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By TheophileEscargot (Tue Oct 02, 2007 at 10:11:36 PM EST) Reading, Watching, MLP (all tags)
Watching. Reading: "The Line of Polity". Web.

What I'm Watching
Saw "C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America" on DVD. It's an alternate history fake documentary which has the South winning the American civil war.

It's a nice idea, and has some excellent bits to it. The fake commercials are the best part, some elegantly pointing out the racial connotations of contemporary culture, like the C.O.P.S. spoof where they track down escaped slaves. Some of the fake movie clips are good too.

As an alternate history, it's a bit too dystopian to be really convincing. It's not clear how the CSA can be both isolationist and imperialist at the same time, nor why Britain would have sided with the South (cheaper cotton from a rival producer would have been directly against British interests), nor why the confederacy pushed for a total victory over the whole union, rather than settling for independence of their own states. Also the forcible expansion of slavery to Chinese, Jews and mixed race freemen seemed a bit unlikely.

Overall though, fairly interesting and worth a look.

What I'm Reading
Finished hard-SF novel Line of Polity by Neal Asher.

Mixed feelings about it. There don't seem to be any really original new ideas here: very similar nanotech/biotech/downloaded brains future that's familiar from Peter F. Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, Charles Stross, Linda Nagata, Justina Robson et al, without much of a twist Also I think he overdoes the fast-cutting-between-several-plotlines technique. That works well for big action scenes, but he does it for the whole book including fairly tedious build-up. It gets a bit irritating when you read five pages of pointless exposition from one group of characters, then just switch to another group for more of the same.

The evil religious tyranny also seemed a bit crap. They maintain power by three means: a religion designed to keep the populace subservient, by controlling the power of pills that allow the planet's inhabitants to breathe via symbiont, and a system of orbiting laser satellites allowing them to zap any opposition. Given that many tyrannies have managed to be quite successful without any of these advantages, it seems a bit strange that there's a large opposition living in underground caves who have managed to muster a majority vote against the junta. There's some Dawkinsian spiel about the evil of religion for keeping a population subservient, but if so it seems to have been done remarkably badly by this bunch of muppets.

On the plus side, there's a lot of action, and it has a very big, well set-up finale. Don't think I'll be rushing out to buy all his books, but I might well get others from library if I want something not too heavy.

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A ribbon of black | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
The Southern Heritage folks by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 04:09:52 AM EST
and by that I mean the large amount of Americans who believe the South was right to succeed, had the right to succeed, and are convinced the root cause of the War of Northern Aggression was states rights (and not just the rights of the individual states to regulate slavery) believe the British upper classes and royalty were favorable to the South, and only needed a few convincing victories to grant the South recognition.

ObGrammarNazi: by greyrat (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 06:31:44 AM EST
"secede" and "secession". I'm sorry, but that one was too much. Unless spellcheck horked it up for you.

[ Parent ]
Ooh, those are egregious errors by georgeha (4.00 / 2) #4 Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 06:34:26 AM EST
succeed and secede are both in the dictionary, though, I can only blame myself.

[ Parent ]
Cheaper cotton by Vulch (4.00 / 2) #2 Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 04:23:17 AM EST

The cheaper cotton would have been welcome, the competition at the time was between the mills in and around Manchester and their equivalents in the northern states. The south did very little processing by comparison so would have been a source of cheap raw materials.

Interesting by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 08:08:03 AM EST
I would have thought India would have chiefly supplied cotton to Britain, but that must not have taken off till later.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Imperial cotton by Vulch (4.00 / 1) #8 Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 09:43:35 AM EST

Indian cotton production had dropped under British rule, and it had to come a lot further. Egyptian cotton exports greatly increased during the blockades and India ramped back up after the war. I think part of the problem with Indian capacity was water, the good growing regions weren't where the big rivers were so there was a limit imposed by what was available for irrigation, Egypt had the Nile. Cotton production is the main reason why the Aral Sea is drying out, so much water is taken out of the rivers for the fields in Uzbekistan and its neighbours.

[ Parent ]
History by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #5 Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 07:09:10 AM EST
Actually, the British did consider aiding the confederates for various reasons. The primary one was that Great Britain was the primary buyer of American cotton. They didn't produce much cotton themselves at that time. Instead, they bought cotton abroad and used it to produce textiles in British miles. The Northern blockade of the Confederacy was primarily aimed at blocking this trade. The southern states were thus part of the British industrial system, which obviously competed directly with the northern states.

The British never got anywhere near actually aiding the confederates, but were close to recognizing them. Part of the reason for the Emancipation Proclamation was to help prevent this, as the British government wasn't about to support the confederates once the war was officially about slavery.

I haven't seen the movie so I can't speak to its accuracy. It is fairly inconceivable that the CSA would have actually conquered the North. It's far more likely that the country would have disintegrated into North, South and West. (Isn't that how Turtledove's counterfactuals go?)

It's hard to imagine any Jews or Chinese immigrating to a society that would enslave them. Remember, though, that the South didn't recognize "mixed race", what with the "one drop" rule.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

British aid. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 3) #6 Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 07:58:16 AM EST
I think were several occasions where the British government provided aid and worked in the interest of the Confederate states.

The English purposely turned a blind eye to blockade running - in fact, blockade running was so common that Loyd's of London used to underwrite shipments of weapons and the like to the Confederates.

Also, the Brits built, equipped, armed, and launched the Confederate war ship The Alabama. This was in violation of their own neutrality declaration, but that didn't seem to both them. The would have done the same for The Alexandria, except, by that point, the war seemed like a forgone conclusion and the Brits, not wanting to side with the losers, had the ship scuttled.

British commercial classes also pitched in with business loans amounting to about $15 million dollars.

[ Parent ]
Britain and King Cotton by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 2) #9 Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 10:51:53 AM EST
As I remember my history: Britain didn't grow cotton, they bought it - and they bought a lot of it from the Southern US. The southern states were firmly convinced that British business interests would back them and were shocked when UK public opinion went hard the other way.

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had it when I came in here.
Oh, nevermind. by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 1) #10 Wed Oct 03, 2007 at 10:55:42 AM EST
That's what I get for not reading all the other comments before posting...

Has anybody seen my clue? I know I had it when I came in here.
[ Parent ]
But... by nebbish (4.00 / 2) #11 Thu Oct 04, 2007 at 02:24:39 AM EST
Your's was the clearest and most concise.

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
A ribbon of black | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)