Star Trek is mainly space junk: FACT

Some of the random arguments for Trek being a God-Awful franchise that we ought to best forget:

(This is based on a question put to me in Lynn Lamb's wonderful interview here.)



People are revisiting Star Trek on Netflix lately, or geeking up for the first time. I am recommending that you don't squander your lives. I am a Trekkie. But I won't defend the faults that give me a dose of the rageface, unlike this pair of happy Carols.
I argue here mainly about the incarnations of Trek that come after The Original Series, and all views are free to be challenged.  



I do recommend The Original Series as a cultural cornerstone.


But TNG coasted along for three execrable seasons under the Trek name before improving slightly for its latter four. It really milked the cistern. System? As a new show, it would never have made it out of the gate without the Star Trek banner.

DS9's final season - which thrilled fans at the time - actually descended into fricken Dynasty, with Kai Winn as Alexis Colby! The same soapy nonsense undermined the villainous Xindi scenes in certain episodes of Star Trek Enterprise. But I think Deep Space 9’s the best series in the franchise, and Enterprise is second best. Voyager is by far the worst.

My favourite Trek movie is IV, second fave, First Contact. I love the time travel stuff, actually. 

My arguments about Trek being complete crap (for the most part) are that their writers have been - historically speaking - imaginatively challenged.  

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, as Mr Spock might sayBut how many Irish-American admirals are there in the Trek universe? Because two is too many for me - and there are about five per franchise.

These are the leaders in the military wing of a Federation of interstellar planets - including humanity - with multiples of its population of seven billion today - and it's full of O'Learys. This is a pool of humans drawn from the entire planet and its colonies.


IT'S NOT A PHWACKIN PLANNING CONFERENCE FOR THE GRAND MARSHALS OF THE SAINT PATRICK'S DAY PARADES OF AMERICA!

Not only should we asking "Where are the Betazoid admirals? The Vulcans? The Andorians?

We should be asking "Where the fuck are the MEXICANS? The JAPANESE? The NIGERIANS???"

Look at TNG: There are eps that are more sexist, racist and homophobic than - than I am! 

The one with the ignorant turbanned People of Color where it's flip-reversed to show how women hold the power. They're still pig-ignorant, and dressed to look like Aladdin in a fricken pantomime.

The one where Riker has his affair with the Gen'i person, and she's arrested, hauled off, and reconditioned to remove the gay out of her! DID THEY PRAY IT OUT???

Another with Ladies' man Riker getting involved with the blonde matriarch in a matriarchal society. Velvet and velour. There is too much velour - the Futurama team have that spot on.

In the 60s, the TOS writers deemed it an acceptable rule that women were not fit to captain starships. (It led to a lot of resentment from a psychotic bint whom Kirk had to take on.) That is ridiculous.

Back to TNG: Look at Tasha Yar's death episode - terrible! Speaking of Tasha Yar, she was originally meant to be called Macha Hernandez, but then the writers discovered that Macha sort of meant "butch lesbian" in Spanish.

Writers and creators doing a show blessed by Paramount, and every one of them is too dumb to have enough Spanish to know this? It's not even about these people being dunderheads:
T
he continuity errors in Trek are HORRIFIC.

If Trekkies can spot glaring incongruities, and there isn’t a single writer on the staff in a given MONTH - seeing as production of an episode takes so long - who says “This can’t happen because XYZ” then they’re not earning their money when handing in and reviewing their scripts.


I believe ST: Enterprise hired showrunners and writers of far greater talent and insider knowledge towards the end of its run – some of the continuity issues were even addressed with humour and style. And I don’t think, qualitatively, Enterprise caused Enterprise's cancellation: Voyager did.


Speaking of Voyager:
The best thing about the worst episode ever: Michael McKean as a clown. Watch that for 44 minutes and then get physically sick due to the crapness. Similar in its abject awfulness to the Tasha death ep. But Michael's great.


On ST: Enterprise, Capt Jonathan Archer tortures his enemies for information! Oh, coz war? Not in my name! And this isn't some mirror universe Archer - this is the real deal! Develop a level head, yeh fricken lunatic!

I recall some critical anger about Voyager, and Chakotay's representation of Native American culture.

Yes, there are some great eps, great ideas and great arcs, but a great episode of any Trek franchise suffers by comparison with poor episodes of other tv shows.

Have you watched that Dark Matter yet? I like that one.

And Now, A Potted History of Capt Jean-Luc Picard:

Jean-Luc Picard has been cloned, assimilated, and he's even lived a completely different existence over the course of a few hours that felt like an entire flute-playing, sun-gazing lifetime to him. (And they're the less ludicrous things that have befallen the chap.)  

One time, a disease that spread through the Enterprise turned him into a kind of a mouse.
"Captain - will you join me for a cup of tea?"
"I'll decline. The Earl Grey hasn't tasted the same on my palate since I transformed into a shrew for a few hours last year." 
"O-kayyyy."

At least it wasn't as ugly as when Captain Janeway became an iguana when she broke the Warp 10 barrier, eh? 


Another time, a transporter malfunction turned Picard into a teenager.
"Cast your mind back to when you were a boy, Picard!"
"Eh - do you mean last Wednesday?"

A typical conversation in the Trek universe could go like this



Nothing in the TV incarnations of Trek compare favorably to Game of Thrones, say, or Dr Who (when it came back) or The Sopranos, or LA Law or Hill Street Blues or The West Wing or Lost or Thirtysomething or Twin Peaks (whether these shows are sci fi or not). The big network and cable shows it competed against were always superior. 
As a progenitor for much of the sci fi to come, TOS Trek deserves all the plaudits it got. And my own limited knowledge of actual science is influenced massively by the Trek universe. It is owed a huge debt, culturally. But enough already. Draw a line under the original universe, and watch the new stuff.

THE LINE IS DRAWN HERE! to paraphrase Picard. NO FURTHER!

More questions to ask on Quora!

HOW DO I MAKE MYSELF EVEN ANGRIER?
How do I see the full question, instead of just the "title" on here?
I am looking at stupid questions like "How do I tell my daughter she's as dumb as she looks without hurting her feelings?" and I am so angry that I want to read the FULL question in order to be even angrier, with the clarifications and everything. I can only see the question title. SO HOW THE HELL DO I SEE THE FULL DAMN QUESTION?

Is it okay to get out of my vehicle?
I stopped for gas and - ironically enough - attempted to release some gas of my own as I came into the station. Call me old-fashioned, but we'd all be better off letting it out in the cab than while we're paying for our fuel, right?
Unfortunately, what came out was not gas alone; and it certainly wasn't a solid. If plasma is one of the states of matter, I think my little emission qualifies. Does plasma burn?

I have a twenty minute drive home, and I'm running on an empty tank. Should I risk the drive, or fill up, go in and pay? There are no further stops along the way. I don't know if my flannel underpants have contained the disaster.
It smells in the vehicle.
Update: It still smells. I've been sitting here for three hours. Please advise.

World's first camera placed on a basking shark

The newspapers reported a while back:

"World's first camera placed on a basking shark". 

It must have been a lot of trouble, to get that camera out of the museum. I think they've outdone themselves. 

Mounting that cumbersome nineteenth century contraption onto that shark might be all cool and "steam punk", but it's cruel at best. They should've used a brand new camera, the latest technology. Just because these scientists can do something doesn't mean that they have to do it.

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle Book Review

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle (available on Amazon US and UK) is making its way into paperback format this month 
(August 2016).

As I read through, I am enthused to see in Searle a scribe who can pen a (somewhat) memoir-like piece of long, (recent) historical fiction, with the panache of an old gentleman.

UHQ-literary style is a rarity in thriller fiction today; Banville could be cited as an example, but his novels - if thrillers at all, and some involve murder and conspiracy - are finely wrought outliers. 

There is action in The Good Liar - not frenetically paced, much of it well timed to be surprising - and certainly more than enough violence to punctuate the humorous or cogent discussions of and meditations on infirmity, duping, history and politics.

Searle's work matches style with great plotting. Dickensian-Gothic elements permeate a prewar Nazi Germany rife with Trumplike hate, and a catfishing scam artist many decades later as the protagonist who claims no interest in history, as what's past is past. 

But elderly Roy has played a greater part in post-war Europe's reconstruction than he cares to admit. Beyond a superb plot, the book is a rivetting character analysis of how Roy - through his history - comes to be the grumpy old manipulator we are presented with at the novel's opening.

You can buy the book in all good bookshops. It's available at  Amazon US and UK.

Follow Nicholas Searle on Twitter.

The erosion of morality no longer a conservative preoccupation

The Left are the moral defenders today, beardy thinker Slavoj Zizek says on youtube, not the Right. I'd like to echo some of his thoughts here. His remarkable ideas have had me thinking for days. The Right talk of the erosion of rights and liberty. Yet - leaving rights related to social policy aside, which conservatives generally oppose - the Left are protecting the workers and the common people; the Right's economic policy undermines worker rights.

Part of John Kerry's policy platform running against George W. **** in the middle of the last decade was to return multinational corporation jobs to American territory, rather than farming them out. The same argument has been embraced more recently by US conservatives. A tax regime both punitive and incentivising could easily undermine outsourcing culture. It's not something one would have expected to hear from a Democrat, but it was pro-industry as well as pro-worker in many respects. 

Increasing the wealth of the one percent is something that conservatives, in the main, support - and economic growth, when it happens, is clearly a mere epiphenomenon of this, as recent history shows. The Woolly Haired, Woolly Minded Man who's hoodwinked his way into politics has taken on jobs in the past where he insisted on drawing a salary and expenses when the business was not there to justify it. Because he's worth it. He is typical of the one percent in that regard.


Conservatives talk about the erosion of order; even famous philosophers and screenwriters (thinkers in the "Liberal Arts" community) have been bemoaning and highlighting the inability of institutions - in medicine, church and state - to exert control or at least to speak with authority today, for quite some time.

Zizek - who advocates the good manners which I avoid here - discusses the background to society; he wouldn't want to live in a world where every day he's arguing that "Rape is wrong." It should be assumed in any decent society that rape is absolutely unacceptable. But the conservative element in the United States has led to public acceptance of torture - that people now have to wake up every day to declare "Torture is wrong." By the same rationale, we wouldn't want to live in Saudi, to tell people every day "You know, women are safer and better drivers than men, all across the planet. They should be allowed to drive."


And yet again, Woolly Head implies a return to the waterboarding techniques of George **** Jr. It is now the norm to talk of such things, a testament to how eroded people's rights have apparently become, living in the shadow of terror - that they feel the need to half-drown suspects - in order to re-adjust society to a point that they regard as acceptable.

Torture notwithstanding, the man with the woolly hair and the woolly mind makes some reasonable arguments. 

He says he would collaborate more with Russia. The US places Missile Defence Systems or its Shield (or whatever it is) on Russia's border so that America can aim some of its payload towards Tehran? Obama told Medvedev he would abandon this project once he was re-elected, but this was before the invasion of Ukraine. 

Still: If Khruschev had brought his missiles to Cuba and told the US that he was actually aiming them at fascists in Latin America, would Kennedy have found that acceptable?

What about the US Navy policing China's nearby waters, in order to protect the Japanese and the Filipinos, and to support Japan's right to stategically important disputed islands? Some would argue that these disputed islands' history of ownership is linked with Japan's pre-WW2 imperial aggression. 

So isn't it a little rich to defend the country's right to such things? Couldn't this lead to nuclear conflict? 

Japan had been opened up to trade in the 1850s by the US, while the British subsequently helped to train and build its navy.

There was - apparently - a famine in Korea in the 1880s, while the Japanese were attempting to remove that peninsula from the Qing dynasty's sphere of influence. It led to rioting and the deaths of Japanese representatives at their Korean outpost, for which the Japanese demanded reparations. Relations with China didn't improve - and the Japanese eventually beat them in a war which resulted in their taking of the islands in 1895.

Note how much of this was caused by the grubby hands of the white man keen to sell his Coke and guns, who - like Saddam a century later - ended up bombing the shit out of a former ally to end a war.

So Mr Woolly Head's instinctive isolationism sounds as appealing as ****'s had, pre-9-11, which is - in fact - very appealing. Not because Hills wouldn't start World War Three with her finger on the button. She's very unlikely to, and will probably do more good internationally than harm, even if the drones continue to target terrorists and cause collateral damage. Because let the children die! But a woolly-brained moron as leader of the free world should be left to play in his own backyard.

**** told the world in a post 9-11 press conference that Bin Laden was Wanted Dead or Alive. His aides - smarter than the **** himself - scrambled to wrap up the talk before he made any further gaffes that would expose him as a dullardly mind-numbing psychopath in front of the international community. The reaction from the international community should have been one of derision. The reaction from the US media should have been far more critical. But - as Mr Zizek suggests - it is now not only acceptable to talk like that. It is expected. It is the norm. It is the norm for Mr Woolly Brains to hint that a member of the gun lobby could assassinate his political rival. The nastiness of the American Right - its horrific gloss of acceptability - is the reason why it was more politically astute for Obama to kill Osama than to arrest him, and then kill him.

**** similarly famously suggested to Tony Blair that the US could bomb the Al Jazeera TV network headquarters. He wanted to destroy a Muslim-run international news outlet which included David Frost among its big names, for reporting the facts of the War on Terror.

With a similar but far less ludicrous proposal, Mr Woolly Head wants to sue the pants off media outlets. Look at how vile the British tabloids have been, and frequently still are, post-Leveson. The US media is generally far more mannerly. But if First Amendment details were re-interpreted - and defamation and libel laws made far stricter - the media might actually have to do their jobs more thoroughly, and expose Mr Woolly Mind's mendacity on pain of penury. He's an incorrigible liar. He's not a bad egg beyond his documented racism, petulance and misogyny - he just plays to the gallery. But Mr Woolly's sense of entitlement to office could destroy the planet. So I'd love to see the media try to prove in a court of law that he is - like his Republican predecessor - a complete, genuine, total, epic ****.

My ailments

This is a small list of my ailments. I only deal with one indepth here, but they are all very worrying concerns in their own way.




Magical Lopsided Butt-Wiping Tendencies

The Magical Lopsided Butt-Wiping Phenomenon is where you wipe your bum, and a streak appears on the tissue off to the side a little, and then you compensate by wiping that specific area in the next wipe, and then it appears very clean as if the area has been wiped thoroughly.

So you do one more courtesy wipe up the central trench, and the streak appears off to the side again. I mean, is the poop there or not? It's MAGIC[al Lopsided Butt-Wiping]!

BY THE WAY: Anyone who says I'm being disgusting talking about all this re-appearing poop because they don't even LOOK at the toilet paper can kiss my nice clean ass - and your bum is probably dirty!!!

That's right - your repulsion and revulsion for poopy things are manifestations OF YOUR OWN FILTHY ASS!!!

Anyway, my other ailments include:

Sore (Itchy) Writing Finger
Misfortunate Episodes Syndrome
TV Remote Confusion
Small Poop Production (or Rabbit Faeces Disorder)
Anti-French Bias 
Legitimate Hand-Eye Coordinative Crapness
A Fierce Intolerance of Conservative American opinion 
Guitar-String Tone Deafness
Sixpack Prevention Candy Eating Syndrome
Hispanophonic Incomprehension (or "Ack-ack-ack Phobia")

Who Do You Think You Are? Ancestry Special

Here is a photograph of my great-great grandparents, Nana Kaka and Papa Poo. Nana Kaka's real name was Katherine, but her younger brother Glascott couldn't pronounce "Katherine" when he was a baby and he used to call her Kaka. So she held onto the name all of her life.

Her husband's name was Roderick. But Papa Poo's younger sister Prunella couldn't pronounce his real name either. She just called him Poo rather than Roderick, but it was more because she was trying to get to grips with her own name, and her toilet training. She called everyone Poo. In the end, Poo stuck to him for the rest of his life.

Poo and Kaka got married in the year of our Lord 19XX. The Xs are Roman numbers that they had back then, because everything was pre-decimal.

The next daguerro type of rendering is of my other great-great-grandparents, the ones on my Step-Nappy's side. 

Gampy Donie Dinny, Nanu Pinky and Granna Donna Moodoo. They led a sad and depressing life, which they had to share. Nanu Pinky was a huge fan of the colour teal, but the colour pink was the closest they could come to it back in the day. So everyone called her Pinky. It was very sad.

Happily, the tiers ran down their cheeks to make multi-level wedding cakes, which were rare before the Depression. They were extremely rich - almost too sweet and heavy for a half starved, tenement-dwelling Irish population - but Gamps, Nanu Pinky and Granna Moodoo still made a lot of money out of those cakes. They were very happy together.

Anyway, that's about it - more ancestor stuff never!