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Jason R.
Fri, Apr 21, 2017, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The City on the Edge of Forever

In her bizarre scifi speech to the homeless men at the outset I half expected her to turn to the camera and say the opening Star Trek prologue "and we will boldly go..." just ludicrous. Why does she behave more like an alien than Spock.
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Jason R.
Mon, Apr 17, 2017, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

"And of course, we revisit Mustafar and discover that Vader decided to build his castle at the very place he lost not only his wife and mentor, but also his own body. A way to keep his anger and hate properly fueled. "

Is that fire planet Mustafar? Based on Force Awakens in particular, it seems Disney has an antipathy toward significant continuity with the prequels. Remember the desert planet that wasn't Tatooine and the city planet with a Senate that wasn't Coruscant?
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Jason R.
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 9:04am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Ethics

Tara I find your distinction between Worf's decision to kill himself for cultural reasons and that of some of your human patients (for other, perhaps equally valid reasons) arbitrary. Why does culture trump but not, say, a considered choice based on personal values.

Yes Worf is a Klingon but as Peter noted there are some human cultures that endorse suicide in certain circumstances. If you encountered a patient with that culture would you be be fine with him telling you he planned to off himself in accordance with his culture?

Yes, as a doctor you aren't bound to enforce criminal law as a matter of course, but I'll wager whatever medical association that grants you your license, not to mention the hospital or clinic you work in have regulations about this sort of thing that you are bound to follow and if someone announces this intention, regardless of his cultural background, there are procedures to follow that probably begin with some kind of temporary involuntary commital. The alternative is you could risk being sued by the family of the individual I imagine.

Even in assisted suicide / euthenasia friendly jurisdictions I am pretty sure some kind of psychiatric evaluation is needed before you can just hand someone a dagger and say good luck.

Picard was hardly a certified expert in Klingon culture, nor was Beverly. But regardless, even if she had to concede she would be unable to prevent Worf's suicide in the long run because of his culture (I do think it is fair to say her threat to lock Worf up forever was a bluff) that did not require her to violate her medical ethics by turning Worf into a guinea pig for some half baked expiremental procedure. The Hippocratic oath still applied regardless of Worf's values.

Correct me if I'm wrong Tara, but as a medical doctor you can't just roll the dice on a patient's life with unproven dangerous experimental procedures, even if the patient's prognosis is poor or no other good alternatives exist.
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Jason R.
Wed, Apr 12, 2017, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

As an aside Tom it is interesting that you mention foreign aid to developing countries because one of the biggest obstacles these groups face is how to help without causing unintended consequenes that make things worse, not better. I will agree that the colonialists in the era of the Portugese and Spanish had less than pure intentions, yet there was also a real motivation to civilize (as they saw it) and do good that went horribly wrong. Even now money and aid we funnel to poorer nations too often gets scooped up by local powers or feeds corruption, doing more harm than good at times.
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Jason R.
Wed, Apr 12, 2017, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

Tom the justification is protecting the Federation and its people from the corruption that inevitably arises in such circumstances of extreme inequality. The danger of this kind of interaction between beings of greater power with those of lesser power was explored back in TOS with episodes like Where No One Has Gone Before and even with the Cardassian / Bajor situation. In Who Watches the Watchers there was a very quick jump to thinking Picard was a God. In TOS that was always a very very bad situation for all involved.

I started out thinking as you do but as I think of it more, I feel more convinced that this is a valid concern and the PD was a real safeguard.
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Jason R.
Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 11:32am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Rapture

It is a very Judeo Christian outlook to presume that any "god" is necessarily omnipotent and the creator of the universe or else false (by definition).

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Jason R.
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 5:53am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Inner Light

One thing I was thinking about in retrospect was whether or not the probe builders gave Picard an idealized picture of their civilization, manipulated him with a rosy family life - basically a fantasy. You think about stories like The Matrix and The Truman Show or even Generations with the Nexus, about simulated realities and people struggling to find truth even in circumstances where the fantasy may be pleasant and truth may be painful.

So was Picard bamboozled by a fantasy? Wouldn't a man like him have struggled to escape rather than live a life he must have known (deep down) was fraudulent? Did Picard swallow the blue pill?

I don't have the answer, but my sense is that the probe could only have worked the way it did on a man like Picard - without significant family, (seeing Robert once every 20 yrs doesn't count!) without children, really bereft of deep human connection in his life. The probe gave Picard something he never knew he needed or wanted, but that he was starving for.
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Jason R.
Fri, Apr 7, 2017, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Squire of Gothos

"Anyway, this time through, having watched the rest of Star Trek canon with me, my wife was apt to point out the similarities with Trelane and Q. Like Q, (in his 2nd appearance), Trelane is dressed as a French Military commander facinated by Napoleonic Era France. Also, later he plays the part of a Judge. I thought these were pretty good observations. "

There was a Peter David book as I recall called "Q Squared" that had Trelane as an infant member of the Q Continuum.

After having re-watched this episode, I too enjoyed it more than I expected. William Campbell really imbues the Trelane character with a combination of childish exuberance, petulance and creepy menace that yields a really compelling performance. I actually prefer him to Delancy as Q, at least in the early appearances in STNG season 1. The story in this case is nothing special, but I do enjoy watching this character in action, even if there is little else compelling about the episode.
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Jason R.
Fri, Apr 7, 2017, 6:55am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

Well Peter my point is once something can mimic perfectly a sentient being, how do you distinguish it from the real article? Humans are almost certainly the subject of "programming" albeit biological / organic versus technological. Your line of argument leads down a road where we almost need to conceive of something akin to a soul to maintain this bright line between human intelligence and AI - as was noted in Measure of a Man. Incidentally, there is no software to date that I am aware of, that can pass a Turing test (except possibly Dr. Sbaitso) so I don't see this as remotely "simple" by any stretch.

My point about physicality was not that only things with bodies can be sentient, but that this may be the secret ingredient to the development of sentience in the first place. Remember, it is likely that most of the non corporeal beings we encounter in Trek (and scifi in general) were corporeal at one time, and many (such as the Dowd and the Q) choose to exist as corporeal despite not needing to anymore. The point about Data is that having a physical form may indeed be a pre-requisite to that sense of "self" which would differentiate a sophisticated (but non sentient) AI from a truly self aware lifeform.

Regarding the doctor, he is certainly sentient - your reading is pretty much directly in contradiction to the text. Regarding my hypothesis about the physical body being the "active ingredient" in developing a sense of self, it is interesting to note that the Doctor's character significantly developed after he obtained the mobile emitter, which rendered him much more "corporeal" than he was before. At that point he was independent of the computer and for all intents and purposes, had a "body".
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Jason R.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

Peter it goes without saying that the AI behind the hologram and not the hologram itself is the source of any sentience (Voyager's "photonic" idiocy notwithstanding)

But I think you are downplaying the achievement of a character like Minuet. This type of character clearly passes the Turing test with flying colours and once you get to that point, trying to figure out whether that is a clever fake or true sentience becomes a murky question. Indeed, it is not hard to see how characters like Moriarty and eventually the Doctor were conceived given this inherent ambiguity.

I do think that when it comes to the Doctor and Moriarty (and probably Vic) you have to accept that there is sentience there - it is pretty much in the text that they are.

I always thought, by the way, that there was a huge storytelling missed opportunity in explaining this development after the Bynar's meddling that made vastly more sense than just presuming that Federarion computers could always conjure sentient AI but nobody realized it!

As for Data, if I am being charitable to the writing, I wonder if they are trying to say that physicality (having a real body) is more than just an acoutremont, but an actual pre-requisite to true sentience - or at least that may have been the idea before Moriarty popped into existence for no reason.
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Jason R.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

Just as an aside, isn't curious that the Enterprise computer can produce these lifelike and nuanced holograms capable of humor, subtlety and the whole rainbow of emotion, but Data can't? What is so amazing about a positronic brain if it can't master something that apparently Quark's holisuite can do?

But then I will answer my own question and suggest that Data is *sentient* while holograms like Minuet and Brahms are not. (Okay okay forget about The Doctor, Moriarty and Vic Fontaine!)

But then it's even more curious that a weak AI like the Enterprise computer, that has little more than (presumably) brute force cpu cycles and heuristic algorithms, can best a true "strong" AI, a sentient mind, in mimicking human behaviour!
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Jason R.
Wed, Apr 5, 2017, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

"Just stumbled across this and watched it again. Both episodes featuring Brahms are too convenient. Why did the computer lead him to believe she was interested? Where did the intense sexuality "whenever you touch this ship you're touching me" come from?"

Leftover programming from Minuet perhaps?

"Both personalities (and I would argue they are totally different characters in fact and only have appearance and job in common) arose out of plot necessity. "

There are really two ways to reconcile the facts. The first is to presume that the computer is just full of $hit and can't properly represent someone's true personality based on personality profiles.

The alternative, more charitable explanation, is that the computer is presuming in its simulation that Brahms has a level of comfort and familiarity with Geordi that simply isn't justified. Nobody behaves the same way to, say, a husband or a close friend, versus a total stranger. The real Brahms may indeed be such a warm person - to her friends and family, not to some goofy engineer she barely knows. By the end of the episode, once she has gotten to know Geordi, she is more like the computer simulation (minus the sexual innuendo).

The computer may be showing us the most perfect version of the person it is simulating.
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Jason R.
Mon, Apr 3, 2017, 5:57am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: The Siege of AR-558

I admire what this episode tried to do, but I am with others like Mike Satirano: its reach exceeds its grasp.

Here is one thing that really bugged me, and this criticism goes beyond this one episode to all of Trek. The main cast on DS9, with the exception of Kira, Worf, and O'Brien have never been in a war that we know of. Sisko may have participated in starship space battles but what the hell does he know about soldiering on some dirty planet? Before coming to DS9 he lived most of his life on starships, which might as well be luxury liners. Even DS9 with its holosuites and replicators is hardly the trenches.

My point is starfleet officers or not, these people should be unprepared for this kind of war. They should be a little soft.

Yet it seems an ironclad rule of Trek that our main crew must be as tough or as badass as anyone they encounter. Will Riker can slug it out with Klingon Warriors. Jadzia can fight hand to hand with Jem Hadar.

Because yes, the Jem'Hadar may be genetically engineered soldiers bred to fight, committed to die, and trained since birth to be soldiers, but why should that give them any kind of edge against people who spent most of their lives sipping replicated tea while piloting starships from cushy leather seats?

And Dax symbiant or not - Ezri should be about as useful in a ground war as Quark - or me. No. Freaking. Way!
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Jason R.
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 10:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: The Arsenal of Freedom

"In a way though, and it's been discussed before for many different episodes, they seem to find some new breakthrough, or weapon system, that should/could make the Federation nearly invincible (at least to their peers in the galaxy), and we never hear about it again."

It was always antithetical to the way STNG was written that there be continuity between episodes and even seasons. That was really a shame, because as a viewer, I always felt immensely rewarded when TV shows would reference or even integrate things from previous episodes into later ones. Even something as trivial as the Enterprise using that deflector dish trick in Night Terrors, or Picard playing his flute from Inner Light, was awesome.

I am not sure why the show's writers were so resistant to that sort of thing.
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Jason R.
Wed, Mar 29, 2017, 12:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Bounty

As an additional aside, I do think Paramount learned the wrong lessons from Ryan's success in the Seven role. When Enterprise came out the T'Pol character was all the sex appeal but with a poor actress in the role with the charisma of a bag of rocks.

I say this as someone who drooled over Blachloch's Maxim spread at the time. But looking at a hot chick was never my motivation for watching scifi and I quit Enterprise after about three episodes. Seems I wasn't the only one given how that series petered out.
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Jason R.
Wed, Mar 29, 2017, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Bounty

The 90s were, to me, a really bad time for this kind of thing. You had this kind of corporatized PG13 level of tittilation that seemed gratuitous and exploitative yet tame and prudish at the same time.

In the 80s fantasy and scifi was often trashy and blatantly exploitative, but in a movie with T & A you at least got to actually see T & A.

In the 90s it was sleazy, phony and lame all in the same package. The irony with Jeri Ryan was that she was really a talented actress and the writing for her character was good - better than most of the crap we had tolerated on Voyager thus far.

Maybe I'm being naive but I honestly doubt having her in that skinsuit even mattered to the show's ratings. I feel like we the audience were taken to be idiots.
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Jason R.
Wed, Mar 29, 2017, 9:31am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S2: Bounty

Luke I don't really see negative comments here coming from a place of prudishness. You are misreading the situation. What people don't like is when Trek uses sex appeal as a substitute for good story or to distract from poor quality. It's not about being offended by female nudity - it's being offended by the notion that putting an actress in her underwear can distract us from a terrible episode.
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Jason R.
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: The Arsenal of Freedom

Looks like to planet's inhabitants preferred extermination to purchasing such shoddy merchandise and giving that holographic a-hole the satisfaction.

Which got me thinking, did they ever bill Picard for his purchase? Too bad he skipped out because a few of those drones might have come in handy against the borg.
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Jason R.
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 6:32am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Where No Man Has Gone Before

Peter wasn't STV about a journey to the centre of the galaxy, not to its edge? I presumed it was a different energy barrier.
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Jason R.
Mon, Mar 27, 2017, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Retrospect

Claudio as others noted the episode wasn't about false rape allegations, it was about false molestation allegations due to "recovered memories", a topic that was current when the episode aired in the 90s.

Don't get me wrong: the topics are related as present moral panic over rape is very similar to moral panic over molestation, just as it was for Satanic ritual abuse before it.

But if you're intent on projecting contemporary obsessions on 90s television, then I'd argue the false rape narrative is even more germane. Given the push to reverse the burden of proof for sex assault (believe women) and the hysteria trumped up by man-haters and their apologists, I'm quite pleased with the end product. We need more stories about false allegations, not fewer.
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Jason R.
Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 7:02am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

K9T let me say that I agree with you in this case that upholding the prime directive where doing so results in a race's extinction seems dubious - especially considering that the Federation will happily consider lending aid to more advanced cultures. So if your culture has warp drive, like say the colony on Penthara IV, Picard will go to the wall for you, but if not - so long so sad! It is just arbitrary in some ways.

But to play devil's advocate, I'd say the PD is about more than just protecting others. The purpose of the PD is also to protect the Federation and its peoples from themselves and their own best (and worst) intentions.

TOS had several episodes where even Starfleet officers were corrupted by the impulse to play god before less advanced races. In this case they were not just averting a natural disaster like in Pen Pals but taking custody of an entire species. That kind of power could be corrupting. We know Picard et al. would behave ethically but there is a sense that the Federation does not wish to take responsibility for entire races.

What happens if the Boraalans don't thrive in their new home or suffer an even worse fate? Is the Federation hooked into becoming their guardians, like the Caretaker in Voyager?

Remember that the seed of Rodenberry's vision is not technology but a better human being. One has to believe that the only way to cultivate and maintain that better state of man is to curb the lust for power and dominance. In an inherently unequal relationship of dependancy between a less advanced race and the Federation there is too great a risk of power corrupting and sliding into domination. Cardassia"s relationship with Baajor offers a hint of where such a path could lead less stalwart men than Picard. The Prime Directive is a firewall against this dark path.
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Jason R.
Mon, Mar 20, 2017, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

"It was that the whole concept of 'Muggles' venerating the Jedi and the Force feels more like a thinly-veiled attempt by these new directors who grew up loving the original trilogy to insert their own hero worship into the films."

Out of curiosity, what scenes are you referring to? I cannot recall any such scenes except a few taking place on Jeddah, the Jedi homeworld. It seems logical to me that the Jedi would have been respected or even loved on that world - where else would the populace have known them better?

But more than that, remember the Jedi were probably symbols to some of the Old Republic. It is only logical that decades after the Republic's fall, many would look to it (and its near mythical guardians) with nostalgia, especially under the shadow of the empire!
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Jason R.
Sun, Mar 19, 2017, 7:39pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Sacrifice of Angels

"Consider the possibility that Sisko had lost all hope by the time he entered the wormhole and his decision to attack the enemy fleet alone was simply an intentional suicide run rather than be captured by the Dominion. The reason the prophets interrupted wasn't to 'help' Sisko win but rather because he had decided to die and they still had plans for him. You will note that they accuse him of deciding to "end the game", which of course means they foresee his decision to die."

That is of course the most likely explanation of his actions, given the dialogue. My problem though is that this makes Sisko something of a nutcase when you think about it. Even against 4,000 Dominion ships, the Federation has not actually lost the war - so why would Sisko, a Starfleet captain, needlessly blow up his own ship? He's really going to throw away his ship and his crew in some futile suicide run on a Dominion armada before the war / invasion has even started?! WTF?

This would be akin to Riker or Picard ordering a suicide run on the Borg Cube in BOBW right at the start of the episode (instead of at the end of Part 2, with the Cube already hovering over earth).

In fact, having just watched the Doomsday Machine, I'd suggest that Sisko intentionally sacrificing his own ship is not unlike Commodore Decker choosing to Kamikazi his shuttle against the doomsday machine - crazy.
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Jason R.
Sun, Mar 19, 2017, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Sacrifice of Angels

"So what was Sisko's plan exactly up to the point where he thought, "Huh, I'll just ask the wormhole aliens?"

Unless that was his plan all along once they were the only ones to break through the lines? I guess that makes more sense. The Emissary thing had to pay off at some point, I guess. "

I don't get the sense that it occurred to Sisko on a conscious level to call out to the wormhole aliens for help. Indeed, quite the opposite - when they take him from the Defiant he angrily decries their interference in his affairs and only grudgingly asks their assistance as an alternative to his death.

Of course what we're left with is the presumption that Sisko actually intended to confront a Dominion fleet with just the Defiant - kind of crazy, even accepting that the Federation would very likely lose the war once that fleet came through.

It's kind of ironic that Sisko too seems to have dismissed or simply forgotten about the prophets in all this. As Dukat was casually dismissing the Defiant as it approached the wormhole, I wanted to yell out to him "remember the last time you were in the wormhole what happened?!!". You'd think that Dukat, of all people, would remember his ship getting stranded in the Delta Quadrant after the Prophets shut down the wormhole the first time in Emissary!

"Also... how do you get 'warp signatures in a wormhole? Careless writing."

I could be wrong, but I don't think a ship needs to be travelling at warp speed in order to have a "warp signature". I presume this refers to the warp core itself, which we know to be the only component on 24th century ships powered by antimatter (at least on Federation ships).
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Jason R.
Sun, Mar 19, 2017, 8:32am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Ethics

"Beverly was very unethical here, wanting to hide the experimental procedure from Worf and force him to accept her less risky but less effective alternative. What gives her the right to make that call for him? As a patient it is his right to decide on what treatment he is given and he should be given all the options. I've never been a huge fan of "doctor" Crusher but this is a little much even for her. Why did no other character call her out on behaving so unethically?"

I strongly disagree. A doctor's ethical duty is not simply to present every "option" and let the patient decide while washing her hands of the consequences. The Hippocratic oath is no lightly satisfied.

While we, the audience, of course know that Dr. Russell's procedure was going to be successful (due to the fact that it was inconceivable that they'd kill of Worf), Dr. Crusher didn't know that - indeed, based on her assessment, it was basically an untested, highly experimental procedure with an unacceptably high risk of death being proposed by a doctor who had demonstrated a willingness to gamble with her patients' lives for personal glory.

Keep in mind Worf was not some terminal patient facing certain death. He was stable and with time could have regained much of his prior function. Again, we know that he was committed to suicide should he not regain his functioning, but Beverley didn't. Lots of human patients undoubtedly would have threatened suicide as well and yet changed their minds in time.

Even in countries where assisted suicide is legal, I doubt the procedure is simply to hand someone a needle (or a dagger) the instant they profess the desire to off themselves, within a couple days of suffering a catastrophic (but non life threatening) injury. This is the kind of thing that would probably require extensive psychiatric consultation over many months!

It takes Picard's unique insight into Klingon culture to convince Dr. Crusher that Worf likely cannot be swayed from his decision, and even then it's a borderline call for her since this procedure was extremely likely to kill him, notwithstanding Kilingon ex machina.
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