Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sarah Palin in Full Jogging Mode

Sarah palin claims she could take Barack Obama in a foot race:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says she’d come out ahead if she went one-on-one with fellow jogger President Barack Obama in a long run, according to an interview published online Tuesday.

“I betcha I’d have more endurance,” she told Runner’s World magazine. “My one claim to fame in my own little internal running circle is a sub-four marathon. What I lacked in physical strength or skill, I made up for in determination and endurance.”

Palin, a 45-year-old former beauty queen who became the first woman and youngest person to be elected Alaska’s governor, is featured in the August issue of the magazine for jogging aficionados. She was dubbed the country’s “hottest” governor when she stole the show as U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential running mate in 2008.
We are counting on her to take him in a presidential race.

Dibs on the "Sarah Palin spandex" and "Sarah Palin running shorts" Google memes.
Minnesota Supreme Court: It is Sen. Al Franken

Well, why not? The current political climate could not be any more of a farce than it already is. Why not add a baggy pants comedian to the mix? We have already had a Congressional moment of silence for pedophile Michael Jackson. A goofy, self-important comedian sounds quaint in comparison.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Al Franken as well, so there is no room for Norm Coleman even if he and the GOP had the desire to fight on. When you lose 5-0, you have lost badly.

The Senate Democrats now have their 60 seat, filibuster proof majority if they can stay unified on issues. Good luck with that. The only silver lining I can see is the hubris of the Democrats doing themselves in. if they think they are invincible, they may try to push through a leftist agenda that is too much for the country to handle. In that case, the midterm elections would be a probable repeat of 1994.

Who knows if the country can survive until then? Smitty has a few suggestions for the meantime.
Mark Sanford: God's Tool or Just a Tool?

I am going to go with the latter. Mark Sanford and his cheating heart sent out a mass e-mail/Tweet/Facebook notice to any former supporters out there listening officially apologizing for his actions and proclaiming it is God's will he remain governor:
So in the aftermath of this failure I want to not only apologize, but to commit to growing personally and spiritually. Immediately after all this unfolded last week I had thought I would resign - as I believe in the military model of leadership and when trust of any form is broken one lays down the sword. A long list of close friends have suggested otherwise - that for God to really work in my life I shouldn’t be getting off so lightly. While it would be personally easier to exit stage left, their point has been that my larger sin was the sin of pride. They contended that in many instances I may well have held the right position on limited government, spending or taxes - but that if my spirit wasn’t right in the presentation of those ideas to people in the General Assembly, or elsewhere, I could elicit the response that I had at many times indeed gotten from other state leaders.

Their belief was that if I walked in with a real spirit of humility then this last legislative term could well be our most productive one - and that outside this term, I would ultimately be a better person and of more service in whatever doors God opened next in life if I stuck around to learn lessons rather than running and hiding down at the farm.

They have also made the point that a good part of life is about scripts - that the idea of redemption isn’t something that Marshall, Landon, Bolton and Blake should just read about, it’s something they should see. Accordingly, they suggested that there was a very different life script that would be lived and learned by our boys, and thousands like them, if this story simply ended with scandal and then the end of office - versus a fall from grace and then renewal and rebuilding and growth in its aftermath.
Just go buy a one way ticket to Argentina, will you? The faux holy roller rhetoric has moved well past the bearable point.
Star Trek--"Spectre of the Gun"

Though not the first episode aired in the third season, “Spectre of the Gun” was the first produced. Two things are obvious. First, Gene Roddenberry was hoping for a big ratings grab right out the gate by capitalizing on the popularity of westerns. Legend has it hesold TOS originally on the premise it was going to be Wagon Train to the Stars anyway. Second, the per episode budget was cut to the bare bone. It is actually not so bad here since there is a sense of surrealism about the episode, but later on, it will become painful to witness. Almost as bad a viewing space hippies.

The interesting part is how the whole scenario begins with a brazenly unwise act on Kirk’s part. He chooses to ignore a warning buoy from the xenophobic Melkotians to stay away from their space. When he and a landing party beam down, they are trapped in a recreation of the gunfight at the OK Corral. Our heroes are, unfortunately, the Clantons, who lost the gunfight to the Earps.

Normally, I would complain that weare yet again faced with an unlikely bit of Earth history taking place out in deep space, but since this is just an illusion that requires no weird explanation such as lost book or a crazy historian or whatever the heck happened in “The Omega Glory,” I will let it slide.

Since we already know the outcome of the gun fight because even if we shamefully slept through high school history class, we all saw Tombstone (And rightfully shunned Kevin Costner’s self-serving Wyatt Earp), we know there has to be a twist to avoid the inevitable conclusion. The first hint comes when Chekov is killed while chasing skirts in his usual over the top imitation of Davy Jones. That went well beyond the shaggy hair. Chekov represented Billy Claiborne, whom Kirk notes survived the gunfight. Kirk fails to he represented another survivor, Ike Clanton. I am still in a generous mood, so I will let this slide, too.

All along, Spock insists the entire scenario is nothing but an illusion. Chekov died because he thought it was real.. If they have no fear, they will remain unharmed. There is no way humans can avoid doubt completely, so Spock mind melds with the rest of the gang to shore up their confidence. It works, as the Earp bullets pass right through them. Kirk eventually has Wyatt earp at his mercy, but opts not to kill him.

In true TOS fashion, his act of mercy impresses the Melkotians. Although they are have previously been brutally xenophobic to the point of killing trespassers in elaborate wild west scenarios, they open their planet up to the federation. Chekov is even found to be alive to chase skirts yet another day.

The episode is watchable, but there is nothing remarkable about it. As a history buff, I am irked they did not make a better effort to get the history correct. Wyatt Earp was not the marshal of Tombstone, the gunfight actually took place in front of Fly’s Photographic Studio, and the gunfight was a spontaneous affair. Maybe you can chalk the inaccuracies up to kirk’s faulty memory, but that is kind of a cop out. At glance at an encyclopedia could have cleared all that up in the scripting stage. There is no reason for the errors.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Maria Ozawa

Just because.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson Sinks FOX News' Ratings

It looks like I was not the only one who was completely uninterested in the death of the weirdo pedophile. On Thursday, Fox News devoted three straight hours of Michael Jackson coverage regarding his death. The channel was at one point showing music videos without any news commentary. interestingly enough, that put thechannel ahead of MTV since they rarely play videos anymore period.

FOX paid the price. Viewers were not interested in the unfortunate overdose of Wacko Jacko. For the first time in years, CNN beat them in the ratings:
JUNE 25, 2009

CNN 8PM 4,046,000
CNN 7PM 3,916,000
CNN 9PM 3,913,000
CNN 10PM 3,681,000
FOXNEWS 8PM 3,423,000
FOXNEWS 7PM 3,379,000
CNN 6PM 3,098,000
FOXNEWS 9 PM 2,872,000
FOXNEWS 6PM 2,816,000
FOXNEWS 10PM 2,266,000
MSNBC 8PM 1,916,000
MSNBC 9M 1,540,000
It needs to be said viewers were looking to FOX to learn about the highway robbery cap and trade legislation that was about to be forced on us and we were let down. Let that be a lesson to FOX--remember your audience.
Bernie Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years

Bernie Madoff drew a sentence of 150 years for embezzlement. His sentence comes out to $120 million per year or $ 10 million per month. Good. That is not even remotely excessive for a guy who stole from the rich, poor, and everyone in between.

His wife is upset she will lose their $ 7 million mansion paid for by the ill gotten gains. Talk about a sense of entitlement. Her hubby swiped the moolah fair and square, right?

But here is the thing; Madoff’s crime was essentially the same ponzi scheme as Social Security. Who do we see about throwing the economic illiterates who came up with it in a cell next to Madoffe?

Or perhaps Dear Leader will have a pleasant surprise for Madoff on January 19th, 2013?
SCOTUS Overturns Sotomayor

Contrary to what many may believe, higher courts are reluctant to overturn a lower court’s decision because it is considered an insult to the lower court judge’s decision making. When a case is overturned on appeal, it means there has been a significant error in judgment which cannot be overlooked.

The case was brought by white New Haven, Connecticut firefighters who were denied promotions because no blacks and only two Hispanics scored high enough on tests to merit promotions, so everyone’s scores were thrown out, denying promtions to all whites who qualified and the two Hispanics. Sotomayor ruled the whites had not been discriminated against. Today, the SCOTUS disagreed.

The case of Ricci v. DeStefano was due more careful scrutiny considering the role of Judge Sonia Sotomayor in the case. Her ruling was widely considered proof her background influenced sense of social justice influences her decisions more than legal reasoning. Considering the unusually dismissive tone of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion, the SCOTUS came down on the side of her opnion having little to no legal merit.

The Ricci ruling fell along the usual 5-4 ideological split. The liberal party line, as noted here, is the conservative majority has imposed its racist will on the minority.

While the overturned case is big news today, I doubt it will cause more than a ripple when her confirmation hearings begin in two weeks. sot mayor is bound to be confirmed even if the Republicans were to put up a vicious fight. I suppose there is the possibility she will embarrass herself during the hearings if her desire to ’help people” overcomes the proper sense of jurisprudence, but somehow I imagine the Democrats would ram her through even thoughshe is overturned 66% of the time.

It is only fair to note David Souter, whom Sotomayor would be replacing, joined the dissent. He and Sotomayor are often in sync with one another. it sounds like her confirmation would maintain the status quo more than rock the boat.
Star Trek-"Is There in Truth No Beauty?"

“Is There in Truth No Beauty?” is a decent installment of the fairly mediocre third season. It rarely makes anyone’s best list and it does not make mine, either, but it deals with emotional issues in a more subdued manner than most TOS efforts. I appreciate the effort.

It is another of the rare episodes in which the guest stars have a big role. Dana Muldaur appears a second time in TOS as Dr. Minerva Jones, a telepath who studied on Vulcan how to tune out emotions when reading others. She is joined by larry marvick, one of the designers of the Enterprise’s engines, and Kollos, a Medusan ambassador so ugly to human sight, he has to remain hidden in a box to prevent anyone gazing upon him from going mad. Medusans are fantastic navigators. The Federation would like to use them to guide their ships. It is Miranda’s job--one Spock turned down--to establish a mind meld in order to perfect communication.

At a formal dinner, Minerva senses someone at the table is plotting murder. It turns out to be Marvick, another Federation official who is insane. They really should improve the psychiatric exams in their recruiting process. Marvick is in love with Minerva. He does not want her to go off with Kollos, so he pans to kill the ambassador. In the attempt, he catches a glimpse of the ambassador and goes even further cuckoo. He breaks into engineering and sends the ship across time and space to a point the crew cannot figure out how to get back before he dies under the strain of madness.

I have to note the whole concet of a galactic barrier in Trek is a murky one for continuity buffs. It has been featured a couple times in all, but for most of Trek, the idea there is an edge to the galaxy that is easily reachable does not seem to exist. I like that idea better. I think you can reconcile the time travel aspect of Marvick’s actions may explain why they reached the barrier so quickly, but the less you think about it, the better.

The twist here is Minerva is blind, but has been faking sight with some sort of artificial radar sense. Well it works for Daredevil. The point is she cannot meld with Kollos because she cannot see to navigate the ship. Spock can, but he would have to wear protective goggles to do so. Spock melds successfully and Kollos leads them to safety, but Spock forgets (?!) to put on his goggles and therefore sees kollos in all his glory. Spock goes nutty, too. Minerva can meld with him to repair the damage, but she does not want to. Kirk accuses her of jealousy. Out of guilt over the realization she is jealous, she melds with spock, repairs the damage to his mind, and gains the ability to connect with Kollos in the process.

The main themes of the episode are beauty and jealousy. McCoy wonders out loud why Minerva would devote her life to seeking communication with something as ugly as a Medusan. Inexplicably, Minerva notes McCoy has devoted his life to exposure to suffering and disease. That is true, but McCoy is a doctor trying to eliminate suffering and disease, not connect with it. Before the audience can note the illogical comparison, Spock scolds McCoy, noting that not all good things are beautiful.

The jealousy theme is dealt with a wee bot more maturely, at least in Minerva’s case. She is obviously overwhelmed in dealing with the emotions of others. One can easily assume her own are immature and difficult to manage. But Marvick is just another crazy Federation official. There was not a plausible excuse why a brilliant scientist like him would develop the serial killer mentality that murdering someone a love interest values will make her fall in love with you. I wish his motivation had been more intelligent.

There were many references to The Tempest, with Minerva as Prospero’s virginal daughter and Kollos/Spock as the monster Caliban. On a less literary note, the Vulcan IDIC (pictured above) was overtly called attention to in one scene because Gene Roddenberry was trying to sell them through a toy company. In order to make a fast buck of his dying show. Classy move, that.

Rating: ** *(out of 5)
Kaley Cuoco

Have we ever learned Penny's last name on The Big Bang Theory? I do not believe we have.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Barack Obama on Raising Taxes

Candidate Obama:
"I pledge that under my plan, no one making less than $250,000 a year will see any type of tax increase," Obama told a crowd in Dover, N.H., last year. "Not income tax, not capital gains taxes, not any kind of tax.
President Obama, by way of David Axelrod:
White House adviser David Axelrod said the administration wouldn't rule out taxing some employees' benefits to fund a health care agenda that has yet to take final form. The move would be a compromise with fellow Democrats, who are pushing the proposal as a way to pay for the massive undertaking without ballooning the federal deficit.

"There are a number of formulations and we'll wait and see. The important thing at this point is to keep the process moving, to keep people at the table, to the keep the discussions going," Axelrod said. "We've gotten a long way down the road and we want to finish that journey."
Read 'em and weep. I am not surprised Obama is going to break a campaign promise or hike taxes. Telling lies and raising taxes are encoded in a liberal's DNA.
Uber Pitchman Bill Mays is Dead

So much for these things coming in threes. US Airways is attempting to deflect possible responsibility considering Mays was injured on a bumpy landing yesterday.

Godspeed, Mr. Mays.
The Cirque du Wacko Jacko's Corpse

The Cirque du Wacko Jacko continues days after his death.

Before I talk about anything else, can anyone explain to me why Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are in the middle of it all? I understand the most dangerous place in the world to stand is between either of those two and a television camera, but are they really so desperate for attention they will weasel in on the media attention surrounding the death of some weirdo who has been famous over the last twenty years for suspicions of pedophilia than his music?

Among the tons of Michael Jackson jokes and assorted links I have been sent over the last couple days was a link to a video clip segment around the time Thriller was a big hit mocking Jacko’s disturbing fascination with Emmanuel Lewis. The suspicions have been around a long time. There are still skeptics, though, no?

I figure it is only a matter of time before fans start the conspiracy theories that Jacko faked his death to escape the bad press and his creditors. They will even forgive him for it, claiming he will have to stay in hiding forever because of those out to get him. They will take his never again appearing in public as proof the theory is correct, too.

Or they may form a lynch mod for the attending physician. Who gave him an overdose. That would be one for the pages of rock and roll history.

the strange mob has already been gathered in front of both the hospital where Jacko died and the house where heover dosed, doing the full zombie dance routine from “Thriller.” I do not know if they are trying to raise him from the dead in some ritualistic dance routine or just trying to creep therest of us out. If it is the latter, they are succeeding beautifully.
Star Trek--"And the Children Shall Lead"

The is a constant that runs through all five trek series: episodes centering around children are awful. Doubly so if the kids a brats. “And the Children Shall Lead” is certainly no exception. It is more orless a retead of the first season’s “Miri” with a villain of the week rather than a plague having killed off the grown ups.

All of the adults have been killed on a federation outpost. Their children do not seem particularly bothered now that they are all orphans. They have a "friendly angel” to hang out with named Gorgon. He helps them take over the Enterprise and cause havoc before thecrew shows them old images of their parents playing with them. Thekids realize what has happened and burst into tears. Gorgon loses all his influence over them since they are now upset.

That is pretty much it. The episode is basically “Miri’ with a darker ending. These kids are going to wind up much more traumatized than the survivors of "Miri” and all because of an uninteresting villain with no obvious motivation for his evil actions. To add insult to injury, we see the full Federation flag for the first time. It is this gaudyred thing with cheap stars around the trimming. It looks like something a cash strapped high school would use at sporting events. I would have expected better from an interstellar Federation.

There are no bright spots whatsoever in ‘And the Children Shall Lead.” I wanted to cry right along side the kids for the hour of my life I will never get back.

Rating: * (out of 5)
Olivia Munn in a Bikini

Just because.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around Saturday III

It is time once again to highlight those who have graciously linked to me in the past week.

The Other McCain took note of Jennifer Love Hewitt's literary skills. speaking of literary skills, he, Lewis Grizzard, and I are all fans of the He Needed Killin' Southern Defense with regards to Jenny Sanford's divorce plans for Mark.

The Skeptcrats linked my critique of Obama firing the President's Bioethics Council.

No Sheeples Here! links with Megan Fox cheesecake.

The Infidel Bloggers Alliance also likes Megan Fox.

Waldo Lydecker has resumed his fascination with me after a week long hiatus. He has demonstrated his ignorance towards multiple definitions of words, inexplicably did not like my condemnation of Mark Sanford, and wrote my obituary.


This week, I have been graciously added to the blogrolls of:

Eclectic Banana

A big thank you to all who linked me. If you linked, but I do not have you here, please please mention it in the comments. You managed to slip through Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. I am sorry about that.
Star Trek--"The Paradise Syndrome"

I noted there were very few gems among the third season rocks. “The Paradise Syndrome” qualifies as one of the them. It is an obvious attempt to recapture the mood of ‘The City on the Edge of Forever.” while I will grant you it plays second fiddle to its inspiration, it is still a moving episode and the best kirk-centric installment of the third season.

Kirk, spock, and McCoy beam down to a primitive planet to discover a displaced Native American tribe. There was no compelling reason the natives could not have juat been human-like, but I am willing to overlook that oddity. They discover a strange obelisk in which Kirk accidentally becomes intrapped. Spock and McCoy search for him briefly, for whatever reason not assuming he is in the obelisk, but quickly depart. The Enterprise’s main priority is to stop an asteroid from destroying the helpless planet. They have to tend to that immediately.

Kirk has partially lost his memory. He ingratiates himself into the tribe by performing CPR on a drowned boy everyone assumed was dead. The tribe consider Kirk a god because of his actions. Kirk eventually marries and impregnates a woman named Miramanee. The two have a happy life together until Kirk fails to stop a storm. In anger, the tribe stones the both of them. Spock and Mccoy intervene after failing to stop the asteroid and revive Kirk. A mindmeld restores his memory. But Miramanee’s wounds are fatal. She dies in kirk’s arms just after he figures out how to deflect the asteroid with the obelisk.

I noteda couple plot holes above that could have ruined the episode. For some, they probably did. But I thought ‘The Paradise Syndrome” was good enough and unique enough among TOS to overlook its flaws. It is one of the few third season episodes with any heart to it whatsoever.

There were some interesting revelations about kirk here. First, you got the hint he was a world weary sort, tired of the responsibilities of being a captain and wanting something simpler out of life. Yet he still winds up acting much like himself even when he has lost his own identity. Second, it is demonstrated yet again he can only love a woman when the Enterprise is not foremost on his mind. The ship is a harsh mistress. Finally, it is reinforced his ship is the only thing he can love. He loses everyone and everything else. Note how he realizes this by Star Trek V: The Final Frontier when he says he has always known he will die alone.

‘The Paradise Syndrome’” pains Kirk as a tragic figure. It burens even more so as in the next episode, he is right back to status quo. But both he and the audience know what is really going on in his heart. It is tough to watch from here on out.

Rating: **** (out of 5)
Jeri Ryan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Jeri Ryan has very little to do with the rest of this post. She has actually had a good week with being added to the cast of Leverage. I am just luring you in with a pretty girl before I start taking about how the country is headed to hell in a hand basket. The interesting part is howBarack Obama is not necessarily the one toting the basket. Strage, I know.

Not that I do not blame much on Dear Leader. He has managed to triple the national debt in a smidgeon under six months with the help of his dim bulb cohorts in the Democratic Congressional “leadership.” Yesterday, the House not only passed the largest highway robbery in American history with cap and trade--a policy which has workedso well in Europe, donchewknow--but also forced a 300 page global warming bill no one has even read. There is less evidence global warming exists than there is of virtues of cap and trade.

But that is all just politics. Someone is always going to cry foul, legitimately or not, at anything down in Washington. My malaise goes deeper than that silly drama. Let us speak now of spirit instead.

Those of you who do not live in south Carolina have no idea what the last week has been like. Certainly, there was much amusement when speculation emerged Mark Sanford might be hiking the Appalachian Trail naked or at least not be aware he was going to run up on naked hikers. We have an odd sense of humor that way. South Carolina is that crazy old relative the other 49 states keep locked in the attic away from polite company, after all. Besides, even his own party despises him.

The truth was far more sinister than funny. The rest of the country has finally gotten to see what the sociopath we have known for nearly seven years now. This is a guy who asked himself if he could abandon his job as governor and his family, fly to Argentina to be with his mistress for a week, and hide it all. The answer he came up with is yes. Not because he is stupid, but because he genuinely believes he is invincible and better than everyone else.

The powers that be are giving him a chance to resign, but the sharp knives are being unsheathed as you read this. Lead by Republicans, no less. Democrats are all but irrelevant in virtually every corner of South Carolina. Jenny Sanford is preparing to take him to the cleaners, too. The rest of the country is prepping her for sainthood, but you all have no idea what a mean old bitty she is, too.

One thing Sanford has going for him is the death of Michael Jackson. It got his name off the headlines. The biggest floral arrangement at Jackson’s funeral ought to be from him. I have already said I was not a fan. The only album of his I ever owned was Thriller and that was a gift. As faras I am concerned, he was a weirdo pedophile whose self-destructive behavior was encouraged by everyone surrounding him because he made them rich. I cannot be anything but cynical about him, although I take some satisfaction in knowing every little boy in Los Angeles is breathing a sigh of relief he is gone.

So Jackson is still beloved by his fans. All right, I can accept that. I was the one back in 2005 who either underestimated fan attachment to him or overestimated the intelligence of the jurors when predicting a conviction in his molestation trial. Turns out the jury did not like the kid’s mother and turned against her. The jury system is one of the many reasons I am disgruntled with the practice of law.

I am curious what it says about us that we are willing to gloss over Jackson’s turning boy scouts into millionaires simply because the public liked his music. His victim’s sworn statements lead to a huge payout of hush money. Anyone who says there is no proof of Jackson’s pedophilia is being willfully ignorant.

I know--speak no ill of the dead. It is just the adulation Jackson has received capped off a week of being lied to and screwed over by just about everyone making headlines. The reason people like Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Sanford think they can get away with theircrap is because the public is stupid enough to overlook Jackson’s pedophilia because they liked dancing to "Beat It” as teenagers. It is no wonder they think they can get away with this stuff.


Jeri Ryan sure is pretty, though, is she not?

(Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mark Sanford Thinks He is King David

Disgraced Gov. Mark Sanford is going all out to appeal tothe Bible Belt Buckle known as South Carolina. Here is what he told his Cabinet today:
I have been doing a lot of soul searching on that front. What I find interesting is the story of David, and the way in which he fell mightily, he fell in very very significant ways. But then picked up the pieces and built from there.
All right. David saw the beautiful Bathsheba bathing on a rooftop and had to have her. He got her pregnant, then sought to bring her husband, Uriah, back from the front line of war to sleep with her and cover his tracks. uriah refused to leave his comrades, however. Uriah was killed and the child did not live long after his birth, either. The prophet Nathan scolded David for his actions, which were an abomination before God. David, ever the fatalist, shrugged and said, "What can I do atthis point?"
That is pretty muvh what Sanford said, too:
I remain committed to rebuilding the trust that has been committed to me over the next 18 months, and it is my hope that I am able to follow the example set by David in the Bible - who after his fall from grace humbly refocused on the work at hand. By doing so, I will ultimately better serve in every area of my life, and I am committed to doing so.
Ah, but Governor, David was forced to flee when his son Absolom rebelled. The two were forced to battle each other for the future of Israel. Absalom got his long hair entangled in a thick branch and was strangled. david got his kingdom back, but at the cost of his family.

You will not even be that lucky. Any politician who announces he will never resign is certainly going to eat his words in a very short period of time. Heed some other appropriate words of david from the Third Psalm:
1Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.

2Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.

3But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

4I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.

5I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.

6I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.

7Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

8Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
Ten thousand? Try four million.
Star Trek--"The Enterprise Incident"

“The Enterprise Incident” is widely considered a highlight of the third season. While I agree it is a notch about most episodes in its complexity, you have to buy into an implausible number of coincidences in order to accept the plot. Basically, it is difficult to believe Starfleet would undertake such an idiotic plan.

Think about it. They had to assume the crew would not mutiny when Kirk order the ship into the Neutral zone. They had to assume the Romulans would opt to capture the Enterprise rather than destroy it. The Romulans would have had to take both Kirk and Spock prisoner. They would have to believe kirk was crazy, spock killed him, and that spock was falling for the Romulan commanders wooing attempts. Finally, you have to accept that kirk could steal the cloaking device and Scotty can install it properly even though he has never seen one before and there is no reason to think it is compatible in any way with Federation technology.

If you can accept all that, it is a decent episode. There is nothing terribly wrong with the story other than how contrived the plot is. “The Enterprise Incident” is worth watching, but not worth any raves.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Megan Fox

Because many of the unfortunate souls suffering through Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen are rushing home to Google her.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Burn Notice--"Fearless Leader"

Burn Notice never ceases to surprise me. Just when I fear it is about to get too formulaic, along comes an episode with new twists and an unusual amount of heart. The third season is young, but it is so far shaping up to be my favorite.

One fear I had about this season, other than the formula becoming stale, was the Det. Paxton storyline was not going to have many directions to go in. Just how much destruction can Michael and Company cause throughout Miami without getting caught when a determined detective is watching their every move? Tonight, that problem was not only solved, but I see hints of a future alliance with Michael and Paxton down the road. Season fnale, perhaps? Something personal, too.

Michael decides that after Paxton nearly unintentionally gets Fiona killed on a job, he has to get her off his back by helping her solve another serious case she is working on. She has been after a thug named Matheson who rips off drug dealers. An innocent bystander was caught in the crossfire of one of her attempt to catch him. She assaulted him, got reprimanded, and now has to keep her distance. Michael, however, does not.

He adopts the identity of a low level hood in order to hook up with one of Matheson’s middle managers, Tommy, who aspires to be more. Actually, that is only deceiving. Tommy’s really a good guy in over his head rather than the usual violent dim bulbs Michael deals with. In the end, he turns on Matheson and helps nail him. Tommy promises to go straight, maybe by opening up a kennel in St. Louis so he can be close to his mom and take care of dogs.

Meanwhile, sam is being audited by the son of someone he once dated. The kid really liked sam, but his mother said Sam wanted nothing to do with him after the break up. He saw the audit as the perfect opportunity for revenge. When the truth comes out, the two bond like they had years before. I liked theresolution because Sam, who was ready to charm the woman auditor he was expecting into going easy on him, genuinely befriended the guy in the end. The situation could have been played for a laugh, but it was not. It was a nice touch.

What willl get fans really buzzing was the final scene. Michael and Fiona finally are alone on a date. Michael announces gleefully that since he is no longer being hounded by his burners or Paxton, he can devote himself to getting his job back. It is the moment he has been waiting for. Unfortunately, it is the moment Fiona has been waiting for, too, only she was hoping the two could hook up again. She is heartbroken that is not what he wants. *Sniff*

A good episode. Fun, exciting, and with more character moments than usual. The only thing I was bugged by is how Michael injured himself yet again in order to pull off a con. I do not mind that he does, but he has done so in every episode this season thus far to one degree or another. Maybe he should try a less painful plan for an episode or two?

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Michael Jackson is Dead

He was pronounced dead at approximately 6 PM this afternoon of cardiac arrest.

I would like to have something good to say about him, but I have not been a fan at all since 1988 or so and even then was not much of one. These days, all I can think is there is one less weird pedophile in the world. No more turning boy scouts into millionaires.

Maybe he will find whatever peace in the next life eluded him in this one. There was no way his life could have ended well...

UPDATE: There is some buzz I am being cruel here. Let me put down a few more thoughts now that I have had some time to think about Jackson.

I have never really been a fan. I owned Thriller at one point. It was given to me as a gift under the rationale everyone liked Michael Jackson. This was 1984, so that was probably true. It is the only album of his I ever owned out of the hundreds I have gotten over the years. I recognized his talent. I can appreciate the numerous fans and accolades he earned over the years. He was not my cup of tea, but I am not surprised others enjoyed him.,

The problem is people enjoyed him too much. The bigger hew got, the fewer people there were around to tell him no or suggest he might be wrong or, worse yet, no one giving him any moral guidance. He was surrounded by people telling him how great he was, catering to his every whim, and getting rich off him. His success was his downfall.

No one was around in ‘84-’88 to tell him no, so he never seemed to understand why, say sleeping in the same bed with kids might be a bad idea or that people were not going to have the positive reaction he thought they would. By then, I do not think he even knew giving in to his sinful urges was wrong, much less had any notion he should stop.

He was a sympathetic guy, but I think a hopeless one. I am not happy he isdead, but I do not see how his life could have improved, either. It is just sad all around.
Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009)

Farrah Fawcett has succumbed to cancer.

I ought to remember her more for her Emmy nominated dramatic roles like in The Burning Bed or her off Broadway work. As a science fiction fan, I ought to remember her best from Saturn 3 and her cameo as Holly 13 in Logan’s Run. But, like just about everyone else, I remember her best as Jill Munroe on Charlie’s Angels.

She only spent a season as a major character on the show before being replaced by Cheryl Ladd, but that was enough to solidify her as a ’70’s icon with the feathered hair and the above poster that appeared on more walls than paint back in the day. She was married to Lee Majors, too, the coolest tough guy on ’70’s television.

It is upsetting to realize how many stars of the ‘70’s are now passing away. Fawcett, Dom DeLouise, David Carradine…it makes me feel old. Granted, I followed their careers in reruns, but those were a big part of my youthful television viewing. It is tough to watch them all fade away.

Godspeed, Ms. Fawcett.
Star Trek--"Spock's Brain"

Were you dreading the beginning of the third season reviews? I admit I was. There is an incredible drop in quality between the second and third seasons, which is saying a lot considering the shoestring budget and recycling of plot elements that plqued the second season. The series was all but canceled after the second season. Much of the writing staff dispersed throughout Hollywood before a fan campaign won the show another season. The budget was reduced even further 9only two episodes have location shooting because of cost0 and Gene Roddenberry became executive producer in nme only after the show was given the 10 PM Friday night death slot.

The bright spots of the third season are fewandfar between, but admid the lackluster plots and minimalist sets, a few gems managed to shine. “Spock’s Brain” is not one of them. I will confess thereis a certain absurd fun to it that keeps me from saying it is the worst episode of TOS. It is not. I am not even certain I put it in the bottom five. There is a mocking entertainment value to it. The best way I can think to describe it is I feel this episode is what most other fans think “The Trouble with Tribbles” is. You may make preparations to burn me at the stake for blasphemy now, if you deem it necessary.

The idea behind the plot is a good one. It was already established in “Amok Time” Spock’s service in Starfleet has made him a legend. It makes sense someone would think his brain would be something highly prized. Now, from the vantage point of 2009, the plot would have been better served twenty years later if someone had stolen Data on TNG in order to run their planet, but we have to work with what we have. What we have is an amusing mess.

The Enterprise discovers a ship being propelled by ion drive. A woman appearson the bridge, renders thecrew unconscious, seeks out Spock, and places her hand on his forehead. When thecrewawaken, they discover Spock in sickbay, brainless and on life support. McCoy explains they have 24 hours in order to restore Spock’s brain even though he has no clue how to transplant a brain in the first place. Presumably he is counting on cooperation from the thieves or beginner’s luck on his part.

They follow an ion trail to a system with a handful of planets. There are only eight hours lwft to save Spock, so they can only search one planet thoroughly. Energy readings from the most primitive planet make it the most likely place to search. The landing party is ambushed by primitive men called Morg. They subdue the Morg, who declare there is a big difference between the landing party and the hot, half naked, but brainless babes below who cause pain and delight. Back in college, we called those Alpha Delta Phi or Chi Omega, if you were fortunate enough to snag one. The morg do not seem to know what women are. There isno fraternity equivalent I can joke about there, sorry.

Chekov discovers an underground city with his piddling tricorder the Enterprise Sensors were unable to pick up from space. How did that happen? McCoy subsequently beams down with Spock as the coolest remote controlled toy ever. Seriously, after you have jerked a Vulcan around, model planes are trite. Our heroes discover the underground city is populated by hot babes with the minds of children, thereby reinforcing my Alpha Delta Phi analogy.Our heroes are knocked out. When they revive, they discover they have been fitted with pain belts. Kirk wants answers, but the best he gets is, ’Brain, brain. What is brain?” I am sorry, but around two AM in Five Points back in the day, that is about the best an Alpha Delta Phi could manage, too.

They eventually incapacitate their guards and discover Spock’s brain has become the central controller of the planet. He quips that, while he would trust McCoy to pull a splinter out, he would not trust him to put his brain back in. They should have left the ingrate right then and there. Loyalty trumps lack of faith as it should, I supoose. They eventually find spock’s brain in a black case, but one of the childlike hot babes is guarding it. She activate their pain belts, but Kirk uses remote controlled Spock in order to shut them off.After a minor struggle to subdue the girls, they learn there is a helmet that provides temporary knowledge necessary to perform complicated tasks. McCoy uses it to learn how to restore Spock’sbrain. When he has the knowledge, he remarks a child could do it. Well, duh. A child did do it. More or less, at any rate. The woman only had to touch Spock’s head. McCoy actually had to perform surgery. But it is always easier to break than repair, so I will let it slide.

There is a incidental explanation how the retrograde civilzation came to be with the genders split, but who cars at this point? We lost most of the audience back at Spock’s brain having been stolen without the most obvious esults like, um, him being dead and all. Bad episode, yes, but like a horrible car crash you cannot look away from.

Rating: ** (out of 5)
Ogling Megan Fox

Why else would anyone go see Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Personal Musings on Mark Sanford

I am disappointed in Mark Sanford. I am not surprised, but I am disappointed. Sanford is one of the few up and coming conservative Republicans who hit the scene in the mid to late ’90’s I never met while a member of the university of South Carolina’s College Republicans. He was the only Republican member of our Congressional delegation I did not meet. I had heard through colleagues who had volunteered for his campaigns he was eaten up with that sociopath tendency most politicians suffer.

Al I knew for certain was his fiscal conservatism. He struck me as libertarian in his social values--a politician who played lip service to issues other than financial only when he had to. He represented the coastal area from Charleston to Myrtle Beach. It is an area of old family textile money and wealthy snowbirds for whom Florida is too gaudy to serve as a decent retirement destination. Those were the type of voters who could not have cared less about someone else’s social values as long as it did not cost them anything, so Sanford was their man. I could respect that, honestly, but I never believed it would play statewide.

It was a stroke of extraordinary luck to make it to the governor’s mansion in 2002. In the previous election, the Democrat “Diamond’ Jim Hodges had miraculously been dragged across the finish line by the video poker industry He had defeated the reelection bid of Republican David Beasely in 1998 inspite of Beasely being the uber popular former Gov. Carroll Campbell’s handpicked successor. Beasely had had looked weak by waffling on whether the Confderate flag should be removed off the capitol building and went on a holy crusade against gambling when a woman got so caught up in playing, her small child died when left unattended in her car. Hodges did not have a prayer for reelection. The only question was which Republican was going to beat him. Everyone looked to Campbell to crown the new governor. To the surprise of everyone, he chose Sanford.

I was in Virginia Beach at the time. I was not able to follow the ins and outs of the campaign like I would have back in my undergrad days, but I voted absentee for Sanford and he defeated Hodges handily. I thought Sanford had just been handed the luckiest break of his life by Campbell. There was little chance he would have won over South Carolina voters otherwise.

Sanford was weird. He slept in his Congressional office, shower at the Congressional gym, and drove a beat up old truck in spite of being a multimillionaire. He was ridiculously frugal in his own life, much less in his legislative activities. As governor, he once walked into the General Assembly holding a squealing piglet to protest his own party’s spending which was, in fact, fiscally responsible. But not responsible enough for him. Sanford annoyed many members of his own party.

Perhaps my out of state readers are not aware, but other GOP stalwarts in the state have had the barest minimum to say about his activities in the last few days. They are giving him a chance now to resign before his own party starts impeachment proceedings. The knives will come out then.

I said above I was disappointed, but not surprised by Sanford’s behavior. He has more than his fair share of sociopath tendencies. He has not only alienated much of his party with his forceful tactics, but has demonstrated a certain misogyny. You saw much of that today. If you have been paying attention, you have seen it in reference to Sarah Palin, whom he considered a 2012 rival, and, since she is despised by the media, was never called on for it. The man just abandoned his entire family in the lurch for days--a more contemptuous act than leaving behind his gubernatorial job with out a hint of care in my opinion.

Personally, Sanford’s disgrace is oddly another nail in the coffin of that late ‘90’s era I spoke of before. Though I never met Sanford, he was a reminder of that time. Granted, I have always liked Jim DeMint more. There is a decent, Christian guy. I met him through the Bob Jones University students who were running his first US House campaign by the seat of their pants on a shoestring budget. He and I finished off a box of Krispy Kreme donuts during a lull in the ’98 College republican state convention. Ironic, since he went on to defeat Democrat Glen Reese, who owned four Krispy Kreme franchises in the Greenville/Spartanburg area. But he has distanced himself, as senators often do, from home. Sanford was still a remnant of that time period before many, many things went wrong in my life. His downfall is another melancholy sign those days are long since gone.
Mark Sanford Admits Affair (Updates at Bottom)

Sanford plans a press conference for 2:30 to explain himself. My original post and subsequent updates are below.

UPDATE: Drat. Hiking the Appalachian Trail naked was a much more colorful story.

UPDATE II: Gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley removes all traces of Sanford from her campaign.

UPDATE III: Is Sanford having an affair?

UPDATE IV: Sanford has admitted to an extramarital affair which has been going on for at least a year. He and his wife have been dealing with the issue for the last five months. Considering that he just abandoned his wifeand kids to head off to Argentina to see the woman without any notion he was going there to break off the affair, I would say Sanford and his wife have not been reconciling.

He lied to his family, including four small boys, his staff, and the people of South Carolina. As much as he tried to whitewash it, he deliberately mislead on his whereabouts in order to hide his trip to Argentina. These are impeachable offenses. It would not surprise me if the Republican controlled General Assembly moves for impeachment proceedings.

They ought to at any rate. As a Christian, I hope for the best in the future of the Sanford family, but as far as his job is concerned, he does not need to be governor any longer. Going quietly is the right thing to do for his family and the rest of us.

UPDATE V: I cannot resist:

UPDATE VI: The Sanfords are officially separated.

UPDATE VII: The Other McCain advises Jenny Sanford that taking the high road does not necessarily shooting the two timing jerk. As the late, great Lewis Grizzard once noted, he needed killin' is a valid defense down South.

Sanford is a guy who as romping on the beach on Father's Day while his wife and four boys were abandoned in South Carolina. There was an apparent assumption they were all supposed to keep quiet any speculation what he was up to even though Ms. Sanford certainly knew.

If that does not deserve a bullet or two, what does?
Obama Dismisses Bioethics Council

Barack Obama has dismissed his bioethics committee, most likely due to ten out of eighteen members publishing an open letter to Obama criticizing his plan to allow embryonic stem cell research and cloning. By executive order, the national Institute of health must come up with new guidelines for stem cell research by July 7. The dismissal of the President’s Council on Bioethics is widely considered a move to silence criticism in the wake of the new guidelines.

The Council was created by Bush 43 in November 2001 to offer independent advise on issues of bioethics. Obama appears more concerned with the rubber stamping of his political agenda. Blatant, considering the Council has allowed for the use of some embryonic stem cell research in the past, angering many conservative pro life advocates. It did not rubber stamp an alleged anti-science agenda the Christian right is often accused of pushing.

What really gets me is how useless embryonic stem cell research has been. Private entities have been attempting to mine embryonic stem cells for beneficial developments for decades and come up empty. One of the reasons there is a desperation for federal funding is because venture capitalists have given up on the idea of making any money off discoveries. There are none to be found. Only adultstem cells have shown any promise whatsoever.

Adult stem cells can be utilized by consent without any ethical issues muddying the waters, yet there is a strong movement to use embryonic cells instead. I do not believe it is motivated by some overly optimistic idea there will bea breakthrough after decades of failure to come up with any results, either. The movement is one more step towards completely dismissing the unborn so abortion can become more acceptable.
Star Trek--"Assignment: Earth"

“Assignment: Earth” is the most unusual episode of Trek as it served mainly as a pilot for a new show Gene Roddenberry was cooking up. The show was to featurea futuristic James Bond character named Gary Seven, his clueless assistant Roberta Lincoln, and Isis, a cat that could turn into a human. Seven andhis entourage took center stage of the plot it is clear their convergence with our heroes was a matter of cross promotional conveniencve. Considering TOS was thought to be all but cancelled at this point, I cannot blame roddenberry for the idea, but it is difficult to fit “assignment: earth” into overall Trek continuity.

Thew Enterprise runs into Seven after it uses the famous slingshot method to travel back to 1968. They capture Seven. He admits to them he is a human from the future, descended from other humans taken by an alien race 6,000 years ago. His job is to alter events for the good of the future. He will not say why he is in 1968, but as the plot unfolds, we learn that he plans to detonate an American nuclear missile safely over Eurasia in order to frighten the world into ending the arms race. The plan almost fails with the intervention of Kirk and Spock who believe Seven is actually trying to start World War II. Seven convinces them he is earnest by saving Kirk and he is allowed to explode the missile as originally planned.

For an advanced human from the future, Seven certainly comes up with some dumb plans. Whether it blew up safely in the sky as a warning or not, a missile headed towards Warsaw Pact countries is an act of war. Most certainly not a nuclear war, but I cannot imagine an American “accident” like that would prompt a breakout of peace. I am not enough of an idealist to think that idea is going to do anything but make Cold War tensions worse.

As a pilot, there was some promise in a potential show standing on its own. As part of the trek universe, it is a square peg in a round hole. Seven is completely ignored throughout the rest of Trek on television and film, although a number of novels and comic books feature his adventures on the periphery of major Trek events. Most notably, Seven allegedly helped end the Eugenics Wars in the novels.

I am not a huge fan of “Assignment: Earth” because of its odd fit. The regular TOS cast was pretty much incidental to the story. In fact, all they really do is get in Seven’s way. They believe their actions to be proper, it is not particularly entertaining to find out the main characters have been acting completely wrong until the end when tegument star becomes the hero. In this case, it is even worse, since Seven had somean incredibly dumb idea to scare people into peace. I am glad TOS did not end on such a sour note, but considering much of the third season to come, it is only a small blessing.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Jewel in a Bikini

Just because.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ed McMahon (1923-2009)

I would like to have something meaningful to say, but as far as I know he was the Paris Hilton of his day--famous for no discernible reason.

His sycophantic straight man routine for Johnny Carson must have touched many people, however, since they have forgiven both his alcoholism and failure to deliver an over sized check for a million dollars to their door. That says something about his character, no?

Godspeed, Mr. McMahon.
Star Trek--"Bread and Circuses"

Bread and circuses refers to the Roman practice of offering free grain and entertainment to the unemployed masses in order to pacify them. Considering the convergence of our country’s economic downturn with the popularity of gaudy reality television, one has to fearfully note how similar we are to Rome in its declining years. For that matter, just how different are Al Qeada terrorist flying airliners into skyscrapers from the Visigoths marching on the hills of Rome?

At the risk of being a hypocrite, I liked ’Bread and Circuses” in spite of my previous complaints about the Enterprise encountering planets implausibly similar to Earth. My fondness for the episode is doubly worse considering how much I brutalized ’Patterns of Force” and ’The Omega Glory.” I will argue that there is no hypocrisy here. Unique to this episode is historical speculation: what if rome Never fel? For my money, historical speculation adds something to the stew that was lacking in the other two episodes I savaged.

Much of the episode is run of the mill stuff we have seen before. The Enterprise discovers the crew from a destroyed Federation ship has taken part in a primitive society. The captain of the crew is corrupt, perhaps slightly mad. Our heroes are captured and forced into combat in order to amuse their captors. They eventually escape and the crazed, rogue captain is killed in the process.

But there are some added elements that make this one rise up most other episodes with similar themes. The captain of the destroyed Federation ship, Merrick, has kept his true identity a secret to all but the highest leaders of the society in order to not violate the Prime Directive. His actions in sending the other crewmen to their deaths in the gladiator arena had a twisted logic to it, but was effectively to enforce the Prime Directive as well. The friendship between Spock and McCoy is deepened beyond their usual old married couple bickering when Spock saves McCoy, but has a difficult time accepting thanks because he fears showing his emotions. “Bread and Circuses’ also presents the most clear evidence Kirk has had sex with a woman. As he very clearly went to bed with Drucilla. Considering the next most obvious evidence of sex was Uhura’s off camera rape in “The Gamesters of Triskelion,” this was a much kinder, gentler touch.

The final bit that seemed awkwardly thrown in the mix was the escaped slaves who worshiped the “son.” our heroes believes the salves are sun worshippers until Uhura discovers they actually worship Jesus, the Son of God. Kirk marvels the society has had both Caesar and Jesus, but nothing else comes out of it. Was that just padding for time? The story might have been improved were it a bigger factor.

Rating: *** (out of 5) .
Megan Fox Apologizes for Snubbing Fan with Rose

At least she says she will if she ever finds out who he was. One assumes chops will not be busted in the search for him since her apology was really condescending and dismissive of her young fans. Further proof beauty is only skin deep.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Where is Mark Sanford?

Your guess is as good as anyone else's:
Mark Sanford told his staff where he would be and that he would be "difficult to reach" before setting out last Thursday night to points unknown, according to his communications director Joel Sawyer. "The governor put in a lot of time during this last legislative session, and after the session winds down it's not uncommon for him to go out of pocket for a few days at a time to clear his head," said Sawyer in a statement provided to the Fix. "Should any emergencies arise between the times in which he checks in, our staff would obviously be in contact with other state officials as the situation warrants before making any decisions."
Come on home, Governor. All is forgiven. well, except forsome of your nastier remarks about Sarah Palin. Your endorsement of Nikki Haley for governor almost makes up for that, though.

But seriously, this weird behavior does not a presidential contender make.

UPDATE: Sanford is hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Trailer

The movie was supposed to air over the summer, but it has apparently been moved to the fall. It is probably meant to better bridge the gap between Battlestar Galactica ending last winter and Caprica beginning sometime next year.
The Prime Directive Deconstructed

I have received, both in public comments and private correspondence, notice that I am being harsh in many of my Star Trek: The Original Series reviews, particularly when it comes to episodes in which the Prime Directive (“PD”) is a major plot point It is worth examining what the PD is all about in order to explain why I have been such a stickler about it.

First things first, this post was inspired by the following comment from venoms5 at Cool Ass Cinema:
In 'A Private Little War', Kirk spoke of a "balance of power". He only evened the odds between the two factions so as one side would not have an advantage over another. The Klingons had provided the one side with guns whilst Kirk's friends were armed with far more primitive weapons before he and his company arrived on the planets surface.
before I get into that, let me reiterate my whole intention behind reviewing TOS was as a catalyst to discuss topics of interest to me: politics, religion, philosophy, history, etc. over the years, I have studied Christianity, political science, and law in formal settings. I am applying whatever critical skills I have developed in those areas (I leave it to you to decide how skilled I am) with the full knowledge whoever wrote particular episodes of TOS has an opposing viewpoint, lack any skill to reason out what he is trying to say, or may just be pulling themes out of his butt in order to collect a paycheck. None of those cases is an excuse to shield the episode from criticism of inaccuracies or contradictions.

In order to explain my reasoning, we have to define the Prime Directive. The prime directive states that members of Starfleet are not to become involved in the internal affairs of other planets, particularly they are not to influence the natural development of primitive, pre-warp societies. The Prime directive is stated in full during tomorrow’s episode, “Bread and Circuses” as: “ No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No mentions of space, other worlds, or advanced civilizations.”

There have been three major elaborations on the Prime Directive over the years. First, in the TNG episode “Angel One,” it is stated that the PD prohibits the removal of Federation officials who have already violated the PD so as to avoid further contamination. Second, Starfleet may intervene on behalf of primitive worlds to prevent their destruction, but only if their actions can be kept secret from the planet’s population. “The Paradise Syndrome” is an example of this. Finally, the PD has been used to prevent Starfleet from interfering in the affairs of advanced, non-Federation civilizations, suh as the Klingon Civil War in TNG.

I will concede some of these rules may be amendments after certain TOS incidents, but there is no evidence to show these three rules and others were not part of the PD from the beginning. That has to be the assumption I work under.

Now let us apply the PD as spelled out above into specific incidents. The natural development of a society includes allowing it to engage in its own religious practices whether the federation believes in said religion and the prosecution of wars the planet sees fit to fight. Whether one considers the circumstances ideal, these two elements are part of a society’s natural development. Therefore, Kirk destroying Landry, the war computer on Eminar VII, and Vaal were all clear violations of the PD. By preventing Maab from killing Elena, Kirk created political change in Cappella, another clear violation by inferring in the internal political affairs of a planet. ("Return of the Archons" "a taste if Amarmageddon" "the Apple" "Friday's Child")

As for the prohibition of removing Federation officials who have violated the PD already, Kirk has removed not only removed John Gill )"Patterns of Force") and Ronald Tracey ("The Omega Glory"), but will remove himself in "The Paradise Syndrome” when he regains his memory after living life as a native.

As for noninterference with the internal affairs of advanced non-Federation members, there appears to be an exception if there is an imminent danger to the Federation. I would wager this is done on a case by case basis and is therefore subjective. In the scenario venoms5 pointed out, a primitive culture is being armed by an outside advanced civilization, the Klingons. Kirk opts to arm a faction with less advanced technology in order to create a balance of power. For his actions to be acceptable under the PD, he has to explain why allowing one side of a primitive planet to wipe out another is a direct threat to the Federation and why it is all right to intervene in Klingon foreign policy. Neural was a primitive planet of no consequence to the federation, it had already been contaminated, and war is a nature part of a society’s development, so kirk’s actions violated the PD regardless of whether one accepts the idea the Klingons presence was a direct threat to the Federation.

I will grant there have been instances in which the Federation appears to willfully ignore the PD when it suits them, such as negotiating mineral rights on the medieval era planet Capella or ignores its principles all together, such as General Order 24, which states a Starfleet captain may order the destruction of an entire civilization if it poses a direct threat to the Federation as stated by Garth in ’Whom Gods Destroy.” Since that sounds more like a Klingon or Romulan concept, the less said, the better.
Star Trek--"The Ultimate Computer"

I am no Luddite, but I have always enjoyed morality tales about technology getting away from mankind. I think most of them are implausible. We have known for forever that you cannot stand in the way of progress. Just ask John Henry’s broken heart. When a story comes along that can plausibly demonstrate man’s superiority over machine, I have to give it all due credit. Such is the case with “The Ultimate Computer.”

Dr. Richard Daystrom, namesake of the Daystrom Institute in subsequent trek series, arrives on the Enterprise with his latst development. It is M-5, a computer that can take over all functions of a Starship with the intention of eliminating human error. With the ship under M-5’s control, it surveys a nearby planet and makes recommendations for a landing party. Later, it effectively engages in a war games executrices. Kirk is skeptical that a ’perfect computer should have this much power and control when living beings are a stake.

Right on cue, Kirk’s fears are confirmed. M-5 alters course to intercept a freighter. It opens fire, destroying it. Daystrom reveals in included a survival instinct in M-5 which apparently lacked much discretion. M-5 subsequently destroys another starship when it considers staged war games to be real. The other ships involved have permission to destroy the controlled Enterprise, but Kirk is able to use his extraordinary ability to talk a computer to death for the fourth and final time in order to prevent further bloodshed.

It is interesting to note Kirk’s train of thought this time. He argued that M-5’s programming prevented it from murder, yet it killed everyone on board the Excalibur, a violation of the “laws of God and man.” M-5 knew the penalty for murder was death, so it shut itself off. Is this a contradiction? In “The Menagerie,” it is stated the Federation only imposes the death penalty on trespassers to talos Iv, which is ridiculously excessive in its own right. But does the Federation have the death penalty for murder or did Daystrom just include that bit of logic as a fails afe measure? M-5 may have considered Daystrom a godlike creator for all I know. NOMAD revered Jackson Roykirk, so it is not without precedent.

Regardless of the unoriginal resolution, I liked the episode. One thing TOS did well was space battles, even with the low budget special effects. It is too bad they did not do more of them. The idea of computers taking over was acontemporary fear that sounds quaint now, but the great 2001: A Space Odyssey was filming at roughly the same time with a similar theme as “The Ultimate Computer.” the contrast between the two is fascinating. Kirk uses human ingenuity to disable M-5 while Dave uses the “primitive” technology of a screwdriver to shut off HAL. Which speaks better of mankind, the use of his natural abilities or his utilization of tools? Interesting topic for debate.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Kristen Bell Bikini Photos

Just because.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

NYT Uses Faulty Polling to Imply Wide Support for Health Care Reform

You are shocked, I know. A big media outlet helping push the Obama agenda? Surely you just. Here is the article::
Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.

Yet the survey also revealed considerable unease about the impact of heightened government involvement, on both the economy and the quality of the respondents’ own medical care. While 85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, 77 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their own care.
The problem is the pollster talked to two Democrats for every Republican. Read all about the proof here.
Barbara Boxer is a Classless Elitist

You knew that already, but here is proof in case you missed it earlier this week:I have some California friends I have met over the years who have been great. I have several regular Golden State Readers who should know they are excluded from what I am about to say about the liberal loonies who keep electing this elitist snob every six years.

Boxer is famous for not only letting her lofty position go to her head, but showing an open contempt for conservative colleagues and the military. The above incident with Brig, Gen. Michael Walsh is not about how she struggled through discrimination and hardship to become a senator. It is all about liberal notion that some lowly military office, who is probably a baby killer--and not the good abortionist kind--dared not acknowledge her lofty perch above himself.

To my knowledge, military officers are trained to use sir and ma’am as a sign of respect. They are not required to use job titles. That is all senator is. It is just a job title. I understand liberals think holding elected office is some sort of holy cause and therefore their lofty perch must be acknowledged, but that is just their delusion. To publicly scold anyone for referring to her as ma’am is a classless act unbecoming a senator in the first place. I am embarrassed Californians consider her the best to represent them.

That is just the facts, ma’am.
I Scream, You Scream for Ice Cream

I do not care that Barack Obama went out for ice cream with his daughters while democracy is dying a violent death in Iran. I do not accept the ice cream outing is analogous to Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Realistically, nothing Obama says or does is going to affect the situation anyway. The rest of the world has already figured out what all but the most unreasoned of liberals discovered long ago--he is ineffective and clueless.

I do not even care that the media will not treat the ice cream outing during a time when Iran is burning, North Korea is threatening Hawaii, and the economy is tanking the same way they lambasted Bush 43 for playing golf while armed servicemen were fighting and dying in the war on terror. That is just business as usual for the MSM.

But for heaven's sake, do they have to fawn over it so much?

What does irk me is how this ice cream trip is treated like big news. The AP report states who ordered what, how happy they were to get it, and the specific doggie treats Bo is going to enjoy later. MSNBC is liable to break into regular programming if obama were to spill some on his pants.

Call me cynical, but I question the timing, too. Obama seems to do these media events around the time his policy initiatives falter. Obviously, knows his fans in the media are going to do whatever it takes to save him. It isshallow and manipulative for the media to play along.
Star Trek--"The Omega Glory"

A few reviews back, I said from here on out there were going to be many episodes with bad ideas poorly executed. As far as the second season goes, “The Omega Glory” is the the epitome. It is by far the worst episode of the second season and in the bottom three with “The Way to Eden” and “The Alternative Factor.”

The Enterprise encounters a completely abandoned starship for the second of three times. The entire crew has been drained of water and left as crystals. The captain left a recorded message that he fled to nearby planet Omega IV. The planet has some sort of immunity properties, so he has survived the disease that caused the rapid dehydration of his crew. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and cannon fodder Galloway beam down to Omega IV to learn there is a longstanding conflict still going on among the iron Age Khoms and the seemingly primitive Yangs. Tracey has violated the Prime Directive, becoming involved in the conflict so he can determine the immunity properties and take them for personal use.

There are two big problems with “The Omega Glory.” First, it cannot decide what it wants to be. Second, the mess is based on such an awful pun, it is embarrassing to watch.

The episode has elements of Joseph Conrad‘s novel Heart of Darkness. The are probably more familiar with Francis Ford Coppolla’s adaptation Apocalypse Now which transferred the story to the Vietnam War eleven yearsafter “The Omega Glory.” Believe me, this was not the inspiration, but tracey has a lot of Col. Kurtz in him. But Tracey is searching for a Fountain of Youth allegory rather than just building his own kingdom. It is difficult to tell exactly what wear supposed to take away from the basic plot.

But the second problem with the pyun, overshadows any of that concern, so what difference does it make. “The Omega Glory’ is a heavyhanded comment on the cold war conflict. Yangs represent Yankees or the West. Khoms is shorthand for Communists. The Khoms are all Asian, so they are presumably Chinese or Vietnamese.

You might think with that the story is about Tracey exploiting the resources of smaller powers in the name of his ideology, but it actually winds up an implausible promotion of jingoism instead. The Yangs value freedom above all else. Their holy texts incredibly are the Pledge of Allegiance and the Constitution of the United States.Um, yeah.

I understand Gene Roddenberry embraced the idea all planets with humanoids would develop similarly to Earth. Anthropology was not his strong suit. It is forgivable in some episodes where it only has a light touch. This is not one of those episodes. If Roddenberry wanted to do something like this, he would have been better served to make it a time travel story with a possible far future Earth. Then it would have served as the patriotic morality tale he obviously intended, but could not pull off.

I have to pile on a little more over prime Directive hypocrisy, too. Tracey wants Kirk to supply the Khoms with phasers so they can finish off the Yangs. Kirk refuses, saying it is a violation of the Prime Directive even though he armed a faction in “A Private Little War.” In that episode, Kirk sided with the more primitive culture against the more advanced. He eventually does the same here by allying with the Yangs. While he does not arm them, he does define their holy texts for them, thereby effecting their development, as spock points out. Kirk, of course, explains why hehas not violated the Prime Directive. As usual, it boils down to anyone else imposing their values is bad, but kirk is always right on the money.

As a Christian, I have to make a personal observation. Roddenberry was an avowed atheist who possessed an open contempt for religion. He tempered his disdain to stay in tune with the mores of ‘60’s society, but let it run wild the first season of TNG. When he wrote about religion, he was often awfully clueless. "The Omega Glory" was one of the rare examples he inadvertently supported a fundamental (not fundamentalist) Christian idea--that God is the Ultimate Creator from which freedom comes. You could argue that the many planets existing similar to Earth is proof of Intelligent Design. You culd also argue that sinceAmerican principles developed so overtly on omega IV, inalienable rights do come from God rather than society as atheists believe. You could also argue that terrible rumbling sound is Roddenberry rolling over in his grave at the thought.

Rating: * (out of 5)