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Jason R.
Thu, Jul 18, 2019, 12:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Shades of Gray

"Have you ever given an oak tree a cold by sneezing on it? Sounds ridiculous, right? To catch a disease from a never before encountered alien lifeform is exponentially more unlikely."

In real life this is certainly true, which makes the idea of contagion or infection from alien life forms you often see in scifi (or parasitism like in the Alien movies) especially implausible. We would almost certainly have nothing to fear from an alien organism at the microbial. Even at the macro level an alien predator probably wouldn't even recognize us as something to eat let alone try to eat us. And if they did our foreign chemistry would probably make us as nutritious to them as rocks would be to us!

But to be fair this is Star Trek, where half the galaxy is populated by so-called "humanoid" aliens who are almost indistinguishable biologically, such that they can even breed with us the idea of cross species infection is more plausible.
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Jason R.
Mon, Jul 15, 2019, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Fallen Hero

So the criminal gangsters thought V'Lar was dead after shooting up the medical pod (allegedly containing her body) and in an act of Ferengi like stupidity neglect to check the pod. Then ambassador dumbass waltzes in to show them she's alive and nya nya nya to them in their faces. Except the joke's on her because in two months she has to return to their world to testify in open court. Hey um ambassador don't you think the bad guys thinking you were dead would have been kind of sort of massively useful?
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Jason R.
Mon, Jul 15, 2019, 7:01am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Acquisition

I watched this one while baking cookies and making sushi. I think I looked up from my work a couple times between creaming the butter and sugar and mixing in the chocolate chips but it was still some Ferenghi muttering in unsubtitled gibberish wondering around Enterprise pilfering so I quickly went back to work.

I think it was around the time I was putting my rice in the pot (after having put the cookies in the oven) that I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Trip and Archer seemed to be awake. Then I started hearing some dialogue in English so I listened and watched a little using my peripheral vision as I carefully prepared my maki rolls with both avocado and salmon.

By the time I was plating the sushi my 5 year old was staring at the cooling rack full of cookies and I heard some dialogue about selling T'Pal into slavery but sadly I remembered thinking that she's main cast so that probably wouldn't happen even if her absence would improve the show (Archer would need a new science officer and maybe she'd be played by a better actor?)

In conclusion, since no one asked the intruders what race they belonged to and no one uttered the word "Ferengi" in the episode, continuity was preserved. Don't you all feel stupid for having questioned the writing?

Still a better episode than Rogue Planet though.
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Jason R.
Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Silent Enemy

I kind of liked this episode, even the B plot involving Malcolm's favourite food.

I did very much enjoy the aliens, who were just such grade A bastards. It made their comeuppance all the more delicious.

My favourite part was when they shoot them point blank with the phase pistols and it doesn't even make them flinch.

What this episode does very well is convey the sense that we really are little fish in a very big pond. It seems like pretty much everyone can kick poor Enterprise's ass - which is a really refreshing change from previous series. Going back even to TOS Federation starships were almost always forces to be reckoned with. In Enterprise the galaxy's equivalent of a wondering hobo with a knife is more than a match for our heroes.

It gives the sense that space is wild, dangerous and unlike in subsequent series - we're not altogether ready.
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Jason R.
Sat, Jul 6, 2019, 10:35am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Return to Grace

"Didn't they abandon their decision to wipe out all cardassians, after determining that they had not been infiltrated by the Founders?"

They never intended to "wipe out" the Cardassians, just conquer and subjugate them. And the claim that the Cardassian government was infiltrated by the Founders was just a pretext.

At the end of WOTW it was stated that the Klingon fleet was fortifying itself in Cardassian territory. So the invasion didn't end, it just slowed down after their attempt to decapitate the Cardassian government failed.
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Jason R.
Thu, Jul 4, 2019, 11:25am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: The Andorian Incident

Can someone explain something to me? I am only about 7 episodes into this series but what is the deal with Archer's hatred of the Vulcans? He seems to imply throughout the series that they "held back" humanity or kept us bottled up. But does he mean they actively prevented humanity from having a space program? Or is it just that they didn't hand us better technology.

And if it's the latter (as it seems to be) ummmm why would he feel we are entitled to Vulcan technology?
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Jason R.
Thu, Jul 4, 2019, 6:49am (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S1: Strange New World

I am watching Enterprise in order for the first time and I have to agree with the criticism of this episode. The Vulcan protocols a.k.a. look before you leap! are not just some useless rules made because Vulcans are uptight.

Indeed, could anyone imagine present-day NASA approaching space exploration in such a slapdash haphazard fashion? What happened to humanity in 100 years? Did all the smart humans die in WW3 leaving behind a bunch of bumpkins?

I am noticing this a lot with Enterprise. Yes the Vulcans are colossal pricks but can you really blame them with how the humans behave? Watching Archer and his crew interact with T'Pol or other Vulcans is just cringeworthy. It's like something out of a sitcom.

Hey Mr. Vulcan don't you know how to have any fun? Huh huh huh huh! It's like an entire crew of Neelixes.

The only one who carries himself with any dignity and an iota of insight is Phlox. If it weren't for him (and maybe Hoshi who also isn't bad) I'd be giving up on this series.
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Jason R.
Wed, Jul 3, 2019, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Booming not to derail the thread but Sokal and its successors targeted *social* science journals.

skepdic.com/sokal.html
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Jason R.
Wed, Jul 3, 2019, 5:27am (UTC -5)
Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Boomer I referenced Sokal because there is a parallel here. The hoax was to see if you could bamboozle respected academics into publishing gibberish. The idea was to make a mockery of their disciplines, to expose them as pretentious frauds.

Whether you think Sokal succeeded is ahem academic.

Obviously Abrams personally does not seek out to mock fans of Trek or Star Wars. But his style of writing where style counterfeits substance, where "mysteries" and plot points are deployed giving the illusion of a plan, yet being utterly arbitrary, does make a mockery of scifi fans who take these fantasy worlds seriously and care about them beyond a couple hours' worth of entertainment.

And heck maybe they are pretentious fools devoting so much time and love to something that always was more style than substance as you say.

Yet, (and this is key) it is the hardcore fans, dare I say the pretentious fools, who kept these mega franchises going long after the movies ended or the show went off the air. This forum is a testament to that fandom. You have people posting to this day on episodes of TV shows that went off the air decades ago!

Maybe these franchises started as style with little substance, but that's not where (I'd argue) they ended up. So when a hack like Abrams gets the keys to the kingdom, vandalizing and mocking the thing we love - yes it tends to turn fans against him.
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Jason R.
Tue, Jul 2, 2019, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Just as one final addition to what I said. If Abrams runs many fans the wrong way, it isn't just because of his style, but that he has in several cases stepped into the helm of these worlds that others built before him, and essentially vandalized them in many people's minds. Lost was his own work, so if he wants to spit on that continuity that is really his prerogative. But handing such a person the "keys to the kingdom" that Rodenberry or Lucas built seems sacrilegious in a way.
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Jason R.
Tue, Jul 2, 2019, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Booming let's imagine a continuum. On one extreme we have a J.R.R. Tolkien, a J.K. Riwling, a J. Michael Strazynski. On this side we have the intense planners, the ones who painstakingly build their mythic worlds with attention to detail and continuity. Let's call them the world builders.

On the other end of the spectrum you have the storytellers who just wing it, who focus exclusively on what is on the screen and treat continuity as something fluid, happy to retcon their own work if it serves their storytelling objective. The ones for who the "universe" begins and ends at the frame of the scene.

I'm embarrassed to say I can't think of a good example of the latter type, which I guess means I am either ignorant or possibly such types rarely achieve the prominence and name recognition of the former type so aren't as easy to remember.

But I am not condemning this second type out of hand. Conceivably, that kind of storytelling has a place. And admittedly, there are big downsides to the "world builders" whose works can seem pedantic, tedious and inaccessible to new audiences.

So it is not about which is better.

Abrams really belongs in a special category. His stories are really category 2, but he tricks the audience into thinking he's in category 1. His schtick is he constructs a counterfeit that will fool his audience just long enough that they'll tune in.

He's form without substance. He's the filmmaking equivalent of the Sokal hoax (and it's more recent iterations) where prominent academic journals were bamboozled into publishing "articles" dressed up as avant guard papers that turned out to be pure gibberish.

And hey, it's clever of him. A cynical person might even say he's brilliant - working smart not hard. Except he's making a mockery of the people who really do care about the things that made Star Wars or LOTR or Babylon 5 or Star Trek so popular.

Abrams' ideology (if I can call it that) comes across to me as a smirk, a hoax that is designed to make fools of "fans" who invest too much love in popular art. He's the guy laughing at you for caring so much about what (to him) is just a silly shoot'em'up for kids. Hey don't take it so seriously - a wizard did it * wink wink *

Personally, that's my take on why so many fans can't stand the guy. A guy like Joss Whedon comes across as your fellow fan. Abrams comes across as the dude who has nothing but contempt for fans, making his living pulling their proverbial underwear over their heads.

Just my feeling about it anyway. I know nothing about the guy personally, but that's what screams at me watching his movies, his TV shows. I am not saying Abrams truly sees it that way, but one could easily be forgiven for suspecting that he does.
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Jason R.
Tue, Jul 2, 2019, 8:52am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I didn't care for The Last Jedi but when people like Grumpy_Otter deride it while praising The Force Awakens, it really touches a nerve with me. Not because TLJ doesn't deserve derision, but because like so many, he has been hoodwinked from the start.

The Last Jedi didn't just fail because 1/3 of the movie was a bizarre pointless sidetrack to nowhere, or because the villains were exposed as hollow incompetent buffoons, or because it turned one of the most iconic characters of the franchise into a worn out mockery.

Those were the symptoms, not the cause of the disease. The root cause goes back to TFA, that shiny, vacuous nothing of a movie, that cast a spell on everyone. That was where it all went wrong, yet so few could see it then or now.

Abrams, through some foul sorcery, re-animates the corpse of ANH, displaying it's rotting visage before us as a mockery of the original. Where the limbs have rotted and fallen off he grafts on his own plastic facsimiles, and he fools us. He convinces us that it's a living, breathing story - yet everything from the characters, to the music is hollow, empty.

And then Abrams leaves and what always happens with him happens again - the poor sucker left holding the bag (in this case Johnson) looks like the villain while Abrams comes put smelling like roses! So infuriating! It happened with Star Trek, with Lost, with everything this guy has touched.
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Jason R.
Sun, Jun 30, 2019, 7:51am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: All Good Things...

Asher, great comment - I agree with everything you said, especially concerning the Troi and Crusher characters.

The irony with Crusher is that it might have been the actress's fault all along. She was just incredibly weak. As soon as they brought Mulder in as Pulawski in season 2 suddenly there was just this air of authority and energy that was lacking with McFadden. I didn't always approve of Pulawski's borderline bigotry toward Data, but at least she took a stand. She believed in something! And she had character. Opinions.

The writing in Season 2 wasn't always the strongest so we will never know what Pulawski would have become had she made it out of the desert into the prime seasons. But I personally think she would have evolved into a core character, at least as strong as Worf or Riker. But we got more of McFadden.... sigh...

Regarding Troi, the squandered potential beggars belief. With maybe a tiny handful of exceptions, Troi barely contributed at all. At all! They had an empath on board and all they could do with her in 7 seasons is feel the obvious and spout her inane psychobabble like some 2-bit therapist charging $80 an hour. It's like if Data really was the ship's bartender (a la conundrum) and they really just kept him in Ten Forward the whole series.

The weird thing is that Sirtis really had it in her to do better. With Troi I truly think it was a writing, rather than acting issue. They had an empath and for 7 seasons it's like no one knew what to do with her. She was the Android tending bar. Ugh.
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Jason R.
Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 11:17am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Explorers

Thanks William that is a really great explanation. I wish I understood more than 1% of it but even the 1% is interesting.

Could I just ask: is this something that is a certainty, or does the hypothesis depend on a lot of speculation? I know time dilation has been proven by putting atomic clocks on airplanes but do we know for sure that it would work this way in practice? With enough energy I could literally travel 1 billion light years in less than a human lifetime from my own POV? It just seems like it can't be true.

And another question: I know getting to close to the speed of light requires ludicrous amounts of energy but is it feasible that one day we could accelerate a ship to some meaningful fraction of light speed (say 1/2 or 1/4) and would time dilation make any practical difference at that speed?

On the subject of Voyager it occurred to me that Janeway should have just accelerated to near ls, arrived at Earth 70,000 years in the future and then done the slingshot around the sun trick to go back in time. But then it occurred to me that even with antimatter she would never have had the energy to accelerate to that speed so no luck.
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Jason R.
Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 4:16am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Explorers

"If the ship accelerated to near light speed and did a circuit from Earth to the star and back, the space ship crew would experience it as a very short trip over which Earthers aged just over 20 years."

That was what I thought but I am just recently discovering this stuff as a layperson.

Correct me if I am wrong, but assuming you could get your ship to nearly light speed (dodging cosmic rays, deadly dust particles and using more energy than the entire world could produce ...) you could basically go gallivanting around the universe Traveller style touring the cosmos from end to end and come out young enough to enjoy early retirement?

(With the caveat of course that when you got home the sun would have burned out, and everyone you knew would be dust.)

But travelling at sublight you basically can (from your own point of view) do the 70,000 light year Star Trek Voyager tour more or less instantly - despite the fictional Voyager having warp drive and being able to travel faster than light!
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Jason R.
Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Explorers

"Bloody hell I didn't realise how badly I want humankind to travel to another galaxy. Seeing Sisko and son get to Cardassia made me feel way more than I thought it would."

I used to take it as a given that mankind would one day reach the stars - it comes from growing up with Trek.

But even setting aside the risk that we might be destroyed by nuclear war or climate change or economic collapse before this could be achieved, the technical challenges of reaching Alpha Centauri, just a piddling 4 light years away, are daunting to put it mildly.

Unless someone pulls a warp drive out of their rear end (which might as well be sorcery frankly) it will probably never happen. We would be lucky to build machines capable of interstellar travel. For humans to do it? Maybe impossible.

But then there was something I thought pretty remarkable - if somehow you could get a ship to a significant fraction of the speed of light (which a human could easily survive in principle) you wouldn't need a warp drive to explore the universe. From the point of view of the crew you could explore our galaxy and every galaxy within a human lifetime - at sublight speeds!

We think Trek is stranger than reality but it turns out it isn't nearly strange enough!
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Jason R.
Sun, Jun 16, 2019, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Host

"Well guess what? Bev is his doctor so guess what she knows? That's right his peepee size. And then at the end of the episode that lady doesn't have one at all. Bet that makes you think huh."

Guess that explains why we never see Riker with the same woman twice. Bravo sir - you are wise indeed.
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Jason R.
Fri, Jun 14, 2019, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Who Mourns for Adonais?

"Sorry, just saw your post. You have repeatedly shown the need to insult me. Could you stop that, please."

I do tend to be a bit of a bulldog in these debates and sometimes my style is acerbic.

But I never insulted you on this thread. Not once.
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Jason R.
Fri, Jun 14, 2019, 6:35am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Who Mourns for Adonais?

"To me this sounds like women, because they already leave for a while because of the pregnancy, should continue to stay at home instead of the father. If I, for some reason, misunderstood you then i sincerely apologize"

But that is not what you said and not what I objected to. You said:

""He said that there "is an obvious synergy" when the person who gets pregnant stays at home while the other person (the man) continues to work. Does this not lead to fathers *barely participating in the upbringing?*"

I placed an asterix around "barely participating in the upbringing".

"Barely" is defined as "only just, almost not".

This is the part I take issue with. I am a full time worker with my wife staying at home and I don't "barely" participate in my daughter's upbringing. Sociologist or not, that's a risible thing to say. It's ignorant.
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Jason R.
Thu, Jun 13, 2019, 12:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Who Mourns for Adonais?

"I'm not debating that breastfeeding exists even though I find your view that fathers should barely participate in the upbringing of their newborn during the first month odd."

I said that fathers should "barely participate in the upbringing of their newborn during the first month"?

Indeed, that would be an odd thing for someone to say.

"He said that there "is an obvious synergy" when the person who gets pregnant stays at home while the other person (the man) continues to work. Does this not lead to fathers barely participating in the upbringing?"

Nope.

Now I am glad you acknowledge the existence of breastfeeding. Now acknowledge that there are some very practical reasons why women choose to take the lion's share of leave in many families that are not just arbitrary cultural manifestations of sexism.

"So you would argue that an employer should have the right to fire a woman who decides to have more than one child?"

I am going to field this one since Peter was kind enough to call you out for misrepresenting me.

Peter's point was not that women should be fired for having kids and going on leave - indeed he said nothing of the kind. The point was simply that this would be burdensome for the company, which is just obvious.

Is it "unsustainable"? Depends on the resources of the company. Bigger businesses with a lot of employees can certainly afford to accept this burden more than smaller ones.

I don't think feminists even would really argue that it's a burden to have an employee going on leave constantly for year-long stints. It's self evidently so.

It's why there is such a huge push to normalize paternity leave - to take the pressure off women. Yet men just aren't going on leave, no matter how many incentives are thrown at them or how hard governments try to arm twist this into happening.

Families are continuing to make rational choices on this subject, in keeping not just with "social" expectations but biological facts, like breastfeeding and child birth.

But I will say that I do think there is a big social component to the choices families make. As of right now, it is still not socially acceptable for men to be "house husbands" in most milieu and that plays a part to be sure.

But to discount biological facts like breastfeeding is delusional.
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Jason R.
Thu, Jun 13, 2019, 5:40am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Who Mourns for Adonais?

"Having the babies and caring for them after birth are two different things men often confuse. "

I don't think anyone is "confused" about the difference between these two activities. It is just apparent that they're linked in a pretty non-trivial way. If you're a parent and your partner chose to breastfeed then it's asinine to suggest that the mother doing childcare is some arbitrary social construct.

Similarly, there is an obvious synergy in the person who is already taking time off work due to physical changes (which in some cases already led to an early leave) continuing with that leave rather than going back so that the other partner can go off on a second leave, especially if breastfeeding is taking place.

Note I am not discounting the fact that technology or other resources (breast pumps, formula, wet nurses, daycare...) can fill this gap. But that it is there and it is NOT purely socially constructed is pretty well obvious.

"One could very well make the argument that femininity is a social construct that is not beneficial to women's careers."

You're very good at making connections between social constructs (femininity) and physical realities (reduced typing efficiency) in one context, but not in others.
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Jason R.
Wed, Jun 12, 2019, 5:48am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: Charlie X

Peter I'll admit I thought your hypothesis was a bit out there. But then I watched the episode last night again for the first time in a while.

I still doubt that was what they were going for with it, but I enjoyed applying your filter to the action.

Kirk's utter inability to explain to Charlie why you can't slap a woman's behind (in essence, why consent is necessary to sex or simply no-means-no) may be just "ha ha sex is awkward" but one could wonder if Kirk simply can't address the question because it has never come up for him. In his universe, no woman ever says no to him. Kirk, like Charlie, exists in a universe where his will becomes reality.

In a meta sort of way Kirk and Charlie are mirror images. Kirk is the hero, and for that sort of hero, "no" is alien, unfathomable. Charlie is what happens when heroes fall into a 'real' real world and ot ain't pretty.
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Jason R.
Tue, Jun 11, 2019, 5:33am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Civil Defense

"I can almost understand the program getting missed if it was buried in some separate sub processor, but how has no one ever noticed the canisters of nerve gas secreted all about the place? They never got picked up by the ultra sensitive tricorders or weapons detection system? Its all a bit silly really."

We can assume that the station's life support system is, in essence, a replicator capable of producing any compound on demand. Nothing less would make sense given the technology they have. So there were no canisters of nerve gas. The computer simply conjured the gas on demand.

To me this episode makes perfect sense. It was a file hidden on a separate database for an obsolete system that the Federation staff had not even gotten around to inspecting. It was still a Cardassian computer running Cardassian software so it's understandable that some leftover military grade computer virus could wreak havoc once unleashed.

The funny thing about Trek is that so much of it severely underestimates the capabilities of the tech we take for granted. Loved the replicated gun turret - actually surprising we never saw something like that before!
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Jason R.
Sat, Jun 8, 2019, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: The Ultimate Computer

Well Chrome to be fair Thomas went well beyond saying we shouldn't do manual work. He said we shouldn't "strive" for things outside ourselves and be content from within. I feel like I need to channel Kirk on this one because I think I know what he'd say about it. Indeed, when I mentioned being high I was thinking about the Landru worshippers and other so-called "arrested" cultures (the Organians would be perfectly on point if they weren't uber energy beings incidentally).

But I will admit I don't really understand what Thomas is getting at so I'll leave it to him to explain what he means.
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Jason R.
Sat, Jun 8, 2019, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: The Ultimate Computer

"Asking whether that's really true, whether my searching and striving has ever brought me true happiness, would be an example of looking within."

I can't speak to "true happiness" because I don't know for certain what that is and how it is differentiated from the everyday kind.

But nothing I have in my life that makes me happy, from my wife and daughter at the top of the pyramid to close friends and down to material possessions, came into my life without striving, struggle, dare I say "work".

Whether it's getting up the nerve to ask a woman out, to giving a presentation to clients, to pressing on trying to get pregnant after a heart-breaking miscarriage - it's all "work" some paid some not. Some pleasant (but no less difficult!) and some boring.

What you describe sounds like being high or stoned. I truly don't understand.
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