Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
04/24/15 -- Vol. 33, No. 43, Whole Number 1855

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
                Lectures, etc. (NJ)
        More Hugo Nominations Changes/Corrections
        My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in May (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        What to Do About "No Award" (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        Fear the Reaper: HELIX and 12 MONKEYS (television review
                by Dale Skran)
        THE PERFECT THEORY by Pedro G. Ferreira (book review
                by Gregory Frederick)
        LAUGH KILLER LAUGH (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        1915 (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        Home Video (letter of comment by Peter Trei)
        Terry Pratchett and Discworld (letter of comment
                by Philip Chee)
        This Week's Reading (UTILITARIANISM) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
Lectures, etc. (NJ)

May 14: WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) (film) and THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
        by H. G. Wells (book), Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
May 28: Poul Anderson "Call Me Joe" by Poul Anderson and "... And
        Then There Were None" by Eric Frank Russell (both in SCIENCE
        FICTION HALL OF FAME VOLUME 2A), Old Bridge (NJ) Public
        Library, 7PM
June 25: TBD
July 23: "Universe" by Robert A. Heinlein and "Vintage Season" by
        Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore (both in SCIENCE FICTION HALL
        OF FAME VOLUME 2A), Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM

Speculative Fiction Lectures (subject to change):

May 2: Caridad Pineiro, He Said, She Said--A Discussion on
        Dialogue, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N
June 6: TBD, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N
July 7: Leanna Renee Hieber, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N
August: no lecture
September 12: Carlotta Holton, Applying Local Myths & History into
        Speculative Fiction, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N
October 3: Ellen Datlow, The State of Horror Fiction, Old Bridge
        (NJ) Public Library, 12N
November 7: Jennifer Walkup, Finding Your Voice in YA Speculative
        Fiction, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N
December: no lecture

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


TOPIC: More Hugo Nominations Changes/Corrections

In the "Best Fanzine" category, "Blackgate" has been withdrawn.
However, Sasquan has said that the ballot had already been sent to
the printers, so it will appear on the ballot.  It is not clear how
votes cast for it will be treated.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in May (comments by Mark
R. Leeper)

In March TCM ran a series of films directed by Bert I. Gordon.  I
wrote a list and put it in my column of the most interesting films
of March on TCM.  Later I realized that I had the wrong date for
every film.  I had claimed they would all run about six days before
they actually did.  How could I make such a blunder?  It was easy.
I think that when Turner tells us what will be showing in the
following months, they are probably still scheduling at that point.
I think they just moved the block of Gordon films from one day to
another.  There is nothing I can do about it.  You should not
entirely trust the dates and times I give.  Turner even does last
minute rescheduling.  I should have expected that because an actor
may die on Tuesday and TCM may have a series of that actor's films
that Friday.  That would require making last-minute adjustments to
the schedule.  In general you can't believe anything I say.  I am
the WORST liar and this only makes it worse.  Anyway...

Back in the 1930s with a virulent depression crippling the country
people wanted to feel that a better tomorrow was coming.  In that
bright future people would be prosperous and happy.  Popular art
forms were Art Deco and Futurism, which seemed to give a taste of a
beautiful luxurious future that was just around the corner.
Buildings were decorated with Art Deco for a time coming that was
going to be great, and it was going to be full of giant-scale
projects to make the world better.  Among the best known of such
projects was the immense Hoover Dam that dwarfed humans with many
generators the size of merry-go-rounds.  The then-recently
completed Empire State Building, the largest building in the world,
was decorated in Art Deco and was topped off with a dirigible dock
(still seen in KING KONG).  This promise of giant machines building
the future was catered to in an eye-popping sequence of THINGS TO
COME (1936).

In a bridging sequence in that film we see the huge machines
pulling from the ground the raw materials that would make humanity
rich.  In the sequence we see huge and strange digging tools
stripping the bejesus out of the earth and build the city of the
future.  You might call it mechano-porn.  THINGS TO COME is fondly
remembered today, but the previous year there had been another
mechano-porn film known either as THE TUNNEL or the more
descriptive THE TRANS-ATLANTIC TUNNEL.  It is about an
industrialist who wants to perform the greatest engineering feat in
history.  He wants to build a tunnel to hold a highway between
London and New York.  With an ordinary motorcar you could drive
nonstop from one city to the other.  Of course, in our history the
airplane would prove to be a better way to cross the Atlantic.
THINGS TO COME will be shown Saturday, May 16 at 8:00 AM.  THE
TUNNEL will be shown as part of a separate event: a short series of
British science fiction films.  For more than 24 hours they will be
doing mostly fairly good science fiction films from our friends
across the pond.  The only occasion I can see is I have a birthday
coming up just a few days later.  Maybe it is a birthday gift for
me.  Anyway, starting Thursday morning, May 14, and going to
Friday, May 15, Turner will show

  1:30 PM: FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1964)
  3:15 PM: THESE ARE THE DAMNED (1962)
  5:00 PM: X THE UNKNOWN (1956)
  6:30 PM: SATELLITE IN THE SKY (1956)

As I said THE TUNNEL is a real rarity.  But I think even more rare
is SATELLITE IN THE SKY, though I personally think that SATELLITE
IN THE SKY is rather mediocre as a science fiction film.

What is the best film of the month?  Well, I'll tell you.  Back
when I was in grad school I sort of invented home video for myself.
I had two films that I thought were exquisite treasures.  One was
science fiction and one was a straight historical drama.  The films
(1966).  I had them on audiotape and I played those tapes over and
over visualizing what was on the screen.  This was years before the
video revolution and it was as close as I could get to owning
copies of the film I could watch whenever I liked.  Both of these
films will run on TCM in May.  The most idea-filled science fiction
film I had ever seen was FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (1968), these
days it is better known by its original British title QUATERMASS
AND THE PIT.  The story is writer Nigel Kneale's crowning
achievement.  In one fell swoop he explains ghosts and other
psychic phenomena, telekinesis, race prejudice, why similar myths
show up in widely separated cultures, and more.  This is one great
science fiction film.

The other great film this month is Fred Zinnemann's A MAN FOR ALL
SEASONS, an eloquent and beautiful adaptation of Robert Bolt's
play.  It will be of particular interest to fans of WOLF HALL,
though Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell are each shown in a very
different light.  [Saturday, May 30. 2:15 AM]



TOPIC: What to Do About "No Award" (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

People have, in the past as well as this year, expressed a desire
either to see "No Award" win in a Hugo Awards category, or just to
vote some items below "No Award" because they dislike them.

So let me explain how to do this, because it is not obvious.

Let's say you have read one story and really hated it.  It might
seem that you want to vote "No Award" first, that story second, and
nothing else voted on.  WRONG!  When you do this, you are basically
voting *for* the story.

Here's why: The ballot uses the "instant runoff" method.  It takes
all the first place votes and counts them up.  If anything receives
a majority (not just a plurality), it wins.  Otherwise, whatever
has the fewest votes is dropped and the second-place votes from
those ballots distributed to the remaining items.  This is
repeated, with the lowest nominee dropped and their votes
redistributed to the remaining nominees until one gets a majority.

Think of the votes as tokens.  Each ballot in a category gets one
token.  It is given to the first choice on that ballot.  If/when
that nominee is eliminated, it passes that token on to the next
choice on that ballot that has not been eliminated (and does this
for all tokens it holds), and so on.

Since under normal circumstances "No Award" is usually the first
one eliminated, voting it first and "Detested Story" second means
after the first round, your vote goes to "Detested Story" over all
the others.

In order to rank something low, you either have to rank-order all
the choices--including "No Award"--or you have to stop once you
have ranked "No Award".  That way, your vote never gets counted for
anything you have not ranked.

This brings up the second point: If you want "No Award" to win, YOU
MUST VOTE FOR IT.  If you really like story "I Loved This Story",
but if it doesn't win, you want "No Award" to win, you need to rank
"I Loved This Story" first and "No Award" second.  Otherwise, "No
Award" never gets your token/vote.

"No Award" is treated like any other nominee; you need to vote for
it for it to win.  (But if you love everything else, just rank-
order it last.)
So, to recap:

1) Either rank-order everything, or stop after ranking "No Award".

2) Rank-order "No Award" just like any other nominee.

I hope this clarifies Hugo-voting, at least to the extent that you
are able to vote the way you want, even if *why* it works is not
entirely clear.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Fear the Reaper: HELIX and 12 MONKEYS (television review by
Dale Skran)

TV seasons are completely crazy these days.  It was once the case
that the "school days" were filled with the regular season, with
repeats in the summer. Now we seem to have a never-ending launching
of "seasons" all over the calendar.  For example, SyFy channel
started the 2nd season of HELIX in January 2015 and it just ended
in April 2015 after 13 episodes.  It ran concurrently on Friday
with 13 episodes of a new series, 12 MONKEYS.  These two series are
quite different in tone, with HELIX being horror-SF while 12
MONKEYS is a tightly plotted hard-SF timewar story.  However, both
share the common theme of a vast world-wide plague.  In 12 MONKEYS
most of the Earth's population has been killed by a protean virus
released by an "Aum Cult"-like band of terrorists called the "12
Monkeys."  The virus mutates rapidly and defeats the best efforts
of the CDC to contain it.  The situation in HELIX is more complex,
but the plot revolves completely around fear of biological
technology, including several different plagues.  Just as SF films
of the 50s brought us giant radiation-mutated ants and similar
horrors, the brave new world of DNA splicing has created a new
catalogue of fears, giving rise to HELIX and 12 MONKEYS.  It is
said that SF is always mostly about the present, and that is quite
true with HELIX and 12 MONKEYS.  We sit today on the leading edge
of a growing moral panic as it starts to be generally understood
that at long last the technology (CRISPR-cas9) now exists to make
both our hopes and our fears of a genetic Brave New World a reality
at last. As rumors fly in the scientific blogosphere that the
alteration of the human genome has already started, we can always
hope that SF will balance the profoundly pessimistic worlds of 12
MONKEYS and HELIX with equally compelling but more optimistic

12 MONKEYS is loosely based on the 1995 movie of the same name
directed by Terry Gilliam, and starring Bruce Willis (as James
Cole) and Brad Pitt (as Jeffrey Goines). The general story is that
Some time in the future after a plague has killed most humans, a
daring team of scientists send someone back in time to prevent the
plague.  Things do not go as planned.  If you have seen the movie
(as I have), you will still find the series entertaining.  I'm not
going to spoil any of the many twists and turns in this complex
time-war story.  Things go back and forth as the scientists in the
future send James Cole (Aaron Stanford, perhaps familiar from his
role as Birkhoff in the 2nd NIKITA TV series) back to stop the 12
Monkeys, and the 12 Monkeys retaliate with seemingly impossible
foreknowledge.  Things are complicated by the power dynamics of the
future world as factions compete to save the world (time travel vs
finding a cure with a giant computer), and ruthless scavengers,
Amazon armies, and blue-faced religious fanatics hunt them all.
Among the most fully realized of the future world characters is
Katarina Jones (Barbara Sukowa), the leader of the time-machine

Part of the charm of 12 MONKEYS is that the characters, once they
understand what is at stake, are "all in."  With 7 billion lives at
stake, and the certain knowledge of a seemingly unstoppable doom,
present-day Dr. Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) slowly morphs from
a selfless doctor dedicated to fighting disease to a ruthless gun-
toting operator willing to torture her ex-husband when he betrays
the future to the 12 MONKEYS.  Cole, the biologically enhanced
scavenger from the future, grew up in a heartless world
inconceivable to a modern sensibility, and faced with certain death
from time-travel strain if he fails and non-existence if he
succeeds, fights with a grim desperation to defeat the 12 MONKEYS.

12 MONKEYS is hard SF, and reminds me of late 1950s ANALOG time-
travel stories.  There is some aspect of the closed time loop that
drove the TERMINATOR series, but this is a complex and well-thought
out, if grim, story.  12 MONKEYS is fine for teens and up, although
some may find it too dark for their tastes. 12 MONKEYS is one of
the best SyFy series I've seen--and should be compared to
ASCENSION.  I'm happy to report that Season 2 of 12 MONKEYS will be
returning in 2016.

HELIX has returned for a second season of large dollops of horror
stuck into a Phillip Jose Farmer SF story.  One part of HELIX is a
long series of set-piece horror scenes, all of which you have seen
in some other horror movie.  The other part of HELIX, a part that
remains hidden for most of the first season but is much more on
display in the second season, is a Farmer-esque tale of a secret
cabal of immortals ruling the world.  There is quite a bit of
general back-story of HELIX is that the world is ruled by a secret
group of immortals who operate out of a front called the ILARIA
Corporation.  Theirs is a strong yet limited form of immortality.
Once you have it, and a mortal can acquire it, although not easily,
and not without consequence, you become "static"--unable to age or
to reproduce--and immune to all disease.  Your powers of recovery
are superhuman, but not unlimited--decapitation and fire will
finish you off.  However, little things like being sealed in a jail
cell for three decades won't.  With their years, the immortals
become highly skilled at many tasks and quite formidable fighters,
yet increasingly distant from human concerns and ever more

A recurring theme in the series is that it turns out that one of
the major characters always was immortal (Dr. Julia Walker played
by Kyra Zagorsky) or becomes immortal (Dr. Sarah Jordan played by
Jordan Hayes).  Both seasons end with a "shocker" where a character
that you've come to think of as one of the heroes is now immortal
and working for ILARIA.  Like all large old institutions ILARIA
reacts strongly to threats, and in their view human environmental
destruction is a threat to immortals that must be managed by
reducing the size of the non-immortal population (a theme that
occurs in the Farmer books I mentioned).  Another theme is that
doctors are just as susceptible to the temptations of money, power,
immortality, and revenge as anyone, as one by one the CDC team
members fall from any sort of pedestal you may have put them on.

The show also does a good job of showing the evolution of Dr. Julia
Walker and Dr. Sarah Jordan as they start to more fully realize the
implications of being immortal and more or less invulnerable. In
the second season Julia is a representative of an ILARIA faction
seeking to sterilize all mortals who arrives with her personal
killer as a companion, and who defeats her immortal (but now
totally nuts) father in an axe vs samurai sword fight, and
eventually shoots her ex-husband.  Sarah takes to doing risky
experiments without any protective gear and ends up torturing an
admittedly very bad woman for information needed to further one of
her "projects," a project that no non-immortal would pursue.  And
yet neither woman is a comic-opera villain--and they may even be
the most heroic characters in a series filled with shades of gray--
their desire to do good and be good is still there--but being an
immortal in a world of mortals is an isolating and transformative
experience.  Since all non-immortals are going to die anyway in a
relatively short period of time, there is a tendency to use humans,
shall we say, a bit more instrumentally.

HELIX is recommended for adults only, and only for adults with a
strong toleration for horror themes.  However, there is an
interesting SF story being told, which is why I am watching.  So
far HELIX has not turned into anti-science propaganda, although it
plays with this at times.  It will certainly scare the bejezus out
of you once you realize that virtually all the terrible stuff that
happens is for the most part based in real science.  [-dls]


OVER GENERAL RELATIVITY by Pedro G. Ferreira (book review by
Gregory Frederick)

This book looks at the history of Einstein's famous theory of
General Relativity which he published in 1915.  Einstein used his
new theory to better understand exactly how gravity functions.  The
theory uses the concept of a 4-dimensional space-time continuum.
Space-time fills the Universe and is warped by large massive
objects like the Sun and this warping of space-time will cause the
planets to orbit it.  When Einstein developed this theory the
scientific community generally believed that the Universe was
eternal and static.  This static cosmological idea was known as the
Steady State theory.  Einstein initially did not accept all of the
predictions of his new theory.  Georges Lemaitre discovered that
most solutions of general relativity predict either a collapsing
Universe or an expanding one.  He found that using general
relativity to support the concept of a steady state Universe
required a very special case.  And this special case was what
Einstein used to support the existing Steady State theory.  Later
observational evidence from astronomer Edwin Hubble convinced most
cosmologists to accept an expanding universe which had a beginning.
Eventually Einstein also agreed.

As time progressed and others studied general relativity additional
interesting ideas came out of it.  The belief in black holes or a
singularity can be derived from the theory though many in the early
1900s including Einstein did not really think they existed.  As
early as late 1915 Schwarzschild came up with this result using
general relativity.  The entire notion of the Big Bang came from
general relativity also.  In the 1930s Lemaitre proposed that the
Universe came from a single small thing like a primordial egg.
Researches at Bell Labs in the 1960s using a huge radio wave
antenna found evidence of a hot dense state early in the history of
the 13.8-billion-year-old Universe.  This was convincing evidence
for the Big Bang to just about all cosmologists.  This afterglow of
the Big Bang discovery spelled an end to the Steady State theory.
Stephen Hawking created theorems which proved that an expanding
Universe with relic radiation like that found by Bell researchers
must have started as a singularity.  This was further support for
the Big Bang theory.

This book is a very good introduction to General Relativity and is
written in an engaging style that makes it a very enjoyable read
for the casual science reader.  [-gf]


TOPIC: LAUGH KILLER LAUGH (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: A diamond thief and occasional killer lives with no
emotions or humanity after having been abused as a child.  He daily
lets himself be berated by his memory of his boyhood tormentor.  He
is however intrigued by a woman he meets accidentally and who seems
to want him for a friend.  William Forsythe plays a man who has
lost his humanity and wants to get a piece of it back.  LAUGH
KILLER LAUGH (no commas in the punctuation) is a dingy film with a
portrait of a man emotionally dead who finally reaches out for his
last chance at life.  Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

The aptly-named gangster Frank Stone (played by William Forsythe)
has the emotions of a stone behind a stone face.  With one
exception he has no human relations with another human being.  The
one human he talks to or more accurately he listens to, is the
vicious headmaster (Tom Sizemore) of the orphanage where Frank grew
up.  The headmaster's verbal, sexual, and sadistic abuse haunts the
man and dominates him.  The headmaster rides and haunts Frank all
through the day.  Frank can partially channel his callousness to be
useful in his job.  His job is diamond thief.  And occasionally he
is called upon to kill people.  None of this bothers him as his
conscience had long since been deadened.

Frank leads a dismal, humorless, and grim existence.  One day
Jackie (Bianca Hunter), mistakes Frank for a classmate from her
creative writing class.  Frank is intrigued and follows her to see
her class, all the time behind the same impassive face.  Next
thing, he has enrolled in the class.  The writing teacher has Frank
writing about his own experiences.  This may be a good way to
write, but there are definitely people who are worried that some of
Frank's experiences will be a little too revealing.

William Forsythe is a familiar face from a multitude of films as a
character actor.  He rarely if ever has gotten a lead role.  That
is certainly not from a lack of acting ability.  But he has very
ordinary looks and so rarely gets a chance at a lead role in a
film.  Here he must express his emotion (or lack thereof) through a
fixed facial expression.  That calls for some acting chops.  It is
an acting task similar to the one that Conrad Veidt had in THE MAN
WHO LAUGHS.  Admittedly this is not nearly so taxing a part, but it
still must be a challenging role.  There are only two actors in
LAUGH KILLER LAUGH with much of a name, Forsythe and Sizemore.  The
apparent budget has been kept low.  The writer/director is Kamal
Ahmed, former member of the comedy group The Jerky Boys.

Do not infer from the title and the writer/director's history with
humor that this film is in any way a comedy.  It is a grim, dark,
and sometimes violent gangster film.  I rate it a high +1 on the -4
to +4 scale or 6/10.  LAUGH KILLER LAUGH will be released to
theaters and VOD on April 24, 2015

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: 1915 (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: This is a fictional story set in the present about the
production of a fictional play about the 1915 Armenian holocaust
when 1.5 million people were killed.  That is too many layers of
fiction between the viewer and the historic fact.  The film covers
the issue of today's people and their responsibility to keep alive
the past.  But this is a film with better intentions than
execution.  There are stories about this period that desperately
need to be told, but we are just too many levels removed from what
is at heart certainly not the most compelling story of the
experience.  Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

If one wants to come to understand what happened in the 1930s and
1940s European holocaust there are any number of film
dramatizations of those events to help.  There are films like
FRANK, and THE GREY ZONE.  But these films are about another
holocaust.  There is very little information in cinema about the
1915 to 1923 genocide of the Armenian people by the Turks.
Wikipedia list only thirteen films on the subject and only two or
three are in English.  The only one I have seen was Atom Egoyan's
ARARAT (2002).  But that film was not about the history of those
days primarily, it was about a (then) modern-day film company
making a film about the genocide.  The film that was desperately
needed so people will not forget the genocide was not ARARAT, but
the film that was being made in ARARAT.  Sadly, that film within a
film was not made instead of Egoyan's film.

Simon (played by Simon Abkarian) has written a play that will have
one single performance.  And then the play will be performed in
what appears to be a tiny audience in a beautiful antique theater
that mysteriously has gone unused for seven years.  There are
several things happening that stand in the way of the production.
The theater is as intriguing as the play being presented.  There
are mysterious accidents.  There is even a suggestion that what is
happening is in the realm of the supernatural.  Understandably the
local Turkish community is protesting a play about Turkish
barbarity.  But even the Armenian community is protesting the
play's production because they are afraid it would distort history.
Even the play is unsatisfying.  In it, an attractive Armenian woman
is given the choice of escaping the killings with the protection of
an amorous Turk or dying with her people.  One could argue that the
real horror of the history is with the people who are given no
choice at all.

1915 is a film written and directed by Garin Hovannisian and Alec
Mouhibian.  It is a short 82 minutes long.  Yes, it is about the
Armenian genocide, among other things.  It also has discussions
about the nature of acting that I would have expected more from
BIRDMAN.  There are philosophical nuggets like, "The wound has to
sting before it can heal."  What we learn of the genocide is in
five or six sound bytes.  It fails in precisely the same way that
ARARAT fails.  Obviously Simon's play cannot be a big spectacular
production within his budget, but he could tell more directly the
history in a small personal story like THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.

This is not a bad film by any means.  It is intriguing, but it
could have been more effective.  It leaves the viewer with
bewilderment where it could have left him with conviction.
Admittedly, it is not quite fair complaining about what 1915 *was
not* instead of what it *was*, but there is a real need to document
the Armenian experience before too much time passes and too much is
forgotten.  I want to know more about the history of the Armenian
Massacre but found myself being told of the problems producing a
play in current-day Los Angeles.  The film suggests that that this
is history that is being forgotten while doing almost nothing to
preserve the memories.  I rate 1915 a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Home Video (letter of comment by Peter Trei)

In response to Mark's comments on Baird Searles and home video in
the 04/17/15 issue of the MT VOID, Peter Trei writes:

SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE is also notable for another reason: It was the
first videotape to be widely pirated; about sixteen months after
the first VHS machines were sold in the United States. The idea was
so novel that it made the news.

Of course, home taping of music had been around long before that.


TOPIC: Terry Pratchett and Discworld (letter of comment by Philip

In response to Gwendolyn Karpierz's review of REAPER MAN in the
04/17/15 issue of the MT VOID, Peter Trei writes:

The first two books were basically slapstick comedy and if you only
read the first two you might wonder why Pratchett was so popular.


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

UTILITARIANISM by John Stuart Mill (ISBN 978-0-486-45422-1) is (in
my opinion) one of the basic texts of the collection of
philosophies often lumped together as "socialism".  (Mill and
Jeremy Bentham, among others, suggest that the principle of "the
greatest good for the greatest number" is a rational basis for
morality.  There are limitations to this principle; in science
fiction, the most famous one is "The Ones Who Walk Away from

Mill had this to say about what we would probably now think of as
non-discrimination: "Impartiality, in short, as an obligation of
justice, can be said to mean, being exclusively influenced by the
considerations which it is supposed ought to influence the
particular case in hand; and resisting the solicitation of any
motives which prompt to conduct differently from what those
considerations would dictate."  Mill is, of course, speaking of the
governmental treatment of people, though it might reasonably be
extended to include personal interactions.  While Mill might have
balked at *requiring* impartially from individuals, it seems
obvious that he believed that it was the *moral* thing to do.

Regarding punishment, Mill said that to punish someone as an
example to others is the "acknowledged injustice of singling out an
individual, and making him a sacrifice, without his consent, for
the benefit of others."  However, to punish someone for their own
benefit is the "admitted injustice of forcing one person to conform
to another's notions of what constitutes his good."  And to punish
some whose character, education, and surroundings have made him a
criminal is the injustice of "punish[ing] any one for what he
cannot help."  I do not think Mill was claiming that criminals
should incur no punishment, but he did recognize that there were
serious moral objections to just about any rationale for

Mill thought, "It is reckoned justice, not injustice, that a dealer
should charge to all customers the same price for the same article,
not a price varying according to their means of payment.  This
doctrine, as applied to taxation, finds no advocates, because it
conflicts strongly with men's feelings of humanity and perceptions
of social expediency; but the principle of justice which it invokes
is as true and as binding as those which can be appealed to against
it."  Even the flat tax that people do endorse is not a single
fixed value paid by everyone regardless of wealth or condition.
The reason one does not (cannot?) apply the "same-price-for-all" to
taxation is that (almost) everything else is "optional"--if you
cannot pay the price, you do not buy a new coat, or go to Olive
Garden for dinner, or get an Xbox.  However, people have no way to
opt out of taxation.  (If they did, then it would not be "same-

"The entire history of social improvement has been a series of
transitions, by which one custom or institution after another, from
being a supposed primary necessity of social existence, has passed
into the rank of a universally stigmatized injustice and tyranny."
The obvious example here is slavery.  What is notable is that he is
not saying anything about things which are stigmatized becoming
acceptable, which is what many conservatives decry.  If anything,
he is claiming we are becoming more moral, rather than less.
(Interestingly, Mill was an early advocate of what we now call
animal rights; when asked what we do now that will horrify our
descendents, I always answer, "How we treat animals.")  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           If I were again beginning my studies, I would
           follow the advice of Plato and start with
                                           --Galileo Galilei