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Peter G.
Sat, May 30, 2020, 10:06am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Rascals

Hey, I like The Game!
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Peter G.
Fri, May 29, 2020, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Honor Among Thieves

@ Dan W,

"I honestly don't understand why they would ask the Chief of Operations of Deep Space 9, which is the most important station in the quadrant, to do an undercover assignment. You're telling me no one from the Orion Syndicate has been to DS9?"

Because O'Brien must be tortured? It's like a tradition, man.

"I am honestly surprised the Vorta didn't recognise O'Brien, you'd think the Dominion would have profiles on DS9's senior staff, no?"

Maybe the Vorta did recognize him and was enjoying watching O'Brien's seasonal flogging?
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Peter G.
Fri, May 29, 2020, 10:15am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: Return to Tomorrow

"It's worth mentioning since others commented on the disappointing ending that there was a controversy with this episode's writer John Dugan, a Catholic. He wanted Sargon and Thalassa to live on in the end as spirits without bodies, which is how he ended it in the original script. Roddenbery changed it so the two would simply fade into oblivion."

What a petty argument? Are both of them under the assumption that Kirk is a wizard and can "just tell" when a person dies whether their spirit 'goes on' or fades into nothing? I don't even know what it means to argue about this point. Catholics already believe that we have an afterlife *and* that you see nothing special when someone dies. Haha, what a dumb thing to fight about. And actually, the idea of disembodied human spirits floating around isn't even a Christian concept afaik. Or if it is one it's one of those quasi-pagan superstitious beliefs they had been in the 1500's when the old religions were still bound up with the new in many places.
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Peter G.
Wed, May 27, 2020, 11:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: A Private Little War

Thanks Jay Marks!
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Peter G.
Wed, May 27, 2020, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: A Private Little War

@ Chrome,

"The PD doesn't apply here because the Klingons already messed with the natural development of the people. Kirk's solution is supposed to correct that interference."

I'm citing the PD because I think the spirit of the PD is what's in play here - to give them a chance at a normal development, or as close to one as is possible at this point. TOS did more actually than the later series did to not only spell out the PD, but also to spell out that as a law it requires on-the-fly interpretation and that it's never black and white (which on TNG they often make it). A Captain is uniquely in the position to determine the best way to maintain its spirit when the letter of it is no longer possible (see A Piece of the Action for another example of a zany way to try to follow the spirit of the law). I brought it up because this is a viable alternative as a theory for why Kirk helps, as opposed to the more realpolitik interpretation that the Federation was being just like the U.S. in the Cold War.

"But as the episode discusses, it seems likely to lead to escalation and ramped up interference by Starfleet. Maybe in the Star Trek universe, escalation never happens and the Klingons back down, but in the parallel real world conflict *this episode mentions specifically* that wasn't the case."

I agree that the prognosis doesn't look good for paradise on this planet. The bottom line is that the Klingons ruined it, and the only thing left to do is salvage whatever scraps of it remain. The reason I keep mentioning the friendship is that I think it demonstrates that there can be reasons for arming a people other than to manipulate them into your own private conflicts. It might well be possible to do 'cold war type stuff' but in a spirit of friendship, depending on context. The best Kirk could do here to maintain balance was a least of evils choice, no question about that. My only contention is that I don't think it was necessarily an error, nor does it have to be seen as done for the purpose of having a proxy war against the Klingons.
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Peter G.
Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

@ Jason R.,

Hah! At least with that one I could believe it's a result of false boasting on their part.
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Peter G.
Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

@ Jason R.,

The Doomsday device was also made of neutronium!
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Peter G.
Wed, May 27, 2020, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: A Private Little War

@ Chrome,

I might have to re-watch for tone, but I don't recall ever getting the impression that we're meant to feel that Kirk made a mistake at the end. I don't think he was happy to have to intervene in this manner, but I don't recall anything indicating any awareness that he was making an error.

"It's not until Klingon interference is confirmed that Kirk is forced to get involved as a matter of duty. This makes it look like Kirk's interests are in line with Starfleet's and the burden he has to bear is for Starfleet's cause - i.e. winning or maintaining balance against the Klingons."

But I think this is a Prime Directive thing. He would have let them kill each other under normal circumstances due to the PD. What changes is that the Klingons interfere on one side. Technically that should not alter the Fed position that intervening is a breach of the PD; I don't think the PD has 'unless' clauses. So I suppose it's my interpretation that Kirk's personal friendship is what pushes him over the edge and makes him feel that it's just unacceptable to follow the letter of the law and let his friend's people die due to Klingon interference. Kirk's solution seems to me like the best he can do to re-establish non-interference. In effect, to try to match and therefore undo the Klingon interference in this culture. But I don't think it's to serve Starfleet's agenda in defeating Klingons; I think it's to fix a PD violation, even though technically it was the Klingons who violated it. I think the spirit of arming both sides is something like recognizing that what happened is not fair, and not representative of letting a culture evolve on its own. He needed to arm Tyree's side to give them a chance to settle their cultural dispute on their own terms. I see it as trying to re-establish normal cultural development there.
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Peter G.
Tue, May 26, 2020, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: A Private Little War

@ Chrome,

I hear you on some of these objections. For my part Nona annoyed me as a kid, since she comes off as so antagonistic and manipulative. However looking back I wonder whether there isn't something deeper to be found there. Basically she wants a strong leader, yes, a 'real man', and also one she can manipulate. A man of peace wouldn't have much room for her type of thinking, whereas an emotionally agitated and movable man would. To me this says something about how men of peace might come off to others who are expecting the "strong man". For instance, could a moderate and peaceful person have taken over Saddam's Iraq back in the 90's? Or would that have been rejected by all involved as weak and that person been deposed? It begs the question of not just which approach is enlightened, but which will actually work. No point putting a 'man of the future' in power if in the present they cannot possibly rule successfully. I think Hamlet is all about that. In an less developed society you can't have a peaceful person at the helm. And maybe Nona is our vehicle to that realization, especially as she's the female presence which, reputedly, is more attracted to the alpha type than the 'decent person.' Or at least that is an impression we may get observing the success powerful men and celebrities get in the romance department. My point is that maybe all signs point towards "nice guy can't lead us" in a more primitive society.

Regarding the proxy war aspect, I'm not sure about your conclusion that it should be seen as a failure of a policy. The cold war setting is established by the Organian Treaty, and so Kirk has to choose between letting Tyree's people be run over, or to arm them and give them a chance. Now in the actual Cold War the situation was IMO more like both sides were pillaging the Third World and using the 'war' as a cover. But in our Trek context we know Kirk wouldn't do that, and that he legitimately just wants them to be able to defend themselves. The proxy war in this case isn't necessarily about containment of the Klingons from expanding as an empire, but could be seen as just trying to help these people. Part of our backstory is Kirk's personal friendship with Tyree. Given a choice between watching them die or helping by arming them, I'm not so sure that arming them is illogical. I think maybe the motive matters a lot. Protecting a vulnerable people is really a different objective than using some other people to fight a war for you that you don't want to fight directly, using them as canon fodder.

Don't you think?
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Peter G.
Tue, May 26, 2020, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Relics

@ Jeffrey Jakucyk,

I think you raise some good points about the tech side of the episode. My main gripe is that the tech side wasn't interesting, more so than the fact of certain illogical omissions. I guess I do have a few possible explanations I could suggest:

"Second, how does the sphere create such a huge gravity well when it's mostly hollow? Yes if it takes up all the matter present in a solar system to build (and then some), that's a lot of mass, but they go into systems with stars big enough to go supernova, quasars, etc., and they don't seem to have any problem with the gravity."

If you took all matter in our solar system there is NO WAY you'd have enough to encircle a star like they did here. So I guess we need to conclude that they used matter from many star systems, shuttling it in to complete the job like a giant Death Star. I guess if it was the combined matter of like 100 systems maybe that could explain it? But even then that shouldn't compare with the mass of a large star, so yeah...

"Third, how does anything cling to the inner surface of the sphere? Its center of mass is still at the star. I suppose they can use some tech to explain this, since they do get all of the star's energy to harness."

This one actually seems sensible to me. The issue isn't the center of gravity of the star system, it's the force of gravity at any given point. If the sphere is very far from the star then its gravity would be minor compared to the gravity of the immediate matter. That is why we don't fly off of the Earth into the sun every day. It ends up being a math question about how much matter is how close to you, to determine the net force applied to you when you're on the surface. I can't do that calculation, but it would have to do with how dense the matter is near you and just how big that sphere is. The mass of the rest of the sphere ends up mattering less the further it is from you, but still the parts of the sphere closer to you would all impact you a lot, just as the matter 'beneath' your feet would. Unlike Earth, where the majority of the Earth's mass is 'beneath' you, in the sphere it would largely be to the sides of you (the furthest points being 'above' you, but also too far away to matter much compared to the nearer parts). So it is possible that the net gravity acting on you would, let's say, make you hover 100 feet off the ground! Or it could be anything like that, it depends on what numbers (radius and density) are plugged into the equations.

"Fourth, it should've taken years for the Enterprise to get from the portal to anywhere near the sun at those speeds. Even if you assume those tractor beams accelerated the ship at impulse speed (let's say 1/8 impulse, which would be 1/32 light speed), it would still take nearly three hours to travel the 100m radius of the sphere."

Let's say for argument's sake that the sphere's radius is equal to the distance of the Earth to the sun (151 million km), and that the Enterprise as you say was going 1/32 C. C = 1 billion kph, so 1/32 C = 31 million kph. So at 1/8 impulse (if your figure for it is correct) the Enterprise would move from the portal to the star in around 15 hours, assuming no acceleration as it got closer. That does roughly seem to match what the show portrays.

"Fifth, what idiot designed the portal to fling ships directly towards the sun anyway? Of course, since it would really take so long as to be irrelevant..."

I, uh, assume the system was malfunctioning by this point. Like, presumably air traffic control or whatever would shut off the beam once the ship was inside.

"Seventh, Geordi could've opened the portal, hailed the Enterprise, and conversed with them as many times as needed to figure out a solution. Jamming the Jenolen into the hatch was just a contrivance."

I guess what they were trying to suggest was that they could only successfully keep it open for seconds, so they needed to buy a little time?
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Peter G.
Tue, May 26, 2020, 3:11am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Sanctuary

"There is no rational argument for settling the Skreeans on Bajor."

Agreed. Maybe I need to watch it again, but I think the only reason why their claim would even be worth considering is some sort of analogy to what the Bajorans went through. Like, somehow this used to be their world and they ended up as refugees, and now need to come back home after all these years. That could vaguely parallel Bajor coming out of the Occupation, and bitter pill here is maybe supposed to be that the Bajorans find themselves unhappily close to a Cardassian position here, which is "our people have to take priority over your people." But I think that only makes sense if the Skreeans are supposed to be understood as having some sort of right to be there. Otherwise it's just a request that comes at the wrong time, mixed with an unreasonable refusal to settle elsewhere despite a nice offer by the Federation. Unless it's their ancestral home they're being stupid. Even if it *is* the case is debatable, but if it's not then they're just being a pain.
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Peter G.
Mon, May 25, 2020, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Sanctuary

Oh man I should have proof-read my last post better, sorry everyone. I was writing really quickly that time.

@ Top Hat,

Technically I think you are right, but it's my suspicion at least that they were trying to go for something like "what happens if this other people with a real claim come along, will they be taken seriously?" Whether the claim literally comes from an ancestral presence, or a prophecy, or whatever else, seems to me secondary because if we don't take whatever it is seriously then they are just an annoying presence. For the episode to work it has to be taken seriously, and if we take it at face value that their claim is legit (wherever its origin) then I think what we have is a First Nations analogy. Now that I think about it I suppose it could be a plain refugee analogy as well, but in that case the prophecy thing comes across as a red herring. You don't tell people you're begging to asylum that you actually have an inherent right to their planet/nation. So to me it reads even worse as a refugee analogy than it does as a First Nations analogy. If that's what they wanted then they botched it even worse than I thought.
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Peter G.
Mon, May 25, 2020, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Sanctuary

@ Shiva Menon,

If you read on the episode is correct, that this is about purpose and meaning to the Skreeans, then IMO that would really mean to me that they're basically nutjobs who are so out of touch with reality that it's hard to identify with them on any level. And as I do believe this episode is one of DS9's epic botches, they actually *do* come off this way to a significant extent, which is unfortunately.

What I suspect it's supposed to be about isn't some random vision that will give their lives meaning; I think it's about indigenous peoples displaced from their ancestral land and making an ancient claim to it. Much like in our current environment, the most even quite liberal people are really willing to do is make a speech of commiseration and the odd art exhibit, but no one is going to give up their homes or half of their nation's land to let the previous inhabitants back. That's just not how it's going to work in the real world, like it or not, and I think this episode opened up the possibility of seeing the Bajorans not just as victims but also, even inadvertently, as a people who are likewise occupying land to which there may be an even more ancestral claim. Or at least the challenge is whether they're willing to even recognize that's possible.

The way the episode plays out it scarcely matters, because the hijinx with the adolescents along with the vagueness of the claim makes us annoyed most of the time and sort of wishing they would just move on. It's 'sad' but predictable when the Bajorans won't just give them the planet to live on, and I put that in scare quotes because it's not actually sad to the viewer, although it should be. That it's so unthinkable that those who have been wronged may have wronged others (or being doing so presently) is the challenge of the episode, but the challenge only makes sense if the Skreean claim is legitimately based on having been displaced in the past. If they aren't an allegory to the First Nations situation then they really are just another annoying race like the Move Along Home goofs.
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Peter G.
Mon, May 25, 2020, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S2: The Omega Glory

Me neither.

I actually still need to do my re-watch of this to do my Vulcan telepathy studies for the week. I always remembered this being a pretty bad episode, and I have a vague memory of there being a terrible plot hole somewhere in it.
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Peter G.
Mon, May 25, 2020, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

Full disclosure, I only watched this show so that I could participate in the comments section here. Kudos to your site, Jammer. I tried the same for DISC but was physically unable to bring myself to watch S2. It would taken Clockwork Orange conditions to make that happen. So I've stayed away from comments sections for that.
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Peter G.
Sat, May 23, 2020, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

@ Dom,

" It really makes me wonder... are the writers just so bad that they don't understand the implications of their story? Or was there a bunch of studio meddling that water down whatever messages were intended?"

Say whatever you want about the content they decided to finally add, the writing itself is really bad, around the same level as DISC, which I would put somewhere near a high school level in a creative writing class.
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Peter G.
Thu, May 21, 2020, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The Squire of Gothos

@ Chrome,

Especially interesting about Trelane is that he requires technological devices to amplify or even create his powers. Does that mean that he's not really godlike but is just part of a race with godlike tech? Or does it mean that being godlike and having advanced tech are essentially the same thing, and that bio/tech/evolution all amount to the same thing if you trace it forward millions or billions of years?

That being said, while it's fun for Trelane to have a mechanical weakness here, it works because he's portrayed as a child and we're not supposed to really have any respect for him. In VOY the same premise turns out to be poison for the mythos of the Q, where "Q guns" being used by humans ends up being one of the most preposterous writing choices in Trek history, probably up there with Threshhold and Profit and Lace in terms of the ball being dropped in the writer's room. We're left to ponder whether Trelane's parent's also need tech to power them, or whether the tech wasn't so much what he was reliant on, and more they were just his toys to play with before he knew how to use his real powers.
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Peter G.
Fri, May 15, 2020, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Parallax

@ Top (is this Top Hat?).

"As usual, people are far too hung up on doctrinal purity. I see no reason why the label "atheist" can't apply to someone whose attitude is "I don't think that there are any God/gods and so they don't factor into my decisions." Whether such a person is actively anti-religious is immaterial to the label, and a person can believe in God and be anti-religion (as many deists are)."

Ironically it's been my observation that doctrinal purity doesn't occur in religious people as much as you'd expect, but can be found in 'secular' circles quite frequently (see: any political discussion). The reason I personally made my comment above about the term atheists was mostly in regard to the other comment made that in Roddenberry's world everyone is an atheist. Now in a piece of sci-fi I could accept that premise - what if in the future everyone is an atheist; ok, that's an scenario we could investigate through a story. But I also know that for many people it's not enough to say they personally don't believe, but have a significant agenda to get others to admit that religion is bad or stupid. So to that extent I wanted to qualify somewhat to avoid an unstated assumption being left out there that in our ideal future obviously everyone will agree that religion is stupid and wrong.
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Peter G.
Thu, May 14, 2020, 11:23am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Parallax

Good post, Omicron, that is more or less what I was trying to say also. And especially about Braga basically being a dolt...
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Peter G.
Wed, May 13, 2020, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Parallax

Those are valid points, except of course what Braga says, since ENT. We may have to revert to an old point that's been made here, which is that Trek was never a carbon-copy imprinting of Gene's vision of the future, but a co-mingling of his ideas and those of others who agreed with a hopeful future. If you're right that Gene absolutely thought religion would be eradicated, that is not really what's reflected on the show, even though it might show its head from time to time when he got his word in. But others got their word in as well, in ways that somewhat contradict that message. I think I generally agree with Omicron that Trek appears on its face to depict a secular, not an atheistic society.

Incidentally, "atheist" is a word that gets tossed around a lot in pop culture, but to actually be an atheist is an incredibly forward and positive statement about reality. It requires far more faith to be a true atheist and declare with certainty there is no God than to say you're not sure or think there might be. What data could that be based on? And if we're using TOS and TNG as guides, there can actually be no basis for it, because while the issue of God is undetermined there are clearly gods running around left and right. I think the most secular-minded society based on science would default to something like "we don't know and can't say", which is possibly what many 'atheists' think anyhow. But it's easy to confuse this with the Hitchens version, which outright attacks the idea.
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Peter G.
Wed, May 13, 2020, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Parallax

@ Top Hat,

"It appears that to be the case that Roddenberry didn't so much think that people COULDN'T be religion in the future he envisioned as that they wouldn't... he ascribed religion to a childhood that humanity would surpass as it enters the stars. Feel free to call that naive or unlikely or even totalitarian, but it does appear to be what he believed."

Well if TOS is to be our main guide, we see plenty of cases of the show being against some primitive people being held back by an entity controlling them. The issue was always being unable to advance, not the belief in higher powers. The thing is, TOS gave us plenty of 'higher powers' in plain view, so there should be no doubt people could believe they exist. Likewise, we have commentary such as from Uhura "they mean the son of God" which shows that certain beliefs are either very much alive or else at least in the public awareness. What they *are not* is a controlling establishment keeping humanity stuck in its progress, and I think that's the main point, beliefs are one thing, but cowering on the floor worshipping some rock statue in a state of infancy is a bad thing.

I mean, let's face it, Roddenberry was a libertine, and probably half of what he imaged was a future free of telling him how to have sex and how many people to have it with. But that does still go towards "make your own choices" rather than have them made for you by some autocratic establishment. And 'make your own choice' could include pretty much everything that respected the freedom of others. I think we see lots of beliefs in TOS respected, so long as they aren't an oppressive force.
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Peter G.
Wed, May 13, 2020, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Parallax

@ Top Hat,

"a BETTER future. And if that vision hinges on the absence of religion, at least in terms of organized religion, that's real challenge."

Roddenberry's problem was with religion that tried to control and brainwash people rather than teaching them to think for themselves. He no doubt had a problem with prevailing Judeo-Christian cultural hegemony, but I doubt very much he had any problem with people gathering to discuss things important to them - even spiritual things. The whole Trek ethos is "there's room in here for us all", which includes all views of life. What he didn't not see there as any room for was organizations that thrive on keeping you down and in the dark to take advantage of you. That much we can maybe all agree on. But where some people want to take that is "therefore there's no room for religion!" But if you think closely about that, that would be saying that certain types of opinions of life would be banished? But that makes no sense and is not concordant with IDIC. So it must mean something more like that organization religion would cease to be a socially oppressive force, and would instead become more of a personal belief sort of thing in the marketplace of ideas.
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Peter G.
Mon, May 11, 2020, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

"Manu Intiraymi (Voyager's Icheb) has managed to make his self unemployable in Hollywood (you can look that up on your own).
Submit a comment"

Alright, I Googles it and found nothing. What's the story?
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Peter G.
Sat, May 9, 2020, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Parallax

"I wonder what baby names Hitchens would have."

Not-Reuben
Not-Jacob
Not-Benjamin


etc.
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Peter G.
Sat, May 9, 2020, 7:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Sacred Ground

I think there's another option for interpreting Janeway's reaction other than that she actually wanted to believe in the miraculous. Her MO here and elsewhere is that she's the scientist: things have rational explanations and she loves solving them. However the thing about solving something is you risk making it smaller than you, whereas an unknown is bigger than you. In her experience in the supposed miracle I'm not sure we're supposed to understand that she had an awakening about religious experiences per se, but more an exposure to 'the great mysteries'. It's not clear to me that she would ascribe the mystery to supernatural causes, even tacitly. I wonder whether the issue at stake isn't more than love of science should be predicated on love of the unknown for its own sake, not just solving it and boxing it up. Like William B, I'd need to watch it again to confirm my guess, but I suspect that there's a thrill for someone like Janeway to know there are still things science hasn't solved. It may not be so much that Janeway wants an experience that she can compartmentalize as religious, but rather that she wants the mystery of the unknown to be a part of her active life, whereas more often than not they are charting anomalies and star systems whose properties are pretty well-known to them.

I might be reading too much into this, but I can imagine increasing advances in science rendering most everyday experiences as completely explainable and lacking the allure of the chaotic world of the Ancient Greeks where everything was gods. It's not that we want to *pretend* to believe on occasion while being atheists for the most part; it's that we like it when the world is larger than we are and in a sort of immersive sense we're subject to its mysteries rather than it being subject to the might of our technology. It doesn't feel good to be subject to some random illness, of course, so the mysteries come at a steep price; all in all I'd prefer good medicine to the thrill of some random herb actually working for a chance and marveling at the mysteries of nature. But as Elliott mentions, there's lossage that comes with power.

This issue of de-mystifying scientific phenomena has a good place in a discussion involving Q. One thing great about Q is he's essentially a total cipher, and at best we can infer his motives, but never his nature. Things go downhill for the mythos of the Q when we begin to learn actual details of their 'society' and their limitations. We didn't want to know that! Or at least we shouldn't if we want them to remain grand and wondrous (if impish). Sure, presumably the Q are not actual gods but are godlike-aliens who exist outside of time, but if we reduced them to their (extremely advanced) nuts and bolts they'd be no fun anymore. It's not that we want to experience the Q *as a religious mystery*, but we do like it when we don't know what they are and are faced with something just beyond us. Feeling small like that can be a good thing even though it can also kill us.

Maybe this episode is about that? That science gives with one hand and takes with the other? I'm not sure I ever got from this one that Janeway regrets the lack of mysticism in his life, and I'm also not sure I agree with Elliott's thesis that it's particularly meaningful to intentionally accept as amazing mysticism stuff that out of the other side of our mouth we cynically know is just nuts and bolts. I think it's probably best in this context not to confuse belief in what we might call metaphysical (or theological) truths, with that feeling we get when in the presence of something awesome. The latter atheists can have without also tricking themselves into thinking it's a religious experience. But the former cannot be reduced to a mere emotional experience at something you don't understand.
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