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Vladimir Estragon
Sat, Jul 13, 2019, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Assignment

It's not my favorite episode either, but I think that Keiko was the perfect choice. Everybody already thought that she was a cranky bitch, so the personality change wasn't immediately obvious to most people. It's always been my opinion that, after the end of the series, Miles O'Brien would last about a month on Earth with her before signing on for another deep space mission.
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Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Corbomite Maneuver

The only thing I liked in this episode was Bailey freaking out and yelling “he’s doing a countdown!” Otherwise snoozy. It really is too slow, and Balock is supposed to be cute and charming but instead is creepy and uncanny. I’m surprised how warm the reviews are!
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Tue, Jul 9, 2019, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Generations

My brother will die in the near future of cancer and, at his request, we’re watching Star Trek together anytime he feels up for it. About 70% of what we’ve watched together so far has been new to me. Generations was our most recent viewing.

I saw it in theaters as a teen and adored it. This was only my second time ever to watch it and I remembered many specific scenes from a single viewing 25 years ago. I would say it has visual and emotional impact, to be able to do that.

I adored it again. I was never bored for a second and I loved the great variety of settings. To find that so many fans found it “middling” or worse baffles me. There were a few interesting continuity objections I hadn’t considered - like the inconsistent speed of the Nexus and back-and-forth uniforms - but otherwise few of the criticisms seem to affect me. Annoying emotional Data, Kirk fistfighting only to be buried under a cairn, the gorgeous lighting, the odd dice roll of Chekov, Scotty, and Kirk as The TOS characters, the counseling scene, the Christmas scene, they all made sense to me.

And now a small confession: I had to choke back sobs when the little girl dropped her teddy bear. For work, I read about and summarize political and social crises of the 20th-21st centuries (torture of dissenters by the Taliban, for example). When she lost her bear unexpectedly just when she most would have benefited from its comfort, it suddenly symbolized for me all the people who I read about who suffer from shared traumatic crises, like Chernobyl or Tiananmen Square or Daesh. Was it handled with finesse and grace? No, the film work just then was definitely on the clunky side. But because of my background, I was affected.

Obviously, mileages vary.
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Fri, Jul 5, 2019, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

We’re watching as much Star Trek together as possible at my brother’s request as he has an incurable cancer. This was last night’s selection as we had extended family over for the Independence holiday, and we thought it was the most accessible of the movies we hadn’t seen recently. It is maybe my third time to see it, my first as an adult.

We loved it, even though the set-up had to be explained to family.

We all agreed: the opening music sounds like it was written for a Christmas movie. The end music also, to a lesser degree.

Why can whale song be heard through space? What’s the medium the sound waves are traveling on?

Someone earlier said Jillian was too ditzy to be credible. I was on the lookout for ditz, but didn’t see it. I just saw passion for the whales.
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Wed, Jul 3, 2019, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Thank you, Booming and Lupe. He wanted to introduce Dad to Firefly, so that’s “their show” and we’re watching some TOS, DS9, and the feature films as he has interest and energy. It’s slow going so we might do as much as a film a day, or 1.5 eps (he falls asleep easily).
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Tue, Jul 2, 2019, 11:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

As my brother declines in his cancer, we’re watching Star Trek together at his request. Most of it is new to me. This was tonight’s selection, and the first time I’d seen it.

He hadn’t seen it since 1989, in theaters. He said, “The first third is tolerable.” With this endorsement, I suggested any number of alternatives, but he was firm. Onward.

Uhura’s dance scene was sadly undignified and also an unbelievable plot device. “Yoo-hoo, boys, looky this way.” Someone earlier said “Roadrunner cartoon” and this smacked of it.

Most of the jokes weren’t terrible but the delivery was off. They were too self-aware.

The bald dirt farmer in the prelude: When Sybok said “I don’t believe you would shoot me for a field of empty holes,” and the farmer said “it’s all I have,” that was a powerful moment for me.
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Mon, Jul 1, 2019, 10:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

My brother is succumbing to cancer and he’s asked me to watch as much Star Trek as possible with him, within the limitations of his energy. This was tonight’s selection. It was my first time to see it.

“Greek tragic cycle” came to mind. Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock seem to have a similar relationship to one another as, say Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone. The “operatic” description in Jammer’s review resonated with me.

The theft and loss of the Enterprise was fantastic cinema.

I adored Saavik’s deep compassion and capability.

The actor playing the captain of the science vessel around Genesis did not sell the character.

Imagining the torment endured in solitude and confusion by infant and very young Spock was hard on me.
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Mon, Jul 1, 2019, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

My brother will die of his cancer soon, but whether that days or months is not clear. He asked me to watch as much Star Trek with him as he has energy for. I’m seeing nearly all of it for the first time in recent months.

We watched this movie last night, and except for the creepy brain slugs, it was very enjoyable. I didn’t know this was the movie where Spock died so it was a relative surprise.
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Thu, Jun 27, 2019, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Just watched for the first time yesterday.

Is there an explanation - either in-universe or movie-making reasons - for the oddball costumes? They were so beige, so . . . truthful.

If the answer is in the most recent fifty comments, I despaired of reading all of them and finally jumped to the comment box myself.
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Alessandro Picone
Mon, Jun 24, 2019, 8:02am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Homeward

I quite liked this episode, and I don't quite understand why others did not. It an example of how compassion and humanity can win over the abstract, heartless Prime Directive. I was only sorry that Vorin killed himself, there wasn't really any good reason to do so. We have many examples in the Star Trek saga of people from less advanced civilizations who were very happy to join the more advanced reality. It seems that nobody really bothered to explain Vorin the many advantages of 24th century federation
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Wes B.
Wed, Jun 5, 2019, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Metamorphosis

Great thoughts, everyone. The joining of Cochrane and the Companion-Hedford reminded me of the joining between Decker and the Ilia probe in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979).

On another note-- For those of you who may not know, the director of this episode and others, Ralph Senensky, has written about his directorial experiences on his blog. Here's the one on "Metamorphosis," which was his favorite TOS episode to direct:
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Fri, May 31, 2019, 10:10am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Starship Mine

Enjoyed this episode for what it is. Low level Die Hard scenario. Picard arming up with a crossbow and making improvised explosive devices was fun. The Mott thing was a direct rip of the Die Hard scene when Gruber gets caught and calls himself Bill Clay.
Not sure why Picard goes through the trouble of maiming people when he knows the beam will wipe them out. Maybe he was hoping he could get it shut down. But blowing up the shuttle was just cold-hearted man.
Hutchinson getting zapped was kinda funny.
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Sun, May 26, 2019, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Captive Pursuit

I’m watching DS9 for the first time. I’m learning not to read the comment threads as the spoilers are thick and fast! I don’t know anything about a Dominion but clearly it’s as big as an elephant in a kiddie pool later on.

I was genuinely moved by the farewell expression “die with honor” as well as the station’s complicit collaboration with O’Brien’s unorthodox solution. Odo was nothing short of graceful as he slowly, slowly hastened to his urgent duty. We laughed aloud here.

Also, the trumpet in the opening music! Someone play that at my funeral, please.
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Sun, May 26, 2019, 5:39am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Recycling previous stories or concepts but giving them a new twist is rich ground for sci-fi, I thought this episode did that and a lot of the credit should go to Adrienne Pallecki for giving such warmth and humanity to her depiction of the older and younger Kelly Grayson. Also some great supporting scenes with the other main cast to explore the characters of Grayson and Mercer.

Wonderful special effects and camera work with a nice twist at the end to keep the audience on their toes.
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Sat, May 25, 2019, 11:45am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: A Man Alone

Did anyone else notice the Star Wars shout-out on Ibudan’s agenda?
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Tue, May 21, 2019, 7:02am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Sanctuary

I loved The Orville and it's whacky indulgent and slightly unbalanced workplace comedy feel right from the start, and it looks like Jammer and some other people are coming around.

Some of the comments re comparisons with MASH are surprisingly illuminating, although I"m not a MASH fan or expert myself.

It's Seth's "love letter" to the Trek universe but still quite surprising how much heart shines through, the juxtaposition of Dolly Parton music over a routine hand to hand combat scene was inspired.

Thank God for Seth showing us that Sci Fi can be "fun" - something that only a few Trek episodes and Red Dwarf and maybe some Dr Who have pulled off,
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Thu, May 16, 2019, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Turnabout Intruder

“Nobody talk about nothing no how while I’m gone! Especially not about how hysterical I’m acting!” /stomps from room, does nails/


Many heartfelt thanks to Trent for typing up the Asimov/Roddenberry letter.
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Wed, May 15, 2019, 7:58am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Child

Siri and Alexa are alive too. They say hello and goodbye, they let me know what songs I should listen too before I even ask, and they’re just so darn polite. I can’t stand it when people are rude to Siri!
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Mon, May 13, 2019, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The City on the Edge of Forever

You guys should really read Harlan Ellison's original script for the episode. Worth all the praise it gets.
In my opinion, Harlan Ellison is the best science fiction author in terms of being an author. Whatever your thoughts on the man, his prose is dynamic, his dialogue smacks you in the jaw, his brain ticks like no one elses, and he wraps it all up in a well crafted story every time.
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Sun, May 12, 2019, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

This thread seems as good a place as any to thank Jammer, which I’ve been wanting to do for months. Except for about 20 TNG episodes in my youth, all the Trek I’ve seen has been in the past 18 months, with Jammer’s reviews nearby for company. I’ve finished TNG and almost done with TOS and deciding now whether to watch movies or DS9 and Voyager.

Jammer, your reviews are very readable for someone relatively new to Trek. Most of what I’ve found elsewhere seems powered by superfan-lingo, which is fine, but not necessarily hospitable to outsiders and newbies. Here is different. Thank you for your reviews. (Also your general posts and rants, which I also thoroughly enjoy.)
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Sun, May 12, 2019, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: And the Children Shall Lead

I find this episode much more interesting when I consider the Gorgon as child-lore turned real, in the spirit of Jasper Fforde ‘s Nursery Crime series or Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Der Kindestod.” Not nearly as effective as either of those, but still exploring the question “what if that game/story/boogeyman the kids have turned out to be real?”
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Wed, May 8, 2019, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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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