Lion of the Blogosphere

Archive for August 2018

Star Trek TOS, season 1: The Squire of Gothos

It has been three days since my last Star Trek review, so hopefully those following along at home have had time to watch this episode.

The next Star Trek post will discuss “Arena,” (one of the most iconic Trek episodes in which Kirk fights a lizard monster alien! how will it hold up?) and then “The Alternative Factor,” and then “Tomorrow Is Yesterday.” I am now watching the episodes in production order instead of the airdate order used by Netflix.

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I wasn’t expecting to like this episode, but I was delighted to be so wrong. “The Squire of Gothos” is definitely on my list of greatest Trek episodes. The guest actor who plays Trelane, William Campbell, does a fantastic job with the role. He’s played with just the right amount of campiness, energy, and sincerity.

I see a trend where I’m willing to forgive a lot more stuff in episodes that don’t take themselves too seriously. But when the tone of the episode is “this is really serious stuff” then I can’t help but focusing on all of the corniness and the plot holes.

The most noteworthy thing about this episode is that the alien Trelane is obviously the model for Q, a recurring character in The Next Generation series, and the first episode of that series, “Encounter at Farpoint” heavily borrowed from this episode.

Initially I hated Q, and indeed, the first episode of TNG was pretty bad. For starters, I’m not a big fan of omnipotent beings. It was a mistake of the original series to rely too much on super-powerful aliens as the basis for a whole bunch of episodes, and TNG started out by repeating that mistake with its very first episode. And then there is the problem that “Encounter at Farpoint” bludgeons you over the head with the accusation that humanity is really awful and we should all feel great guilt and shame about our history. “The Squire of Gothos” actually makes all of the same points, but does so in a much more playful and non-obvious manner. In fact, it’s so non-obvious that most of the reviews of this episode that I found on the internet don’t even get it!

Later I came to enjoy Q because his role was to mock and insult the regular crew of the new Enterprise, and they really deserved all of Q’s criticism. But that’s another reason why, even if you are going to introduce a character like Q, don’t put him in the first episode. Mocking the regular crew means nothing before we even know who the regular crew are.

The biggest difference between Trelane and Q is that Q rarely says anything that isn’t laced with sarcasm, while Trelane is completely sincere; we may even say that he has a childish sincerity. Trelane, you see, is a big fan of humanity’s military history and warlike nature. Trelane’s observation of Earth only goes up to the Napoleonic era, but even in the 23rd century, humans are still wearing military uniforms and still carrying around weapons, much more powerful weapons than Napoleon had.

KIRK: Our missions are peaceful, not for conquest. When we do battle, it is only because we have no choice.

TRELANE: Ah, but that’s the official story, eh?

KIRK: I must ask you to let us go back to our ship.

TRELANE: I wouldn’t hear of it. You shall join me in a repast. I want to learn all about your feelings on war and killing and conquest. That sort of thing. Do you know that you’re one of the few predator species that preys even on itself?

I love that last line, an insult against humanity, but Trelane thinks it’s really cool that humans prey on themselves. It’s one-hundred percent sincerity without the least bit of condemnation or judgment. Trelane then takes a childish delight in the phaser that one of the guys tries to use on him. He shoots at his exhibits (including a taxidermied salt monster from the first episode The Man Trap) and says “Oh, how marvellous! Devastating! Why, this could kill millions.”

Reminds me of the previous episode, Shore Leave, where Sulu finds an old pistol and has a jolly good time shooting stuff with it until Kirk takes it away from him. Both Sulu and Trelane take the same delight in playing with a more primitive weapon. We later learn that Trelane is actually a misbehaving child, so what does that say about Sulu?

Indeed, Kirk theoretically comes in peace, but they are always carrying around these super-powerful phasers whenever they leave the Enterprise. How would you feel if some people came to visit you, but they were all carrying around AR-15s? I wouldn’t feel very safe, or that they were very peaceful. In many places in the world, most places in the more civilized parts of the world, they’d be ARRESTED and put in PRISON for illegally carrying around weapons in public.

Some other cool things to note about this episode:

1. In the court scene, Trelane dresses as an old English judge with a wig. They re-used the same imagery in the TNG episode “Encounter at Farpoint.”

2. Trelane explains that he is able to manufacture all of his stuff by converting matter to energy and back to matter but in a different form. Like how transporters work but a lot better. And in fact, this technology will exist in TNG where they have replicators that do the same thing. Once again, we see how much TNG borrowed from this episode.

3. Trelane sends the Enterprise a text message in a fancy font. Maybe that seemed ridiculous in 1967, but today you really can send someone a text message (or at least an email) in a fancy font! The future was accurately predicted!

4. Trelane says upon looking at Uhura, “Ah a Nubian prize. (he kisses her hand) Taken on one of your raids of conquest, no doubt, Captain.” He thinks it’s really cool that Kirk has a black slave. The purpose of mentioning this, of course, is to remind us of the bad parts of our history, just like “Encounter at Farpoint” but with more subtlety.

Despite the good intention that this remark is supposed to educate us that we should feel guilty about slavery, I am sure that this would NOT be said on a modern show where it’s considered RACIST to even talk about this stuff even when the context of how it’s talked about shows a benign motive by the writers of the script.

5. There’s another blonde Yeoman, and she gets to wear a pretty dress. Just like last episode. I love the totally gratuitous insertion of the hot Yeoman babe of the week.

6. Trelane’s mother says “If you cannot take proper care of your pets, you cannot have them at all.” So funny how humans are seen as pets by such an advanced super-powerful alien species that Trelane comes from. And the father says “Stop that nonsense at once, or you’ll not be permitted to make any more planets.”

My only complaint about the ending is that they overdid it just a little bit with Trelane acting like whiny 6-year-old. Too much camp, but still I loved the part about him not being allowed to make any more planets.

And a general complaint about the series in general. While I enjoyed this as a standalone episode, too many times the series draws from the same well and re-uses the plot of super-powerful aliens that the Enterprise can’t possibly defeat, and they are only saved by something they have no control over (a deus ex machina plot device). More specifically, the ending of this episode is exactly the same as Charlie X, where they would have been totally screwed had not Charlie X’s super-powerful alien adopted parents showed up to save them.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 31, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Star Trek

Lion endorses Jimmy McMillan III for governor

There was a Democratic debate last night, however the Lion endorses Jimmy McMillan III of the Rent Is Too Damn High party. There isn’t enough space on the ballot to hold the full name of the party, so it will appear as “Rent Too Damn High.”

McMillan is not only a political activist, but he’s also a karate expert, Vietnam War veteran, and he has previously worked as a male stripper. Most importantly, he endorsed Trump for President.

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What are McMillan’s chances? Well I give the Republican candidate, Marcus Molinaro, a guy who never graduated from or even attended a real 4-year college, a zero percent chance, and I give McMillan a slightly lower chance than that.

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Is this endorsement a joke? No, it’s not, I am definitely going to pull the lever for him, if I bother to vote at all, but if I do bother to vote it will only be so I can give my support to McMillan.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 30, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Politics

Thoughts on Star Trek TOS after re-watching half of the first season

Yes, there is a disappointment here. In my memory, the original Star Trek series was the greatest thing ever to air on TV. But the reality is that it’s actually not that good. What happened?

It would probably be accurate to say that the original Star Trek series was the greatest thing ever to air on TV as of the year 1979. Especially if you like science fiction. But even if you don’t care for science fiction, early television just wasn’t very good, and those of us old enough to remember it look back on it with rose-colored glasses.

Even when the next generation of Star Trek first aired in the 1980s, my reaction at the time was that it wasn’t as good as the original. How could that be? For starters, I was put off by the enhanced level of political correctness of TNG, the insistence that a robot should be treated as if he were human, the wimpiness of Picard compared to the brashness of Kirk.

Today, objectively, I can see that TNG has production values that are light years ahead of TOS. I think this wasn’t as obvious in the 1980s for two reasons:

(1) On crappy low-resolution analog over-the-air broadcasts on CRT televisions, the improvement over TOS weren’t as obvious, but it’s a lot more obvious when watching these episodes on Netflix with high-resolution screens. They did an amazing job cleaning up TOS and it looks way better than it did when I watched it over-the-air, but that has the unfortunate side-effect of giving me a better view of how hokey and cheap everything looked.

(2) Even up to the 1980s, the future hadn’t yet arrived. The control panels in TOS still looked believable, while the flashier TNG sets gave the impression that someone was trying too hard to make everything look futuristic. If you look at the interior of an actual real-world space vehicle, yes they have one on display at the Smithsonian Institution, it looks a lot more like a set from TOS and nothing at all like a set from TNG. But with hindsight, the people who created the sets for TNG did a pretty damn good job of imagining, if not the 24th century, at least the next thirty years The flashing screens in TNG don’t seem especially futuristic any more, while the sets in TOS look very old-fashioned. It now seems pretty ridiculous imagining that a future starship would have buttons all over the place.

My sophistication as a consumer of television has increased immensely since then. We now expect to see characters in TV series acting in a more subtle and naturalistic way, rather than the overacting prevalent on early TV, which was perhaps suited for small low-resolution screens with many viewers getting poor broadcast reception on top of that.

Computer and other technology has progressed fifty years, and with computers being a big part of Star Trek, it’s too easy to see what they got wrong about the future. A computer that you could talk to and would understand what you said, that seemed pretty impossible in the 1960s, but we are pretty close to that today. I think that in 10 years, Siri or Alexa will have just as good verbal comprehension as the Star Trek computers. Star Trek massively underpredicted computer automation. All those people on the bridge of Enterprise pushing buttons seems pretty unlikely, a future spaceship will surely just fly itself. And most of what passes for traveling through space on Star Trek as well as most other science fiction shows violates the laws of physics.

Star Trek should be credited for what they were able to accomplish given such an aggressive shooting schedule and such a low budget. The first season of Star Trek had 29 episodes, whereas a season of Game of Thrones has only ten or so episodes, created with a vastly larger budget.

So why continue with re-watching the original Star Trek series? I am still fascinated (to use one of Spock’s favorite words) by how much my expectations about television have changed. I’m old enough to feel the pull of nostalgia for things from my youth. My grandfather used to watch these ridiculous old Western movies on television, and now I see why he did that.

And there’s still a lot to learn about how society has changed since the 1960s. You may ask, wouldn’t it be better to see that from something that wasn’t science fiction? Yes, and no. Star Trek explored ideas that simply weren’t explored in other television at the time. Partially it was the science fiction theme that enabled that, but also television wasn’t a very sophisticated medium back then. It was mostly dumb entertainment for the masses. As badly as you may think Star Trek has aged, if you enjoyed the A-Team as a kid but try to watch it today, you won’t believe how you were ever able to watch that dreck. I suspect that I will not get much enjoyment out of any 1960s sitcoms. Were there any dramas from the 1960s other than western stuff like Rawhide, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, etc? I am open to suggestions. I think that I would enjoy Petyon Place, but there doesn’t seem to be anyway to watch it without buying the DVDs for $25.56 per five DVDs, which seems outrageous. The only 1960s show on Netflix is the Andy Griffith Show, which is said to be a pretty good show for the 1960s; maybe I should give it a try.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 29, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Star Trek, Television

Why the Muslims hate us

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/08/china-pathologizing-uighur-muslims-mental-illness/568525/

One million Muslims are being held right now in Chinese internment camps, according to estimates cited by the UN and U.S. officials. Former inmates—most of whom are Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority—have told reporters that over the course of an indoctrination process lasting several months, they were forced to renounce Islam, criticize their own Islamic beliefs and those of fellow inmates, and recite Communist Party propaganda songs for hours each day. There are media reports of inmates being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, which are forbidden to Muslims, as well as reports of torture and death.

But the Muslims don’t hate the Chinese, they hate America and Israel. Muslims respect brutality and strength, they detest SJWism which they perceive as weakness. SJWs in the U.S. fakestream media are far more distressed about Chinese mistreatment of Muslims then actual Muslims.

Muslims would like Israel a lot better if they treated the Palestinians the way the Chinese treat their Muslims.

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However, I can see a future where SJWs put conservatives into internment camps and brainwash them using the same methods.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 29, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Religion

The Innocents on Netflix, a totally spoiler-free review

I love teen romance dramas, and then throw in the some supernatural stuff and it gets even better. It takes place in northern England, London, and Norway. A half-black kid is one of the major characters, but otherwise it’s a very white show, as white as it gets today. As an intelligent kid with an English accent, the black kid is really a white person on the inside. Except when he takes of his shirt and he’s way more ripped than a normal nerdy white high school kid.

Highly recommended!

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 29, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Television

David Katz update

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6106961/Jacksonville-gaming-gunmans-parents-battled-schizophrenic-bitter-divorce.html

The father claimed she had diagnosed their sons with ‘affective disorders’, alleging: ‘Whether or not children suffer from an affective disorder is a matter to be determined by a mental health expert. There is no evidence that Elizabeth Katz is a mental health expert.’

In an affidavit on May 7, 2006, Richard Katz wrote: ‘David has informed me that he does not want to take the psychiatric drugs, they make him feel worse, and is making efforts to refuse them. I was unaware of David’s efforts to avoid taking these drugs until I was informed of them by David. I have not seen evidence of schizophrenia in David Katz.

‘Elizabeth Katz purchased medications for David after a single visit with the prescribing doctor, during which the doctor was given information that was not correct or significantly exaggerated.’

He continued: ‘I believe that Ms. Katz is not acting in the actual best interests of the children and that her conduct is inappropriate and suggestive of a possible mental disorder.

Consistent with my diagnosis that the mother had Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, presumably the “possible mental disorder” that David’s father mentioned in the court filing. But obviously the family court believed the mother.

A classmate who attended Glenelg, an independent middle school in Ellicott City, Maryland, revealed to DailyMail.com that David Katz was picked on by other students. ‘I can tell you that he was bullied,’ the classmate, who did not wish to be named, said.

Most mass-shooters have that in their background.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 29, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Crime

NY Times right about Betsy Devos

Cracking down on crappy for-profit “colleges” and “universities” which were ripping off low IQ students and the U.S. government was the best thing to come out of the Obama administration.

The rules should have been expanded to include public and non-profit private schools as well. Instead we get cuckery to anything big business. No doubt Devos and others of her ilk believe that innovation automatically comes from the “free market,” but the only thing innovative about for-profit schools is that they are much better at marketing themselves to people who shouldn’t be going to college in the first place, and getting them to take out massive government loans to pay for bogus “education.”

Charter schools, school choice, and stuff like that are also bogus.

There is actually innovation in for-profit education, but ONLY where the education is not about doing time and getting a degree, but where the value is measured in something more direct, like being able to pass the bar exam (I have nothing but praise for BARBRI), or coding bootcamps where people really do learn how to code.

Trump should fire Devos and replace her with an education leader who will bring America-first reform to education. Real reforms I would like to see:

1. All schools should separate children by ability, so that smart children are in smart classes and the slower children are in slower classes. This would provide real benefit to primary and secondary education, even if they are public schools staffed by union teachers.

2. All government hiring and promotions should be based on scoring high on tests that demonstrate real and measurable knowledge and ability rather than having a college degree which often means nothing except that the degree-holder spend four years partying.

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Each of the two points above could be the subject of a series of long blog posts.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 29, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Education

John McCain

I voted for him in 2008, despite whom he picked for his running mate. (In comparison, in 2016, Trump made the best choice since Reagan chose George H.W. Bush. That’s one of the differences between McCain and Trump.)

I also voted for McCain for Senator when I lived in Arizona. And I once met him in Washington DC, at a State Society of Arizona party at the Library of Congress. Very briefly. He was doing the hand-shaking thing.

The irony of his death is that the people in the fakestream media praising the hell out of him are people who never actually voted for him. They just love him right now because they hate Trump, and McCain hated Trump, and they think that loving McCain pisses off Trump. Which it does.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 28, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Obituary

Witch hunt update

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“Black Death” writes in a comment:

Lots of blather lately about “Russian interference” in the last election. I haven’t been impressed by anything I’ve seen about it, but even if it’s true, what does it amount to? Some crap on social media, which I ignore anyway? Also, the US has interfered in lots of elections (Iran, Ukraine, Nicaragua, Chile, Guatemala to name a few). No, I think the real news (ignored by the corrupt MSM, of course) is the use of the DOJ/FBI and the IRS (remember Lois Lerner?) for partisan political purposes during the last administration. And what ever happened to the Russian uranium deal, the allegations of quid pro quo and the Clinton Foundation and Hillary’s use of non-secure emails for classified material (which is not just careless, but a crime)? Does anybody remember that stuff?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 28, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Politics

Star Trek TOS, season 1: “Shore Leave” (sexbots!)

The next Star Trek post will discuss “The Squire of Gothos,” and then “Arena,” and then “The Alternative Factor,” and then “Tomorrow Is Yesterday.” I am now watching the episodes in production order instead of the airdate order used by Netflix.

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The Enterprise discovers a planet where whatever you think about happens. It’s an amusement planet created by an advanced unknown alien race. Initially, no one understands what’s going on.

There’s an epic fistfight where Kirk beats up the upperclassmen from Starfleet Academy who he hated, who is actually an android created by the planet’s super-advanced machinery because Kirk thought about him. During the fight, Kirk’s shirt getting seriously ripped. But Kirk isn’t the only shirt that gets ripped in this episode. The pretty female Yeoman Barrows has her shirt ripped by an android Don Juan. She literally has a bodice-ripping fantasy! And then she changes into a princess costume which includes a hilarious cone-shaped hat with fabric dangling from the top.

Eventually the planet’s Caretaker appears and explains the whole thing.

CARETAKER: This entire planet was constructed for our race of people to come and play.

SULU: Play? As advanced as you obviously are, and you still play?

KIRK: Yes, play, Mister Sulu. The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.

CARETAKER: Exactly, Captain. How very perceptive of you.

Kirk then accepts the Caretaker’s offer to let his crew use the planet for Shore Leave.

This episode is fun! Except when McCoy got killed by an android knight with a lance. But then the aliens put him back together with advanced technology. It’s all fun!

At the beginning of the episode, we have Yeoman Barrows massaging Captain Kirk’s back while he’s sitting on his captain’s chair, but then later in the episode it’s McCoy who gets the girl. A big win for the nerdy sort-of-ugly middle-aged guy!

And what about the sexbots? We see McCoy with two hot babes (who are actually androids), because he was thinking about two girls from a cabaret on Rigel 2. He gets a very nasty look from his new girlfriend Yeoman Barrows, but I can imagine what most of the male crew is going to do on this planet, and it’s NOT suitable to show on broadcast TV! But what happens on the Shore Leave planet stays on the Shore Leave planet.

It’s kind of surprising that Kirk agreed, at the end, to let his crew enjoy the planet. Previous episodes of Star Trek, including The Cage, The Man Trap, and What Are Little Girls Made Of had a very negative view of fantasy women.

The aliens who created this planet obviously didn’t know about holodecks. Holodecks can do anything that this planet does, even better. With less danger. (Except when the holodeck goes bonkers and some holo-character takes over the real-world ship.)

Spock criticizes the whole idea of Shore Leave (before they knew the secret of the planet). “On my planet, to rest is to rest, to cease using energy. To me, it is quite illogical to run up and down on green grass using energy instead of saving it.” Vulcans are too logical to waste their hard-earned money on expensive vacations when they can just rest at home for free.

This is an underrated episode, I was able to enjoy the fun without thinking about plot holes and outdated special effects.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 28, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Star Trek

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