- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Rebels in space

“In the first ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, Luke battles an empire propped up by a vast, robot-like army of imperial storm troopers and equipped with the most deadly weapon of mass destruction, the Death Star. … Given that George Lucas’ original trilogy was produced during the final years of the Cold War, it is not hard to identify his Empire with what Ronald Reagan famously described as ‘the Evil Empire.’ …

“Luke and the other freedom fighters who oppose this totalitarian menace are characterized by their relative independence (suggested by Han Solo’s very name), their voluntary and negotiable participation in the great struggle, and their comparatively decentralized forms of resistance and military organization. Perhaps the most interesting thematic development of the second trilogy (now two-thirds complete) is the revelation that the Empire emerged historically out of an apparently free and republican federation of planets. While reiterating in simplified form the transformation of republican into imperial Rome, the overall arc of the Lucas films hints that the Empire issued from the ostensibly democratic and free Federation.”

—Michael Valdez Moses, writing on “Back to the Future,” in the July issue of Reason

God bless Mavis

“Many people in my generation suffered enormous trauma at some point in our teen years. … It only lasted a few months, it’s true. … But it left deep emotional scars which, to this day, are still evident, so that the mere mention of the trauma is enough to fill us with terror.

“I speak, of course, of typing class. …

“In front of us were our IBM Selectrics, the state of the art at the time. … The little silver ball filled with letters would spin and spin as you typed, hammering the paper hard. … [Y]ou still had to use ‘Liquid Paper’ to cover your errors. … There was still paper, and carbons. …

“It is a new world, folks! Typing class is obsolete! The new generation has been completely liberated from its horrors! Thanks to the glories of technological advance, the chains that bound us have been broken. There are hundreds of typing programs and tools out there, but one in particular has opened my eyes to the new world of freedom and human liberation: Mavis Beacon.

“Mavis Beacon! What a wonderful woman. She lives on a [computer disk] that cost me $19. … She is a taskmaster, to be sure, but in a loving, charming sort of way. …

“My 8-year-old daughter looks forward to her typing class. … She adores learning to type and she is learning to type. …

“Technology has made it possible to end a major source of torment for people going back a hundred years or more. — A world free of typing class! God bless it. May my daughter — may all children the world over — never see another war, never experience a day of hunger, and never, ever, sit in a typing class.”

—Jeffrey A. Tucker, writing on “Down With Human Suffering,” May 24 at www.lewrockwell.com

‘Reefer Madness’

“American opinions about marijuana have come a long way since the 1938 film ‘Reefer Madness,’ and even since President Bill Clinton claimed he ‘didn’t inhale.’ While overall usage of the drug has dropped in recent years after climbing for decades, Americans have become increasingly tolerant of the ‘softer’ drug for recreational or medicinal use and, to a lesser extent, when it involves possession or trafficking. …

“In the past six years, 19 different state initiatives to ease regulations on marijuana have become law. More Americans believe drug use should be treated as a disease (52 percent) than as a crime (35 percent). … And whether they approve of it or not, the vast majority of Americans — 74 percent — say we are losing the drug war.”

—Pamela Paul, writing on “Marijuana Attitude Shift,” in the June issue of American Demographics

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