BSG

Battlestar Galactica is Time's best television show of 2005. I have to agree, though the first season which aired earlier in the year was better than the second season. Veronica Mars, which didn't make Time's top 10, would have to be second on my list.

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I like the show a lot,

I like the show a lot, although the degree to which the captains act like absolute monarchs is a bit unsettling at times (like when the president orders a cylon spaced on sight, etc). That and the general creepy dark atmosphere of post-nuclear annihilation where people are very angry and sad and dead a lot. Other than that the show is awesome!

FYI: Veronica Mars did make

FYI: Veronica Mars did make the "Top 10 list" at Time, actually. For some reason, the critic at Time separated his TV lists into "new shows" and "returning shows" and Veronica Mars did make the list for returning shows. He said it's a "dirty secret" that the official "Top 10" list at Time concentrates on new shows only. For whatever reason, BSG was put on the list of "new shows" even though it's not really new.

Back in April, the same critic at Time listed the six best dramas on TV (not in any order):

Lost (ABC)
Veronica Mars (UPN)
House (Fox)
The Shield (F/X)
Deadwood (HBO)
Battlestar Galactica (Sci Fi)

The despotism of the

The despotism of the Commander and President *should* be unsettling, and that's one of the good features of the show. Remember, it's a drama, not a political treatise.

That said, there's some rich ground to be mined for the political theorists among us, especially wrt anarchism. The entire arrangement between Adama and Roslin at first was something of a sham. Adama had the power because he had the guns, and he knew it, and he thought that was exactly the way it should be. Roslin essentially blackmailed him into sharing power because she knew that his plan to seek out Earth was a lie. Even so, it was less a sharing of power than an agreement by Adama to support Roslin's own fiction of a civilian government in exchange for her supporting his fiction of the quest for Earth. He made it clear to her that she could run the "civilian" government but he would retain control over "military" decisions, and he also made it clear (to the audience, at least) that he though the military decisions were the only important ones.

It was also an arrangement of convenience - Adama didn't really want to deal with "civilian" matters like setting up water rationing programs and establishing currencies and so forth, so he was content to let Roslin handle all that.

The wrinkle in their plans came up quickly with the rebellion-cum-democracy-movement by Tom Zarek. When Apollo provided his support at a key moment, Adama and Roslin were both cornered. They were now stuck with playing along with their own fictions - that they really did represent the remains of the legitimate democratic government and would have to follow the democratic process.

Push has come to shove twice now in the show. The first time was when the fleet split apart, with some choosing to follow the civilian government and others choosing to stay under the leadership and protection of the military. That was eventually resolved through Adama and Roslin reaching an accord based not on strained diplomacy and implied threats, but through deep respect and admiration and reconciliation.

The second time is happening now with the cliff-hanger from the end of last season. Now that Roslin and Adama are truly a unified leadership operating as the government with at least the semblance of democratic legitimacy, Admiral Cain has arrived claiming the leadership of the military and effectively denying the legitimacy of the Roslin government. Roslin has a claim to the legacy of the original government by succession from the previous presidency; Cain has a claim to the legacy of the original military by succession from the chain of command.

But both those claims have become moot as the guns have come out. As when Caeser crossed the Rubicon, what matters is not the loyalty of the generals to the Senate but the loyalty of the soldiers to their generals. The future of humanity will be determined by the resolution of a military conflict between Adama's Galactica and Cain's Pegasus.

Anarchists should be eating this stuff up.

Obviously the lesson to draw

Obviously the lesson to draw here is that might makes right, and the strong should rule the weak. Now bow before me you worthless cretins!

(I personally think the other Admiral overreacted to the murder...)

I think that the biggest

I think that the biggest factor they're exploring is what systems and arrangements are appropriate for a population of 45,000 versus 45 billion (3.75 billion per colony, assuming they're all Earthlike, doesn't seem too far out). It's rather fascinating and they've touched on it in the show, with Zarek pointing out that their entire economy is a fiction- people go to work because they did it before the holocaust and not because it actually is needed to be done, and there is no means to do economic calculation given the lack of private property and currency, so essentially the entire fleet economy is irrational.

But, on the other hand, is it? There is the question posed by Bryan Caplan about the Crusoe-nomics of Austrians where on the one hand Crusoe and Friday dont need money and such because they can calculate what they need to produce and consume between them in their heads, but on the other we in the advanced Great Society do need it, where does it become impossible to calculate by reckoning vs. institution? Being that's a sorites argument and I think the fact that bright lines can't be drawn is not an argument (or not nearly as powerful of one as Caplan seems to think), it does give food for thought in whether the interlocking networks of personal relations and interactions between the captains of the ships, their crews & passengers, *is* in fact enough to do rational calculation using dead reckoning. If that is so, then it may be more costly to institute cash accounting or come up with impersonal institutions to mediate rationing. Especially in a case of an essentially zero-production economy. So while Zarek has a good point in general for a rooted, productive, and somewhat anonymous society, it may not make much sense for a tightly linked closed system society of 45,000.

Also, what works best to maintain this economic network- one person directing the show (Adama or Roslin) or one where there is some sort of empowerment and political devolution (aka colonial democracy). Given they have social capital in the form of remembered political institutions that pretty much all of the fleet buys into, the easiest means of control *is* in fact to reinstate the colonial forms (for now) to maintain consensus. The split between the military and the civilian/religious in the Kobol arc shows that neither side works very well when power is centralized, and the disastrous coffee raid shows that when every person is needed and valuable, military power is muted; in order to brutalize your population into submission, you have to either be completely nihilistic and short-time horizon, or you have to have surplus population that you don't mind killing- neither of which Adama/Tigh is or has.

Which is the interesting counterpoint with Cain- she IS completely nihilistic and has no long term planning horizon, so her people ARE all ultimately expendable to her, and her reign of terror works for that reason (execution of those who defy her). I think it will be revealed that Cain & Co were up to no good at the time of the holocaust and that, in part, has fueled their piratical mania.

I think there was an episode

I think there was an episode of Star Trek: Voyager ("Equinox") which explored a similar point. Basically they met a ship that faced the exact same circumstances Voyager had faced (stranded in the sticks by arrogant super-aliens), but dealt with it by terror and murder instead of logic or goodness (they were grinding up little fish-like dudes and generally shooting whomever they didn't like in order to get back to Earth). Cain's behavior seems ludicrous in context, whereas I thought the portrayal of the captain in "Equinox" was more nuanced.

I just wish they'd stop the

I just wish they'd stop the BS about Baltar being able to see Number Six without any apparent explanation. If it's not technology, then what is it? I would personally be very freaked out if I kept seeing a beautiful woman nobody else could see who alternately praised and threatened me.

I admit that I think Cain's

I admit that I think Cain's behavior, thus far shown and with almost no context/backstory, is kind of over the top. I expect with the BSG writers that we will get a more substantial explanation and in retrospect it will seem intelligible one way or the other. The writers have earned that trust so far.

"Freaked out" is a

"Freaked out" is a reasonable description of Baltar.

Unlike some, I'd like if

Unlike some, I'd like if they had the balls to go angelic on Baltar with six. As they say, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, or in this case, divine intervention. Nobody knows what the Lord of Kobol were, or the 13th one (which, for my money, will turn out to be the Cylon god). I know that "hyperdimensional beings" and whatnot are somewhat passe/cliche in sci fi, but BSG has eschewed so much of the cliche that adopting one would actually be a bolder and less pedestrian move than to simply say "oh he's nuts". Though personally I liked the chip explanation, I'm sorry they got rid of it.

Yeah just what is it with

Yeah just what is it with these "Lord of Kobol" anyway? I'd like to see some definite divine intervention by these superbeings, elsewise why should the crew of the Galactica continue to worship them? I'd hate to think they were on the side of the Cylons...

Stefan, I don't think the

Stefan,

I don't think the Lords of Kobol exist anymore, at least not in a manner that can/has much influence on corporeal existence. In the Kobol arc they made explicit mention of "Athena" committing suicide in despair as a response to the people's exodus from Kobol. If a Lord of Kobol / God can die, that must have some sort of real consequence in terms of their ability to interact with the world (or else it would just be cosmetic/moot). I have to imagine that most of the others went similar routes (or spent their power either finding or engineering the highly improbable 12 Earth system). Perhaps some of the original 12 Lords of Kobol (good version) are around, but they're remarkably quiescent these days. I still think that the 13th one is the Cylon God, since he was cast out and is the only one to stay in the corporeal realm, for lack of better terms.

That would be terrible,

That would be terrible, since earth is the 13th colony (although the Cylon god being the creator of earth would explain some things I suppose). Watching one of the previews of the show, it occurred to me just how on edge most of these people are, and how useful that is for dramatic effect. Plainly, making your characters in a story suffer is good (try that for utilitarianism!). From Boomer's tension over the half-cylon child to Captain Adama's uneasy partnership with Roslin and now uneasy life-and-death combat with the admiral, these people are high-strung and stressed-out. Here's to some interesting drama this season.