Comment Stream

Search and bookmark options Close
Search for:
Search by:

Total Found: 392 (Showing 1-25)

Next ►Page 1 of 16
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Fri, Apr 28, 2017, 9:39am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Sanctuary

Yes, that would have been a great story. That way making the Skreeans as obnoxious as you like would have helped the story rather than rendered it as the irritating filler that it is. In fact, the absolute ideal would have been to spend the first two acts getting us to see the Skreeans as annoying primitives, and then turn the tables and only at that point tell us they were refugees from an occupying force just like the Cardassians. Now we would get a bitter taste in our mouth when we realize that we're assessing the Skreeans based on the same criteria with which the Cardassians assess the Bajorans as being annoying primitives by their standards. It would both humble the Bajorans to realize they can think the same way the Cardassians do, and also humble the audience at the same time. It could have been a powerful episode, I think.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Fri, Apr 28, 2017, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: The Ultimate Computer

I finally got around to watching this one again last night, and I have a few comments to add to what I wrote above.

William, I think you hit something when you wrote that Daystrom was out for *revenge.* First of all, it now appears to me that by the end of the episode we see not insanity, but rather that Daystrom and the machine were both egotistical narcissists. They both shared pride in their accomplishments, even feeling gloating triumph at the deaths of the puny ships once they finally admitted they were proud of what M5 was doing. Daystrom wasn’t going crazy; he already was. He strikes me now as a borderline megalomaniac who felt others should bow to his superior intellect; another nod to Khan here, where a superior man secretly feels others should be subservient to his notions. The ignominy of being glossed over due to not making a major contribution since duotronics would have been maddening to someone who felt his superior mind shouldn't require putting out evidence such as new discoveries. As much as he might have wanted to lord it over everyone inferior to him, Federation culture wouldn’t allow that, but they could still be made to be subservient to him through his computer commanding them. It’s like making himself into a king through M5; that’s why he couldn’t allow it to die under any circumstances. It was almost like a coup d'etat in progress. It wasn't because it was his child, but because it was his proxy as absolute ruler over the important functions in man's life.

Daystrom is the type that's all about locking up all other men to “protect them”, to control them utterly. This hearkens back to the mention earlier of Asimov's laws of robotics, where Asimov wote about how machines, in order to obey the laws and protect humanity, might conclude that humanity had to be enslaved for its own protection. Well here we see something potentially more insidious, which is a man like Daystrom pretty much bragging about the fact that he's going to make it so man doesn't have to do anything dangerous ever again, which probably means not being allowed to, either. He has come to the same conclusion as Asimov's robots, and is looking forward to confining humanity to a safe pleasure center on Earth. So it seems to me this is also an episode about paternalistic control freaks who think their intelligence gives them license to decide on behalf of others what’s best. A cautionary tale even in our present time.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Fri, Apr 28, 2017, 8:29am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Sanctuary

Part of the reason the episode is so badly botched is because the fact that they are refugees is completely irrelevant to the issue of whether they have any claim to land on Bajor. In the former problem it is simply a question of compassion and mercy, whereas in the latter it's a question of whether the Bajorans are willing to share their planet under any circumstances, even with a race that has a real claim to it. These are both interesting topics, but they ended up being treated as basically the same issue - whether Bajor would cave in and let them settle. The issue of whether the Cardassian occupation had made the Bajorans more like the Cardassians - being territorial and unconcerned with other races - would have made a happy home here, but instead it most ends up coming off to me as an issue of bureaucrats making pragmatic decisions.

Jason, you're right that failing to give a good reason why they claim Bajor as theirs destroys the episode. It's the difference between them being potential co-owners and being riffraff squatters, and this distinction isn't trivial. The last act or two were our last chances to have some sympathy for the Skreeans, and without that the episode ends up being as it is: unwatchable to me each time I go through DS9.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 27, 2017, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Hero Worship

I just watched this one again last night after avoiding it for several years, and to my chagrin I realize that I like this one a lot. I had sort of remembered it as a pointless technobabble problem of the week, as Jammer says, and I guess I never took that much note of the Data side-story.

However now I've seen it again this strikes me not as a technobabble plot but rather as an unintended follow-up to "The Offspring." The latter is more affective and moving, and is unified in its central story, and so of course that makes it a better episode. However there are some moving parts in "Hero Worship" that far exceed the quality of the overall machine. Timothy strikes me as being a mirror image of what Lal went through; he experiences a trauma and in cope wants to be an emotionless android, whereas Lol wants to be more human, and after her trauma ends up being able to feel for the first time. I felt the same father-child relationship here as I did in "The Offspring", and in some ways it was even sadder here because whereas Lal had her father by her side Timothy was searching for a parent in Data.

Another thought struck me while watching it, which is that Data's approach to hardship may well have been instructive to Timothy even aside from the fact of simply being good supportive company for him. Once Data accepts Timothy as a android, combs his hair back, and they do 'android things' together a sort of calm seems to pass over Timothy which goes beyond merely pretending that he has no feelings. In fact, pretending that he didn't feel pain seemed in fact to result in an inner calm and focus in him. I suspect there's something in here that hints at why Data is such a beloved figure among TNG fans: it's not just that he has cool abilities and has quirky mannerisms, and in fact I think those are almost irrelevant to Data's appeal. I believe that his chief characteristic that I always found inspiring was the sense of peace and ease he exudes. It's not that he's good at things, but that he never loses his air of innocence, and this is something that would always be a good example for a child. Another thing setting Data apart as a father-figure is that he approaches everyone with that sense of curiosity, which has as its premise a respect for the object of his curiosity. A human counselor would no doubt have been all over someone like Timothy trying to get them to grieve, talk about what happened, and so forth (in other words treating him like a patient), whereas Data gave him an environment where he could first feel like he had the freedom to be whoever he was, and to then deal with the issue in his own time.

I'll give credit to one more thing the episode got out of me, which was sadness for Data, although not as much as I felt in "The Offspring". In Ten-Forward, just as Timothy is lamenting having feelings, Data speaks of lamenting not having them, and while we know Data is trying to help him, at the same time we know he means it. Each of them, in their own way, is struggling to be more like the other and regrets their limitations. While Data doesn't 'get over it' within this episode, at the same time the atmosphere the two of them create does suggest that the two of them are working through their issues together, rather than Data merely taking care of the traumatized boy.

Jammer is surely right that the episode's structure is lacking, but overall it seemed like the lion's share of material was about Data and Timothy. I wouldn't call this one great, but the good material is strong enough that I would certainly grade it as above average overall. Very few TNG episodes successfully use guest stars to legitimately deal with ongoing issues the stars are going through. The Klingon episodes in TNG were particularly good about this, and we got the occasional Picard outings such as "Family", but overall the guests of the week don't tend to have as much importance to the main casts as I feel Timothy did for Data in this one. I was almost sorry that Timothy couldn't have been brought back at some point, maybe living on the Enterprise as Data's ward or something.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 26, 2017, 10:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

@ Outsider65,

Kahless wasn't really their god, more like a legendary demi-god akin to a Greek hero like Achilles. SPOILER - According to Worf in DS9 the Klingons killed their gods, which although that information comes later it resonates with the fact that all the Klingon rituals we've seen up until this point have involved 'spirituality' but nothing of a divine inclination. What Koloth did here is more like cloning JFK than cloning Jesus in terms of its political and religious ramifications. In a strict sense what they created isn't a fake Kahless at all, since prophecy can work in funny ways and there's no reason the prophecy couldn't have been foretelling the cloning of Kahless. Not every prophecy has to resolve in a supernatural manner.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 25, 2017, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

@ Jason R.,

From when I watched ANH as a kid up until this day, when Vader tells Leia "You are a member etc..." (and a traitor) it was plain to me that she had never before been accused of this, and that he knew it to be true even if no official case had ever been made about her. The dialogue is meant to convey not only that he knew she was lying, but also that he had the power to ignore normal legal procedures and could unilaterally act on whatever he wanted to. It was about establishing that Vader's personal hunch about her trumped her rights or her standing in the senate. Her comments to him do not at all come across as a last-ditch flim-flam, but rather seem to indicate that she still believes she has full diplomatic immunity and that he actually has no right to do what he's doing. You can override the tone of that scene and imagine that it's all an elaborate acting job by her, and that she knew her number was up from the word go, but that's pretty much a retcon as far as I'm concerned.

Even the later scene where Leia encounters Tarkin reinforce the idea that she legitimately believed her rights were being violated, when she tells him that only he 'could be so bold' (as to imprison a member of the senate with no warrant). This would not be the attitude of someone who had just escaped from a warzone with plans in hand, Vader having personally watched them go. It would just be an illogical position for her to take. "Nuh uh, it wasn't me!" Right. I view it as a pretty big continuity gap. It wouldn't have been *quite* as bad if they hadn't inserted Leia at the end of Rogue One; that way we might have guessed that there was some downtime while Leia boarded elsewhere, and Vader caught up with them eventually, and Leia could legitimately pretend to not know why Vader was so intent on following the blockade runner. That being said it still wouldn't be a perfect fit since I do think Vader implies that it's Leia who has the plans (and whom he is chasing), rather than the Tantive IV having been the ship to personally run off with the plans.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 25, 2017, 9:33am (UTC -5)
Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I'll just quote Todd from above:

"Darth Vader sees Leia's ship pull away during the heat of battle carrying the plans for the Death Star...chases after her and she claims she's on a diplomatic mission? Talk about chutzpah! Or just dramatic retconning of a 40 year old movie."

Captain Antilles claiming it's a consular ship, when everyone on board ought to know that Vader saw that ship and the plans with his own eyes and cut through a corridor of troops trying to get them, is really rich. It's quite a glaring inconsistency, since at the start of Ep IV the tone makes it clear that Vader has been building a case against Leia. In fact, the dialogue in the scene with Captain Antilles might even lead us to conclude that he truly had no idea that there were any stolen plans on board, and that Leia brought them with her without telling anyone. Based on how she has them on her person, and smuggled them off on R2, it looks to have been her private little operation, and that Vader traced *her* to that ship, rather than having followed the ship itself. A bit of this is speculation, but I think based on the text it's something like this. What's clear to me (and it was immediately obvious when I first saw Rogue One) is that Vader could not logically have seen the Tantive IV escape from the conflict zone and then have that ensuing dialogue in Ep IV.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Fri, Apr 21, 2017, 11:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: The Chase

@ Outsider65/54,

While the lore of the ancient race here does resemble the lore of "The Preservers" from TOS, I'm not at all convinced they are meant to directly be the same. We know that The Preservers did seed various worlds, but on the other hand they also left tech behind as well to protect them, which is definitely not the MO of the ancient race shown here. I've never heard anything in Trek to suggest that the major races (Humans, Vulcans, etc.) met with some ancient race who gave them a giant obelisk or some other tech to protect them.

I think "The Chase" borrows from the same type of origin myth as Paradise Syndrome, but is in effect a reboot of that idea. I would not say it's a given that what we learn here was already established. We certainly were never told that *all* the major races were seeded by the same ancient race. The Preservers did some seeding, but there's never a hint that Humans had anything to do with it. They may be the same, of course, but again I don't think it's a given.

PS - if you watch DS9 then I can tell you my theory about the race revealed here.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 18, 2017, 12:15am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Ethics

Tara,

Thanks for the detailed response. In your scenario (1) you're discussing holding a patient who will be a danger to themselves. The reason you state for the hold is because a kind society wants to protect people. I agree that this motive is in play, but my point isn't that this *isn't* a factor, but rather that it's the lesser factor compared to the law requiring death threats (even to oneself) to be treated in a certain way. Even if the medical establishment (hypothetically) was callous or a given hospital didn't care if a patient lived or died, the law would still require a certain response to a death threat. And it's not because the patient is a criminal, per se, but rather because a certain kind of threat must be dealt with in a certain way.

If a psychiatric patient disclosed to a therapist the intention to bootleg a film, they would be obliged to retain confidentiality, whereas if the intended crime was a murder they would have to report it. So it's not about crime in general, but strictly about a death threat or suicide. I already specified in my previous post that " I didn't claim that a doctor must enforce all aspects of the law, such as preventing a patient jaywalking or robbing a bank. I'm strictly speaking of the patient trying to kill themselves with the doctor passively looking on as it happens." Your scenario (2) seems therefore to be basically in agreement with what I said.

Regarding this comment:

"Yes, I would be obligated to hold him for evaluation because IN MY SOCIETY, suicidal ideation is considered PROOF of mental illness and therefore a scenario-one situation.. "

My point two posts ago (and I apologize for how long it was; in hindsight that was a mistake on my part) was that the linking of suicidal ideation with mental illness
is not a strictly human thing, but specifically an *American* thing. It may also be true in some other countries (such as Canada and European ones), but in each case it's because that's how the laws of those countries work. In feudal Japan the laws did not work that way, and so their culture normalized suicide. If a man from Canada wanted to commit suicide in feudal Japan (assuming the proper circumstances were met) they would no doubt understand completely, whereas if a feudal Samurai wanted to commit suicide in a hospital in America they'd put the involuntary hold on him that you mentioned. It's not the culture of the individual in question that applies, but rather the laws of the nation in which the event is going to happen. You might imagine a nation where murder is sometimes legal (like Ancient Sparta), but if an Ancient Spartan wanted to do so in modern America he would be arrested rather than having his cultural beliefs respected. So you see the beliefs if the land are what dictate what will be accepted or not, not the beliefs of the individual as regards killing and murder. Klingon culture may allow suicide, but Federation law might not, and this is the vague part of the episode. If both cultures allow it I would find Crusher's position to be inexplicable, and so I must somehow conclude that the Federation law about this is weird and has complicated clauses. Riker was speaking about killing Worf as if it was actually an option and that he was rejecting it, which strikes as odd yet again. Is it legal, or isn't it? What the writers seemed to be doing is using the personal beliefs of each crew member to get across what they personally make of the situation, and none of the seems to at all be concerned about what is actually allowed or what Federation policy is about it. This is cheating a bit, but (SPOILERS) Sisko makes it very clear later on that suicide on a Federation station is illegal, so I have to wonder, then, what else there is to defend in Crusher's position. If it is illegal, and she would put a temporary hold on him, that makes sense. And if the experimental treatment was illegal research, then she wouldn't submit Worf to that either without breaching ethics. It all seems to stand up. It makes more sense if we just assume that suicide is illegal under Federation law, and the using experimental trials is also not allowed under medical ethics.

So for Worf to want to commit Klingon ritual suicide on the Enterprise would seem to fall under Federation law (which respects but does not condone or assist with beliefs counter to its own), just as if Worf wanted to murder a crew member Klingon-style for questioning his orders, but it's not a Klingon ship and he doesn't get to employ Klingon laws on the Enterprise. Worf is on a Federation ship and so it's those laws that will be followed, not the Klingon ones. Picard has likewise stated even to Worf directly that he expects Federation conduct from him. In fact, when Worf killed Duras PIcard told him straight-up that this was in violation of Federation law, and men were on their way to stop him. *That* he has a belief that is held elsewhere is irrelevant when discussing what Worf is allowed to do in a Federation culture. Worf may not be 'mentality incompetent' according to his culture's standards, but by ours he is still breaking a law by threatening to kill (himself or others) and he's be committed either way. On a psychological scale if you wanted to declare him mentally unfit you could try, but since he's a Klingon you'd have to either use human logic on him, or else Klingon logic to declare him unfit. If you use his values, then he isn't "mentally unstable" by American standards, and yet must still be held temporarily so that the threat to himself or others can be evaluated. That wouldn't change at all, which proves my point that holding suicidal people isn't to do with the cultural norm of the patient but about the laws in the country in which the patient is treated.

The episode never established Federation policy here, whether the experimental treatment was legal to administer, and even whether there is euthanasia in the Federation. In fact I bet this omission was deliberate because they didn't want to open that can of worms, even though it was at the heart of the episode. I think they chickened out in the end and used the magic procedure to fix everything so that the individual objections never really had to be dealt with.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Mon, Apr 17, 2017, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Jason R.,

I've heard from other sources it's meant to be Mustafar, although to be honest I didn't notice that when I first watched the film.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Mon, Apr 17, 2017, 10:09am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Ethics

Tara,

"One thing though: Your claim that suicide's illegality is what matters (in medical decision-making and ethics) is simply completely wrong. "

If suicide was 100% legal and acceptable, I don't see how a doctor would have any business preventing a patient doing so. Medical ethics might suggest that a doctor can allow it but not assist, but a doctor couldn't disallow it. Likewise, if suicide were 100% illegal, a doctor would not be allowed to assist, nor would the patient be allowed to kill themselves if it could be prevented (as is the case in the U.S. now). Medical ethics and the law are not identical, as you say, but medical ethics cannot allow something the law deems illegal, and so this is a hard constraint. Patient suicide is prevented because of the law, not because of medical ethics, because the law is the stronger arbiter of its lack of acceptability. If suicide was legalized and medical ethics ruled that it must still not be allowed in a hospital, then you'd have a case for suicide prevention being strictly a medical ethical decision.

"Legality of patient behavior is never a consideration. We aren't cops, just like cops aren't doctors. Patients do illegal things all the time right in their hospital rooms. "

Right, but are you telling me that if a patient announced "I am going to kill myself" you would (a) do nothing about it, and (b) that if you did nothing and the patient did kill themselves, that there would be no legal repercussions for the doctor who allowed it to happen without notifying authorities? I don't think this is this case. If you correct me on this and tell me that you literally have zero liability or legal responsibility if a patient commits suicide under your care when you knew it would happen, then I'll drop this particular point. Note that I didn't claim that a doctor must enforce all aspects of the law, such as preventing a patient jaywalking or robbing a bank. I'm strictly speaking of the patient trying to kill themselves with the doctor passively looking on as it happens. As I understand it even a patient protected by confidentiality (under care of a doctor or therapist, for instance) must be reported if they make it clear they are going to kill someone else or themselves.

Assuming I'm correct in these statements, the issue is really what the law says about suicide, which in turn makes us wonder what Federation law says about this, which we aren't told. I find that a serious plot hole in the episode, since if Federation law protected a patient's right to suicide then Crusher would be totally in the wrong, whereas if it was illegal then 'committing' him to prevent it would be demanded by the law, and Crusher's position would simply be a reiteration of what the law demands.

Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 12:10am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: The Sword of Kahless

@ Vii,

"Dax was ... all right, but this is yet another Curzon 2.0 episode of hers. Sometimes it feels like her life is just an extension of Curzon's, which technically it is, but it feels as if she's rather one dimensional, compared with Ezri. I like Dax, but she basically feels like a female, younger, hotter version of Curzon, who also likes to hang out with Klingons and considers herself "one of the boys.""

I think this is part of a semi-intentional character arc for Jadzia, where as I see it she falls too easily into taking up Curzon's hobbies and attitudes. This appears to frequently be a source of inner conflict for her, as she has the know-how of how to act like him, but *isn't* him, and doesn't always react how she would like to. It smacks to me of a weakness on her part in falling in with the ways of an old host rather than finding out who Jadzia is and how she's different from the other hosts. There are hints of this conflict here, in "Blood Oath", and even in "Let He Who Is Without Sin" where she tries to act the carefree hedonist like Curzon while ignoring the actual circumstances of her life.

I think you're right that it's a Curzon 2.0 episode in a way, but in the right way. It once again shows how much trouble it is for her to just pretend to be the Old Man.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Sat, Apr 15, 2017, 1:18am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Ethics

@ Tara,

I'll try to be clear in my response, sorry if some of it sounds blunt:

"Dlpb is speaking up for a specific principle: patient autonomy. This is the accepted modern American model."

No, DPLB said that Crusher refusing to let Worf kill himself was "wrong by any measure of ethical normalcy," which is completely and unequivocally false. The modern American model is for doctors to follow the law, which can change over time. It is NOT to allow unlimited patient autonomy. If and when a state passes a euthanasia law allowing a crippled adult to seek death, and additionally where the doctor doesn't have to be a party to it, then you'd have a case for modern law suggesting that Crusher would be denying Worf some kind of moral right. And even THAT supposes that the law being such would in and of itself create moral rightness, which is a declaration that moral principles are based in nothing more than what is legal or allowed by the state (e.g. that the state is the moderator on morality). A lot of suppositions are required there to support Crusher being definitively in the wrong. And of course in Worf's case he isn't even seeking medical-assisted euthanasia, but rather just wants to commit suicide by any means possible, so the law would have to not merely allow for doctor-assisted death, but also give carte blanche to *anyone* wanting to commit suicide. Are you seriously going to suggest that American law (to say nothing of medical ethics) allows for this in our time? As a medical practitioner I hope you don't think so.

"in my practice, suicidal patients are watched around the clock and prevented from killing themselves. But that's because we are humans and follow the creed that suicidal ideation is proof of mental illness."

No, that's not why you do it. You are primarily obliged to prevent it because suicide is illegal, and because the law states that it can't be allowed if it's preventable. I mean, what you say may be why you personally believe in preventing patient suicide, but even if you flipped your position on whether suicidal desire is proof of mental illness (let's say it was proven eventually to be a false equivalence) it would change nothing. If the law disallows suicide and/or euthanasia then the medical notion of what does or doesn't prove mental illness would be irrelevant; the person would be prevented from killing themselves, period.

But I can go even more directly to your point by pointing out how Western-centric the idea is that an anti-suicide ethic is a distinctly "human" value, since it's false that all human societies have held this value. This is especially evident since the Klingon kamikaze mentality, honor system, and ritual suicide are blatantly lifted from the Samurai code. But you did specify that it's a psychiatric creed that suicidal thought is ipso facto a sign of mental illness, which of course is simply a circular way of saying that since suicide has been decreed to be unacceptable a priori that anyone desiring it is by definition mentally ill. The relevant factor here isn't whatever "ill" is supposed to mean in this context, but rather the supposition upon which it's based, which is that suicide is 'bad' in the absolute sense. So intrinsically your comment actually refutes what DPLB said anyhow, which is that one would change their mind on suicide if they were suffering - e.g. that the ethics of legalizing suicide should rest in the comfort level of the person asking for it, rather than any general principles. If this were true then it would make no sense to call someone asking for suicide "mentally ill", since it would then be seen as a perfectly rational thing to request. You can't have it both ways, which is why I called his comment ironic. He was taking an absolute stance backing a position that was relativist in its specifics.

And I'm not even going to get into whether euthanasia or suicide are "morally correct" in the absolute sense (moral realism), but I will point out that I think it would be presumptuous to believe that since the Western world is beginning to decide that assisted suicide should be allowed that this is a 'good decision' in the long run. It seem so now to many people, but the fact that it's becoming popular as a notion of course doesn't speak to whether it's a good idea. For all we know by the 24th century it will have been "proven" that it's very bad and will, by that time, have been disallowed again.

"This creed is not true for Worf. As best I can tell, his wish to die is in line with Klingon values and he is expressing it in a clear headed and culturally appropriate way."

Picard expressed multiple times over the series that Starfleet respects but does not operate under the rules and norms of other cultures. It no doubt tries to incorporate cultural elements from its member races, but does not allow behaviors that are otherwise illegal or unethical just because some race believes them. Sisko later said much the same thing on various occasions. If, for instance, suicide is illegal under Federation law, then Crusher is 100% correct in trying to preserve Worf's life. Picard's argument was that, regardless of the law, Worf would in fact end up dead if he wasn't given the experimental treatment, but in our present day and age such advice could easily lead to a prison term if the experimental drug hadn't actually been approved for use yet. It sounds like rational, down-to-Earth Picard logic, but legally speaking he was basically saying to hell with the rules. I can respect that, in a way, but can hardly fault the doctor who was abiding by the law.

By the way, I'm not the biggest fan of Crusher in this ep either, but that's mostly due to the fact that the writers failed to properly illustrate the issue I think they were going for. Crusher's position *appeared* to be much weaker than it really was due to storytelling error. The issue, to an extent, boils down to what the actual status was of this experimental treatment and whether it was approved for patient use. If so, and Crusher refused it on Worf's behalf, then that's not so good, but if Crusher was right that patient lives were being used for medical experimentation then there's no conversation. That these facts are not brought to light in the episode is one of its many weaknesses. The result is it ends up looking like a hit piece on Crusher when, on the balance, hers should have been the stronger position.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: Ethics

DLPB explains an utterly relativistic theory of medical ethics where a course of action may be moral depending on how comfortable you are when making it, following an absolute statement that someone else is wrong about the topic. Oh the irony abounds.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 13, 2017, 11:11am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Peak Performance

I like this idea of Data playing on easy mode in "Conundrum". It makes sense. In fact, he probably needs to converse on easy mode too, since the actual speed of his thought is astronomical compared to a human.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 12, 2017, 11:52pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The House of Quark

It seems like this land dispute was going to determine the leadership of Grilka's house, and likewise whether D'Gor House was going to be able to seize their land. In terms of local politics this may have been a large-scale issue in terms of shifting power in the Empire. We were never really told how powerful each house was, but if they had standing to appear before the High Council they must have been important families. In the end such matters could decide who might be the next Council member, and so I see it as entirely appropriate that Gowron should oversee such matters.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 12, 2017, 10:59am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

@ Tom,

I'm not particularly keen to support the PD in the context of this episode, but I will point out that sometimes following a necessary law will have unpleasant results in an unusual context. The question really ought to be "is it just for any law to be applied invariably, or should any law have the possibility for exceptions to be made?" There is the issue of, if exceptions are possible, whether this would lead to abuses that outweigh the benefit of allowing exceptions in the first place.

Putting aside for the moment the moral quandry of whether the PD as stated should be the Federation's policy, it's also possible to infer that it *had* to be their policy whether it was ideal or not, in order to gain the cooperation of the other races at their founding. Imagine the Andorians, Tellarites, Vulcans and other races sitting down to discuss joining the Humans in a Federation, and you'd have similar questions as were addressed at length in Babylon 5: Who settles disputes? How are each race's borders managed and defended? How are the rights of each race protected from bullying and pressure from the others? With belligerent powers resistant to ceding control of their territories to a council in which they may or may not have their way, I can imagine that the only possible condition under which they'd accept Federation membership would have been one which would obey some rule like the PD, which would prevent the Federation from literally taking control of their home worlds and making them vassals, and similarly doing so to non-member worlds as well.

I know Roddenberry probably intended the PD as a warning against Cold War manipulation and proxy wars in third world countries, but after watching "Journey to Babel" it sort of also becomes clear that the races involved in the founding of the Federation needed some strict rules to make sure everyone behaved and felt safe in the alliance; otherwise it would have fallen apart.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 10:51am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Rapture

"You see there is a MASSIVE difference between what you describe as a godlike power and being a god. One is an incredible power and the other does not insist."

What, exactly, is this difference? Are you saying that the only possible 'real god' is 'THE god'? That there is no such thing as 'gods' in the plural sense? I speak, of course, in the science fiction sense when I ask the question. How can you define what is or isn't a god? Related question: have you read Dan Simmons or Stanislaw Lem? Both are sci-fi authors that have addressed whether there is necessarily any distinction to be drawn between a sufficiently advanced godlike being and God proper.

It seems to me that your beef isn't so much with whether there is such a thing as a god (something you realistically can't prove) but rather with the idea of worshipping such a being. Even if you were informed with certainty there was a god of some sort that existed, it sounds like your position is that you would be against worship of that being on principle. Which, as I mentioned earlier, brings up the question of: what is worship? I think this term is one that is oft misunderstood.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 11:23am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Rapture

@ SteveRage,

I think it's very simple. A sufficiently advanced being or technology will invariably appear to be godlike. You may cynically say "well we're intelligent enough to know they aren't *really* gods, just super-advanced." But that would presuppose you have a working definition for what a god is or isn't that can be applied against such beings. But since you say gods don't exist you therefore cannot have such a definition. In other words, you don't have words of adequate descriptive power to discuss the prophets, or the Q for that matter. If someone decided to worship the Q, for instance, as gods, I would be very hard pressed to tell them "those aren't gods!" Because why the heck aren't they? They may not be 'the original creator', whatever that means, but that's an entirely different can of worms. The Bajorans never claims the prophets created the universe, so objecting to worship of the prophets seems to entirely miss the point of what worship actually is, and what its proper objects should or shouldn't be.

You might suggest you, personally, wouldn't worship a being that could literally re-write the future to suit you, but damn, I think a whole lot of people absolutely would. If that's not a godlike power then I don't know what is.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Fri, Apr 7, 2017, 10:56am (UTC -5)
Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I'll try to be brief, but basically I agree with R. and Dave Ryan. I won't ever watch this movie again. The movie had little to no joy in it, no sense of what the rebellion was fighting for, and even reneged on its initial theme of showing the rebellion's dark underbelly. Despite the Idris Elba scenes I got no sense of the rebellion having to make do with unsavory alliances to oppose the empire. The film was dark, but not for any functional purpose other than to be dark, which is all too true of many films these days. The real trick is creating shades of hope and despair, like Empire did, but Disney's MO seems to be "black or white" and here they chose black. It was a movie befitting Vader, in the end, and his scenes are mostly what I hear people talking about. It really does smell of fan service. Ditto what others said about the ending with the Tantive IV being completely illogical. For a film purporting to create continuity with Ep. IV it did a remarkably poor job of actually maintaining reasonable continuity.

I like the droid to an extent, and always like seeing Donnie Yen in movies, so it was not entirely a disappointment to me, but my overall experience of watching this film was being bored. I didn't care about anyone, or wonder about what would happen, both because I already knew the ending and because the film had no sense of wonder (a trait Lucas personally had and which no director can lack and successfully make a Star Wars film). Actually, both my date and me were bored for most of the film, and the wind had already completely left our sails by the time the climax came. We weren't interested anymore by that point.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 11:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

@ Jason R.,

The thing about the Turing test is that it's a fictitious test. Whatever "consciousness" is, we haven't discovered what that might be. Being able to 'act like' a human is certainly not what consciousness is, or else if it is then it's actually not much of anything. You could probably program a simplistic (by wetware standards) piece of software equipped with a human body and have it pass as human; sure. But that would just mean we're easily fooled, not that it's 'alive'. It's actually much like arguing that because Chess computers can defeat human players it means they are "thinking". By any standards that matter, all they are doing is executing a linear program repetitiously and achieving the desired result, which is all a holographic AI would be doing. If sentience is merely that then the Federation's reverence for sentience would really just be a vanity preference for beings that can perform human-like tasks efficiently.

Personally I don't really see AI as being potentially 'sentient' until it reaches the technological singularity when it can think for itself and ceases to require human handlers. In other words, I would equate 'sentient AI' with 'extremely dangerous AI' since the moment it began to think 'for itself' the speed of its processes would snowball its internal changes out of out ability to monitor them. But even if there was some kind of AI that could have sentience shy of this level of self-sufficiency, it would seem to me that it wouldn't be of much value to anyone in Starfleet because it would 'have a mind of its own.' In Data's case he does appear to have a mind of his own, and actually chose Starfleet despite what Soong would have wanted for him. In the case of Voyager's Doctor he's really just a slave of the computer and has to do everything he's ordered to do. The sense of him having a personality seems to me to be an aesthetic piece of decor that the crew let get out of control, but in no sense does it ever appear to me that he's independently conscious apart from his programming to care about everyone's well-being.

"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."

I don't believe Trek as a whole would make this case, because of the countless incorporeal intelligent beings we've seen over the years, most notably the Q. But I would agree with the statement (in real life) that having a body is more than merely a toolkit for your brain to use as people are increasingly beginning to suggest.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

@ Jason R.,

I don't know if it was knowingly deliberate or not, but TNG completely avoided the issue of AI capabilities as compared to TOS, which occasionally delved into android and computer capabilities. Data is meant, I think, as more of a 'curious character' than any kind of actual sci-fi statement about what robotics can achieve.

But as you're drawing a distinction between a truly sentient AI and well-designed 'fakes' on the holodeck that can visually imitate emotions but do not actually 'experience' anything, I think we'd have to argue that TNG didn't make any attempt to show in which ways Minuet, for example, was different than other holo-characters. That is both a failure of storytelling in "11001001" to make her seem out of the ordinary, and also in subsequent episodes to make the holodeck characters appear to obviously be NPC's in a video game that have limited programming. Vic comes off as different to us both because of his anachronistic behavior and also his self-awareness mixed with a suspicious amount of computer access. But in terms of what a holodeck character like fake-Leah experiences, we'd have to say that she experiences nothing and that what we're seeing is the equivalent of a CGI rendered Disney character. It can be well-rendered, but it would be wrong-headed to watch a Pixar film and to suggest that the animated character is 'feeling' anything. It's just images on a screen with audio-dubbing, and that's all a holodeck character is. Little more than a moving drawing.

Where the sentience angle comes up isn't so much in the fact of a holodeck character looking believable (which in itself is little more than an art project to achieve) but rather in the programming that would allow it to learn and develop its own priorities based on external stimulae. In effect, it would be the program that could become sentient, not the holographic representation itself. I have to assume that there's a default character-generation program someone devised that is the default program for all holodeck characters, and that this program is fairly basic and can't create sentient programs. In the case of Moriarty I suspect that what happened is that a glitchy command was given to the computer and it created something like a virus in effect; a malicious program that could mess things up, but I don't necessarily see any case for sentience there even though he *spoke* as if self-aware. But I could drawn a cartoon with stick figures speaking *as if* self-aware, and of course this doesn't mean they are. In Vic's case I suspect the author designed his own AI from scratch and didn't use the default one. Maybe his is advanced enough that it's legitimately a sentient AI (in which case I'd expect Federation security to be knocking on his door, but never mind that). In Data's case we may well have real sentience even though his emotions aren't there. Since emotions are mainly a by-product of wetware, which Data has none of, I'm not so sure why human emotions would be standard in any kind if AI. They would be simulations of emotions at best, anyhow, not 'real emotions' in any bio-chemical sense.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 11:49am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

Sorry, some typos there. Last line should read: "*they* just wanted her not acting..."
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

@ Chrome,

I would be flabbergasted to think that the Enterprise computer could glitch like a Microsoft OS does. The amount of redundancies they have must be enormous, with multiple computer networks all backing each other up in case one fails. If anything you could suggest it was a software failure, meaning the computer was just ill-equipped to actually create a simulation like that in the first place. It seemed to surprise Geordi in the first place when it suggested to him to include her personnel data in the simulation. However, from his comments in "Galaxy's Child" it seems like he does believe the computer should be capable of an accurate representation. I've never seen the computer randomly glitch in any other episode, nor heard of it simply making computational errors due to software ineffectiveness. In fact, the though that it *could* do that should be cause for major concern. It seems like the most likely conclusion to draw is that the computer did, in fact, accurately depict Leah's personality from the available personnel files, to whatever extent they included enough information about her for the computer to complete the job. If the representation was wrong it seems to me that the only plausible in-universe explanation would be that the personnel files were incomplete, but you'd think the computer would be able to determine "insufficient data" as it often protests if that was the case.

The writer was also a bit unclear because it omitted to address the possibility that the original simulation was accurate, but that the real Leah was just in a terrible mood when coming on board, or perhaps had suffered a major trauma or setback recently that put her in a worse disposition. But instead the episode treated the disparity as "she's like a different person!" and worked with that as the premise. Bottom line, I don't think the writers were that interested in who Leah really was or why she was different; she just wanted her not acting how Geordi expected so he could put his foot in his mouth.
Set Bookmark
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 11:24am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Galaxy's Child

@ Chrome,

It's dialogue from the episode, and its content can more or less be summarized as "Well huh, who knows what happened." Geordi's guess doesn't amount to much because there isn't a tangible in-universe explanation for it. He can't explain it because there is no explanation. The real answer, in my opinion, is that the writers wanted to do it to yank Geordi's chain and teach him a lesson in making assumptions, and part of how they wrote him experiencing this Bugs-Bunny-esque scenario of the writers messing with the character was to have Geordi scratching his head like Daffy Duck wondering what the big idea is. But there's no answer to be found in the episode.

I think the main takeaway is that Geordi was making unfounded assumptions about a real person based on a simulation. That's not only a social-technological issue, where a person's 'virtual self' may not match up to their real one (this is even true now for online versus real personas), but it's also an issue with Geordi's job where theoretical models may not function in a practical environment and he has to adapt and cope. In a very literal sense it's part of the engineer's life to have a model, such as holodeck-Leah, and to find that in practice it's not representative of the real thing. That's kind of cool, and it would have been neat if this angle had been explored a bit more deeply rather than just putting mud in Geordi's eye. But in any case from this standpoint I have no problem with the fact they they opted for the real Leah to be totally different from the simulated one. It was an arbitrary choice in order to put Geordi off-balance, and I'm cool with that, but there is no logical in-universe explanation for it that really makes sense.

It's worth mentioning, though, that the episode may have intended itself to be a show about Geordi's social ineptitude rather than the holodeck's inaccuracy. Imagining for the moment that the real Leah had a personality just like the one the holodeck imagined, Geordi's behavior would *still* have come off as weird and presumptuous. The problem wasn't that he was wrong about how she would behave; the problem was that his behavior was off regardless of who she was. What kind of slavish woman would fall into your arms just because you have previous knowledge of her (we assert for the moment that his knowledge was accurate), despite the fact that she doesn't know you at all and will be weirded out by your unsolicited romantic overtures in a work setting? Even if she was actually the perfect woman for him, as he imagined, his method of going after her might still have driven her away!
Next ►Page 1 of 16
▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2017 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. See site policies.