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Wed, Jul 21, 2021, 9:06am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

It never went away. Any definition of eugenics that doesn't include abortion of Downs syndrome babies is worthless.
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Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 11:45pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S2: Up the Long Ladder

@Peter G. wrote, "This is frankly the *last* group of people, aside from many monks, who I would cast as the forebears of a party-lovin husband-huntin kinda people. It just doesn't fit."

I really see it from a very different angle, but maybe they are two sides of the same coin?

One of the most famous writers in history (or at least American history) was the poet Walt Whitman. Both of the big back-to-nature writers, Whitman and Thoreau, were tied up with the transcendentalists of their time, especially Ralph Waldo Emerson. If Catholics have the holy trinity, then back-to-nature Transcendentalists - or at least American Transcendentalists - have Emerson, Whitman and Thoreau. All three were raised Protestant.

Most of us know Whitman for his classic poems like "O Captain, My Captain."

But if you're ever alone in the woods with no technology, I'd suggest that you take his other collection of poems with you instead.

Here's Whitman's poem

"A Woman Waits for Me"

A WOMAN waits for me—she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the right man were lacking.

Sex contains all,
Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal milk;

All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow’d persons of the earth,
These are contain’d in sex, as parts of itself, and justifications of itself.

Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex,

Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that are warm-blooded and sufficient for me;
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me;
I see that they are worthy of me—I will be the robust husband of those women.

They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann’d in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right—they are calm, clear, well-possess’d of themselves.

I draw you close to me, you women!
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for others’ sakes;
Envelop’d in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.

It is I, you women—I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable—but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for These States—I press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually—I listen to no entreaties,
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated within me.

Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings,
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you interpenetrate now,
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death, immortality, I plant so lovingly now.


Fuck, I think I need a cold shower ;)

Maybe the episode takes the two sides of transcendentalism - the overly intellectual "secular Hindu-Protestants, if I can coin the term" @Peter G. talks about, and the lusty Whitman-esque Neo Transcendentalism (to use Data's term), and says that along, without each other, each side of the coin is a dead end?
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Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 9:25pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S2: Up the Long Ladder

@Peter G. said, "If the episode wanted to portray the Bringloidi as having degenerated over many years from being transcendentalists into being like they are now, they sure spent zero lines of scripting making that case.”

I think you hit the nail on the head!

Remember, there were two colonies. The lusty Naturalists and the antiseptic Clones. The episode does a good job of showing & telling how the Clones have literally degenerated over three centuries,

PULASKI: How did you overcome the problem of replicative fading?

GRANGER: We haven’t.

PULASKI: You have got a problem.

RIKER: Wait. I don't understand replicative fading.

PULASKI: Each time you clone, you're making a copy of a copy. Subtle errors creep into the chromosomes, and eventually you end up with a non-viable clone.

Yes, that is also a metaphor :-)

But as @Peter G. says, for the Naturalists, all we really get is Data “recit[ing] the name of the movement in an expository scene.”

The texture and drama is reserved for the Clones. The best we can do is recognize that the problems of the two colonies are the same, or at least mirror images of each other.

Both colonies started off as utopians, and they each degenerated into sad caricatures.

With the clones, this degeneration was literal, copies of copies of copies. With the Naturalists, well, the writers dropped the ball.

Back-to-nature cults have a long history in Star Trek of going off the deep end when left to their own devices. Think of that cult with no technology in DS9’s “Paradise” or even those space hippies in TOS’ "The Way to Eden.” And both of them still had their founders with them. “Up the Long Ladder” is 300 years removed from Captain Granger.

Not to get all yin and yang on you, but the point of the episode is that a society based purely on intellectualism - without the baser passions - will eventually degenerate and fade away like the Clones. And a Naturalist society unmoored from it’s intellectual foundations (@Peter G., "the Bringloidi seem to otherwise have nothing in common with what was essentially an intellectual movement”) will equally and oppositely degenerate into an animalistic life of eating, drinking, breeding. Rise and repeat, generation after generation after generation. The two sides need each other if they are to make something more of themselves.

TROI: I know the Mariposan culture seems alien, even frightening, but really, we do have much in common. They're human beings fighting for survival. Would we do any less?

PICARD: Are you saying we should give them the DNA samples they require?

PULASKI: That's just postponing the inevitable. If they get an infusion of fresh DNA, in fifteen generations they'll just go back to the same problems. Cloning isn't the answer. What they need is breeding stock.

PICARD: The Bringloidi.

TROI: Yes. They have the energy and drive, and the clones possess the emotional maturity and the technological knowledge.

PICARD: They started out together. It seems only fitting they should end up together.

PULASKI: It's a match made in heaven.

Melinda M. Snodgrass is one of the best TNG writers (“Measure of a Man”). They obviously put a lot of back-story into “Up the Long Ladder”. But the end result was a dud. Such is life.

For those interested, here is Odell Shepard, who won a Pulitzer for his scholarship on a transcendentalist,

@Tidd said, "The vast majority of the Irish Protestant minority are in N Ireland”

Ah, you see another Melinda M. Snodgrass episode “The High Ground” deals with this:

DATA: Yet there are numerous examples where it was successful. The independence of the Mexican State from Spain, the Irish Unification of 2024…

So, @Tidd, in the future (just 3 years from now!!!), the Emerald Isle will once again be reunited,
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Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 1:06pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S2: Up the Long Ladder

These guys weren't Catholic.

The backstory to the colonists is actually fascinating. They came from something called the “European Hegemony” which Picard says was an early iteration of a World Government ("You should read more history, Number One”). The Mariposa launched on November 27, 2123. That’s 60 years after First Contact. Jonathan Archer was 10 years old :-)

The Mariposa carried two types of cargo: high tech equipment ("Two hundred and twenty five Yoshimitsu computers, five monitor beacon satellites, seven hundred cellular commlinks”); and low tech supplies ("Cattle, chickens, pigs” and "Spinning wheels”).

The high tech supplies were for a colony of scientists.

The low tech supplies were for a colony of Neo-Transcendentalists,

DATA: In the early twenty-second century, Earth was recovering from World War Three. A major philosopher of the period was Liam Dieghan, founder of the Neo-Transcendentalists, who advocated a return to a simpler life in which one lived in harmony with nature, and learned under her gentle tutelage.

The transcendentalists were some of the most empirical and rational of the Protestants in pre-Civil War America. Think Thoreau, or Harvard, or Ralph Waldo Emerson. These guys were classic “back-to-nature” types.

I don’t know where we're getting that these folks were Catholic? If anything, transcendentalism was pretty much the opposite of Catholicism. The title of the episode, “Up the Long Ladder” reflects an ugly bigotry against Irish Protestants. We’re supposed to see a similar bigotry against these Neo-Transcendentalists by the ever so sophisticated clones.

Now I know what you’re thinking: but these guys were O’Dells - they must have been Irish Catholic!

I hate to break it to you, but they were Odells, without the apostrophe. How do I know? Well, one of the most famous scholars of transcendentalism was a man named… (drum roll please)... Odell Shepard. I kid you not. It can’t be a coincidence that these Neo-Transcendentalists were named Odell and they were... shepherds!

So these despised Irish Protestants, specifically Irish Neo-Transcendentalists, left the European Hegemony when Jonathan Archer was a 10 year old boy, to go found a colony where they could return to nature, with their live-stock and their spinning wheels ("how could we build our future without our animals?”).

But what about all the drinking?

As the great naturalist Henry David Thoreau once wrote, "I would exchange my immortality for a glass of small beer.”

I suppose it says a lot about how far we’ve come as a society that Irish catholics and protestants can so easily be mistaken for each other.
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Mon, Jul 19, 2021, 7:35pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S2: Up the Long Ladder

"Enough of a possibility for the British Government in the late 80s to ban the episode"

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Sat, Jul 17, 2021, 4:22pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Great post, Chrome. I would add - and many won't like this - that Kirk's attitude makes a lot of sense in the Star Trek universe. Clearly, across all Star Trek series, species makes an enormous difference. You see the odd Ferengi who isn't interested in latinum but on the whole everyone acts like being Ferengi makes you greedy and exceptions to this rule are curiosities. And that is how the Ferengi are presented, too. You name your species, you have your stereotype that all its members mostly live up to. In the case of Klingons, it's obsession with violence and killing and battle. Even if Kirk hadn't lost his only child to them, it's not some great indictment for him to notice this.
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Thu, Jul 15, 2021, 2:47am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S2: Threshold

You would have thought at very least it would destroy the shuttle. The shuttle is flying into every wall in the universe at very high speeds.
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Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 7:03am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S5: For the Uniform

For the Uniform

DS9 season 5 episode 13

"Commander, launch torpedoes. Commander, I said launch torpedoes!”

- don’t make me say it again

3 stars (out of 4)

After Ronald D. Moore, I’d say the writer of “For the Uniform” has more of the highest quality Trek episodes to his name than almost anyone - aside of course from those giants from TOS (like DC Fontana or Gene L. Coon). When a writer known for TNG’s “Inner Light” and DS9’s “Duet” puts pen to paper, it is time to sit up and take notice. To put Peter Allan Fields in perspective, it is worth noting that he will go on to write "In the Pale Moonlight,” considered by many (including me!) a plausible candidate to top the list of all-time Star Trek classics.

There is so much to unpack here, it’s almost hard to know where to start. So I’ve flipped my lucky loonie, and the way it lands tells me we might as well start with the Canadians. Or maybe just the French Canadians. Or maybe just the French ;)

In the 1860’s, when the US was busy waging Civil War, Canada was still under the British. The frenchman Victor Hugo had left France and was living in exile in British territory from where he published Les Misérables in 1862. Why did Victor Hugo have to leave France? Because the French Republic had fallen, and Napoleon’s nephew had declared a Second Empire.

The French Republic had tried to formalize a concept of Parole just before Napoleon’s nephew took over. In theory a prisoner would be released after serving half his sentence. During parole the convict could be re-imprisoned if he misbehaved. Both England and Ireland adopted the french system of parole. By 1861, as Victor Hugo was polishing off Les Misérables, the Irish had released two-thirds of its prisoners on parole!! But France, his home, was still under the thumb of the Second Empire.

We know Dax had no patience for Victor Hugo (or reading?). Actually, I'm not sure Sisko was much better,

SISKO: Eddington compares me to one of the characters, Inspector Javert. A policeman who relentlessly pursues a man named Valjean, guilty of a trivial offense.

In the novel, Valjean was sentenced to 5 years for stealing bread. Should he have gotten more time or less? The bottom line is, had France not descended into the tyranny of a Second Empire, Valjean might have been up for parole after 2 or 3 years. Instead, like an idiot, he does 4 years and 10 months of his 5 year sentence, and then gets caught trying to escape! So they tack on years (@Lew Stone). And then he tries to escape again, so they tack on more years. And again. And again. Had Valjean lived in Ireland or under British rule (like Victor Hugo in exile), he would not have spent 19 years in jail.

Frankly he probably wouldn’t have spent any time in jail. Who has time to put bread-thieves in jail? Only the French!

The concept of Parole is taken up by Ronald D. Moore in nBSG’s “Scattered.” Adama has Lee thrown in prison for helping Roslin, but Tigh actually needs every man he can get (thus the phrase: all hands on deck), and so,

Apollo: All right, you have my parole. When I’m on duty, I’ll make no attempt to free her or sow insurrection among the crew. And when I’m not on duty, I’ll report directly back to this cell.

I remember Ronald D. Moore spent a fair amount of time on this scene in his podcast for the episode (I guess I’m not the only person fascinated by parole),

Moore: The beat that you just saw a moment ago of Tigh going in and getting Apollo's parole, so that Apollo can go fly the mission and be CAG, is actually an idea that dates back to, ironically enough, Hornblower, for me. And of course, some of you may or may not know that Jamie Bamber was in the A&E miniseries of Hornblower. In Hornblow there was just- Hornblower is one of my favorite books as a kid. It still- some of my very favorite books of all time. And in there was this whole notion of parole, when an off- there was a point where Hornblower, was a British Naval officer, was captured by the French and was held prisoner, but as an officer and a gentlemen of that time he was- he would give his parole so that he could walk out and be free for a time and parole essentially meant his word, his promise, that while he was out walking and taking in the sea and not being confined to his cell, he promised he would not try to escape.

You’ll recall back in The Die is Cast, Sisko essentially allows Eddington the same kind of parole that Tigh gave Lee in nBSG,

SISKO: I'm afraid I'm going to have to confine you to quarters, Mister Eddington.

EDDINGTON: Sir, if we run into the Jem'Hadar, you're still going to need a chief security officer.

KIRA: What makes you think we'll trust you again?

EDDINGTON: Because I give you my word.

SISKO: I make it a policy to never question the word of anyone who wears that uniform. Don't make me change that policy. Man your station, Commander.

Read that again: "I make it a policy to never question the word of anyone who wears that uniform.”

That Uniform.

Sisko has a few fundamental things he believes in,

Kilana : Do you have any gods, Captain Sisko?

Sisko : There are things I believe in.

Kilana : Duty? Starfleet, the Federation?

Sisko believes in the Uniform (@Jhoh), and this episode is called “For the Uniform.” And Eddington has violated his word to Sisko, and he has violated the parole that Sisko gave to Eddington back in The Die is Cast, and Sisko is not going to let him get away with it. Anymore than Javert could let Valjean get away with violating the terms of his parole.

I’ve often thought that of all the Star Trek spinoffs, DS9 came closest to capturing the spirit of the original. Maybe that was inevitable. If TNG was trying to be the anti-TOS, then when DS9 tried to be the anti-TNG, everything just came full circle. We see the result here in spades. How many times did Kirk take a ship out for a mission, when that ship was still in the middle of a repair? Pretty much every movie!

“For the Uniform” does have almost a cinematic quality to it. That sequence where the Defiant pulls out from DS9 uses an epic soundtrack with soft french horns, not too different from what we might find in Generations or First Contact. As @MsV very nicely puts it, the entire dance of getting the ship to move has a wonderful choreography. Kudos to Nog (@Neil).

So where does this episode fall short? Let’s start with Sisko’s acting (h/t @Mike, @dlpb, @Quarkissnyder).

There is a sequence where Sisko needs to convince Eddington that a few screws have come undone. That he is unhinged. The key line is,

SISKO: Major, shut that thing off! Commander Worf, prepare to launch torpedoes!

I don’t buy it. Judging from all the comments above, most people here didn’t buy it either. It’s an unfortunate slip and pulls us out of the action.

William Shatner knew how to act like he was pretending. It is a subtle thing. Take this scene from “This Side of Paradise,”

KIRK: All right, you mutinous, disloyal, computerised, half-breed, we'll see about you deserting my ship.

SPOCK: The term half-breed is somewhat applicable, but computerised is inaccurate. A machine can be computerised, not a man.

KIRK: What makes you think you're a man? You're an overgrown jackrabbit, an elf with a hyperactive thyroid.

SPOCK: Jim, I don't understand.

KIRK: Of course you don't understand. You don't have the brains to understand. All you have is printed circuits.

SPOCK: Captain, if you'll excuse me.

KIRK: What can you expect from a simpering, devil-eared freak whose father was a computer and his mother an encyclopedia?

SPOCK: My mother was a teacher. My father an ambassador.

KIRK: Your father was a computer, like his son. An ambassador from a planet of traitors. A Vulcan never lived who had an ounce of integrity.

SPOCK: Captain, please don’t

KIRK: You're a traitor from a race of traitors. Disloyal to the core, rotten like the rest of your subhuman race, and you've got the gall to make love to that girl.

SPOCK: That's enough.

KIRK: Does she know what she's getting, Spock? A carcass full of memory banks who should be squatting in a mushroom, instead of passing himself off as a man? You belong in a circus, Spock, not a starship. Right next to the dog-faced boy.

Shatner’s tone is absolutely pitch perfect for each line of delivery,

That’s an incredible feat. But sadly, not replicated here by Sisko (@NCC-1701-Z).

More than that, I have to say, I’m really disappointed by Worf.

Not one word of protest when Sisko orders Worf to gas the Maquis settlers (h/t @Captain Olli, @Luke, @Prince of the Blood, @Matt, @Sleeper Agent, @Archideus, @Lew Stone, @Booming, @Sigh2000)? Has Worf learned nothing over the last few years?

Conveniently, the one man who would almost certainly have said something, is missing from this entire episode,

BASHIR: Sir, I hate to bring this up, but our agreement with the Romulans expressly prohibits use of the cloaking device in the Alpha Quadrant.

SISKO: You're right. It does. But there are hundreds of Klingon ships between us and Dukat, and I intend to make that rendezvous in one piece.

BASHIR: Well, I won't tell the Romulans if you don't.

Instead we have Kira. @gion get’s close to exploding over Kira's inclusion on this mission. If someone making this show had been paying attention to the theme of the story, they might have included a scene where Kira demands to go on the mission because Eddington shot her! In any case, @Silly asks tongue-in-cheek, "Did she just take a bunch of Starfleet extension courses?” No @Silly, but we could have really used that one guy who loves extension courses! Or maybe Bashir would, as @Trent does above, point out that the Cardassians started it. I guess we’ll never know. But back to Worf.

In "Rules of Engagement” Worf is painted by his enemies as a blood-thirsty Klingon,

CH'POK: Tell me, Commander, what was the final order Sompek gave to his men once they had conquered the city of Tong Vey?

DAX: He told them to burn the city to the ground and to kill everyone in it.

CH'POK: Everyone? Not just the soldiers, but the people of the town too? Civilians? Women? Children?

DAX: Yes.

CH'POK: Now, Commander, when Mister Worf runs this programme, does he give the final order to destroy the city and kill all of the inhabitants?

We all know the answer,

DAX: Yes.

CH'POK: Of course he does. Because he is a Klingon warrior. He doesn't have the same moral code as a Starfleet officer. He is one of us. A killer, a predator among sheep.

Or how about Garak in Broken Link,

GARAK: I'm not talking about war. What I'm proposing is wiping out every Founder on that planet. Obliterating the Great Link. Come now, Mister Worf, you're a Klingon. Don't tell me you'd object to a little genocide in the name of self-defence?

Or even going as far back as TNG’s Conundrum.

Despite suffering these caricatures, not one word of objection from Worf now to Sisko’s orders?! How about you at least pretend to object, just to keep up the play-acting for Eddington’s benefit - to make it seem like Sisko is off his rockers?

This, by the way, is the same Sisko who dressed down Worf in “Rules of Engagement”, with,

SISKO: You're damned right you should've checked. You knew there were civilian ships in the area. You fired at something you hadn't identified. You made a military decision to protect your ship and crew, but you're a Starfleet officer, Worf. We don't put civilians at risk or even potentially at risk to save ourselves. Sometimes that means we lose the battle and sometimes our lives. But if you can't make that choice, then you can't wear that uniform.

Read *that* again: "We don't put civilians at risk or even potentially at risk to save ourselves. Sometimes that means we lose the battle and sometimes our lives. But if you can't make that choice, then you can't wear that uniform.”

You can’t wear the uniform. Someone might have done a little more background work when making an episode called “For the Uniform.”

The episode has a too-clever-by-half technobabble solution where Sisko makes the Maquis planet uninhabitable for non-Cardassians and then the two populations just trade planets. (@Tanstaafl says, "just so happens to be a toxic gas on the Defiant that only kills humans,” and @William B says, "This seems pretty stupid to me.”). Fucking moron Picard in “Journey’s End”, why couldn’t you come up with this shit? Oh wait,

PICARD: Mister Worf, will you begin preparations to remove the inhabitants from Dorvan Five.

WORF: Aye, sir.

Dude, Worf, dude… how can you let Wesley fucking Crusher show more balls than you do?

Aside from Sisko, the person with the worst line delivery this episode is Dax. Two lines in particular stand out,

DAX: The secret life of Michael Eddington. How does it help us?

You know you’re supposed to be playing a 300 year old with some small amount of experience and maybe even wisdom, not a dumb broad? (@Vylora, @Bobbington Mc Bob).

Even worse,

DAX: You know, sometimes I like it when the bad guy wins.

Because, why? (@Yanks). No wonder Eddington was so frustrated with these people. They really don’t understand at all.

Reminds me a little of what Odo once said to Shakaar,

ODO: I've been working with the Federation for a number of years. They claim to be open and understanding, but somehow they're always convinced that they're right. It can be exasperating at times.

At least Sisko tried to read Victor Hugo. Dax couldn’t even be bothered (@Luke).

The whole point of Les Misérables is that in an evil system, everyone loses.

The thief lost the best years of his life. But the inspector did too - in the end, the inspector killed himself. That’s what it is like to live under tyranny. This is why Victor Hugo wrote the novel. To highlight the value of liberties like parole and concepts like forgiveness. For all sides.

The Maquis were a few hundred thousand deluded settlers caught between ever-expanding empires on all fronts. Fortunately nothing like that could ever happen in real life (@methane).

Dax can sleep easy knowing there are no valuable lessons to learn from fiction.
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Thu, Jul 8, 2021, 3:47pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

B5 is much better sci fi than Nu-Trek, but Jammer has reviewed Star Trek for decades so it makes sense he would decide to review Picard - especially when he didn't know how it would turn out.
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Thu, Jul 8, 2021, 3:30am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

Japan is about as close as we have to Gideon these days.

Japan has the longest life expectancy of any country on the planet (84 years 4 months - compared to 78 years 6 months in America).

Japan is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world - 10 times more dense than America! (863 people per square mile in Japan - compared to 86 in America). Tokyo has 14 million people. By comparison, NYC is just 8 million.

And so the Japanese have taken Kirk and @OmicronThetaDeltaPhi's recommendation and stopped having kids. Just 1.36 children per woman, as against to 1.7 in America.

So while America added almost two million people to its population last year (during a pandemic!), Japan lost more than four hundred thousand.

Now the question is, do the Japanese want to reintroduce death into their population? I have no idea. But let’s take the ongoing global health predicament. How is Japan responding?

In Japan, 15% of the people are fully vaccinated. In America, that number is 47.5%

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

@Peter G., in Babylon 5, Dodger comes back to life in “Day of the Dead" to tell us that we can sing any Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas."
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Wed, Jul 7, 2021, 3:27pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S3: The Price

If you were watching for a great love story you'll be disappointed. But I don't think the writers were going for that. What I saw was a very realistic example of two highly attractive people being infatuated with one another and having a brief fling that didn't last because the interest was always rather superficial. It happens a lot - as does sexy women exercising together.

"I'll concede the scene where they have dinner and he outmaneuvers Troi on her ethical dispute was pretty solid"

As is often the case in Star Trek, there was a good answer to him and his Romulan analogy. I think Troi should probably have said something like "Yes, it's about life and death. Saving lives and preventing death. Starfleet aren't pacifists and we will act in self defence, but we would never end lives except in self-defence, so I feel quite fine ethically about using my powers to support them, thank you very much. You not only aren't saving lives, but you're not even picking the ethical side at all - you a gun for hire, making money for yourself and your clients that particular month."
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Wed, Jul 7, 2021, 11:45am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TOS S3: The Mark of Gideon

@Peter G. guessed, "Maybe we could imagine Gideon has some fountain of youth technology, but since they don't mention it I'll assume the episode is only suggesting a further of what was already happening on Earth in the 60's, of moderately increased lifespans rather than immortality.”

They do mention it,

HODIN: The atmosphere on Gideon has always been germ-free. And the people flourished in their physical and spiritual perfection. Eventually, even the life span increased. Death became almost unknown to us.

A long life. A life so long, it grows unbearable. Reminds me of something Kor once said on DS9,

Kor: Savor the fruit of life, my young friends. It has a sweet taste when it is fresh from the vine. But don't live too long. The taste turns bitter after a time.

And so @Trish accurately describes what they are trying to do, "Gideon's plan was to restore a more natural balance of life and death by bringing back disease.”

Why bring back death? Reminds me of something Lorien said on B5,

Lorien: To live on as we have is to leave behind joy, and love, and companionship, because we know it to be transitory, of the moment. Only those whose lives are brief can imagine that love is eternal. You should embrace that remarkable illusion. It may be the greatest gift your race has ever received.

Scifi is full of characters and societies that want to reintroduce death into their lives. There is Sebastian on Babylon 5,

Sebastian: I have done 400 years of penance in their service. A job for which they said I was ideally suited. Now, perhaps, they will finally let me die.

There are the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis on DS9,

SHEL-LA: We used to defend ourselves better, Major. Safety perimeters, counter-attacks, preemptive strikes. And then we realised that it was all pointless. When you cease to fear death, the rules of war change. You'll understand as the years begin to pass, Major.

SISKO: Listen to me, Shel-la. Our rescue is not going to take years. Days, weeks maybe, but they will find us and then they'll penetrate the defence net and transport us out of here.

SHEL-LA: Then you will be luckier than we have been.

SISKO: We'd be willing to transport all of you away from here if that's what you want.

SHEL-LA: Away from here? To live one life, to die in peace? To us this is an ancient prayer that's never been answered.

Or how about Quinn, the Q,

JANEWAY: May I ask you why you want to commit suicide?

QUINN: As difficult as it is for you to imagine, for me, immortality is impossible to endure any longer.

And then there’s our favorite Android in Time’s Arrow,

LAFORGE: So, do you want to talk about it?

DATA: Are you referring to the foreknowledge of my death?


DATA: I have no particular desire to discuss the matter. Do you need to talk about it?


DATA: Why?

LAFORGE: Data, this has got to bother you a little.

DATA: On the contrary. I find it rather comforting.

LAFORGE: Comforting?

DATA: I have often wondered about my own mortality as I have seen others around me age. Until now it has been theoretically possible that I would live an unlimited period of time. And although some might find this attractive, to me it only reinforces the fact that I am artificial.

LAFORGE: I never knew how tough this must be for you.

DATA: Tough? As in difficult?

LAFORGE: Knowing that you would outlive all your friends.

DATA: I expected to make new friends.


DATA: And then to outlive them as well.

LAFORGE: Now that you know that you might not?

DATA: It provides a sense of completion to my future. In a way, I am not that different from anyone else. I can now look forward to death.

LAFORGE: I never thought of it that way.

@Trish hit the nail on it’s head. Gideon was trying to reintroduce death into its civilization. A monumental project with potentially revolutionary consequences. The Q tried to imprison one of their own when he tried the same. Our instinct is to judge them evil. Judge them barbaric. But the question presented in “Mark of Gideon” is a very old one. And the way the episode approaches it, while not perfect, is certainly thought provoking.

As someone once said, “the meaning of life is that it ends."
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Sat, Jul 3, 2021, 4:48pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: LD S1: Second Contact

Thanks for writing these, Jammer. For what it's worth, I agree with your big picture points completely. Lower Decks was mostly painfully unfunny and Mariner was a rubbish character - but the cartoon still had its merits as you suggest.
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Fri, Jul 2, 2021, 2:43pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S1: Code of Honor

Top trolling, Tomas. Did you set yourself a personal goal of writing a post that makes Booming's contributions here look mature?
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Tue, Jun 29, 2021, 1:55am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

Great post. I think it's unlikely the actress is (primarily) to blame. Burnham's problems are so deep rooted that whoever writes the character is doing a terrible job.

I think a combination of poor writers and their woke terror about portraying a black woman as anything other than a demi-god have combined with a ridiculous % of screen time to produce a car crash show.
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Sat, Jun 26, 2021, 4:41am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S2: Meld

I think it's an interesting episode politically.

It presents the argument for capital punishment in a negative light, strongly implying it's just an expression of violent instincts rather than something rational. But it also clearly argues against a certain liberal view that doesn't really accept that some people are violent by nature and that gives little room for motiveless hostility as a driving factor in violent crime.

Depending on your politics you'll find different parts of this more v less persuasive, but it's a lot more sophisticated than Star Trek political messaging normally gets.
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Fri, Jun 25, 2021, 10:52am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S3: The Search, Part I

"You don't go to war over asking an ally for something. There is more risk of war over clandestinely acquiring it from an enemy of the Federation."

I think the suggestion is not that asking for it would lead the Klingons to declare war, but that it would lead the Romulans to do so if the Klingons said yes.
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Wed, Jun 23, 2021, 11:04pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S3: Proving Ground

@Peter G., "I've watched ENT twice all-through, and can't remember almost a single detail about the Xindi or their council."

I'm going to have to agree with @Rahul here. The Council was actually one of the fairly interesting ideas in Enterprise. Of course, this being Enterprise, the execution of that idea fell far short of its potential. But it was memorable.

In a lot of ways I think ENT was going for something like The Babylon 5 Advisory Council & League of Non-Aligned worlds. You had a nice spread of characteristics across the 5 Xindi species.

The Aquatics, as @Jason R. says, were actually pretty cool, and might even remind you a little of the Vorlons. The Reptilians were paranoid and belligerent, much like the Drazi. The Arboreal (sloths) were the go-along get-along types, a little like the Abbai ambassador in Deathwalker (“It is fair. And wise.”). The Insectoids were in obvious ways like the Gaim. The Primates were the only really reasonable ones, like the Minbari. And of course the Reptilians had a shadowy advanced civilization “helping” them and setting the whole conflict in motion, like the Shadows.

And what was really interesting is that the Avians were a dead Xindi race. Babylon 5 did that twice, once with the Markab, and even more operatically with the Hyach in and Hyach-do. There is that beautiful scene in ENT Season 3 where they show what I think is an avian skull shaped entrance to the Xindi chamber. I thought it was very haunting - and memorable!

JMS famously pitched a series for Star Trek, but of course TPTB turned him down. That said, once you read JMS’ actual treatment of what his Star Trek show would have been, maybe turning him down wasn’t such a bad thing,

"A re-boot means a fresh start. That means not just new stories, but looking at our continuity in new ways....

We know that Scotty was constantly called upon to perform technical miracles and ably did so...but what if Scotty was a female character (just an example!), proof positive that in the future women equally excel in science and math?”

This is the power of Math!!!

JMS also had a mystery box. And JMS goes on, "Even if elements prove controversial, it will only fuel interest in where the series is going. Web-sites will come alive again. TiVOs will be programmed."

Kill me now.
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Sun, Jun 20, 2021, 7:35am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

"It's possible that the fall of Betazed is all the more shocking, both to characters and audience, because everyone implicitly accepts that prescient & mind-reading Betazoids should have seen the attack coming, but were by the millions, unable to sense that the Dominion was anywhere near the place."

If TNG is any guide to how useful these powers are at figuring out the non-obvious, only once all the ground troops had landed and slaughtered a couple of million people would some Betazoid would have said "I sense great hostility!".
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Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 11:42pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S4: The Host

For hot digit-on-digit sex, click here!

Oh Kathy, don't you like to watch?
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Wed, Jun 16, 2021, 12:29am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S4: Qpid

Anything that happened between Q and Vash would probably be pretty tame by human standards. The Q and the Grey has an amusing twist, Braaten. Spoiler alert...

Q spends the whole episode trying to seduce Janeway as he wants to reproduce. In the end he mates in front of her with someone else and all he ever wanted sexually was briefly touching one another's index fingers (admittedly with Janeway then holding the baby). Janeway is baffled: "That was it?!".
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Sat, Jun 12, 2021, 10:08pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S6: Rightful Heir

@Peter G. wrote, "We literally both did mention Persia."

Interestingly, I was watching "The Adversary" the other day, and this line popped right out at me,

KIRA: The closest one is the Ulysses. They're studying protoplanetary masses in the Helaspont Nebula.

If you recall, in that episode, the Dominion replaces an ambassador with a Changling and convinces Starfleet that there has been a coup on the Tzenkethi homeworld.

So the Defiant heads towards the Tzenkethi boarder to show the flag,

KRAJENSKY: We need to remind the Tzenkethi that the Federation is committed to protecting our colonies near their border.

SISKO: You want to show the flag.


Both DS9 (Bajoran space) and the Tzenkethi space run along Cardassian space. But lo-and-behold, between the two is the... (drumroll please) Helaspont Nebula! And the ship closest to that region? The Ulysses!

This isn't quite Babylon 5 level epic, but it shows the writers were actually literate. No surprise then, when I saw "The Adversary" was written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe. "Turning and turning", indeed.
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Sat, Jun 12, 2021, 3:43am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S2: Time Squared

10 out of 21 actual episodes is quite a long watchlist!
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Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 9:53pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi said,

"As for me, I find myself swayed back and forth. It's a well-crafted moral dilemma with no obvious "correct" answer. And if I were Archer, I would have felt terrible afterwords - regardless of what I'd decide in the end.

Guess that's why I'm not a starship Captain, eh?”

Very true.

Star Trek used to be much clearer about what an insane burden it is to sit in that captain’s chair. From the very first episode, Pike tells his doc,

PIKE: You bet I'm tired. You bet. I'm tired of being responsible for two hundred and three lives. I'm tired of deciding which mission is too risky and which isn't, and who's going on the landing party and who doesn't, and who lives and who dies. Boy, I've had it, Phil.

BOYCE: To the point of finally taking my advice, a rest leave?

PIKE: To the point of considering resigning.

And Pike’s replacement hears something very similar from Commodore Stone,

STONE: Now, look, Jim. Not one man in a million could do what you and I have done. Command a starship. A hundred decisions a day, hundreds of lives staked on you making every one of them right. You're played out, Jim. Exhausted.

TNG showed us the other side of things, with Riker. Here’s a man who everyone believes is ready to sit in the Chair, but he just can’t seem to take on that kind of responsibility,

HANSON: This is the third time we've pulled out the captain's chair for Riker. He just won't sit down.

after which Picard tells Riker,

PICARD: Will, you're ready to work without a net. You're ready to take command.

But something in Riker’s brain just won’t let him take that giant leap of responsibility,

RIKER: What am I still doing here? Deanna, I pushed myself hard to get this far. I sacrificed a lot. I always said I wanted my own command, and yet something's holding me back. Is it wrong for me to want to stay?

TROI: What do you think?

RIKER: Maybe I'm just afraid of the big chair.

DS9 also took an extended look at the burdens of Command.

DS9 started off with no Captain, and no ship. And Sisko was almost ready to leave the service anyway,

SISKO: I'm investigating the possibility of returning to Earth for civilian service.

PICARD: Perhaps Starfleet Command should be considering a replacement for you.

SISKO: That's probably a good idea.

Eventually, Sisko has all the burden of the galaxy (or at least two quadrants of the galaxy) thrown at him, pushing him up the chain of command,

TODDMAN: If you pull a stunt like that again I'll court martial you or I'll promote you. Either way you'll be in a lot of trouble.

Eventually we see Sisko take on a whole different level of responsibility, and with it, a whole different level of stress,

ROSS: Ben?

SISKO: Admiral.

ROSS: It's late.

SISKO: I know. I was just waiting to see if there is any news.

ROSS: Ben, we've got a big day ahead of us tomorrow. I want to nail down the details on the Bolian operation. I need you focused.

SISKO: I will be.

ROSS: I know how you feel about your crew, but you and I are responsible for an entire tactical wing. Thousands of lives depend on the decisions we make tomorrow. You can't afford to be awake all night worrying about one ship.

SISKO: Admiral, you can order me to my quarters, but there's no way I'm going to sleep. Not as long as the Defiant is out there.

ROSS: All right, as you wish. But you should understand one thing. With any luck, we'll be sending the Defiant on a lot of missions, and you're going to have to get used to it. Good night.

Sisko goes from being responsible for hundreds of lives aboard a ship and space station (Picard has about a thousand), to thousands of lives in an entire tactical wing.

These kinds of escalated levels of responsibility, and the very real stresses they create, somehow got lost on Voyager. At least Pike, Kirk, Picard, and Sisko had the full support of Starfleet. Janeway had no one. But for whatever reason, the Voyager writers just didn’t have the courage to take on that very real aspect of the Captain's Chair. As @MadS says above, we see nothing in Janeway when she has to decide on Tuvix that comes anywhere close to what we could expect from Picard or Pike under such circumstances.

But we get it here with Archer.

I wrote about it in the thread for “The Masterpiece Society” where @Peter G. very insightfully brought up Babylon 5 and the Lumati as a contrast. I’ll just copy a small part of what I wrote here:

"That’s what good leaders do. They don’t always come up with the right answer. But they use everything at their disposal to come to the best decision they are capable of. They do their best, and it is hard.”

The reason “Dear Doctor” is a four star episode is because it shows Archer doing his absolute best to come to decision on this. You can see the ethics are consuming him. He reaches out to the most experienced people he has at his disposal,

ARCHER: The Valakians want our warp technology.

T'POL: What did you tell them?

ARCHER: That I'd think about it.

T'POL: And?

ARCHER: Safe to say I know where you stand on the subject.

T'POL: Even if you give them our reactor schematics they don't have the technical expertise to build a warp engine.

ARCHER: They have no experience working with antimatter. I doubt they even realize how dangerous it is. They're not ready.

T'POL: Then your decision shouldn't be difficult.

ARCHER: We could stay and help them.

T'POL: The Vulcans stayed to help Earth ninety years ago. We're still there.

ARCHER: I never thought I'd say this, but I'm beginning to understand how the Vulcans must have felt.

And though it goes against everything he *feels*, Archer in the end comes around to Dr. Phlox’s perspective. Not because it is 100% guaranteed to be right. God knows how things will turn out a million years from now?! But he decides because he’s the Captain, and making that decision is his job, even if it tears him apart.

Contrast that with Burnham making Captain on Discovery, and you’ll see how far this franchise has fallen.
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Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 7:02pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S2: Time Squared

Thanks, Jammer. To be clear, I think an average is just that: one data point. Clearly it is telling in this case but no one would sensibly claim that one simple average for each season tells you everything you need to know.
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