Friday, January 21, 2011

The Trouble with Telepaths

I'm going to bitch about Babylon 5, so here's your escape hatch.

Byron, the rogue PsiCop, was quite possibly the most annoying character I've ever run across in sci fi. (Keep in mind that I've been exposed to Deanna Troi.) He shows up on Babylon 5 in the fifth season little more than a beggar, asking for permission to set up a colony of rogue telepaths in direct violation of Earth law. Captain Lochley very wisely turns him down, but Michael-Steele wannabe John Sheridan, President of the Interstellar Alliance, overrides her. Not two weeks later, when one of Sheridan's lackeys comes asking for a favor, Byron turns him away with open contempt and (overdramatic) mockery. Way to mind-scan the hand that feeds you!

Later, when Byron finds out (during sex with Lyta that's telepathically shared by the rest of Byron's little coterie of psychic hippies) that the Vorlons are responsible for creating telepaths, he comes to the most baffling conclusion possible: the other races owe him and his psychic hippies their own home. Leaving aside the incredible creepiness of the tele-sex (yikes), Byron misses the fact that although every race was used by the Vorlons, he and his hippies got superpowers. The others just got used. Still, Byron never lets reality get in the way of his delusions, so he instantly begins "planning" his next move.

Now, if you were a P12 with the personal friendship of the President of the Interstellar Alliance who was currently banging the most powerful telepath in the universe, you'd have some pretty strong advantages, right? However, you are not an overwrought drama queen with shampoo-commercial hair and a baseless sense of entitlement. Byron is not you. Byron is barking idiot. So he decides to blackmail the ISA into granting him and his people a planet. An entire planet. Most people might be satisfied with a town or even a small city, but Goldilocks has to have the whole shebang. When the ISA reacts with dismay to this blackmail, Byron locks himself and his hippies in the shittiest part of the station and says there will be a hunger strike until their planet arrives.

The members of the ISA, quite correctly, are cheered by this. After all, a man who has threatened to reveal their innermost secrets has now threatened to starve himself to death. Would that all of the douchebags in my life would be so accommodating. Naturally, Byron loses control of his hippies, some of whom run off to take hostages and act tough until Byron's conscience reasserts itself and he kills the bunch of them, loyalists and rebels both, by igniting some fuel with a PPG.


Byron thought telepaths were a more evolved form of humanity, but I think a chimpanzee with a meat tenderizer could have gotten closer to being given a planet than that pack of self-righteous, mind-reading morons. Criminy.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A return to tradition

More craziness in Congress...the Republicans must once again be in charge of the House or Representatives. Once the anti-flag-burning amendment is introduced, I'll be certain of it.

Reading the Constitution aloud is just a harmless bit of silliness, compared to this truly useless measure:

[House Republicans] say they will require every new bill to contain a statement by the legislator who wrote it, citing the constitutional authority to enact the proposed law.

I just can't figure out exactly what this measure is supposed to accomplish. Obviously, no legislator will introduce a bill she herself believes to be unconstitutional, but that doesn't mean her colleagues will agree. Lawmakers often disagree about the meaning of the Constitution...they're like people that way. People interpret the Constitution in a variety of ways, and usually in line with their ideological beliefs. Slapping a constitutional citation on the front of a bill isn't going to convince those who believe the bill unconstitutional; hell, even actual rulings by courts don't always accomplish that. (There are still Americans who believe that the income tax is unconstitutional.) At the end of the day, the courts, and not Congress, decide if a law squares with our founding document, and no citation on a bill will change that. Period.

But I suppose a return to the past is a reminder that, like gravity, there are some things you can always rely upon.