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Mon, Dec 30, 2019, 2:15am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


“Its just a kiddie movie 40 something men watch.”

—The self-proclaimed social critic “Jar Jar Is Yoda”



“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

—CS Lewis, Oxford and Cambridge scholar, bestselling author, and person I highly doubt would ever have mocked others for continuing to love at forty the good things they loved in their youth
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Mon, Dec 30, 2019, 2:05am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

“Whether a film is devisive or not is no indicator of quality.”

Agreed, obviously. But now you’re shifting the terms of the discussion. We had been talking about what makes a good Star Wars film. That’s not necessarily the same thing as a quality film, full stop. On a visual and technical level, for example, TLJ is simply outstanding. But that doesn’t make it a good Star Wars film.

“‘Empire Strikes Back’ received many bad reviews even by The New York Times and 30 years later it’s hailed by many as the best Star Wars of all time...”

Setting aside your mischaracterization of Vincent Canby’s review (calling a movie “nice,” “inoffensive,” “silly,” and “amusing in fitful patches” is not a bad review, it’s just a mediocre one), you are again shifting the terms of the discussion. Empire may have divided the critics, but TLJ didn’ received near-universal praise.

But Empire didn’t divide the fans...which is what I was talking about with TLJ. Canby himself notes that people who loved Star Wars turned out to see Empire in droves. Adjusting for inflation, Empire is still the 13th highest-grossing movie of all time domestically. In fact, five Star Wars films make the top 20 on that list. TLJ is not one of them. It’s barely in the top 50.

Who do you think will be a better indicator of whether a film delivers a “Star Wars” kind of experience? A professional film critic? Or someone who has seen Star Wars and Empire so many times they can quote whole passages from memory? I know who I’m putting my money on.
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Sat, Dec 28, 2019, 11:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

"What’s Star Wars’ soul? Is there one definition all fans agree on or is it something only Lucas could understand?...Who’s really to say which fan truly understands the soul of Star Wars?"

One of the wisest men in history once wrote that you should never ask more certainty of a question than it can produce. And aesthetics is notoriously ephemeral. So if you're asking these questions in expectation that I can come up with an answer that is complete and obviously right, then I'm going to disappoint you. I don't think any one person has the answer...and in any case, the prequel trilogy should serve as proof positive that it's not George Lucas.

But I'm not a relativist. I think there is an answer. And when deciding what is, and what is not, in harmony with "the soul of Star Wars," maybe you should look at the fans -- not the casuals, but the hardcore fans. There is a clear difference between the near-universal enthusiasm that greeted TFA, the sharp divide that developed in the wake of TLJ, and the irritation and resignation with which TROS has largely been met. I am not claiming that aggregate opinion constitutes truth, but it might point the way toward it.

I don't think it is productive to rehash in detail the many objections that have been raised against The Last Jedi from various quarters. I'm sure you're aware of most of them, at any rate:

1) Wheel-spinning plot
2) Story structure more appropriate for comedy
3) Inappropriate comedy (yo' mama jokes in Star Wars?)
4) Characters that are inconsistent even within the same scene -- the worst example being Luke Skywalker himself: "I'm going to destroy the texts...dammit, Yoda, how could you destroy the texts?"
5) The whole character of Holdo, who should have just been Ackbar
6) The waste of screentime that was the Canto Bight "adventure"
7) The reconception of the Force
8) The plainly dismissive attitude toward the past of the franchise...and it's been deliciously ironic to watch critics turn on TROS for dismissing TLJ...

But if you think you can make a case for TLJ being more like Star Wars and Empire than it is like Phantom Menace and Clones, I'm willing to hear it.
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Sat, Dec 28, 2019, 10:22pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Yeah...we’re very clearly not saying the same thing. I didn’t say Rian Johnson deconstructed tropes in his Star Wars movie. I said he deconstructed *Star Wars* itself. Your examples may be deconstructions of common tropes, but in-universe, they are merely plot twists. They make a universe unique...they don’t cut at its soul.

You would have been on more solid ground by noting that it wasn’t Johnson who came up with the idea of midichlorians (fatally altering the OT’s implied conception of the Force as this mystical whatsit), or showed Yoda flipping with a lightsaber (which does ALMOST as much to damage his character as Johnson’s depiction of him in TLJ). Those are definite examples of deconstructing Star Wars. So Lucas shot first. :)

And no, I didn’t like Johnson’s direction. I remain baffled that any fan would. Star Wars is based on mythic tropes. Making a Star Wars movie with the theme of “Let the past die” cuts directly at the roots of what makes Star Wars itself. However, I give Johnson this much: while TLJ fails as a Star Wars movie, it is at least an actual movie (as are the prequels). TROS is not.
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Sat, Dec 28, 2019, 9:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I define “deconstruction” as using the elements of a work to destroy the sense of the work itself. Which Johnson did, and which Lucas absolutely did not do — in the original trilogy, anyway.

I would also add that it’s a lot easier to redefine character relations in the second or third movie of a franchise than it is to redefine fundamental elements of the universe (i.e., the Force) in a franchise’s NINTH movie.
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Sat, Dec 28, 2019, 8:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I dislike TLJ and TROS about equally, for very different reasons. Rian Johnson broke Star Wars with his insistence on deconstructing it. And J.J. Abrams, with his overreliance on empty spectacle, was never going to be the man to put it back together. Maybe Kasdan could have done it with an extra year. But we’ll never know now.

TROS has this feels more like Star Wars then TLJ. However, I hesitate to call it a movie. It’s more like Cliff’s Notes for what Episodes VIII and IX could have been. Both are deeply insulting to the audience...TLJ to Star Wars fans specifically, and TROS mote generally, to people who like good stories. As sad as it is to say, TFA is the best movie of the new trilogy. And now I never want to see it again, because I have a map of the wasteland to follow.

Since everyone is doing rankings, here are mine for what will now be known as the Skywalker Saga (Rogue One, Solo, and The Mandalorian excluded):

1) The Empire Strikes Back
1a) Star Wars — call it what you want, it’s STAR WARS
3) Return of the Jedi
4) The Force Awakens
5) Revenge of the Sith
*****MENDOZA LINE*****
6) The Rise of Skywalker
6a) The Last Jedi
8) The Phantom Menace
9) Attack of the Clones
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Wed, May 8, 2019, 6:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Mad Idolatry

@ Dave in MN:

No, I don't think the counterargument of "Mad Idolatry" is worth much of anything, really. That's not a mark against it, by the way. It's not trying to make an argument. It's trying to tell a story of the genesis of a false religion, and the effects it had on a developing civilization. Now that, it did reasonably well.

As a science-fiction concept, I found the idea pleasing. Clarke's Law may have been written to apply to magic, but the corollary to religion is obvious. "Devil's Due" in TNG also touched on this issue from a different angle -- that religious miracles could merely be the result of misunderstood technology, here applied accidentally. I do have to take points away, though, because I can't believe that a fully-developed religion could develop from the paucity of material Kelly gave them to work with. Several dozen miracles were attributed to Jesus over the course of a three-year ministry; healing one kid one time ain't gonna do that.

Where I think we will differ is the ending. Yes, the planet grew out of its Kelly-worship. Both you and I will agree that it should have -- because though Adrianne Palicki may look divine, Kelly Grayson isn't actually divine. It is good when people stop worshipping false gods. But it does not thereby follow that all gods are false, and Seth MacFarlane asserting it at the end of an episode doesn't make it so.

While we're playing "what if" games, here's one: what if Kelly's arrival jerked the planet's natives out of adherence to a more or less true faith? Taken from that angle, this story could as easily be the tragedy of a civilization that doesn't even realize it's fallen, and the loss of billions of souls, all due to the ill-timed arrival of a well-meaning Union officer.

As for your latest post, it's a cute bit of rhetoric, but even "wrong" things can be wrong to different degrees. A kid faced with the math problem "72 + 29 = ?" has reached a wrong answer if he gets 91. But he is far closer than a kid who turns in an answer of 2088. And both of them have understood the question better than a kid who says -634. I can look at religions with which I disagree, and say which ones I think are more and less right. An atheist, on the other hand, is committed to the belief that every religion gets the most important question on the paper 100% perfectly wrong. That's a bigger gap than you think.
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Wed, May 8, 2019, 6:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Mad Idolatry

@ Booming:

Peter G. has already said many of the things I would have said in response to your "no religion holds up to scrutiny" comment. I will add that I believe "holds up" is the wrong language -- it would be better to say that the theological claims of religions do not *answer* to scientific scrutiny. They can't; as Peter already said, they deal with claims that lie outside the ability of science to test. The problems of a scientist trying to falsify the claim that God exists are roughly analogous to the problems that Scarlett O'Hara would face if she tried to discover whether there was such a person as Margaret Mitchell.

As for your question about whether the value of apologetics written by Christian writers is diminished because they lived in a predominantly Christian age, I have two answers. The first is to say simply, "No." The proper standard to measure the worth of a philosophical work is simply whether, and to what extent, it makes its case. The circumstances of the author do not enter into it. Lucilio Vanini had a harder time than Denis Diderot, and a much harder time than Bertrand Russell or Richard Dawkins. That may make Vanini a braver man, but it does not necessarily make his work mean more.

Second, your argument could only go through if its implied premise -- that Christian writers living in Christian lands and times would not have to worry about religious persecution -- is true. But the lives of half my list prove that premise false. Boethius was imprisoned and executed for something he did because of his religious convictions. More met the same fate for something his religious convictions would not allow him to do. Luther famously "lost his job" because his beliefs angered Pope Leo X; Anselm almost lost his because his beliefs angered King William II. Abelard was excommunicated, imprisoned multiple times, and forced to burn his own work. None of their suffering is evidence for the truth of Christianity. But if you hold to your own argument, you should think their work more valuable, rather than less.
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Tue, May 7, 2019, 10:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Mad Idolatry

@ Dave in MN:

Oh, I don't mind a little snark, honestly. I could just as easily indulge in it myself by asking you which Bertrand Russell you were asking me if I had read...since Russell changed his views on a great many issues over the course of his public career, you will often find late Russell endorsing a position at which early Russell would have turned up his nose.

I will separate my reply into two major sections.

1) First off, you are mischaracterizing me. Nowhere did I "dismiss 20th century developments in philosophical thought." I didn't discuss them, or even mention them -- so how could I dismiss them? They were not germane to my point.

What bleakness said was that Christianity "cannot itself stand up to scrutiny," which implies that anyone who is a Christian either hasn't taken the time to scrutinize it, or else is incapable (for whatever reason) of doing so. So I gave a list (a "laundry list," if you like) of world-class intellectual heavyweights of the last 2000 years who are manifestly intelligent and rational men, who have thoroughly examined Christianity, and who have believed in it. My point, in other words, is that bleakness's dismissal of Christianity was hasty and unfair.

If you take my words in that light, you might see that my "Book Club endorsements" are not meant to *prove Christianity true*. Rather, these books, and at least a dozen others I could name, are the ones that flat-out *prove bleakness wrong.* Reading them may, or may not, convince someone to become a Christian. Many theists of other religions have read them without converting; many atheists have read them and have remained non-believers. But what you cannot honestly do after reading these books, if you are reading with an open mind, is to say that there is no intellectual case to be made for Christianity.

Nor am I blind to the fact that there are cases to be made for other religions, and a case to be made for atheism. There are many important atheist intellectuals. I know this, because I've read many of them -- which is why I would never say that atheism is not an intellectually serious position. I don't agree with Nietzsche or Wittgenstein or Schopenhauer, but it would be foolish for me to say that they were not very bright men, or that they had no arguments worth considering. (By the way, you do know that William James defended religious belief on pragmatic grounds, right?)

2) I have read some of Russell, yes -- as well as most of the other fellows you mentioned -- since I spent a fair few years in graduate school for a philosophy degree. And it is simply not true that Russell "eviscerates" Christianity. (I'm assuming that you are referring to "Why I am Not a Christian," either by itself or in conjunction with other writings.) I am glad that you enjoy Russell's work, because he is a man of considerable intellectual substance on many issues. However, this piece is a poor example of his work. Since I don't have time for a full laundry list, my two biggest objections:

a) He seriously mischaracterizes Christ and His teachings on several points, and even doubts whether there was such a man as Jesus of Nazareth -- not a generally-held position among historians regardless of their religious beliefs.

b) He flat-out lies about the historical Church. It's hard to say anything nicer than that. His position, after all, is that organized religion in every form has had absolutely no positive effects on the world, and has served merely as an obstacle to progress. Such a position isn't serious enough to be worth arguing against.

Even a number of the fair points he does make -- for example, that Christ is not the first to put forward certain moral teachings -- are not knock-down objections, but rather simple statements of fact that can also be used to support theistic arguments. If the natural-law doctrine of morality is true, then at least some of the moral law must be discoverable by reason. Thus, a Christian should not be surprised to find at least some virtuous moral teachings being propounded by enlightened people of some other faith, or of no faith at all. That is the view held by C.S. Lewis, who was Russell's contemporary, and had access to the same "scientific and logical knowledge base" as did Russell.
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Tue, May 7, 2019, 12:32am (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Mad Idolatry

bleakness says about religion:

"...and the fact is that religion IS simple. (comparatively, I listen to religious vs atheist debates all the time, each one being near two hours, and the religious debater has less substance to their argument than WWTW)"

I can't help but notice that though bleakness claims to listen to these lengthy debates "all the time," no details of the engagements are provided. I would rather like to know: what are the topics of debate, who are the persons debating, what are the rules of engagement, and where I can find these debates so I could listen and judge for myself if I so chose.

Because frankly, bleakness, I'm not willing to accept your unsupported and vague characterizations at face-value. As far as I'm concerned, they lack...substance. For all I know, you might be the sort of person who listens to five minutes of Alex Jones and thinks "Well, that about wraps it up for conservatism"* -- yet has never read, or even heard of, Edmund Burke or Russell Kirk or Thomas Sowell.

(* With apologies to Oolon Colluphid.)

Also, this is from bleakness:

"Uh maybe Christianity itself is so wholeheartedl;y simple, built around things such as fear and guilt and has somehow created a huge following yet cannot itself stand up to scrutiny, is the VERY POINT."

In one sense, Christianity is indeed extremely simple. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength -- and love your neighbor as yourself. Easy to understand in the abstract, anyway, though perhaps not so easy to apply.

But "cannot stand up to scrutiny"? Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Luther, Thomas More, Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Wesley, C.S. Lewis...Christianity seems to have stood up to THEIR scrutiny just fine. And I don't think bleakness has written anything to compare to the Summa, or City of God, or the Consolation, or Mere Christianity. Anyone who agrees with bleakness might at least test their own convictions by tackling one or two of those great books, rather than listening to podcasts.
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Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 8:27pm (UTC -6)
Re: Trailer: Star Trek Beyond

"This always boils down to the same thing for me. Star Trek is made for and best shown on TV, not in the movie theaters...mostly the 'bad Star Trek movies' are the ones that most tried being relevant to the source material."

The first part there is definitely true. As for the second...hmm. I really think that's more true of the Next Gen movies than the originals. Let's not forget that probably the best movie of all of them, II, not only sprang directly from the canon but explicitly grappled with its mostly positive tone, by stating baldly that things just weren't always going to be like they once were...everyone gets older, and even the important people in your life won't be spared pain and death.

I think it would be fairer to say that the "bad Star Trek movies" are the ones that tried feeling like two-part episodes. I (that's "one," not "me") literally was a padded episode swiped from the Phase II series vaults, V felt like a double-length discarded script from TOS Season 3 ("It takes too much money to shoot God in blue light! Let's do that minimalist Western thing instead!"), and the other three Next Gen movies all felt like TNG two-parters that had been chucked because they weren't intelligent enough. ("Nobody's gonna believe that Picard only asks for Kirk because Guinan won't go with him! Rewrite it all NOW. And you...fountain of youth in space?! PLEASE.")

But II, III, IV, VI, and ST:FC are undeniably cinematic while still being as true to the spirit of Trek as they can be. And notably, the action in those movies is actually pretty good (if somewhat slight, especially by modern standards), because it's motivated mostly by character goals and dynamics than by plot needs or 'splosion fever. In those three movies, you've got a great old-school space battle, a hijacking sequence, TWO ships being blown to hell, a tense chase sequence through an aircraft carrier, and a comic chase scene through a hospital. Good stuff, all.

For all its storytelling faults, ST09 definitely came down more with the better group of movies. And for all its technical virtues, ST:iD was definitely in the worse group.

* * * * * * * * * *

"If I had seen the trailer and not listened to Pegg and Lynn afterwards I would agree. I'm more optimistic now than I was at the end of STID for sure...I'll leave the real trek to the next series coming in January."

We'll see, I guess. Simon Pegg's name doesn't carry as much cachet with me as it used to. (Wasn't a big fan of The World's End...didn't stick the landing I wanted for the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy.) And I'm not convinced that the makers really have learned their lesson, in part because the damned thing made enough money worldwide that there may not have been a financial lesson to learn -- which is the only kind Hollywood understands.

As for that other part, isn't the new series going to be set in the AbramsTrek reality? Seriously asking -- I've tried to avoid as much news about it as possible, because I'm currently engaged in a rewatch of the whole run of stuff, including TAS. (It's taking a while. Life stuff doesn't always mix well with six series and a dozen films.) If it is, again, that leaves me worried. But considering I haven't even seen a lick on it yet, I concede my worries may be overblown.
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Thu, Feb 11, 2016, 8:53am (UTC -6)
Re: Trailer: Star Trek Beyond

@ Yanks

I love the way where you just skip over my first two paragraphs and go straight for the hyperbole. Your addressing only my silly way of blowing off some steam -- because I admit, watching that trailer actually makes me angry, probably a lot more than it should -- conveniently allows you to bypass my actual concern, and retain your own (I would argue) misguided optimism expressed earlier in the thread. Seriously, it's like you didn't even notice the abrupt change in tone. The shift to elevated in-universe references alone should have tipped you off. My God, I didn't think I would have to throw up "sarc" tags.

Since you apparently missed the thrust of my earlier comment, let me try again. Star Trek sometimes does action, but Star Trek is not an action franchise. Further, its attempts at grand-scale action setpieces (e.g., the buggy chase scene in "Nemesis", or the Scimitar-corridor shootout from the same movie) often come across both as underwhelming action and as inferior Star Trek. But even the deeply flawed "Nemesis" was hobbled in its attempts to Try Something a Bit Different by still trying to hold to the general tone of the universe. I see no evidence of any such hobbling in this trailer. The most logical conclusion is that Abrams and Co. are perfectly happy letting the tonal drift from the last movie proceed -- making another Star Trek flick that most hard-core Star Trek fans will barely recognize as such, in an attempt to put general-audience butts in seats for a "sci-fi" action-fest.

Could the end product be more like Star Trek than the trailer is letting on? Yes. But after the terrible time I had at ST:iD, I'm not prepared to hand out benefit of the doubt. And I'm not keen on the thought of shelling out thirteen bucks for an IMAX ticket to watch "Star Trek: The Fast and the Pointiest." Looking at the trailer, you have to concede the possibility that it's headed in that direction. Really big stunts, way too much CGI destruction, one-liners to make you groan (or me, anyway) -- based on the evidence before us, my case is stronger than yours.
But you're too busy policing my last comment to see that. It's almost as if you're trying to distract our attention away from the movie...until it's TOO LATE...

That's it, isn't it?! Clearly, you're in on the conspiracy! What part of J.J.'s vast Empire do you work for? Tell us right now, you gorram nerf herder, or I'll shove you in the nearest trash compactor. Or maybe it won't go that see, contrary to rumor, there IS such a thing as a Vulcan death grip.

(Did you see it now, or do I have to pull out the "sarc" tags?)
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Mon, Jan 25, 2016, 9:37am (UTC -6)
Re: Trailer: Star Trek Beyond

Haven't read the whole thread, so I don't know if anyone else has commented on this -- but I found the trailer's announcement of the title to be very revealing. Coming on the heels of a trailer that displays the pieces for a very standard sci-fi action-adventure, with nothing more than a Star Trek veneer...note that the word that comes up first is "BEYOND," followed a couple of seconds later by a much smaller "Star Trek" up top.

I mean, yes, the title of the movie is "Star Trek: Beyond." But the order in which the title parts pop up could be read very unsubtly as "Beyond Star Trek." I look at the way that title is presented, and the size of the fonts in both parts, and I think the clear message is that this is no longer Star Trek -- if the creators could drop those two words, doesn't it look like they would be happy to do so? Having already dispensed with canon, they are now no longer going to even try preserving the tone and mood of the universe.

I am seriously considering the notion that self-proclaimed Star Wars fan J.J. Abrams might just be on a three-movie mission to severely damage (and, if possible, destroy) his love's most prominent rival brand. This is why Paramount should never have let that piece of Bantha poodoo have access to the franchise's conn in the first place. And now they're trying to shut down Axanar, while giving this...thing...the imprimatur of the real McCoy? (As opposed to Karl Urban's fake McCoy.) Can we rescue Star Trek from its own frakkin' owners?!
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Fri, Mar 20, 2015, 2:03am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

@ Capitalist

"One group (pro-Phlox decision) is saying that providing a cure is morally PROHIBITED. The other group is saying that providing a cure is morally COMPULSORY. Both groups deny the moral right of individual choice to dispose of one's resources as one sees fit."

I think what you have said is a bit of a mischaracterization of the debate, though an understandable one.

Granted, there are many systems of morality. But having read, and at times taken part in, this discussion, it seems as if most of the discussion has taken place *within* a system of morality -- namely, the one that is extant on the various Star Trek series, and held by (most) members of Starfleet, in relation to contact with other worlds and other forms of life.

If your point is that there are a variety of moral codes, and an individual has the right to choose between them and so decide what ethical obligations s/he lives under, then you are clearly correct. But people who accept a moral code consequently accept ethical obligations. If your point is that regardless of the moral principles they hold, individuals always have a choice to do as they please, then again, you're right. Moral principles, unlike metaphysical principles, are violable. But choosing to violate them would be doing something you have accepted as wrong.

All of this was my long-winded way of saying that your comment is beside the point. Within the context of the ethical framework in which this discussion has taken place, the act of giving the cure to the Valakians cannot be both morally prohibited and morally compulsory. (It can be neither, but it cannot be both.) Hence, the debate -- which is about what is right in that system. Pointing out that people still have a right to choose, whether you were talking about choosing one's ethical system or about choosing one's actions, is tangential to the main issue -- which is, having accepted a frame of morality (in which some actions are right and some wrong), and having accepted that one has a choice to make (and the right to make it), what should we do?
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Fri, Mar 20, 2015, 1:35am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S1: Dear Doctor

Thought Experiment #1:

You are the captain of a Federation starship. You receive a distress hail from the dominant species on a nearby planet -- people are dying of a peculiar genetic disorder, and the species as a whole has perhaps a couple of centuries left. (Other species are not directly affected by the disorder, though of course the extinction of the dominant species may eventually lead to massive changes in the biosphere and food chain.) Your ship's doctor investigates, and finds that he can cure the disorder. You can, of course, not project all the possible consequences of intervention.

Consider the above scenario in relation to the following planets, and answer the question: Do you give the society the cure? (Remember to justify your answer.)

a) Vulcan, a planet that is a core member of the Federation.
b) Ventax II, a non-aligned world with a warp-capable society.
c) Valakis, a non-aligned world with a society that is not warp-capable, but has had contact with warp-capable societies.

Thought Experiment #2:

Consider the scenario from Thought Experiment #1, again in relation to the listed planets, with the following difference: instead of a genetic disorder that will eliminate the species within a couple of centuries, the planet is beset by a massive plague that will kill every member of the affected species within three months.

The conjunction of these thought experiments is designed to consider two variables: a) the type of society asking for help, and b) the relative immediacy of the need for help. Good answers will consider such questions as:

a) Is there a "bright line" of ethics that permits interfering with the natural development of Vulcan, but not Valakis, and if so, what is it?
b1) If your answer to a) involves drawing an ethical distinction between the cases based on the Prime Directive, on which side of that line do the Ventaxians fall, and why?
b2) If your answer to a) involves denying the applicability of the Prime Directive to these cases, in what circumstances is the Prime Directive applicable?
c1) If your answers to analogous cases Thought Experiment #1 and Thought Experiment #2 are different based on the time factor, why should a difference in the amount of time available to solve the problem affect a Starfleet officer's principles or actions?
c2) If your answers to analogous cases Thought Experiment #1 and Thought Experiment #2 are the same in spite of the time factor, why should a difference in the amount of time available to solve the problem NOT affect a Starfleet officer's principles or actions?

Those students who need or want extra credit, and who have the time, may also consider suitably adjusted thought experiments related to the non-aligned, non-warp-capable, and completely isolated society that existed on Vaal, pre-Kirk.
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Tue, May 13, 2014, 7:21am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

If we're playing strictly by Hoyle, the comments are also supposed to be partly in reaction to a review. But that hasn't stopped us from collectively putting up nearly 700, in the 360 days that this comment thread has been active.

Seriously, it is now almost a year since ST:iD came out in theaters. The few of us who are here, still waiting for a Jammer review, have seen the movie hashed pretty much to death. There may be a few minor things to say about it, like "Where the hell was Chekov?" -- nope, never mind, I see that Jo Jo Meastro and Digedag hit that button on the first day. Anyway, my point was, there's nothing major left for us to say about the movie. And if I remember correctly, that's the *second* time I've made that point.

So if you want to propose something else ST:iD-related to talk about, that we haven't covered before, go right ahead. Come May 17, I'm out of here anyway.
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Mon, May 12, 2014, 10:39pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

G-B: I thought about that, actually. But Matrix may actually have some preferences within each category, and so I don't want to risk ranking the movies for him. Norris, on the other hand, clearly expressed rankings.

Okay, new topic, one that I doubt will so easily resolve itself into group rankings. It would be too easy to ask all of you what your favorite Star Trek series are. So, what are your TEN favorite NON-Star Trek television series? Again, I'm happy to go first.

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel
2. The Twilight Zone (classic)
3. Veronica Mars
4. The Prisoner
5. The Big Bang Theory
6. Monty Python's Flying Circus
7. Firefly
8. The Office (US)
9. Twin Peaks
10. How I Met Your Mother

(I realize #1 is a bit of a cheat, but as far as I'm concerned, those two are inseparable -- same universe, same characters. I'm not blind to their flaws, but they generally had smart writing and sharp action, and I still find them compulsively watchable.)

Shows I thought very hard about including, in alphabetical order:

Arrested Development
Battlestar Galactica (2000's series)
Fawlty Towers
South Park
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Mon, May 12, 2014, 4:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

After I posted the above, it occurred to me how to accommodate Norris's rankings without drastically skewing every rating upward...weight the average. With the exception of Norris (and Matrix, whom this still won't accommodate -- sorry, Matrix), everyone who participated rated the movies with 1 being the best and 12 being the worst. For Norris, 1 is the best and 3 is the worst -- since everything other than "Wrath of Khan" and "The Undiscovered Country" is tied for third on his scale. So the worst possible movie, the one everyone would rate last, would have its ratings add up to 63 (12 + 12 + 12 + 12 + 12 + 3).

To weight the average so that Norris could participate, I totaled the rankings as if they were points, divided those points by 63 (again, the maximum number any movie could have earned), and then multiplied the result by 12 to put things back on a 12-point scale.


#1 -- 1.714 -- Wrath of Khan
#2 -- 3.238 -- First Contact
#3 -- 3.810 -- The Undiscovered Country
#4 -- 4.190 -- The Voyage Home
#5 -- 5.333 -- The Search for Spock
#6 -- 6.095 -- The Motion Picture
#7 -- 8.190 -- Star Trek '09
#8 -- 8.571 -- Insurrection
#9 (tie) -- 8.762 -- Generations, Nemesis
#11 -- 10.667 -- Into Darkness
#12 -- 11.238 -- The Final Frontier

So, as you can see, the order doesn't change, and the averages don't vary all that much either. The biggest difference is that there's now a lot less daylight between "First Contact" and "The Undiscovered Country" for the second and third spots on the list -- which is as it should be, since Norris rated "The Undiscovered Country" at #2.
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Mon, May 12, 2014, 3:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

So, five people have put out ranked lists: me, Dom, Brandon, Joseph B, and Genre-Buster. I think that's a good enough number to draw some conclusions from. (Matrix included general category groupings, but nothing was actually ranked, and I didn't feel comfortable assigning numerical rankings. Norris also participated, but I don't know how to accommodate ten third-place votes.)

* "Wrath of Khan" is the near-consensus #1. Four of five people gave it their first-place nod. "First Contact" was also the near-consensus #2, with four of five people putting it in that slot. "The Voyage Home" and "The Undiscovered Country" round out the top third of the movies, and there is almost no difference between them. Both of them got at least two third-place votes, and neither was lower than fifth on anyone's list.

* Starting at the bottom and coming back up, "The Final Frontier" has the worst average rating by a small but noticeable margin. Four people put it either last or next-to-last, and it didn't rate higher than tenth for anyone. Following close behind it at #11 was "Into Darkness." Three people put it either last or next-to-last, and it didn't rate higher than ninth for anyone.

* The movie on which there was the least overall consensus was the 2009 "Star Trek" reboot. No one gave it the same ranking -- it received rankings of fourth, fifth, ninth, tenth, and twelfth. This reflects the clear divide we've already seen on this thread about both the concept and the execution of Abrams Trek.

* "The Motion Picture" and "The Search for Spock" seem to be the movies that fall below the first rank, but that most people don't hate. Three people voted "The Search for Spock" sixth, but it actually ended up fifth in the average because of a high nostalgia rating from Genre-Buster. Most people put "The Motion Picture" between sixth and eighth, and it ended up a clear sixth in the average -- with, again, Genre-Buster being the big outlier.

* There is almost no difference between the average ratings for "Generations," "Insurrection," and "Nemesis." They're clearly the movies that most people don't like, but also don't despise. A majority of voters so far put "Generations" eighth and "Nemesis" ninth. (Interestingly, Dom is a major outlier on both movies, rating "Nemesis" fifth and "Generations" twelfth.) "Insurrection" showed more of a split -- two people rated it seventh, but two people also rated it tenth.


#1 -- 1.6 -- Wrath of Khan
#2 -- 2.8 -- First Contact
#3 -- 3.6 -- The Undiscovered Country
#4 -- 3.8 -- The Voyage Home
#5 -- 5.0 -- The Search for Spock
#6 -- 5.8 -- The Motion Picture
#7 -- 8.0 -- Star Trek '09
#8 -- 8.4 -- Insurrection
#9 (tie) -- 8.6 -- Generations, Nemesis
#11 -- 10.6 -- Into Darkness
#12 -- 11.2 -- The Final Frontier

Honestly, none of this really surprises me. The movies I thought would be on top, are. The movies I thought would be on bottom, are. The kind of blah movies are in the middle. And no one seems to care for any of the Next Generation outings (except for "First Contact") all that much, so much so that they are basically all tied for the places on the list that say "We don't like these, but at least none of them have God trying to commandeer a starship or Orci and Kurtzman trying to commandeer Star Trek II."
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Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 12:21pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Sigh. You were right, Dom. I should have just ignored Norris.

So, anyone up to debate ST movie rankings? I'll put out a list of my own to start us off.

1. Wrath of Khan
2. First Contact
3. The Voyage Home
4. The Undiscovered Country
5. Star Trek
6. The Search for Spock
7. Generations
8. The Motion Picture
9. Nemesis
10. Insurrection
11. The Final Frontier
12. Into Darkness

I don't think I need to defend Wrath of Khan at #1. #2-#4 are rough for me, because I like them all, but I'm a sucker for a good time travel story, and I always liked the lighter tone of The Voyage Home. I'm not comfortable putting The Undiscovered Country at #4, but I'd be less comfortable with either of the other two movies in that spot.

The reboot gets #5, despite it feeling a lot like a movie outline that they filmed, mostly because of the Trekkian ingenuity involved in the reboot. The Search for Spock is underappreciated, but I can't justify placing it higher than the first five. I've never been able to watch Generations the same way since Harry Plinkett ripped it a new one, but it's better than The Motion Picture even so...and since that movie, for all its slowness, is at least trying to be good sci-fi (if not good Trek), that places it above the rest of the movies.

Of those, Nemesis goes down the easiest for me because it feels both like a movie and like Star Trek, although retread versions of both. Insurrection feels like a mediocre two-parter episode of TNG, and I could have done without all the puberty jokes. That still places it above both remaining movies, which are obnoxiously bad. I hate to say that The Final Frontier is better than Into Darkness, because it's really a case of "crap" and "crap lite." I give STV the edge here solely because it's bad in an undeniably original way, whereas the reboot sequel is bad in a thoroughly derivative way that might taint (for some viewers) the best movie ever made under the Star Trek franchise banner.

So, Dom, Eric, Vylora, Louis B, Captain Jon, Matrix...other recent commenters...what do you think?
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Sun, Apr 20, 2014, 8:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

"Demosthenes, you cease tolerating opinions the moment they become not your opinions."

Coming from you, that's rich.

"And you never seem to get tired of it."

Says the person who has posted the most comments of anyone on this thread -- more than TWICE as many as I have, and under two different names no less. Do you realize that even if we treated your names as belonging to two different people, both of you would be still in the top TEN commenters (#2 and #8) out of over one hundred and twenty unique names?!

"...the movie swept the box office..."

Apparently, "swept the box office" is the newest euphemism for "didn't even crack the top ten domestically."

"...and many people I've spoken to in real life, who are not, by and large, Star Trek fans, have admitted to enjoying the film."

And many people who are Star Trek fans in real life have admitted, by and large, to hating the film. That might tell you something about its relative worth as a STAR TREK MOVIE.

When a convention of Star Trek fans give higher marks to both "Star Trek: The Motionless Picture" and "Star Trek V: What Does God Need With a Starship?"...

When io9 rates "ST:iD" the second-worst genre movie of 2013 (and let's face it, "The Lone Ranger" is not really a genre movie, just a really stupid period buddy comedy)...

When its most vocal defender on this board justifies the movie's existence by saying that it "plays to the series' strengths," and then fills in examples of those strengths as "hot chicks" and "slam-bang CG action sequences" (because, you know, those aren't things you could ever say about any OTHER Hollywood blockbusters of recent years)...

Then maybe it's time to admit that the detractors of "ST:iD" might, just might, have a point.

"Perhaps you've made your point and it's time to move on?"

You've quit the thread two or three times, have abused the proverbial deceased equine until it's bled out, and yet YOU haven't moved on. Why should I, when we're all still playing Vladimir and Estragon to Jammer's Godot?
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Sun, Apr 13, 2014, 11:56pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

So, in your view, "the series' strengths" include:

Befouling its own greatest moments
Aping the "Star Wars" aesthetic
CGI-infested action sequences
Inconsistent and lousy science
Paint-by-numbers plotting
Not actually trekking across the stars

I'd call those weaknesses myself, but hey. Whatever makes you happy.
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Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 9:37pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Yeah, Dom, maybe I should have. Truth be told, I hesitated before posting it. While Norris has been all over the place, he has sometimes tried to discuss the film and what he liked about it. And it seemed like a low blow to bring up the inconsistencies I found when I went back to confirm my memories.

But that "remarkably unpleasant people" kiss-off finally decided me -- well, that coupled with the fact that he was the first one to call for a "moratorium" that I think was meant to preclude people from insulting each other...or offering criticisms of what they said. (July 29, 2013) You really can't have it both ways. Or maybe you can, if people let you. But you shouldn't.

Honestly, I wish they'd included that "Kirk doctoring the log in public" scene. Just one more thing he could get busted for. Man doesn't deserve to be in control of a starship. (Not this version of him, at any rate.)
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Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 12:01pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

@ the midshipman:

"Have we given up discussing STID?"

What else is there to say? This comment of mine is the 640th that's been posted on this thread. The few of us who are still here are just waiting for Jammer's review so we'll have something else to talk about. At this point, it seems like everyone who's commented has (between all of us) worn out any positive and negative points of view, and comments, that could be made. We just sound like we're repeating ourselves, or others. I mean, how many times have you made that same "get away from that launcher" reference? It's been at least twice that I can remember, and that's without going back to count. That's not ragging on you personally, it's just going to show how repetitive the conversation has become.

"This movie rocks your socks, and you can easily put it up against Avengers for nerd movie of the year!"

1) My socks remain unrocked.
2) It would be a neat trick if we could put ST:iD and The Avengers against each other for nerd movie of the year, since they came out in different years.

"People are getting so goddamn sensitive these days!"


Not to make this a personal thing, but your saying this triggered something in my memory that made me go back and look. You have quit this thread twice, and retracted your comments another time, because you seemed to get your feelings hurt. And ALL of those took place within a month and a half of each other --

CadetNorris, July 17, 2013:
"I'm not feeling particularly welcome in this open to the whole Internet discussion anymore. Live long and prosper. " (You were gone for like, nine hours.)

MidshipmanNorris, August 6, 2013:
"God. I didn't mean to piss anybody off. I retract everything. Forget it." (That was just after midnight Central Time, over some weird argument on Leonard Nimoy. You were back by noon.)

MidshipmanNorris, August 27, 2013:
"I find you all to be remarkably unpleasant people. I have absolutely no desire to continue this discussion." (You were back within five days.)

I mean, I'm sorry to say this, man, because I don't know what else is going on in your life. But based on the evidence in this thread, it seems like you're the sensitive one. Heck, you've even admitted yourself that people call you sensitive! (August 11, 2013). So you saying that OTHER people are getting too's just too much, dude. It's just too much.

And since I was looking anyway...that "get away from that launcher" joke? You've made it three times.
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Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 9:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

Just watching a rerun of Big Bang Theory. It's the one where Sheldon gets the cardboard cutout of the reboot Spock and angrily exclaims, "Live long and suck it, Zachary Quinto!"

I remember thinking that in the theater last year when Spock screamed "KHAN!"
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