Leaving soon for conference in Steyning, West Sussex. Blogging may be light, depending on connectivity. Will post pictures accompanied by trenchant observations when possible.
Chile was the final entrant into the South American battleships race. Chile ordered Almirante Latorre and Almirante Cochrane from Armstrong-Whitworth in 1911. The ships were very similar to the excellent British Iron Duke class, except that they carried 10 14″ guns rather than 10 13.5″. Unfortunately for Chile, World War I intervened, and both ships were purchased by the Royal Navy. Almirante Latorre was completed as HMS Canada in October, 1914, and joined the Fourth Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet.
As mentioned, Almirante Latorre was a well armed, well designed ship. The armament of 10 14″ guns compared favorably with most foreign competitors, and made Latorre more powerful than her Argentinian and Brazilian contemporaries. Latorre displaced 32000 tons fully loaded, and could make almost 23 knots. As HMS Canada, she participated in the Battle of Jutland, but did not play a large role. Following the war, Almirante Latorre was refit and sold back to Chile. The Chileans decided not to re-purchase Almirante Cochrane, which was converted into an aircraft carrier, renamed Eagle, and sunk by a U-boat in World War II.
Almirante Latorre served as flagship of the Chilean Navy. In contrast to her Brazilian counterparts, Almirante Latorre was kept in good condition up until an engine room fire in 1951. In 1929 she underwent an extensive modernization in the United Kingdom. In 1931, in protest of a pay cut, the crew mutinied. Chilean Air Force planes, attempting to put down the mutiny, successfully hit Almirante Latorre with one bomb.
Following the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941, the United States Navy offered to purchase Almirante Latorre. The reasons for this are unclear, as the USN did not really suffer from a shortage of battleships. Three of the eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were returned to service in short order. In fact, the USN withdrew the Tennessee, only lightly damaged at Pearl Harbor, from service for an extensive two year refit. West Virginia and California also underwent much longer than necessary refits. The USN made no effort to bring Wyoming, demilitarized under the terms of the 1930 London Treaty, back to active service, although this probably would have been cheaper and quicker than buying the Chilean ship. Almirante Latorre would have been roughly equivalent to the USS New York, which served most of the war in shore bombardment and convoy escort duty. In any case, the Chileans declined to sell their flagship to the United States.
After the engine fire in 1951, Almirante Latorre spent its last few years inactive. In 1958, she was sold to a Japanese company for scrapping. In 1959, Admiral Chester Nimitz was supporting a project to refurbish the Japanese battleship Mikasa, last survivor of the Battle of Tsushima. Mikasa had suffered some damage in World War II and had generally been neglected since the end of the war. Nimitz provided financial and administrative support for the restoration of Mikasa to her original state. Almirante Latorre, being a rough contemporary of Mikasa, was canibalized in the service of this restoration. Thus, parts of the last survivor of Jutland were used to restore the last survivor of Tsushima.
Trivia Question: What was the oldest dreadnought battleship to serve in a combat capacity in World War II?
I hate “spoiler alerts” because they detract from our ability to carry out meaningful discussions of movies and television. Nevertheless, I make allowances for this modern age that we live in.
However, if, like someone I recently conversed with in Seattle, you consider learning that the ape dies at the end of King Kong to be a “spoiler”, then you, sir, are an idiot.
Good to get that one off my chest.
Political relevance aside, the new BSG is just a damn fine show. The twenty-seventh hour screened last night, and, for my money, the twenty-seven hours thus far compare favorably with just about any comparable stretch of an hour long drama outside the Sopranos.
On the question of whether television has improved over the past ten years or so, you can put me squarely in the camp of Steven Johnson. Dana Stevens is right that comparing The Sopranos and Starsky and Hutch is inappropriate, but this doesn’t get us very far. There simply is no analogue for The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Buffy, or a handful of other late 1990s and early 2000s television programs in the 1960s and the 1970s. Even shows from the 1980s lack the sophistication and complexity that we have grown to expect from a given program today. Nor are the reasons for this improvement very hard to find. HBO alone has made a huge difference in allowing television writers and producers to explore new areas and more complex story lines. The huge number of channels available to a given viewer means that idiosyncratic programming doesn’t need to reach an audience as large as it did during the 1970s. In 1980, the very best programming of the last ten years could not have been made; Sopranos, Buffy, Six Feet Under et al never achieved an audience large enough to command a prime time network slot in the age of network dominance. The DVD has made it easier to construct season long themes and plots that won’t confuse an audience. Moreover, I’m convinced that the improvement isn’t just in the upper echelon of shows. Say what you want about ER, but it is much better acted, written, and produced than you would expect from a similar program twenty-five years ago. This isn’t to say that older television doesn’t have something to offer, but I do think that we’re still in the midst of a golden age of TV.
It’s good that series television is finally offering us its best, because the medium offers opportunities to writers and actors that film cannot provide. It is no longer plausible to suggest that the best actors and best writers work in film. Tony Soprano is, simply put, a character too complex and too interesting to be convincingly portrayed in a two hour period. The rewards of watching his character grow and display different aspects over the course of a season (or five) are immense. The same could be said of dozens of other characters in the best series we have today. Some of the opportunities implicit in the medium have been pursued by writers since the beginning of television, while some seem only to have been taken fullest advantage of in the past ten to fifteen years.
In any case, the improvement of BSG II over its predecessor is hardly accidental. It’s part of a trend in television that has been established over the past ten years. Ron Moore has done excellent work with the BSG raw material Moore established from the beginning that he was not squeamish about genocide. The Cylons, in their attack, use nukes rather than some sort of advanced weapon that would be more distant from us and, correspondingly, less frightening. Moore also manages to capture the desperation and the difficult decisions that face the survivors of the Cylon attack. Critically, none of this detracts from character development; Moore doesn’t let the science fiction aspects get in the way of giving the characters room for growth.
The acting has been good, if not outstanding. Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell turn in predictably excellent performances as Commander Adama and President Roslin. Katee Sackhoff is remarkable as Lt. Starbuck, and James Callis gives a marvelously creepy performance every week as Gaius Baltar. Michael Hogan is very playing a deeply flawed Colonel Tigh. The rest of the acting is at least adequate. It’s hard to say whether the problem with Jamie Bamber’s Captain Apollo is weak acting or weak writing. Same thing with Kate Vernon as Ellen Tigh. The supporting performances tend be very, very good. One notable example is that of Richard Hatch, who played Apollo in the first series. The less said of his acting in 1978 the better, but his performance in BSG II has been a pleasant surprise.
The show has not been without its missteps. The Caprica sequences in the first season weren’t well integrated into their respective episodes, and I have reservations about the entire storyline being pursued on Caprica. Episodes 1-6 and 1-9 from the first season are a bit weak. The second season has not been as strong as the first, although eps 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, and 2-10 are exceptional. Last night’s episode, the opener of the first half of season 2, was very, very good.
In any case, I heartily recommend the new Battlestar Galactica. Enjoy.
It is, indeed, about the ingredients. Stop at Whole Paycheck on the way home after a movie, and one can make even a Friday night pathetically spent at home watching a regular-season NHL game tolerable.
First intermission: Salad with organic spinach, onions, mushrooms, in a dijon vinaigrette.
Five minutes left in second period: Start salted water boiling. When period ends, add rigatoni to boiling water, heat EVOO while mincing 2-3 cloves of garlic and a small white onion. Put aromatics in pan. Dice two really good roma tomatoes. About 3-4 minutes before pasta will be done, add the tomatoes and some crushed read pepper. Drain pasta and then add it to the pan. Throw in some fresh mozzarella and basil. Serve. Done before 3rd period starts.
After game: Celebrate Kipper’s 6th shutout of the year against the fucking Maple Leafs by opening a delicious Fin Du Monde and washing an nice Macintosh apple. Realize that you have an hour left to submit LSA proposal. Return to computer.
Tasty! If still pretty lame.
Military procurement is a disaster.
Incidentally, this is why a free press is critical in times of war. Let’s see if Fox News picks up this story. My guess is no; anything that might reflect poorly on the brass or the administration is too much for the tender ears of America. This is not to say that Rummy or anyone else in particular is responsible for this particular problem; I have no idea. The point is that unquestioning admiration for an organization is not conducive to pressing for positive change.
The Cylons of the new Battlestar Galactica aren’t quite like any other science fiction race I’m familiar with.
DJW once told me that he hated Star Trek: First Contact (one of my favorite Star Trek movies) because it gave up on the Borg. The Borg, according to Dave, were the only species in the Star Trek universe that had a concept of the individual that differed fundamentally from that of humankind. The Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans, and so forth were just thinly disguised ethnic stererotypes, but the Borg were genuinely different, novel, and scary. Giving the Borg a queen who understand and protected her own individuality ruined the species for Dave. The primary writer of First Contact was Ronald Moore, creator of the second Battlestar Galactica. I’d like to think that he’s redeemed himself.
Moore changed the origin of the Cylons from outer space to the Colonies. The Cylons of BSG 1978 were a conventional alien race, the product of some older group of aliens that no longer existed. The new Cylons “were created by man,” in the same sense as the enemies in the Terminator or Matrix trilogies. I wasn’t terribly happy with this at first, as it seemed derivative of other universes, but the decision has paid considerable dividends. First and foremost, the new origin for the Cylons has given them a close, complex connection with humankind. This relationship is not wholly antagonistic, although it does seem to grant the Cylons latitude to commit near-genocide. The close relationship between the Cylons and the humans also makes the success of their attack, and the survival of the Galactica, plausible.
The Cylons are a blend of the individualistic alien races we are familiar with and the hive mind of the Borg. Each Cylon is deeply tied to the rest of its kind, such that communication and control over wide distance seems to be possible. At the same time, individual Cylons have their own goals and motivations, although its unclear that pride, honor, or competition motivate them in any meaningful way. Moore has succeeded in creating a race whose actions are only partially intelligible, while at the same time convincingly suggesting that something important lies behind the mask.
Interestingly, the Cylons are deeply, deeply religious. Their actions only make sense in the context of their religious beliefs, yet the content of that belief, like any real religion, is not susceptible to rational analysis. The Colonials seem largely to be a post-religious society roughly akin to modern Europe, although a significant fraction of the humans remain committed to a polytheistic religion modeled on the Greco-Roman pantheon. Although the question hasn’t been examined in detail, it’s probably fair to say that the importance of religion has increased in the wake of the genocide. The Cylons, on the other hand, are committed monotheists. They are familiar with the human religion to the point of deep immersion in its texts. The war against humanity is motivated by their religion, but not in an evangelical sense. They have no interest in converting humans; rather, the destruction of humankind seems to fulfill some religious commandment. Even that isn’t the whole story, as its clear that the Cylons have certain plans for what’s left of the human race.
Most important, the Cylons are just really, genuinely WEIRD. The importance of maintaining weird in underrated, especially in the context of series television. At so many points, writers and producers have an incentive to reveal some aspect of “the plan”. While elements of the Cylon plan have been revealed, they tend to reinforce the alien nature of the Cylons, rather than to make them understandable to us. The Cylons do not act according to a wholly alien logical system, but they don’t act according to one accessible to us, either. We have glimpses of what they want, but even those glimpses are confusing and contradictory. That most of what we know about the Cylons is revealed through hallucinatory conversations with a possibly insane human only adds to the weirdness and maintains the mystery.
Maintaining the strangeness of the Cylons will probably be Moore’s most difficult task moving forward. As a television show like BSG develops, in must progressively reveal more of the mystery. In programs like Lost, the X-Files, and Alias this has had a detrimental effect. It will be interesting to see whether Moore can keep the Cylons weird without making them feel Byzantine or contrived.
I see that Mallard Fillmore is making Mickey Kaus his liberal strawman in his inevitable attack on Brokeback Mountain. (Maybe Tinsely is still permanently scarred by a past in which he was a cabdriver or movie usher: “Each night when I return the cab to the garage, I have to clean the cum off the back seat. Some nights, I clean off the blood.”)
Meanwhile, the even less talented Chris Muir posits the Iranian government unwilling to attack Israel because they’re so scared of George Bush. Yes, thank heaven that from their position of abject terror they’re just limited to acquiring nukes and controlling the Iraqi government!
Not that it will matter to Schmittian conservertarians or people of the Althouse “all that matters is whether he will restrict individual rights competently” school, but a systematic Knight-Ridder study (via FL) finds that Alito somehow virtually never finds a Fourth Amendment claim that he likes:
As the Bush administration defends its right to eavesdrop on Americans without court permission, a look at Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito’s record on search and seizure matters reveals how few limits he has imposed on the government’s power to gather evidence.
A Knight Ridder analysis of more than 300 written opinions by Alito, for example, reveals that he has almost never found a government search unconstitutional and that he has argued to relax warrant requirements and to broaden the kinds of searches that warrants permit.
There are a few exceptional cases in Alito’s record, notably a 1998 ruling in which he rejected the search of a black driver’s car for a handgun because police practically admitted that race influenced their decision to stop the man. But overall his record in this area has produced near uniform results in favor of government authority.
His work in this area has frequently drawn sharp disagreement from his colleagues on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, one of whom accused him of approving an “Orwellian” invasion of privacy in one case.
Alito also has argued that the scope of warrants should be interpreted broadly, sometimes beyond what the warrant says. In this area of law, the rule has long been: If it’s in the warrant it’s fair game, if it isn’t, it’s not.
Still, in one case, Alito deferred to government authorities who conducted a broad search of a wholesale distributor’s premises with a warrant that didn’t specify what police were looking for or how it tied into the alleged criminal activity. The prohibition against such “general” warrants is the foundation of the constitutional limit on search and seizure. But Alito said the warrant wasn’t general but was only “too broad” and therefore legal under a Supreme Court exception to warrant requirements.
A dissent in the case noted that the warrant was “so lacking in particularity that no reasonably well-trained officer could execute it in good faith.” It also said Alito’s reasoning allowed the high court’s exception to “swallow” the Constitution’s rule against general warrants.
Shocking–who could have guessed that Alito was a hyper-statist reactionary? He’s so soft-spoken! And he will write his opinions gutting the Fourth Amendment in a very non-acerbic manner, and that’s what matters!
Almost equal thirds of all adults believe that Judge Alito should be confirmed (34%), should not be confirmed (31%) or say they aren’t sure (34%), according to the poll. A majority of Republicans (65% vs. 9%) favor his confirmation, the polls shows, while a plurality of Democrats (48% vs. 14%) oppose it, and Independents are split (34% for confirmation; 38% against).
However, nearly 70% of those surveyed in the online poll of 1,961 adults would oppose Judge Alito’s confirmation if they thought he would vote to make abortion illegal. That percentage rises among Democrats (86%) and Independents (74%), compared with 22% of Republicans. More than half of Republicans polled say they would support his confirmation if they thought he would vote to make abortion illegal, compared with 14% of Democrats.
So even now the public is sharply divided, and if the Democrats can make Alito’s unremitting hostility to abortion rights more widely known, his support will drop further. Filibustering Alito is the right thing to do on the merits, and there’s no reason to believe it would hurt the Dems politically.
While I generally don’t see any value in the use of the term “chickenhawk,”
like Tom Tomorrow I’m certainly willing to make an exception for people who think that cutting-and-pasting Republican press releases on their blogs actually constitutes serving in the war. Look, if you don’t want to serve in the war that you consider to central to the future of the country, that’s your privilege. But you’re contributing absolutely nothing to the war effort. What you say on your blog isn’t national service, and has no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of the war, and trying to convince yourself otherwise is profoundly embarrassing.
I also enjoyed this part of a recent example of the Captain’s always dippy and tendentious analyses of Canadian politics:
The trend, though, points towards voters abandoning the Grits and deciding to support the Tories. After taking Quebec out of the equation, where Tory ally Bloc Quebecois will win the majority of seats and Liberals will likely take most of the rest, the gap almost puts Stephen Harper into majority-rule territory.
Yes, if you take the second-largest province–which has more seats than the next two largest provinces put together, and where the Conservatives can’t win a single seat–out of the equation, Harper could get a majority! Similarly, if you take Texas, Florida, and Ohio out of the equation, John Kerry won the 2004 election in a near-landslide! And if I looked like Brad Pitt, I could make a living as a model! I also enjoy the fact that Morrissey is fully comfortable with the Conservatives’ secessionist allies, although it may strike someone who was a principled conservative that while the Bloq might be the Tories’ allies in terms of not allowing the Liberals to form the government, they’re not going to be very reliable allies in terms of, you know, passing substantive conservative legislation. (They don’t want a stable government; they want to undermine the country to break it up, and the Bloq certainly doesn’t share any significant economic or cultural beliefs with the Harperites.) But, of course, it’s Ed Morrissey, so talking about what “principled conservatives” might think is beside the point…
While it is well known that Brent Bozell–the man who must watch every bit of violent material and softcore porn on TV, sometimes several times, in order to ascertain just how much of a blowhard to be about it on whatever MSNBC show is desperate enough to have him on–is the child of Youppi! and Dr. Zaius, he had always seemed to resemble another figure in popular culture, but I could never quite pin it down. But the fine folks at Sadly, No! were kind enough to remind me of the Mighty Reason Man’s classic “The Corner Unleashed,” which finally revealed all:
Dreher: Isn’t that Brent Bozell’s outfit?
Dreher: Man, that must have been rough. That guy’s a prick! He reminds me of that jerkoff in Ghostbusters who makes them shut down the power to the ghost prison.
Graham: Yeah, it was pretty rough. But you know what the worst part was? The guy pretends he’s real cool and important, but he’s really just a huge dork! I hate it when dorks don’t recognize that they’re dorks.
[silence as everyone stares at Tim Graham for a moment]
[Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding] We have a winner!