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Monday, October 09, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Season 3 Opener

Spoiler Alert: I don’t think there are any actual spoilers here, but if you haven’t seen the episode yet, come back and read this after you have.

I love Battlestar Galactica. It is the best-written Sci-Fi show ever made, possibly the best-written show on TV altogether. One of the reasons for this is that the producers and writers have decided not to rely on cheap Sci-Fi clichés and technogimmicks, but rather to write believable characters, story and dialogue. Within its own universe, everything that goes on makes perfect sense. They don’t need to invent wormholes or alien space clouds or visit the planet of the week to create drama. They set events in motion and let them play out naturally.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they haven’t thrown in some unexpected twists. I myself was somewhat concerned about last season’s cliffhanging episode, in which the entire setting of the story was more or less flushed out an airlock, and the crew was land-locked on some dismal planet like a bunch of intergalactic trailer park trash. I had hoped that the end of the episode (or perhaps, the start of the new season) would prove this to be a dream sequence or some alternate reality. Well guess what. This ain’t Star Trek. It’s real. Maybe a little too real.

See, this is what disturbed me about the season opener: The producers seem intent to use the show to draw parallels to current events, in order to make us think about them in a different way, much as Star Trek did during the Sixties. But the parallels are imperfect, and the viewers need to be aware of that, lest they allow the show to draw them to false conclusions about what’s going on in the real world.

To wit, this appears to be what the current season is about:

There are insurgents, and then there are insurgents. There are the insurgents who rose up against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto, who fought them in the forests of the Ukraine, who fought off 5 invading Arab armies in Israel. And there are the insurgents who blow up armored personnel carriers and mosques in Baghdad. Some are heroes and some are terrorists. What’s the difference?

There are collaborators, and then there are collaborators. There are collaborators who tell the Shin Bet when a terrorist strike will occur so it can be stopped, or who risk their lives to patrol the streets in Iraq. And there are the collaborators who welcomed the Nazis into France, or who saved their own skins in the Concentration camps by oppressing their fellow Jews. Some are heroes and some are traitors. What’s the difference?

The simple answer would be that it depends on what side you’re on. If the insurgents are blowing up an Arab armored column to prevent it from taking over a Jewish town (I’ve been watching “Cast a Giant Shadow”), then we call them brave heroes. If a Kapo is ratting out someone who gave an extra potato to an old woman, then she is the most evil of traitors. And on the surface, this appears to be what Battlestar Galactica is going for. It spent two seasons introducing us to these characters that we care a great deal about and sympathize with. And now it has suddenly placed them into new roles that, while they do make sense given the story, make us very uncomfortable. We don’t like to see our friends strapping bombs on and blowing up policemen. But in the context of the story, it makes perfect sense. How then can we feel so differently about Islamic suicide bombers who at least, on the surface, have similar motivations?

But this reasoning is flawed. Because saying that it’s just a matter of which side you choose to identify with raises the ugly specter of moral equivalence. Both causes are the same, both situations are the same, toss a coin and pick a side. And more disturbingly, it assumes that given the same situation, you would act no differently than the terrorist. But the causes are not the same, and the situations are not parallel.

The producers fill the screen with imagery and a dramatic set-up which is evocative of the Warsaw Ghetto at times, a Concentration camp at others, but then use terminology pulled directly from contemporary conflicts such as Iraq or Israel. The metaphors are most certainly mixed.

I think that it’s the context that makes the difference. What are the insurgents fighting for? Are they fighting for freedom for their people against an oppressing occupier? Or are they fighting to intimidate their people and force a rule of tyranny? What is the end result they are after? And will it justify the means to get there?

I wonder where BSG is going with this. Even one of the characters says that suicide bombing can never be justified, regardless of the cause. But of course, there is another character who says that there’s no difference between sending a soldier on a suicide mission in a Viper and strapping a bomb to him. I think the difference depends on the target. If your target is a bunch of strollers in a market, you’re no soldier.

It’ll be interesting to see how this ends up.

Your opinions?


Doctor Bean said...

Great post. Terrific analysis.

B&C and I were also very troubled by the first episode. We'll see in which direction the season goes, but if they make it but if they make it clear that their organizing metaphor is:
American soldiers = cylons
Iraqi insurgents = human insurgents
American training of Iraqi police = cylon traning of human police/collaborators
then we just won't be able to keep watching.

Ezzie said...

To be honest, I've never seen an episode of it. But because a few people have mentioned it (including you), I read an article about it recently that discussed this very episode. This is exactly what I gathered from reading it, and I was pretty much troubled by the same exact things (again, never having seen it). My guess is I'd be like Dr. Bean if I did watch it - people like to over or undersimplify serious moral issues to push certain agendas while giving the 'other viewpoint' somewhat of a short thrift (while trying to not appear as such).

I think it's good to see how other people view the same issue - but that doesn't make them right.

(L'havdil:) My friend was a soldier in the IDF, and often used to be put on checkpoint duty in Jenin. All day, he'd watch as thousands of Palestinians would wait hours to get through. He said how it makes you sympathize deeply with them, and appreciate why they're so frustrated and desperate... until one of them tries to blow up a bunch of your friends and you're reminded just how necessary it all is.

PsychoToddler said...

I've read analyses on a few other blogs now, and there are definitely some points here that seemed to have been "forced" to make an Iraq analogy.

EG The Cylons just killed 20 billion humans. They themselves are impervious to death (since they regenerate in new bodies).

Why then would suicide bombing be effective against them? Why would they care if Cylons OR humans died in such attacks?

We know why it works against Westerners--we care about life and are cowed into submission by the terrorists. But it should have no effect on the Cylons. And trying to kill fellow humans seems contrary to the preservation of the human race.

And again, the producers seem to want to have it both ways--an evil occupation like the Nazis, but a despicable way of fighting them, which seems gratuitous.

What's the point?

Doctor Bean said...

Ezzie & PT: links to the articles, please.

PsychoToddler said...

Here's a Google Blog Search.



Jacqueline Passey

this is a lot of work! When will they automate links in blogger, for crying out loud!

Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey said...

"Why then would suicide bombing be effective against them?"

The suicide bombings were used to kill human collaborators (police recruits, and their original target was Baltar) and destroy infrastructure (the power station) that the Cylons were using.

Also, the first suicide bomber on the show was a Cylon, in a previous season.

Halfnutcase said...

you g-d forsaken heratic! bow before the majestic grandure of babylon five! ;-)

personaly i prefered the babylon fives presentation of the oppressor oppressee scenerio, and every one elses reaction to it.

that was a story with depth of character (but then on, having been written begining to end 10 years before it was produced kinda does that for you)

Neil Harris said...

You crack me up! I actually watched about 20 minutes of it before I fell asleep. I was more of a ST:DS9 fan.

Nati said...

Yikes, you totally lose me with this sci-fi stuff - we have enough of this kind of thing going on at home with Alex's books from Brighton Beach. Note: Half-human/half-robot creatures look waaaaay more ominous and weird with Russian letters all over the place!

Anonymous said...

There are a few major differences between a suicide bomber of the modern sort and the soldier sent on a mission that may be suicidal.

The first is that the soldier has some expectation of returning. That expection may be very, very slim. Even if the expection is effectively zero they (the soldier) will not be considered a failure if they return. A modern suicide bomber is expected to die, and that is one of the reasons they do it that way.

The second is that a modern suicide bomber ussually is not on a mission of any tactical importance. The gain of a suicide bomber is the death. There is often no consideration of the destruction of material or infrastructure, and certainly (with the possible exception of the Pentagon target of Sept 11) no strategic value of the targets chosen. Suicide bombers are not weapons of war, they are weapons of terror. The pursuit of a strategy of terror mostly elminates the need for any tactical consideration because tactical gains don't really exist.

I, like you, hope they don't go down the moral equivalency route in BSG. It would kill the show for me.

Halfnutcase said...

the world trade center buildings also had considerable tactical value, by destroying them they did considerable damage to our assets and economy as well as national pride and those are legitimate targets for any kind of war (even this one). Targeting them was no less legitamate than targeting a major military base, and certainly a better choice. We did very similar things to germany, indeed we made far far less ethical choices.

Generaly al quida has proved to attack targets of segnificant, altough subtle, tactical segnificance; at least they have as a historical precedent. That's why i'm not so sure they where directly responsable for any of the more recent "al quida" attacks. More than likely they're affiliates who are simply trying to carve their own name on al-quidas backs.

(and yes, from a military/strategic standpoint mass transit systems are also legitimate tactical choices, although for it to be a viable choice it has to be done regularly, with the aim being to bring transit and transportation to a standstill for long periods of time, one time acts are more terrorist acts than military, as the only relevant issue then is loss of life, you don't do segnificant damage to infostructure, economy, production, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Actually, according the 4th Geneva Convention, the WTC was not a valid target. It also did not have tactical value in that the destruction of the towers themselves did not do considerable damage to US assets. The cost and importance of the infrastructure that was destroyed was insignificant. The emotional cost is another matter, but that goes more to my point about it being a terror act, not a tactical operation. While the US did indeed do things far worse to Germany and Japan, that predates the 4th GC and was, at the time, considered to be morally acceptable and follows a Clausewitz theory which we now hold to be theoretically intersting but morally problematic.

Al Quida has never attached a target that is tactically significant (subtle or otherwise). Even the USS Kole was not tactically significant even though it was a military target. The Kole was the equivalent of a publicity stunt.

While mass transit systems are a legitimate target (only if limited civial cauasualties can be caused) and may be tactically relevent the aim of destroying them is to limit the ability of the enemy to move or transport material and troups (in this case, hostages count as material). A terrorist strike on a transit system does not have those goals. A terrorist strike on a transit system is designed to kill people and make the news: economic damage is a secondary affect. It is vitally important to not confuse the actions of a terrorist with the actions of a military force: they are diffent and that difference is important.

Ezzie said...

Dr. Bean - Unfortunately, the article I read was (gasp) in a print form. I *believe* it was USA Today, sometime last week, probably last Tuesday or Wednesday. That's about as good as I can get.

Kiwi the Geek said...

I've never watched the show, and now I'm glad, because I hate when entertainment turns into a moral allegory. But the issue of who's a hero and who's a terrorist is clouded by the loss of something previous generations took for granted, and current society deplores: moral absolutes. If there's no authoritative basis from which to start your reasoning, then it really is all about perspective.

PsychoToddler said...

Jacqueline: Thanks for coming by. I'm aware that they played with this terrorist theme in prior seasons. The old canard of "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" was employed in the first Zarek episode, but subsequent episodes have portrayed him as more of an opportunist than a patriot, especially since he was instrumental in the distastrous decision to settle New Caprica (a move he seems to be regretting).

It actually makes MUCH more sense (and is a better analogy) for the Cylons to be the suicide bombers, since they basically reincarnate immediately, and in that respect have more in common with the Islamist who believes that by killing civilians he will instantly appear in heaven surrounded by 70 virgins. Neither the Colonials nor Westerners have such illusions.

And again, I don't know why the cylons would give a flying frak about colonials blowing each other up (obviously, some don't).

HNC: I am no heretic! I wrote very eloquently on the applicability of Babylon 5 to current events on this tread on Treppenwitz (a guest post by Doc Bean).

BTW I assume you are being rhetorical with your statements concerning the legitmacy of the WTC as targets of war. A legitimate war target is one which hampers your enemy's ability to prosecute a war. The opposite was acheived here. Also, I do not believe were were in a formal state of war with any country at the time, nor does Al Qaida represent a specific government. This was a perfect terror target, precisely because it was an undefended structure full of civilians (as jbs has been saying).

PsychoToddler said...

Don't you love it when you write this whole long comment and blogger craps out when you publish?


Neil: I had similar issues with DS9's faulty analogies:

Bajorans=Palestinians, so therefore



Cardassians were much more like the old USSR, and the Bajoran situation (persecuted minority trying to keep their one small planet which is constantly invaded and taken over) much more akin to the Jews.

Nati: Sorry you're not as geeky as me. Russians invented the word "robot."

jbs: I agree with you. The goal of terrorism is to change public opinion and therefore government policy through fear and intimidation. To the extent that we allow this to happen, we are complicit with terrorists.

Kiwi: I would guess that there are alot of things about this show you would not like. It is definitely not family friendly.

Mrs. B and I started to watch this episode in the living room. Within about 30 seconds we switched to the upstairs bedroom.

Chaim said...

This is a great discussion. I loved the episode as a whole I just wasn't so comfrotable with the undertone.


30cal said...

y'know, i think the reason people think this way these days is becuz they DON'T back up and view the bigger picture. If iraqi insurgents are called freedom fighters in the New York Times, anyone can make the equation- but thats leaving out all the rest of the inofrmation, such as the somewhat pivotal "what exactly they're fighting for". ppl only want to look at whats in front of them, what supports their personal views, not the subtler undertones that undermine them. obviously the media- and BSG- has caught on to this reality, and chooses to show the partial, skewed version that those who choose not to think will find more appealling.

Halfnutcase said...

no i was being quite serious PT.

the Work that went on in the WTC was a corner stone of not only our economies but an important trading station for the entire world.

in that vein in made an effect target for an act of war.

the amount of trade that those towers facilitated is staggering. I don't think anyof us really can comprehend the amount of damage that destroying those did to our economy for a long time. Furthermore lets not forget that there where a number of other planes that where supposed to fly that day that we stopped when we shut down the skies. Those where not the only targets, and a systematic attack like apperantly planned would have seriously hampered our production and economic viability, at least for a while.

thank g-d they only got to destroy those three pillars of our economy instead of more of it, and we're all thankfull for that.

but can you immagine that billions in losses our economy suffered because of the trade that DID NOT happen? that was more than likely their intended target, not necessarily the lives. As far as they are concerned the lives where probably bonuses. And lets not forget that everyone was rather suprised when the towers fell. The damage done was considered before hand to be insufficiant to bring them down. Had they not fallen they would have shut down trade there for a period of time, casualties would have been much much lower, and that would have been that.

(mind you we would have still lost billions in revenue due to shutting down the twin towers)

personaly i think osama tried to buy a garnet and got ruby for his money. i don't think he was planning on doing quite the damage he did.

and if he attacked the world trade centers only for the lives that where lost, he's a royal idiot. Much much better ways to accomplish that. Furthermore there are much better ways to accomplish spreading terror than that as well. As long as we continue to undererstimate his intelligence and the breadth of what he desires to accomplish, we WILL see another terror attack here in the united states because he already is several steps ahead of us. Shame on you PT, you're brighter than that.

His goal is to bring this country to it's knees, Not to terrorize it's inhabitants. Terroizing them is only a tiny part of a much, much larger goal. Killing us just for the sake of death and distruction brings him no benifite and only makes him enemies. It does little but make us angry.

Personaly i don't think there's been a serious attempt at a 911 style attack period with in the past 5 years. My suspician is that he's lulling us in to a false sense of security.

for a terrorist bringing down the towers was infintile and innefective. He'd be much better with suicide bombings such as done in isreal when you don't know when or where it will strike. This kind of elaborate set up would be wasted on just trying to cause terror.

Kiwi the Geek said...

Oh, we watch plenty of family-unfriendly stuff, we just exclude a certain subset of the family. We're not the type of fundamentalist/conservatives who only watch low-budget Christian movies. Maybe I've given a false impression of myself. Actually, Beloved and I have somewhat different boundaries, based on how things affect us.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I just have a tendancy to see anti-Zionist diatribes everywhere I look, but I assumed the producers were making the IDF out to be Cylons and the humans to be the Palestinians. It seemed to me to be a half-veiled attempt to create sympathy in the viewing populace for the "plight" of those whose "land" is "occupied" by Israel.

Since I tend to be one who politically leans heavily towards being a Kahanist, I didn't care for this blatent bit of propaganda.

Doctor Bean said...

Anon: I know a lot of right-wing Jews. Many of them would now agree with many of Kahana's positions. I've never heard any of them call themselves Kahanists, nor would I. Ted Kaczynski and I may both think that taxes should be cut, but I wouldn't call myself a kaczynskist. Knowhatimean?

Shira Salamone said...

Okay, now that I've finally caught up--I just finished watching the show off the DVR--I'll put in my two cents. And I do mean two cents. Being a gullible person in terms of politics, I'm far too easily persuaded of anything by anyone, so I usually avoid politics like the plague. I'm going to talk about the personal stuff, instead.

Ellen Tigh actually genuinely loves her husband, even though she usually sleeps with anyone in sight even when she's *not* trying to save her hubby's life? Who knew?

Boomer is about to be coopted by the "toasters" by what's probably the only means possible--the discovery that the ovary that the Cylons swiped from her while she was their prisoner was used to create a daughter?

Now that Sharon # 3 (?) -- the one who returned to New Caprica with the invasion fleet -- is the only surviving human sympathizer among the Cylons on New Caprica, will there be an alliance between her and Sharon # 2, the newly-sworn-in Colonial Fleet officer, after Sharon #2's almost inevitable capture? Stay tuned.

Notice how I’m deftly (?) avoiding discussing the larger political picture? I still haven’t recovered from all the talk of politics that I did on my blog and elsewhere during the recent war in Israel. I’m not really ready to talk about politics, suicide bombings, and terrorist attacks again. But I will say this: Colonel Tigh is correct in saying that, in the final analysis, a suicide mission is a suicide mission, whether the cause of death is having your ship blown out of the sky or using yourself as the weapon, like Shimshon (Samson). The difference between a soldier and a terrorist is the target.

Mark/PT, when I write a long-winded comment such as this one, I write it in Word, so that, if Blogger “eats” it, I can always retrieve it and try again.

Shira Salamone said...

"there is another character who says that there’s no difference between sending a soldier on a suicide mission in a Viper and strapping a bomb to him. I think the difference depends on the target. If your target is a bunch of strollers in a market, you’re no soldier."

"Colonel Tigh is correct in saying that, in the final analysis, a suicide mission is a suicide mission, whether the cause of death is having your ship blown out of the sky or using yourself as the weapon, like Shimshon (Samson). The difference between a soldier and a terrorist is the target."

Er, next time, maybe I should re-read the original post before publishing a comment. Either my memory is shot (this is news?), you're very persuasive, or great minds think alike. :)

PsychoToddler said...

Chaim: As always, it was a very compelling episode. I just don’t care for what it’s compelling me to think.

30cal: Good point. Lack of perspective is a big problem for the mainstream media and its target audience. Also what really pisses me off about the inaccurate labeling (“insurgents” vs “terrorists”) is not just that it fails to call a terrorist a terrorist. It also ruins it for the good guys, the actual insurgents or true freedom fighters who are fighting for democracy and peace. When you call someone who targets civilians in a market place an insurgent, then it gets harder to root for insurgents in the Warsaw Ghetto, or in pre-48 Palestine, or against the Evil Galactic Empire.

HNC: Oh, no question that our economy has suffered since the attack. The ripples will be felt for generations, I think. The cost of doing just about any kind of business is affected by higher transportation and energy costs. However, as a military target, it was still lacking. It certainly had no effect on our ability to wage war, and if anything was the main catalyst towards getting into it. Pearl Harbor was a despicable sneak attack, but it did cripple our efforts immediately in the Pacific. The WTC was a terror target with bonus effects on our economy, which just makes us mad, and their goal is that the inconvenience it causes us will make us force our leaders to change policy in the Middle East, and so far it’s working pretty well on that account. So, no, I do not underestimate them at all. These are smart people, but evil none the less, and our media, be it news or entertainment, should NOT be siding with them over us. WE are not the enemy. BUSH is not the enemy. The ENEMY is the enemy. I don’t know why this is so hard for people.

I also agree that it would be much more terrifying if people started walking into pizza parlors here and blowing themselves up. Thank G-d we don’t have to deal with that—yet. But if it did happen, I do think that all this moral ambiguity regarding the war on terror would be wiped away.

Kiwi: Gotcha. My preference generally runs towards Sci Fi movies, which traditionally have been pretty clean except for the occasional alien gore, but that’s all make-believe. However, more sex is creeping in, which means it’s harder to watch when kids are around.

Anonymous: I have issues with people who say that Jews see anti-Semitism under every rock, especially when you see that almost unique amongst nations, Jews are overly self-critical and willing to see the other point of view (my G-d, look what has become of Steven Spielberg!), but the sad truth is that more often than not, when anti-Semitism is alleged, it is really there.

Doc: If you are in favor of the forced transfer of Palestinians from the Territories, you are a Kahanist.

Shira: Finally! Somebody wants to talk about Battlestar Galactica!
Re Ellen, yes, I was not convinced of her origin, but this episode certainly makes it seem she’s not a cylon. But she could still be a sleeper like Sharon.

You meant Starbuck, I think. Who knows which way that will go, but she seems to be warming up to that guy that she keeps stabbing repeatedly. As a parent, I found that whole subplot with the kid to be very disturbing. I think I have seen this somewhere else, can’t remember where, where a kid suddenly gets dropped on someone, and the parent doesn’t warm up to the kid until somebody makes an “accident” happen. Anyone remember where that’s from?

As for Sharon 2 (btw is that really her meeting up with them at the river or an imposter?) I’m pretty sure she will find out what happened to her kid and turn on Adama and Rosilin.

Thanks for the Word tip! Guess what?

Halfnutcase said...

correction. bush is also an enemy to our people and our country. no less than bin laden. unfortunately he also happens to head it :-(.

bush is doing everything he can to run this country in to the ground. we shouldn't delude our selves in to thinking hes a good guy. even if hes not evil perse hes still incompetant enough to alow himself to be manipulated and controlled by terrorists in to doing exactly what will help their cause most, (and it doesn't hinder them one bit) and hes to much of an idiot to realize he's being manipulated.

kasamba said...

Since I'm a Trekkie, I'll just say,

"Beam me up, Scottie!"

Doctor Bean said...

So what did you think of episode 2?

I thought it was much better and essentially abandoned the metaphor that bugged all of us in the season premiere.

PsychoToddler said...

1. Much better. Gone is the Iraq analogy. More of the Nazi/Partisan feel.

2. Awesome episode in general. The old BSG is back! (and I was right about my Sharon prediction).

3. When do we get the Lee Adama workout-and-lose-50-pounds montage?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

PT: I am SOOOOO jealous! I LOVE that show, and it's gonna take forever to get here to Israel.


PsychoToddler said...

I'm pretty sure you can get it from itunes or someplace similar.

CavalierX said...

Great post. The season opener got me so riled that I have stopped watching the show altogether, and wrote to the Sci-Fi channel to tell them why.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I have to say I am somewhat conflicted on the analogies and who represents who.

I actually started watching this show because I love Mary McDonnell and I will keep watching it because of her. I love all the religious/Torah imagery with searching for a new home and lead by a woman who will not see that new home.

I assume (in part because of public perception of palestinians as the innocesnts and the opppressed) that the humans do in some ways represent Palestinians and the Cylons (who believe in 1 G-d and a unifying spirit) as the Jews.

Maybe I'm wrong in that assumption. I'd like to think that I am and that they simply represent a struggle against oppression, and the difficulty of "fighting ethically."

As my 2 cents, I also find the Starbuck/toddler subplot highly disturbing. But maybe that's their point: the "bad guys" aren't all bad, and have children too.

I don't think I can NOT watch/Tivo this show.

PsychoToddler said...


I'm not sure the "torah imagery" is meant to be complimentary. I think it's there to make them seem primitive.

I've also found it interesting that the Colonials, who are very similar to us, are polytheists while the Cylons, who are meant to be alien, are monotheists. I've wondered where they were going at this, but I think now that it's meant to take jabs at right wing Christian groups. There is the whole "our God is the true God so you'd better see the light if you want salvation" thingie which is not part of Judaism but inherent in Christianity.

I don't think I see the cylon/israel, colonial/palestinian analogy very well. I do see more of a colonial/iraqi insurgent angle but thankfully it's being played down in subsequent episodes.

In season 2 (which I'm watching as I exercise), I see a number of "home grown" terror groups which resemble a ramped up "Peace Now" and makes the demands of Peace Now or similar groups that advocate giving in to terrorism seem absurd, and I think this is why many people felt the show was Pro-Israel.

In other words, there's just a small remnant of survivors from a genocide, it is being continuously hounded by a greater force that has said, quite clearly, that it's only demand is the destruction of the remnant, and yet, there are those who think that it is the people who govern and protect that remnant that is the enemy.

But as for the rest, who knows?

I agree, Mary McDonnell (and most of the cast) is awesome.

PsychoToddler said...

Episode 3 (maybe it's 4):

Man oh MAN this is more like it! Great special effects, intense action, amazing plot twists...I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!

Keep it coming, BSG!

Question: What did you think of the Casey resolution?

Mike said...

PT Said...
"It actually makes MUCH more sense (and is a better analogy) for the Cylons to be the suicide bombers, since they basically reincarnate immediately, and in that respect have more in common with the Islamist who believes that by killing civilians he will instantly appear in heaven surrounded by 70 virgins."

It makes more sense in a stronger way, I think. When a homicide bomber martyrs himself, his is replaced instantly with another that is inspired by the act. This is amazingly close to the Cylon downloading... where the full memetic package of one Cylon is delivered to the next.

The memes of the homicide bombers in the arab world travel to the next wave of bombers in a similar way.

Excellent base blog, BTW. Brilliant.