Oh nos!

PZ recommends pulling all the atheist writers out of our shelves after hearing that the execrable Philip Pullman’s work could possibly be tossed out of a few Catholic libraries in Canada. But should we regard that as a threat or a promise?

It’s just atheism that spurs this objection. I think we ought to run with it. The school board didn’t go far enough. Let’s purge school libraries of all books by atheists.

Look at his list. What a bunch of literary lightweights! I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for Asimov and Adams, mostly because I thought they were really great when I was in junior high. Try to read Asimov’s novels as an adult without cringing… it’s tough since he has about as much interest in character development as the director of a movie based on a 3D shooter starring an inarticulate pro wrestler. Love Paglia and Pratchett, but both are one-trick ponies. Arthur C. Clarke was an SF giant and wrote one great novel and several great short stories, but he’s hardly Dostoevsky. Can’t stand Vonnegut, Harrison or Hoellebecq, and Dave Barry is mildly amusing but it would be a toss-up as to who is the most dreadful stylist, him, Harris or Rand. Rushdie isn’t bad, he’s just massively – MASSIVELY – overrated.

The only two I’d take very seriously are Mieville and Leopardi, both of whom are intelligent and genuinely talented writers, but possess[ed] seriously screwed-up minds. And their inclusion here is a little amusing, given how the overt socialism of the former and the overt nihilism of the the latter are two things from which atheists usually do their level best to disassociate themselves.

“This is going to greatly thin out the science fiction section of the library”, PZ notes. That’s very true, he could probably add eighty percent of the current membership of SFWA to his list, but it is the atheism pervading science fiction and modern fantasy that is a primary factor in keeping both subgenres banished to a much-disrespected literary ghetto. I’m not the only one who has noticed; even the aforementioned atheist Paglia has publicly commented upon the negative effect of atheism on the arts.

Why shouldn’t any library ditch Pullman if it wants to anyhow, especially if it’s a Catholic one? His books have no more inherent right to a place there than do my overtly Christian novels.

While there are actually some very good atheist writers, past and present, all this post actually demonstrates is that either the Wikipedia editors or our friendly community college professor have the reading habits of a teenager… assuming PZ actually reads anything outside of atheist cheerleading and tentacle porn. I mean, if you’re writing about sci-fi and atheism, how do you come up with Lem while leaving out Heinlein?

Another neocon casualty

President Bush’s broad swath of electoral destruction isn’t limited to domestic politics:

Conservative Prime Minister John Howard suffered a humiliating defeat Saturday at the hands of the left-leaning opposition, whose leader has promised to immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and withdraw Australia’s combat troops from Iraq.

Labor Party head Kevin Rudd’s pledges on global warming and Iraq move Australia sharply away from policies that had made Howard one of President Bush’s staunchest allies….

“The United States and Australia have long been strong partners and allies and the president looks forward to working with this new government to continue our historic relationship,” said Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman. “During his time as prime minister, Mr. Howard served the people of Australia well by pursuing policies that led to strong economic growth and a commitment to keeping Australians safe by fighting extremists and their ideology around the world.”

The election was an embarrassing end to the career of Howard, Australia’s second-longest serving leader. As little as a year ago, Howard had appeared almost unassailable. But on Saturday he was in real danger of becoming only the second sitting prime minister in 106 years of federal government to lose his own seat in Parliament.

Very little has changed on the so-called global warming front in the past year, so the likely conclusion is that, like the Republican loss of the House and Senate in 2006, the Australian Prime Minister is another casualty of the neocons’ Grim Struggle Against Victorious Elections.

The amazing thing is how many intelligent Republicans whose political judgment I usually respect continue to behave like functional idiots in insisting on continuing to support this political suicide pact. It will be interesting to see their response after they lose the White House as well as the House and Senate. Will they finally wake up, or will they follow the neocons’s lead and leap onto Hillary’s bandwagon?

UPDATE – Mary Steyn fails to note the obvious:

Of all the doughty warriors of the Anglosphere, Howard, his Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and their colleagues had the best rhetoric on the present war, and I often wished the Bush Administration had emulated their plain speaking.

And now they’re booted out of power… such an unlooked-for surprise!