune in stores, but this is the official release we’re talking about.  I’ll let you know when the piece is up.

Add to this my own blogging and my occasional contributions to Orbit’s website (http://www.orbitbooks.net/), I’ve been pretty damn busy lately.  Especially if we add my novelology.  That is my main job, after all, isn’t it?  But I can’t complain.  Or I could but it would be stupid to do so.  “Woe is me.  I’m a successful writer with a growing career and an ever-expanding sphere of influence.  I’m popular, beloved, and paid to make up stories.  Oh, the troubles I got.”

Cry me a river.

So I try to avoid posting anything about politics.  There’s really no good reason why should even care what my political views are.  But sometimes, a guy has just got to speak out.

In Texas, our esteemed Board of Education has set new standards for textbooks.  I use the word “standard” in only the loosest sense.  Basically, they’ve decided to erase Thomas Jefferson while excusing Joe Mccarthy.  Now, I know that Jefferson wasn’t perfect, but the guy did write a little thing called The Declaration of Independence.  Maybe you’ve heard of it.

Meanwhile, Mccarthism is such a black eye on American history, it’s almost understandable that we want to erase it, just as we tend to overlook the founders’ flaws in favor of a mythic version of the past.  And Mccarthy, like the founders (like all of us really), was a Terran of his era.  The great communist conspiracy was a ridiculous kneejerk fear, but I try not to judge Mccarthy for it.  I do believe he thought he was doing the right thing.  And if the textbooks suggested that, I could forgive them.  But instead, they’re suggesting that the communist conspiracy was a legitimate threat.

You know there’s a problem when the government is endorsing a conspiracy theory.

Just for the record, not all of us Texans are this loonie.  Sure, plenty of us love our guns.  Plenty of us are right wing.  Plenty of us love Jesus.  I have friends on the right, left, and everywhere in-between, and if you get into it, they’re all decent people living their lives and trying to make the world a better place.  While I’ve never actually quizzed any of my right wing friends on whether or not they think Jefferson should be included in American history, I doubt they’d suggest he shouldn’t be.

And this is the people that we’ve decided to trust with our educational standards?

It’s embarrassing.  I can’t excuse it.  I can only hope that the actions of a handful of extremists doesn’t make all of Texas seem like a vast, cultural wasteland where people are only too happy to rewrite history for politics.  I could get into the way that, ironically, our information age has managed to transform facts into points of debate, how so many folks are willing to ignore truths and embrace falsehoods in the name of their own ideology.  But this is so obviously wrong, so absurd, that there’s just no need to say anything else.  Oh, well, one more thing needs to be said.

JEFFERSON WROTE THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE!

sigh.

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12 Comments

  1. Rippley
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    So, what’s the verdict? Are you making a lot of pre-order sales for Divine Misfortune?

    Babel Clash Questions:

    What do you find so intriguing about gods and monsters?

    Fortune and Misfortune (luck) plays a big part in Divine Monsters, what is your true belief on the nature of things?

    Is the Lucky character (Divine Monsters) based off a young Christian Slater (Heathers)? He seems to have Slater’s projected attitude.

    You write about slacker god/monsters, if you won the lottery tomorrow, would you become a slacker? Would you stop writing? Why/Why not?

  2. A. Lee Martinez
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Great questions. It’ll definitely give me something to write about. Not just for Babel Clash either. Thanks, Rippley.

  3. Rippley
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    A Lee Martinez,

    You are welcome!

    Take no offense to this: Batman is not magic. Batman is Bruce Wayne’s defense mechanism caused by post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from childhood run in with the death of his parents and his own near death. Batman is crazy not magic.

    p.s. Please don’t smite me.

  4. A. Lee Martinez
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    You make the same mistake most people do. You’re assuming Bruce Wayne lives in an ordinary universe. In an ordinary world, dressing up like a bat and fighting criminals would be a product of a delusional mind. But Batman doesn’t live in the real world. He lives in a world where it isn’t uncommon at all for people to put on funny costumes and fight crime. His motivation might be a bit darker than some, but that’s just backstory.

    Even if your assessment were true, it wouldn’t change the fact that Batman is superhuman in his skills and accomplishments. That’s what makes Batman magic.

    If Batman is crazy then I guess Green Arrow is just plain insane because he’s basically just a guy with a bow and arrow who fights crime. He doesn’t even have the elaborate backstory to explain it.

  5. Rippley
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Alright, you got me. I never thought about the superhero universe under those terms.

    But now you have me wondering, what causes superhero-ness in this magical universe? And what causes the chosen few to be fated? Because if the comic universe itself is magic, then any random person in that universe could potentially be magic. I mean, do comic universe people become “magical” because a great wrong has been done to them? Or what?

  6. CatJuggling
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    That’s a really good question Rippley and my guess is that it’s kind of a form of predestination that those kind of universes have.

    Recently in Marvel, they’ve had a Superman analog called the Sentry. They even rewrote the history books to fit him in. However, he’s very, very flawed (as is the Marvel way) and has multiple personality issues (he’s his own arch nemesis) and a failing marriage to a terrified woman. In an issue last month, she gave a testimonial on how her husband was really a junkie looking for a high when he found the serum that turned him into the Sentry. That he tried to use his superpowers as he thought he should (because of the example of other supers) but he couldn’t cut it. She makes a comment about how it takes a certain amount of character to be the good-guy, that not everyone can pull it off. Basically, that not everyone can be Captain America, because it’s not just about the powers or abilities. I wish I could condense it right now, or even remember which issue it was (Dark Avengers, I beielive) because it was a really good monologue on being a hero.

    Then again, when the universe doesn’t push powers on the guys like Bruce Wayne or Captain America, you end up with guys like Monster. Which is a whole different kind of interesting to me.

  7. Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    The comic universe is an alternate universe which parallels our non ‘magic’ world, yet has the same elements.

    This has been brought forth by another of my favorite writers, Terry Goodkind, in his series “Sword of Truth” where the main character there eventually splits his magic universe, creating a separate non-magic universe.

    Ultimately, this would indicate that there are parallel magic universes having different kinds of magic, ie… the Olde Gods and Monsters ‘magic’ and the ‘superhero’ magic, and others.

    I dunno, the notion struck me and I went with it. flow of thought kinda thing.

    T Sandoval

  8. Rippley
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    It seems my questions are rhetorical. I’m not denying that A. Lee is wrong, but without a reliable source, of which does not exist, we are left to whatever belief suits our ideology. There is no unification theory. In fact, A. Lee’s understanding seems to have confused the issue of comic book universes further, in my mind. For example, not only are we unable to understand who can become a superhero, but also if we can trust our superheroes to be the same superheroes per comic book series. For instance, is the Batman from the Justice League series the same Batman from the original Batman series? Occam’s razor has no bearing within multidimensional, magical super-verses; thus, every answer will be as jaded as the next.

    I think I understand why A. Lee decided not to define any substantial rules in any of his books. Rules, metaphysical or not, seem to destroy our suspension of disbelief (?) and the overall plot.

  9. Posted March 19, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Don’t take what I said too seriously, I don’t. (The only thing I am serious about is honey bees.)

    From the two books I have read of A. Lee’s ( “Monster” and ” In the Company of Ogres”) I felt he did have some well established rules for each of those world’s. He defined very well what Ogres do and don’t do, how much pain they can take, etc… It takes some defining of these things to build the stage, so to speak for us to sit back and enjoy the story.

    At least, that’s my thinking. ITCoO was a tremendous story and was able to build a semi-defined world that I thought made it easier to suspend disbelief.

    Anyway, Good work regardless.

    T Sandoval

  10. elizabeth
    Posted March 20, 2010 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    I know you are not big on the politics thing but Molly Ivins was and she showed those of us who were her fans that Texans are good people.

    Even if y’all are a bit weird.

  11. Jamie
    Posted March 21, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    So I guess we Texans will no longer use the nickel since Jefferson does not exist.

  12. Posted March 21, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Thomas Jefferson, a man after my own heart:

    “Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. ”

    “Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. ”

    This textbook thing is ridiculous. We need to allow our students access to a whole spectrum of historical viewpoints. Glossing over the truth does no one any favors.

    When we stop questioning with reason, we’re dead in the water.

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