Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Weather Underground.

Well as you can probably guess, our heroes don't receive a very positive response. What ends up happening is that a few students get it and the rest get taken by teachers and said teachers threaten to expell anyone caught with copies, which will only guarantee that the kids go out of their way to get copies and read it, as Hermione Granger would put it. It's the old forbidden fruit argument which is why I must conclude that the teachers are secretly on the side of the YTF. If they didn't want anyone to read it, they would have said nothing and most of them would have wound up in the trash, along with the flowers. Why did I come to this conclusion? Because this chapter is really boring and I had to entertain myself somehow and conspiracy theories were the only way to go.

Okay, so second chapter, the YTF guys, including two new members, cousins named Mark and John and yes, that is intentional, dicuss what to do if questioned about the newspaper.

"What if Coach Handlesman confronts you and asks you point-blank if you had anything to do with the Underground. Would you lie?"

Finally some kind of moral query in this universe. It's not quite, "Would you lie to protect the Jews you're hiding from the Nazis?" level query but at least we're starting to probe into whether absolute morality works in an unstable world. Here's a hint for those not into philosophy: it doesn't. Morality can only be absolute under a stable society, i.e. one where there are checks and balances on government power and minority rights are guaranteed. Just ask Paul Rusesabagina if you don't believe me. For those of you who don't know who Paul Rusesabagina is, he ran a hotel during the Rwandan genocide and used his influence to wheel and deal and protect the Tutsis he was sheltering in his hotel. Over a thousand people owe him their lives because he :gasp: lied and double-dealed in order to keep them alive.

Sorry about that philosophical rant. Now here's Judd's response to the query.

"Either God is in this or he isn't," Judd said. "If he wants us to do this, we gotta do it. He'll protect us. He'll give us. He'll give us the answers when we need them. We have to believe that."
"He either protects us or takes us to heaven," Ryan said. "Either way, we can't lose."
"I'm not ready yet," Lionel said. "I mean, I want to be. I'd love to be a martyr, especially since I knew better and should have been ready for the rapture, but I'm scared. I'm sorry but I am."

Wait, backup a minute...So far the gravest threat I've heard them mention in the text is the possibility of expulsion which would be bad, but it's hardly Rwanda circa 1994. So far no one's mentioned any real life-threatening consequences for their actions; I haven't heard of anyone being shot or strung up and buried in a mass grave for their witness. So I can't help but conclude that our heroes are being more than just a little meleodramatic by indulging in martyrdom fantasies.

Fred already talked about the zeal RTCs have for martyrdom fantasies so I won't discuss them here. Instead I'll point you towards Fred's words on the topic: Martyr Envy

Where's Vicki you might ask? Well, while the boys are doing manly stuff like talking about martyrdom, Vicki is riding the bus after receiving a mysterious phone call in the previous chapter telling her to do so. Sorry I didn't tell you about it but it was so boring I didn't feel a need to inform you about it.

Anyway, it turns out the person who called her was Shelly, aka the only character who's acting like a human right now. Shelly collapses on the bus and it turns out she had swallowed a bottle of her mom's sleeping pills, which again is a perfectly human reaction. If something were to happen to my family, I know I would lose my shit in ways I can't imagine. Heck, I have a hard time keeping it together to get through exams, and losing my family would be like an exam times a million. So naturally my sympathy is with Shelly. I keep hoping she will escape like Tom Fogarty apparently did because we haven't heard from him in ages.

But we don't linger to long on Shelly, back to the guys who got super-duper special watches. I'm not kidding.

He pulled from his front pocket what looked like a pager. It had a screen about as thick as a pizza crust and was a little bigger than a watch.
"My dad was beta testing these," John said. "It works like a pager, but it's radio frequency controlled. You enter a message on the screen and send it to whoever you want who has a receiver. Instantly. No phone calls, no modem."

That sound you hear is me laughing. Again, as Fred puts it, Ellanjay failed to see the rise of cell phones even though this book was published in 1999 when cell phone use was starting to become common.

Anyway, the boys print off more copies of their paper and make plans to spread their paper around school and that's the end of that chapter.

BTW, if you're wondering about the post title, don't. I just couldn't think of anything so I though "The Weather Underground" would make a nice pun.


Firedrake said...

Ah yes, back when people other then drug dealers actually still used pagers...

So what would an RTC do if someone at his school started publishing a newsletter encouraging, oh, disrespect for the school establishment? Well, what they usually seem to do is confiscate what they find and expel anyone caught with it...

Yup, kids, you too can feel like a martyr. Bet the cool kids are sorry they didn't let you into their gang now! Now take this dynamite waistcoat and go to the president's speech...

detroitmechworks said...

Speaking of Martyr envy, why the heck don't these kids just convert to Judaism if they're SO obsessed with being god's number 1? (You don't get much more crap tossed your way than by being one of the Chosen People, after all...)
I mean, it says that a bunch of Jews will convert in the last days, so why not go whole hog, (Excuse the non-kosher joke) become one of god's CHOSEN people, and then on the BIG DAY!!!! Suddenly become a RTC, and you get bonus Martyr points? (Probably because Judaism requires actual, you know, action based off what you believe and not just sitting around claiming whatever ya do is god's will...)
Hmmm, ya know that brings up another thought. If Israel is the only free state in the world now, why the hell aren't more people converting to Judaism? Law of return, after all... You'd be soon looking at a more dense housing situation than Japan...

GDwarf said...

...Why are they outlawing newsletters anyways? I mean, yes, the people left aren't RTCs, but, certainly in the US, the majority'll be at least nominally Christian, even after all the Enigma Babylon nonsense.

Mouse said...

But don't you realize GDwarf, we're all powerless before the might of the UN!

Why else do you think no genocide has ever gotten off the ground since its founding?

Evil Paul said...

Poor Shelly! Here's hoping she just fades away in the novel instead of getting set up as the recipient of some RTC style intervention or something.

"Either God is in this or he isn't," Judd said. "If he wants us to do this, we gotta do it. He'll protect us. He'll give us. He'll give us the answers when we need them. We have to believe that."

So Judd's big answer to the 'lying to save Jews from Nazis' question is "Don't worry, we won't have to deal with it?" Damn. If the fascists ever takes over, remind me never to hide out with a born-again Christian family.

Re: Paul Rusesabagina. I highly recommend the movie: Hotel Rwanda. That scene where Resesabagina's on the phone with head office while the Interahamwe are breaking into the hotel downstairs had me in tears!

Mouse said...

I second Evil Paul's recommendation on Hotel Rwanda. A harrowing film to watch, especially for the Ellanjay crowd which seems to believe that the U.N. is all-powerful. During the Rwandan genocide they were completely impotent.

Ruby said...

That watch thing cracks me up. To me, that is Jenkins really showing his age: Super Secret Double Dog Dare Amazing Spy wristwatches strike me as very 1950's and 60's.

Good thing that Jenkins would eventually catch up to modern society with his skull phones.

Base Delta Zero said...

I'm questioning how the darn pager thing works. Is it just a typical broadcast radio? Because, you know, those can be intercepted too...

Or maybe it works through the Power Of Jesus.