October 13th, 2006

Browncoat party


I finished Jo Walton's novel Farthing a few days ago. It's a murder mystery set in an alternate history where Britain and Germany agreed to a draw after the Battle of Britain. I liked both viewpoint characters, the setting felt convincing, and the noose drawing in was enough to give me chills. Very well done.

Not that I don't have nitpicks. Mostly that the bad guys were taking some actions which didn't seem to lead to their goals. The willingness of various law-enforcement types to cooperate with the bad guys seemed a bit much given where things stood at the time. But that's more me disagreeing with the author's judgement calls than errors as such.

What bothers me most is the meta-meaning being assigned to all of this by the book's author and fans. Here's the bad guys in the book: appeasing Hitler to gain peace, hating Jews, and trying to keep the common folk from getting good educations. I'm supposed to recognize them as stand-ins for George W. Bush, who prefers war to lifting sanctions on a tyrant, promises rabbis that it's his job to make sure the US isn't too late to stop the next Holocaust, and pushes "No Child Left Behind" to focus on educating kids at the bottom, not the ones on top. Those really, really don't match.
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Browncoat party

Another Reason I'm Glad I Live In Texas

Some useful education in the schools:
BURLESON, Texas (AP) -- Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded if a gunman invades the classroom, but to rush him and hit him with everything they got - books, pencils, legs and arms.

"Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success," said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools.

That kind of fight-back advice is all but unheard of among schools, and some fear it will get children killed.
Next they may decide to encourage teachers to have guns in schools so they have something better than throwing books to do.
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