Mr. Spock as Conservative

Sunday, March 1, AD 2015









Over at The American Thinker there is an article entitled Why Conservatives Will Miss Spock.  Go here to read it.  I am afraid I found it fairly unsatisfying.  However, there are examples of Spock giving voice during Star Trek episodes to fairly conservative viewpoints.  Here are some of these instances:



1.  Balance of Terror-Sadly, war sometimes is necessary:

War is never imperative, Mister Spock.

McCoy, after Spock agrees with Stiles on attacking the Romulans

It is for them, doctor. Vulcan, like Earth, had its aggressive, colonizing period; savage, even by Earth standards. And if the Romulans retained this martial philosophy, then weakness is something we dare not show.

Spock, responding to McCoy



2.  Space Seed-Freedom is better than rule by even an able dictator-

Captain James T. Kirk: [looking at a library picture of Khan on viewscreen] Name: Khan Noonien Singh.

Mr. Spock: From 1992 through 1996, absolute ruler of more than a quarter of your world, from Asia through the Middle East.

Dr. McCoy: The last of the tyrants to be overthrown.

Scott: I must confess, gentlemen. I’ve always held a sneaking admiration for this one.

Captain James T. Kirk: He was the best of the tyrants and the most dangerous. They were supermen in a sense. Stronger, braver, certainly more ambitious, more daring.

Mr. Spock: Gentlemen, this romanticism about a ruthless dictator is…

Captain James T. Kirk: Mr. Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us. Appalling, but there, nevertheless.

Scott: There were no massacres under his rule.

Mr. Spock: And as little freedom.

Dr. McCoy: No wars until he was attacked.

Mr. Spock: Gentlemen…

[All but Spock laugh]

Captain James T. Kirk: Mr. Spock, you misunderstand us. We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.

Mr. Spock: Illogical.

Captain James T. Kirk: Totally.


3.  Mirror Mirror-Civilization is better than barbarism-


Spock:  It was far easier for you as civilized men to behave like barbarians than it was for them as barbarians to behave like civilized men.

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4 Responses to Mr. Spock as Conservative

Leonard Nimoy: Requiescat in Pace

Friday, February 27, AD 2015

11 Responses to Leonard Nimoy: Requiescat in Pace

  • Dear God, if it be your will, please welcome Mr Spock who brought us a truly admirable role model.

  • You will be missed, Mr. Spock. RIP.

  • Dear God, if it be your will, please welcome Mr Spock who brought us a truly admirable role model. –

    Mr. Spock, yes; Leonard Nimoy, like nearly all of us, needed some work. (The first woman who held the job “Mrs. Leonard Nimoy” later felt compelled to form a support group called “Hollywood Dumpettes”).

  • You are correct, Art. In my case, I know I deserve hell, and I am just a mediocre man, unlike Leonard Nimoy who was a great man. Perhaps the greater the man, the greater the folly. 🙁

  • I suggest in our charity and sense of reality that we pray for God’s mercy on his soul. He was a promoter of abortion. See this clip starting at 0:37

  • First bio that I ever bought was “I Am Not Spock.” Bought the first one, too, and I think it’s still the only bio I’ve ever enjoyed.

  • “I suggest in our charity”

    I suggest in our charity De mortuis nihil nisi bonum, at least on the day of his death. In his politics Nimoy shared in the left wing loonism that seemed to infect most of the actors and actresses of his generation. If that were all there was to the man I would not waste a post on his death. It is due to his role as Spock that his cultural significance arises, and please let us keep the focus firmly on that.

  • I rather like this pithy version:
    He was a good actor who worked hard, and he did some good stuff. May God be good to him.

    I can give a hearty amen.

  • I have wanted to say a few words on why Spock was among my favorite Star Trek characters (along with Seven of Nine and Data). While Leonard Nimoy had failings in his personal life (any here exempt from failings?) and sin (again, anyone exempt from sin?), the character he gave us showed that reason and facts and the good of the other person can be placed ahead of one’s own selfish, emotional desires. While the liberalism that Nimoy espoused as his life went on exults in selfish emotionalism, Spock did not allow himself to be influenced by that. He could set his face like flint to do what is right no matter how he personally felt about the matter, and he always had an impeccably logical reason for doing what was right. For Spock, doing what was right is the only logical path, and right is objective and knowable. The tumult of his feelings did not get in the way. As an adolescent youngster, that appealed to me greatly. And his father Sarek was of like mind, and the philosophy of logic and non-violence that Surak in ancient Vulcan history had developed was created specifically because of the violent, war-like, overly-emotional, self-destructive tendencies of Vulcans as a species. Their close cousins the Romulans who early broke away, having rejected Surak’s philosophy, showed what happens when emotionalism and selfishness rule the day – dictatorial empire, a course which our liberal society seems hell-bent on creating.
    I do not think Nimoy will be remembered for his liberalism. Rather, he will be remembered for giving us Spock: a man truly moral because he placed reason and facts ahead of selfish desire. I hope God remembers the good that Nimoy did and not just the bad. Otherwise, we are all doomed. But God is just and God is merciful.

  • Reason. Restraint. Self-sacrifice.
    Well worth admiring, especially in a time that idolizes the impulse, the examined emotion, the “because I wanna” impulse.

  • May the face of God shine upon him and may he rest in peace. Leonard Nimoy

Prelude to Axanar

Saturday, January 31, AD 2015

 Never attempt to force the pink skins onto thin ice!

Andorian maxim about Humans


Further proof that with Kickstarter, and other modes of alternative financing, and CGI technology being literally at our fingertips, we are rapidly reaching a world where the old Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney movies of the thirties, with complete amateurs somehow putting together a professional musical, can now be taken as prediction rather than fantasy.  The above video, Prelude to Axanar, is incredibly well done, a “retrospective” look by major participants in The Four Years War between the Klingons and the Federation.  It is in effect a Youtube advertisement for the forthcoming independent movie on the battle of Axanar, the decisive turning point in The Four Years War.  Trek fans rejoice.  Also rejoice those who are hungry for better quality entertainment than is slopped out by the networks, cable channels and the Hollywood studios.  Virtually any group now can put together entertainment of this quality.  Hey any Catholic group who wishes to put out quality movies on the saints.  A pathway now exists for you to do this.  O Brave New World!

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2 Responses to Prelude to Axanar

3 Responses to Princess Leia Meets Manhattan

  • Thanks, Donald. So far the best send up of the Hollaback video I’ve seen.
    I’ve been watching the whole “controversy” unfold in Slate, Mother Jones, &c and it’s a hoot, there’s the original video, then charges of racism and white privilege, then allegations that white men harrass/oppress women differently [huh?]. Then a few, presumably white men asking, “What’s harrassing about ‘Good morning?’ “.

    At least they shut up about the Republican War on Women for a minute.

  • . Unfortunately only half of those characters were planned….the other half just appeared from Manhattan in general.

  • “What’s harrassing about ‘Good morning?’ “.

    I used to get catcalls walking to and from work, from the same sort of characters catcalling the nuyorican chick in the video, and with even greater frequency. It seems odd. Why’s an overweight stoop-shouldered chain-smoking office worker schlepping through downtown getting catcalls? My hats was the reason, or, more precisely, the deer-stalker. I guess “Sherlock’s” a survivor, just like Joey Heatherton.

Star Trek Continues

Wednesday, October 29, AD 2014

Time to renew my Chief Geek of the blog creds.  As faithful readers of this blog know, I am a Star Trek fan.  (No, I do not own a Star Fleet uniform, let alone worn one to court!)  Over the weekend I watched the three episodes thus far produced by Star Trek Continues, go here to their website, an unpaid volunteer group making episodes to complete the final two years of the original Star Trek five year mission.  Other Star Trek “tribute” episodes have been produced by other groups, but I have seen nothing that comes as close as Star Trek Continues in capturing the feel, and the fun, of the original series.  Judge for yourselves.  The video above is the third episode produced:  Fairest of Them All, which is a continuation of my second favorite Star Trek episode, Mirror Mirror, which introduced the alternate “bearded Spock” universe where the Federation is an aggressive interstellar empire.  Long may Star Trek Continue continue!

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11 Responses to Star Trek Continues

  • 🙂 Galaxy Quest (the movie) has ruined
    my joy for Star Trek………forever!

  • Galaxy Quest is one of the best satires of show business I have ever seen:

    “Sir Alexander Dane: I played Richard III.

    Fred Kwan: Five curtain calls…

    Sir Alexander Dane: There were five curtain calls. I was an actor once, damn it. Now look at me. Look at me! I won’t go out there and say that stupid line one more time.”

  • We love it also!
    Great writing great fun.

  • I love Galaxy Quest– it’s such a great skewering, but unlike, say, that book “Redshirts” it oozed love for the show. Heck, some of the jokes are ones that I have made! (In spite of that, it’s good.)

    Really need to make time to watch this.

  • I made the mistake of buying Redshirts. Scalzi is not only a left wing nut, he is a poor writer.

  • Is this the independent Star Trek series that has an actual relative of James Doohan (maybe his nephew?) playing Scotty?

  • Yep, Chris Doohan, one of his sons, and he does a fine job.

  • I watched the beginning, and this is the one I was thinking of. I saw part of the first episode a while back, I think. And I see that the opening credits show Chris Doohan as Mr. Scott. Evidently he is James Doohan’s son, not his nephew, according to Wikipedia.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this video. The people who put this together did an excellent job, based on the part I have watched so far.

  • I watched the whole episode, and it was good! I was very, very impressed with how they captured the look and feel of the original series almost perfectly, from the sets to the music to the costumes — even the acting was pretty close for most of the characters (though it was hard to judge from this episode, since it took place in the mirror universe, where most of the characters have somewhat different personalities).

    One thing I didn’t like was Spock’s voice — it needed to be deeper. But the actor did a good job with Spock’s mannerisms. Also Uhura seemed to be a bit too whiny and lacking in self-confidence, but maybe that was just because she was mirror-universe Uhura?

    Chris Doohan was great as Scotty, as you said. And I like the actor who plays Kirk, who apparently is also the main creative talent behind the series. I especially loved his scream of “Spooooooooock!!!!!!!!” at the end. Classic!

  • Another interesting thing I just noticed: The video appears to be 4:3 aspect ratio, instead of the modern TV standard of 16:9. I guess that makes sense, as they are keeping the same aspect ratio as the original series.

  • I am looking forward to further episodes Paul. If it could be a commercial product I think it would be a smash.

4 Responses to Mulan Meets My Little Pony

SPI Infomercial

Wednesday, January 29, AD 2014

A true blast from the past.  An SPI, Simulations Publications Inc., infomercial filmed in the seventies to introduce people to wargames.

Among my hobbies, besides writing blog posts and annoying people for fun and profit, is the playing of rather elaborate strategy games.  I began playing these games circa 1971 when I wheedled a copy of Luftwaffe from my parents for Christmas that year.  The next year for Christmas I received a copy of Panzerblitz, and I have been playing and collecting strategy games since that time.

My wife and I acquired our first computer in 1987, a Commodore 64.  Since that time almost all of my playing of strategy games has been on the computer.  Christmas Eve 1991 was a memorable one in the McClarey household.  It was the first Christmas Eve we spent with our newborn twin sons, and our copy of the computer strategy game Civilization arrived in the mail.

In between playing with our infants and introducing them to the joys of Christmas, we took turns charting the courses of societies through 6,000 years of history.  For a young married couple fascinated by history, it was the ideal Christmas present.


Computers do spoil us.  My playing of board wargames has diminished to almost nil.  When I do attempt to play a board wargame, keeping track of the rules without the aid of a computer and doing the math calculations in my head seems too bothersome for the game to be enjoyable.  Perhaps I am simply lazy, but I do believe exposure to computers does foster a “Can’t a computer do it?” attitude.

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23 Responses to SPI Infomercial

  • You brought to mind Risk.
    My brother Doug and I would play for hours. Not very “deep” in the strategic aspects, but still much fun.

  • Risk, a gateway game into Civilization.

    I wonder if there are sophisticated uber versions of Civ in Heaven?

  • Tito Edwards.

    The last one who tried to elbow his way into that heavenly version wasn’t well received.

  • Risk is to SPI and Avalon Hill what Twinkies are to haute cuisine. That said, my patience for lavish setup and rules parsing has run thin as well in the wake of computer games.

    I’m introducing my son to some, with simpler titles like Across Five Aprils, which is light enough yet still offers a bit of depth. I’m eyeing the value of my SPI collection and thinking eBay may be in its future.

  • “I’m eyeing the value of my SPI collection and thinking eBay may be in its future.”
    Yeah, I’ve made some money selling games on eBay including some of my SPIs. A good game for a beginning war gamer is We the People published by Avalon Hill in 1994, if you can find a copy on eBay, the beginning of Mark Herman’s series of card driven war games. Relatively simple game mechanics and good historical flavor from the cards.

  • Yes, Herman’s card-based games were good, as were his titles with Richard Berg (SPQR, etc). I still have them all. I’ve been on the press lists for 20 years, and never got rid of almost anything. I have a giant stack of stuff from The Gamers I never even punched. Maybe they’ll pay for my retirement…

    I did finally start selling off all my ASL modules. Life’s too short for ASL.

  • One additional point about “gateway drugs” to wargaming. I introduced my son to Memoir 44 and Battle Cry (very light games from Richard Borg), and he really enjoyed them. They were quick, fun (lots of plastic figures) and easy.

    Now that he’s a bit older, he’s getting frustrated with the limitations of design and the strange rules (you can lose 3/4ths of a unit without suffering any attack penalty), and is requesting more complex games. I don’t think the hobby needs to die out. I see teens picking up Warhammer and Flames of War (WW2 miniatures). They just need to be eased into it.

  • Memoir 44 has a very enjoyable online incarnation. Wargameroom has a great series on some GMT games allowing them to be played on computer with rules enforcement:

  • Just bought Civilization IV a few months ago. (Still haven’t looked up from the computer screen. What season is it?) I’ve been through it all: Avalon Hill, D&D, reading Tolkien, playing Sim City. It’s been fun. But since we’re all Catholics here, I don’t mind asking you, do you think it’s a misuse of time? I can’t tell if I’m being scrupulous, or if I’m burning out on Civ, or whatever, but I’ve been trying to figure out what it’s Aristotelian final cause is, and I haven’t come up with a good answer.

  • “But since we’re all Catholics here, I don’t mind asking you, do you think it’s a misuse of time?”

    Christ loved sailing on the Sea of Galilee I suspect. God did not place us here to be serious all the time, but also to sample harmless amusements that bring joy to the heart and give the mind and/or body a workout. Any amusement can be an abuse if we allow it to dominate our lives, but in moderation they are a much needed seasoning for this Vale of Tears.

  • Still have a decent collection of SPI stuff, including the massive “Invasion America” and “Objective: Moscow” ultragames.

    Then there’s the Avalon Hill stuff, which is more playable. “Britannia” is a lighter beer and pretzels game of British history between the Roman invasion and the Norman Conquest–really, really fun.

    Alas, you can blame TSR for screwing up the SPI purchase. I’ll let Greg Costikyan explain:

  • “Invasion America” and “Objective: Moscow”

    Two of my favorites, especially Objective Moscow and its orbital samurai drop troops! The imagination behind some of those SPI games was awe inspiring.

  • Yes, Dunnigan and Co. were pretty imaginative. Not to mention mordantly funny: I remember one of their games involved rules for tactical nuclear weapons. For the simulation of a strategic nuclear exchange, “the designer recommends dousing the game map in lighter fluid and striking a match.”

    Good stuff.

  • No one’s mentioned Tactics II yet. Please don’t leave me feeling like the oldest one around here!

  • I suspect that if one surveyed men and women as to their level of interest in these games, (especially those relating to war strategy), the result would likely reflect greater interest by men than women.
    Of course if there was a Jane Austen game focused on her novels and characters, I would sign on forthwith. : )

  • slainte: I always wanted to be a spy, but I followed my vocation and brought five children into the world. Some time later I realized that I would not have survived or made a very good spy.
    I like Jane Austen for the good she brought to her culture.

  • Ms. De Voe,

    I commend you on your wise decision to become a mom and bear five immortal beings.
    “But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her”. Luke 10:42
    I love to read Jane Austen as her characters disclose much about the human condition and the moral constraints of a golden age. Their reflections on virtue and honor, and even the vices, are timeless in their application.
    Some years ago, I visited Bath, England to attempt to capture the reality of Jane’s novels…proverbially stepping back in time to another age. I stood gawking at the Hanoverian wonders…the Circus, the Royal Crescent, and the wonders of a much earlier age…the Pump Room and Roman Baths with their greenish, lead tainted waters and surrounding antique statues.
    Such fun….only later did I learn that Jane Austen disliked residing in Bath and was happy to leave. I concluded that she must be daft. : )
    Now how might one translate an Austen novel into a game of strategy and chance…a war between the virtues and the vices?

  • Not mentioned here but every bit as fun were “Play-by-mail” strategy games. The upsides were that the play board was a modern atlas and the pieces were limited only to the imaginations of the players.
    The downside is that they were moderated, so if a player was more adept than and strategically superior to a moderator, the plans were ususally misunderstood and not executed correctly until the player was able to explain the order of battle in more explicit detail. While this is a necessary condition for victory in most cases anyway, the one battle that was lost because the moderator misunderstood was always taken the same way as a ball game lost because the ref blew the call.
    Nonetheless, there was little to compare with the thrill of opening the mailbox and finding a $3.00-postage envelope stuffed with battle outcomes, salvage totals and casualty lists.
    I remember the very first time I transmitted production expansion and battle plans via modem to the moderator’s AOL account with a 9600-baud modem. It was only marginally quicker than the mail.

  • My family and friends still play Axis and Allies, which has a great balance between overly simplistic Risk type games and the more technical board games like SPI. I detest playing Risk. Too much chance, too little strategy and flips have too much impact on in determining the winner.

  • slainte: “I commend you on your wise decision to become a mom and bear five immortal beings.” The best thing I ever did. A woman cannot grow another arm or leg. A woman can grow another person.
    “I love to read Jane Austen as her characters disclose much about the human condition and the moral constraints of a golden age.” “the moral constraints of a golden age” Could it have been a golden age when only men could vote and inherit property, on the chance that men would all be gentlemen and not cads or “gold diggers”, when infants were promised in marriage at birth? I am so much happier in our day and age. Now if only I could invent a game to focus on these problems. Can you imagine a game of players marrying to obtain an estate? Oh, that is monopoly.

  • Mary De Voe wrote,
    “….Could it have been a golden age when only men could vote and inherit property, on the chance that men would all be gentlemen and not cads or “gold diggers”, when infants were promised in marriage at birth? I am so much happier in our day and age”
    No matter the travails of that age Mary…I cannot read or watch “Pride and Prejudice” and not want to be transported back to that time and place….even with the possibility of cads and gold diggers lurking about.
    Have a look at this video…..accompanied by a glass of wine, of course. Perhaps you will agree?
    Elizabeth is every bit as masterful a strategist in capturing Darcy (while letting him think he caught her) as the men who strategize to win war games. : )

  • slainte: Thank you, thank you for the link. I watched the whole 6 episodes last night. Here with is my take:
    Mr. and Mrs. Bennett never went to bed enjoying each other’s company. Mr. Bennett did not cherish his wife. What did he expect of his children, who were embarrassed for their parents. The fact that Mr. Bennett relied on his daughter, Lizzie, instead of his wife and later rejected Lizzie’s advice is troubling. The proper behavior was exemplified by Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. Mr. Gardiner, the brother of Mrs. Bennett, calmed and reassured her, whereas, Mr. Bennett was rather smug and distant. A firm hand in the smaller sqirmishes would have gone a long way to bring peace to the household. Mr. Bennett grew. Mrs. Bennett grew. Mr. Darcy grew. Lizzie knew who she was. I liked Mr. Bingley. Most of this idiocy might not have been, were women given the vote and were free to own land and given inheritance. Job gave his daughters an inheritance. Only landowners voted, so only men voted. Women, especially, if they were cherished by their spouses would have had inheritance and land. The only way this could have happened is if the estate were sold and the proceeds given to the wife and family before the death of the husband.
    The acknowledgement of the human person by the curtsy and bow was indeed spectacular. War of self-defense and survival is indeed the only game to play. War of aggression will only teach players how to hog the road down home.
    If I were to choose a part in the story, I would enjoy playing the histrionics of Mrs. Bennett. Were I a man, I would enjoy playing the obsequiousness of Mr. Collins. I couldn’t do the part played by Barbara Leigh-Hunt, of Rosings Park. I appreciated the servants, some of whom had more class and character than the principals. The artificial teeth and hairpieces to make some of the characters less attractive also tickled me.
    A game to cast lots to see into which class one might be born and how one might play out one’s life might be fun.
    The courtesy and deference were indeed uplifting and would make one want to return to those days.

  • Mary Devoe wrote, “….Mr. and Mrs. Bennett never went to bed enjoying each other’s company. Mr. Bennett did not cherish his wife. What did he expect of his children, who were embarrassed for their parents…”
    I am happy that you enjoyed “Pride and Prejudice” and commend you for having watched all six episodes; I can assure you the novel is even better. While you are an acknowledged Bingley fan, I am most definitely a Darcy fan; he is quite amazing as is Colin Firth. : )
    Thank you for your insight regarding Mr. and Mrs. Bennett; I confess to never having paid much heed to the dynamics of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett’s marital relationship, yet your observation is spot on. The couple is dis-engaged from each other; almost estranged. There is no touching of the other, or uplifting verbal communication, or shared laughter, or even sitting comfortably with each other. He hides behind his newspaper or sits away from her pretending to be engrossed in financial records, and she remains turned away from him, issuing frenzied orders to her daughters, and complaining to him of matters over which he has no control. She is so fixated on her own sense of financial in-security that she unwittingly and publicly emasculates him in her search for quick-fix solutions. She further breaks all rules of propriety and protocol when she publicly proclaims her match-making strategy to an assembled group of strangers; clearly a matter best reserved for private conversation. Yet Mr. Bennett is not without blame; as her husband and head of the family, he should have assumed control and guided his wife and daughters to secure their well being. By neglecting these duties, his indifference resulted in chaos for the entire family. His love for his daughters, though, is apparent when he laments to Elizabeth, who is leaving for vacation, that he shall miss her and Jane as he will have no one else with whom to enjoy intelligent conversation.
    Your point, Mary, is well taken about the perilous role occupied by women in 18th century England. English commonlaw assigned women a status akin to chattel…divesting them of any right of ownership of property, inheritance, or of making a living. Women were completely beholden to their sons and/or male relations for food and shelter in the event of a husband’s premature demise. Those who had no male relatives were at a significant disadvantage and quite possibly faced financial ruin. Much of Mrs. Bennett’s panic is directly related to her not having borne that all important male heir. Her future well being, and that of her daughters, was thus contingent on the whims of a distant male relation and heir to the Bennett estate, the very obsequious Mr. Collins. Yet none of this can be blamed on Mr. Bennett as he is as much a victim of the legal status of women as his wife. His weakness, if one can be identified, was his indifference to his wife’s panic and a failure to assert dominion over the situation. As a consequence, his wife assumed control, and in so doing, emasculated him, embarrassed the family, and created distance in their marriage.
    I agree with your assessment of the Gardiners; they are a loving and well balanced couple who enjoy each other’s company after many years of marriage. And I have no doubt that Jane and Bingley, and Elizabeth and Darcy would follow suit. All in all, “Pride and Prejudice” is still good fun despite the passage of two hundred plus years since Jane Austen wrote it.
    If you are interested Mary, I would also recommend the novel and movie rendition of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”. Here is the link to the trailer.
    Have fun.

Star Trek Medley

Saturday, January 11, AD 2014

Something for the weekend.  A medley of the Star Trek theme songs.  Ah, what memories they evoke of the endless hours I have wasted watching the various Star Trek shows!  Shatner of course had the best comment regarding obsessive Star Trek viewing.  Go here to view his comment.

Heresy!  Of course at the end of the skit we learn that Shatner was merely demonstrating what the evil Captain Kirk from the “Mirror Mirror” universe would have said to faithful Star Trek fans!  (What a relief!)

That leaves us free to debate important, meaningful questions.  What was the best Star Trek original episode?  I vote for Balance of Terror:

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7 Responses to Star Trek Medley

  • Obviously The Trouble with Tribbles is the penultimate episode in the original Star Trek Series. As explained in Trials and Tribblelations the triibbles destroyed the Klingon empire.

  • “Ah, what memories they evoke of the endless hours I have wasted watching the various Star Trek shows!” Saturday Night Live Sunday Morning Dead. My rule of thumb: Is the movie worth two hours of my life?

  • That medley is FANtastic, Donald.

  • When I was in college (and living at home – my dad would NEVER have paid for a dorm room for me and I certainly didn’t have it) I was doing the dishes for my mom who had a hard day at work. I asked my youngest brother if there were any glasses in the living room. His response was, “Sensors indicate none.”

    The Trouble with Tribbles was one of the the best. Also up there was “A Piece of the Action”, where Kirk & Company found themselves on a planet that imitated 1920s Chicago organized crime. Shatner was his usually hammy self, but it was easy to see he had fun making the episode.

    One episode worth mentioning was when the Enterprise found itself on a world where Imperial Pagan Rome never fell. The resistance to the empire was made of people who followed “the Son”. Kirk and Spock mistook it for sun worship and were set straight by Uhura, who told them they were followers of Jesus Christ.

    The battle between Kirk and the Gorn is classic. “I will be merciful and quick!” is fun to say when you’ve had a few adult beverages. Another great episode is when Kirk, bones and Scotty are in the universe with the evil Spock.

    A buddy of mine has a CD of all of the classic Star Terk music.

  • I loved Balance of Terror and I also loved Mirror Mirror. My two favorites. The Gorn episode (a Race that needed to be more featured in all of the next franchises) was great also.

  • Robert, Mirror Mirror is my second favorite episode and it was a close runner up to Balance of Terror.

  • Spock in a goatee = evil. It’s logical when you think about it. 🙂 loved it. I play Star Trek Online (STO) now and then and I love the Mirror Mirror episode in that too :)…

Review of the Hobbit Trilogy

Saturday, December 28, AD 2013

(Language advisory for the video;   apparently the first film made the reviewer extra grumpy.)

The above video shall serve as a review for the entire Hobbit trilogy.  I saw part II last week and I was certain, perhaps in what felt like the fiftieth hour, that time had ceased and eternity begun.  You know a movie based on The Hobbit is bad, when by the end you are rooting for Smaug to be unleashed on Peter Jackson and his merry band of let’s-see-how-much-money-we-can-flog-out-of-this-dead- Hobbit!  Ah, well, we will always have The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

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7 Responses to Review of the Hobbit Trilogy

  • Have to agree with the sentiment – it got boring watching more of the same in Lord of the Rings.
    But I have a nephew who is a real purist and he has been to see this second release three time already.
    But its not a bad thing sitting and watching the unrolling panorama of some of the spectacular scenery of Godzone 🙂 Just makes you wanna get here, don’t it? Even then, I suppose, the continued repetition of the same beauty can become boring – after all, its not REAL heaven, y’know – just looks like it. 🙂

  • Ah, well, we will always have The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    As long as you’re aware that by putting Eomer’s words in Theoden’s mouth, Jackson et. al. completely subverted Tolkien’s intention for the Rohirrim at Pelennor, I guess.

    I’ll admit I get a thrill, nevertheless, every time I watch that particular scene.

    Maybe now we have a sense of how the Battle of the Hornburg would have played out had fear of the fans not given pause. Too bad Jackson lost it.

  • A slight correction Don. Central Illinois is God’s Country, Satan, of course, having staked a claim to Cook County. 🙂

  • The first of the “”Hobbit”” (double “s used deliberately) was so chock-full of emendations, edits, changes, shifts, additions, subtractions and tomfoolery that they should very much emphasize the “Based” on Tolkien’s novel, and add the term “Loosely” in front. I have been debating whether to see the second.

  • Husband’s review: nice movie, shame there’s no book for it.

    We do now know why they wanted Aragorn to be there, though– so he could fall for the Mary Sue.

    When you tell a movie maker to have a kid look at the movie, it’s supposed to be to find plotholes, not to help insert “romance” or write dialog.

  • Making There And Back Again, The Hobbit, just another version and theme of the Trilogy Lord of the Rings was a huge disappointment and unfortunately almost guarantees that a good version will never be made. Alas poor Bilbo, I knew him well.

  • There’s one place on the American map where being an Orc-at-heart is a “survival skill.” Driving on Massachusetts’ busiest and highways east of Worcester County is where you’ll find more Orcish creatures this side of New Zealand.

The Original Klingon

Sunday, November 3, AD 2013

Well we haven’t had a Star Trek post in a while and my Chief Geek credentials for the blog need refreshing.  The idea of the Klingons being Shakespeare fans never struck me as far fetched.  The Bard after all has his admirers in all cultures here on Earth and the Germans often refer to him as unser (our) Shakespeare.  Granted that even Shakespeare has his moments of tedium but for those reared on the form of endless torture known as Klingon opera, that would be of no moment.

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3 Responses to The Original Klingon

Constitution Day: Star Trek Style!

Tuesday, September 17, AD 2013


One of the “alternate Earth” episodes that became fairly common as the original Star Trek series proceeded, as explained by Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development, and by limited production budgets,  this episode featured an Earth where a cataclysmic war had driven the Americans, the Yangs, out of their cities and into primitive warbands.  Chinese Communists, the Kohms, settled in America.  Their technology was a few steps higher than the Yangs.  The Yangs had been waging a war for generations to drive the Kohms from their land, and the episode coincided with the Yangs taking the last of “the Kohm places”.

Over the generations, the Yangs had forgotten almost all of their history and what little knowledge remained was restricted to priests and chieftains.

“Cloud William: Freedom?

James T. Kirk: Spock.

Spock: Yes, I heard, Captain.

Cloud William: It is a worship word, Yang worship. You will not speak it.

James T. Kirk: Well, well, well. It is… our worship word, too.”

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7 Responses to Constitution Day: Star Trek Style!

  • Actually, I have always believed this episode to be a pretty straight copy of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel “The Red Hawk”, the third book in the “Moon Maid” series. The novel involves the end of a several century war by the nomadic remnants of Americans fighting against invaders from the moon who have themselves declined to a more primitive civilization. The Americans eventually utterly destroy the invaders, under the banner of an flag reminiscent of Old Glory – a flag to which is ascribed magical powers. Apparently Burroughs originally wanted the novel to be about an invasion of the US by communists and the centuries long struggle to defeat them, but the publisher balked, so he wrote it as a sci-fi novel instead

  • The Constitution for the United States of America is the Law of the Land because it is written for “We, the people,” “for ourselves and our posterity” and is inclusive of all. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks of a Law of the Land that limits the artificial person of government to the duties and obligations inscribed in The Preamble. A Law of the Land that prevents government from using the constitution to inveigh against freedom, to impose tyranny, usurp the sovereign persons’ civil rights and subjugate its citizens as subjects, no longer free men. A Law of the Land that acknowledges man’s right to be free.
    Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights. Human existence is man, body and soul, rational, immortal human soul, endowed with free will, sovereign personhood and intellect. Man comes into being when “their Creator” creates for him a soul at fertilization of the egg by the sperm. The first thing the newly conceived human being does is create the office of mother and father. Simultaneously, the newly begotten human being constitutes the state through his sovereign personhood and all this through his act of his free will, an act of a living human person.
    That Roe v. Wade gave custody of the existing human being to the individual who intended his destruction is a misinterpretation of “our posterity”. That the court gave custody of Terry Schiavo to the individual who intended her death is another miscarriage of Justice. Justice is predicated on intent. Intent to end human life is not inscribed in the Preamble because all men are created equal and there is no other human being with the authentic authority to end human life. Capital one punishment is enacted through the rejected power of attorney of the convicted murderer. The executioner represents the murderer. The unborn and Terry Schiavo became the wards of the Court. The Court refused to secure the blessings of Liberty for them.
    Taxes belong to the taxpayer even as taxes are administered by the administration. Taxes and war can only be declared by Congress, the will of the people. Cruel and unusual punishment is outlined in Obamacare through the IRS. The seizing of personal property without eminent domain and without equal compensation are unconstitutional. Congress has not enabled the IRS to access bank accounts to confiscate cruel and unusual penalties for Obamacare.
    The Constitution limits government in every aspect to being Just.

  • What a wonderful, succinct and compleat delineation of the meaning of the US Constitution! Thank you

  • Love the classic Star Trek reference. I remember it well! It was an odd series with a mixture of traditionalism and progressivism, though almost always watchable (aside from the boring birth control episode).

    Other good political messages can be found in the one on the Nazi planet, and “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” with Frank “Riddler” Gorsham. The black/white makeup comes across as a hamfisted race relations lecture, yet the actual dialogue is much more subtle since the guerrilla leader Lokai is clearly an unsympathetic loudmouth and it is the elitist Bele that Kirk tries to dialogue with. For those with a sense of nuance it shows that old liberal dichotomy of “revolutionary” vs. “fascist” is not so useful, and that the former can be just as implacable and hate-filled as the latter.

  • Roddenberry was a fairly doctrinaire liberal, but he didn’t direct the show. Additionally some of the best scripts were not written by him. Many of the shows had a fair amount of complexity which I enjoy. Compared to contemporary television some of it reads like Shakespeare which is a sad commentary on the crumbling literacy of our day.

  • @Donald – I don’t know if I’m misunderstanding you…are you saying that books today are less intelligent today then they were back in the 60’s/70’s or that kids today don’t read as many books?
    I might agree with you on the former but the latter is a misconception. Kids today read more than adults and seniors do according to Pew Research. This article summarizes the Pew document:
    The Pew info:

  • I am saying that television, in general, is less literate than it was in the sixties and that literacy standards are less than they used to be. As for kids reading more, if one counts the time they are parked in front of a computer that may be true, although I doubt it. Considering how many kids these days tend to be couch potatoes, judging from the deserted parks in the summer, maybe they are reading slightly more, but I doubt if what they are reading is increasing their literacy, at least judging from the declining literacy of college graduates:

Prime Directive Debate

Tuesday, September 17, AD 2013

(This post is from 2009.  I haven’t had a Star Trek geek post in a while and I thought it would be fun to repost this.  We had a good discussion the first go round and I hope we will again.)

“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.”

Yesterday Darwin had a thought provoking post about the impact of technologically advanced cultures on less developed cultures.  In the combox discussion there were frequent references to the Prime Directive of Star Trek.  This of course gives me an excellent excuse for posting this examination of the Prime Directive and for me to burnish my credentials as the “Geekier-Than-Thou” member of this blog.Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki, has a good discussion here of what the Prime Directive is:

“The Directive states that members of Starfleet are not to interfere in the internal affairs of another species, especially the natural development of pre-warp civilizations, either by direct intervention, or technological revelation. When studying a planet’s civilization, particularly during a planetary survey, the Prime Directive makes it clear that there is to be “No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space, other worlds, or advanced civilizations.” (TOS: “Bread and Circuses”) Starfleet personnel are required to understand that allowing cultures to develop on their own is an important right and therefore must make any sacrifice to protect cultures from contamination, even at the cost of their own lives.

The Prime Directive is not enforced upon citizens of the Federation. Under the rules as defined in the Directive, a Starfleet crew is forbidden from removing citizens who have interfered with the culture of a world. Violating the directive can result in a court-martial for the offending Starfleet officer or crew. (TNG: “Angel One”)

In all, there are 47 sub-orders in the Prime Directive. (VOY: “Infinite Regress”)

Originally the Directive was a shield for primitive worlds. If such a world was in danger, Starfleet had been known to order ships to save that world, provided it could be done without violating the Directive. (TOS: “The Paradise Syndrome”)

The Directive was later amended, prohibiting Starfleet officers from intervening even if non-intervention would result in the extinction of an entire species or the end of all life on a planet or star system. By the 24th century the Federation had begun applying the Prime Directive to warp-capable species, refusing to interfere in internal matters such as the Klingon Civil War. (TNG: “Pen Pals”, “Homeward”, “Redemption”, “Redemption II”).”

The video that opens this post is from The Star Trek The Next Generation episode Pen Pals, and illustrates well the moral ambiguity that often ensued when Star Fleet officers were faced with a Prime Directive situation.   How can you turn your back on people who need your aid?  How can you be sure that such aid will not have long term calamitous results for the entities you sought to aid?  Is the Prime Directive an absolute as Lieutenant Worf contended, or is there room for interpretation?  What is the guiding purpose of the Prime Directive?

I think that Picard nails it when he says that the Prime Directive was intended for relieving Star Fleet officers from making intervention decisions when their emotions were aroused.  In a time when Star Fleet captains with enormous power at their disposal are often far from the direct control of the Federation I can see much wisdom in this policy.  Of course there are problems with the Prime Directive.

1.    The first problem is that it didn’t work in practice. When the Prime Directive is mentioned in one of the shows, the odds were heavy that the good guys were going to stomp all over the Prime Directive for some noble end.  Some sophistical justification was usually tacked on at the end to justify the violation, but the violation remained clear and glaring.  No consequence resulted from the violation, so one could be excused from assuming that no one in Star Fleet high command really took the Prime Directive all that seriously.

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5 Responses to Prime Directive Debate


    Particularly your last line. The Prime Directive is what happens when a society eschews religion/faith in favor of pure logical ethics. Ethics can save you from making many mistakes, but they can’t be a moral compass. When your lizard brain is screaming at you to help someone in need and your ethics say you shouldn’t…your ethics are probably wrong.

  • I agree with Matt Souders – BINGO:

    “The Prime Directive is an interesting concept but it pales before ‘You will love your neighbor as yourself.'”

    “When your lizard brain is screaming at you to help someone in need and your ethics say you shouldn’t…your ethics are probably wrong.”

  • PS, I amend what I wrote to also address the case of an alcoholic or addict in the throes of his addiction, for whom often “help” only serves to enable the continuation of his addiction. In such cases “non-interference” – letting him reach his bottom – is exactly the help he needs.

  • Some solid “geeky” philosophy. But seriously… well put.

  • Well, ST would have been much more boring if they hadn’t violated the Prime Directed at whim. I’m not a geek and never followed the subsequent series. One problem is that any contact is to some extent interference.
    Even if the first Spaniards had been defeated by the natives just the knowledge of horse-mounted strangers bearing wonder weapons would rock their world view.

    I prefer the “noninterference” policy in The Mote in God’s Eye King David’s Spaceship by Jerry Pournelle, which address #2 and #3.
    The 1st Empire has fallen, the Second Empire is reestablishing itself and bringing worlds into the empire based on their tech level, forbidding import of new tech. A classic example of interference is the Church introducing improvements in agriculture, medicine and sanitation to a primitive planet. The health practices catch on, the agricultural do not. Plagues decrease but famine reigns.

    In SF often sees a variant “Do unto others as THEY would have you do unto them.” which brings up the ethics vs. morality problem.
    You’re right, we should go with “You will love your neighbor as yourself.” BUT with the caveat that we make we make sure we understand the situation. With aliens we would no doubt see some things that appear repugnant but are natural to them? Or part are part of their culture that needs to be eradicated like racism? It might well take some time to figure out.

On Vacation 2013

Sunday, August 11, AD 2013


Family on Vacation

I am on vacation this week with my family.  My internet connection in the coming week will range from intermittent to non-existent.  I will have posts for each day I am away on the blog, but if something momentous occurs, for example:  Elvis is discovered working at a Big Boy’s in Tulsa, the Pope issues a Bull against blogging as a complete waste of time, or Obama reveals that Area 51 does contain aliens and Joe Biden has accidentally started an intergalactic war with them, I trust that this post will explain why I am not discussing it.

Among other activities we will be attending the Gen Con Convention in Indianapolis, a pilgrimage the McClarey clan makes each year to renew our uber-Geek creds.  If any of you are close to Indianapolis and you have never attended, it is worth a drive to see tens of thousands of role players, board gamers and computer gamers in Congress assembled.  If nothing else you will go home reassured as to how comparatively normal you are.  Last year’s attendance was in excess of 41,000 and there are multitudes of gaming related events.  A good symbol of the holy grail of nerdiness that is Gen Con is here.  Below is a Gen Con video  which gives a nice feel for the magnitude of the convention.


My wife and daughter participate in the live action dungeon at Gen Con.  I do not participate due to my great personal dignity, and because I doubtless would cry in anguish as my character was slain two seconds into the dungeon!  I normally hang around at the game auction along with most of the grognard veteran gamers, i.e. geezer gamers.  The type of wackiness that goes on at Gen Con is best symbolized in this video which has nothing to do with Gen Con but which certainly has the Gen Con spirit.  (Hattip to Pauli at Est Quod Est.)

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3 Responses to On Vacation 2013

  • Have fun! At least you aren’t going to Brony Con. Now those people are out there.

  • The ultimate in escapism! 😉

    I couldn’t stand it – but enjoy yourself. I trust you will emerge as your usual self and not some cyber hero/villain/character.

  • “…Obama reveals that Area 51 does contain aliens and Joe Biden has accidentally started an intergalactic war with them…”

    Actually, I think Biden is a space alien. Its the only plausible explanation.

American Gothic and Ma and Pa Kent

Tuesday, May 14, AD 2013

A first-rate video on Grant Wood’s American Gothic (1930).  One of the more famous pictures at the Art Institute in Chicago, I have long admired it.  Endlessly interpreted, the  picture lends itself to a Rorschach  type of test where what the viewer says about the painting says more about the interpreter than it does about the painting.

Whenever I look at it, I have always thought of Jonathan and Martha Kent, the fictional foster parents of Superman.  The date of the painting would have been when the future Superman would have been around 11 based on his original chronology.  The Kents would have been desperate to keep their beloved son, just beginning the mastery of his awesome powers, away from the notice of the World.  The figures in the painting seem to me to be keeping a great secret.  They look suspiciously at the viewer.  The shades on their house are drawn.  The averageness of the couple is belied by their desire to keep prying eyes away from that house.  At the same time there is nothing that gives any hint of evil about the man and woman.  They simply have something great that has been placed into their care and they wish to protect it from outsiders.

The association of the painting with the Superman saga is not original to me.  In Superman The Animated Series Mr. Mxyzptlk, the imp from another dimension who periodically torments Superman, turns Ma and Pa Kent into a facsimile of the painting.

One can imagine the encounter that led to the painting.

From the diary of Jonathan Kent:

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2 Responses to American Gothic and Ma and Pa Kent

  • Mr. McClarey,
    A few months ago you featured Jack Kirby in this space and now this. As life-long comic reader/collector, I really appreciate these respites from the dire political news.
    My father was a farmer and I am not too sure that men like him would have kept a diary but this was marvelous regardless of its likelihood.

  • Thank you George! I agree that most farmers I have known would not have kept diaries, but then again I have never known a farmer who was a foster parent of a superhero!

4 Responses to Shatner Gives Acting Advice

Europa Universalis the Musical!

Tuesday, April 2, AD 2013

When I am not in the law mines, attending to family matters or blogging, I can often be found playing grand strategic historical computer games.   I have gotten quite a bit of enjoyment out of the Europa Universalis games put out by the Swedish game company Paradox, which allows you to lead virtually any country on the globe from the Fifteenth Century up to the Napoleonic period.  Go here to download a demo of Europa Universalis III.

On April 1, 2013 those wild and crazy Swedes at Paradox released a video, above, detailing their plans for Europa Universalis the Musical!  Ah, if twere only true.  Nerd Heaven!

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