This review contains mild spoilers and then some major ones. Stop at the warning if you have not seen the movie.

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Passengers, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora Lane and Chris Pratt as James Preston, is a pleasing blend of genres that, while perhaps no threat to the throne of the king of science fiction movies, is yet an entertaining tale that does everything a good story needs to do and even a little bit more. I have not seen a better movie this year and recommend the reader visit the theaters to properly appreciate it on the big screen.

James Preston, a lowly and impecunious mechanic, is a passenger on an interstellar journey along with 5,000 other passengers, bound for a colony on a world dozens of light years from Earth. The ship, moving at about half the speed of light, will take 120 years to reach its destination, so the crew and passengers have been put into suspended animation, from which they will awaken, unaged, when they are four months out from their new world.

James is awakened and, as the grogginess of sleep fades, comes to realize he is the only one who has woken up. His rising panic is only momentarily relieved when he runs into a bartender, but the bartender turns out to be a robot with less than perfect artificial intelligence. Preston is alone, and when the delights of the luxury liner become old hat, he grows lonely and increasingly desperate.

His desperation climaxes with him standing at an airlock, quite without a spacesuit, his finger on the button that will open the door and expel him into outer space. An excruciating minute drags by but he fails to summon the moment’s nerve to end his torment, and instead turns to the bio of a fellow passenger, author Aurora Lane, and gets to know her. He reads her work and listens to her interviews while he sits by her hibernation pod. His fixation grows until temptation wins and he wakes her up from her suspended animation.

One important function science fiction has is to present us with new scenarios to grapple with, and the moral dilemma which Preston faces, and fails, is nothing any human has ever had to face before. No younger sibling, terrified by a nightmare and wondering how much big brother would mind being woken up to give comfort, ever faced the millionth part of the moral quandary James Preston finds himself in. For the libertarian it is clear that Preston has violated Lane’s rights, though what to do about it and what retribution and restitution is due to Lane could be a matter of some interesting debate. Interesting and worthwhile, because something like this scenario could well be in store for our descendants.

The momentous decision Preston faces draws us into the story, and so does the scenario itself: a man on an interstellar luxury liner, at first with all its accommodations to himself and later with a bit of company for which many men might be willing to forsake society to have to themselves. The ultimate sign of a movie having engaged its audience is that audience imagining themselves as one of the characters, or at least as being in the story. I was definitely on that ship with Mr. Pratt. Furthermore, the characters are appealing. While the storytellers do not delve into them quite like Shakespeare explored Hamlet, they nevertheless gain our sympathy, and quickly, mostly due to the charismatic actors who portray them.

passengers

It more than piques my curiosity, then, to discover that this movie with its captivating scenario, compelling actors and perfectly competent craftsmanship is getting the cold shoulder by movie critics. A movie like Vertigo can understandably fail to connect with an audience who, years later, will come to adore it, but Passengers is filmed in a pretty standard fashion, with the language of cinema we all have come to know and without the hint of a strange accent, as one might expect from an independent film helmed by a misunderstood genius. A brief investigation as to why such a fine movie should be so underappreciated revealed the stench of feminism emanating from many of the complaints.

It is possible that conventional moviegoers could be put off by the blending of genres – because Passengers is both a science fiction tale and a love story of sorts – while edgier cinephiles might not care for the orthodox filming style, but this does not constitute the entire explanation. Many of the complaints flying around the Internet characterize Pratt’s role as a sexual predator. Lawrence’s Aurora Lane also comes under fire for the way, unacceptable by feminist standards, that she responds to him.

***SPOILERS*** IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE, READING THE NEXT SECTION WILL RUIN IT. RESIST THE TEMPTATION AND SKIP AHEAD TO THE END.

The charge that Preston is a sexual predator is a product of the hysterical times in which Passengers was released. In these days when feminists are convinced that one in four girls are raped while at college, that a single drop of alcohol renders a woman incapable of giving consent – though not the man, because, you know, equality – that saying hello to a woman on the street constitutes harassment, we should not be surprised that James Preston stands accused of sexual predation in a feminist Star Chamber for the crime of having a sexual relationship with a woman he awakened from hibernation. The stupidity of this should be easy for any non-feminist to see.

A sexual predator would not have waited over a year to wake a beautiful young woman from suspended animation, would not have agonized over the decision, and would not have stopped at just one. If I were a conscienceless man on board such a ship and found myself awake with nothing to do for the rest of my life, you can bet I would have myself a harem of beautiful women who might wonder at the odds that only one man came out of hibernation, but who would never be told the truth. James Preston awakens only one woman, and that only after becoming suicidal at the prospect of a life of absolute loneliness.

The complaints about Aurora Lane are just as silly. When she finds out the truth, she is angry with Preston, and understandably so. She breaks off their relationship and refuses to speak to him. But when things go wrong with the ship and Preston must put himself in danger to save them all, Aurora tells him to come back to her, because she cannot face the ship alone for the rest of her life.

To understand is to forgive, and in that moment Aurora understands what Preston did and forgives him. It would take the cold heart of a feminist not to. Perhaps a feminist will be disappointed at the reaction the heroine has, but a regular person will see the shades of gray which zealots can never seem to recognize.

***END OF SPOILERS***

The sympathetic characters and interesting scenario are bolstered by wonderful sets and special effects that make many frames tiny works of art. Everything works together to imbue that sense of wonder that comes from science fiction at its best, and that magic which comes from our favorite works of film. While the director is not a consummate master and occasionally misses opportunities with the way he handles sequences, there is very little to complain about. I went happily along for the ride with characters I plan to visit again, and at the end a song by Imagine Dragons ushers one out the door with a spring in one’s step, music which perfectly captures the feel of the bitter sweetness of the film. Even now, as I type these words, the vapors of that movie’s enchantment swirl in my head to that same tune. I think I shall not listen to another song until they finally, inevitably fade away.

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https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/praise-manly-men/

In response to “Such a Nasty Marxist,” my Canadian friend, David Maharaj, reminds me that repulsive as female feminists are, male ones are even worse.

I couldn’t agree more. My thanks go out to all you manly men who’ve resisted, defied, mocked, ignored or otherwise trashed the feminists’ toxic agenda. Are you still opening doors for ladies, yielding your seats to them, or standing when they enter the room? Thank you. Are you teaching your sons to treat women with true respect rather than with the brutal “equality” that feminism dictates? Kudos to you. Do you refuse to deny the obvious differences in the sexes despite PC’s orders to the contrary? Bravo! Do you revel in your God-given physical strength, your masculine orientation, your courage, honor, initiative and other male traits? Way to go! Do you love your wife as Christ does His Church, protecting her and your home and children as God designed you to do? May He richly bless you in this difficult task!

America desperately needs many things: repentance and spiritual revival, love of liberty, rejection of all Marxism. But among our most devastating shortages are manly men who will vanquish the cultural and political nonsense enslaving us.

Now, gentlemen, go lift some weights and smoke a few cigars.

Becky is, to judge from what she writes, a solid libertarian, and definitely not of the bleeding heart variety, but there is more than a whiff of oblivious privilege in what she wrote today.

I don't necessarily disagree with the first sentence, but after that she descends into an unbecoming display of female entitlement. Everything she talks about are traditional male obligations that provide women with certain traditional privileges. These developed in concert with certain traditional female obligations that gave men some traditional privileges, but she makes no mention of these and indeed they disappeared from society some time ago. Shall we bring them back? Ms. Akers doesn’t tell us either way, and the omission, to one who has taken the Red Pill, is rather glaring.

What possible benefit does she think she is going to get if men open all her doors? Is she that keen on saving the one tenth of a calorie that would burn up if she had to make the effort herself? Can she not simply eat an extra peanut each morning to stock up on all the energy she will need to open her own doors in a society where male privileges no longer exist?

Men giving up their seats to perfectly healthy women does provide something more of a palpable benefit, which makes it all the more maddening that she argues for it without a hint of any sort of obligation that women might have towards men. Why should men have to stand while women get to sit on a crowded subway? As a thank you for privileges afforded, such as in times past, it makes some sense. But without compensating female obligations, it feels more like some sort of Original Sin that men are born into and for which we must atone.

Blacks being forced to give up seats for whites on a bus, to hold open doors for whites, to put themselves in danger to protect whites, would be seen as gross racism, as a society of unequals, where whites were first class citizens and blacks were second class citizens, if citizens at all. However, if we also forced whites to cook for blacks, to clean their houses and to provide baby sitter services for blacks with children, the situation becomes a matter of personal taste. Maybe you like the tradeoffs or maybe you don't, but at the very least there are tradeoffs. Becky Akers does not so much as nod her head in the direction of any sort of tradeoff, nor does she provide any reasoning as to why men should stand while women get to sit. She merely cheers on the sad schmucks who continue to toil long after their salaries ceased to be paid out.

If opening the door for women provides the barest of tangible benefits, men standing when women enter the room provides none whatsoever. Standing upon another’s entrance is what inferiors do for superiors. We stand when judges enter the room; we stand when the president enters the room; we stand when our boss enters the room. It seems to me that not all of these are legitimate, but they all serve the purpose of physically reinforcing a hierarchy, of reminding the inferior of his place, of getting him to believe in and accept his own inferiority.

What possible purpose does it serve for men to stand when a woman enters the room, but for no one to stand when a man enters, if not to enforce an idea of female superiority and gynocentrism? When I enter a room it’s with a purpose, and I neither need people to stand to acknowledge my presence nor hold the door for me when I leave. I wish only to accomplish my purpose and then make tracks for the next room, where my next goal lies. If I were a monarch I would be annoyed by the entourage of attendants and courtiers and other hangers-on who performed such empty formalities.

If women want me to stand when they enter a room, then I must insist that they kneel and perform that labor which God in His wisdom saw fit to make so many women loathe to do. There is no contract without consideration on both sides. If you can’t provide what I’m looking for, ladies, then you’ll just have to subsist on mere freedom of movement and forego those delusions of royalty burdening your ego.

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Among the many maladies afflicting the American body politic, and indeed the body politic of any English-speaking nation and others besides, is Feminism. It’s a pestilence that has been around for several generations, though not always under that moniker, and while it was never simply a pure and noble quest to relieve the oppressed, it recently has passed the outermost bounds of reason and veered off into the most astonishing absurdity. Those with sounder minds not yet seduced by whatever it is that Feminism has that attracts so many; those with a cultural pride and desire to salvage of our civilization what may yet be saved; those with a mere drive to see Truth flourish and falsehood exposed are up against it when it comes to Feminism.

Just as an army defending its homeland needs a variety of resources and strategies to vanquish the invading foe, so too do cultural counter insurgents endeavoring to return a modicum of reason and common sense to their national dialogue. Though humans are emotional creatures first and foremost, facts and reasonable interpretations of those facts still matter. It is for this reason that I highly recommend Wendy McElroy’s latest work, Rape Culture Hysteria: Fixing the Damage Done to Men and Women.

The book is a pretty comprehensive and entirely devastating case against the rape hysteria currently incinerating America’s colleges and threatening to break loose into the nation at large. Rape hysteria is a narrative driven by lies and hatred, as one would expect of a hysteria, and Wendy McElroy’s book is designed to take out one of those engines. It won’t end rape hysteria on its own, but it should be an indispensable part of one’s arsenal if one is inclined to engage with Feminists.

If you are like me, you have picked up some facts and studies here and there, from voices on the Internet, which undermine the case for rape hysteria. RCH brings all this information together and fashions from it a solid argument. There is not much in the book that was new to me, but it is wonderful to have it all in one place, and woven into a counter argument.

Perhaps you haven’t heard much about the topic and are curious to find out just what sort of nonsense holds sway in those halls where we send our best and brightest to learn. RCH is a great way to bring yourself up to date.

Or you might even be some wayward Feminist who somehow wound up on my dusty, rarely-used blog. RCH is a great way to save your soul.

The second half of the title is appropriate: Fixing the Damage Done to Men and Women. One cannot attack a sex without hurting the other. How could it be otherwise? Many have noted that since Feminism has gotten its way, women have become less satisfied with their lives than men. To paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, “Men and women form a symbiont circle. What happens to one of you will affect the other. You must understand this.”

In the interests of not writing a mawkishly fawning piece, I might add a couple small criticisms. The first being that the book gives off the impression of being informed by a strain of thought common to many moderates: that the Women’s Movement was necessary but recently things have just gotten a little crazy. While I acknowledge that there were certain things that needed doing to change our restrictive sex roles, the Women’s Movement largely did them in the wrong way. They tore down fences without bothering to find out why they had been built. And there was a certain alarming, anti-male sentiment from the very beginning.

My only other quibble is that on page 25, in calculating a woman’s chance of sexual assault over four years, she takes the yearly sexual assault rate and multiplies it by four. Granted, she calls it an approximation, but when your approximation has a significant digit in the tenths position – 1 in 52.6 – we might as well just do the math properly. When multiplying together four times the yearly odds of NOT being sexually assaulted, we arrive almost exactly at 1 in 53. It’s not only more accurate, it’s even further from the preposterous 1 in 4 figure thrown around by Feminists, who apparently believe that American college girls are raped as frequently as are women in war torn areas of the Third World. I suppose if you’re willing to believe that women have to work twice as hard has men to earn half as much, but that this is not all that hard for women, you’ll probably believe just about anything.

Quibbles aside – far to the side! – this is a much needed work and Wendy McElroy is devoutly to be thanked by the forces of reason and decency, such as they are in modern America. I highly suggest you push its Amazon ranking a bit higher; I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

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*There is one naughty word in the following article.

It has been demonstrated to my satisfaction, and to the satisfaction of a growing number of libertarians, that the concept of a property right in an idea, whether that idea be a process, a pattern or anything else, is nonsensical. It is just as clear that, from a practical perspective, patents and copyrights hamper economic progress. Intellectual property, then, is revealed to be first an absurdity and second an utter failure. It is philosophically and practically incorrect and wrongheaded.

The debate would seem to be over, at least among libertarians. Except that it is not, for reasons probably related to that observation by Max Planck that science progresses funeral by funeral. It is disheartening to see libertarians, long known for their dispassionate, logical approach to ideas and argumentation, digging in their heels in defense of a defunct belief when the arguments in favor of that belief have been overwhelmed, shattered and dispersed by a tsunami of reason. Do we not see statists defending their beloved Leviathan in the same manner, long after the absurdity and complete impracticality of government is demonstrated to them?

If the inescapable fact that an intellectual property right must necessarily infringe on any property rights held in physical things – if, in other words, intellectual property and real property rights obey Fermi-Dirac statistics and cannot occupy the same quantum space at the same quantum time – and if the unavoidable conclusion that not only was intellectual property not needed, but rather acts as a restraint on innovation and investment, do not sway the libertarian to the sensible position, there is perhaps another approach that might do the trick. I would like to offer a broad argument that there are theoretical reasons why intellectual property necessarily restricts economic growth, that the observed curtailment of human endeavor that has historically accompanied grants of monopoly on ideas – for monopolies they most certainly are – is not an accident and no amount of tinkering could ever overcome that.

[Keep reading…]

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The last three presidents of the United States have sought and won a second term in office, and during each second term I heard speculation and even predictions of a third term, that the next election would be cancelled or a new bill then in Congress was going to be passed and would alter the law. It proved wrong. Nothing came of this with Clinton, and nothing came of it with Bush, despite the other dictatorial powers the latter had gotten for the office. I strongly suspect that Obama will be no exception and will shuffle off to play the role of the wise, retired elder statesman when January of 2017 comes around.

It is not that Barack would not like a third term. Any man who tastes a first and still seeks a second is likely to be inclined towards as many helpings as he can fit on his plate. The decision, however, is not entirely his, not even mostly his.

While there have been dictators and monarchs in history, men and women with absolute authority who could rule with an iron fist, the American President is not one of these. The psychology here is different. Here, a man becomes president by forming coalitions, by proving himself as a governor or Congressman, by winning support in myriad different ways. He arrives in the Oval Office with debts, and not necessarily of the monetary variety. It could well be that the President of The United States, a man who cannot pick out his own shoe laces without input from advisors and focus groups, is the least free human being on planet Earth.

[Keep reading…]

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*This article was written several years ago on my old blog.

It was a springtime ritual that my classmates and I engaged in the first year we studied American History and every year thereafter until we finally graduated. Having lingered longer over the Civil War than the nine month school year could justify, we were forced to fly through World War I and, while the green heralds of summer sprouted on the tree branches around us, squeeze in some discussion on World War II. It was at this point that we invariably shook our heads, sighed, and wondered how the Teutonic peoples could do nothing while Jews, homosexuals, dissidents, Poles, Czechs and all the rest – eleven million in all – were cooked, starved, gassed, shot and otherwise exterminated.

In high school, and later college, I learned that this question was prevalent in all the other little grade schools, prevalent to the point of being trite. To be complete, any discussion of World War II had to include the title question of this post, generally delivered with a practiced, exasperated, regretful sigh. The other parties would then shake their heads in commiseration. Like actors who have been in the same play, we could recombine in different groups, mingle with total strangers, but reproduce the same sequence because we all knew our parts.

The answer to this question, though no doubt complex in its entirety, is rather simple to summarize. By a series of gradual changes, each enacted after a critical mass of the population becomes sufficiently accustomed to the previous change, a government can get its citizens to accept anything (especially if it can invent a crisis or crises to justify its actions). Those citizens who might be moved to resist are cowed into sulking submission by the fear – probably justified – that they would be acting alone. If the entire student body hurls spit wads at the principal, the odds of being singled out for retribution are small, but even the malcontents will behave, for the time being, if they know they will stand out for such behavior.

[Keep reading…]

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I come to the battlefield after the fires have extinguished and the embers cooled, but having fully intended to write something on the subject when it was hot, I feel the central topic is timeless and the particular affair in question momentous enough to warrant some comments, even if they arrive weeks after. Stephan Kinsella and Robert Wenzel, two notables in the libertarian community, faced off over the question of intellectual property. It was, regrettably though not surprisingly, somewhat less dignified and intellectual than the Lincoln/Douglas debates. Kinsella weathered much abuse, but managed to begin a few arguments that might have led somewhere interesting in a calmer setting. He gave the impression of someone who is on top of the issue and knows it well, and though he committed a slip or two of the sort one always must expect in an extemporaneous exchange, he acquitted himself quite well. Robert Wenzel pooped his pants.

This debate, if we are to call it that, might later be seen as the last stand for the pro-IP side, not because Robert Wenzel, a vociferous supporter of IP and an increasingly recognizable Austrian, took aim at the standard bearer of the anti-IP movement but instead shot off his own pecker, but rather because in those moments when he did take some initial steps to assemble an argument, he gave us a glimpse at just how misguided the other side is. If this is the best they can do – and I've heard no better from any other source – then I believe we can consider the topic settled and get back to arguing about abortion.

In short and simple terms, property rights provide the benefit of avoiding conflict. If I live alone on an unknown island, there is no question of property rights. I may, with perfect justice, do what I wish with whatever I find and if the iguanas don't like it, they can sue me as soon as they evolve the intelligence to create a legal system. However, as soon as another person finds his way to the island, there is a potential for conflict. Now we must turn to property rights so that our relations can be harmonious and productive. If I wish to dispose of resources in a certain way, and the newcomer has a different idea, we need a way to determine whose wishes will hold sway without resorting to violence. As Kinsella pointed out, this is not a point on which he and Wenzel disagree, given that they are both Austrian libertarians.

[Keep reading…]

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Another Angle on Intellectual Property, in Which the Author Uses a Naughty Word

Intellectual Property Libertarianism

*There is one naughty word in the following article. It has been demonstrated to my satisfaction, and to the satisfaction of a growing number of libertarians, that the concept of a property right in an idea, whether that idea be a process, a pattern or anything else, is nonsensical. It is just as clear that, [...]

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A Third Term for Barack?

Politics

The last three presidents of the United States have sought and won a second term in office, and during each second term I heard speculation and even predictions of a third term, that the next election would be cancelled or a new bill then in Congress was going to be passed and would alter the [...]

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How Could the German People Let the Holocaust Happen?

History Libertarianism

*This article was written several years ago on my old blog. It was a springtime ritual that my classmates and I engaged in the first year we studied American History and every year thereafter until we finally graduated. Having lingered longer over the Civil War than the nine month school year could justify, we were [...]

1 comment

Intellectual Property and the Great “Debate”

Featured Posts Intellectual Property

I come to the battlefield after the fires have extinguished and the embers cooled, but having fully intended to write something on the subject when it was hot, I feel the central topic is timeless and the particular affair in question momentous enough to warrant some comments, even if they arrive weeks after. Stephan Kinsella [...]

9 comments