The Closing of the Science Fiction Mind

Tuesday, May 13, AD 2014

If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451



I have read science fiction since I first learned to read as a child.  I enjoyed the exposure to new ideas and the frequently iconoclastic opinions, many of which I disagreed with, by the great authors of the field:  Asimov, Heinlein, Anderson, Dickson, etc.  Their imagination and writing skills took me far away from the small town in which I lived and enlivened my life by revealing to me that books could be tickets to strange worlds and stranger people.  They helped to teach me to like to read and to like to think, both of which I have found handy throughout my life.  It is sad then to see that science fiction in this country is now beset by those who wish to impose a stifling political orthodoxy on it.  John C. Wright, a science fiction writer and a convert from atheism to Catholicism, gives us the details:

Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.

If you are a fan of science fiction, you know how shocking that statement is. If you are not a science fiction fan, I salute you for having better things to do with your time than read stories about space princesses being rescued from bug-eyed monsters by stalwart and clean-limbed fighting men of Virginia; but please let me explain why this is shocking.

Robert Heinlein is without doubt the leading writer in the science fiction field. He was the first to break into the slick magazines or into hardcover. Were it not for him, science fiction would still be languishing in a literary ghetto, no more popular than niche-market stories about samurai or railroad executives.

He was a gadfly. Heinlein’s two most famous novels are Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land. The first challenges the orthodoxy of the Left as much as the second does that of the Right. But in his day, few science fiction readers were offended by his or anyone’s ideas. Science fiction was proud to be a literature of the new and startling. A spirit of intellectual fearlessness was paramount.

A darker time followed. The lamps of the intellect were put out one by one, first in society at large, then in literature, then in our little corner called science fiction. What we have now instead is a smothering fog of caution, of silence, of an unwillingness to speak for fear of offending the perpetually hypersensitive.

Science fiction is under the control of the thought police. The chains are invisible, but real. For a genre that glories in counting George Orwell as one of its own, this is ironic, to say the least.

Myriad examples exist. Orson Scott Card publicly expressed the mildest imaginable opposition to having judges overrule popular votes defining marriage in the traditional way. The uproar of hate directed against this innocent and honorable man is vehement and ongoing. An unsuccessful boycott was organized against the movie Ender’s Game, but he was successfully shoved off a project to write for Superman comics.

Got that? The award-winning Mr. Card, one of the finest science fiction writers today, was forced off the project because the dictates of his religious faith (not to mention his faith in democracy over rule by activist judges) did not agree with the political beliefs of the thought police.

No one accused him of attempting to write a Superman story belittling homosexuals, or belittling anyone. Sales would have grown, not fallen. This was not about money or hurt feelings. It was about this: if a man thinks what St. Paul thought about homosexual acts, he cannot write a children’s yarn about a friendly alien Hercules saving a spunky girl reporter from mad scientists or moon-apes.

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7 Responses to The Closing of the Science Fiction Mind

  • Excellent and very thought provoking.

  • Robert Heinlein was my all-time favorite. His “Time Enough for Love” was first on my list.

    Isaac Asimov with his “I, Robot” series and his “Foundation” series was second favorite.

    I did not agree with much of what either man wrote regarding philosophy or politics, but they challenged me to think and to dream.

    With liberal progressive Democrats all I get are stifling nightmares where I cannot even scream.

    I hate godless liberal progressive Democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

  • I think I’ve replied to a similar post previously. I too am (was?) a science-fiction fan,
    since the 30’s and my first issue of Amazing stories, with a dragon-like alien menacing a full-breasted beauty in a transparent space-suit.
    I’ve stopped reading because of the political correctness. Forty or fity years ago Theodore Sturgeon, Ursula Le Guin and others explored novel types of sexuality in a thought-provoking way. Issues of mind control, political authority were dealt with as debatable.
    I’ve restricted myself now to rereading classics that adhere to faith–Robert Hugh Benson’s “Lord of the World”, C.S. Lewis’s “Out of the Silent Planet” trilogy, Walter Miller’s “A Canticle for Liebowitz”, R.A. Lafferty’s and Gene Wolfe’s stories.

  • (Great writing and good timing. Watching an episode of Cosmos last night with all the solemn references and flashy graphics on global warming made me ill.)

    Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy is my personal favorite. Trying to include warped same sex relationships in that story, is to tell a story of a doomed civilization. But we have hope, and assurance…

    I have come to believe that in the end, this war on the nature of: man, woman, marriage and family, will not end well for those who promote such things. (something of the Logic in the Foundation series is there in this thinking… ) And the True Church, having alone survived, will rise from the dead. As,, “it has happened before, in fact many times before. G.K.C.”

  • I’m not a reader of science fiction but when I do get into it, the part I like is the religious or moral overtones. We live on a scientific age and science is a great mystery – which leaves plenty of room for imaginative play and ontological speculation.
    So the story thread in science fiction flights of fancy, is morality and meaning and purpose. Just like in any good story. We love mystery and we love God ( at least allusions to) the import of life and love even in our tales of “what if.”
    I had never heard of Mr Card and his troubles, but I am not surprised.

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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 :)…

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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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.

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5 Responses to Happy Constitution Day!

  • Isaiah 50:4c-9a Sunday, September 16, 2012 reading:
    “If anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let that man confront me. See, the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong?
    If anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let that man confront me.” : Habeas Corpus, a person must be confronted by his accuser in a court of law. No trials in absentia. “See, the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong?” Two witnesses will establish a judicial fact. One witness is no witness. The Magna Carta and The U.S. Constitution based on Judeo-Christian principles found in Isaiah.

    The militant feminists have embraced Roe v. Wade, the miscarriage of Justice against the newly created sovereign soul of the human being. The abortionists work to erase the Preamble to our Constitution which identifies “our posterity” as one of the reasons for the Constitution, as well as the Ninth Amendment which reiterates the sovereignty of the person as coming from our Creator inscribed in our Declaration of Independence. Being as it is, that the sovereign soul is endowed with life from the very first moment of conception, the sovereign person is present in the very first cell of every human being’s existence as “I AM”. “I AM” is the sovereign person scraped from the womb in abortion through the miscarriage of Justice called Roe v. Wade.

  • 1787 – 2012, so 225 years old
    (and surviving euthanasia attempts … )

    For the occasion, I found my parents’ beyond yellowed copy that I kept because the notations are good, if sad in light of how the Constitiution is getting ignored and worse.
    It seems that the House and Senate hold power to protect it, but these people aren’t doing anything to do so because why? Or is the media not saying?

    From Thomas James Norton’s book, 1951 edition,
    The Constitution of the United States:
    Its Sources and Its Application
    A Handbook for Citizens and Public Officials

    [1st ]
    On the cover is the OATH taken by all Officers elected or appointed to Civil or Armed Services:

    I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
    that I willl bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
    that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;
    and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter so help me God.

    [2nd & interesting]
    Next to the copyright page …

    Our Constitution – Civil Bible of America

    Menaced by collectivist trends, we must seek revival of our strength in the spiritual foundations which are the bedrock of our republic. Democracy is the outgrowth of the religious conviction of the sacredness of every human life. On the religious side, its highest embodiment is the Bible; on the political, the Constitution. As has been said so well, “The Constitution is the civil bible of Americans.” Next to the Bible, the best book on the Constitution should be in every home, school, library, and parish hall.

    page signed by 10 people …
    Herbert C Hoover
    Alfred E Smith
    Alfred M Landon
    Mrs. Calvin Coolidge
    Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt
    James M Cox
    John W Davis
    Mrs. William H Taft
    Mrs. Benjamin Harrison
    Frances Cleveland Preston

    [3rd – a picture]
    of George Washington presiding over the Constitutional Convention urging
    “a standard to which the wise and honest can repair”
    86 days from May 1787 to September 17, 1787.

    There’s so much more.
    Maybe the Preamble that Barney Fife learned then forgot, trusting that elected representatives were watchdogging for him is what happened to us.

  • PM “Maybe the Preamble that Barney Fife learned then forgot, trusting that elected representatives were watchdogging for him is what happened to us.”

    I was told in no uncertain terms that the Preamble to our Constitution was no longer the Law of the Land. Roe v. Wade was. That the founding fathers were old fashioned men over two hundred years old to be ridiculed, and no longer relevant.

    It is time to force our education establishment to teach our U.S. Constitution and our Declaration of Independence to our constitutional posterity with respect and intelligent citizenship. One might add The Emancipation Proclaimation.

  • “We have buried the putrid corpse of liberty.” Mussolini 1937/Obama 2013.

  • Mary DeVoe: The schools would need a computerized lesson for the students to do at their pace but it would probably be somehow slanted.

    Or! Captain Kirk could go on the commercials for finding good prices with an entree about what’s free for all people. They’d lend an ear.

Fortnight For Freedom Day Six: Freedom is not a “Worship Word”

Tuesday, June 26, AD 2012


Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.


Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.


The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.


We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the sixth of these blog posts.

Long time readers of this blog will not be surprised to see that I have managed to work a Star Trek episode into one of the Fortnight For Freedom posts!

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 stringent episode budgets,  the Omega Glory episode in the video clip at the beginning of this post 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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3 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Day Six: Freedom is not a “Worship Word”

Bread and Circuses

Friday, December 2, AD 2011





One of the best of the original Star Trek series was the episode Bread and Circuses.  First broadcast on March 5, 1968 during the second season, it was one of the parallel worlds episodes involving an earth like alien world, caused by Hodgkin’s Law of Planetary Development and Roddenberry’s Corollary:

The “Parallel Worlds” concept makes production practical by permitting action-adventure science fiction at a practical budget figure via the use of available “earth” casting, sets, locations costuming and so on.

The episode contains a sharp satire of the world of sixties television:

ANNOUNCER: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Live and direct from City Arena, and in colour, we bring you Name the Winner, brought to you tonight by your Jupiter Eight dealers from coast to coast. In just a moment, tonight’s first heat. We’re in a taped commercial, Proconsul. Forty seconds, then we’ll be back live.
(Claudius, Merik and Kirk take seats on a raised platform. Kirk is manacled, and there are two armed guards behind him. Spock and McCoy are brought out by two guards in full traditional dress.)
ANNOUNCER: Stand by. Ten seconds. And first tonight, ladies and gentlemen, a surprise extra. In the far corner, a pair of highly aggressive barbarians. Strong, intelligent, with strange ways, and I’m sure full of a lot of surprises. And facing them, two favorites here from previous encounters, Achilles and Flavius. (The canned applause is turned up by a bored sound effects man) Victory or death? And for which of them? Well, ladies and gentlemen, you know as much about that at this moment as I do because this is your programme. You name the winner.
FLAVIUS: I don’t mind fighting, but why you?
VOICE [OC]: Begin!
(Achilles takes on Spock. They are well matched. McCoy is against Flavius, and doesn’t know what to do with a short sword.)
ANNOUNCER: Flavius may be getting off to a slow start, but he’s never disappointed this crowd. A close one. The barbarian with the pointed ears seems to be in trouble.
SPOCK: I tell you I’m well able to defeat you.
ACHILLES: Fight, barbarian!
MERIK: Most of my men went the same way. I hoped I would feel it less with yours.
SPOCK: I do not want to injure you.
(The cat-calls and hisses are amplified. Flavius gets a taste of the whip.)
MASTER: Fight, you two. You bring this network’s ratings down, Flavius, and we’ll do a special on you.

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Favorite Star Trek Episode: Balance of Terror

Tuesday, September 27, AD 2011

Time to refresh my credentials as Chief Geek of TAC!

A condensed version of my favorite Star Trek episode Balance of Terror.  Originally broadcast on December 13, 1966, I have always found it riveting.  It introduced us to the Romulan Star Empire, an offshoot of the Vulcans.  Mark Lenard, one of the most underestimated actors of his generation, gives one of the best performances of the Star Trek franchise as the commander of a Romulan Bird of Prey vessel, equipped with a new cloaking device, making a foray into Federation territory.  Destroying Federation outposts along the Neutral Zone, his mission is to test Federation defenses.  If his mission is successful it will be the signal for an all-out Romulan invasion of the Federation.  Lenard portrays the commander as world-weary and tired.  An extremely able commander, he has seen too much of war, and dreads the massive interstellar conflict his political masters will unleash after he successfully completes his mission.  A Romulan of honor, he will do his duty even though he hates it.

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8 Responses to Favorite Star Trek Episode: Balance of Terror

Faster Than Light?

Monday, September 26, AD 2011

29 Responses to Faster Than Light?

  • Technically, Einstein’s postulates of Special Relativity (and thus General Relativity) don’t need the speed of light in vacuum to be the absolute speed limit, it only requires that there is a maximum! Now we will be talking about neutrino-years as measures of distances 😉

    Also, I, an astrophysicist-in-training (getting my PhD in a few), can assure you that GR works, and I can give an example that everyone uses on a regular basis: global positioning systems.

  • Unlike religion or politics, science will mercilessly pursue the evidence with repeated experiments

    Gotta love the totally gratuitous swipe at religion. What does the author (who identifies himself as a physicist) know about religion that he can make such a blanket statement? Has he himself mercilessly pursued the evidence regarding religion, or has he been a bit blinded by ideology?

    To some extent, his slam on politics is also inaccurate – polticians are notorious for following the opinion polls (i.e, evidence) of what the people want so they can tell them what they want to hear. Entire industries are built around it.

  • Dear Mr. Kanos,

    Please push your fellow scientists to work aggressively on this matter.

    I figure I have only forty or so years left until I face Judgment and there are a number of things that I’d like to do over. Being able to make time go backwards – I have specific dates in mind – would be quite useful to me.


  • *chuckles* There’s always a good chance that Einstein’s work, like that of those before him, is just very accurate where we can apply it and from where we’re looking. Part of why I like Star Trek’s FTL-by-slightly-changing-dimensions trick. (Come to think of it, isn’t there a theory that everything we think we know about space is only ‘true’ from a perspective like our own?)

  • I follow Lewis on that. It’s all picture-making.

  • A neutrino is an electrically neutrally particle that only weakly interacts with matter. It comes in three varieties or “flavors”: the electron neutrino, the muon neutrino and the tau neutrino. Each variety can be matter or anti-matter. Normally, a neutrino is given off in beta decay of radionuclides (for conservation of momentum), in fission events within nuclear reactors (my job speciality), and in fusion events within the sun.

    In the a beta decay where a neutrino is produced, a positron (the anti-matter beta) will be emitted from the nucleus and there will also be a gamma photon. However, if that decay produces an anti-neutrino, then an electron (the regular matter beta) will be emitted from the nucleus and there will also be a gamma photon. The rule of thumb is simple: regular electron means an anti-matter electron neutrino and a positron means a regular matter neutrino. These neutrino emissions are of the electron variety. Muon and tau neutrino emissions require much high energy levels.

    There is an issue with neutrino emission from the sun. Apparently electron neutrino emission is one third to one half of what the standard solar model predicts would happen from fusion within the sun (hydrogen nuclei fusing to form helium nuclei and releasing vast amounts of energy due to the conversion of mass into energy because hydrogen and helium nuclei occupy different positions on the binding energy per nucleon curve). Supposedly this deficit in electron neutrino emission could only happen if the neutrinos could switch flavors (e.g., transform from electron neutrino to muon neutrino) or oscillate. The oscillation implies that neutrinos have mass. Unfortunately I don’t have the time or mathematical ability to discuss this intelligently beyond reiterating what the scientists say.

    Now anything that has mass (like a neutrino or yourself or myself) cannot exist at light speed. The reason why is that the higher the velocity of a particle, the greater its mass until at light speed its mass is infinite:

    m = mo / [SQR ( 1-v^2/C^2 )]

    As velocity (V) approaches light speed (C), [(V^2)/(C^2)] approaches one. One minus one is zero. The square root of zero is zero. Rest mass divided by zero is undefined.

    So……we now have a report from CERN that neutrinos (I suspect electron neutrinos – I shall have to read the whole thing) have been found at greater than light speed. Of course, what’s true for the electron neutrino might likely be true for its muon and tau cousins. And if neutrinos do go faster than light, then there is a fundamental problem with the Theory of Relativity. There would also probably be something wrong with our understanding of the weak nuclear force under which beta decay (and neutrino emission) occurs, and the strong nuclear force (which binds quarks together into protons and neutrons, and keeps the integrity of the atomic nucleus). I wonder what Richard Feynman would say?

    We live in interesting times. (But I hope I didn’t make any embarrassing mistakes above.)

  • Whatever you say Paul! When it comes to science, other than the history of science, I retreat to History!

  • The Special Theory of Relativity is not Einstein’s in any meaningful sense. It was all worked by Larmor, Fitzgerald and Poincare before he came on the scene. (I do not have to warn you that you will come across a fair number of far-right sites if you google this.) Poincare was the scientist who gave the STR its modern garb. This is why all modern accounts start with something called the Poincare invariant and Poincare ‘boosts’ abound in calculations. Einstein’s gimmick was to take what others had painstakingly discovered, through experiment or profound examination of the foundations and declare them postulates. Thus he gets all the credit as a seer, whereas a great mathematician like Poincare (all of whose works the student Einstein read without acknowledgement), who did not accept that we needed to change our conceptions of space, time and simultaneity to the extend that the later development of relativity have it, is branded an unimaginative fellow – a ‘conventionalist’ if will. The hagiography surrounding Einstein is one of the wonders of the world.

    I do not know enough of the mathematics of the General Theory to handle it, but the claim that the viabilty of the GPS system proves the General Theory of Relativity is wrong. (See the internet discussions on this.)

  • I should have written – all of whose relevant works the student Einstein read…

  • I think Ivan is correct. Just look at the equation m = mo / [SQR ( 1-v^2/C^2 )] and you’ll see the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction as clear as day: ( 1-v^2/C^2 ). George Fitzgerald and Hendrick Lorentz came up with this in the late 1800s. I’ll leave the history to Donald. 😉

    I don’t know about the use of Global Positioning System devices proving or disproving relativity, but there are many confirmations in nature. For example, the bending of light rays around the sun was observed in 1919 as a confirmation of General Relativity which is built on Special Relativity – again, another history lesson in Donald’s court. A second example: the increase in particle masses as their velocity approaches light speed in a particle accelerator is consistent with the relativity equation provided above. A third example: the loss of mass in fission products compared with the mass of the Uranium-235 atom that fissioned on thermal neutron absorption: that loss is exactly consistent with the energy released in the fission event as plotted on the binding energy per nucleon curve, demonstating the validity of the famous equation, E = m * c^2. Coincidentally that fission event always releases 10 MeV of its 200 MeV of energy as electron neutrinos (which is the topic of the post that Donald made). The figures are a little different for fission of Uranium-233 and Plutonium-239, but the principle holds and relativity still appears valid.

    Therefore, to date, as far as I know (and none of us knows everything) each experimental test done to confirm or disprove relativity has in fact confirmed it till now – neutrinos being observed above (C) (which is 186,282 mps) at CERN.

  • Apparently these scientists didn’t get the memo :


  • To Paul D.’s point, can anyone explain why the discovery of a particle going faster than light speed necessarily implies that the arrow of time can be reversed? Time is a dimension like length, width and height or depth. It is the axis at right angles to length, width and height or depth. Of course visualizing that is very difficult (I can’t do it – not enough brain power). It’s like visualizing three pencils in your hands at right angles to each other and you try to make a fourth intersect at right angles. You can’t do that in three dimensional space.

    Now the unique thing about time is its arrow. It always goes from past to future. This means that events always have causes, and that events never precede their causation. To go backwards in time would invalidate this principle.

    However, there is something called charge – parity – time symmetry. I am not sure I understand this very well. Wikipedia states, “The implication of CPT symmetry is that a ‘mirror-image’ of our universe — with all objects having their positions reflected by an imaginary plane (corresponding to a parity inversion), all momenta reversed (corresponding to a time inversion) and with all matter replaced by antimatter (corresponding to a charge inversion)— would evolve under exactly our physical laws.”

    This symmetry can be violated on the quantum level. Supposedly there can be particles for which the arrow of time is reversed. Perhaps an example would be an anti-matter particle going forward in time might be an normal matter particle going backward in time. But maybe my explanation is bad because my brain can’t handle the math.

    Suffice it to say that time travel on a marcoscopic level is likely not possible. God set up the universe with an arrow in the fourth dimension pointed only one way and it’s just as well He did. The consequences otherwise would be devastating were man to discover how to go back in time.

    BTW, God being God is outside of space and time, matter and energy. He “sees” all the universe from the Big Bang 13.73 billion years ago to the cosmic dissipation billions and billions of years hence as one complete object. The miracle is that He decided to become incarnate – subject to the very laws of mathematics that He created. Perhaps we might consider Him a programmer using a software language called mathematics to create this universe. He isn’t in the run-time container (though as Jesus He did deign to go into the run-time container for a set period). He’s outside of space-time. But He doesn’t pull the strings as the Calvinist predestinationists thought. He lets the program run with the fuzzy logic built in – our free will, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, etc. He knows what will happen because He sees all of space-time now. But He lets us do what we will to do without programming our actions to occur. The program simply allows the actions. But I digress and talk about things on which I have no expertise. The point is that if we use the analogy of a software program (yes, a crude analogy), we can see why the program was designed to run in one direction and not another. It’s sort of like a Fortran program that starts at line 10 and runs to conclusion; there may be IF…THEN statements, GOTO statement, DO loops, etc., but the general progression is from beginning to end. Events never precede causes. That’s time. Does that make sense or am I all hosed up?

  • Well, C. S. Lewis had an idea that all talk of past, present and future in relation to God was pointless since he IS. This was Lewis’ idea of Eternal Now. See how Richard Land applies this to argue the Calvinist doctrine of predestination.

  • Sorry to post again, but yes, I do know that:

    Delta-t prime = Delta-t / SQR [ 1 – (v^2)/(C^2) ]

    This is “where Delta-t is the time interval between two co-local events (i.e. happening at the same place) for an observer in some inertial frame (e.g. ticks on his clock) – this is known as the proper time, Delta-t prime is the time interval between those same events, as measured by another observer, inertially moving with velocity v with respect to the former observer, v is the relative velocity between the observer and the moving clock, [and] c is the speed of light…” (Sorry, folks, I cheated and used Wikipedia.)

    Thus, the rate at which time proceeds for a particle at velocity (V) decreases as it approaches (C). We see this in the acceleration of radionuclides in particle accelerators. Their rate of decay slows down the faster they get. That means at light speed time would stop for them (which is clearly impossible because the particle’s mass would be undefined or infinite).

    So if we go above light speed, wouldn’t time go backwards? Well, the equation breaks down. (v^2)/(C^2) goes greater than one because (V) is greater than (C). One minus any number greater than one is always a negative number. The square root of a negative number is undefined. So I don’t necessarily buy into the reversal of time’s arrow UNLESS that reversal happens by going into a hidden dimension above four (there are Grand Unified Theories that speculate on dimensions up to 10 where in the Big Bang six remained rolled up but four unfolded: length, width, and height or depth). And once a particle goes into a hidden dimension, could it ever come out?

    I don’t think so. God designed time with an arrow for a reason – to keep us out of more trouble.

  • Paul Primavera- I really appreciate your analogy and thinks its an apt one which serves the purpose well. As for your statement that “Events never precede causes. That’s time.”, isn’t this a necessary logical truth of metaphysics?

  • Paul D., I think you are correct but I know little to nothing about metaphysics. I would say that what we know about physics today supports the validity of the metaphysics.

    However, as I was thinking about this whole thing, I recalled how back in Nuclear Power School decades ago we used to take the square root of negative numbers in electrical science class to define the relationship between real and reactive electrical power. We used the letter “i” (for “imaginary”) next to the number obtained by the square rooting process to denote that we had in fact taken the square root of a negative number. This could be used to explain the phase relationship between voltage and current coming out of a generator. Basically, they twist about each other in a sort of three-dimensional way, being themselves two dimensional.

    So if a particle goes faster than light, and time proceeds backwards for it, then would it not likewise twist but into a dimension above four just as two dimensional current and voltage can “twist” three dimensionally? But all this is surely just speculation. Once Charge – Parity – Time symmetry is violated, you can’t go back. The metaphysics says no, and the physics must follow.

    I am tired. Maybe I will think more clearly in the morning. I have to dig up all those old polar to rectangular coordinate equations so that Donald can be tortured with something other than history. 😉

  • Folks,

    I might have been incorrect in my last comment last night. I do recall something about the use of imaginary numbers (i.e., numbers resulting from taking the square root of a negative number) in electrical science classes a long time ago. I seem to recall this was in relation to computing impedance in resistive, capacitive and inductive circuits, and in calculating true, apparent and reactive power in AC systems. But while I was hoping to make an analogy with taking the square root of [ 1 – (V^2)/(C^2) ] when (V) is greater than (C), I just don’t remember the details. Too many brain cells have died in between US Naval Nuclear Power School and now. Suffice it to say that what happens to an object with a (V) equal to or greater than (C) is undefined and probably can’t occur in fourth dimensional space-time. In other words, events do not and cannot precede causes in space-time.

    Now the observation of neutrinos at a velocity greater than (C) at CERN raises some questions.

    (1) Is 186,282 mps in a vacuum – (C) – the speed limit for all particles of mass everywhere? In other words, might the speed limit be different depending on the type of particle being observed?
    (2) Or have neutrinos always existed a little above (C), and when at or below (C) they cease to exist? (This reminds me of tachyons – different topic for a different comment entry.)
    (3) Or does (C) as the speed limit change regardless of particle type and if yes, then what causes the speed limit to change?

    Regardless of the answers to these questions, I don’t think we will see time travel – at least not in our life times. The arrow of time holds valid.

  • These scientists are wrong. It’s neither the speed of light or neutrinos that are the fastest thing in the universe. It’s clearly a shopper heading to an empty checkout line.

  • Its interesting that these results are coming from CERN. One can only imagine the heads rolling, had it been announced from one of the hidebound US laboratories. Earlier CERN was in the news for some cloud experiments, that lent weight to Henrik Svensmark’s theory that much of the temperature rise that the global-warming cult would have us give up our freedom and comforts for, can in fact be traced to cosmic rays. Thus effectively dissipating the delirium of the champagne socialists as cosmic rays are beyond human control. I surmise that at least a few scientists at CERN have had ‘a road to Damascus’ experience after the failure to detect the Higgs particle and are now in full renegade mode.

  • @Paul Primavera: I do believe that, assuming the CERN research is correct, that the Lorentz boost factor would just have the denominator changed a little bit (an increase of about 0.0025%, maybe a bit more)

    @Ivan: GR GPS connection is definitive. I found a good website that shows a good proof of it (and some other GR tests)

  • For those who don’t know what the Higgs boson is, please go here:

    In the Standard Model we have the following for forces:

    The electromagnetic force mediated by photons which are massless
    The weak nuclear force mediated by W+, W- and Z0 bosons having mass
    The strong nuclear force mediated by red, green and blue gluons
    Gravity mediated by the Graviton (which has not been discovered)

    For leptons we have:

    Electrons and positrons, and electron neutrinos and anti-neutrinos
    Muons and anti-muons, and muon neutrinos and anti-neutrinos
    Taus and anti-taus, and tau neutrinos and anti-neutrinos

    For quarks we have:

    The +2/3 up quark and the -1/3 down quark, as well as their anti-matter variant
    The charm and strange quark, as well as their anti-matter variant
    The top and bottom (or truth and beauty) quark, as well as their anti-matter variant (Top or truth has not been discovered).

    NOTE 1: two +2/3 up quarks plus one -1/3 down quark = a proton, and two -1/3 down quarks plus one +2/3 up quark = a neutron. Quarks are held together by red, green and blue gluons – the strong nuclear force. Anti-quarks are held together by red, green and blue anti-gluons.

    NOTE 2: normal matter is electron / up quark / down quark dependent. A certain asymmetry resulted in matter dominating over anti-matter in the Big Bang. Additionally, matter made up of charm / strange quarks and muons, or top / bottom quarks and taus have not been observed in nature.

    NOTE 3: there is no quantum theory of gravity that can integrate the theoretical graviton with all this. We do have quantum electrodynamics which unites the electromagnetic force with the weak nuclear force mediated by W+, W- and Z0 bosons. We also have quantum chromodynamics which unites the strong nuclear force (mediated by gluons and affecting quarks) with the weak and electromagnetic forces. We still (as Ivan explained) have not discovered the “God” particle, i.e., the Higgs boson that gives particles their mass. So we still don’t know everything… things should be. 😉

  • “That’s time. Does that make sense or am I all hosed up?”

    No, I think does make sense Paul. @ at 9:20pm. Thanks, very interesting analogy. I’m still trying to visualize how time slows down as one speeds up.

  • Jasper,

    If you were the one speeding up, you would not see time for yourself speeding up. You would see time in the universe around you speeding up. If a person in the universe around you were watching you, then he would see you slowing down though you would swear that for you a second is still a second and a minute a minute and an hour an hour. You see, it’s all based on the velocity of light being invariant.

    BTW, if survivable the same thing happens at the event horizon of a black hole: If you’re near enough to that horizon, then you would see the universe speeding up, but the universe would see you slowing down.

    Here’s another thing: in Newtonian physics, if you’re in a car going at 30 mph and you throw a ball out of the car directly in front at 30 mph, then the total velocity of the ball is 60 mph. But close to or at light speed, that’s not the case. If you’re in a spaceship at 90% of light speed and you shine a laser beam directly out in front of you, then the beam still travels at light speed, NOT [ light speed + 90% of light speed ]. It’s the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction that makes things this way. There is no speed > (C).

    On a graph you would see time changing its vector, not light speed.

  • Here’s another thing: in Newtonian physics, if you’re in a car going at 30 mph and you throw a ball out of the car directly in front at 30 mph, then the total velocity of the ball is 60 mph. But close to or at light speed, that’s not the case. If you’re in a spaceship at 90% of light speed and you shine a laser beam directly out in front of you, then the beam still travels at light speed, NOT [ light speed + 90% of light speed ]. It’s the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction that makes things this way. There is no speed > (C).

    I have been lost in much of this, but this explanation was perfect. Thanks.

  • I find the following curious:

    (1) For an object at velocity (V) one day to him can be a 1000 years to a stationary object.
    (2) There are THREE sets of quarks: up/down, charm/strange, top/bottom
    (3) It takes THREE quarks to make a proton or a neutron
    (4) There are THREE kinds of electrons: the regular electron and its anti-matter variety, the muon and its anti-matter variety, the tau and its anti-matter variety
    (5) There are THREE kinds of neutrinos: the regular electron neutrino and its anti-matter variety, the muon neutrion and its anti-matter variety, the tau neutrino and its anti-matter variety
    (6) Quarks come in THREE sets of colors: Red and anti-red, green and anti-green, blue and anti-blue
    (7) The weak nuclear force is mediated by THREE particles: W+, W-, Z0
    (8) Atoms heavy than hydrogen are made of THREE particles: electron, proton and neutron

    Am I imagining things or making up patterns that don’t really exist?

  • Folks,

    I erred in one of my entries above. It is quarks (up/down, charm/strange, top/bottom) which come in “colors” red, green and blue. And it is gluons which bind them together:

    Two ups and one down = proton
    Two downs and one up = neutron

    There are however eight independent color states of gluons. You can read about that here:

    Sorry about the error.

  • So, based on the above, it seems time travel would be theoretically possible, at least one way? Forward, but no going back? It would be time travel in a “loose” sense – you would still be experiencing time, just at a different rate (eg, one second to the traveler could be like ten years to the stationary object)?

  • “It would be time travel in a “loose” sense – you would still be experiencing time, just at a different rate (eg, one second to the traveler could be like ten years to the stationary object)?”

    Yes, C Matt, that is correct. The closer you get to light speed, the faster you would see events in the universe proceed, and to a stationary object the events that proceed for you would preceived as slower. Taken, I suppose, to its logical conclusion, at light speed you stop and the end of the universe occurs. This same phenomenon happens at the event horizon of a black hole. Furthermore, the arrow of time permits “time travel” in one direction only. Anything other than that might allow events to precede causes. But these are merely words. The truth is in the equations which cannot always be adequately described by words.


Wednesday, August 3, AD 2011

Apparently it is all the rage at conventions where geeks, my people, gather, to engage in the Khan scream of Captain Kirk from The Wrath of Khan (1982), the best of the Trek movies due to the superb performance of the late Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonien Singh.  Here is Shatner giving the Khan scream at the Los Vegas Star Trek Con 2010:

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2 Responses to Khaaaan!!!!

  • Ricardo Montalban was Catholic and was married to his wife for more than 50 years too!

    I used to have a Captain Kirk poster in my room when I was in high school. I wish I still had it!

  • I claim ignorance regarding anything relevant to Star Trek. First time I saw the “KAHN!!!!!” yell or what-have-you, was in reference to the former goalkeeper Oliver Kahn (, most recently of Bayern Munich. Since then, that “yell” has always been associated with world class German soccer. Now, that is spoiled. Thanks. 😉

On Vacation 2011

Sunday, July 31, AD 2011

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 there is an alarming outbreak of common sense in the government, 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 30,000 and there are multitudes of gaming related events.  A good overview of Gen Con is here.  Below is a Gen Con video from 2010 which gives a nice feel of the convention.

My wife and daughter participate in the live action dungeon at Gen Con.  Here is a trailer for True Dungeon 2011:

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4 Responses to On Vacation 2011

3 Responses to Star Trek’s Final Mission

Of Christmas and Klingons

Wednesday, December 22, AD 2010


Hattip to Midwest Conservative Journal.  I enjoy Christmas traditions.  The Christmas Tree, singing Carols, wretched Illinois weather, hot coco, presents, watching several versions of A Christmas Carol, etc.  Perhaps the wildest version of a Christmas Carol is a Klingon adaptation of the timeless tale, presented, of course, in Klingonese.  The Wall Street Journal gives us the details:

CHICAGO—Across the country this week, productions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” are warming hearts. In this city, one version poses this question: What if Charles Dickens were a Trekkie?

The answer runs an hour and 20 minutes and includes three fight scenes, 17 actors with latex ridges glued to their foreheads and a performance delivered entirely in Klingon—a language made up for a Star Trek movie.

“It’s like an opera,” says Christopher O. Kidder, the director and co-writer. “You know what’s happening because you already know the story.”

For those not fluent in Klingon, English translations are projected above the stage.

The arc of “A Klingon Christmas Carol” follows the familiar Dickens script: An old miser is visited on a hallowed night by three ghosts who shepherd him through a voyage of self-discovery. The narrative has been rejiggered to match the Klingon world view.


For starters, since there is neither a messiah nor a celebration of his birth on the Klingon planet of Kronos, the action is pegged to the Klingon Feast of the Long Night. Carols and trees are replaced with drinking, fighting and mating rituals. And because Klingons are more concerned with bravery than kindness, the main character’s quest is for courage.

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4 Responses to Of Christmas and Klingons


Thursday, September 9, AD 2010

(Content advisory to the above video.  A few of the Rules of Acquisition are off-color.  You know what the Ferengi are like.)

We have been having a debate recently on The American Catholic between Austrians and Distributists.  As a devotee of free enterprise with as little government intervention as possible, I have found some wisdom in the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition as set forth in one of my favorite fictional realms:  Star Trek.  Many of the Rules of Acquisition of course are merely for entertainment purposes and would lead to immoral results, if not bankruptcy or prison, if attempted in reality.  However,  after a quarter century of running my own business, I believe these rules are insightful:

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2 Responses to Ferengi-nomics

  • Wow! They managed to get all 285 in during that video. Someone must have the book, as they never referenced all 285 on DS9. Setting them to Pachelbel’s Canon in D is a nice touch.

  • I didn’t watch the whole first video, but it skipped 5, 14, and 15, at least. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a complete canonical list.

    That second video is a classic bit. One of the great things about DS9 was its willingness to show the cloying, soft-tyranny side of the Federation.