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Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 10:34am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

"Again, you're connecting dots spatially nearby but numerically distant."

It's funny... that's my opinion of much of your argument. What frustrates me is that

1) You present unproven opinions as facts : Example - "the FACT that men dominate the populations of the highest and lowest intelligence". Or at the very least if you have magical proof of this you failed to note where I asked you for some and then did not provide it.

2) And you bring together data points that are not proven to be related and tie them together : Example - "If I intended to show how STEM fields aren't stacked against women, I'd have linked you to the study showing that women received a 2-1 hiring preference in STEM fields, with the exception of economists, who showed no preference." Pro-tip, the fact that the few women that manage to graduate from a field that is stacked against them are damned good at what they do should not be shocking and is NOT evidence for the field not being stacked against them.

"In response to my series of points regarding how the deck is not stacked against women in western society, you called them preposterous, and then tried to argue that I shouldn't care about gender-discriminating voting laws, and that circumcision is "stupid" and you essentially agree with me, but it has no bearing on the subject.

Then you say I have not presented an argument. Fascinating."

I actually don't know what to say to this. It is not possible to argue that the deck is not stacked against women because boys are circumcised or because nobody has challenged an old draft law (because of it's extreme unlikeliness to ever be activated) over it's offending of modern gender sensibilities. It just doesn't have a bearing on the subject. Even if you could prove that these things indicated male discrimination (which I could possible even get behind) that doesn't say anything about female discrimination. Which is the subject. This isn't some bizarre calculus. You can't use random points of discrimination on both sides of the equation and say they cancel each other out!!! Especially when I explained why circumcision really doesn't count (parents abuse little boys and girls fairly equally under the guise of religious tolerance... this is a minor's rights issue, not a male rights issue) and I assure you that in the unlikely event we moved away from robots and back to people serving in war and we needed a draft that the gender discrimination inherent in there would be easily challenged. It's hardly "superior voting rights". That's a specious argument. This is still analogous to the ridiculous anti-sodomy laws that nobody takes off the books because nobody has challenged them. You could probably argue gender-discrimination of the draft before the Supreme Court and win....

"Right there. "So if women and men's brains work differently (which I actually think they might)". Way back when you were drawing a jagged smiley face on your connect-the-dots puzzle, I was arguing that there is a difference between the sexes beyond physical attributes like strength and flexibility. Here you even agree with me."

I do agree to an extent. I think it's much like the way a program can be ported to run on my Android and your iPhone though (apologies if you don't have an iPhone, it's just an example). I don't think it's better, just different.

"I never tried arguing against the specific claim that STEM was stacked against women (until earlier in this comment at least). I was arguing that society wasn't stacked against women, and for men."

I'm a little confused in a way that may require re-reading the entire thread, although that'd be mighty painful at this point. I'm fairly certain when you said "Meaning that both the dumbest and the smartest tend to be men, while women trend toward the intellectual middle-ground. And this does cause an achievement gap. Among other things. It gives men a leg up in intellectually strenuous fields like those in STEM, and they're also more inclined towards taking an interest in those fields. " that you were trying to say that men's tendency to have more men be on the high end of intelligent biologically is responsible for their high achievement in STEM, not any deck stacking against women. Is that not what you were trying to say?

But more to the point, STEM is the entire point of the conversation you have chosen to chime in on. At least it is to me. There are really 2 things that have gone on in this thread as far as my understanding of it, so feel free to chime in if you feel differently.

1) There has been a lot of discussion about if gender differences in the achievement gap for the average case is based on society stacking the deck against women or not.

2) There has been a lot of discussion as to why the edge cases don't exist for females (and if they do... in some cases I argued that they did).

3) And possibly as a third thing if 1) has any bearing on 2).

I'd personally like to remove physical differences from MY part of the conversation. You and I are both perfectly capable of agreeing (I think) that men are typically larger and testosterone filled which improves athletic abilities in anything where being small and flexible isn't a benefit. So discussing physical edge cases or average cases seems rather pointless. Britney Grimer could probably kick our combined ass at basketball and LeBron could beat her with ease. That's not to take away anything from female edge cases in physicality, they are quite impressive, but these are sports in which male characteristics are desirable.

So then we have the achievement gap. Well when we're talking edge cases DLPB is talking Einstein, Feynman and Kasparov. Science, science and math. STEM. Art is easier. I can find you really well known female artists and authors. Maybe not AS MANY as men, but again... women were home raising the kids, we might have missed out on some brilliant female artists and authors, right?

So then you have the basic case achievement gap. Of which you've probably got 3 possibilities. Power positions (politics and high management), earnings and (again) STEM. I actually think the earnings argument has too many factors in it to actually be good, so I'd like to scratch that one. Statistics with too many variables is painful and I feel some of the tossed around quotes on this subject are subject to bad statistics as well. I'm not saying there isn't an "earnings gap", I just don't want to get into it.

So you have that on the base and edge case women are under-represented in STEM, politics and management. I say that it's because "when you add in the cultural biases that make STEM intimidating for women couldn't you see that playing a part?" (feel free to substitute in politics or management for STEM in that sentence). You say "No. People with a passion for something don't get held back from that thing due to nebulous "cultural biases" discouraging them from pursuing it."

So you dismiss my argument outright with no facts. Just "No." If there was a female Einstein we'd have met her because she'd have found a way. Even if her Middle Eastern father refused to send her to college. Or she wasn't raised in a family where college for girls was an expectation. Or she was afraid to raise her hand in math class ""

"My advocacy actually expresses opinions and feelings very much against tradition and the biases ingrained into our evolutionary psychology."

I'd be interested to hear any of that.

"You don't know anything about my worldview. You responded as if the concept of making more than one point and talking about more than one thing in a single post is completely foreign to you. "

You do realize you've criticized me more for making multiple points than you have defended your own... But beyond all that you seem to think that ""typically male" forms of intelligence are valuable not because men have been dominant and have stacked the deck in their favor, but because they are valuable for practical purposes. We're contrasting the form of intelligence which has allowed us to land a spacecraft on a comet, to the form of intelligence which allows us to emotionally empathize better. "

So men can land spacecraft on a comet and women are better nurturers. But my assertion that you "want it to be true that because men were better at the most valuable non-baby job 100 years ago that they are still better at the most valuable non-baby job today." is bonkers?

You spend your entire post heavily implying things and then tell me I'm bonkers for reading those things into what you say. Which is bonkers. Sure perhaps you don't specifically mean "babies" when you say "the form of intelligence which allows us to emotionally empathize better". Maybe you think that they'd make good social workers and teachers too. But you sure don't mean that women are better at landing spacecrafts on comets. But then I'm crazy for talking about STEM. Because that's clearly not implied in your post. And the fact that you can't prove that women's "form of intelligence" is less good at landing spacecrafts on comets is irrelevant. You just know there can't be any societal factors in there?

Or am I misreading things again?
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Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S4: Divergence

I'm a longtime TNG fan and I recently made my way through DS9 and VOY which I never watched regularly while they were on. I then decided...what the heck...may as well finish the job with Enterprise which I never watched at all. I agree with everyone that Season 4 is leaps and bounds better than what came before.
However I came on here to point out a plot hole in this episode that I haven't seen anyone mention. How exactly did Reed 'help' the Section 31 mission? The Section 31 bloke said at the end that it wouldn't have succeeded without him ....but why? At most he delayed them a few hours with his sabotage of evidence but Archer would still have likely allowed Phlox to finish his work.
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Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

"Also, one presumes that the deck cannot be stacked against boys,"

I didn't presume it, I gave reasons for thinking so.

"because we have evolved this system and therefore it is the best. Just as this episode is the product of the whole of human evolution, and is therefore the best."

Not analogous to any of the arguments I made, or any of the positions I expressed.

"To be fair, though, I actually agree that there are specific areas, some of them very important, in which men are (if I could use that term) discriminated against."

I know, it's such a taboo. I mean, you might be called a piece of filth men's rights advocate!

"That men are drafted to fight in wars (frequently against their own interests) is tragic, though not specifically because women are not."

I didn't say they should be, I said they had a superior right to vote, which they objectively do. Meaning men should not have to either.

"However, I think that men are drafted or circumcised or whatever has little bearing on the question of why there are a greater number of male leaders than female."

Yeah, you're right, it does have little bearing on that. Nobody said it had any. What I said that has bearing on that topic, is that it's a part of our dimorphism that males more often have qualities we would describe now as beneficial for leadership, and that men more often have interest in assuming a leadership or other high-status role.

"As for women in STEM fields, look: If we are looking at anything but the very recent past, women did not have the opportunities that men had. Emmy Noether, maybe the most brilliant mathematician of the 20th century, had to work without pay for years and years and even after gaining approval from the most renowed mathematicians of the age had to lecture under Hilbert's name until 1919 because the philosophy department refused entry to a woman. University math and science departments are still frequently hostile to women -- fellow grad students who were female have indicated which male professors they simply have to avoid for fear of sexual harrassment, which limits career options. The point is not that the male dominance of STEM fields is necessarily 100% the result of discrimination, but I strongly disagree with the notion that relative historical and even recent absence of notable female figures in STEM proves that women lack potential in those fields and thus that we know that girls suck at math generally."

I never said either of those two things, or even implied them.

I said - and I repeat for the nth time now - men have a wider range of intellect than women (so if you choose one of the dumbest or the smartest people at random, you're more likely to get a man; men occupy the lowest and highest tiers), and men display interest in STEM fields more often than women. I then said that this is why there are more men in STEM fields and more male professors in STEM fields.

Sure, in the past STEM fields were arguably stacked against women. But now women receive a 2:1 hiring preference over men in STEM fields, no doubt because people want to get more women into STEM. That's not what a field stacked against a certain group of people looks like.

"Though of course Robert is right about the draft in the US in particular -- since the draft has not been invoked and is not likely to be invoked (or at least, that is how it seems to me), it has no current bearing."

Whether or not it will likely be invoked again, has no bearing on whether or not it is a system which discriminates against men and gives women a superior voting right.

"Insofar as it has historical bearing, so does the fact that women had no right to vote until the early 20th century, and any number of other limitations on women's rights which have since been amended."

Then so does the fact that most men didn't have the right to vote either, and any number of limitations on men's rights which have yet to be amended.

I'm perfectly fine with that.
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Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 9:12am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Angel One

""No. Society, first of all, doesn't have parameters for greatness. It has qualities which are more practical, or less, for the aim of achieving greatness. And it's those practicality which define what qualities are valuable. "
Actually it does in a lot of ways. Considering we were talking about sports and chess and I can't think of one that was invented by a woman. So in some spheres it clearly matters. Obviously Einstein is going to be awesome by any standards."

And in all of those spheres, it's directly tied into practical skills for achieving the intended goal.

"No he doesn't."
"1) There are other differences."
"Deep thoughtful rebuttals here."

I had already explained why he doesn't.

""2) This has nothing to do with "male activism", and neither does anything DLPB said."
There's overlap. Male activists are often proponents of male exceptionalism in the workforce (ie the concept that because males are so awesome at the things that society needs for the most part and women are so awesome at babies that men should go out and make the money while women stay home barefoot and pregnant)."

Try not to poison the well some more with this nonsense. There's a distinction between the act of advocating or engaging in activism for men's rights, and a person being a traditionalist. They can do both at once, but that doesn't make the two concepts inherently related.

"I'm not trying to paint you as one of those people, but there is overlap in MRA arguments and what's being said here. If you disagree go Google "Mens Rights Activism".

"Those people... who advocate for the advancement of the rights of men."

I am a men's rights advocate. I'm also a women's rights advocate. Those are pretty much two essential ingredients to being a human rights advocate. Which is itself a pretty essential ingredient to being a humanist.

""Amazing truism. It doesn't negate the fact that there are differences beyond physical strength."
You're going to see in a minute why this truism is so important...."
"There is a difference between men and women when it comes to mental ability. And the difference is that on a scale of intelligence, women trend toward the middle, while men have a wider trend. Meaning that both the dumbest and the smartest tend to be men, while women trend toward the intellectual middle-ground. And this does cause an achievement gap. Among other things. It gives men a leg up in intellectually strenuous fields like those in STEM, and they're also more inclined towards taking an interest in those fields."
Any proof on that besides correlation? The fact that there are few women in STEM does not mean men are better at STEM unless you remove all other variables from the equation."

I didn't say men were "better at STEM". I said they're more often interested in STEM. And the fact that men dominate the populations of the highest and lowest intelligence, is itself causation for men more often getting the top positions in intellectually strenuous fields of work.

""No it hasn't. They are the ones who have the most government assistance, are politically represented without having to consent to being forced into war, and are the ones that actually have greater legal rights. Not just in regards to voting, but in regards to reproductive rights, and the right to not have one's genitals mutilated at birth. And there are many more disparities, like the fact that the education system actually is stacked against boys (both by human bias and by the institutional framework). Which is reflected in the fact that men are the minority of college graduates. Yet, despite the fact that you deny any inherent differences beyond physical ability, they still massively dominate STEM fields, the ones they more often take interest in and the ones that are arguably the most intellectually challenging. Funny, that."
"Some of these arguments are preposterous, others slightly more interesting (though I won't say better). First of all, sodomy is still against the law in some places technically but we have universal gay marriage. I think there may even still be anti-interracial marriage laws still on the books, though a few places dealt with that a few years ago so maybe they are all gone now. The draft laws haven't been updated because we've had an all volunteer army for 50+ years. Old outdated laws tend to sit around gathering dust. If someone tried to arrest someone for having a blow job in their own house I promise that law would be addressed. And if the draft were ever to be reinstated it would be reexamined. For all intents and purposes unless you're retired, you've never seriously worried about being drafted."

That's entirely besides the point. For one thing, that may be the circumstances now, but that's not what they were not that long ago. No matter which way you look at it, women do have a superior right to vote. They're not obligated into that system on the basis of their gender. They don't get refused basic rights and services for choosing not to participate in it.

"Now that I've wasted breath on some of the more ridiculous nonsense I'll get to the actual meat of that which is that the deck is stacked against boys but they are so awesome at STEM that they rise above that."

That's not even what I said.

"To support you cite that the majority of college graduates are girls but the majority of STEM graduates are boys. This is still, largely, a substance less argument based on correlation."

I said that "the education system actually is stacked against boys" and that this "is reflected in the fact that men are the minority of college graduates". I then said, "Yet, despite the fact that you deny any inherent differences beyond physical ability, they still massively dominate STEM fields".
Meaning the fact that there's less men than women, and still more men and STEM than women in STEM, is evidence of a difference between the sexes beyond physical ability. It's literally all right there, in plain text.

"It's actually an interesting thought that academia in general is leaving more boys behind and it's entirely possible that it's true. That doesn't necessarily prove that "the education system actually is stacked against boys (both by human bias and by the institutional framework)" but it probably is a problem that needs addressing."

I didn't say that was proof of it, I said that that was a reflection of it. I didn't explain how the education system is stacked against boys, I was listing things out.
This quote, "And there are many more disparities, like the fact that the education system actually is stacked against boys (both by human bias and by the institutional framework)", references the two ways in which the education system favors girls.

"That said... how does women graduating at a higher rate then men prove that STEM fields are not stacked against women?"

Again, you're connecting dots spatially nearby but numerically distant. That or you favor the tactic of overwhelming your adversary with endless misrepresentation and fallacy. I didn't make that argument.

If I intended to show how STEM fields aren't stacked against women, I'd have linked you to the study showing that women received a 2-1 hiring preference in STEM fields, with the exception of economists, who showed no preference.

"These data points are not even related."

You're right, they're not.

"I could use it to "prove" the opposite! STEM is SOOOO stacked against women that even though there are more women in college and more women graduating college there are so little women in STEM fields. That's how stacked it is!"

i suppose that's why it's a pretty ramshackle straw-argument, innit?

""Tell me more about how the deck is stacked against women, because I haven't even gotten started yet. "
Your right, you have not! I do not yet see the beginning of an argument. I see a lot of random thoughts, opinions and unrelated data points though."

In response to my series of points regarding how the deck is not stacked against women in western society, you called them preposterous, and then tried to argue that I shouldn't care about gender-discriminating voting laws, and that circumcision is "stupid" and you essentially agree with me, but it has no bearing on the subject.

Then you say I have not presented an argument. Fascinating.

""Thirdly, "typically male" forms of intelligence are valuable not because men have been dominant and have stacked the deck in their favor, but because they are valuable for practical purposes. "
I can give you a real world example and a possibly hypothesis for how this is not necessarily true. In my field, a STEM field, most of the professors/text book authors are male. Perhaps, as you say, most of academia is stacked against boys. This might make sense if girls and boys brains worked differently. After all women are the primary educators in the lower grades (until I hit high school I was probably running 90% women... and until I hit 7th grade I was at 100% women teachers). So if women and men's brains work differently (which I actually think they might)"

Right there. "So if women and men's brains work differently (which I actually think they might)". Way back when you were drawing a jagged smiley face on your connect-the-dots puzzle, I was arguing that there is a difference between the sexes beyond physical attributes like strength and flexibility. Here you even agree with me.

"all of the teaching and testing might be in a way that's easier for girls, since girls are the ones making the lessons/tests. So back to my field. Is it not possible that it's harder for women in these classes the same way it is for men in other classes?"

Questions like these have actually been studied pretty thoroughly. Sure, there are classes the genders naturally gravitate toward. That, if you recall, was a point of mine regarding the fact that there's differences in the mind between the sexes. As I corrected you on earlier, I never tried arguing against the specific claim that STEM was stacked against women (until earlier in this comment at least). I was arguing that society wasn't stacked against women, and for men.

If two groups have opposite trends in preference between two different choices, this doesn't mean either choice is "stacked against" either group.

"And when you add in the cultural biases that make STEM intimidating for women couldn't you see that playing a part?"

No. People with a passion for something don't get held back from that thing due to nebulous "cultural biases" discouraging them from pursuing it.

"In the Seven Sisters colleges they fill their STEM classes. Often taught be women as well. But I will say that as a manager in a STEM field I find mixed groups tend to come up with more creative solutions to problems. It can be a lot of things but in my feeling male "forms" of intelligence in my field are not better but just different."

I don't see "forms" of intelligence as gendered, and I didn't argue that they were.

"Having different views on a problem is a good thing. I wish I could hire more women at my company because I value their contributions to their teams.
In conclusion your argument thinks very highly of evolution and the natural order but concludes that we reached these societal divisions in gender because they are for the best."

No, that's actually not what I think. We reached these societal divisions in gender because they've been the most working models for a long time. My advocacy actually expresses opinions and feelings very much against tradition and the biases ingrained into our evolutionary psychology. (Pause to self-reflect there.)

"With all due respect... I think that's a lot of crap. Evolution does not take place over such a short period of time and the truth is that my brain would have been useless a century ago. Nobody would have wanted me to go to school for engineering. As a man I'd have been responsible for working on the farm or some other manually labor most likely. Sure there were always scientists but in reality men worked and women did babies because people had broods and the work was very physical."

Yes, exactly what I said. We went through physical and mental dimorphism because it worked for us, because of the various pressures we had to survive. And all of this is in regards to my simple point that women and men - are different. In ways beyond just physical dimorphism, which you already agreed with. Now you're once again doodling all over the page, and mashing everything that's been spoken about into this straw-blob of conflated amalgam.

"When we switched to more people doing office jobs women kept doing babies because that's what they had been doing.... but they had been doing that because they were more suited to babies than they were to physical labor! That was your evolution! It has nothing to do with STEM. There weren't tens of thousands of yearly STEM graduates 100 years ago!"

You're the one who combined those things into this absolute mess of a strawman.

"You want it to be true that because men were better at the most valuable non-baby job 100 years ago that they are still better at the most valuable non-baby job today."

I have not said a single thing even suggesting this. You're all over the place, dude.

"Because that suits your world view. Not because you have any facts to back it up."

You don't know anything about my worldview. You responded as if the concept of making more than one point and talking about more than one thing in a single post is completely foreign to you. And now we're here, and you got this sophistic protoplasm all over my new shoes.

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Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Trials and Tribble-ations

It's the casual use of it in the Alpha Quadrant that bothers me. Under extreme conditions - like numerous times during the war - I don't have a problem with it. They're at war so the technical legalities of the agreement be damned. I don't even have a problem with it being used in "The Way of the Warrior" because it's directly addressed - Bashir calls Sisko out on the use of the cloak and Sisko says he doesn't care because getting to Dukat is more important. Hell, if they just did something similar whenever they violate the agreement it wouldn't bother me so much. As it stands, however, it looks like the writers just forgot about the agreement and like using the cloak for no reason. Picking up an Orb in a non-hostile region of space? Use the cloak!

As for Voyager losing shuttles.... whatever you do, don't make a drinking game out of it. You'll die of alcohol poisoning right quick. :-)
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Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 7:45am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Trials and Tribble-ations

@Luke - Just make sure you don't take a shot every time the Defiant cloaks in the Alpha Quadrant or Voyager loses a shuttle. :P
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Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 1:15am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Trials and Tribble-ations

Berman and Braga should have taken notes on this episode. If they wanted to send "a valentine to the fans" with the final episode of ENT, this is how it should have been done. The nostalgia factor is high but the focus never once leaves the "Deep Space Nine" characters. Kirk, Spock and company may take up a lot of screen time, but they don't push our regular characters out of the way - like Riker and Troi do in that episode which shall not be named.

"Trials and Tribble-ations" is indeed just an immense amount of fun. It isn't perfect, but it definitely achieves what it sets out to do and then some - play tribute to Trek's past. Watching the "Deep Space Nine" characters Forest Gump their way through the events of "The Trouble with Tribbles" is a very enjoyable experience. Jammer may be right that the episode is awfully light on plot, or meaning, or connection to the rest of the series. But, so what? It's fun!

There are problems, however. The biggest, as Jammer points out, is Dax's actions. She just goes all googly-eyed fan-girl on absolutely everything (wanting to throw caution to the wind and meet Kirk and Spock just for the fun of it, drooling over the TOS era tricorders, fawning over how great a lover McCoy was, etc.). I'm not a big fan of her character to start with (no surprise, I'm sure) but even I thought this was a disservice to the character. Most of time I was just left thinking "grow up, Jadzia". Another major problem was the completely unnecessary pointing out of the differences between TOS and TNG era Klingons. We simply did not need an explanation, any explanation. When Kor, Kang, and Koloth showed up on DS9 back in "Blood Oath" with full forehead ridges, I thought the message was clear - Klingons always had forehead ridges. The powers that be were trusting to the audiences' intelligence to simply suspend disbelief, wink at the screen and accept that the Klingons in TOS had the ridges. But now along comes an explanation, even it is ultimately a non-answer. Totally unneeded and, to be honest, something of a slap in the face to the audience. It's like the writers were saying "we don't trust the audience to understand what we were trying to do in "Blood Oath" so we better spoon-feed them something". UGH! This will even lead to another unnecessary (though surprisingly well-done) explanation in ENT's fourth season. There are also some little nitpicky problems, such as the Defiant again being cloaked in the Alpha Quadrant (in the 24th century) without care for the agreement with the Romulans.

Still, all of those problems only harm the episode a little and only hold it back from a perfect score. As an anniversary tribute episode, it probably couldn't get any better than this. Imagine trying to write a story that straddles the line between being a loving tribute but also something of a parody, a story that's driven by nostalgia but doesn't rely on it and a story which must be told within the limits of another story. That's right, Brannon Braga had quite a difficult task when he wrote "Flashback" and he fucked it up royally. "Deep Space Nine's" team, however, confronted the same situation and they managed to create a classic episode beloved by just about everyone.

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Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Vanishing Point

I agree with a lot of the commenters, this was not a good episode. The show telegraphs pretty early that Hoshi is not experiencing reality when T'Pol knows why the aliens are upset before communication has been established. Hoshi even asks how this is possible, but moves on without a second thought.

This could have been a good episode if Hoshi had to solve a problem to escape or had some insight to gain about herself from the experience, but neither of these things happen. She, along with the audience, just kind of wade through the dream sequence until we pop out of the tranporter on the other side.

To add insult to injury, the episode tries to foist undeserved character development on Hoshi to justify the dream sequence. Archer tells Hoshi that she overcame her fear of transportation by boarding the dream tranporter platform. First, Hoshi was already a ghost in the dream and everyone thought she was dead so what did she have to lose? Second, it's not like Hoshi had figured out that she was in a dream and had to do something she feared in order to escape back to reality.

As it stands, this episode is a lot of sci/fi concept with little substance. I'm surprised Jammer rated this as highly as he did. We're usually in close agreement.
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Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S3: Exodus, Part 1


The occupation takes place AFTER the 1 year time jump. This episode is 4 month after the 1 year jump.

Yes you are missing quite a bit.
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Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: BSG S2: Downloaded

Mikey, no one is taking you seriously.
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Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Inheritance

@William: That's an interesting interpretation that I can honestly say never once occurred to me over the years. And looking back, it's probably right.

Part of the fault lies with my memory, as I always recalled Soong using the word "terminate" (rather than "shut down"), which leaves a great deal less room for ambiguity. In my own defense, however, later in that scene (unless I am misinterpreting or misremembering once again), Soong tells Data that he programmed Julianna to "die" after living a long life, and he urged him, "don't rob her of that." We can still assume under your interpretation that Soong meant Julianna wouldn't be able to enjoy whatever time he programmed her to have left if she knew the truth - though it has to be admitted that this seems an odd and even slightly cruel thing to say to Data. But taken with the "shut down" remark, it bolstered my understanding that Julianna would permanently power down if she were exposed to that information.

Still, the episode's final act makes little sense if that is indeed what Soong was saying (especially since the officers didn't even comment on the abortive ethical dilemma I mentioned), so I'm going to go with you on this. It's easy for me to feel that the script should have been a little clearer, but for all I know I'm the only one who misunderstood.

Thanks for the clarification.
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Diamond Dave
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: North Star

Yay, Western! Or not... I'm also not keen on these types of episodes, but I suppose at least with a holodeck you can have an excuse that works a little better than the giant contrivance at play here. As an instrument this is fairly blunt in terms of messaging as well, and it mines every Western cliche in the book from lynching to shootout.

I suppose the cast seem to be enjoying themselves but I can't say that I did. 1.5 stars.
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Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Dauphin

i liked this one a lot more than i thought inwould. a low point was riker and guinans scene. Worf had some good scenes in this one.
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Peter G.
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Valiant

Jammer got this one wrong. And I don't just mean I disagree with him about it being a watchable episode; I've actually always found it fun and novel as a Star Trek outing. I mean he got the intent of the episode wrong regarding Red Squad. They are wrong, were always wrong, and never for one instant had a viable point of view. *At first* we're not sure because we don't know what's been going on, but every single thing we learn about them ought to make us realize they are, just as Jake said, deluded dangerous children.

The Captain taking stims barely scratches the surface, although it does bespeak the fact that he needs to control everything and won't go to sleep. What becomes very alarming is when they tell Jake to avoid talking with the crew; that's when we ought to realize that something sinister is afoot. In time we learn that the ship is not being operated under Federation principles, as it is little more than a dictatorship with a very charismatic leader. The Captain's EXO is evidence of this, as she must enforce his law while he can play being the good guy. Once they put Jake in prison for saying his opinion we can pretty well realize this may as well be a Cardassian ship. We're shown just enough to make us realize that this ship has been a dictatorship all along, since we're told rather quickly that the crew is apparently forbidden to cry or express emotion of any kind (let alone dissent). It's unlikely that most of the cadets would have ever agreed to stay behind enemy lines for 8 months if they hadn't essentially been forced into it. Should we have any doubts that the Captain's choices for senior staff were probably those who would be most loyal to him? Note the lack of senior officers around willing to challenge his decisions.

I think the crux of what we're supposed to understand about this crew is spoken by Jake in the mess hall during the Hitler Youth meeting (which is what it is). When he tells them, correctly, that a decorated hero like his father would never do something this reckless, he was dead-on correct, period end of story. There is not anything controversial about it. The only thing that IS confusing is that the Captain is so damned confident and charming that we want to believe him, which puts him about in the same place as Dukat in terms of how much his charisma ought to inspire our trust.

When Collins, at the end, says that her Captain was a great man, we're supposed to be looking at a child evaluating her big-brother type mentor who just got her entire class killed for no reason and who lost the Federation a battleship during wartime. She is basically in shock, a total basket case, and still suffering from cognitive dissonance delusions about the rightness of what Red Squad was doing. That Nog (and the director) gave her statement any credence was probably a mistake on the part of the script, because it had none whatsoever.

Overall I see this entertaining tale as being about the dangers of introducing young people to a militant education. It can turn bright young stars into little dictators and make them think they're some kind of superior race like Khan and his people. Did anyone watching the episode note the similarity of the pride and sense of superiority Red Squad exhibits and compare this to the Jem'Hadar, who have also been taught that they're a superior race? I think it's no accident. The episode strikes me as being both about the dangers of training young people to be proud killers, as well as the horrors of war in general where the young generation inevitably is the one thrown into the fray and damaged irreparably because of it (see: Full Metal Jacket).
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Diamond Dave
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Twilight

I have always been a sucker for 'what if?' episodes and this is another strong entry into the genre. If the plot device is fairly risible (spatial anomalies delivering subspace parasites... OK, then....) then at least it plays out in a nicely dark tone. There were definitely strong flavours of Year of Hell in there, as well as a bit of BSG too. Interesting.

On the debit side the FX work looked really creaky here for the first time in ages, and as others have noted Travis is really getting sidelined here - killed with not a mention. 3.5 stars.
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Peter G.
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Profit and Lace

The script was unforgivable, but I will lay the blame for that at the feet of Piller, who signed off on it, and Siddig, who directed it in this fashion. I know the director must answer to the producers but if there is a serious conflict about how to present the work then the director should refuse to do it. You can't "direct" if you aren't allowed to choose the direction.

That being said Siddig should have known better than to allow his actors to do what they did here. It wasn't that the tone was uneven or the style incoherent - it's that the actors were bad. They were straight-up bad. The thing about high comedy or farce is that it's considered in the industry to be far harder to do than serious drama or light comedy. Many directors will admit they simply cannot do it competently. This was not something for a new director to be given. That is also on the exec producers. This script, as unredeemable as it was, could have been twisted around by a clever director in such a way as to say something through all the mess. I'll give a few examples of how scene direction could have taken gruesome scenes and made them interesting in some way:

1) Instead of Quark directly harassing Aluura the scene could have been shot in such a way that the male staff was sitting nearby watching, with Quark trying to impress them. Or add in a line about a liquidator auditing him and have the liquidator sitting nearby to ensure that Quark is sufficiently oppressive to his staff. Quark could then be seen to be harassing Aluura somewhat under duress, even though he does do it. It would still be bad of him, but more complicated than him merely being a slime. The final scene could then pay off by him realizing he never should have done it for any reason, and to hell with Ferengi custom.

2) Quark and Ishka yelling at each other was both terribly acted (the actors were yelling but believing little of it) and comically dead. It's hard for something to be funny when it's aurally abrasive and a repetition of what we've seen many times before. The lines are garbage, and Siddig seemed to be cornered in that it HAD to end with a heart attack, which couldn't occur without histrionics before it. Or could it? Why not add just one line earlier indicating Ishka's health isn't what it used to be, and then in this scene have them teasing each other much more amicably than this, with Ishka getting herself worked up (rather than having a screaming match with Quark) and having a more subtle heart attack. As we here on planet Earth know, heart attacks frequently don't come in the form of a person dropping dead on the spot. Much more reasonable would have been a realization that she had chest pain and weakness, and Quark perhaps making a joke about her being overly dramatic before realizing what was happening. She still would have been unable to complete her task but at least we would feel badly for her (which we don't in the episode, which is a travesty). The scene could have been a touching family one rather than high farce, and it actually would have been much funnier with them 'amicably' sparring rather than screaming. In fact, the most funny would be them realizing they've said these things many times before, as if it was a ritual they could both appreciate on some level, which could then play like a family script that they've come to sort of like in an annoying kind of way.

3) The scene with Quark and Nilva was abominable, and this one was completely Siddig's fault. Physical comedy was the wrong route here. But if it had to be physical comedy then at the very least it could have been something that would lead to the 'reveal' that Quark's surgery was 'complete'. For instance, if Nilva was trying to undress Lumba and for every piece of clothing or jewelry he takes off Lumba manages to put another one back on we could have a Marx Brothers type of chicanery. We could be led to think that "oh, if he sees Quark naked the jig will be up" only to then learn later that Quark was actually just being afraid in general rather than concerned about the plan being busted.

4) The final scene should have been directed in such a way that Aluura said the things she said out of fear. Same lines, different direction. When she insists she was looking forward to the oo-mox the idea should be that she thinks what Quark is saying is a trick to test her and that she'd better prove to him she's serious about complying. This would give us much more of a release of tension when we see him realize this and assure her for real that he'll never ask her to do that again. We might have even ended up feeling good about the theme this way.

As it is this is the worst episode of Trek ever, bar none. I like The Alternative Factor, am amused by Spock's Brain, don't hate Let He Who Is Without Sin as much as many people do, and Threshold...well, it's the *dumbest* Trek episode ever but it doesn't make my skin crawl and cause me to cringe with embarrassment repeatedly. Maybe just once or twice.

I sort of want to give Profit and Lace half a star just for the Hupyrian standoff. I actually laughed out loud at that.
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William B
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 9:03am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Inheritance

@Nesendrea, I interpreted what Soong was saying differently:

DATA: If she recovers and learns that she is an android
SOONG: She doesn't have to know. I designed her to shut down in the event the truth was discovered. When you put that chip back in, she will wake up and remember nothing. All you have to do is make up some excuse about what happened to her.

I don't think "shut down" means terminate, I think it means "lose consciousness," i.e. what actually happened in the episode. I think it's a fail-safe for this eventuality -- something *PHYSICALLY* happens to expose that Juliana is an android, such as a disastrous event that takes part of her head off, Juliana's androidness is exposed, people find the chip and play it and Soong explains to whoever found out about Juliana that she should stay an android. Along those lines, while the show *should have* made this explicit, I don't think that telling Juliana that she is an android will trigger the shutdown -- I think it's more about physical trauma, because I think Soong is assuming that the only way for Juliana to be exposed is for something like what happened, happened. The reason that's in the episode isn't that the episode is short-circuiting its moral dilemma, it's so that she doesn't find out she is an android from rocks falling on her and exposing her circuitry.
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Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Unimatrix Zero, Part II

I'd like to say the idea of a Borg civil war is genius - it is however extremely obvious - but that does not detract from the concept.

That idea however should have been implemented a lot earlier - and it would have allowed a lot of the other Borg episodes to actually make sense - the Borg with internal fractures would be a lot weaker, and that matches how they have constantly been portrayed in Voyager.

Having said that - the premises of the story are ridiculous - there are literally an infinite number of other methods in which this could have been achieved. The concept of the UMZ itself was ok, and could have been kept - but the Away Team Assimilation Plan is so toxic and lacking logic, and so plainly BAD - how could any writer convince themselves that this was a valid approach?

The whole 'Dialog with the Borg' idea - especially the Queen is really annoying - everything could have been accomplished with limited chit chat with the Borg directly - and Janeway poncing around and acting tough is just so stupidly overdone bah .. she would have crapped in her pants .. lets be realistic.

As for the Borg blowing up its own ships - jeesus .. I would have cracked up laughing .. "Great strategy Queen .. keep at it .. Im about to break .. just blow up a few thousand more ships."

Overall an enjoyable show, as for the the Borg Civil War - I say, about time. However the realistic dread and fear that should have been apparent, was starkly absent - giving it a totally cartoonish feel.
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Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 3:16am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S2: Resistance

All the TV work I've seen from Joel Grey has been good. Especially in House MD. And I liked this story. After 9 episodes which were meh at best - sometimes downright embarrassing - Voyager season 2 is finally improving. But it is wearying to see so many reused TNG or DS9 plots. And, for me, it comes off as inferior copy of the first. And a failure to build on strong ideas set up in the latter. Also, after that brief glimmer in season 1, I really miss the Romulans.
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Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 2:37am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Assignment

And so we're given our introduction to the Pah-Wraiths, thereby having "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" take a massive turn away from traditional science-fiction and into the realm of fantasy (would science-fantasy be a more appropriate term?). I know a lot of people don't like this direction the show took. I've encountered people who hated the idea of the Prophets and thought that made the show too fantasy-based. I've even met people who were okay with the Prophets but absolutely despised the concept of the Pah Wraiths. As for me, I love it! Move the series into a more fantasy-oriented setting? I'm perfectly comfortable with that. Now, of course, the real meat of the Pah Wraith arc won't come until much, much later. "The Assignment" really doesn't factor into that arc other than to establish their existence and the basics of their relationship with the Prophets. Still, it needed to be noted here that I love this new direction for the series.

As for the episode itself - it's a surprisingly effective thriller with a few small problems that do harm it. First off, one of those problems is definitely not Rom! Now, I've been really hard on Rom in the past (just read my comments on "Family Business" and
"Bar Association"), but he's easily one of the best parts of this episode. I do actually like the character and I think it was this episode where I started to have that affection. Rom may be an idiot, but he's clearly an idiot-savant (a downright imbecile in some areas but a total genius in others). It's obvious that interpersonal skills are not one of his strong suits but engineering work is. He also gets some nice character development this time around - he's a guy determined to do what's right, to help out his crew-mates and to have some distinction for that. He was really good this time around. Sure, he may be the comic relief, but he's an effective comic relief for once. No, the major problem is Rosalind Chao's performance. While she is magnificently effective is many scenes (most notably the ones where she "accidentally" pulls Molly's hair too hard and when O'Brien wakes up with her looking at him), she's pretty terrible in others. The scene where she first convinces O'Brien that Keiko is possessed (when the Pah Wraith stops her heart) is woefully bad. What was Chao trying to do there? Her best attempt at playing a man passing a kidney stone? And the scene where the Pah Wraith is killed - talk about over-the-top! Another problem is that O'Brien apparently gets off completely scot-free after what he did. Not only did he sabotage the station, he also physically assaulted Odo, lied to his superior officers, disobeyed direct orders and commandeered a runabout under false pretenses. But, apparently, just saying that his wife was possessed by a Bajoran demon is enough to explain that all away (even though he doesn't have any evidence that was the case).

Still, "The Assignment" is a good thriller episode, allows Colm Meaney to deliver another wonderful performance and shows O'Brien as a truly committed husband and father (always a plus in my book). For all the talk about how he really goes to the wall for his wife, it seems a lot of people are forgetting that he really wants to protect his daughter as well. The moment when he breaks a glass in his bare hand is, after all, because the Pah Wraith is pretending to pamper Molly - something O'Brien simply cannot tolerate. And the opening of the episode (when Molly gives him and Bashir grief for killing Keiko's plants) is a wonderful little father-daughter moment. I love whenever the show takes the time to show O'Brien (or Sisko for that matter) as a loving father, something that is woefully lacking on most TV shows these days.

WTF HAIR - 32 (+1)

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Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 1:51am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Nor the Battle to the Strong

Wow! I remember thinking that this episode was strong, but not this strong. "...Nor the Battle to the Strong" is indeed one of "Deep Space Nine's" finest hours. As a show focused on the theme of "war is hell", it is (I'm just going to say it) much better than the much beloved "The Siege of AR-558" from Season Seven. While both episodes rely heavily on "war is hell" cliches (notably the stereotypical "ARRRGGG" solider Jake stumbles upon and the M*A*S*H style medics), this episode downplays them much more than the later one.

I suppose I could write paragraph after paragraph on what is so good about the episode, but I'll stick with just the top two things that stand out for me. 1.) Combat is not glorified in any way, shape or form. Star Trek has always focused on the "heroes" doing rather heroic things. Whenever they get into combat it's not exactly glorified but it's not exactly shown as the barbaric act it truly is. Violence on Trek is always fairly stylized. There's nothing wrong with stylized violence in media per se - I love a good late-80s/early-90s stylized action movie as much as the next guy. But when trying to show combat in a more realistic way, Trek often falls short. Not so here! Here we get the absolutely crucial message that war and direct combat is not some fun little pursuit, it's not some proving ground for heroes, it's not something that can and should be used to separate the weak from the strong. It's brutal, it's unforgiving, it's messy and it's simply downright terrible (for everyone involved). There may be "necessary" wars. But there are never any "good" ones. The episode also takes two people (Jake and the solider who shot his own foot) who aren't traditionally "heroic" and presents them as deserving of compassion, sympathy and understanding. Nicely done! 2.) "...Nor the Battle to the Strong" takes the one main cast member who has been given the least amount of development and actually uses him in an extremely effective way that is fully in keeping with his character. Compare the use of Jake "as a writer" here to how that concept was utilized in "The Muse" and the differences are stark. By putting Jake is an Ernest Hemingway style war story it not only allows him to have some magnificent character growth but takes his occupation as a journalist/writer seriously (instead of having an absurd space vampire suck out his writing abilities).

If I wanted to nitpick the episode I suppose I could bring the score down somewhat. Things like the Klingons breaking the ceasefire seemingly for no reason only to then suddenly reinstate it also for no apparent reason, the cliched guest characters and the silliness of Jake somehow surviving a cave he causes himself are all weaknesses. But, the good vastly outweighs the bad. Jammer said it best - this episode is "a real story, with real people, real problems, and real reactions." And real consequences - it would have been so easy to just hit the reset button hard once Sisko and Bashir find Jake alive in the rubble, but the episode refuses to do that and instead has the wonderful coda of Bashir and Sisko learning the truth about what Jake did. Bravo!

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Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 12:05am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Inheritance

Strange how this episode short-circuits its own ethical dilemma (and equally strange that no one yet seems to have pointed out that it does so): Holo-Soong clearly states that he programmed Julianna to terminate in the event that she ever learned she was an android. Well, that certainly makes the decision of whether to tell her an easy one! After all, filling her in is equivalent to killing her - killing her, exactly the same as if you had put a knife through any ordinary human's chest. How can her "right" to know something absolve you of such an enormous, unaccountable responsibility? If you met a biological human whom you knew had a truly bizarre medical condition that would cause them to suffer a fatal stroke if they heard a particular sequence of words, and you willfully spoke that sequence to them with full knowledge of the consequences, how are you not a murderer?

Do you genuinely and earnestly believe that it is wrong to withhold from someone the fact that they are an artificial life form, making it morally correct to tell them and morally inexcusable not to? Well sir, then I guess Dr Soong is a contemptible monster. But whether he is or he isn't, he has made it so that you cannot fulfill this person's right to know without immediately and equivalently depriving them of another of their rights - the right to live. Soong has done a terrible thing, then, but your decision is made. You can't murder someone because you have something to tell them. "Dilemma" over.

I'm more than a little surprised that no one - Data, Picard, Crusher, Troi - even mentioned this while they were discussing the matter.
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Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S7: Repentance

Hooray, a message show... or something. I mean, I guess I have to give them credit for not making it blatantly biased in one direction and trying to show nuance, but in the end it just made the whole thing muddled. Which is the problem with message shows; when the plot is made to service the allegory or point you are trying to make rather than, y'know, be entertaining or logical. But honestly, I don't really care to talk about what Trek wants me to talk about. There were two other problems I had.

First, it's rather insulting how Iko's complete personality changed due to the nanoprobes. Actually, let me rephrase that, it's insulting to say that Iko was innocent of his crimes just because his empathy center was broken. Fine, so he doesn't feel empathy for other people. Why does that necessarily mean that he will turn into a psychopath? Perhaps he would simply be a narcissist? Or perhaps he would study philosophy, consider the needs of society, and be an upstanding citizen due to his interest in advancing society in general? Why does it have to be a sociopath?

That's why the parallel between Seven and Iko simply doesn't work. Seven absolutely had no choice in terms of being a Borg. Iko, however, did have a choice in everything he did, even if he was mentally crippled. It may have been harder for him, but he could have been a good guy anyway. And yes, maybe after his nanoprobe treatment he felt guilty, and at that point he wouldn't kill anymore, but that doesn't excuse what he did before. Seven trying to claim that Iko was not responsible is an affront to the idea of free will and personal responsibility. The plot could have continued without this silly idea that Iko was always innocent, and it distracted me every time it came up.

The second issue is Seven's obsession with this. Jammer mentioned that this deals "once again" with her guilt of being a Borg. My question is, why? When she first became human again, she didn't seem to care about what she did back then. She didn't mind being a Borg. Yes, as she grew to become more human, she left more and more of her Borgness behind. But I never really saw her as needing to be guilty about what she did. And I never really noticed it before. Given her acerbic nature, and given her Borg nature of declaring things irrelevant, I think she would declare the idea of guilt regarding what she did as a Borg as irrelevant. What did she have to feel guilty about? And when did she ever feel the need to atone? This just seemed to come up out of the blue.

All told, a muddled episode. It wasn't bad per se, but not one I really cared for.
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Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Captain's Holiday

To answer your question right away, romemmy: yes, someone else thought so.

Of course, does anyone else think it would be pretty irresponsible to bring a child to Risa?
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Wed, Apr 27, 2016, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Defector

The opening with Data's performance of Shakespeare.. only to be revisited in Picard's showdown with Tomalak, where Picard, with a smirk, quotes Henry V, "If the cause is just and honorable, [my crew is] prepared to give their lives." This was lost on me as a child. This episode could've just as well been called "King's Company."

Stunning episode all around. Powerful, small performances especially by Troi and Data. That shot of Troi trying to figure out if the defector is telling the truth or not. Data being asked to record this moment for history. Just incredible!
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