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Signs of the Apocalypse, QAnon and UFOs, traditional values
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Published Wednesday, May 26, 2021 @ 12:00 AM EDT
May 26 2021

Signs of the Apocalypse, #913. Game over, man. It has begun...

(Another link if video is missing.)

Signs of the Apocalypse, #914. Almost as scary- you don't need to be Douglas Trumbull or Jim Cameron to pull this off. Just about anyone can do this with easily obtainable software.

New grand jury seated for next stage of Trump investigation. Nope. Not gonna get excited. Been burned before...

Even worse: Arizona's Secretary of State 'stripped' of duties after criticizing election audit.

Republicans worried blind worship of Trump overriding traditional values like blind worship of Reagan. (The Onion)

Trumpland: QAnon crowd convinced UFOs are a diversion from voter fraud. "They want you talking about aliens because they don’t want you talking about Maricopa," Newsmax White House correspondent Emerald Robinson tweeted. You know things are bad when the story about the UFOs is true.

Social media heavyweights wooed for Pfizer smear campaign. Social media influencers in France with hundreds of thousands of followers say a mysterious advertising agency offered to pay them if they agreed to smear Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine with negative fake stories.

Germany gives greenlight to driverless vehicles on public roads. Germany has adopted legislation that will allow driverless vehicles on public roads by 2022, laying out a path for companies to deploy robotaxis and delivery services in the country at scale. While autonomous testing is currently permitted in Germany, this would allow operations of driverless vehicles without a human safety operator behind the wheel.

Missed opportunity: Tom Hanks, a life-long Star Trek fan, almost played Zefram Cochrane in "Star Trek: First Contact."

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KGB's daily agglomeration of stuff I find interesting:

Among other things, today is National Blueberry Cheesecake Day, National Cherry Dessert Day, National Paper Airplane Day, National Senior Health & Fitness Day, Sally Ride Day, World Dracula Day, World Lindy Hop Day, World Product Day, and World Redhead Day.

Samuel E. Wright, voice of Sebastian the crab in The Little Mermaid, dead at 74. (Video)

Events:

1647 - Alse Young was the first person executed as a witch in the American colonies
1805 - Lewis and Clark see the Rocky Mountains for the first time.
1828 - Mysterious feral child Kaspar Hauser is discovered wandering the streets of Nuremberg
1868 – The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson ended with his acquittal by one vote.
1896 – Charles Dow published the first edition of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
1897 – Dracula by Bram Stoker was published in London.
1927 – The last Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.
1967 – The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in the UK. (Video)
1975 - Glen Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy single was released. (Video)
1978 - first legal gambling casino opened in Atlantic City.

Birthdays

Isadora Duncan (b. Angela Isadora Duncan, May 26, 1877 – September 14, 1927)
Al Jolson (b. Asa Yoelson, c. 1885 – October 23, 1950)
John Wayne (b. Marion Robert Morrison, May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979)
Jay Silverheels (b. Harold Jay Smith, May 26, 1912 – March 5, 1980)
Peter Cushing (May 26, 1913 – August 11, 1994)
Peggy Lee (b. Norma Deloris Egstrom, May 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002)
James Arness (b. James King Aurness, May 26, 1923 – June 3, 2011)
Miles Davis (b. Miles Dewey Davis III, May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991)
Dr. Jack Kevorkian (b. Murad Jacob Kevorkian May 26, 1928 – June 3, 2011)
Stevie Nicks (b. Stephanie Lynn "Stevie" Nicks, May 26, 1948)
Pam Grier (b. Pamela Suzette Grier, May 26, 1949)
Sally Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012)
Bobcat Goldthwait (b. Robert Francis "Bobcat" Goldthwait, May 26, 1962
Lenny Kravitz (b. Leonard Albert Kravitz, May 26, 1964)
Helena Bonham Carter (b. May 26, 1966)

Cartoon: National Holiday

Delusional

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We're taking an extended Memorial Day holiday and will resume on Tuesday, June 1.


Categories: Arizona, Cartoons, Covid-19, Deep Fakes, Donald Trump, Jim Carrey, Republicans, Ronald Reagan, Signs of the Apocalypse, Star Trek, The Big Lie, Tom Hanks


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Going maskless, Arizona madness, birthdays, more memes
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Published Wednesday, April 28, 2021 @ 12:56 AM EDT
Apr 28 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidelines Tuesday on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers. So we grabbed the dogs and some grandkids and headed to the park to enjoy the 80° temperatures.

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A so-called audit of the 2020 election in Arizona was always going to be crazy. This is something else. The counting has just begun, but already the audit has become almost inextricable from the far-right internet. There, audit-watchers share tips and concerns about security offered by Ron Watkins, a man suspected of helping birth the QAnon craze.

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Thought of the day: "I think perhaps the most important problem is that we are trying to understand the fundamental workings of the universe via a language devised for telling one another where the best fruit is."
-Terry Pratchett (b. Terence David John Pratchett on April 28, 1948 – March 12, 2015) (More Terry Pratchett quotes)

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Among other things, today is Biological Clock Day, Clean Comedy Day, Denim Day, Great Poetry Reading Day, International Guide Dog Day, International Noise Awareness Day, International Pay it Forward Day, National Blueberry Pie Day, National Cubicle Day, National Kiss Your Mate Day, National Superhero Day, Stop Food Waste Day, Workers' Memorial Day, and World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

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Remembering Lee Falk (b. Leon Harrison Gross; April 28, 1911 – March 13, 1999), American writer, theater director and producer, best known as the creator of the popular comic strips Mandrake the Magician (1934–2013) and The Phantom (1936–present). At the height of their popularity, these strips attracted over 100 million readers every day.

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Remembering Harper Lee (b. Nelle Harper Lee; April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016), novelist best known for her 1960 novel "To Kill a Mockingbird", which won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and has become a classic of modern American literature. (Quotes by Harper Lee)

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Remembering Carolyn Jones (b. Carolyn Sue Jones; April 28, 1930 – August 3, 1983) American actress of television and film. Jones began her film career in the early 1950s, and by the end of the decade had achieved recognition with a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for "The Bachelor Party" (1957) and a Golden Globe Award as one of the most promising new actresses of 1959. Her film career continued for another 20 years. In 1964, she began playing the role of Morticia Addams in the original black and white television series The Addams Family.

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On this day in 1930, the Independence Producers hosted the first night_game in the history of organized baseball in Independence, Kansas.

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Remembering Madge Sinclair (b. Madge Dorita Walters on April 28, 1938 – December 20, 1995) Jamaican actress best known for her roles in "Cornbread, Earl and Me" (1975), "Convoy" (1978), "Coming to America" (1988), Trapper John, M.D. (1980–1986), and the ABC TV miniseries "Roots" (1977). Sinclair also voiced the character of Sarabi, Mufasa's wife and Simba's mother, in the Disney animated feature film "The Lion King" (1994). A five-time Emmy Award nominee, Sinclair won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series for her role as Empress Josephine in Gabriel's Fire in 1991. Sinclair, in her brief uncredited role as the captain of the USS Saratoga in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home", is commonly cited as the first female Starfleet starship captain to appear in Star Trek. Years later, Sinclair played Geordi La Forge's mother, captain of the USS Hera, in Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Interface".

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Ann-Margret (b. Ann-Margret Olsson on April 28, 1941) is 80 today.

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On this day in 1947, Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to demonstrate that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia.

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Jay Leno (b. James Douglas Muir Leno on April 28, 1950) is 71 today. (Jay Leno quotes)



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On this date in 1965, CBS aired the special "My Name Is Barbra," Barbra Streisand's first television special. A solo performance, she sang 26 songs during the one hour program. The show was nominated for six Primetime Emmy Awards in 1965, for which it won five. Streisand won the award for "Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment." It also won the Directors Guild of America Award for "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television" in 1966.

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On this date in 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, recorded at Abbey Road Studios reached number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, beginning a record-breaking 971-week chart run. The album is in the top 25 of the list of best-selling albums in the United States. Although it held the number one spot in the US for only a week, it remained in the Billboard album chart from 1973 to 1988. The album re-appeared on the Billboard charts with the introduction of the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart in May 1991. (Older "catalog albums" had been dropped from the weekly list between May 1999 and December 2009). In the UK, it is the seventh-best-selling album of all time and the highest selling album never to reach number one.

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"Florida hasn't always been the weird state claims the book "The Thing About Florida" which was written by, er, a Florida man. Speaking of Florida, here's a stupendous obituary from the Tampa Bay Times.

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Memes of the day:


Categories: Ann-Margret, Barbra Streisand, Baseball, Carolyn Jones, CDC, Covid-19, Florida, Harper Lee, Jay Leno, Kon-Tiki, Madge Sinclair, Meme of the day, Obituaries, Pink Floyd, QAnon, Republicans, Star Trek, Terry Pratchett, The Big Lie, The Dark Side of the Moon, Thor Heyerdahl


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Earth Day is tomorrow
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Published Wednesday, April 21, 2021 @ 5:24 PM EDT
Apr 21 2021

Lest we forget:

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Among other things, today is Administrative Professionals Day, Big Word Day, Bulldogs are Beautiful Day, Keep Off the Grass Day, Kindergarten Day, National Banana Day, National Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day, National Tea Day, National Yellow Bat Day, San Jacinto Day, Thank You for Libraries Day, Tuna Rights Day, and World Creativity and Innovation Day.

On this date in 1986, Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone's vault on live television and found nothing.

On this date in 1956, Elvis Presley's first hit record, "Heartbreak Hotel", reached #1 on the charts. Co-written by Mae Boren Axton, her son Hoyt wrote Three Dog Night's 1971 hit "Joy to the World," which also hit #1 and stayed there for six weeks.

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When you try to post something after Facebook blocks you, they give you a chance to tell them why you think they're wrong. When you enter your text and press the button, you get this:

Every. Single. Time. Over 20 attempts in two days. I got this the last time they suspended me a month or so ago, so it's obvious their feedback request is just a hypocritical sham. And is appears they're getting more stupid and/or evil each day.

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But there are more important things about which to be concerned. Humungous flare from sun's nearest neighbor breaks records. Why should you care? This guy thinks the thing that caused it is heading this way and that Old Sol is next.

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Interesting approach: The Bible makes way more sense as a series of "Florida Man" stories.


Categories: Bible, Catastrophism, Earth Day, Environment, Facebook, Florida, Humpback Whales, Star Trek


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Star Trek, Space Force, Marilyn, Mount St. Helens, NASA says don't worry...
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Published Monday, May 18, 2020 @ 12:31 AM EDT
May 18 2020

Today is Monday, May 18, the 139th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. 227 days remain until the end of the year.

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Among other things, today is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, I Love Reese's® Day, International Museum Day, Mother Whistler Day. National Cheese Soufflé Day, National No Dirty Dishes Day, National Visit Your Relatives Day, Send an Electronic Greeting Card Day, and World AIDS Vaccine Day.

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Supreme Court debacle: On this date in 1896, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that the "separate but equal" doctrine was constitutional.

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On this date in 1933 as part of the New Deal, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the act creating the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned corporation created by congressional charter to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development to the Tennessee Valley, a region particularly affected by the Great Depression.

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On this day 70 years ago, St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Tommy Glaviano made errors on three consecutive grounders in the bottom of the ninth, allowing the Brooklyn Dodgers a 9-8 victory. At least he could tell himself it wasn't, you know, something people would remember two decades into the next century or anything

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On this day in 1962, A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy took place at Madison Square Garden, New York City. The highlight was Marilyn Monroe's rendition of "Happy Birthday." (Video)

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Tina Fey is 50 today. Click here for quotes by Tina Fey.

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On this date in 1980, Mount St. Helens in Washington state erupted, directly killing 57 people and releasing thermal energy equivalent to 26 megatons of TNT, over 1,700 times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. (Video)

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Ever listen to Trump ramble and wonder what he was asked about in the first place? Now it's a game you can play at home! From The Daily Show. (Video)

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This just about sums it up... (Video)

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Inside Trump's coronavirus meltdown. Again and again, the story that emerged is of a president who ignored increasingly urgent intelligence warnings from January, dismisses anyone who claims to know more than him and trusts no one outside a tiny coterie, led by his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner- the property developer who Trump has empowered to sideline the best-funded disaster response bureaucracy in the world. "It is as though we knew for a fact that 9/11 was going to happen for months, did nothing to prepare for it and then shrugged a few days later and said, 'Oh well, there's not much we can do about it,'" says Gregg Gonsalves, a public health scholar at Yale University. "Trump could have prevented mass deaths and he didn't."

Meanwhile, on Earth 2: Eric Trump accuses Democrats of "milking" coronavirus lockdowns to win the election.

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Borowitz: Trump says nation will have vaccine before it sees his taxes.

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Obama openly criticizes Trump administration's coronavirus response. (Video)

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'A lot to be hopeful for': Crisis seen as historic, not another Great Depression.

Related: Drastic makeover looms for world's most followed stock index. "The S&P committee is going to have to decide how long they want to wait before ditching COVID-damaged companies..."

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As cable TV fades, fearing 'the end of Comedy Central.' The network that made the careers of Dave Chappelle, Stephen Colbert and Amy Schumer has laid off top executives while looking to make shows that are cheaper to produce.

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Space Force launches robotic X-37B space plane on new mystery mission. While the X-37B's exact purpose is a secret, Space Force officials have revealed that the craft is packing numerous experiments on this trip to test out different systems in space. Some of those experiments include a small satellite called FalconSat-8, two NASA payloads designed to study the effects of radiation on different materials as well as seeds to grow food, and a power-beaming experiment using microwave energy. (story includes video)

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ViacomCBS, which owns Paramount and the Star Trek® franchise, should sue Trump for using the phrase "warp speed" for the vaccination projects and the delta shield emblem as the core of its Space Force logo. Not for intellectual property violations, but for damaging the value of its brand via association with a malignant miscreant.

And speaking of Star Trek, seven years ago today my wife and I saw "Star Trek: Into Darkness," by far the worst Star Trek film ever made.

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Meteor caught on doorbell camera. A Summerville, SC family caught a meteor entering Earth's atmosphere on their doorbell video camera early Thursday morning. The video, provided by the Giltner family, was taken around 12:42 a.m. (video)

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Trump 'spiritual adviser' Paula White imitates queen bee dance to declare end to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Expert's COVID-19 swimming pool study: chlorine no safety guarantee, high-level controls the way back to the water.

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Here's what a solar minimum is and why NASA says it's nothing to worry about. Some say the current cycle could be a repeat of the Dalton Minimum, which was one of the most extreme weather periods in history. The Dalton minimum was a period that lasted over three solar cycles from 1790-1830 and resulted in heavy snows, deep frost and general cooling around the globe. NASA scientists say there's no mini ice age on the horizon, because planetary warming due to climate change will offset the cycle. There. Feel better?

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Offered without comment: (Video)

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Thoughts of the day:

Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.
-G.K. Chesterton

The written word will soon disappear and we'll no longer be able to read good prose like we used to could. This prospect does not gentle my thoughts or tranquil me toward the future.
-James Thurber

There are few things in life harder to find and more important to keep than love. Well, love and a birth certificate.
-Barack Obama

We can usually recognize the consequence of our actions. It is the consequence of our inaction that gets confused with the inevitable.
-Robert Brault

The more you know, the sadder you get.
-Stephen Colbert

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I'm a sucker for rescue dogs to begin with, but this sweetheart tore my heart out. Thank goodness she found a loving home with a great mom dedicated to caring for special needs dogs. (Video)



Things are really rough out there.
Please consider donating to Feeding America
.


Categories: Andy Borowitz, Barack Obama, Climate change, Comedy Central, Covid-19, Daily Show, Donald Trump, Eric Trump, FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Meteors, Mount St. Helens, NASA, New Deal, Paula White, Rudy Giuliani, SCOTUS, Space Force, Star Trek, Supreme Court, Tennessee Valley Authority, The Sun, Tina Fey, Tommy Glaviano, Video, YouTube


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I got your Space Force for you right here
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Published Tuesday, July 03, 2018 @ 2:26 PM EDT
Jul 03 2018

So the Cheeto in Chief wants himself a Space Force! I say give it to him, mainly because one already kinda exists.

The purpose of such an entity, one assumes, would be to defend the good ol' US of A, which is conveniently situated on the planet Earth. And wouldn't you know it, the aforementioned USA already has something called the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), which is nowhere near as cool as Space Force!, but I'm sure changing the name wouldn't be a big deal.

Located within NASA’s Planetary Science Division, the purpose of PDCO Space Force! is to lead the coordination of interagency and intergovernmental efforts to plan responses to potential impact threats. Throw a little more money their way, though, and point them toward the defense industry folk at the Pentagon, and I'm certain they'll develop phasers and photon torpedos and deflectors and tractor beams and whatnot to handily dispose of any incoming meteors or comets or- nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more- ballistic missiles.

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The Fermi paradox, or Fermi's paradox, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence and high probability estimates for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations.

Where are the Vulcans and the other friendly beings of the would-be United Federation of Planets? A scout expedition performed a thorough survey of the Terran system recently, including its culture and politics, and came to several reasoned observations:

Terran civilization still hasn't mastered solar power, nuclear fusion, or faster-than-light travel. And it probably never will, because:

Terran civilization has the ability to develop technology to prevent the destruction of its atmosphere by a runaway greenhouse effect they themselves caused.

Terran civilization has the ability to develop technology to detect, prevent, or mitigate collisions with asteroids, meteors, comets and other celestrial objects capable of producing extinction-level events.

However-

Terran civilization refuses to dedicate the resources- or as the natives say, "spend the bucks"- to accomplish these tasks, even though they are essential for the ongoing survival of not only their species, but potentially all multi-cellular animal life on the planet.

Do we really want to associate ourselves with a race as self-absorbed as the Catullans and as ethically challenged as the Iotians? Screw 'em, we say. We hear the Alpha Centauri system has three stars, a bunch of life-supporting planets, and is just 7.34 Terran Solar Days away at warp six.


Categories: Alpha Centauri, Fermi paradox, NASA, Planetary Defense Coordination Office, Space Force, Star Trek, The Daily KGB Report


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I think I'll wait for Saurian Brandy. Or something green.
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Published Thursday, June 28, 2018 @ 2:39 PM EDT
Jun 28 2018

From trekmovie.com

Silver Screen Bottling Company announced a new line of officially licensed Star Trek-inspired spirits, kicking off with the launch of a James T. Kirk Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The new Kirk whiskey is described as "an artisan bourbon that celebrates Captain Kirk's bold spirit of adventure."

(It turns out booze plays a major role in Star Trek.)


Categories: Bourbon, James T. Kirk, Star Trek, The Daily KGB Report


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Trump does this 20 times a day; Star Trek unification torpedoed?
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Published Monday, May 14, 2018 @ 3:45 PM EDT
May 14 2018

I could think of several things, especially taking into account his prodigious consumption of Diet Coke. But it's worth considering another daily habit.

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CBS has filed a lawsuit to block merger with Viacom. Star Trek could be a casualty of this corporate war. This is certainly a major step backwards for the reunification of CBS and Viacom, owner of Paramount Pictures. Since Viacom split up in 2005, Star Trek has been divided between CBS and Paramount Pictures, with CBS owning the brand and television rights and Paramount owning the film library and holding the rights to make new feature films. A CBS/Viacom merger could create more opportunities for building the brand, cross-promotions and other synergies. Potentially it could eventually lead to building a coherent ‘Star Trek Cinematic Universe’ across TV and film. For now, any such dreams will have to be put on hold with CBS and Paramount continuing to forge their own independent paths with Star Trek.


Categories: Donald Trump, Star Trek, The Daily KGB Report


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I was too busy celebrating
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Published Friday, September 09, 2016 @ 1:07 PM EDT
Sep 09 2016

...to post this yesterday, the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, which first aired on September 8, 1966. Your Friday time-killers are:

An old BBC documentary...

The History Channel's 40th anniversary tribute:

https://youtu.be/SNkZ4yRkdJQ

The New Explorers look at Star Trek:


Categories: Star Trek


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Star Trek Beyond - it's not bad and far better than the last one.
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Published Saturday, July 23, 2016 @ 9:43 AM EDT
Jul 23 2016

This isn't a review. It's a sigh of relief.

Star Trek Beyond is... not bad. Coming after the abysmal Star Trek: Into Darkness, I was careful not to expect too much from this third film in the J.J. Abrams-produced reboot of the 50 year old franchise. At least this time around they acknowledged the existence of a decades-old fanbase, instead of purposely trying to alienate it.

The problem with the new movies is best described by rogerebert.com reviewer Matt Zoller Seitz, who notes they're mostly big-budget sci-fi films "marinated in 'Star Trek' flavor packets." It's a common problem with reboots and star shifts in big franchises. The latest James Bond films have Bondian scripts, but it's difficult to buy Daniel Craig as James Bond. The Abrams-produced Trek films have the new actors marvelously portraying iconic characters, but in storylines that bear little resemblance to the original tone of the tv series or films.

Fortunately, the script for STB was co-written by Simon Pegg, a self-confessed Star Trek fan who also plays chief engineer Montgomery Scott. So while STB suffers in places from intense special effects overkill, an enemy whose motives aren't revealed until the end of the film, and various plot holes (he forgot where he parked his starship?), it has recaptured the spirit and gentle charm of the original version. Think of this movie as a fair to middling second season entry of the original show- like The Omega Glory or A Private Little War- only with a budget more than twice as large as the cost of producing all 79 episodes in the 1966-1969 run of the series.

Wisely, no references are made to its predecessor, so we're spared inanities like interplanetary beaming and tribble resurrection. Instead, Pegg pays homage to the original series with scores of subtle references. The original aeolian harp-like transporter sound effect is used. There's a Chekov 'invented-in-Russia gag'. An obscure and odd-sounding but totally accurate call-out to the original series episode Who Mourns for Adonais? where 'a giant green hand' is offered as a sound, rational explanation for ship disappearances. And two Enterprise crewman on the receiving end of the villain's wrath are, of course, wearing red shirts. A few scenes are reminiscent of Galaxy Quest and Guardians of the Galaxy, but in clever and non-obstrusive ways.

There are still annoyances like humans having somehow developed the ability to fall 50-100 feet without injury. But this seems to be common to all films after the parkour opening of 2006's Casino Royale Bond reboot. Chris Pine's Kirk continues to get the crap beaten out of him on a regular basis, which makes me wonder if perhaps Shatner is slipping a few bucks under the table to the new production team.

Pegg's script seems to try to atone for the Trek-specific absurdities, like starships spouting flame from manuevering thrusters and flying in planetary atmospheres. "There's a reason they're called starships, you know," Scotty complains at one point. In another scene, Scotty points out that "Starfleet isn't a miliary organization," something that might not be obvious given the militaristic bent of the first two movies. But, alas, they've forgotten creator Gene Roddenberry's admonishment to starship desiger Matt Jeffries: "no flames, no fins, no rockets." Propulsion in this movie seems more 20th than 23rd century.

Director Justin Lin does a good job with lighting and framing- the bridge no longer looks like an Apple store on opening day and, thank goodness, less lens flare. The Fast and Furious director delivers several wild and wooly fight scenes and cgi set pieces that were hard to follow, which I attribute mainly to my age and unfamiliarity with the ouevre. I thought the space battles in Star Trek II were impressive, and that was just two optically printed motion control models and some cell animation. The thousands of cgi-rendered craft that swarm through STB were a bit overwhelming. Those cgi guys must get paid by the pixel. And there were times when I wanted to yell "just keep the goddamned camera still!" as it dollied and tilted through scenes not requiring such embellishment.

But that's nit-picking. As was the case with the original series, it's the relationships between the main characters and humor that really keep the movie afloat. Karl Urban's Dr. McCoy, in particular, is spot-on. And McCoy continues to get all the funny lines.

The movie notes the passing of Leonard Nimoy, "Spock Prime" in the new movies. There's also a "cameo" of the original crew via a photograph from the last film featuring all of the original cast, 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which is in Spock Prime's personal effects.

Anyway, if you're an old Trek fan, go see it. You'll walk out of the theater feeling like you've actually watched a Star Trek movie, something I hadn't done in 25 years.


Categories: KGB Opinion, Star Trek


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Indeed
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Published Saturday, June 25, 2016 @ 11:20 AM EDT
Jun 25 2016


Categories: Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin, Star Trek


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Wishful thinking
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Published Monday, April 18, 2016 @ 10:31 PM EDT
Apr 18 2016


Categories: Bernie Sanders, Elections, Star Trek


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Now it all makes sense...
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Published Friday, April 08, 2016 @ 3:12 AM EDT
Apr 08 2016


Categories: Bernie Sanders, Photo of the day, Politics, Star Trek


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Review: Star Trek - The Ultimate Voyage
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Published Wednesday, March 02, 2016 @ 4:20 PM EST
Mar 02 2016

Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage celebrates the 50th anniversary of the iconic franchise with a live orchestra accompanying scenes and collages from the show's five television series and motion picture spin-offs.

We saw the show at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh on March 1. Upon being seated, we discovered our "prime orchestra seats" left a bit to be desired. Fortunately, there were unsold seats in our row and we were able to shift over to get a somewhat less obstructed view. Still, one would hope the stage crew would have done a somewhat better job of making certain the sightlines were clear.

The orchestra was composed of members of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, and they provided an enthusiastic performance that was technically perfect. There are YouTube clips of the show's Royal Albert Hall engagement performed by the famed London Philharmonic Orchestra, and one features the trumpets flubbing (about 20 seconds into the clip) the main fanfare of Jerry Goldsmith's Klingon Battle from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The musicans at the Pittsburgh show nailed it, as well as the other challenging arrangements performed during the evening.

Which brings me to my major gripe about this show- and for that matter, the touring companies of most Broadway musicals: not enough musicians.

While billed as a "full symphony orchestra," there were just 30 musicians on stage. That's less than the number contained in a typical chamber orchestra, and about a third of the size of a full symphony orchestra. Hell, when Paul Shaffer contracted the orchestra for Jimmy Webb's MacArthur Park for a performance on Late Night with David Letterman, he used 33 musicians.

This is false advertising in some respects. The concert's own promotional "Tour B-Roll" shows a much larger orchestra, with double the number of horns that were at the Pittsburgh show.

This is an issue because the Trek scores, particularly the ones composed by James Horner, require a robust horn section. Horner used a 91 piece orchestra for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, with an augmented French horn section containing eight members. Other instruments, like piano and harp, just weren't there. Most people won't miss the opening harp glissando of the Next Generation theme, but its absence is noticeable for those who are familiar with the music.

The touring company only had two French horns in its seven-piece brass section, and the horns were often buried to a degree by the strings. The production compensated for this by miking the orchestra and adding them to the recorded dialogue and sound effects from the accompanying video clips, which were sent to the show's own sound system (see photo). While effective, it sort of negated the point of the experience. If I wanted to hear the Trek scores through a speaker system, I could have stayed at home. From time to time the orchestra itself could be heard over the speakers, but it was nonetheless somewhat disappointing.

The video accompanying the music consisted of either full scenes from episodes of various series, or a collection of "themed" clips from the movies and television shows. It was tied together by a frankly vapid, inane, cliché-ridden narration that was immediately forgettable.

The clips were high quality. Those from the fifty-year-old original series used the recent CBS digital remasters, and they held up remarkably well on the 40-foot screen.

My favorite sequence was "Kirk Does It Again," composer Sol Kaplan's strident score as Kirk works to destroy The Doomsday Machine. That the two trumpets had any lip left after this performance is amazing.

If you have a chance to see this show, go for it. My criticism is that of a hypercritical Trek score afficianado. During intermission (or "half time," as the guys behind us called it- remember, this is Pittsburgh) the overheard audience praise of the performance was effusive, with one young lady saying she had been moved to tears.

And despite my criticism, I'd see it again.


Categories: Star Trek, Star Trek - The Ultimate Voyage


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Future history
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Published Monday, February 08, 2016 @ 11:34 PM EST
Feb 08 2016


Categories: Bernie Sanders, Star Trek


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A real toe tapper
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Published Wednesday, January 20, 2016 @ 11:58 PM EST
Jan 20 2016

In observance of Star Trek's 50th anniversary, a concert event, Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage, is now booked in over 100 cities and will stop in Pittsburgh at the Benedum Center on March 1. The video above features a clip from the show at Royal Albert Hall, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

To be honest, my dream Trek musical experience would be a live orchestra playing to a presentation of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but this should do.

The official PR release says "This lavish production includes an impressive live symphony orchestra and international solo instruments. People of all ages and backgrounds will experience the franchise’s groundbreaking and wildly popular musical achievements while the most iconic Star Trek film and TV footage is simultaneously beamed in high definition to a 40-foot wide screen.

"The concert will feature some of the greatest music written for the franchise including music from Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and much more. This never-before-seen concert event is perfect for music lovers, filmgoers, science-fiction fans and anyone looking for an exciting and unique concert experience."

Reviews have been good; the two-hour concert has one intermission and features 29 themes from the various Trek series, films, and video games.

Speaking of space music, notice the similarities between James Horner's main title for Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) and for Wrath of Khan (1982).

The BBTS score has been called "unplayable" by those musicians unfortunate enough to have been tasked to perform it in concert. Since the movie was produced by Roger Corman, the orchestra only had two takes, and the brass section is noticeably ragged and somewhat breathless by the end.

Such problems aren't apparent in TWOK- more rehearsal and studio time, one supposes, as well as Horner shifting some of the more complex parts to string instruments.


Categories: Battle Beyond the Stars, James Horner, Music, Roger Corman, Star Trek, Video, YouTube


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The future of Star Trek: It's the story, stupid.
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Published Tuesday, January 13, 2015 @ 9:31 AM EST
Jan 13 2015

This piece by Lukas Kendall is probably the best analysis of Star Trek you'll ever come across. The original article is here, on TrekMovie.com.

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There has been a cottage industry of essays about how to make Star Trek more popular. Many of the prescriptions are simple: Put it back on television. Hire good people to make it. (Certainly, good creators always help.)

But there is a basic assumption that Star Trek could be every bit as successful as the Marvel universe or Star Wars... or even DC ... if only CBS and Paramount could work through their business problems.

I think it's not so simple... and the reason why is not a matter of taste. It is a matter of story.

Star Wars and the Marvel movies are action... packed spectacles that appeal to attention... deficit teenagers... the blockbuster sweet spot. Star Trek, by contrast, appeals to the brainy outsider. It's slow, talky, even philosophical... a little bit like eating your vegetables.

The same things that are the source of Star Trek's appeal are also the source of its limitations. Try to change it to appeal to everyone, and you'll appeal to no one.

Movies

Star Trek just had two mega... budget blockbusters that were aggressively made and marketed for the modern, global movie audience. They are spectacular productions that cost a lot of money, made a lot of money, were popular and well reviewed... but did not set box... office records. A third film is likely to continue the trend.

Tellingly, some Trek fans revile the new films. That is because, in order to appeal to a modern global audience, they fundamentally alter the franchise's DNA. This has nothing to do with the creation of an alternate timeline, which is ingenious. It is about taking a pacifist, cerebral, talky television show and turning it into an action... adventure movie. Something is lost along the way.

Star Trek is fundamentally not action... adventure. Drama is conflict, and blockbuster movies are about "branding" the conflict as specific forms of physical fighting: Comic book movies are superpower slugfests. Star Wars is lightsaber duels, blasters and spaceship dogfights. James Cameron's films are commando... style militaristic warfare. The Matrix is "bullet... time" kung fu.

Star Trek has always had its share of fighting... from 1960s fisticuffs to submarine... style warfare... but the best Star Trek "fighting"... is talking. Kirk talks a computer into exploding. Picard talks a bad guy into laying down his arms.

Star Trek has never translated well to movies. Its style and ideas play best on television, without the need to: (1) encapsulate its entire world (2) into the fundamental transformation of a single character, (3) that happens over two hours, (4) with all of civilization in jeopardy, including (5) stuff for the supporting cast to do and (6) all the de rigueur "He's dead, Jim" moments, while (7) humoring die hard fans by not changing too much and (8) pandering to morons.

The best Star Trek film is still The Wrath of Khan... which doesn't put Earth in jeopardy or climax in a fistfight, kills a major character (as a requirement of being made), and was shot cheaply on recycled sets. At a time when Star Trek was only 79 episodes of the original series, a cartoon, and a widely seen but unloved movie, Nicholas Meyer and his colleagues had the freedom to do what they wanted, so long as it was cheap: tell a good, literary and character... based story. Today, that movie would not survive the first development meeting.

Television

A common refrain is to put Star Trek back on television and make it for adults... the Mad Men or Game of Thrones of Star Trek series. Sounds exciting!

It's also impossible. You can't make the "adult" Star Trek series because Star Trek is not about adults. It can be for adults, but it is not about them.

What are the driving realities of adult life? Sex and money. What is never in Star Trek? Sex and money.

Sure, there's suggested sex. Off... screen sex. Characters have romantic relationships, but viewed as a child would... Mommy and Daddy go to their room, and come out the next morning.

Money? There are "credits" but I still don't understand the Federation's economic system. Do the crew get paid? Is the Federation communist? (There was a great article about this: https://medium.com/@RickWebb/the... economics... of... star... trek... 29bab88d50)

There have already been 726 episodes and 12 movies of Star Trek... and too many of them revolve around misunderstood space anomalies.

Would it be best to start from scratch? Creatively... no doubt about it. But Star Trek fans would never allow that. Star Trek is not like James Bond or Batman, where every decade you cast a new actor and wipe the slate clean. Or like Marvel's movies and TV series, which are drawn from fifty years of mythology, but nobody expects them to slavishly reproduce the comic books... or even be consistent with each other.

Star Trek fans demand every installment connect with every other one. We already have the "Abramsverse," which was cleverly constructed as an alternate reality. Can there be another recasting, with a third actor playing Kirk, or a second playing Picard? I doubt it.

Stay in the Abramsverse? Possibly, but Into Darkness demonstrated the problem of doing this: you're constantly running into characters and scenarios you already know. Not only do the writers have to tell the same story twice... for the people who know the original, and the ones who don't... but it's never as good the second time.

Go another hundred years into the future, aboard the Enterprise... G? Maybe. But no matter what, you have a consistent, intricate universe that has to be respected. Hard to bump into an asteroid without it being like that time on Gamma Epsilon VI.

Star Trek already had one fundamental storytelling upgrade: when The Next Generation got good in season three (circa 1990) and took a turn into Philip K. Dick issues of perception and reality... which is to say, postmodernism. It jettisoned the 1960s melodrama... great move... but replaced it with technobabble. Ugh.

The Problem With Star Trek

Unlike the Marvel universe... which takes place in contemporary reality... Star Trek takes place in the future. And not just an abstract future, but a specific vision of the future from fifty years in the past. It's not only a period piece, but a parallel universe... a "double remove."

Before man landed on the moon, manned space travel was plausible. Roddenberry intended the bridge of the Enterprise to be completely believable. (Next to The Beverly Hillbillies, he was doing Chekhov... that's with an h.) But we now know that (Interstellar and Avatar aside) interplanetary space travel is not realistic, or certainly not happening any time soon.

As a result, Star Trek is irrevocably dated. What was meant to be the actual future has become a fantasy future... but it's not allowed to acknowledge it. Star Wars is unashamed space fantasy, set in a make... believe galaxy, but Star Trek is supposed to be real. (I guess I missed the Eugenics Wars.) Ever wonder why in Star Trek they only listen to classical music, or sometimes jazz? Hearing anything recorded after 1964 would puncture the reality (except for time travel stories). This is the same reason why The West Wing never referenced a president after Kennedy.

Roddenberry aspired to do cosmic wonder and weirdness... "The Cage," Star Trek: The Motion Picture... but these stories are wildly expensive and dramatically abstract. (How do you fight an alien that can destroy you with its thoughts?) Star Trek became a more elevated version of Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers, a predecessor to Star Wars, transplanting 19th century colonialism (instead of feudalism) into space. Klingons instead of Russians, Romulans instead of Chinese (or vice versa). It's a futuristic version of Captain Horatio Hornblower, as Nick Meyer realized... and Roddenberry intended... that could be practically produced on a weekly basis. (Master and Commander is a great Star Trek movie.)

Why can't you do a variety of stories set in different corners of the Star Trek universe? Because Marvel can go anyplace in the contemporary world to mine relatable characters and interesting storylines... from the corridors of a high school to the streets of New York City to foreign countries to mythical Asgard. But Star Trek has to go different places within its own, make... believe universe, bound by specific storytelling and ideological rules: it is, by definition, a ship in space. They tried space without a ship (DS9), a ship lost in space (Voyager), a prequel ship (Enterprise), and an alternate universe ship (Abramsverse); how many more variations can there be? One wonders if even Star Wars will be able to sustain its "expanded universe" movies and TV series, but it has the advantages of a bigger fanbase, more action... adventure style, and fewer continuity restrictions.

How do you reinvent Star Trek for a modern television audience? There already was a terrific, adult human space drama... from one of the best Star Trek writers, Ron Moore. Battlestar Galactica was adapted from an old TV show that Moore was at complete liberty to rework (since it sucked and no one cared).

One thing Moore took care to do: no aliens. Because aliens fundamentally don't make sense. All over the galaxy, there are aliens who look and act like (white) humans with bumpy foreheads, they all speak English (somehow "universally translated"), each planet has a single culture and government, yet the Prime Minister's office consists of three people, and no society has television... really?

But we can't get rid of aliens on Star Trek... because of Spock. Who rules.

So as much as I'd love to see Star Trek on the small screen again, I question how it could be done without violating continuity or its fundamental appeal. It's certainly not suitable for a True Detective... style reimagining.

The Appeal

What is the appeal of Star Trek? Forget about sex and money... the humans on Star Trek aren't even human. The aliens are human. Let me explain.

The appeal of Star Trek... the drug that intoxicates a certain percentage of the world's population... is Gene Roddenberry's vision of a utopian future. We despair at the pathetic failures of our species... our polluting, warfare, cruelty and selfishness... but Star Trek says, "Relax. Humanity will survive. We will triumph. We will solve our problems and fly to the stars. Everything will be great!"

It is a wonderful, inspirational message. It deserves to have lasted fifty years... may it last forever. It's not necessarily a future that will come to pass, but it's good to have this positive message in the culture. (The best TV series of the last twenty years to carry this spirit? The West Wing.)

It's not just the fantasy of us as a species. Roddenberry's vision is one of adult life as seen by a child, anxious about a future as a grown... up. How will I live by myself, without my parents? How will I learn to socialize, to have romantic love, a family of my own, a job? Will the world still be there for me? Who will take care of me?

Starfleet will! You will have a job on the Enterprise, full of friends, colorful uniforms, understandable work (Warp speed! Level... one diagnostics!), galactic adventure, and a social life of fun on the Holodeck and poker in Riker's quarters.

Think about the characters on Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry was adamant that humanity would evolve and shed petty and negative characteristics. Drama relies upon conflict between characters... but he didn't want the crew to fight amongst themselves. Therefore... to the frustration of most of Star Trek's writers... Star Trek's human characters are bereft of the personality traits that create drama.

How does one tell a Star Trek story if drama (conflict between characters) is forbidden? The humans are drama... free... so you make the aliens the humans.

Consider Star Trek's most pivotal characters: they are always the aliens. In Star Trek, humans are perfect... therefore dull. The aliens, however, are versions of human children learning how to become adults.

Spock is a repressed child. Data is a shy child. Worf is an angry child. Seven of Nine is a repressed, angry child with big boobs.

The same goes for the races: the Vulcans are repressed kids, the Klingons angry kids. (The Romulans have never quite worked because... what are they, exactly?)

Think of the three most... developed characters on Next Generation: Picard, Data and Worf. (Picard is the father figure, representing all of humanity.)

What did we really learn about Riker, except that he played trombone (because the actor did)? About Troi (half... alien, but close enough), except that she liked chocolate? About Crusher... at all?

And didn't they struggle to find quality episodes for these characters?

In Star Trek, the human characters lack dimension... because they are idealized. They are viewed as perfect the way children view their parents as perfect... finding them incapable of dark or deviant behavior. At most, they are given trivial social problems to solve... like Geordi being nervous about going on a first date. (What was he, forty? The chief engineer on the best ship in the fleet, and he couldn't get laid?)

The child... parent model explains why attempts to go "dark" on Star Trek... from Nemesis to Into Darkness, and even rebelling against the Federation in Insurrection... never work. It's like watching Mommy and Daddy fight... it's not interesting, it's sickening. (The exception that proves the rule: the Mirror universe, a wacky funhouse that's not real.)

In the last movie, watching Kirk be a brash asshole (again!) and the Federation warmongering maniacs is like seeing your dad as an alcoholic and your mom a hooker. Sure, it may make for a more interesting family, but it actually hurts to watch.

In marketing speak: it goes against the brand. (I hope someone reads this.)

The Best Star Trek

Maybe you think I hate Star Trek. Au contraire! I love it. I would love to see new Star Trek produced and be popular.

But it has to be good Star Trek, and that requires a leap of faith on the part of the producers.

For Star Trek to be high quality, it has to risk appealing to fewer people... less action, more talk. Fewer special effects, not more. Intimate, not epic.

Making a lot of it is not a good idea because it'll start to repeat itself and suck (cf. Enterprise).

Fans are not necessarily the best people to dictate what Star Trek ought to be. They want exactly what they've already seen, while also being completely surprised. Can't be done. (This is the problem with all sequels and franchises.)

Fans are also obsessed with "continuity porn"... brief moments of recognition with no storytelling value. They are empty calories.

Nick Meyer likens Star Trek to the Catholic mass, which has been set to music by composers throughout the centuries. The composers can change the music, but the text is always the same. Star Trek has a glorious text that can be set into music a few more times... at least. But the text is not well understood... certainly not by studio executives, and rarely even by fans.

There are doubtless readers of this essay who will bristle at my implications that Star Trek is for children... that by extension I am calling them children. Star Trek is not for idiot children. On the contrary, it is for very bright children... ones with big hearts and quick minds who long for purpose, a sense of belonging and a universe that is just and wise.

It is for the child in all of us, stripped of our adult baggage, forever hopeful, curious, eager to please and to experience love... not necessarily a romantic love, but the love of all of mankind. "All I want," you may say to yourself, "is to be a good person, and be loved for it."

Importantly, the best Star Trek stories involve death, from The City on the Edge of Forever and The Wrath of Khan to The Bonding and Yesterday's Enterprise. They feature characters facing death, a little bit as a child would (the first loss of a grandparent), but accepting it with elegance and grace... an inspiration for all of us who must come to terms with our mortality.

When we accept death, we also accept life. We accept ourselves.

Or at least, I think this is what Spock was trying to tell me... on my birthday.

Live Long and Prosper

Star Trek has survived for fifty years, and will hopefully survive for fifty more. It's a wonderful, timeless creation, with an important message about the human condition.

That message, says Linus on the school stage, is not to buy more DVDs, toys or movie tickets. When it comes to merchandising and exploitation, Star Trek may be the granddaddy of them all, but it will always to take a back seat to something flashier and more popular. As well it should.

Star Trek should not be run like a money machine, but curated like an important museum piece... which is paradoxically how it will become the most popular, and make the most money. This doesn't mean it should never change. The "music" always needs to be updated, shorn of things that are dated and bad. But the "text" is immutable.

The next Star Trek creators need not be Star Trek fans... many of the best have known nothing of it (Nick Meyer), but also so have some of the worst (Stuart Baird)... so long as they understand and appreciate the text.

The text is the heart of Star Trek. It is story, not spectacle. It is gentle, not aggressive. It is optimistic, not dark. It is hopeful, compassionate and, above all... the captain says with a tear running down his cheek... human. In the right hands, it can, and should, last forever.


Categories: Lukas Kendall, Star Trek


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Perspective
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Published Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @ 6:53 AM EST
Nov 12 2014


(photo by Christopher Becke)


Categories: Photo of the day, Star Trek


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Requiem for a fictional Scotsman
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Published Sunday, July 20, 2014 @ 12:50 AM EDT
Jul 20 2014

Other kids worshipped baseball players. My hero was a fictional Scottish engineer from the 23rd century.

Before the terms geek and nerd entered the vernacular, we were called brains, or, more cruelly, weirdos. We built Heathkits, disassembled televisions and tape recorders, and bribed the librarian to give us first crack at the new issues of Popular Science and Popular Electronics, usually by changing the ribbon or switching the golf balls on her newfangled IBM Selectric.

The normal people left us alone until they needed their eight tracks fixed, or someone to set up the projector for health class, or install a new ink pad on the mimeograph machine. Task completed, we would be summarily dismissed with a curt thank you. We'd return to the backstage of the auditorium/gym, the traditional sanctuary of the oddballs on the audio/visual team.

Scotty was our hero because he was one of us. Instead of the backstage, he was buried in the bowels of the Enterprise's engineering section, which wasn't even in the main part of the ship. There he ruled, serenely, totally in control, obtaining supreme satisfaction in the knowledge that while the idiots on the bridge were supposedly in charge, he was the one who made possible their continued existence.

And then there was the Spock business. We Scotty aficionados resented the Vulcan science officer. In the first place, the whole "I'm totally in control and have no emotions" thing was patently dishonest. He was like the guy on the AV squad who discovered girls over the summer and was suddenly Mr. Cool. Yeah, right. When his girlfriend dumped him for the football team towel manager (quasi-athlete is still better than certified nerd), he nearly fried the pre-amp in the PA system by replacing the 1 megohm resistor in the main power supply with a 1K unit while in his emotionally distraught state.

Spock was our high school principal, a pointy eared deus ex machina who appeared and broke the rules of the game. I recall spending days overhauling the motor and drive assembly of an old Wollensak reel-to-reel mono tape recorder, finally getting its wow and flutter back within specs. Rather than praise my efforts, the principal said "Oh, we'll just buy a new one." Buy a new one? The possibility had never even been presented to me! This is the parsimonious wretch who only two weeks ago made me use rubber bands to replace the capstan drive belt to save 50 cents! No wonder Scotty drank himself into oblivion when he was off duty!

The Star Trek writers used Spock and abused Scotty in the same manner. They placed the Enterprise in some ludicrous situation which had no resolution, then sent Spock down into engineering to order Scotty to perform some action totally in violation of Trek's already delusional laws of physics.

Until the arrival of Bill Gates, Scotty was the first expression of the belief that the nerds could probably run things better, but were disinclined to deal with such mundane challenges. Notice that when he was forced to take the con of the Enterprise- usually because Kirk was being held captive by the father of the native princess he'd just boinked into delirium, and the hyper-intelligent Spock had been rendered unconscious by a judiciously applied blunt object wielded by an alien with the appearance and IQ of a turnip- Scotty was by far the best strategic commander of the lot.

When you saw him in the captain's chair, you knew Kirk and Spock had screwed up yet again- but you also knew things would turn out fine because the Scotsman would handily defeat the enemy du jour and would beam his sorry superiors' behinds back up to ship before the last commercial break. And then what would happen? The episode would end with Kirk and Spock congratulating themselves on their ingenuity while Scotty had already disappeared back into the depths of engineering to deal with the real responsibility of keeping the ship running.

Those of you who have saved customer presentations, demos and initial installations from ten-thumbed marketing types know what I'm talking about. The suits go out for a night on the town to celebrate their technical savvy and sales skills, while you're stuck in the cheap hotel room with a poorly stocked mini-bar that you're not permitted to access anyway because of the cost, on the phone resolving a customer crisis while simultaneously answering inane support questions via e-mail. And frankly, you're happy about it. Who wants to listen to salesmen talk about sports?

But I digress.

Scotty embodied the benefits of technology and the "can do" attitude that pervaded the 60s. Oh, he might complain mightily about some absurd demand being placed upon him: what geek isn't conservative when it comes to maintaining stable environments for critical systems? But he believed, as did his real-world counterpart Gene Krantz, that "Failure is not an option." It's the unspoken challenge that motivates those of us for whom Scotty is the ultimate role model.

Montgomery Scott, the fictional character, will continue to perform engineering miracles indefinitely on film, video, DVD, and media yet to be devised. For that, we are grateful. But I sincerely mourn the passing of James Montgomery Doohan- ironically, on the 36th anniversary of the first manned moon landing- who made Scotty the cultural icon he became.

The word is given, Mr. Scott. Warp speed.

(Originally published July 24, 2005.)


Categories: James (Jimmy) Doohan, Jimmy Doohan, Star Trek


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Quotes of the day: remembering Bones and De...
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Published Wednesday, June 11, 2014 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Jun 11 2014


(From "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"
© 1982, Paramount Pictures Corp.)

According to the authoritative Memory Alpha site, here are all of McCoy's "doctor" protestations:

"What am I, a doctor or a moon-shuttle conductor?"
-("The Corbomite Maneuver")

"My dear girl, I'm a doctor. When I peek, it is in the line of duty."
-("Shore Leave")

"I don't know, Jim. This is a big ship. I'm just a country doctor."
-("The Alternative Factor")

"Me, I'm a doctor. If I were an officer of the line..."
-("A Taste of Armageddon")

"What do you mean what sort of work? I'm a doctor."
-("This Side of Paradise")

"I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer."
-("The Devil in the Dark")
...to which Kirk replies, "You're a healer, there's a patient. That's an order."

"I'm a surgeon, not a psychiatrist."
-("The City on the Edge of Forever")

"I'm not a scientist or a physicist, Mr. Spock..."
-("Metamorphosis")

"Look, I'm a doctor, not an escalator."
-("Friday's Child")

"I'm a doctor, not a mechanic."
-("The Doomsday Machine")

"I'm a doctor, not an engineer."
-("Mirror, Mirror")
...to which Montgomery Scott immediately replied, "Now, you're an engineer."

"I'm not a magician, Spock, just an old country doctor."
-("The Deadly Years")

"I will not peddle flesh! I'm a physician."
-("Return to Tomorrow")

"I'm a doctor, not a coal miner."
-("The Empath")

"I'm not a mechanic, Spock..."
-("The Empath")

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Remembering De...

(originally published June 11, 2012)

DeForest Kelley, who played the curmudgeonly Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy in the original Star Trek series, died on June 11, 1999, at the age of 79. He was the first member of the original Star Trek cast to pass away.

Initially approached for the role of the Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock, Kelley was instead cast as the ship's chief medical officer, described by series creator Gene Roddenberry as "a future-day H.L. Mencken". An unabashed cynic of technology, the McCoy character was a self-described old fashioned country doctor who put more faith in humanity than high technology.

In a 1982 interview with author Allan Asherman, Kelley said McCoy represented "the perspective of the audience, that if you were along on the voyage you'd think, 'These people are crazy! How in the hell do they expect to do that?'" Indeed, the McCoy character was often used to interject a dose of reality, interpret the techno-babble, and explain the frequently convoluted plotting of the more arcane Trek adventures to those in the audience struggling to follow the science fiction storylines.

His summary of the plot of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, delivered in exasperated disbelief to the gung-ho Captain Kirk, still stands as one of the best examples of exposition in screen history:

"You're proposing that we go backwards in time, find humpbacked whales, then bring them forward in time, drop 'em off, and hope to hell they tell this probe what to go do with itself?!" The entire plot in fewer than 35 words. That's Bones for you.

The son of a Baptist minister, Jackson DeForest Kelley wanted to be a doctor like an uncle he greatly admired, but his family couldn't afford to send him to medical school. He instead became a character actor who worked steadily in film and television from the late 1940s through the 1960s. Star Trek's popularity in syndication essentially ended his acting career, but he considered himself fortunate to be associated with a role that made him a permanent icon in popular culture, and he made a comfortable living by reprising his character for the motion picture series and appearing on the convention circuit.

Asherman's interview ended with a quote that could serve as an accurate and fitting epitaph:

"I'd wanted to be a physician and couldn't- and yet became the most well-known doctor in the galaxy."

(YouTube video: A Tribute to DeForest Kelley)


Categories: DeForest Kelley, Quotes of the day, Star Trek


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Cleaning off the desktop
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Published Sunday, February 09, 2014 @ 5:53 PM EST
Feb 09 2014

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I can communicate through a series of short & long groans & sighs. It's called 'morose code'.
-Robb Allen, @ItsRobbAllen (h/t David Kifer, alt.quotations)

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Somewhat alarmed to discover some teens don't recognize "Uncle Sam," I checked with my daughter about my soon to be 11 year old granddaughter's status:

KGB: Does Lea know who Uncle Sam is?

Sara: Oh, I think she would.

KGB: Ask her when convenient.

Sara: She said yes, it's the guy pointing and saying "I want you."

KGB: Excellent. Our nation is in good hands.

Sara: She said "Yes. Yes, it is."

Can't argue with that...>

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"I give them a year."
-Ray Bloch, musical director for "The Ed Sullivan Show," on the Beatles, when they made their first live appearance on American television 50 years ago.

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"Ah, hell. Let's call Froot Loops what they really are: Gay Cheerios."
-Bill Maher

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Those who feel that humans are essentially good and altruistic have never read the comment sections on YouTube.

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I actually used to date a girl named Christie Benghazi, so it's funny for me now when I flip between those two channels.
-John Fugelsang

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The Star Trek Facepalm collection, although I don't think Spock actually qualifies.

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“If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?”

Let me ask you this: If you came from parents, why are there still parents?

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"Fortunes have been lost underestimating Jay Leno."
-Lorne Michaels


Categories: Cartoons, Cleaning off the desktop, Harrison Ford, Jay Leno, KGB Family, KGB Opinion, Linked In, Michael Collins, Miscellany, NASA, Star Trek, YouTube


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Cleaning off the desktop, part 1: Santa
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Published Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 8:44 PM EST
Dec 22 2013

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Categories: Christmas, Cleaning off the desktop, NSA, Star Trek, The New Yorker, TSA


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Cleaning off the desktop
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Published Sunday, December 08, 2013 @ 10:01 AM EST
Dec 08 2013

It's surprising what pops up on Google...

It's U.S. Patent #7,249,057 B2, issued July 24, 2007: "Product Information Supplying Method, Product Information Acquiring Method, Product Information Registering Method And Recording Medium," and the description is equally enlightening:

"There is provided a product information supply method for supplying a user who desires to purchase a product with proper information about a related product that could be bought in combination with the product, so that the user is assisted in purchasing products. Registration of combination information to be supplied to the user is made with a database managed by a service provider server by a person who has bought the above product by means of a registration page so that a lot of combination information is accumulated in the database. The registered information includes not only information specifying a combinable product but also information about the effects of the combination and the ways of using products in combination. The database is searched in response to inquiry information from the user who makes reference to a page of products. Thus, corresponding combination information is extracted from the database and is sent to the user."

I'm no expert in intellectual property law, but- this is something patentable? A database of related products, with the added twist of returning information on "effects of the combination and the ways of using products in combination." You mean like peanut butter and jelly? Gin and tonic? Water and Alka-Seltzer tablets?

Even more puzzling is the reference to one of my old DEC Professional DCL Dialogue columns. It deals with referrals and recommendations for computer hardware and software, but its relevance to this patent eludes me. You can read the column here.

Other stuff that passed across the desktop this week:

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Categories: Cleaning off the desktop, Computers, Holidays, Miscellany, Star Trek, Technology, WTF?


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Christmas Future (redux)
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Published Tuesday, December 03, 2013 @ 1:56 PM EST
Dec 03 2013


Categories: Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek, Technology, William Shatner


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Special effects, pre-"Gravity"
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Published Monday, October 14, 2013 @ 7:38 AM EDT
Oct 14 2013

It's all in the acting. Note the guest star, who hasn't quite mastered the technique. "Do you mean my right, or your right?"


Categories: Star Trek


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Final destination
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Published Thursday, August 01, 2013 @ 9:24 AM EDT
Aug 01 2013


(Photo By Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle)

The Galileo shuttlecraft, fully restored to its original luster when it was featured in the 1967 Star Trek episode "The Galileo Seven," is now on permanent display inside Space Center Houston’s Zero-G Diner. (Click for full story.)


Categories: Star Trek


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