Two Treatises of Government by John Locke. Apparently a classic book on government, it's written largely as a rebuttal to a treatise on "Patriarchy" by Robert Filmer which is helpfully included.
"Patriarchy" is an argument for absolute monarchy, based mostly on Biblical arguments, in which the ruler is completely above the law and unchallengeable by the people. Locke demolishes it very effectively, but a lot of his rebuttal is also based on biblical arguments. For instance, he uses Noah's grants of land to his sons as a rebuttal to the argument that Adam was the original monarch, and points out that the biblical passages that Filmer uses to establish patriarchy also mention honouring your mother. Locke's arguments seem pretty convincing, but if you don't believe in the bible as authoritative, both the arguments and the counter-arguments seem a little irrelevant.
The influential stuff seems to be almost an aside to the biblical stuff. Locke argues for social contract theory as an alternative explanation for the existence of government: that individuals make a contract with each other to live according to laws and goverments to ward off the problems of anarchy, where anyone might be killed or attacked. He doesn't provide any particularly convincing argument for why this applies to people born into a society rather than consciously agreeing, other than the fact that you can move to a different society if you want to.
Locke also introduces a kind of labour theory of value and justifies the existence of property by the need to produce from and improve land. However he also talks about people having a moral right to the assistance of others, so he's not as libertarian friendly as I expected from his being cited sometimes by them.
Overall, while it seems like this book was influential and important for introducing these ideas, it's not a very interesting read for non-Christians since it spends so much time on the bible. To be honest, you might as well read the wikipedia article if you're interested.
But we know God hath not left one man so to the mercy of another, that he may starve him if he please: God the Lord and Father of all has given no one of his children such a property in his peculiar portion of the things of this world, but that he has given his needy brother a right to the surplusage of his goods; so that it cannot justly be denied him, when his pressing wants call for it: and therefore no man could ever have a just power over the life of another by right of property in land or possessions; since it would always be a sin, in any man of estate, to let his brother perish for want of affording him relief out of his plenty. As justice gives every man a title to the product of his honest industry, and the fair acquisitions of his ancestors descended to him; so charity gives every man a title to so much out of another’s plenty, as will keep him from extreme want, where he has no means to subsist otherwise:What I'm Watching
Though the water running in the fountain be every one’s, yet who can doubt, but that in the pitcher is his only who drew it out? His labour hath taken it out of the hands of nature, where it was common, and belonged equally to all her children, and hath thereby appropriated it to himself.
So that, however it may be mistaken, the end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom: for in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom: for liberty is, to be free from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be, where there is no law: but freedom is not, as we are told, a liberty for every man to do what he lists: (for who could be free, when every other man’s humour might domineer over him?) but a liberty to dispose, and order as he lists, his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property, within the allowance of those laws under which he is, and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own.
TO understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.
A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident, than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection, unless the lord and master of them all should, by any manifest declaration of his will, set one above another, and confer on him, by an evident and clear appointment, an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.
...even absolute power, where it is necessary, is not arbitrary by being absolute, but is still limited by that reason, and confined to those ends, which required it in some cases to be absolute, we need look no farther than the common practice of martial discipline: for the preservation of the army, and in it of the whole common-wealth, requires an absolute obedience to the command of every superior officer, and it is justly death to disobey or dispute the most dangerous or unreasonable of them; but yet we see, that neither the serjeant, that could command a soldier to march up to the mouth of a cannon, or stand in a breach, where he is almost sure to perish, can command that soldier to give him one penny of his money
THough in a constituted common-wealth, standing upon its own basis, and acting according to its own nature, that is, acting for the preservation of the community, there can be but one supreme power, which is the legislative, to which all the rest are and must be subordinate, yet the legislative being only a fiduciary power to act for certain ends, there remains still in the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislative, when they find the legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them: for all power given with trust for the attaining an end, being limited by that end, whenever that end is manifestly neglected, or opposed, the trust must necessarily be forfeited, and the power devolve into the hands of those that gave it, who may place it anew where they shall think best for their safety and security. And thus the community perpetually retains a supreme power of saving themselves from the attempts and designs of any body, even of their legislators, whenever they shall be so foolish, or so wicked, as to lay and carry on designs against the liberties and properties of the subject
To conclude, The power that every individual gave the society, when he entered into it, can never revert to the individuals again, as long as the society lasts, but will always remain in the community; because without this there can be no community, no common-wealth, which is contrary to the original agreement: so also when the society hath placed the legislative in any assembly of men, to continue in them and their successors, with direction and authority for providing such successors, the legislative can never revert to the people whilst that government lasts; because having provided a legislative with power to continue for ever, they have given up their political power to the legislative, and cannot resume it. But if they have set limits to the duration of their legislative, and made this supreme power in any person, or assembly, only temporary; or else, when by the miscarriages of those in authority, it is forfeited; upon the forfeiture, or at the determination of the time set, it reverts to the society, and the people have a right to act as supreme, and continue the legislative in themselves; or erect a new form, or under the old form place it in new hands, as they think good.
Saw Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, after reading Metafilter post citing this movie and director John Hyams as part of an action movie renaissance in the straight-to-video market.
"Regeneration" is a conventional action movie. Like-Chechen-but-not terrorists seize and plant bombs around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, assisting by a rogue scientist with a Next Generation Unisol, a technologically enhanced undead supersoldier played by Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski. A succession of other unisols and humans are sent in against them.
The action scenes are definitely better than most modern Hollywood action with their daft CGI, which looks especially ludicrous in the YouTube age where we see real ships, planes and trucks in extreme situations every day. These look much more realistic, but the budget is stretched to have some large-ish set pieces: the limits mostly show in the reuse of the same location. There's a very balanced shooting style, There's lots of use of steadicam showing us the point of view of the actors with close-up bullet damage, as in the "chaos cinema" style. However Hymans balances it out with long shots and establishing shots so that you always know what's happening. It's very well balanced: well-paced, immersive, riding the fine line between unimpressive and unrealistic. However, there's no scene here that really seemed breathtakingly original, like say, the Oldboy corridor fight, the Matrix bullet time, the Children of Men single take firefight.
The problem with Regeneration is a lack of characters to care about. Unisols seem to feel neither fear nor pain, so even the brutally crunching hand-to-hand combat isn't that involving. There isn't much characterization even at save the cat level. The urge to shoehorn in both the old stalwarts of Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude van Damme, and younger more athletic figures like Arlovski and Mike Pyle, means there's a lack of focus on a particular hero or villain.
Overall, Regeneration is a solidly entertaining old-school action movie. Will please action fans, but the grimdark tone and violence would be a problem for some audiences.
"Day of Reckoning" is a different kind of movie altogether. It mixes action, horror and SF elements together in what is probably the best such mix since "Aliens". There's a definite Philip K. Dick influence here, and stylistic elements
ripped off from paying homage to a large number of different sources from "The Shining" to "Apocalypse Now".
At the start of the movie the protagonist "John" (Scott Adkins") sees his wife and child murdered by mysterious balaclava-clad invaders of his home, who leave him in a coma one of the attackers mysteriously then takes off his balaclava and stares at him for several seconds.
Trying to track down these assailants, John discovers increasingly strange and contradictory things about his past life, and is haunted by disturbing dreams and visions, and more pressingly by a bearded Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski who keeps smashing through walls and trying to kill him.
It's slow paced at first, with little action at the start, and smaller scale action than "Regeneration". Even so, they're more impressive thanks to the physicality of the actors and the emotions of the actors.
While it's slightly oversold by the fans, "Day of Reckoning" is definitely worth seeing as long as you're not too bothered by violence or exploitation: atmospheric and impressive.
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Saw Gravity at the cinema. Excellent, claustrophobic space movie with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts trapped in space after debris hits their shuttle.
Loved this movie. Not just because it's good to have a realistic space movie, it's very tense, tells a good story. Worth seeing, and definitely worth seeing in 3D too.
Was a bit worried they'd have a second twist where right at the end she woke up back in the Soyuz, but I guess that'll have to wait for fan edit.
One thing that's annoying is the fans whining about tiny little problems with the physics. Yes, in real life the Hubble and the ISS are in different orbits: just pretend they've shunted Hubble to a different orbit so the ISS can be a lifeboat if the repair goes wrong. That's why we have spaceships that make banking turns and go "whoosh": even if they fix stuff like that, people like you find something else to whine about.
Politics. US. Snowden shakes up Washington. Large minority of Republicans want established religion. Redstate on single women voters: "one obvious approach would be restricting the vote to people who are married". UK. Is Iain Duncan Smith still in his job to act as a flak magnet? Probation strike. Screw the taxpayer. Little England or Great Britain. The Sun on BAE job losses in its English and Scottish editions.
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