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Peter G.
Sat, Oct 24, 2020, 7:41am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

@ SlackerInc,

"But I fundamentally do not accept the moral of the story, so that ultimately makes the episode something of a failure."

You do not accept that all of your experiences, good and bad, shaped who you are at present?
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

@ Tara (and sorry for writing "@ Trent" prefacing my previous comment),

I don't mean to imply that pregnancy incapacitates women outright. I am specifically talking about later in terms, and most specifically 9th month. My wife was working throughout her pregnancy, right until the day she gave birth, but nevertheless long walks and any kind of vigorous energy requirement was really a no-go in the last few weeks. Even a 20 min walk would be difficult with the extreme muscle looseness in certain areas that expand. It's just a physical fact, it would have been literally impossible for her to be doing anything physically exerting at that point. And yeah, there was much more lying down, groaning with soreness, feeling a bit incapacitated. Still working, but not physically very able. It's not a weakness, it's just a reality.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

@ Trent,

Re: Klingon marriage, while I do think there was some soft retconning I think what you're also seeing is a vestige of the arc we're taken through in TNG (and now DS9) of the demystifying of Klingon beliefs that Worf was totally serious about when he was more ignorant of how real Klingons live. Back in TNG S1-2 he believed that all Klingons value honor above all things, marry any woman they want to have sex with, hit themselves with pain sticks on a regular basis, enjoy fancy tea ceremonies, and generally live the life of a Klingon samurai poet. The reality we've been given, striking the heart of his fantasies about what being Klingon is like, is that modern Klingons are mostly just warriors who are subject to the same kind of corruptions as other races, who aren't particularly poetic, who do sleep around, and who don't care that much about sneak attacks or cheap tactics.

Back in Emissary Worf's position is largely an examination of traditional human values (i.e. conservative Earth values) versus a Roddenberrian view which is more about free love, not taking everything so seriously, and going with your feelings rather than tradition. That this doubled as being about Klingon culture ended up, in hindsight, making Worf an ultra-conservative Klingon given what we now know about them, which is not really inconsistent with the Klingons in general. He's just an outlier, mostly because of his own distance from real Klingons. By the time of DS9 I think it's sort of clear that Worf bubble has been burst and he knows he's not really a normal Klingon. Maybe dating Troi was the straw that broke that camel's back.

In the here and now I think Worf isn't exactly 'modernized' but he's not quite as scandalized as he was 10 years prior at the idea of sex without taking the oath. And I think he still does want the oath, but he's mellowed enough to know he can't realistically ask her for it. If he's going to date an alien, or even a modernized Klingon, he'll have to learn to compromise on that score.

About Kira, I think honestly it never occurred to me for a moment that she was being portrayed as weak just because at this point she is physically much less able. I can tell you that there's nothing cliche or diminishing to women to suggest that toward the end of their pregnancy they are really out of commission. Sure, some can go around and do their thing, but mostly you can't expect anyone to be able to walk more than a short way (back pain, loosening of muscle tissues) or do physically arduous things, and you're not even supported to exert yourself much. Being sleepy all the time is a thing, as well as being sore in random places and needing massages. So to me nothing we see here is diminishing to Kira or un-manning of her toughness. It's just the physical state she's in at this point, and even a softening of her temper can be well understood in terms of her not being quite so feisty at a time like this. I guess I'm not really sure what your objection is, other than I do get the idea that "let's end this baby thing and get our old Kira back." To that extent I basically agree, it had run its course and frankly didn't amount to that much narratively, so it was nice to have her back to normal after.

As for Na-Toth, I never had a problem with either of them.
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Peter G.
Fri, Oct 16, 2020, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Playing God

Really great review, Trent. This is one of those episodes that epitomizes why DS9 is a superior show: because the quality of an episode doesn't rise or fall on the quality merely of its main plotline. Personally I find the Arjin plotline a bit boring, and the proto-universe plotline way underbaked. And yet as you point out the episode is chalk full of world building, greatly written lines and small moments, character moments, and overall stuff that I really want to see in Trek and DS9.

Seasons 1-2 in particular take the cake when it comes to episodes where the plots are substandard but during the course of the episodic adventure we are given golden snippets that even on multiple rewatches are part of the memorable side of the series. DS9 doesn't make you wait for a Tapesty or Chain of Command for greatness; you get snippets of it all around, so that even in a below average episode there will still be something golden in there, or maybe several somethings. It's a rare episode indeed of DS9 that really leaves us hanging and wishing there was something interesting to see. Contrast with VOY, for example, where some episodes are very nice, but others really feel like a waste of time from start to finish. Even in early TNG there are episodes where you really struggle to care about anything in it, like The Outrageous Okona. Actually this last is a good example of how maybe 1-2 lines in the entire episode perk my ears up (most notable the snark about "they are arming LASERS") and the rest is filler.

I agree with you, Trent, that this episode is laden with gold (pressed latinum) even though on a surface inspection it appears to be sub-par in terms of plotting. That's why I like rewatching this series so much.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 15, 2020, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: Suddenly Human

@ Gaius Maximum,

You're probably right so long as we see everyone involved as being metaphors for humans on planet Earth. But if we really take them as aliens, then it may be possible to see this as the law of a foreign power having to be respected even though we find it repugnant. In this case, claiming ownership of a child (for its own good) as a result of slaying his parents. There is something even vaguely Klingon about it, or maybe even Old Testamenty, in terms of the idea of having to take responsibility for the dependents of those you kill. But in modern terms, yeah, it's hard to swallow that the child could really be considered to be theirs.

This episode now starts to remind me a bit of DS9's "Cardassians", with the scenarios slightly inverted: here it's the child of nice people claimed by the aggressive people, whereas in Cardassians it's the child of a not-so-nice guy stolen and subsequently brought up by...welll, actually, some more not-so-nice people.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Alternate

Peter,

"But there are implications that he kept Odo from worse fates, like being quarantined on an asteroid."

That's a really good point.

SPOILERS (since I forget what is said here vs in The Begotten)

Dr. Mora seems pretty clear on the fact that he was pushing his luck even doing the experiments on Odo as the Cardassians would have preferred he shelve a useless waste of time like playing with goo. Being on a deadline for results (much as Odo was in The Begotten), he had to take the steps he did to get Odo to react. Otherwise the Odo project might have been taken away, and Odo would have lived out eons in a jar on a shelf. So while I think there is some play to be found here in terms of whether Mora really needed to be as brutal as he was with Odo, we can at least ask whether the alternative might not have been much worse.
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Peter
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: The Alternate

The thing I liked about this episode is the relationship between Dr. Mora and Odo. He’s very patronizing and condescending, which explains why Odo’s personality is prickly. But there are implications that he kept Odo from worse fates, like being quarantined on an asteroid. In the end, I found it difficult to decide how I felt about Dr. Mora.

Also, it’s a nice counterpoint to that annoying meme, “Odo can look like anything, so why does he look like a weird old man?” It’s because he was modeling his looks off of Dr. Mora.

I don’t understand the obelisk subplot though, I agree it seems like it should have been put in another episode.

As for Dax acting weird, I’m not a huge fan of how Terry Farrell portrays Jadzia Dax throughout the series. She’s aloof, probably because Dax is centuries old. She also constantly gives off the vibe that her current body is a novelty, which doesn’t make any sense to me because Dax already has gone through at least five hosts and therefore should be used to the different bodies and social dynamics that come along with changing hosts. I see her behavior in this episode as being consistent with the characterization that Terry chose to portray, although I dislike the choices she made as an actress.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 11:09am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten

I've never found cause to try to explain why they are doing the "big dumb men" routine, but upon reflection, and perhaps to excuse why they thought they were doing it, I think maybe the answer lies in perspective. One thing I notice about the foursome scenes is that Kira is this Cleopatra type presence whose mood, needs, and overall comportment are at best mercurial. Between the sneezing, the gongs, the ritual, losing it at the men, and even the ridiculous fact of needing to be calm (which is an obvious flip of what a human birth is like), the overall tone is potentially making Kira (or women?) out to be nuts. It would, that is, if this was meant as an objective view or critique of the woman-center-of-attention situation. But actually I think what's going on is what we are seeing is the outsider perspective, O'Brien (and to an extent Shakaar) seeing this whole procedure and life event that really their only participation in is to stand by and watch helplessly. The fact that all sorts of arcane elements are 'needed' to facilitate the birth may be a manner of expressing how from the husband's perspective everything just seems strange and alien, from the meds to the various positions or techniques various women use to facilitate a birth. Some people use doulas or nursemaids, some have yoga techniques or breathing tricks; I think what this episode is doing is showing us the sort of absurd way this can play to the outsider - "what is all this stuff, aren't you just giving birth?"

So rather than paint O'Brien as a dumb male (a trope I suspect I hate as much as you do) I think we might be seeing him actually *feeling like* a dumb male; useless and unable to engage in any practical way, which is usually how he deals with any situation. Here he is dumb in an engineering sense. To the extent that Shakaar is way more of an outsider to this procedure than even O'Brien is, I think the writing is playing up how much effort he's exerting to somehow insert himself into the scenario and be important; not because he's piggish, but because on a very understandable level he wants to participate. The fact that realistically there's not much he or O'Brien can actually do, both being very pragmatic doers, is I think what sets off this petty contest to prove they're useful and relevant. I think the comedy works in this sense because it points to a reality of the situation which can't be altered and which speaks to their character of being men of action.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 13, 2020, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten

I also liked the review, Elliott. For my part I like the B plot more than you do because I suspect I'm more amenable to a shifting of styles between scenes. In my theatrical experience I've played around with shifting between comedy, farce, dead seriousness, broad, and then natural scene work, within the span of one scene, for particular storytelling effect. From that standpoint I think I have always understood on some level that the DS9 writers had a great interest in differing styles and mixing in comedy with drama. I like that a lot, even though admittedly they fail some of the time to realize the comic potential. But somehow it's never knocked my attention out of position to have serious and not-so-serious scenes back to back. True, that needs a judicious approach: you can't have Best of Both Worlds undercut by Joe Piscopo doing Jerry Louis. But here I somehow like the lighter approach to the B-story.

In particular one thing I like about this B story is that it turns the already imbalanced threesome of Keiko/O'Brien/Kira into a more unbalanced foursome, with Shakaar and O'Brien especially tense about the dynamic. That they should devolve into acting like children is oh-so-human, and despite being almost broad comedy at times, I think it does contribute to the A plot. Something about how disarmed Shakaar is in his typically humble stature, and O'Brien in his pragmatic solid presence, fits with Odo coming on so strong and being disarmed by both the baby and Dr. Mora. The common theme, I suppose, is that events of this kind of weight demolish the person you usually try to be and cause the inner child to shine out, for better or worse at times. Parents with young children may be familiar with the fact that a screaming baby can turn the parent into a screaming baby before long, or the first smile turn the parent into an awestruck baby in turn. So I do think these fit to at least some extent. As far as the Bajoran ritual, the gong, and all that, I think it's mostly the writing trying to be cute and quirky, for which YMMV.

That being said, I agree it's a strong episode and that I personally never felt cheated by the ending as some seem to. While I regret that they never really did anything useful about Odo being human, once it was clear that it was going nowhere this was a good way to give him back his powers.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 6, 2020, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The Search, Part II

Booming,

"What you are describing is a ceasefire."

No, what's I'm describing is the unofficial backdrop to any real peace historically. In a nation could realistically believe it could conquer, plunder, or tax a neighbor they would. The only thing stopping them was the defensive posture of the target, as well as the various alliances, deals, and so forth. But one of the various empires was not going to actually just be nice and let a defenseless neighbor have their wealth unless there was something in it for them. What you are describing is the official mechanism of diplomacy, but what I'm talking about is what permits it to exist in the first place (i.e. mutual recognition of power). Modern states are a different kettle of fish because of three factors: (a) global interdependence in markets, and (b) nuclear weapons, and (c) the USA. I mention the USA because anytime there's a dominating superpower it will affect the relations of all other nations.

"Then why capture a commander and a few officers? Why not replace a few admirals/high politicians and find out. Why is starfleet taking the lead in making this deal anyway??? Why not a representative of the Federation?"

I guess because they're the stars of the show? But also there is the fact that Starfleet Captains have incredible amounts of power and discretion, and although Sisko is a Commander he is in charge of an important station, so his post is similar to Captain. I don't think it's unfair to hold Captains as an example of how Starfleet behaves generally, since they're the ones in the field and the exemplars that everyone on various worlds sees. I guess in the context of the show's story the Founders would probably also be aware of Sisko's relationship to the Bajorans and that in all likelihood he would always be commanding the station at the mouth of the wormhole, so his reactions would matter even more in the balance than other officers' would.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 6, 2020, 12:33am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The Search, Part II

@ Jason R,

I think Trent's post is really contingent on this premise:

"What's interesting, though, is that it's once again Sisko's hotheadedness that ruins what you might argue is a fairly good peace deal. Is giving up Bajor that big a deal if it means no conflict with the Dominion?"

This sort of question is really at the heart of Berman-era Trek. The fact that the answer to this question must be "yes" is why DS9 is every bit in the TNG camp as some of us argue it is. Despite DS9 painting a greyer picture where decisions aren't easy to make, it draws a clear line right in this episode in terms of what its ethics can tolerate. One thing the Federation would never allow is for another race to be bulldozed in order to gain advantage for themselves. Although although technically the Dominion is promising peace here, it comes as a completely one-sided peace where the Dominion sets the terms and will attack unless full cooperation is guaranteed. This is the same "peace" as they ever would have allowed in having anyone else cross the 'anomaly', which is to say, they will claim all of space itself and if you say anything back they will destroy you. That is not peace, it's cowering before a tyrant. Peace is a mutual agreement to desist in violence between powers of a roughly equal power level (or if the stronger side is benevolent). In the case of the Dominion they see themselves as entirely the stronger party and therefore peace with them could never be possible beyond a brief ceasefire.

But Trent, you didn't mention the most important turn of events in Part II, and in fact the singular event that pushes Sisko into revolt: it's the betrayal of the Romulans. Oh, we might argue that they're enemies anyhow so it's no betrayal to let them fall under. And yet the fact that the episode hangs on this point is precisely why DS9 is so good: Sisko can't allow another race to be sacrificed for their gain, even an enemy. If TNG ever examined self-sacrificial ethics it certainly never went this far. This is more in the direction of The Empath in terms of one's worth coming from the extent to which one would sacrifice oneself for another. In TNG it's more often the 'bad guys' who are made to either fail or else see how wrong they are. Here, the Romulans end up being a race to rally to on principle, despite being bad guys. Now that is interesting!

And let's face it, it's more than obvious that all the things the Federation was agreeing to were being shown to be terrifyingly one-sided and cowardly. And it should come as no surprise that the peace was being brokered by our very own Admiral Necheyev, who by this point has a historic record of always being wrong in every conversation with Picard. So bringing her in can be no accident: it was just the nail in the coffin to make the "peace treaty" look as scummy as possible. Now we would need spoilers to know just how one-sided an alliance with the Dominion would end up being, but even without knowing the rest of the series I find it hard to believe anyone would trust what the Dominion is proposing here. It's simply surrender without even defending yourself.

So is Sisko off his rocker to go against Starfleet in this holo? A rogue? No, indeed, he's a man of honor who would sooner go renegade than allow an atrocity to happen. And Trent, I think you are mistaken about what the Dominion was testing here. It wasn't whether Starfleet could be trusted. If that was really the test then they didn't need it, because it is plain that they are objectively the most trustworthy power in the Alpha Quadrant. Testing that would be a waste of time. What the Dominion was testing was rather their values and their ability to allow themselves to be subjugated. What the test revealed is that (a) the Federation value certain principles above their own immediate advantage, and that (b) they would not tolerate being subservient to master like the Dominion. On point (b) they would later discover exactly the same thing with the Klingons, hence why they never bothered courting them in the first place. They needed 'allies' who would gladly throw other races under the bus for their own gain, like Romulans or Cardassians. The Klingons could never follow their orders, so that's out. Ultimately the Romulans are too 'predictably treacherous' to be much use to them, which left the Cardassians. The choice was actually quite logical even from what we know right at the start of the series about the various races. So this episode is where they first see to what extent the Federation are not going to be good long-term partners. Oh, they could be if actual partners is what the Dominion wanted, but that's not what they wanted. They wanted subjects and slaves, even if called by another name (including their "friends" the Bajorans).

Trent, I know you have a general thesis about Western powers causing strife in the world and being the real cause of certain realities that are typically blamed on other 'bad guys'. I get how it's tempting to map that conceptual landscape into Trek, but IMO it really doesn't work in this setting. It is so far-fetched to frame the Federation (and Sisko in particular) as the instigators here that it makes it difficult to take any part of your analysis into my head canon. I mean, the way you describe it is clearly not the writers' intent, so at best you might be arguing that the episode was mis-written and misunderstood by the director and actors, so that they portrayed something entirely different from what they thought.

But one thing I do agree with is that you appreciate this one as much as The Search part 1. In fact I prefer part 2, as the diplomacy and stakes are very interesting. And I also agree that it doesn't play like "all a dream" at all in terms of its real consequences. They are just not the literal consequences as appeared in the holo. Regarding Garak, I love his participation, and not only is it interesting that he ends up being the instigator for Sisko to do the right thing, but the fact that he actually comes off as so trustworthy in this context speaks volumes about the respect Sisko must have for him on some level.
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Peter G.
Sun, Oct 4, 2020, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Hard Time

Booming, I like your post just now and agree with it quite fully. However Trent does have one point when he says:

"I would say the sentence is the entire point of the episode."

I tend to also believe this statement is the clincher of the episode's themes. However I thin, Trent, you're misdiagnosing exactly what the episode is trying to achieve with it.

Trent said:

"Having Miles essentially say that he was brought up believing humans "had evolved beyond hate and rage" is itself silly. What society would teach this? "

The answer to this question is in fact the answer to why this episode is a good tale to tell. In TNG there is a test in Encounter at Farpoint in which it seems Q is judging humanity for barbarity. It's the job of Picard and the Federation to prove that we can change. But over the course of TNG the message of "we have to strive to change" morphed rapidly into "we already have completed the change, and we are now beyond things like hate and jealousy. Roddenberry tried to show that in spades in ways ranging from innocent naivete among the crew to sexual promiscuity having no impact beyond it being seen as fun. Although to be fair the libertine side of the argument vanished once Roddenberry stopped being involved. But yes, TNG really was pushing the message quite contrary to TOS, that somehow humanity left the dark side behind. I agree with you that what it should have been saying is that its society was improved compared to ours, but instead it tended to say that individually people were beyond those things. And DS9 is making a point here to say that's ridiculous; and this point mirrors what Sisko said previously about being a saint in paradise. To Hard Times is expressing a message not at all new to DS9. And yes, it is a criticism of some of what (I think rightly) can be seen as naivete on TNG's part.

But also remember something else: this was made in 1996, far predating our notions that you are used to at present that men crying is fine, that crime doesn't make you bad, and that care for each other trumps retribution (even upon oneself). Not that everyone today believes these things, but they are prevalent. But as Booming points out, in 1996 someone like Miles would have had far less social permission to break down and admit having a problem. And further, America as a whole 25 years ago was very much still coming off of the 1980's and early 90's concept of being superior to all people who came before, being the best people in the best country, the 'good citizens' beyond above and better than the "drug users" and "criminals" (note how hard the War on Drugs still was back then), and even the evangelical movement's idea of condemning sinners in the punitive sense. The holier than thou was all over the place, to the point where you'd head it in political debates, and where Ron Paul was booed for suggesting that drug users might not be scumbags. So in this context Hard Times really was pushing the envelope against the social norm of proving how perfect and well-adjusted you are. Nowadays, with Metoo and other left-leaning movements, you'll see people accuse themselves of things like racism, sexism, and tokenism; it is more the fashion to call oneself a sinner rather than a saint. But not so back in 1996, and for Miles to fess up to being a mere human ruined by a bad system beyond is powers was worth showing.
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Peter G.
Fri, Oct 2, 2020, 11:04am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

Even though this is the best episode in all of Trek, I am actually sympathetic to Doody's argument since I am personally wary of lies that lead to war. Part of the problem is context, which the public never gets because they only hear what they're told. Sisko's position here is clearly not nefarious in its end goal: the Romulans are needed, because the side of democracy, freedom, and respect for individuality is in danger of losing the war. This is a bona fide "good cause", which we are privy to because we're watching the show. The problem in treating this as an allegory for contemporary events is that I do not particularly believe in the benevolence of modern wars (sorry, police actions).

The argument made regarding Iraq 2.0, for instance, is that blatant lies were told to take America to war, for reasons other than national defense, but rather to effectively seize oil and resources. Assuming for the moment this is an accurate description, these two cases may look similar on the surface in terms of lying to go to war, but this isn't a case of "the ends justify the means" because the ends of both cases are different. Doing harsh or deceitful things to protect your way of life from existential threat is really not the same as doing so for greed. Not that it's ever good to lie to the people, however it's also fairly clear that if the decision is between the Federation ending outright or telling one big lie, it's a no-brainer unless the citizens of the Federation have knowingly signed up for martyrdom. Assuming they would vote to be protected at all costs, then implicitly there is actually a mandate to lie if that's what it takes to survive. I have a hard time believing all the Federation members would have knowingly joined if they were told that the Federation would not lie even if it meant sacrificing their member worlds. Security would have been the most basic fundamental, perhaps just after the Prime Directive if we're being finicky.

So while I actually do agree that lying to go to war is very troubling, and ITPM makes it clear that Sisko finds it so, this is not equivalent to the sorts of horseplay seen in the 20th century. But it's cheating in a way, because here we're seeing Sisko's inner thoughts whereas in real life we'll never have that kind of assurance when we learn our leaders lied to go to war. How will we know that it was a Sisko-esque man of honor, and not a realpolitik power-monger?
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Peter G.
Wed, Sep 30, 2020, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Dax

@ Millions,

Since this one isn't a favorite of mine I'm not exactly going to defend it against the charge that it wasn't as exciting as it could have been. This was no Measure of a Man, but should have been. That said, I think the issues brought up during the hearing were muddy enough that, like in Measure of a Man, it was really not possible for a judge to come to a positive determination in such a setting. It is a ridiculously complicated question to ask how much culpability people have without even bringing in the idea of changing bodies. Once you get the host/symbiont thing going, I really don't see how courts of law are even supposed to work. I have to admit, the prosecution's argument that a Trill murder is the perfect crime does have some sense to it, since the symbiont apparently lives on but isn't held responsible. Benjamin's argument that it's a "completely new person" may be technically true but seems philosophically weak to me.

So I agree I would have liked, at minimum, to see them all realize just how sticky this matter is. The deus ex machina is actually ok, because getting them off the hook of a decision they can't make anyhow is a reasonable way to end things. But I would have preferred more of a sense in the end that we really did think Jadzia bore some responsibility for what Curzon did. That should be the price you pay for taking on a symbiont, one which I suspect the Trills would be willing to accept even though it carries some risk.
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Peter G.
Sat, Sep 26, 2020, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

I guess I should at least quickly bring this back to DS9, because what we're shown isn't merely a clash of cultures like Klingons loving conquest up against egalitarian humans, or even Cardassians thinking they're better than everyone in the degree of their achievements and advances. With the Founders we're dealing with a point of view about life that cannot be explained merely as a result of aggression by their neighbors, whatever they occasionally claim about having been hunted. The Dominion doesn't merely want to bring others to their knees in order to create "breathing room" or to ensure their own protection. Like Walt in Breaking Bad (SPOILERS) they do it because at bottom they just want to. It's not that the Federation is a threat to them, it's that humanoids are like bugs to them, insects to step on. Inasmuch as early Cardassians are portrayed as Nazi-esque and Orwellian, they are actually not quite the real deal in terms of that cultural superiority mentality. Oh, they're in the running, but they do know that Humans are crafty, Klingons good fighters, and all that. But the Founders really believe everyone else is just nothing, to be stamped on, and there is really no way to reason with that. Whatever may have originally caused the Dominion to become expansionist, nothing ever made them develop this idea that the life of one Founder is worth more than the entire Alpha Quadrant. That is entirely on them and (IMO) their lack of awareness. Want to blame a tense atmosphere partly on the Federation? I guess I can buy that. But blaming the Federation for the actual events that take place, which in their pre-history include planets such as we see in The Quickening, no; no one except the Founders is responsible for that.
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Peter G.
Sat, Sep 26, 2020, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@ Trent,

I think you're misconstruing the general tenor of my argument. The point of your recent post is something along the lines of the momentum and ecology of large forces shape adaptations and behavior on a large scale, and can't be ascribed to individual will. I will in fact be a top proponent of this theory of history. I never said that you were wrong about how major powers caused aggressive changes in the Axis powers. I certainly believe that about Germany. What I think Jason R is saying, and what I am definitely saying, is that nothing the allies ever did caused them to resort to such monstrosity that it would take a skilled horror writer to come up with it. Did Versailles make the people angry and want (in so many words) to see the scapegoats hauled down the streets? Maybe so. Did it mentally arm them for a war machine that would leave the enemy dead at their feet? That is easy to accept. It's not easy to accept that the economic vise they were in, coupled with the humiliation of going from winning the Franco-Prussian war to being reduced to a vassal, should then translate into acts that Dracula would shy away from. The popped balloon of Africa may translate into a military explosion, but does not explain the wholesale attempt at a genocide of a people currently irrelevant to the war effort. Now we may say that there are other genocides on record; true enough. What seems to separate the Nazi one is the brutal efficiency - industrially planned - of the genocide, the coldness of it. And what also separates it is the experiments. Which leads us back to the Japanese, who even exceeded the excesses of the Nazis, to the point where Nazi reports back about certain Japanese activities had them saying that, uh, I know we're badass but this is really crazy. You can say all you want about how Japanese militarism was basically inevitable; but there was nothing inevitable (on the side of allied actions) about their atrocities. It's not just about deaths, it's about thinking of the victims as literally not the same species. And unlike the British and French, which may be guilty of plenty (and I am not about to defend the American war efforts of the 20th century), here we're dealing with - in both cases - Master Race mentalities that go further back than the allied interference you mention. Already by the mid-1800's the proto-Nazi movement was afoot, capped up in their victory against France (which they deemed a cultural victory), and even prior to America's actions with Japan there was the idea that all other peoples were inferior. No one made the Germans and Japanese that way, unless you want to trace all things back to, I dunno, the first molecules of the formation of the Earth. But if you're looking for proximate causes, the Americans and British did not cause those mentalities in the Japanese and Germans, and these are the requisite factors in what I'm describing. Not the militarism, which I agree is easy to explain and predictable, but in the other stuff and the excesses. I think if you read detailed accounts you'll see that this was like nothing the British or later Americans were doing.
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Peter G.
Sat, Sep 26, 2020, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

The comparison between GB/USA and Nazi Germany is so odious that a simple reductio ad absurdum is in order: what the Nazis did was so unbelievable to the allies that they literally did not imagine it was going on. And as Han Solo put it, they could imagine a lot. The very fact that they couldn't conceive the the barbarity and conditions the Nazis created is proof enough that they did not ever use methods like this. That should be enough for that argument.

If you are trying to create an equivalence in damage done over time, etc etc, this requires a broader view of history, a definition of what "damage" is, and a view of accepted values as they shifted between the early 1800's and the mid 1900's. Citing old British Imperialism in comparison to acts committed after the advent of TV is just crazy.

I'll address one particular in the flurry of statements. Trent said:

" The Japanese wouldn't have become techno-fascists if not for the forced market reforms of the Americans."

Don't know if you know much about Japanese society now, or how it was in the 1800's, and I am by no means highly knowledgeable in it myself, but NO ONE could have made them what they were other than themselves. They were utterly isolated and unique leading up to the opening of the technological and cultural floodgates, and what happened after that was not forced on them. No one 'caused them' to become, during WWII, a military culture that made the Nazis look gentle in comparison. That they did all on their own.
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Peter G.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 10:27am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@ Trent,

Since you already granting that diplomacy with the Dominion is futile, the only other side that remains that you mentioned is to show the Federation trying it anyhow. I guess I wouldn't have minded that, but personally showing airtime of futile negotiations with essentially Hitler would cast the Federation perpetually in the role of Chamberlain, which is not flattering. And I do disagree with this statement:

"You have to ignore the Federation working with the Cardassians and Romulans to genocide the Founder homeworld. You have to ignore Sisko constantly sending cloaked warships and runabouts into or near Dominion space. You have to ignore, in this episode, him appealing to 17th century human salvage rights to justify stealing another Empire's crashed ship."

I don't think any of these things require ignoring. I blatantly disagree with those who call the Federation complicit in Tain's attack on the Founders. The Federation is not a Dominion ally and has *no* right or reason to intercede on their behalf when being attacked by a foreign power. It is not even a moral imperative to do something, let alone a legally mandated action. Now maybe the issue of genocide itself opens up issues, but I'm not even sure Sisko had any idea the fleet was going in to do anything other than attack. The only time I think we hear it's about wiping out the Founders was Tain saying it to Garak. I guess I could be remembering that wrong.

Other than that, all of these "incursions" into Dominion space by Sisko, the Federation, Vulcans, Bajorans, etc, were labeled *by the Dominion* as aggressions, but the show is very clear that they are nothing of the sort. The Dominion essentially claimed to have annexed the entire Gamma Quadrant, which if you realize the scale of that is utterly preposterous. And they clearly only did so because of the wormhole, making their claim mealy mouthed and dishonest. Basically their view really is that they own anything they say they own. But that's not how territory rights and borders work, which in real life must be negotiated (or won at the point of a gun). You only 'own everything' if no one can stop you, which is what the Dominion assumes by default. But their idiotic claim doesn't make the desire to explore vast space an "incursion" that by any reasonable definition shows the Federation as aggressive. The only outright aggressive action the Federation really took until later seasons was sending the Odyssey, and even they it was only for a rescue mission (to save a Starfleet Commander) and not to attack.

From that standpoint the series in no way IMO shows reciprocal provocation from both sides. There is essentially no provocation from the side of the Federation, which I think almost goes far enough by itself to count as their diplomatic effort. I might have also liked the odd episode of attempted peace-making, but we do get one conversation pre-minefield between Sisko and Weyoun that sums up nicely what all other diplomacy would have been like. This is not a Versailles/Germany situation where one side goes on the warpath but where you pushed them there. This is the real Federation as we know it, confronted with a bully. Probably not much different than early dealings with the Klingons.
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Peter G.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 9:14am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Melora

Not sure if someone above has addressed this, but another part of the problem with this as a portrayal of a disabled person is that part of the sci-fi premise in the window dressing (her home planet) actually makes it so that she's not simply *disabled* but rather differently abled. Unlike the euphemism used by some now, to indicate they are "abled" but not in the way of the majority (which is really a dishonest way of saying they are indeed disabled in that one aspect but have other abilities), in the case of Melora she really isn't disabled at all, just unsuited to that particular Earth-like environment, whereas in her native environment she no doubt is vastly superior to Sisko and the others. She breaks the direct parallel to disabled people and instead makes it more of an adaptation issue. Within context of this show, she's as disabled on DS9 as someone now on Earth is who has a 2 am - 10 am natural sleep cycle. They will be at a disadvantage if the majority rule is that you're at work from 9-5, but it's not so much that they're disabled sleep-wise since they would be perfectly functional if work started at 11 am, but rather just poorly adapted to the current social structure and would do better perhaps than other people if it was other than it was.

Because of this and other mixed messages I've never thought this episode worked pretty much at all. The one possibly nice premise, of someone who loves zero-G, could never work in a series that won't afford cable budgets all the time to have flying scenes. If this was shot now it would be a whole different story.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 22, 2020, 12:33am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Statistical Probabilities

@ Booming,

This may indeed be a translation issue, because it is not the case in English parlance that the term "science" is ever used in a rigorous sense to include fields such as law. That lawmaking involves a necessary human element, and therefore observations and conclusions, is not the scientific method any more than literally any field at all is scientific. Your definition just means that we use thinking and observing to advance, but that's not what the term means in proper English. If it did then literally all areas of thought would be science in this loose way of speaking.

There is, however, a colloquial use of the term that just means "body of knowledge" or "technique", so for example we might use a turn of phrase like "I have perfected the science of persuasion", which is actually derivative of an old usage whereby science basically just meant human art. And like the term "art" there is now a technical meaning to both terms that has obsoleted the older and more inclusive usages. We can say, for instance, "the art of cooking" colloquially but are not confused into thinking that a cook is a literal artist. Although (once again colloquially) we do sometimes call high-level masters of a discipline "true artists" in order to underline how good they are, but that measures a degree of skill rather than a type of skill in that usage. But by and large the term "art" now refers either to 'the arts' or else to technical disciplines that have 'terms of art' which is to say technical jargon; although this latter use again should not confuse anyone into thinking that a professional knowledge in their terms of art is 'an artist', any more than a person who thinks scientifically (i.e. logically) is therefore a 'scientist'.

In the technical use of 'science' it can only mean a discipline making use not only of observation and thinking (which comprises all human endeavor) but rather employs hypothesis, experiment, data, conclusion, and new hypotheses. And even more specifically, not just any tests will do. For example I could test whether particular comments will annoy my friends, form a hypothesis, test it, conclude, and retest a new hypothesis, but this is not science. The main difference is that what we call "science" is specifically designed to remove the human element from the equation so that human error, prejudice, false judgement, and bias are eliminated maximally from the equation. Any field which employs a form of thinking such as "what kind of data do you think this produced" or even "what kinds of information are really data" is not what we would call science, although again colloquially there can be 'a science' of the study of that subject (meaning we learn about it). Psychology (especially social psych) and economics are particularly good examples of fields with plentiful study and tests, which whose conclusions are always couched in the assumptions of the test-makers and observers. This is why such a large degree (I would argue the vast majority) of study in these fields amounts basically to "did we even test in a meaningful way" and even if they did, still leaves them with "but what can we draw from this that is conclusive and which we can call solid data?" Making sense out of that quagmire is where the social sciences still have to cut their teeth, because the issue of the validity of the tests is enormous and thus far not solved. You can look at almost any psych study and poke holes in anything ranging from its methodology, sample size, conclusions, premises, you name it. This is decidedly not a problem in physics, where there is no question of getting 'real data' about projectile motion or luminosity. That is because in a way physics is a simpler subject, so that makes sense. Probably in 500 years psychology may be a science in this sense, but right now it is not (not to be confused with neuroscience, which is a different story).

So I think this is an English/German translation issue, maybe, because undoubtedly people do tests and make hypotheses in the social sciences all the time. Much data is drawn, numbers collected, samples measures, and all that. But what out of it came from really good tests and generated what we would call "solid facts" about the world is a big question. Yes, you can obviously take a survey and count the number of yesses and nos in the survey, and report the number. But that's not "data" in the sense that it's meant in physics or chemistry. I mean, it is literal information, so in that sense it's data, but it's not data in the sense of being hard numbers about the universe that no individual can refute. There are types of probabilistic tests, as you say, that show a certain result within a certain margin of error, such as (in medicine) how many people got the flu last season, and which percent were of which demographic, and therefore what can we expect next season. That may be accurate within a margin of error, but as there are no control and experimental cases in that type of study it's still a very muddy 'science' in the sense that you can't create reproducible results.

Does all of this make sense? I think maybe it's why there's so much bickering here on the term "science". Or at least I hope it is.

On a side note:

"2) "science" is viewed as a tool of explaining phenomena (theoretical sciences) or making them more useful (practical sciences). That was - in brief - neo-Popperian paradigm of science (still popular among many philosophers of science)."

I'm not sure whether Jason R or anyone else stated the definition of the term in precisely this way, so not sure why you're trying to refute it in this way. That said, the phrase itself "Popperian paradigm of science" is itself based directly in Kuhn's philosophy of science, which to wit is still a current and regular theory of the sciences. Namely, that a given paradigm reigns so long as it can best house the data, until the point where too many cracks in it force a revolution. I mention this because this type of revolution - one in which a longstanding paradigm is finally overturned - is specifically contingent on the field being one where there is a paradigm in the first place more or less universally accepted as "correct". At least, by enough of the majority that its basic assumptions are those used as axioms in the daily workplace. In fields ranging from economics to psychology to archaeology, there are no such universally accepted paradigms that are accepted as "facts of nature", and so therefore there can be no revolutions in Kuhn's sense - and therefore they are not sciences in the way he understood it. And I remind you that Kuhn is still current and accepted as at minimum a contender for the theory of how sciences work in practice.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Tribunal

@ Zanki,

"It's an okay episode I guess, my guess they sort of tried to do like ''chain of command '' maybe that explains why I wasn't surprised of the Orwellian approach to their legal system ...you sort of expect this from the Cardassian's at this point."

If you ask me, this episode is more of a satire than another dark drama like Chain of Command was. I think at the start we're meant to be outraged and horrified, but as it proceeds I can't help but feel that it devolves into comedy at times, making the proceeding look increasingly ridiculous, especially in light of the Conservator and his antics, especially at the end. I think while Chain of Command shows us to an extent the steep price Cardassians pay for their type of society, this one shows us in a way how fragile it is as well. They need this kind of theatre to keep it going, and the Conservator is probably rightly terrified of what will happen when he fails in his duties. I think the system of 'justice' we're shown here shows us cracks in the Cardassian system, which sets up stuff for later in the series.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Statistical Probabilities

And that's putting aside Booming's repeated equation of the social "sciences" with science (in this case, medical research), as if there's no distinction.

You want to disagree, go ahead, but don't call another poster ignorant prior to your posting radical fringe stuff that social scientists with credibility would never actually say. I thought Dreubarik's post was quite interesting, and in fact I agree that there is a perpetual problem - even to the point of world-ending mania - of certain small classes of people thinking they are smarter and know enough to decide for everyone because they are superior. This is an incredibly important message, and I agree fully that we have seen to many times in the 20th century people purporting to have "conclusive data" to back up a complete nonsense theory. I know more about the history of economics compared to the social sciences, but in that field time and again we see "brainiacs" who don't know wtf they're talking about but couching their statements in jargon that sounds compelling. Presidents fall for it all the time, as these theories come in an out of vogue. None of it has anything to do with science, mind you. Not that all of social science is exactly like this, but...well, I'll just leave out what I think of the accuracy of statements made by that field in general. We don't know jack about human behavior yet on a truly scientific level.
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Peter G.
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: I, Borg

@ James G,

"Some of Picard's justification for his intention reminds me of comments made by Dubya and Rumsfeld during the laughable "War on Terror"; not a good look."

I don't think this comparison really works. With Dubya it was a case of military and moral bluster not even related to the real perpetrators of the attack. In the case of Guinan it's a mortal enemy that literally annihilated her *planet*, and in Picard's case almost that but also pillaged him as a person on every level. This is not sabre rattling hawkishness, it's a legitimate hard line against a 100% clear and present threat.

"would the Borg really care much about one missing drone? Why? It's a society with massive redundancy and resiliency built in, so why would they go looking for Third of Five if he hadn't been found at the crash site?"

In previous episodes the Borg seem to meticulously self-destruct the dead drones so that (presumably) their technology couldn't have scavenged. I assume the Borg are well aware that if another race were to duplicate their technology it would be a big problem for them. The one exception was Locutus, and my best guess is that they let Locutus stay on the Enterprise thinking he could collect data while in the meantime the Enterprise could never get anything useful out of him before Earth fell. But yeah, despite Voyager's idea that the Borg are totally fine with anyone at all reverse engineering their tech, on TNG it seems pretty clear they won't allow this.
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Peter G.
Wed, Sep 9, 2020, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Encounter at Farpoint

@ Jason R.,

I'd actually like to revisit one point you made, that Picard passed the test by being evenhanded and treating non-humanoid life as being equal. True, Q's indictments have a moral color, but I suspect that behind this isn't a problem with humanity's ethics but rather with its self-control. I somehow doubt whether Q actually cared if the entity survived or now, but it seems the test was actually to see if Picard would bother trying to solve the puzzle - or even to realize there was a puzzle - before just blasting the creature, or worse, never figuring out it even was a creature. It strikes me as being a sort of intelligence test, but specifically one where the intelligence isn't moral but rather one of awareness. This ends up being revisited in All Good Things, where overcoming historic instincts is, to the Q, about expanding mental horizons more so than being good people.
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Peter G.
Wed, Sep 9, 2020, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S1: Encounter at Farpoint

"I also like a scene with Data where Riker asks him in a worried fashion if he thinks himself superior to humans and the answer is yes - but how he would give it all up to be human."

Now that you mention it, this question comes back with a vengeance in Hide and Q.
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