Saturday, July 31, 2004

Star Trek: Lessons From Captain Kirk

Yep...That's right. Captain Kirk could give us some lessons on the dangers of "state control" and "government care".

So, I'm watching TV in the middle of the night, just flipping around, looking for anything that was not the convention or news or analysis or C-SPAN. I have cable, but no movie channels and there isn't a lot on at 3 AM. Yeah, I should be sleeping and had actually laid down to do so, catch a few Z's, get up in the morning and leave the house. Working from home sometimes gives you the tendency to not leave for days at a time.

Not much on, but I came across an old episode of Star Trek. The Captain Kirk and Spock variety from the 70's. I haven't watched it in eons. I loved it as a kid. Looking at it now, the sets seem so fake. William Shatner seems so fake. Lt. O'Hura, if she was in today's "space force", probably would have pressed charges on the Captain for being a sexist pig, demanded fair wages and a uniform that ended a few more inches past her ass. Dr. Bones is probably an alcoholic and Scotty would have told the Captain to shove it the next time he wanted him to "give me all you've got."

As I was watching it though, I was reminded of something that I had once found amazing. The technology that they use in the program. The technology that did not exist in that day and age, but was a dream. A dream that wasn't far off into the future.

Think about it. The cool little communicators that they always flipped open, "Beam me up Scotty." Who would have thought, watching this program, we would all be walking around with handy-dandy little "communicators" that didn't have to be plugged into the wall and fit in the palm of your hand? And many of them flip open, take pictures, store data. The only thing we haven't gotten to yet is beaming people around. Yet.

How about the computerized notepad that Lt. O'Hura always walked around with and made notes on with a stylus? Think Palm Pilot. Or the fact that she could download the data from her portable notebook onto the main computer for analysis? How about that little earbud thing that she would wear in her ear when receiving calls that didn't connect by wires to anything? We have those, too.

The little "Star Federation" insignia that was both a communicator and a personal locator? I just read an article where Mexican businessmen and politicians are volunteering to have GPS locators installed under their skin. I also know some companies that give their employees badges that have a locator on them. The building is rigged with sensors and can identify them where ever they are. (maybe that technology is a little scary to those of us who don't want our bosses to ask why we were in the bathroom for the 5th time that day)

How about the little triangulating device they use when they are "on planet" to locate something? GPS anyone? Or the sickbay hospital beds that can monitor the patients vital signs and diagnose their problems all at once? Or the hand held scanners that do the same? Now we have MRIs and other 3-D imaging programs that do this. The space shuttles that can go between ship and planet, all by themselves. Have you heard of the ANSARI X prize? There are people competing right now to create personal space craft, where you and I could fly from one end of the earth to another in minutes without the giant rocket boosters strapped to our ass and the billion dollar price tag. How cool is that?

I could go on and on. Microwave food processors. Plasma screen TVs. The little medicine injectors. Touch screen computer systems. I even read once that the United States Military used the example of the Enterprises "sick bay" to set up the new sick bays on our Navy ships. I almost forgot that.

Whatever you say about the show and it's cheesy acting, Gene Rodenberry was a man of vision.

I forget the name of this episode, but Captain Kirk and crew answer an old distress signal and land on this planet. When they do, they find an old "friend" there. Seems he crash landed on the planet and found an abandoned android plant with a couple androids all lonely, but still functional, so he decides to spend his time waiting for rescue by getting the androids up and running. Of course, he makes the little androids in the images that he likes. Very beautiful women and handsome men. And he programs them to "serve" him. Their cyber brains are all connected to the one central command android. (Borg precursor?)

Capt. Kirk and crew beam down to the planet and find that their "friend" isn't so much in need of rescue now, but is looking for a way off the planet and ability to transport his creations with him. He busies himself by trying to convince Capt. Kirk and crew of the wonders of his androids "taking care" of their every need. He even tries to convince Lt. O'Hura of the viability of having her brain transplanted into the new, improved body of an android that would last for 500k years. (Gees...can you imagine having to live that long? How emotionally screwed up you would be while everyone kept dying around you? I think you'd be a nutt case within 300 years at least).

In the meantime, the androids have tapped into the computer on the Enterprise and downloaded the files. All they were looking for was information on humans so that they could better understand their duties, take care of the humans better. What they got was a long history of human triumph and tragedy. This made the androids decide that they should be more capable of ruling the universe because men were fallible creatures full of pain and angst and wars. Much better for the androids to take over because they did not let emotion get in the way. They would be logical.

Capt. Kirk and crew decide to head back to the Enterprise when they are stopped by the androids that decide they will take over the ship and proceed to conquer the universe. The captain asks the androids how they are planning to do this great deed since they were programmed to take care of humans and not harm them. The central android, Norman, replies that their plan is very simple. They will simply "take care" of the humans. Make them happy. Protect them from themselves. If the humans' needs are taken care of, they will have no reason to go to war, to travel through space, to struggle. They will feel no pain, no hunger. They will become complacent. In this way, the androids can take over the universe.

Capt. Kirk tells the androids that he does not want to be taken care of. He wants to be free. Man can only achieve great things if he tries and fails and tries again. If man ceases to struggle, he will cease to exist.

Androids, "That does not compute. We will take care of you. You WILL be happy."

Capt. Kirk and crew are freedom loving folks who would rather take care of themselves and suffer the possible consequences, so they devise a plan to overcome the androids. They will use illogical reasoning. Play acting. They go through a number of scenarios, behaving illogically and knock the guard androids out one by one. Finally, they are down to the last three; Norman and two of his gal pals.

Mr. Scott steps forward, "I cannot take it. There is too much happiness. I must have pain and angst and strife. How else can I know true happiness? Captain, Captain, kill me now." Captain Kirk and crew whip out their fingers and use them like they were lasers, "shooting" Mr. Scott until he falls to the ground. Captain Kirk runs over and grabs Scotty to his chest, "Scotty, Scotty...(looks into the camera)...happiness killed him. Now, he's happy to be dead!"

Gal pal androids, "This does not compute....(dwweeerp; shut down)."

Norman is getting a little agitated, "This is not logical. Mr. Spock, please explain."

Mr. Spock, "Logic is a bird chirping in an empty meadow. Logic is a wreath of beautiful flowers that smell very, very bad." (smoke is starting to come out of the androids ears).

Harry Harcourte (android creator) gets in on the act. He acts like he has some explosives. He cups his palm like something is there, then sets it down on the floor. He obtains imaginary explosives parts from Dr. Bones and puts the "bomb" together. Mr. Scott jumps up, "A bomb? I'm leavin'." Then, acting as if he has a bat, Harry throws the "bomb" into the air and "hits" it. Captain and crew now act like an explosion has occurred. Android, "There was no explosion. This is not logical."

Harry Harcourte, "Yes. There was an explosion. You are supposed to take care of me. You will make me sad if you tell me there was no explosion." Captain Kirk is on the other side, "Norman, Harry is lying. Harry always lies." Norman, "Harry is a liar?" Harry, "That's right Norman, I am a liar. I am lying to you right now." Norman, "If you are a liar and you are lying right now, does that mean that your are lying about being a liar? If you are lying about being a liar, does that make you a liar? If you are lying about lying about lying....This does not compute. This does not compute (dweeeerp...smoke comes our of his hears and head lights on fire)."

The android goes into overload and shuts off. Humans are saved from being taken over and cared for.

Tell me, is there a moral to this story that seems to apply today? Please share your ideas on the "moral" of this story in comments. I would be interested to see what everyone else thinks.

Small Immature Fantasy...

I just stole this title from my friend ALa71. You should be checking out her site.

Captain Kerry and Crew of the USS Democrat

Mr. Zel "Scotty" Miller, "Captain! Captain! The Klingon terrrrrorists are attackin' us with their cloaked Bird O' Prey."

Captain Kerry, "I voted for attacking the Klingons before I voted against it."

Mr. Joe "Spock" Lieberman, "Captain, that is not logical."

Captain Kerry, "Dammit, Joe. We don't need logic. We're running a starship, not a country."

Large explosion...

Captain Kerry, "Ow! I stubbed my toe ....on the captain's chair. Mr. Leiberman.... you were a witness. I was wounded.... during a Klingon attack. I'm going to put in.... for the Star Fleet... Federation Medal of Honor. Here. Take this camera ....and film me re-enacting... my brave defense... against the captain's chair."

Mr. Joe "Spock" Lieberman places his fingers on Captain Kerry's temples and proceeds to perform a Vulcan mind meld, "You are strong on defense. You are not a wimp. You are strong on defense."

Captain Kerry, "Ow! Joe, what the hell.... is wrong with you? If you don't stop.... I'm going to make you watch..... Ter-ai-za take a bath.... while she lectures on the effects... of global warming and how to make friends..... with the fighters."

Mr. Chekov Kennedy rushes over and drags Mr. Lieberman away before he drops Captain Kerry with the Vulcan sleep hold.

Mr. Zel "Scotty" Miller, "Captain! Captain! Werrre losin' powerrr fast."

Captain Kerry, "Mr. Miller, give me all she's got, man. Oh, that's right, I already have Ter-ai-za's billions."

Mr. Miller, "Captain! I'm giving herrr all I can. She can't take much more."

Lt. Hillary O'Hura, "Since I knew you wouldn't mind, I took half the trillium core back for the greater good."

Captain Kerry, "Dr. Edwards. You've got to... help me ,man. I ...falling off."

Dr. Johnny "Bones" Edwards, "Dammit, John. I'm a lawyer, not a doctor. I can sue the Federation for putting the chair in a dangerous place. I can sue the Klingons for shooting at us in the first place. I can channel a dead klingon if you want me to. But you have to fix your own damn toe."

Mr. Miller, " Captain! Captain! I was able to channel the rrremainin' power inta the photons and gave the Klingons a burrrrst in theirrrr side. They dissinigrated before ma verrrrra' eyes."

Captain Kerry, "Mr. Miller, come with me, man. We must go ...before the Federation ...and confess our war crimes...for blowing up innocent... Klingons. Maybe they'll promote me Admiral? I am... a Klingon War veteran...after all. Lt. Hillary...bring your medals. I might need ...something to throw."

Spock Out.


Robert said...

It must be killing Hollywood. Hero stories are extremely successful. Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter. Spiderman.

Not just do they recognize evil, they recognize good. They recognize the reality of free will and the responsibility that comes with it.

The Lord of the Rings juxtaposes each character with a damned, pitiful character. Frodo has his mirror in the wretched Gollum. Gandalf with the fallen Sauruman. The nine walkers rival the nine nazgul.

Or perhaps, you would rather mirror Gandalf with the steward of Gondor: Denethor.

There are lots of possibilities.

But evil is always the same. A cruel imitation of life. From the beginning Morgoth envied the Valar. Where they would raise mountains he would flatten them to vallies. He would strive against them in all of their work.

From the elves he culled and perverted the race of orcs. From the ents (shepherds of trees) he made the trolls.

Evil is merely an imitation. It has no creativity. It has no originality. It steals. And it destroys. As you said Kat- it levels mountains.

The Lord of the Rings holds that theme of courage. Courage for courage's sake. Not for reward. Because good isn't going to win. Its just... a brief respite. Evil is fended off for a while, but only for a while. Sauron is defeated, but evil is not. In fact, the enemy may have won, but this courage continues. It is not the courage of the conniving Greek gods, but of the Norse. Victory is not the end or the reward, striving against evil is.

Spiderman shows the power/responsibility thing as a staple of the movie.

And these are values Hollywood hates. Hollywood despises them. But people love them.

~Jen~ said...

This post is, as we say in Texas, a hoot!!!

Kat said...

Jen...I hoped somebody else would find it funny, too. You never know what comes over you in the middle of the night.

Robert...yeah, have you noticed though that all of these heroes are full of angst over being a hero? they wonder if it's worth it. guess that is kind of human, after all.

Jax said...

This is one of the god-damned stupidest blogs I've ever seen.

Also for the record Star Trek took place in a socialist society.

Anonymous said...

I salute Freedom in this blog..
Harry's androids saying-
--We will "take care" of you--
This clearly reminds Americans that their freedom is about to be lost & replaced by Socialism,
( unless you all Wake Up!! ).
I dont really think that you want a Nanny-State to tell you what you can and cannot do.
Hollywood is not wise. Its selfish for sensationalism & ratings. If you lose your freedom, Hollywood will survive by making a movie about your loss of freedom.
Vote wisely.