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Old 07-06-2008, 05:36 PM   #31
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Cultural rigidity. With no source of outside ideas, (and new people bring new ideas) ideas, methodologies, and concepts tend to become limited and unchanging. When the environment changes, for whatever reason, the incestual group will be at a disadvantage.
Intellectual incest is not always equal to sexual incest & vice versa.
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Old 07-06-2008, 05:44 PM   #32
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I know that European nobility had a number of first cousin marriages ... but incest?? Who?? When?? This sounds like it could get salacious!!
Many societies consider first cousin and closer marriage to be incestuous. I have heard that the Israeli crèches that is is unusual for crèche brother & sister (though unrelated by blood) to marry. That may be due to the taboo influencing people or it may just be a product of "familiarity breeds contempt".
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Old 07-06-2008, 05:48 PM   #33
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I know that European nobility had a number of first cousin marriages ... but incest?? Who?? When?? This sounds like it could get salacious!!
Many societies consider first cousin and closer marriage to be incestuous. I have heard that the Israeli crèches that is is unusual for crèche brother & sister (though unrelated by blood) to marry. That may be due to the taboo influencing people or it may just be a product of "familiarity breeds contempt".

But we wouldn't want to write "dreck" here on MR.
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Old 07-06-2008, 05:57 PM   #34
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I'm curious as to the other reasons. I know that most religions teach it is wrong and even non religious moralists believe it but other than someone in authority saying it is wrong (which was most probably based on the afore mentioned genetic defects) I am not aware of any "other reasons" for incest taboos. There have been some cultures in which it has not only not been taboo but was expected. E.g. some of the south seas islanders, the Egyptian Pharaohs, European nobility.
Yes, and the ones in which it was expected tended to a pay a price, as witness some of the European royal families. In the case of the Egyptians and the Europeans, inbreeding was almost impossible to avoid. If you were a royal, you pretty much had to marry another royal, and chances were good they were a relative... The available pool of suitable partners was too small.

As for reasons other than recessives, the best one I know of is simple. In any society at any time, it was effectively impossible to be self-sufficient. In order to survive and prosper, you needed the assistance of others. What would motivate others to assist? One of the strongest motivations is blood kinship - they're your relatives.

Consider the institution of arranged marriages still practiced in some cultures. They aren't love matches, they are political and economic alliances between families, arranged by the families for the benefit of the families. It's a perfect example of the above.

"Keeping it in the family" reduces your available ties with others, and in the long term is anti-survival.

Now, you can argue that the advanced technology available to Lazarus Long and company lessened the strength of that argument, too, but RAH doesn't seem to have ever considered it as a factor.
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:14 PM   #35
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Ha! Yes ... exactly that. It bothers me that they will question my beliefs, but they have never read any of the materials that comprise the basis for my beliefs.

I, on the other hand, have read their Bible, as well as the Book of Mormon, the Koran (or Quran ... however they are spelling it these days), and several other religious texts. Read them ... studied them ... and THEN decided to reject them.

It drives some of the people here positively nuts that I know Biblical text as well as or better than they do.
An old friend of mine (dead recently, alas), was a reform rabbi. His wife was an Orthodox Catholic priest. They would do team counseling, interfaith marriages and the like. He recounted a few experiences having, um, discussions, with fundamentalists. When you not only know the source texts better than they do, but know them in the original languages...

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And ... as to the real topic at hand, I realize that the patronage system did tend to co-opt artistic integrity, and everyone's greed for the almighty dollor (or Euro ... or name your poison) does much the same thing today. But ... hell, it's just not supposed to happen to the authors that I want to believe are gods among men.
Forget artistic integrity. Any artist who wants to make a living at her art does what the patron wants. The integrity comes in executing the commission as well as possible. Michaelangelo is famed over the world as a great artist precisely because of that bespoke work to order. And in the case of Michaelangelo and fellows, it's not like they were being asked to do stuff they didn't want to do. They were devout Catholics, and working for the church depicting religious scenes. They might well have done the same sort of work if they were wealthy and doing it for pleasure instead of a living.

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On a side note ... as I was purchasing 35 books from Amazon today ... all by Terry Pratchett (and the bank had a cow ... they thought my card had been stolen .... I mean who buys everything an author wrote all in the space of fifteen minutes???), I read something about him being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers.
Yes. He describes it as "an embuggerance". He's still capable of working and living normally, and expects to keep producing books for a while. He's also quite wealthy, thank you -- the Discworld books are enornmously popular in Britain, and he is a top best seller over there -- so he can fund research and care, ands a lot of folks are working on a "matching funds" scheme to get more money in the research pot. It may not help Terry, but it may well assist others down the road.

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See ... now in my private universe, he gets to live forever and have perfect mental acuity for at least that long.
We just need to get the College of Wizards active on his problem.
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:23 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post

Forget artistic integrity. Any artist who wants to make a living at her art does what the patron wants. The integrity comes in executing the commission as well as possible. Michaelangelo is famed over the world as a great artist precisely because of that bespoke work to order. And in the case of Michaelangelo and fellows, it's not like they were being asked to do stuff they didn't want to do. They were devout Catholics, and working for the church depicting religious scenes. They might well have done the same sort of work if they were wealthy and doing it for pleasure instead of a living.

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Well sometimes it works out that the artist does what they want, and then finds a patron who is willing to fund what the artist wants to do.

That was always my idea of what the patronage system should be. The artist should have a patron who shares their artistic viewpoint. In an ideal universe that is.
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:23 PM   #37
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Actually, even though Heinlein is a favorite writer, "The Number of the Beast" is, for me, not re-readable, and in fact, I would not even call it readable. I enjoyed "Farnham's Freehold", perhaps due to the time and place where I grew up and the time I first read it. This is, to my knowledge, the only Heinlein book where black/white race was an issue. Mostly he picked fictitious distinctions to illustrate the bad points of racial prejudices, thus avoiding any preconceived notions regardless of the readers race. This was one of the things I liked about his writings. The main other thing is he made me think in ways that I wasn't used to. And I admit he did write from a male perspective.
Correct on _Farnham's Freehold_. My problem wasn't the musings on black/white relationships: it was the framing device he used to tell the story. I thought Fritz Lieber did it better on one of his tales with a similar subject. But RAH could be sneaky about it. Consider _Starship Troopers_ Protagonist Johnny Rico wasn't a Caucasian...

And yes, I agree entirely about making you think in ways you aren't accustomed to.

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Also I do believe "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is his best. I found his idea of a "line marriage" quite interesting, although probably as impractical as any other multiple marriage in a society of at least nominal equality between the sexes. (Not trying to start a discussion on equality or the lack thereof!)
Remember the environment in which it was set. It might have been quite practical there.

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My second most favorite is "Starman Jones", a juvenile fiction that is scientifically very dated but I still enjoy it. I imagine that young people today would just totally not understand all the analog computers and log tables.
I enjoyed that, but found it weaker than some of the others. I'd rank _The Rolling Stones_ and _Farmer In the Sky_ higher. And I think _Citizen of the Galaxy_ stands with anything he's written, despite being nominally a YA title when produced. (And I've always been tickled that the climactic sequence was a corporate proxy fight.)
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:39 PM   #38
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Many societies consider first cousin and closer marriage to be incestuous. I have heard that the Israeli crèches that is is unusual for crèche brother & sister (though unrelated by blood) to marry. That may be due to the taboo influencing people or it may just be a product of "familiarity breeds contempt".

But we wouldn't want to write "dreck" here on MR.
I suppose we are using different definitions of "incest" then. I am not aware of any societies in which first cousin unions were absolutely forbidden by law, and sexual relations between such individuals deemed a crime.

Granted that repeated first cousin unions over a number of generations can cause genetic abnormalities to become the norm, but to call every such union "incest" I think is taking the term too far.

I would think it would be unusual for step-brothers and sisters to marry, along the same reasoning as you posed for the Israeli creche, but an unusual union is not necessarily an incestuous one.

Society might have had a jaw dropping moment when Woody Allen married his current missus ... but the union was neither culturally or legally forbidden.

I do agree with regard to the ancient Egyptians, to the extent that full or half siblings were expected to marry and produce offspring. That's not a great way to have a genetically healthy lineage. But then ... what are you supposed to do when your kings and queens are "gods" ... you can't just have them mating with other mortals ....

That was one of those things that always amused me about the book of Genesis ... since there was only one instance of actual "creation" then where did all those other people come from ... if not for incest?
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:42 PM   #39
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There's nothin wrong with incest as long as you keep it in the family.
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:46 PM   #40
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There's nothin wrong with incest as long as you keep it in the family.
har deeeeeee har har!! and a rim shot to boot
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:59 PM   #41
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Yes, and the ones in which it was expected tended to a pay a price, as witness some of the European royal families. In the case of the Egyptians and the Europeans, inbreeding was almost impossible to avoid. If you were a royal, you pretty much had to marry another royal, and chances were good they were a relative... The available pool of suitable partners was too small.

As for reasons other than recessives, the best one I know of is simple. In any society at any time, it was effectively impossible to be self-sufficient. In order to survive and prosper, you needed the assistance of others. What would motivate others to assist? One of the strongest motivations is blood kinship - they're your relatives.

Consider the institution of arranged marriages still practiced in some cultures. They aren't love matches, they are political and economic alliances between families, arranged by the families for the benefit of the families. It's a perfect example of the above.

"Keeping it in the family" reduces your available ties with others, and in the long term is anti-survival.

Now, you can argue that the advanced technology available to Lazarus Long and company lessened the strength of that argument, too, but RAH doesn't seem to have ever considered it as a factor.
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Of course the extra-familial ties have both bad sides as well as good sides. It works well only when everyone involved supports the larger family rather than being a constant drain.

Also I would agree that it is anti-survival from a family sense but not necessarily from an individual sense. Yes I know that the family working together is stronger than the individual alone. But an individual who is accustomed to working alone is a stronger individual than one who has always been supported by the family. Perhaps I'm just atavistic in my outlook.
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Old 07-06-2008, 07:02 PM   #42
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See ... now in my private universe, he gets to live forever and have perfect mental acuity for at least that long.
We just need to get the College of Wizards active on his problem.
I would think that eventually boredom would win over mental acuity.
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Old 07-06-2008, 10:16 PM   #43
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Heinlein may have been somewhat weak on plots in general, but Mistress, at least, had a very strong plot. I would say Have Spacesuit, Will Travel was another strongly plotted book. Perhaps I just held his other works to too high a standard. His own damn fault! Agreed that Citizen of the Galaxy is another of Heinlein's finest, and probably the most "mature" (whatever that's supposed to mean) of the "juveniles." Starman Jones is interesting partially because of the analog computers, I've always thought. (But then, I taught myself to use a slide rule based partially on Heinlein's descriptions of them.) And The Star Beast is such a funny and revealing look at politics and bureaucracy, I still refer back to it when I want to remind myself how things "really" work.

The least memorable of the YA books, to my mind, was Time for the Stars. Not that it was a bad book, just not one of the favorites I come back to over and over. Rocket Ship Galileo was another slightly wobbly one. Not bad, just not as good as Farmer in the Sky or The Rolling Stones (weak plotting in both of these, I think, but great characters).

Dennis, your suspicions about Willis being a Martian nymph are confirmed in the uncut version of Red Planet, I think. (Though there was some very strong hinting even in the earlier release.)
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Old 07-07-2008, 12:01 AM   #44
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Heinlein may have been somewhat weak on plots in general, but Mistress, at least, had a very strong plot. I would say Have Spacesuit, Will Travel was another strongly plotted book. Perhaps I just held his other works to too high a standard. His own damn fault!
_Have Spacesuit, Will Travel_ is marred for me by the bit at the end, when one of the kids blows up at the aliens. I found the outburst embarrassing, is a "Geez, he's making us look bad!" sort of fashion. I'll have to reread it and see if I still get the same reaction.

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Agreed that Citizen of the Galaxy is another of Heinlein's finest, and probably the most "mature" (whatever that's supposed to mean) of the "juveniles."
I define that as "If it had been published as adult SF, no one would have noticed anything unusual.

I can't quote a citation to prove it, but I believe _Starship Troopers_ was originally intended to be one of the YA line, as well.

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Starman Jones is interesting partially because of the analog computers, I've always thought. (But then, I taught myself to use a slide rule based partially on Heinlein's descriptions of them.)
I learned to use a slide rule about the same time I was learning square roots. I never did learn to do square roots by hand. It was too easy to whip out the slipstick and get one to three places.

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And The Star Beast is such a funny and revealing look at politics and bureaucracy, I still refer back to it when I want to remind myself how things "really" work.
I was tickled by a lot of that. Especially when we find out what Lummox really is, and that she thought of raising John Thomases as her hobby.

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The least memorable of the YA books, to my mind, was Time for the Stars. Not that it was a bad book, just not one of the favorites I come back to over and over. Rocket Ship Galileo was another slightly wobbly one. Not bad, just not as good as Farmer in the Sky or The Rolling Stones (weak plotting in both of these, I think, but great characters).
Indeed. An old friend recounted hearing another SF writer advising people not to have characters talk like Heinlein's characters, unless you are Heinlein, "because people don't talk like that". "People used to talk like that!", said my friend.

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Dennis, your suspicions about Willis being a Martian nymph are confirmed in the uncut version of Red Planet, I think. (Though there was some very strong hinting even in the earlier release.)
I was reasonably sure I was right, and a bit bemused that no one else seemed to have noticed it.
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