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William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

Dave, I am very sorry for the loss of your friends overseas. Genuinely.

Jason is a lawyer, and lawyers are interested in the law. I might be mistaken but it doesn't seem even to be very emotional for him. I think he is interested in what the laws should be regarding drone strikes. And he should be, because it is important to be able to consider how to deal, via the law, with the conflict between different values (universal human rights versus safety, etc.).

I am grateful that you, Dave, care about the crimes being committed in the world, by terrorists and by the Chinese government.

I am grateful that Jason cares about the judicial process, because I would rather have a lawyer be attentive to these details rather than be tempted to cut corners when faced with wrongdoing. Note that as far as I can tell, Jason didn't even say he thinks drone strikes are wrong, but that he doesn't know whether he supports the black box nature. I think it's a really important point.
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William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

"I also don't believe non-interference is a Western concept at ALL, that's a HUMAN concept. (To say otherwise is to say that non-Westerners like to interfere .... which is another uncomfortable unspoken truth about this line of thought). Maybe that's part of the "break" too."

Sigh, of course it's a human concept.

Look, maybe the Trek writers were much more universalist than in this theory. Trek certainly reaches for a unified earth future. But it strikes me as being very inspired by 1960s American culture, and reacting to that. American foreign policy is on their minds. It is not, at all, a statement that only Americans can do evil, but that Vietnam and the "good intentions gone awry" narrative that tended to dominate thinking about American involvement is relevant. It's about what might have been on the writers' minds.

From Wikipedia (I know, it's just Wikipedia):

"Creation of the Prime Directive is generally credited to Original Series producer Gene L. Coon.[7][8] The Prime Directive reflected a contemporary political view that US involvement in the Vietnam War was an example of a superpower interfering in the natural development of southeast Asian society; the creation of the Prime Directive was perceived as a repudiation of that involvement.[9][10]"
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William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:05am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

I say "in this context" in the extremely specific context I am mentioning. Of course anytime can say reasons why general noninterference is preferable. But there are particular arguments about the PD that are stronger when more ambiguous cases are being argued, IMO. The concept behind the PD applies not just in the worst cases in the world, but in more ambiguous cases, and indeed more ambiguous cases are a better arena for litigating the PD in some respects.
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William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:03am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

Dave, the reason I am saying the West is where people focus regarding the PD is not that only the West should not interfere, but that the PD is in part about self-censorship. The point is that *good*, well intentioned, organizations can still wreak havoc. It is obvious and "goes without saying" that evil empires with no respect for human rights will do evil if they interfere. The question is not why it's good to avoid genocide, but why it's important to restrain oneself even in cases where the downside is not obvious.

The only reason to bring up Chinese government atrocities in this context would be if it could be argued that the intentions behind those atrocities were good.
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William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:55am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

I'll lay my own cards on the table and say that, like Peter I think, my current focus is on untangling what has happened in this thread, rather than actually litigating any international crimes. The reason I think this is worthwhile for me is that I feel a greater ability to weigh in here on this thread than on international atrocities. It's easier for me to do it, because it is more manageable in scale and easier for me to get a psychological handle on. I am fully aware that it is much less important than Chinese government atrocities (which are horrible). Call it narrowness of vision if you will. Gotta start somewhere. :)
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William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:49am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

I'll go out on a limb and say that I think some of the issue is a sincere communication breakdown. For instance, I think the intent of Peter's bringing up the Vulcans and Andorians was misread by Dave. I don't know whose fault it was.

Peter was attempting IMO to show that the Vulcans and Andorians have to listen to each other, basically, rather than assume the worst. But the analogy was not to different nations in the world, but to *this thread*. Different people in this thread are focused on different issues, and it's better not to assume the worst of people's motives for their current conversational focus. The use of Vulcans and Andorians had nothing to do with any kind of cultural or national essentialism, and was an unintended part of the analogy. I can understand how that would seem to be implicit in his analogy, but IMO it is completely unintended by Peter, and it didn't occur to me at all when reading it.
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William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:42am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

Booming brought up Western foreign policy in response to Luke talking about the Prime Directive in general, not because of anything particular to this episode.

As for the reason for focusing on the West in discussing the PD, the argument for Booming's focus there is not that the West is worse than China, but that the PD is about "how should WE behave." It is plausible that the Federation is mostly based on the West, and so efforts to minimize Federation interference would be based on instances of Western interference gone awry. This makes complete sense to me. It has nothing to do with what the worst crimes in the world are, but why the Federation itself would want to curtail its power/why the Trek writers would want to curtail its power, and one of the main reasons would be evidence that the modern day closest Federation equivalents are still at risk of overreach.

Jason brought up drones because whether there are legally dubious deaths on US hands for recent years was then in play in the thread. Jason himself had said that he didn't follow every point Booming made closely. Every subsequent post of his, except for about Troi, was clarifying and defending his original post against misinterpretion. The description of him shedding copious tears over the subject or whatever doesn't match at all the way he's come across in this thread to me.

Of course Chinese atrocities are terrible. IMO the reason people are not explicitly saying this is that I think people feel that they are accusing them of positions they do not hold, and do not feel they have anything to prove. And I agree. I don't think anyone should be required to list all atrocities in order to discuss any legally dubious actions. The things Dave seems to be saying about Jason and Peter, and Booming, seem radically different from what their intent appears to be. I don't really understand how this break has happened.
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William B
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:18am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

Regarding this thread in general, Booming talked about the West specifically not because of this episode but because of how they interpret the Prime Directive's motivation. That got the topic of Western/US foreign policy up. Jason posted once about drones and then every subsequent post about that topic was clarifying his intent on bringing that up. The idea that he's only focused narrowly on drones is IMO a complete misreading of what is going on. If people are misunderstood or criticized, they will typically defend their position or clarify their intent. That's how conversation usually goes.

I genuinely don't see any evidence that anyone is indifferent to non-Western crimes. People are, however, very resistant to being told that because they didn't bring up XYZ they don't care about those topics, or are not allowed to bring up other topics, and IMO rightly so, for the reasons Peter articulates.
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William B
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

I guess at further risk at being dragged in, without getting into Booming's general behaviour on the board either way I don't think their initial behaviour in this thread in talking about the PD was out of bounds or showed a tacit support of German genocide or whatever. It seems extremely plausible to me that Roddenberry et al. were primarily basing the Federation on the US with some specific modifications, and the modifications are then primarily *modifications to US policy*. The PD in this scenario is a modification to US policy because the Federation is basically in part inspired by the US template, and so it's totally relevant to view the PD as a response to US policy. Possibly this is incorrect and Roddenberry, Coon et al were thinking of other instances of imperialism or whatever.
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William B
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 11:02am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

It's also funny because Jason is obviously not in the "ultra-woke" crowd or whatever and has pointed out how much he dislikes them, that he'd vote for Trump to spite people who put up "silence is violence" signs, has made fun of our own Prime Minister's definition of genocide in this very thread. FWIW I think I skew further "left" than Jason.

Aside, my saying "logical, fact-based" isn't a particular statement that I agree with his conclusions. Maybe the facts he linked to are misrepresented. Whatever. I haven't seen any evidence that they are, but anything is possible. But I see no evidence at all that he's deliberately misrepresenting to grind some axe.

I guess one major flaw we Canadians have is pretending to be above the fray at times so maybe this is an instance of it. Still. And now, exeunt.
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William B
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

Holy moly. Jason is a lawyer. He's Canadian but we Canadians are extremely tied to the US and so we have particular stake and complicity in US choices. He is saying in his typically logical, fact-based way that he finds the legal justification for drone strikes troubling, and he has reasons to be interested in North American law. Nothing he's said has given and indication that he's trying to make any global statement. Lawyers also know that they can't litigate every case simultaneously.

Why am I defending Jason right now rather than Chinese dissidents? I'm so monstrous! Oh well.
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William B
Sat, Mar 27, 2021, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S1: The City on the Edge of Forever

FWIW, 12 Angry Men was a tv film (1954) before it was a theatrical release.
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William B
Tue, Mar 23, 2021, 7:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Sarek

@Trish, wow, fantastic catch. I like Peter's idea that it was memory leakage going on.
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William B
Tue, Mar 23, 2021, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Hollow Pursuits

IMO the issue is that holodecks are not treated as private spaces at this point in TNG. If Reg was in Ten-Forward instead of at work, would anyone criticize Riker for barging in to look for him? OK, so people probably book holodeck time in advance usually. 1. Barclay probably doesn't do so in this case, because he's supposed to be at work; 2. if Barclay reserved a seat at a restaurant or mini-golf course or library or Mott's barber shop or something on the ship, Riker barging in would still not seem inappropriate, again keeping in mind that he's supposed to be at his job and it's a tiny community of just over a thousand which is also a Starfleet vessel. As far as whether the holodecks should be private, that's maybe a different matter, but the technology is still in its relative infancy (they're new as of "Encounter at Farpoint"), and so that they haven't developed norms around expectation of privacy in what is essentially a tech/service publicly available to the crew and civilians onboard isn't surprising to me.

Finally, at this point that holodecks could be used for, er, non-wholesome reasons (not counting holodeck malfunctions) hasn't really been explored much, to my recollection. It seems to be mostly for doing PG holonovels, various planet settings, stand-up comedy practice, combat training, engineering help from designers, etc. Worf and K'Ehleyr used it for sex but that seems to have been more an impulsive Klingon drives thing than an indication that it's assumed in general that people are going to be doing things that need privacy. And again, I'm not saying that people shouldn't have a right to privacy, but some places in our society -- shops, libraries, restaurants, etc. -- are largely public and there isn't an expectation of privacy. I think the crew treats the holodeck like a kind of reading room in a library, or a study room at a college or something. Perhaps as people get more used to the holodeck and the awareness that it is likely to be used for things people would rather keep to themselves the norms will modify, or people will make explicit petitions to have rules in place to protect their privacy, but I think it's just that new technology often doesn't automatically come with a set of fully-worked-out codes of conduct that match the codes that will eventually develop.

Regarding the over-the-top portrayal of Barclay, we know that he got along better with his last crew, so the issue seems to be that something went wrong early on between Barclay and the others, and then his nervousness compounded the issue, and this made the crew start to treat him badly, which made him more nervous, creating a cycle that we are now walking in on a fair amount in. Yes yes, by the 24th century people should be past lots of things, but I think the basic dynamic is very familiar to me and I've seen similar things happen to people (in fact, I've seen worse), and I think we are seeing Barclay at a low point after things have progressively worsened.
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William B
Fri, Mar 19, 2021, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: A Matter of Perspective

I think Frank Offenhaus is correct about the episode's intent. Troi says Manua believed what she was saying, and the episode never questions or undermines Troi. Troi also believes Riker, obviously. So the POV put forth by the episode is that it's possible for someone to believe they were sexually assaulted when they weren't. The episode is not saying that Manua is deliberately lying, or if it is, it is disguising it pretty deeply (having Troi also be deceived without explanation).

I agree that it shouldn't be in the episode, at least in its current form, since the episode presents and then immediately drops the bombshell of a notion that Manua believes her accusation is true, rather than dealing with it.
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William B
Tue, Mar 2, 2021, 10:46am (UTC -5)
Re: MAND S1: Chapter 1: The Mandalorian

No, it's ___ and ___.

In all seriousness (very vague spoilers up to the end of s2), I watched the show and liked it. The acting and stunts are good. I really like the creatures -- the blurrgs and banthas and such -- some of which we've seen in previous SW media, some of which I understand are from the extended universe books. I think what people are responding to, in part, is that the creators set themselves reasonable goals and achieve them (like its title character), which *is* harder than it sounds; the temptation to go really big and get points for "ambition" is easily succumbed to. Arguably the show starts to slide down this in season two, though I think I like it better than season one overall.

In terms of my overall enjoyment, I'd probably dock about a half star per episode from Jammer's ratings, on average. I get why Jammer rates up (he's always done the Roger Ebert thing of rating according to expectation), but the simplicity of the show's leaves things a bit pat. Sometimes the show still surprises.
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William B
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 9:54am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Unforgettable

To be fair if I got to spend that much time with Virginia Madsen it would probably be one of my favourite episodes too.
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William B
Fri, Feb 26, 2021, 10:31am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 2

omg haha amazing.
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William B
Tue, Feb 23, 2021, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S4: Crossfire

That's funny because going by their jobs it's Odo who is Louis. Which I guess fits better than you'd expect. Odo did basically collaborate during the occupation, just Louis had far fewer illusions about his role.
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William B
Fri, Feb 19, 2021, 9:20am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Frame of Mind

I might be misremembering if they revealed it explicitly, but I think I figured that the play did happen but before Riker went on the mission.
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William B
Tue, Feb 9, 2021, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Nemesis

Picard turned down admiralty, too.
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William B
Tue, Feb 9, 2021, 10:10am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Survivors

I think it is probably a plot hole, but maybe not that big of one, because I think part of the story is that Uxbridge has a very strict code for himself -- where he'll use deception, but nothing that causes deliberate harm, even non-lethal harm. It's possible the code isn't entirely consistent, but I think turning the Husnok weapons into cotton candy would maybe constitute harming them (by trashing their stuff) in a way that simply deceiving them wouldn't.

I think also probably he wanted to use fairly low-impact techniques to avoid getting noticed. If he started using bigger godlike "you stay away from here or I'll make all your ship's controls work in reverse or turn you into newts" or whatever it would alert both the Husnok and those around him to his true identity. Plus I think maybe he's operating under a kind of Prime Directive of his own, which allows mild deceptions but not more involved interference.

Of course that kind of interference would have been preferable to genocide, but I think we're maybe meant to see him as very powerful but not omniscient, and having really believed his plans would work, and/or not being able to readjust his ethics fast enough to keep up with the destruction.

If it were convenient the episode could maybe have given more details on Uxbridge's code, but I also kind of think that even given a longer running time, it might have interfered with the story dramatically, particularly for a one-off. I think we maybe just have to imagine why Uxbridge might have restrained himself from all but the smallest actions, thinking those would be sufficient, until the reality that they weren't actually settled onto him.
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William B
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Survivors

@Peter, I agree.

I guess one place we could say is that he should be asked to not impersonate Federation citizens, because it does mean that people are dealing with someone who could massacre them with a thought, without knowing that this is the case. Not that it's enforceable. Of course humans can do second degree crimes impulsively under certain circumstances, but 1) humans are mostly, at least in principle, aware of that, and 2) a human's abilities to do impulsive damage are more limited. It's clear that Uxbridge never anticipated this event, and now that it's occurred he's not going to reenter human society again, but if there were a place to offer "judgment" I guess it would be there. Even there I agree that he genuinely planned to live among humans as a human, and peacefully. I don't have any condemnation for him, all in all.
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William B
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 11:50am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Survivors

I will say it is maybe worth noting that Uxbridge was living on a Federation colony pretending to be human. While it's self-defeating to attempt to police godlike beings, sure, Uxbridge was sort of pretending to be operating within Federation limits. So maybe that's a grey area, and I think if Uxbridge was more like a humanoid in disguise from a species with no formal relations with the Federation who deployed a WMD in a more conventional way (rather than purely by thought), there might have been some attempt to police them, at least enough to declare "Please don't pretend to be human and then do things which would be crimes under Federation law." I think that Picard (correctly) recognizes that this would be pointless for Uxbridge, both because how would they stop him, but also because Uxbridge doesn't seem to be about to move over and pitch his tent in Andor next week.
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William B
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 10:51am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Survivors

@Bob (a different one)

That's a good point about the "You're free to return to the planet." I guess he's just trying to communicate that he's not going to bother Uxbridge anymore. Uxbridge has demonstrated that he'll limit his response to the Enterprise's meddling (primarily trying to use misdirection rather than force) so even if Uxbridge could crush them like a bug, he probably won't.
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