Archive for the ‘Star Trek’ Category.

Star Trek and Religion: Who Watches The Watchers

The general consensus is that the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is when it hit its stride.

There is an episode in the third season that dealt with religion called Who Watches the Watchers. The basic plot is that some Federation anthropologists are observing humanoids whose technology is at the level of humans a few thousand years ago. But due to equipment failure, the anthropologists are discovered, and one is captured by the aliens. Then a few crew members go down, and one of them is captured.

At the beginning of the episode, the aliens seem atheistic. They regard beliefs in gods and spirits as superstitions of their ancestors. But as they encounter Starfleet’s advanced technology, the aliens think that the Enterprise crew are gods. By the end, the crew reveal themselves as nothing more than beings with more advanced technology, crew members are rescued, and the observations must come to an end.

Throughout the episode religion is regarded as superstition and magical thinking, and something that societies (and individuals) must outgrow. I got the impression from the Memory Alpha page for the episode that it is not a fan favorite. I like it a lot. I like episodes that tell a nice story for an hour and also touch on larger themes in culture and society.

There were a few good quotes about religion in the episode. Here are a few from the Memory Alpha page:

Horrifying… Dr. Barron, your report describes how rational these people are. Millennia ago, they abandoned their belief in the supernatural. Now you are asking me to sabotage that achievement, to send them back into the dark ages of superstition and ignorance and fear? No!

Picard

Are you sure this is what he wants? That’s the problem with believing in a supreme being: trying to determine what he wants.

Troi

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Thoughts On ‘Star Trek’ Videos 2013-10-21

I have been watching some of the Star Trek videos on the Star Trek website. I mentioned before that I thought it was odd that CBS and Time Warner Cable resolved their dispute but never made an announcement. I think I figured out how they resolved it.

My cable bill went from $34/month to $43/month. Enjoy the jet, Les. My mom has Verizon FiOS and she loves it. I live in an apartment complex, so I am stuck with Time Warner.

I have no desire to ever own a house. My father started out owning a house, but eventually he was owned by the house, and he cared more about his house than the people in it. Plus I have no desire to spend any time or money working on a lawn. It seems like if you own a house, you have to have a lawn, preferable St Augustine, the most expensive and thirsty species of grass. And you have to have one because the jackass next to you has one. I don’t know if I could define “freedom”, but that is not it.

An interesting fact about The Next Generation: When that series started Patrick Stewart was 47. He looked like he was in his 60s. Granted, he’s in his 70s and still looks like he’s in his 60s, so I guess he is doing something right.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

 

2013-10-04 Blog Title

New blog title:

Step Out Of The Machine

There are some experiments are looking at cosmic rays. One of the results will be that physicists will be able to determine if the universe is real, or just a simulation.

Here is an article in Wired magazine. Here is one from Forbes, of all places. Here is one from Discovery. Here is a link to a scientific paper.

What if we are in a simulation? Will whoever is running it end it? Or will they reveal themselves?

(This is not really a Star Trek related post, but an image from a scene on the holodeck seemed appropriate.)

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Star Trek And Evolution

Star Trek has a history of touching on social issues. One of them is religion.

Although it is fiction, and deals with technology that may never exist and aliens who look a lot like humans, sometimes it does express a skeptical/scientific view on things.

There is a quote about evolution in the Enterprise episode “Dear Doctor” that I liked:

Evolution is more than a theory. It is a fundamental scientific principle.

Phlox, to Archer

Interesting that Memory Alpha has a page on evolution. Here is a quote from that page:

Ronald D. Moore commented: “Trek […] accepts evolution as a believable and valid theory. Gene himself felt this very strongly and although we do try to embrace many points of view and many beliefs, there are some matters on which we do make our feelings known. That said, I also think that anyone within the Trek universe who espoused a “creationist” or similar view as to the origins of life would find their beliefs respected — “respected” being fundamentally different than “believed.” (AOL chat, 1997)

I don’t know if Gene Roddenberry actually said these quotes, but his page on Wikiquotes has quite a few about religion. Here are two that I like:

  • I condemn false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of their free will
  • We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Thoughts on the Star Trek Videos

I watched a couple of episodes at the Star Trek site.

One nice change is they are not playing commercials during the commercial breaks. I hope this does not cause them to lose income and eventually take the videos offline again.

I also noticed only Enterprise is in widescreen format. The other series look more primitive. Perhaps the fact that the older series are starting to look a bit dated might be part of the impetus for a new incarnation of Star Trek.

I think they should have put Troi in the standard uniform from the very beginning. She looked good in it. I think towards the end of Deep Space Nine Kira also wore a standard Starfleet uniform. I think that should be standard for all women.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Star Trek Videos Are Back Online

It looks like most of the videos are back up at the Star Trek site.

I noticed a couple of days ago that I could watch an episode. I waited a couple of days and tried again. Last night I watched an episode of The Next Generation. It turns out there are a few episodes of The Next Generation that I have not seen.

I have not seen any articles online saying that CBS and Time Warner solved their dispute. I did not do a search for any. I found out about the freeze because articles about the dispute showed up all over. I assumed that articles about any resolution would filter throughout the web, but that did not happen.

So thanks to CBS and Time Warner for working things out. Group hug, everybody.

I might go to Boise, Idaho in a few weeks for my job. Perhaps I will watch some of the episodes I have not seen while I am there. I might not have access to a car while I am there, so I will need something to do. Although, I think I would prefer to drive.

Anyway, I can hold off on the Netflix subscription for a little while longer.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Star Trek, Time Warner Cable and CBS

Recently, the Star Trek site uploaded just about all the episodes up to their site. So now you can watch almost every episode of every series.

Unless you live in Austin, Texas.

I have not seen every episode of every series. I have never owned a TV, so there is a lot of geekdom that I have not seen. Until I watched Enterprise online, I had never seen an episode. There is a lot of Deep Space Nine that I have never seen, and I do not think I have ever watched a whole episode of Voyager.

I know that I could probably watch all of it on Netflix or Hulu, but I hate to spend money. After watching Enterprise, I thought that if I waited, perhaps CBS would put all of it online.

And they did.

But I cannot watch them. CBS and Time Warner cable are having a pricing dispute. Every time I go to watch, I get a message telling me to call Time Warner cable. I think the blackout is also affecting a few other cities.

I am currently working a contract job, so in addition to my usual frugality, I have the specter of another bout of unemployment staring me in the face. It would be really great if Time Warner cable and CBS could patch things up.

I went to the Star Trek web site at work to see if it is blocked there. The video started normally. I did not watch it. I did not think that coming in on the weekends to watch Voyager would go over well. So either my employer is getting broadband from another company, or business broadband is not affected. I don’t think any local coffeeshops would be too pleased with me watching it at any of their establishments either. They generally do not seem to have the fastest networks, and video can be a real hog.

Perhaps it is time to get the Android tablet I have been thinking about.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Star Trek Time Spans

I read an article that Cleopatra (died 30 BC) lived closer in time to the present day than the Great Pyramid of Giza (built around 2500 BC).

I had a similar realization that made me feel kind of old.

The last episode of Star Trek: The Original Series was broadcast was broadcast in 1969. The last movie with the original series cast came out in 1991.

So as much time has passed between Turnabout Intruder and The Undiscovered Country (22 years) as has passed from The Undiscovered Country until the present day (22 years), the year of Star Trek Into Darkness.

I saw Into Darkness in the theaters recently. It was pretty good.

And yes, I know if you take months into account (as opposed to just going by the year as I did), the time spans are not quite equal. But it will be true pretty soon.

Images from Memory Alpha and Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Another ‘Star Trek’ Post

I posted this to the Liberal Gun Club forum. I had been thinking about writing about it for a while, so I am re-posting it here:

Growing up, Kirk was my favorite TOS character. Now McCoy is my favorite. He seemed to be the ethical/moral voice of the three main characters.

I liked TNG, but the first two seasons were not that great. It got good in season 3. I think if Roddenberry had not been involved in it at the beginning, it would not have lasted.

I liked DS9. But at some point I did not have TV access (I have never owned a TV myself), and when I came back there were a few story arcs going and I was kind of lost.

I never watched Voyager. Perhaps when I get Netflix.

I likedĀ Enterprise. It kind of bugs me when people say “TOS is teh bestest ever and all the others suxx!” There were some klunkers in every series. If TOS came out today, people would be more critical of it than they are. WRT Enterprise, I liked the second two seasons more than the first two. (It seems to take a few seasons for spin-offs to get good.)

One thing about Enterprise that I found interesting is that it takes place before all the other series, yet the technology looks the most advanced. But I guess that’s what happens when you go backwards in time. But it did seem more military. The Enterprise on TNG looked like a cruise ship. I was never in the military, but it seems to me that a spaceship that is out for months would be a bit cramped.

I saw the new movie a few months back. Once again, I liked McCoy. I think they got the perfect guy. A lot of people rave about how much Zachary Quito looks like the old Spock, but I think with the ears, eyebrows and the Spock haircut, you could make a lot of guys look like Spock. The guy they got for McCoy does look a lot like the old McCoy. I did not like the new Scotty. He seemed too goofy to be an engineer.

I don’t like having to wait four years for a new installment. I think a TV series would have been better.

Postscript: Karl Urban is younger than DeForest Kelley was during the original series, but I still think there is a strong resemblance.

I think that in the new movie the two characters that were most like the original were Spock and McCoy. Uhura was the most different. Sulu, Scotty and Chekov were not fleshed out very well. Squeezing all those characters into a movie can be tough. One thing I noticed about the spin-offs is they always tried to give each main cast member at least one line in each episode. Usually it was someone stating something obvious. So obvious you could feel insulted if you were actually paying attention. Perhaps there were contractual reasons.

Top image from Memory Alpha, bottom image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Fewer Free Episodes of ‘Enterprise’ Are Online

There used to be 89 out of 97 episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise available on the official Star Trek site. Now there are only 40.

I have not kept up with their news feed, so I do not know when or why this happened. I looked at the Star Trek Twitter feed, and I did not see an announcement. I was hoping they would put the remaining 8 episodes online. and that eventually they would put Deep Space Nine and Voyager online for free as well.

I guess that is not going to happen. They own the copyright and they can do what they want, but I am within my rights to say this stinks. I sat through the ads. I kept up my end of the bargain.

They still have all of the original series online. I wonder why that one stays online for free. I noticed that they did not put on the remastered episodes.

Now I will watch what is left while I can.

Image from Memory Alpha, copyright owned by CBS, assumed allowed under Fair Use.