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Sun, Jul 4, 2021, 1:00am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: BSG S4: The Road Less Traveled

Great to see a comment from 2021. Watched the original & now rewatching on Prime. Love Jammer's reviews and love the discussion that follows (alto too many totally negative in this one. If you truly hate all of season 3 & 4 thus far, stop watching already). Wish I had time to say more, but then I doubt anyone else is following anymore.
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Mon, Mar 15, 2021, 9:04am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TOS S3: The Enterprise Incident

Good episode but way too many plot holes for my liking. First off shields would render the whole plan moot. Keep them up and Kirk can't get back to steal the lamp ;-). Why is Spock allowed to keep his communicator. And why oh why is the Romulan commander so trusting. On repeat viewing its a 2.5 to 3 star.
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Fri, Jan 29, 2021, 10:42am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S4: Hunters

A black hole just a few centimeters in diameter? LOL
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Wed, Jan 13, 2021, 8:01pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S3: Real Life

I've never cried from an episode of Star Trek before...
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Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 7:04pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: Su'Kal

I want to like Discovery, I really do. It's too bad I'm such a Trek addict I can't quit this show. During the episode I was literally looking at the clock and hoping it would end. Quite frankly it was boring and nonsensical. Next week looks a rehash of Voyager's Basics which itself was predictable and mediocre and they had the Doctor and Suder to make it watchable. Just make it stop and show some creativity.
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Andy NoVA
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 9:22am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: Terra Firma, Part 2

Props to this episode for resurrecting not just The Guardian of Forever (not seen on screen since TAS' Yesteryear), but also the overdubbed original voice of Bart LaRue, identifying it as such.

That was about the only redeeming feature of this episode. I too don't buy the whole "Georgiou is redeemed" storyline. Is she now the MU member who can summon the future by changing the present, as J. Tiberious Kirk once suggested?

She was much more fun as an implacable villain. I'm not excited by the prospect of a Mission: Impossible-style ST: Section 31. That kind of espionage show made sense in a real-world setting, but how does that work when it's all make believe?

Seems the writers are so in love with Phillipa Georgiou that they just assumed everyone else was too. Instead, we get throw-away "it was all a dream" type moments in the MU and now a teary farewell for somebody who was all treachery all the time not too many episodes ago.

Discovery has really become Millennial Trek, a show designed to allow the characters to constantly emote, to tolerate breakdowns in discipline to allow for feelings to predominate over command structue and to endlessly preach inclusion, tolerance and the notion that deep down, everyone is really a good person.

I'm not opposed to these goals, but damn... why do they have to constantly hit everyone over the head with them? Can't the viewers be trusted to absorb these social justice lessons in service to a greater story? Please?
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Andy NoVA
Sun, Dec 6, 2020, 9:13pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: MAND S2: Chapter 10: The Passenger

Really suprised nobody's mentioned the simultaneous hat tips to Ridley Scott's alien eggs or the Lucas/Spielberg Indiana Jones like race through the (ice) cave with all those spiders in pursuit.

While I'm at it, the parent spider also evoked the creature that chases Chris Pine's James T. Kirk into an ice cave in the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot.

Odes a plenty here.
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Andy in NoVA
Thu, Nov 26, 2020, 8:42pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DSC S3: Unification III

FWIW -- Ni'Var (written then as Ni Var) was the title of a short story in one of the the earliest collections of non-canon Star Trek fiction. Star Trek: The New Voyages, published by Bantam Books in 1976.

Written by Claire Gabriel, that story was about Spock being split into two halves, one Vulcan and logical, the other Human and emotional sort of like The Enemy Within.

A fitting name for a half Romulan/ half Vulcan planet. And quite the long distance call out 44 years later.
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Andy's Friend
Mon, May 25, 2020, 11:55am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2


“STP by its own merits has plenty to discuss. I loathed it but did watch it because I wanted to be as informed as I can about it. I think there was plenty wrong to discuss whether it was Star Trek or not. Problems in storytelling, poor characterization, etc.”

I never watched it, and everything I read here convinces me that I would have loathed it, too. But after the first half season of Discovery, I simply couldn’t care less about what passes as Trek these days.

This is what I find interesting, though:

First, I don’t think that the discussion of *whether* present Trek is Star Trek or not is relevant. It clearly isn’t. And (to be blunt) I don’t even care to argue why. If my interlocutor can’t see it, there is little point in debating it.

The discussion of *why* present ‘Trek’ is no longer Star Trek however I find interesting. But that must necessarily be part of a much vaster discussion on our current society. And perhaps the most appropriate venue for such a discussion (provided anyone else is even interested) isn’t Jammer’s Reviews.

Second, and more important: I think Omicron is right. I think it is more important that we vote with our wallets if we want things to change. I think that it is better to stop watching what we dislike, than it is to support such productions out of a wish to ‘be as informed’ as possible, as you put it.

The bottom line is, you were right. You loathed Picard. It was not for you. And you likely knew that after the first two or three episodes already. Then why on earth keep watching, and thereby keep supporting it? I know that you perhaps may have done so without paying for it, but the question is directed at all viewers/readers: some of them paid for watching something they disliked.

I think this is the main question that Omicron wants us to consider. Yes, he is repetitive. Yes, he is predictable. But I feel that his question is genuinely valid, intriguing, and important. Why do so many people keep watching what they, by their own admission, do not like?
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Andy's Friend
Mon, May 25, 2020, 6:45am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2


"Can we get back to having a healthy debate about ideas, not each other?"

While I agree, I actually think this is an important debate about ideas.

Sadly, there seem to be no ideas worth discussing in either Discovery or Picard. But ironically, both have seen much debate on the matter of whether it is legitimate to comment something you have not experienced yourself.

Much of that debate has consisted of responses to Omicron's commenting without having seen those shows. Sometimes Omicron becomes repetitive, yes, but so do we all. And he usually makes reasonable arguments, commenting on general issues which he can possess perfectly valid if second-hand knowledge of, and not too particular details of which he *cannot* have any knowledge at all, say, the music score, or the CGI in a specific scene.

I find it fascinating how some criticise others for expressing opinions, and even making perfectly valid claims based on the exchanges of ideas, or opinions, to be found for example here on Jammer's. This would negate the entire idea of the exchange of ideas in the first place.

Yet here we are, with a blend of old commenters like Mertov and recent arrivals arriving by parachute out of nowhere like this fellow Ouitzul, alias ouiztul. If comments are supposed to be meaningful, and if readers are supposed to learn anything from them, are readers then not to be allowed to comment on the comments?

I mean, why are people commenting here to begin with? Are we really all just shouting into a vacuum?

I find these questions interesting. And since Picard seems to offer no intriguing ideas otherwise (the quality of comments on the STP threads is frankly atrocious), I for one certainly don't mind debating them instead.

It would be nice if we once and for all were to acknowledge that Omicron's criticism is as valid as anyone's. As long as he avoids commenting on those things he can know nothing of—say, the acting in a particular scene—and sticks to commenting what can be easily grasped by anyone with half a brain, I see no problem in his commenting. And it would be nice if people like, in this case, Mertov would stop a criticism of him that is (to be blunt) sheer nonsense.
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Andy's Friend
Mon, May 25, 2020, 5:07am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2


1. Only the imbecile fails to grasp the essence of a thing when enough sensible people express enough sensible opinions about that thing in general debate, as here on Jammer’s.

Enough sensible people have expressed enough sensible thoughts here about STP.

And Omicron is not an imbecile.

2. It is indeed impossible to grasp all the particulars of any complex thing in general debate.

It is unnecessary, however, to grasp all the particulars of a thing when simply wishing to engage in a general debate about that thing.

Omicron is simply wishing to engage in a general debate about STP.

3. Only the pedant demands of others complete knowledge of the particulars when wishing to engage in general debate.

Omicron, I repeat, is simply wishing to engage in a general debate about STP.

4. Only an imbecile would fail to notice the qualitative difference in the general debate on STP when compared to say, TNG. Commenters are commenting qualitatively different things. They are making qualitatively different questions.

This qualitative difference informs the reader. See point 1.

And Omicron, I repeat, is not an imbecile.

5. I, a Catholic with vast knowledge of (Christian) theology, have read thousands of pages of sacred Hindu texts, and only secondary literature on Buddhism.

I admit that I am far more informed on Hinduism than I am on Buddhism. But I should think I am sufficiently informed on Buddhism to engage in any general debate.

Would you suggest that I am unable to participate in a general, informal debate on Buddhism simply because I have not read the actual Buddhist texts themselves?

6. Omicron, a Star Trek fan with perhaps vast knowledge of science fiction, has watched hundreds of Star Trek TOS-ENT episodes, and only read secondary literature on STP.

Now you complete the line of reasoning. You’re not an imbecile, either.
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Andy's Friend
Sun, May 24, 2020, 9:18am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S3: The Ensigns of Command


“They were settlers, not colonists, and there's a difference, which is why I used the term.”

Both Picard and the colonists themselves beg to differ:

PICARD: We need more time. Mister Data, prepare the colonists for an evacuation.

GOSHEVEN: Hyperonic radiation took the lives of a third of the colonists before they learned they could adapt to it. (…) This colony exists because generations gave their lives for it.

More fundamentally, however, you are arguing that there is a difference between ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’. ‘Colonist’ is the Latin, ‘settler’ the Germanic word for the same. In Romance languages and scholarship there is only the former word.

“Moving the location of a settlement is a very different thing from what was involved here.”

No, we are speaking of a resettlement, with all the means available:

KENTOR: And once the Federation resettles us, we'll be left alone?

DATA: The Federation will offer as little or as much help as you dictate.

See also my example below.

“And I had in mind such settler states as South Africa, Southern Rhodesia (…) In all of these I believe that the die-in-a-ditch stance of the settlers here would have be familiar enough.”

Indeed it would, but that is not the correct analogy. The white colonists in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia had been the masters of the Africans for generations. They were not offered help by the United Kingdom or the United Nations to continue elsewhere the life they were used to: they were told to abandon that life, to share their power. And they were sanctioned with embargoes when they failed to comply. This is in fact the opposite of what we see in this episode.

The correct analogy would be if the United Nations in 1965 had offered the white colonists of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia another, correspondingly large territory—say, Madagascar, independent from France in 1960—for them to rule supreme and lord over the natives as they wished, without any interference or sanctions from the outside world.

Try imagining that, with the United Nations even offering help with the relocation of those white colonists, and the building of their first settlements to the standards they were accustomed to, in order for them to continue their way of life in a segregated, 'Whites Only' society.

Contrast now the actual international response to South Africa and Southern Rhodesia in the 1960s to that of the Spanish and Portuguese empires three and four hundred years ago, offering their colonists in more precarious settlements help with relocation. Consider one example: Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Today a city of almost two million inhabitants, less than twenty-four hours away from anywhere, when founded in 1561 Santa Cruz de la Sierra was one of the most remote settlements in the world. It was more than six hundred miles from the sea across the Andes as the crow flies; a couple of weeks from other European settlements in the middle of a huge expanse of wilderness; surrounded by aggressive natives everywhere.

Santa Cruz de la Sierra was originally founded 137 miles east of its present location. After a precarious existence, frequent native attacks, and under the threat of continued attacks, the entire settlement was proposed relocated by the regional governor thirty years later in 1590. Not quite as long as the colony in this episode has existed, but long enough for many of the original settlers to have died, and a new generation to have been born and raised there in the meantime. The settlers accepted.

This is perhaps the closest historical analogy to what the Federation offers the colonists on this planet, only without the aid of warp power, transporters, and terraforming technology. How is being offered such a resettlement in the year 1590, across almost 140 miles in the middle of nowhere, after you have invested thirty years of your life there against all odds, very different from being offered relocation from one planet to another by the Federation as here, you think?
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Andy's Friend
Mon, May 4, 2020, 4:31am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S3: The Ensigns of Command


While I agree with you on everything else about this episode—Data's dilemmas, Picard 'moment of triumph', and O'Brien's cello playing—this that you write is incorrect:

“As for the reaction of Goshevan to the demand for uprooting his community, I can't agree with those who think that kind of suicidal obstinacy is improbable. In fact it's very typical of the settler mentality.”

No, it isn’t. It may be that such is an American myth fuelled by literature, the western films of the 1930s-1950s (which I am a big fan of, by the way) and western television series of the 1950s-1960s, but it has little basis in reality.

I am a historian of European empires in the age of sail, in every aspect: royal and local governance, Crown and Church relations, colonist and native relations, etc. The English empire was different from the Spanish and Portuguese in that it was much, much less centralised: it was a laissez-faire empire, best expressed by the euphemistic term of its ‘salutary neglect’ policies. That notwithstanding:

Many settlements in the New World were relocated as colonists and/or local or central authorities grew aware of the poor choice of the original site. In the overwhelming majority of cases this was welcomed by the colonists, as they were the ones most aware of the problems offered by that site. Problems might include communications (e.g., a settlement built on the ‘wrong’ side of a series of waterfalls, or a mountain, initially thought sound but later realised to be a mistake), health risks (e.g., too close to marshlands the breeding ground of hideous disease; in one famous case those marshlands only appeared later as the colonists dammed up a river), and most obviously, native attacks.

Colonists might be unsympathetic to such relocation plans—especially in English America—for entirely practical reasons only. Naturally, the relocation of a settlement was only considered for such settlements as were struggling, not prosperous ones. And in struggling settlements the colonists usually lacked the resources for a resettlement. A vicious circle had been created.

In the Spanish and Portuguese empires this was much less of a problem as the Crown was much more active in directing the affairs of the empire and was much more generous in providing economic and military support for such relocations. We therefore find a very great number of such relocations in especially the huge Spanish empire, and virtually always to the colonists’ satisfaction.

In English America, where colonists were more left to their own devices, communities received much less central support and relocation therefore represented a much greater challenge for the community. This is the main reason why settler communities there would sometimes balk at the prospect of a costly and uncertain relocation. This was the result of the policies of the English Crown, not of human psyche.

It follows that in Star Trek, with the unlimited support of the Federation, one would expect colonists to behave like the Spanish and Portuguese colonists in the New World and gladly accept the support of the Crown/Federation in order to relocate to a safer location/world.

The bottom line is: Gosheven’s reaction is absurd indeed. As is, by the way, that of the Maquis, and for the same reason.
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Andy's Friend
Thu, Apr 30, 2020, 6:00am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S7: Attached

@Booming, Peter G., Picard Maneuver

Interesting talk. I have to agree with Booming here, without the indignant tone and final exclamation.

Granted, Peter says that he would have to watch it again to be sure; and so would I. But I certainly don't remember this as 'coquettish' behaviour by Crusher, in the way I understand the term, anyway.

The way I remember it, Crusher has arrived at that stage in which one is flirting with the very tought of perhaps beginning to flirt with someone while entertaining the thought of building a lasting relationship with that someone. There is no 'teasing' whatsoever in entertaining such thoughts.

Furthermore, in this particular case that someone is a man she has known for decades and has the utmost respect for. There is no way Crusher would ever 'tease' Picard, in the way I understand the term anyway, period.

This reminds me of an online discussion I had years ago, one of the very best I have ever had, on the nature of Rick's and Ilsa's relationship in 'Casablanca' (1942). What really transpired between the two, that final last night in Casablanca? 'Against' me were some who believed the two had slept together. They failed to realise that this goes against everything that both characters stand for at that point in the film: they entertain the thought of it, yes, they greatly desire it, even; but the nobility in their sacrifice is refraining from doing what they both desire. Rick not only respects Ilsa, but importantly, he also respects Laszlo—and he is finally beginning to respect himself, also.

Respect is paramount when we are dealing with more than two strangers who barely know each other and some passing infatuation or mere physical attraction. Crusher has profound respect for Picard, whereas the notion of 'teasing' almost by definition presupposes a lack of respect by the teaser for the teased.

Flirting with the thought of perhaps letting an old friendship evolve to more than that is daunting. It may prove to be awkward, or otherwise difficult to carry out, and it is certainly dangerous, putting a friendship that may have existed for many years at risk. There is no shame in entertaining such thoughts and yet ultimately choose to back down. This may be considered timid, perhaps, but it can never be considered 'teasing'. As I remember it, that is the emotion that Gates McFadden quite convincingly portrays.
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Andy in VA
Sat, Apr 25, 2020, 7:43pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: VOY S5: Warhead

Captain Janeway: That thing you guys brought aboard is a powerful bomb.

Holographic doctor: But it talks to me. We're friends. Can I keep it? Can I? Can I?

Captain Janeway: Alright, sure.

Wait! What?
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Andy in VA
Sun, Apr 19, 2020, 10:36am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TOS S3: The Way to Eden

I've read that the original concept for this show had, instead of Irina, divorced Dr. McCoy's daughter, Joanna, in whom Kirk takes a romantic interest.

If only they'd made that one instead.

Another irony... The parallels between this episode and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, where a madman leads his followers on a quest not for Eden, but for God's home planet.

What were they thinking?
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Andy's Friend
Thu, Apr 9, 2020, 6:44am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2


Sen-sors said: “I'm 31, my favorite Trek is TOS and I think Kurtzman Trek is trash but feel free to lay the blame for Nu-Trek on my generation.”

Oh no, don’t worry, I don’t. I think the main target audience for NuTrek is people younger than you are. But see below.

“Considering how Kurtzman Trek is roughly 50% violence, mystery boxes and cuss words and 50% schmaltzy nostgalgia pandering to older fans who weep openly after Picard says "engage", don't you think your generation is at least partly responsible for the current state of Trek?”

If I may use another generalisation, I think it fair to presume that the older you are, the more likely are you to dislike NuTrek. I personally have never watched this latest offering. Kurtzman Trek wasn’t primarily made for my generation, and I think its use of said nostalgia elements is mostly to legitimise the Star Trek brand name. Having said that, you certainly have a point.

Here, I must entirely agree with OmicronThetaDeltaPhi. I don’t understand why so many people keep watching what they admit they would stop watching were it not for the Star Trek name. This is insane, and Omicron is quite right in saying that people should vote with their wallets and cancel their subscriptions instead of hoping for that improvement in quality that will never come. So you are partly right, Sen-Sors. I guess all generations are indeed partly responsible for this miserable state of affairs.

Otherwise, I agree with you. I watched the first half of ‘Into Darkness’, and stopped. I later reluctantly saw the first half of 'Discovery', and stopped. It was some of the worst television I have ever watched.

I also saw ‘Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines’ in the cinema, and never cared for any continuation. Later I saw ‘Prometheus’ in the cinema, and have seen no further. Most recently I saw ‘The Force Awakens’ in the cinema, and didn’t come back for more. Franchise upon franchise: the creative power is entirely gone. And frankly, so is my desire to see continuations of stories of beloved characters. I have never watched ‘Blade Runner 2049’, and never will. And so forth.

So I also haven’t watched 'Picard', and never will. The consensus seems to be that it is better than 'Discovery' and I accept that, but that says precious little. After ten episodes and thousands of comments here, the kind of debates it inspires—or rather, fails to inspire—tells me everything I need to know of its qualities, or lack thereof.

Ah well, we still have all those seasons of TOS and TNG and whatever classic Trek one happens to prefer. I am currently re-watching all TOS-VOY with my better half for the Nth time after a hiatus of a few years and we're having a ball. Curiously, we now both prefer VOY to DS9. Back when they aired, it was the opposite. But TNG remains our favourite, followed by your TOS.

I'm curious, Omicron, as I don't remember: what is your personal favourite Trek?
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Andy's Friend
Thu, Apr 9, 2020, 4:15am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2


You wrote: ‘That is a very smart analysis considering that the most dominant genre right now is superheros.’

The superhero genre as played out at present is but vacuous fantasy entertainment for teenagers. The mythical foundations that some of the superheroes possess are mostly completely obliterated by the pure fantasy elements. Many superheroes possess no archetypal foundations at all, and serve no archetypal function.

Compare. In 1950s-1960s American television there were westerns. ‘Gunsmoke’. ‘Wagon Train’. ‘Rawhide’, and so forth. Episodes focused sometimes on entertainment, and sometimes dealt with realistic social issues in their respective settings in a moralistic way. But always solidly anchored in myth. Solidly anchored in archetypes. I trust you can see the difference.

How do you punish a horse thief who stole to feed his children? How do you treat the good doctor who just happens to beat his wife and children every now and then? How can you help the poor Chinamen being exploited by the railroad company? These are the kinds of realistic, down to earth issues that such series often dealt with. And any young boy or man, and any young girl or woman in the audience could identify with the diverse male and female leads. For they were symbols, archetypes not burdened down by too complex psychological profiles.

How can anyone identify with Colossus, or Cyclops? With the Hulk, the Human Torch, or the Thing? Only in escapist fantasies. More importantly, they serve no moral, archetypal function. But you *could* identify with Matt Dillon. Or, if you were of a different personality, you could identify with Rowdy Yates, who served another, different archetypal function. And so forth.

Here we see an important distinction: archetypal function vs. ‘cool superpower’. Characters as in those older series seldom had special skills. What set them apart was, above all, their personality. As with ‘Angry Achilles’, ‘Cunning Odysseus’, and so forth in the Iliad: archetypes as old as the ages. Characters in such series all served an archetypal function each. Put together, they all represented the human race.

Modern superheroes, however, are distinguished above all by their ‘cool superpowers’, not their archetypal function, which they often don’t serve at all. They do not represent the human race. Again, I trust you can see the difference.

I’ll grant you that we find one very popular character who is an exception, very clearly modelled after the archetype of the angry, lone outsider—Angry Achilles. That is Wolverine. And his clear-cut archetypal function likely explains his popularity.

Moving on. You wrote:

‘TOS isn't super smart, for example. It's for the most part: crew approaches planet, something horrible happens, get out of something horrible, laugh. the end.’
You also wrote: ‘Black Mirror is a smarter show, for example (…)’

And what did I write? ‘At their most simple, the best TOS episodes are reducible to fables.’
And ‘I would say TOS (…) and Black Mirror.’

You really should read before you write, Booming.

But no, Black Mirror is not a smarter show than TOS. The themes explored in Black Mirror are more a product of its age than those of TOS were. They are more immediate to our own times and may therefore feel more relevant at present. But don't be duped into thinking that contemporaneity is 'smarter'. In the future, Black Mirror may very well hold historical interest only: ‘What were people concerned with in the early twenty-first century?’ Whereas TOS is likely to be more interesting to future generations for its own sake, because the themes explored in TOS, if you’ll forgive a generalisation, are more timeless.

Finally, and most importantly, I wrote:

‘to use a necessary simplification (…)’
‘I am exaggerating for the sake of argument, of course.’

Yes, this is called generalisation. Generalisation is a form of abstraction. Abstraction is necessary in any intelligent discourse—say, wishing to speak of sufficiently large populations. And you should know this, with that background in sociology you claim to have. What are many of your precious sociological models, if not statistical abstractions? What are your theories, if not generalisations, Booming?
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Andy's Friend
Wed, Apr 8, 2020, 12:14pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Sorry about the typo, Nothing but the Tears
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Andy's Friend
Wed, Apr 8, 2020, 12:13pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Bothing But the Tears

“young people today are much more aware of diversity and equality. These are things that have always been important to me but I'm still shocked looking back at how tone deaf I was by comparison, just like many of my peers.”

Very few of us cared back then. We simply tried to treat each other politely, most of us anyway, with no fear of calling people what they were. It is not the word spoken, it is the intent that matters. One may be scathingly offensive using the politest language, or the opposite using the most offensive language: it is all about intent. If you ask me, it was a much healthier society back then, when people didn’t let themselves be offended and their world torn apart every other minute by what is not offensive in itself, but (some) people insist on perceiving as such due to acute myopia. Which leads me to...

“I don't think it matters how many stories you tell. They have to be worth telling, well told, and the amount of time devoted to them needs to be appropriate. Plus, no matter how good the story, things still hinge on the characters.”

And you’re entirely right. The thing is, very often, in older series the characters weren’t really characters. They were more akin archetypes, or symbols: mouthpieces for a particular worldview, a particular philosophy, a particular age group, social class, and so forth. And the individual episodes therefore tended to be more akin myths: individual, primordial stories about right and wrong in the guise of foundation myths, coming of age myths, and so on.

That was their power. That is why they resonate still: all good stories are primordial myths. And all myths are necessarily introspective. They are reflections of our (possible) selves and our (possible) fate. Moralistic in nature, they attempt to teach us a lesson: they are moral tales. TOS in particular excelled at telling this kind of stories. At their most simple, the best TOS episodes are reducible to fables.

Stories, to use a necessary simplification, used to be more simply about Man, or Woman; about Father, or Mother; Son, or Daughter. They were about being Young, and being Old. About being Rich, and being Poor. And so on, and so forth. The challenge, to writers, was to find new ways to tell old stories. The challenge to viewers—of science-fiction in particular—was to recognise those innovate iterations of old tales. For the tales themselves were about every single one of us.

What are they about now? They increasingly are but escapism, true escapism in its ugliest shape: in the form of voyeurism. They increasingly are about the lives of *others*. Very detailed lives of very detailed people that could not be you and I but can only exist as their very specific, fictional selves.

That is what we have lost, as we increasingly focus on the micro-level of multiple strands of individual psychology instead of the macro-level of archetype and myth.

“TV, in particular, is a lot more complex and demanding than it used to be back in the 80's or 70's, for that matter. Most shows back then had one story per episode. That's really all you needed to keep track of. And while there are shows today just stretching things out, there are also those that are ambitious, complex and challenging.”

I am exaggerating for the sake of argument, of course. But tell me, do you think we are presented more these days? Or can it be that paradoxically, we are presented less in the more ‘complex’ stories of today? Can it be that the stories of old, focusing on just one story, presented us a proverbial forest, while the episodes of today can’t even see the proverbial tree for the branches?
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Andy's Friend
Wed, Apr 8, 2020, 8:52am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2


"And then what do we have to show for scifi TV from the 70's??? Pretty much only the Tom Baker era of jelly babie Doctor Who."

It would seem that you were writing while I was posting, and just missed my post :)

The two series from the 1970s I recommended are at the extreme opposites of the Fun--------Serious spectrum. As such, I consider them the finest in each category, which is why I would recommend them as essential to children and adults, respectively.

But there were many other science-fiction series being made in the 1970s; don't forget that both the fictional TOS and the real moon landings sparked off immense interest in the space genre. The original Battlestar Galactica is from 1978, for example, and in my opinion the first season was no worse than modern BSG.

The problem is twofold. Young people today don't remember/never knew the old series; and more importantly, young people today are more impressed by appearance than by substance.

Take The Expanse. It tells but three stories in thirty-odd episodes (S1-3). The original Battlestar Galactica managed to tell more stories in one season than The Expanse has done so far in three. And in my opinion, despite its family-friendly nature it managed to tell mostly better stories, too. But try telling that to people today who can't see past production values, and demand a GrimDark! tone before they can take anything seriously.

I think the latter is truly the problem today. Many younger people apparently can't look past the superficial in our present day. My guess is, they are probably not used to having to search for meanings in narratives, as everything is made so blatantly obvious and explicit these days. So they can't see past the family-friendly tone to see the seriousness of the story and the themes being told: they seem to simply lack in imagination. It's that same old story: a train entering a tunnel in a 1950s Hitchcock film you can watch with your children isn't just a train entering a tunnel...
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Andy's Friend
Wed, Apr 8, 2020, 7:22am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2


“Here's a question: What would people consider "essential" sci-fi TV?”

I am sad to say, but I agree with Peter G. There just isn’t that much science-fiction I would re-watch.

I agree with James White and wolfstar in that the Black Mirror is—in my opinion by a very wide margin—the best and most relevant science-fiction produced in our present century. Even if, because of its very nature, the episodes are of uneven quality.

I also though that of a handful episodes of BSG. Those are the only episodes of BSG I ever re-watch, though.

For all the praise The Expanse receives, I found it to be binge-worthy only, with no profound ideas. It's much better than Discovery, yes, but everything is.

I have grown considerably fonder of VOY over time. As it aired, I had a hard time with the unimaginative stories of many episodes; with the lack of world building in the Delta quadrant; with the Kazon, Neelix, and so on, and so forth. It was indeed, in many ways, a missed opportunity. Now, I appreciate that some episodes are indeed outstanding. But I appreciate especially how so many episodes have some few lines of dialogue, some small gesture towards the Other that is in the very best spirit of Star Trek. Keeping an open mind. Attempting to dialogue. Seeking cooperation. Daring to trust. It may be just a single scene, a single minute, a single line. And then I find it all worthwhile.

One series I like is Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979). It's the kind of sci-fi that is 'essential' to children. For behind all the harmless, campy fun, there lies a reality full of stars.

One series I find interesting that no-one has mentioned is Space: 1999 (1975). There is a world of difference between the first and the second season. The second was more a failed Buck Rogers in the 25th Century than anything, very erratic in tone, badly blending fun à la Buck Rogers with the dark themes often explored in the first season. The first season, once you accept the inane premise (a nuclear explosion causes the colonised moon to break orbit and be whirled across the galaxy at Ludicrous Speed, exposing the crew of Moonbase Alpha to the adventure/mystery of the week) is worthwhile to any serious science-fiction enthusiast. It is a much darker, slower, more serious—British—TOS, with a much eerier tone overall. Some episodes, today, feel almost like sci-fi horror, in a good way, but definitely not family-friendly. It has some very good ideas in the mix. One of them, in my opinion, is among the best episodes of science-fiction ever made.

So I would say TOS-VOY, Buck Rogers (for children), Space: 1999 (first season only), and Black Mirror.


You asked me some time ago what series I might recommend, but I never got back to you. It just occurred to me, one in an entirely different genre: Brideshead Revisited (1981). The first episode of which, incidentally, is also (but much more appropriately than here) titled ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’.
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Andy's Friend
Mon, Apr 6, 2020, 3:48am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Peter G.

No, Peter, I mean artificial intelligence in the strict sense. What you seem to be thinking of is precisely that which I always talk of, Artificial Consciousness. As research has improved we find that we already have plenty of artificial intelligence in the world today: the question now is, what of artificial 'sentience'? Therefore, scientists and scholars, depending on affiliation, devised the concepts of 'Weak/Strong AI' and AC (which again can be divided in various kinds). What the 'roboticist' side in the debate call 'strong AI' is usually what the 'philosopher' side calls 'AC'. A chess computer is 'weak AI', an artificial intelligence devoid of sentience.

I'm off now to enjoy a beautiful day where I am. Have a nice day, everyone.
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Andy's Friend
Mon, Apr 6, 2020, 2:46am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2


"I wasn't really part of the debate or had any real interest in it. I didn't read, for example, Andy's friends walls of text. I just wanted them to stop making longer and longer posts about stuff that had less and less to do with STP”

So you commented on things you didn’t even read, just because you wanted me to stop posting scholarship. Think for a moment, Booming. This is Star Trek. It’s supposed to inspire us to grander thoughts and larger debates. Tell me, just what do you want us to debate? The colours of the uniforms? Is red lovelier than blue? Is that your preferred level of discussion, and the kind of talk you will graciously allow us to engage in?

“While doing that I noticed "the review on Metaphysics" which peaked my interest. That made me look into the other sources and then I made the fatal mistake of calling them not good for making an argument in the field of computer science.”

But it was not about computer science, Booming: it was about consciousness, biological and artificial. It was the first of my three quotes and by far the oldest: as I specified, it was from 1990.

I first mentioned 1988 and IBM’s Deep Thought, which, as I have mentioned elsewhere, beat International Grandmaster Bent Larsen in chess in Copenhagen that year, with me watching it.

In 1989 Deep Thought also took on Kasparov, and lost. But it was becoming obvious that it was only a matter of time before an artificial intelligence would beat the best human minds.

All this sparked off huge debate. In 1989, ‘The Measure of a Man’ aired.

The first quote I offered was part of this debate. It is important in that context: it is the contemporary of Deep Blue, Deep Thought, and ‘The Measure of a Man.’ I find that at least a little bit relevant when discussing the nature of Data. This was unfortunately lost on you.

As for ‘The Review on Metaphysics’, just what do you think metaphysics is, Booming? Do you believe it to be about ‘religion’, or the ‘supernatural’ in common parlance? Or is it fair to presume that a scholarly magazine chooses the scholarly, not any popular definitions for its very title? Metaphysics is about *reality*, Booming. Metaphysics asks: what is real? In this context, what is real life, real sentience, real consciousness?

That was the context of that quote. How you manage to find that not relevant is beyond me.

Look, Booming, if you don’t want to participate in any given debate, don’t. It's easy. Just scroll past the post. But it’s not up to you to decide what other commenters may wish to debate, and contribute.

And please stop that silly ‘I am a sociologist’ persona of yours, and all that posturing of yours that ‘in sociology and political science we follow the science approach of the natural sciences which means empirical research’, which is the only thing you can ever say of academia. It’s frankly tiresome, and I increasingly suspect you keep repeating it because it is the only thing you ever learned. In any case, in every other post of yours you provide examples of just how little you understand the academic world.

Take your “empirical study of laws, philosophy, literature, history??? These fields are by their very nature not empirical”. Sheer nonsense. Read Pierre Chaunu’s ‘Séville et l’Atlantique (1504-1650)’ (Paris, 12 vols., 1955-1960) and tell me that it isn’t as empirical as any study in sociology, and more empirical than most. Or read any piece of histoire serielle inspired by it, which you obviously are unaware of. And so on, and so forth. It’s amazing. You constantly find new ways to talk nonsense whenever you presume to lecture on academia.

So please stop pretending, and please stop presuming to decide what others may or may not write. Try being a little humbler, and a little more charitable. And I shall then gladly hear your opinions, and read any input, scholarly or otherwise, you may wish to contribute.
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Andy's Friend
Sun, Apr 5, 2020, 12:44pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@Jason R.

"Booming this is a casual internet forum about Star Trek. In a debate about AI where you asked for some expert sources, you really thought it necessary to piss on Andy's citations because the universities weren't top notch? "

Thanks Jason, but Booming isn’t pissing on anything but himself. There is nothing wrong with the universities.

I already explained twice, including in the original message, why I quoted an Indian scholar with a classic Indian philosophy perspective. Had Booming been smart, he might have asked me: I would have told him that I don’t agree with Pandey on everything he writes. But I find that perspective interesting.

The inclusion of a former Soviet bloc scholar should be obvious to anyone with genuine wish to debate. The former Soviet bloc has an extremely rich heritage of anything from science-fiction to serious scholarship on robotics, artificial intelligence, and so forth—hardly surprising for a polity that was once leading in the space race.

The former Soviet bloc, however, is influenced also by that Russian tradition of introspective, philosophical questioning present in the great literary classics of their culture, and even in much Soviet science-fiction, more concerned with ethical and existential questions than with technological marvel. It is a cultural phenomenon that affects science also, and Piletsky is a good example of that existentialist query: what is consciousness (think 'Solaris', written by a Polish doctor, transported to film by a Russian), and can it be created artificially?

Also this interests me, even if Piletsky’s paper is much too brief to allow for that cultural heritage to shine through. But I hope this clarifies that Booming’s charges are entirely unfounded. Some people may read only what comes out of Oxford, and Cambridge. I chose to offer two different, non-Anglosphere perspectives as food for thought. As some may remember, I have always made it a point here on Jammer's to avoid groupthink, and to consider other perspectives than our traditional ones in the West—and the Federation.
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