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Yanks - Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 8:04am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

How did we get on economies again? :-) Especially reviewing this episode?
Yanks - Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 7:39am (USA Central)
Re: ENT S4: Observer Effect


Could you please explain?

Polly - Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 7:25am (USA Central)
Re: TNG S7: Journey's End

This episode illustrates what seems to be a common mainstream American misconception, which is that entire foreign cultures exist purely to help some middle class white American male to to get his act together.
Flying Tiger Comics - Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 3:13am (USA Central)
Re: VOY S6: Spirit Folk

I'm rewatching Voyager and recently passed this episode.

I didn't hate it, but the massive number of wasted episodes is heart breaking.

Voyager should have bitten the bullet and said no holodeck eps.

It would have made it better. Imagine if they used the Equinox crew thingy- and people got addicted to it like an electronic narcotic?

The show starts pretty strong and it has a restrained gothic horror edge with its multiple Frankenstein tropes- Borg, Vidiians and such- but man did it blow it all on the jog to Endgame.
M.P. - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 11:10pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: The Dogs of War

Oh good Lord. It is insanely ironic. In the comment section about a show which successfully hosted grey content; most of you are simplifying extremely complex issues into black and white.

This is the simplest way to say it. Neither socialism nor capitalism is "right." Both have good and bad points. Both are highly grey. Right is relative.

Anyway, about the actual show. It is fine if you do not like DS9 based soley on it not fitting in with an idealized-Roddenberry vision. Saying that is also fine, to a point. But I see many repeat names (Elliot being the most prolific, I believe) commenting on every episode the same diatribe. "DS9 sucks because the Federation isn't being portrayed as a Roddenberry utopia."

We get it. We get why you don't like it. Hammering that into every episode's comment section is ultimately self-defeating. You just come across as a whiny DS9-hater chest-thumping for the sake of being heard.

Most of you are better than that; your intelligence shows it. So at least step up your game and give us something else if you must keep commenting about the same subject.
bhbor - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 8:56pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The Outcast

If Star Trek teaches us anything its to embrace diversity - that, and simple metaphors are a great way to explain away complex technobabble.
bhbor - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 8:29pm (USA Central)
Re: ENT S4: Observer Effect

I don't feel like going back and forth on the details of this one, I was just impressed by Scott Bacula's acting in the final debate with the reanimated corpses of Trip and Hoshi. His quiet sadness rang true.
Dave in NC - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 7:21pm (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The Outcast

@ Joshua

I'm a gay dude, and trust me when I tell you it's not a choice. If it were, I'd be straight. lol

Although . . . I have to agree with Elliot, I suspect that you already know that better than anyone.

@ Robert & Elliot & Sonya & Andy's Friend & everyone else besides Joshua:

Thanks for being open-minded and inclusive. Trek fans really are the best people!
Dave in NC - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 7:11pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S6: Profit and Lace

Oh, and way for the writers to regress Quark back to his Terok Nor days: I really was shocked when he sexually harassed his employee and at the very end it turned out she was into "oo-mox".

Just awful.
Dave in NC - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 7:08pm (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S6: Profit and Lace

This is even more horrible than the DS9 Risa installment.

Painfully unfunny jokes abound in this implausible P.O.S. episode. I've read that Armin Shimerman had huge problems with this script and refused to do some of what they had asked of him. I shudder to think how this could be any worse.

I hated how Quark became a tired female cliche once Bashir was done with him. Aren't we past these types of cinematic "farces"? This painting of women/transgendered people in a bad light is SO pigheaded. Why was Star Trek sending such boneheaded messages this late in the game?

Couple that with some of the lamest Ferengi dialogue ever, a saccharine soundtrack and some very lackluster acting performances and what do you get?

A very stinky turd.

0 Stars

Dave in NC - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 6:57pm (USA Central)
Re: TOS S3: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

@ Andy's Friend

That is a good poem. Thanks for sharing.
Andy's Friend - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 5:48pm (USA Central)
Re: TOS S3: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

@William B.: About your opening question: I did a quick search, and this is what I found:

Jordan (I)
from "The Temple" (1633), by George Herbert (1593-1633)

"Who says that fictions only and false hair
Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?
Is all good structure in a winding stair?
May no lines pass, except they do their duty
Not to a true, but painted chair?

Is it no verse, except enchanted groves
And sudden arbours shadow coarse-spun lines?
Must purling streams refresh a lover's loves?
Must all be veil'd, while he that reads, divines,
Catching the sense at two removes?

Shepherds are honest people; let them sing;
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for prime;
I envy no man's nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with loss of rhyme,
Who plainly say, my God, my King.

[from eNotes.com:]

"Herbert's "Jordan (I)" is very difficult to understand because understanding the poem depends completely upon understanding the allusions that pepper the poem, the allusions that are scattered throughout. Remembering that Herbert was a devout Christian Anglican and minister, after resigning his parliamentary career, it is easier to understand the first and central allusion in the title: Jordan. There are two "Jordan" poems and both discuss writing poetry.

"Jordan" is thought by most critics to allude to the Jordan River that is important to the people of Israel in the Old and New Testaments. In the Old, the people of Israel cross the Jordan to get to the "promised land," and, in the New, Jesus is baptized in the Jordan at the beginning of his ministry. The general opinion, then, is that Herbert is setting up a poem about the divinely inspired potential of poetry as being regenerative and as giving renewal, if, that is, poetry could stop being what he saw it as presently being, which was that poetry was false.

"Who says that fictions only and false hair
Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?"

In the first stanza, Herbert contrasts the Jordan allusion--the potential for poetry to give spiritual renewal--to poetry that is fictitious, false and artificial. There is debate about some of his allusions in this stanza but he seems to be invoking images of sonnets to loved ones who have artificial beauty (false hair) and images of poems that praise this falseness; he seems to be lamenting this falseness in persons and in poetry: "Is there in truth no beauty?" He seems to criticize the structure of poetry, compare it to a winding, circular staircase and suggesting poetic structure is overly complicated. He seems to suggest that in poetry reality is embellished, that it can't be plain reality: "Not to a true, but painted chair?"

It is clear now how allusion is present in every line and through the allusions in the second stanza, Herbert seems to be criticizing poetic conventions and cliches. Many critics take "enchanted groves" as an allusion to the convention of pastoral poetry that praises the rural lives of shepherds and shepherdesses. Herbert seems to see this as part of the falseness of poetic convention and cliched lines, like "purling streams refresh a lover's loves." Ironically, since Herbert is considered a metaphysical poet, the last two lines seem to criticize the conceits of metaphysical poems, which make unusual comparisons between two things to arrive at one truth.

The third stanza alludes, again, to pastorals and to the second stanza itself. He is suggesting that while pastoral poems may go too far from reality, shepherds are themselves "honest people" who should sing as they like. Yet, he says that he rejects poems with riddles to solve and cliched phrases, like "nightingale or spring." The last two lines seem ambiguous to critics. Some say they allude to Herbert who wants to write plain, straightforward poetry. This explanation seems unlikely to other critics who suggest Herbert is further criticizing poets who drop rhyming and write in plain lines without rhyme: "Who plainly say, my God, my King."

This latter opinion makes a good deal of sense as it accords with the syntax of the three lines: envy no man, let them, who. It also accords with what we know of Herbert's poems, which speak honest truth but surely do not do it in a plain and straightforward way."

It's past midnight here in Scandinavia as I'm writing this and I'm frankly tired, and as I said I haven't seen the episode for years, so I won't even try to say anything meaningful, and just leave the interpretation up to you. What do you make of the poem, and how does it relate to the episode, in your opinion?
Andy's Friend - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 5:18pm (USA Central)
Re: TOS S3: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

[...and why did you have to comment on the one and only season of all Star Trek I don't have on DVD?!... :) I haven't seen this one in quite a while (about five-six years), so I'm sorry, but I am at a loss for anything to say about this particular episode. I remember it as one of the better or best of the season, along with "All Our Yesterdays", but that's unfortunately all. However, Edith Keeler doesn't necessarily strike as the best one-off female character from TOS. As I don't have S3 on DVD I can't even remember "The Enterprise Incident" nor the Romulan commander you mention; I personally think more of Vina from "The Menagerie" and Andrea from "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", and, for very personal reasons, Droxine from "The Cloud Minders", my earliest Star Trek memory, when I was six years old, and the very episode that made me an overnight fan of Star Trek. Keeler is of course memorable, but that is also because the episode is very much so, too; but I personally find Vina's and Andrea's situations far more interesting. I'm not talking about acting skills or lines of dialogue, but the sheer weight of the situation; I've always had a great deal of sympathy both for Vina and Andrea. Needless to say, "The Menagerie" and "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" are two of my favorite TOS episodes. But "Is There In Truth No Beauty?" is one of the few from S3 I can actually vaguely remember, and favourably at that, so I'm guessing I'd give it three stars just like you would.]
Andy's Friend - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 4:25pm (USA Central)
Re: TOS S3: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

John Adams to Thomas Jefferson
September the 2nd, 1813

"Now, my Friend, who are the άριστοι [aristocrats]? Philosophy may Answer "The Wise and Good." But the World, Mankind, have by their practice always answered, "the rich the beautiful and well born." And Philosophers themselves in marrying their Children prefer the rich the handsome and the well descended to the wise and good.

What chance have Talents and Virtues in competition, with Wealth and Birth? and Beauty?


The five Pillars of Aristocracy, are Beauty Wealth, Birth, Genius and Virtues. Any one of the three first, can at any time over bear any one or both of the two last.

Let me ask again, what a Wave of publick Opinion, in favour of Birth has been spread over the Globe, by Abraham, by Hercules, by Mahomet, by Guelphs, Ghibellines, Bourbons, and a miserable Scottish Chief Steuart? By Zingis by, by, by, a million others? And what a Wave will be spread by Napoleon and by Washington? Their remotest Cousins will be sought and will be proud, and will avail themselves of their descent. Call this Principle, Prejudice, Folly Ignorance, Baseness, Slavery, Stupidity, Adulation, Superstition or what you will. I will not contradict you. But the Fact, in natural, moral, political and domestic History I cannot deny or dispute or question.

And is this great Fact in the natural History of Man? This unalterable Principle of Morals, Philosophy, Policy domestic felicity, and dayly Experience from the Creation; to be overlooked, forgotten neglected, or hypocritically waived out of Sight; by a Legislator? By a professed Writer upon civil Government, and upon Constitutions of civil Government?

You may laugh at the introduction of Beauty, among the Pillars of Aristocracy. But Madame Barry says Le veritable Royauté est la B[e]autee [true royalty is beauty], and there is not a more certain Truth. Beauty, Grace, Figure, Attitude, Movement, have in innumerable Instances prevailed over Wealth, Birth, Talents Virtues and every thing else, in Men of the highest rank, greatest Power, and sometimes, the most exalted Genius, greatest Fame, and highest Merit."

I could not agree more.

Your opening question is an excellent one, William. All I can answer is that there is, in Truth, beauty. And that there is, in truth, Beauty.
Peremensoe - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 4:10pm (USA Central)
Re: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

bhbor, you should check out the book series (by Patrick O'Brian) that movie was based on. The movie (which was great, as far as it went) used portions of a few volumes--the two named in yhe title, plus a couple others--but there are TWENTY books (plus an uncompleted one) in all!
William B - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 3:27pm (USA Central)
Re: TOS S3: Is There In Truth No Beauty?

Here's a little ambiguity: what is the question that the title is actually asking? Is it, "Is there no beauty in the the truth, i.e., is the truth ugly?", or "Is there, in reality, no beauty at all?"? In Ode to a Grecian Urn, Keats says that truth is beauty and beauty is truth -- that is all. In the episode proper, the point is raised that it's a bias that humans have, going back to the Greeks, that beauty and goodness are intertwined. I think the episode might well be ponderous as Jammer suggests -- but I find it very interesting, being basically a series of reflections on the relationship, if any, between those core concepts of truth, beauty and goodness.

Dr. Miranda Jones, whose name refers to Prospero's daughter in The Tempest, is a beautiful woman who chooses to communicate with a hideously ugly, but intellectually superior, alien Kollos of the Medusans. At different times, she is romantically courted by several human men -- Garvick, most notably, but also to a degree Kirk, as well as McCoy who also lusts after her. (For his part, Scotty seems way more interested in Garvick, in a dynamic that almost plays like a proto-Geordi/Leah Brahms relationship with lots of discomfort.) Kollos is an alien so different from humans that human conceptions of consciousness and values seem not to function around him; he is a being of pure abstraction. In other episodes, like in "Metamorphosis" or "Return to Tomorrow," beings that are significantly different from corporeal humans are revealed to be able to connect to humans on a personal level, even so, especially once they take on the form of flesh. But with Kollos, even his brief period of possessing Spock leads only to a momentary connection before he passes back into his box forever. He is remote.

Here's how I read Miranda, then. Like many professionals and intellectuals, Miranda feels that she has to choose between a career of scientific and intellectual study and a life involving the heart and body. Both Kirk and Garvick suggest that she will ultimately be unfulfilled by a life bonding with Kollos, but the possibility that she might reasonably be able to do both -- to have human relationships with humans, and to practice the type of mental discipline required to understand Kollos and his abstract, intellectual being, and translate his knowledge to the rest of humanity -- is basically out of the question. With Kollos, Miranda can access "truths," about engineering in particular, that humans mostly don't have access to. But in exchange she loses touch with human notions of living. I think that this is a *particularly* resonant story idea with respect to women; there have been long strides since the sixties, but I think that it's still much harder for women to have both career and marriage, probably because of the emotional/caretaking role women are expected to have in a relationship, skills which don't always match up easily with the intellectual and energy demands of a hardcore academic/research career. Miranda is choosing the pursuit of truth over the pursuit of beauty, and she has a bunch of men whose entire *job* it is to seek out new life and so on telling her she should give beauty another shot and, hopefully, give up this silly truth thing.

Kollos is deeply, deeply ugly. Beauty is associated pretty clearly with humanity -- but more to the point, *human* conceptions of beauty are incredibly biased to humanity, but it's also a bias that humans are going to have difficulty getting over. On some level, our moral judgments are based at least a little bit on aesthetics, on what seems right, and on what looks natural and normal. When dealing with something really genuinely alien, really totally out of the range of normal experience, is it possible to be open-minded enough to accept that "ugliness" without judgment?

I think the episode's sort of scattershot approach to examining these themes makes a little more sense when we zoom out and see how elements introduced in one part of the story come out on another. The theme of jealousy, for example, first manifests in Garvick's human murderous jealousy at the fact that Miranda is being taken away from him by Kollos. Then in the second half of the story, after Spock has connected with Kollos and may die at any moment, it's Miranda's more subtle, and less obviously destructive, jealousy of Spock's intellectual ability to commune with Kollos that forms the basis of the main conflict. Jealousy, we learn, can take many forms. And Kirk insists that Miranda's jealousy is a kind of ugliness much worse than Kollos', and in so doing once again links goodness and beauty in a more metaphoric way -- but it's a link that also jolts her out of her shaky commitment to saving Spock, partly, I think, because Kirk has managed to find a truth about her which is itself ugly. The truth is associated with ugliness throughout the episode, including, at the end, *moral* ugliness, but taking glimpses at that truth is ultimately what saves the day, whether it's Spock carefully melding with Kollos to bring the ship back into the galaxy, Miranda accepting her human limitations that she can't fly a space ship, and Miranda noting and forgiving herself for her jealousy of Spock so that she can get over it enough to help him with all her effort and self.

That Miranda is blind and also psychic has certain mythological connotations (check out, for example, the TV Tropes page for Blind Seer), and her blindness is what cuts her off from human notions of beauty even as her telepathy (...is this the only pure human who's telepathic? I guess Riker had some degree of telepathic contact with Troi for like twenty seconds in "Encounter at Farpoint") puts her into close contact with the uncomfortable, ugly truths of the psyches of all around her. She's a lot like Tam Elbrum from TNG's "Tin Man," who also finds himself drawn to a strange alien as an alternative to the overstimulation of the minds of those around him. The whole thing is poignant -- she shuts herself off to "beauty," which is to say, human notions of what is "good" and "right" in an effort to become a pure academic, studying "truth" in form with Kollos. But even there, she's got human limitations, and she knows that her bonding with Kollos will never be as complete as Spock's. That she stays committed to her intellectual connection with Kollos even while knowing that it'll be incomplete is a minor tragedy, while also in a sense uplifting -- she's a professional woman who is not swayed from her goal, and I actually wonder if she's the best, most interesting one-off female character in the Original Series, with Edith Keeler and the Romulan Commander from "The Enterprise Incident" as the main competitors.

Miranda is an interesting mirror for Spock, who also finds himself cut off from humanity and compensates for it with intellectualism and even a strong rejection of human notions; but like Miranda, he's still human enough to have human biases and human "ugliness" within him, which keeps him apart from his fully Vulcan side. I think the episode doesn't necessarily plumb the depths of the Spock/Miranda parallels as far as they go, but there is something special about these two. Miranda reflects the no doubt large amount of Trek fanbase who basically *want* to be Spock, want to be Vulcans, and yet find their human frailties get in the way; for her to be able to accept that, yes, she finds herself jealous of Spock for being born (half-)Vulcan, but that she will still devote herself entirely to saving him, is an impressive demonstration of the redemptive power of forgiving oneself for being imperfect yet still trying one's best. And I think that's a lesson that Spock, so intent on denying his human side much of the time (though by this point in the series he's a little more cool with it, I think) can learn.

I think the episode is still a little strange, and somewhat low-key. But I like it quite a bit, and find it moving in an odd way. I would probably go for 3 stars.
Robert - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 11:24am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

And I REALLY hope Elliott is right! :)
Robert - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 11:23am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

Interesting arguments you both make! And Andy's Friend, I wasn't so much concerned with your salary, but merely worried for a world in which all human lives (including those in developing countries making all this stuff) are treated with the dignity that people where you live are treated. I've been to Scandinavia, those people are well served by their governments... at least that is my perception.

I live in NYC, and I assure you I paid more for my crappier house than my grandparents paid for theirs, even factoring in inflation. And it took me 2 salaries to do it instead of 1... as such I also pay obscene amounts for childcare.

Over here there are people that overdo on the luxuries, but from where I sit even cutting out on luxuries would not make day to day costs any better. It's my perception that this is generally true in large US cities, though it may only be where I sit!

As to going back to Trek, I will end with... I hope you're right, because Gene's vision is a place I'd like to live someday.
Elliott - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 10:57am (USA Central)
Re: TNG S5: The Outcast

@Joshua : When you're ready to come out of the closet, the Jammer community will be here for you.
Elliott - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 10:55am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

@Robert :

Your "false reality" argument is not to be ignored, but you missed something crucial here; the actual cost of producing an iphone or similar gadget is much lower than the retail price would suggest. Thus, while we certainly have to stop taking advantage of cheap (and especially slave) labour, if we both paid those workers a decent salary *and* stopped paying the cats at the top of the food chain exorbitant and undeserved salaries, the net result would be a society which most closely resembles what AndysFriend is describing goes on in Scandinavia. Here in America (and especially here in San Francisco where nearby Silicon Valley is the Ur of most said gadgets), the tech-folk and business elite live very much like the average Northern European middle class family because the US' economic model is so outdated, purchasing power depends on extreme economic disparity. But like in most things, this is no longer the 20th century and the US is no longer the trend-setter. I just hope we catch up soon.
Andy's Friend - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 10:46am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

@Robert: I didn't read your last comment, as I was answering you. So here's my reply to that :)

The truth is that the main reason for the depth of the economic crisis in Southern Europe these days (apart from absolute inepcy by their various governments for decades) is exactly because hundreds of millions in developing countries have begun to close in our Western living standards. Of course this has its price; however, it won't be Scandinavia who will pay it, as these countries have the most educated and flexible workforces and labour systems in the world; there will always be room for investments here.

Nay, the ones paying the price are essentially, and very severely so, the Southern Europeans, who are stuck in the middle: their workforce isn't qualified enough, but is too expensive compared to many others around the developing world. So we're witnessing, and will continue to do so for several decades, a gradual levelling in the world. Nothing odd about that; and because it's gradual, systems will eventually adapt. In Northern Europe, we're witnessing a gradual but fundamental change to a wholly tertiary sector- oriented economy: the highly skilled Northern European worker loses his job to two Southern or Eastern Europeans, and then one of these loses his job to five Chinese - and then these get a salary raise and motivate further investment in Northern Europe (and elsewhere). Recently, Chinese Suzlon placed their wind energy laboratories in Scandinavia - quite simply because this is where the cutting edge knowledge in the field is. And this is how Europe and North America must compete in the future; we can't compete on salaries.

It's a gradual process, but eventually things will level. I'm not worried at all for my salary; it's more the unskilled Southern Europeans or Americans with four kids I feel sorry for. But then again, if their not being able to afford shiny fancy gadgets means more chinese families can have a decent standard of living, I can't say I truly feel sorry for them either. But this is a rather difficult debate, because there is of course a difference between not being able to buy shiny gadgets to your kids and not being able to buy them food at the end of the month. I suggest we go back to discussing Trek :)
Andy's Friend - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 10:01am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

@Robert: Sorry, Robert, but that is simply not true. Our grandparents spent far larger sums on the very necessities of life than we do today. Please investigate relative costs compared to income. This can actually still be seen today: Southern Europeans for instance spend a *far* larger amount of their income on fixed expenditure - rent, mortgages, utilities, food, etc. - than Northern Europeans, who have a far higher real income; that's why many in Northern Europe can afford say, holidays overseas three times a year, which very few in Southern Europe can. But as a whole, the Western middle class has a *much higher* purchasing power today than it had a hundred years ago. Although I agree with your "quality of food" argument: there's no denying that a hundred years ago, foodstuffs were of a higher quality than today's mass-produced, semi-synthetic swill. They contained higher levels of natural toxins, but that's nothing a proper handling of the ingredients won't take care of. Today, you have to go to the countryside, or pay premium prices in specialist stores in the urban centres, to buy the real thing. But I have a feeling that that is about to change as well. Again, here in Scandinavia people have begun spending less on gadgets and appliances and more on premium foodstuffs as a percentage of income, simply to get a richer experience in life - while in Southern Europe people still have to spend ridiculous percentages of their income on everyday, low-quality supermarket food products. Some places are just closer to the post-scarcity world of Trek than others. May I ask where you live, by the way? It's always nice to talk to people around the world; I actually think people should mention where they're from, because sometimes it helps to explain our very different outlooks. Living in Scandinavia, I see nothing outlandish at all in the "Utopian" TNG universe, for instance: it's the natural evolution of what's happening here.
E - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 9:42am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S5: Let He Who Is Without Sin...

This episode surely doesn't deserve the hate.

Yes, it is an obvious throw-away episode. As such, it's a pretty big waste of time that steers too far from the sci-fi genera, but it's not -terrible-.
Robert - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 9:34am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

Think about it like this, if we paid the Chinese workers who built your gadgets what the minimum wage in Scandinavia is your historian salary would be lucky to be able to buy a calculator, let alone a smart phone. The cheap luxury goods thing you site is a false reality and the floor can come crashing down from under us at any time.
Robert - Tue, Sep 16, 2014, 9:31am (USA Central)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

@Andy's Friend - "Today, every middle-class and lower middle-class family in the Western world spends money on things that 60-80 years ago would be considered excessive if not extreme self-indulgence ― and quite often considerable sums at that."

To offer a counterpoint. Luxury has gotten cheaper but necessity has gotten more expensive. Lower middle class people can often afford luxury items but a 3 bedroom house in a decent area and healthy foods on a regular basis are unaffordable. But that smart phone and flat screen are cheaper than ever. ::shrug::

We can't truly be approaching TNG levels of post scarcity when we can't afford the luxurious retirements, size of houses and quality of food that our grandparents had (whilst feeding 3x the number of children).

And our cheap gadgets, coats and shoes will run out when China decides that sweat shops are bad.
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