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Showing posts from July, 2009

STbtM 034: Distress Call from Vulcan

Previous: Why Spock Never Made the Debate Team 1
Spock claims that maintaining personal and command control "…is a quality expected in every Starfleet Captain." While arguably true, Kirk's performance during three tests, convincing his mock crew to appear, convincing his test administrators and even Spock himself to show up repeatedly for the simulation suggests that Kirk maintains control and persistence. With all this evidence right in front of him, Spock appears unable to see any of it – and for no good reason. Pride would be a good motivator, but that would require some explanation since this is an emotion that vulcans like Spock are trained to manage so that it serves their judgment, not the other way around.
In response to this pitiful excuse of a criticism, Kirk hangs his head and melodramatic strings swell in the background, as Kirk is suffering over the haunting memories of his lost father…which he really doesn't have, since he never met the man… But never min…

STbtM 033: Why Spock Never Made the Debate Team 1

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Previous: James T. Kirk, Step ForwardThe Kobayashi Maru win and academic inquest is our first chance to see the adult, alternate timeline Spock in action since his absolutely fabulous line at the end of his meeting with the Vulcan Academic Council (see STbtM 018). This council leader gives Spock, now at a lectern opposing Kirk's the floor with: "Commander." Spock: "Cadet Kirk, you somehow managed to install and activate a subroutine in the programming code, thereby changing the conditions of the test." The problem with this statement is that the conditions of the test are identical; it is the test itself that was changed, because it went from a test of crew response with certain failure to a showboat of Kirk being clever with his instructors and using the simulator to make an emotional and philosophical statement. This should have been explored, but either the writers did not understand the underlying dynamics, or any clue we may have that they do understand an…

STbtM 032: James T. Kirk, Step Forward

Previous: Cheating to Win
Back in the simulator control & observation room, a male test administrator turns away from Kirk, (now looking at them and waiting to converse), asks "How the hell did that kid beat your test?" as the camera zooms in on Spock who answers: "I do not know." Apparently, not a single member of the test administration team is interested in asking the one person who presumably knows what happened and has indicated he wants to show off his efforts. They prefer to stare at each other or into space and ponder deep, inscrutable mysteries rather than say, "Nice one cadet! What did you do?" How can these writers become so famous (and rich?) writing characters that constantly ignore the obvious and even act contrary to minimal sensibilities? It blows my mind that there are people giving this film 5 stars!
We cut to a large meeting auditorium, where 10 senior officials, numerous lower officials, aides, and hundreds of Academy members fill ev…

STbtM 031: Cheating to Win

Previous: Kobayashi Maru Begins

Soon-to-be-suspended cadet Kirk orders "Alert medical bay to prepare to receive ALL crew members from the damaged ship." Uhura asks "And how do you expect us to rescue them when we're surrounded by Klingons, Captain?" "Alert medical," he repeats superciliously, and Uhura returns to her workstation looking furious.

McCoy reports: "Our ship's being hit. Shields at 60%." Kirk says, "I understand" and reaches under his seat to pull out an apple in homage to Wrath of Khan. "Should we, I don't know… fire back?" McCoy sarcastically asks. "No." "Of course not!" With klaxons in the background the simulator seems to shut down as everyone (but Kirk) bumbles around trying to figure out what happened. I was disappointed that yet again, without any apparent work, study, preparation or effort, Kirk was able to astound everyone around him with a computer subroutine that altered th…

Revolution by the Book Structure #1

In my upcoming presentations like this one, I'm considering 3 sections:
Revolutionary Science (RS) Paradigms RS Project Management (RSPM) Use Cases These 3 sections roughly equate to background information, standards for administration of RS projects, and future areas where RSPM could be applied. The use case section most prominently focuses on development of technology for faster than light transportation, which seems a nearly ideal area for project management to aid physical science research. Current research in cosmology might be characterized by a diverse group of really smart researchers searching for something for which they have no clear definition and no known path to progress. They are basically adrift in the fog, seeking new models to explain anomalies like Dark Matter, Dark Energy, space-time dimensionality, conflicts and paradoxes between relativity and quantum mechanics and others.
A small group within the cognitive science community has identified two critically importan…

STbtM 030: Kobayashi Maru Begins

Previous: Roommates
Gaila is not happy that Uhura has started stripping in front of Kirk, hidden under the bed, and actress Ms. Nichols responds to Uhura's clothes removal and simultaneous story of the klingon distress calls with a perfectly deadpan "Oh no." "Yeah! A klingon armada was destroyed – 47 ships." "So, [nervously] you're not going back to the lab tonight?" "Gaila, who is he?" "Who's who?" "The mouth breather hiding under your bed."
Kirk jumps up and asks, "You can hear me breathing?" "You!?" As Kirk grabs his clothes in a bunch, he says in as serious a tone as he can "Big day tomorrow." "You're gonna fail," Uhura hisses, throwing some clothes at him with "Get out!" followed by pushing and all of it resonated authenticity of real dorm experience.
Kirk blurts out to Gaila "I'll see ya around…" at which she smiles like an imp and nods enthusi…

STbtM 029: Roommates

Previous: Ship of Fools
McCoy continues: "I'm a doctor Jim, I'm busy." Kirk asks "Bones, it doesn't bother you that no one's ever passed the test?" "Jim, it's the Kobayashi Maru, no one passes the test and no one goes back for seconds, let alone thirds." Supposedly, the "No Win Scenario" exam given by StarFleet to cadets is designed to assess their character and abilities dealing with zugzwang. Based on this conversation, cadets now have the opportunity to "go back for seconds" and "thirds" to redo major assessments by tests which consume significant time, people and equipment. I'm sure any student or cadet at an academy can tell you how realistic this is! Kirk slaps Bones on the shoulder as he bolts off with "I gotta study!" and we see the doctor watch Kirk hustling away, mumbling "Study, my ass!"
We cut to Kirk making out with a buxom green orion girl "Gaila" who says to h…

Incompleteness of Paradigm Objection

Incompleteness of an evolving paradigm based on its reliance on poorly elaborated models should not be considered a valid criticism. Progressive elaboration is inherent in development efforts as repeated cycles of planning enable better information, details, estimates, and the overall plan becomes more complete . Exceeding the scope of good practices however, is a valid target for criticism. Apparent contradictions to minimally elaborated model will usually be examined carefully by model developers. (See Model & Analogy Evaluation) Revolutionary changes often occur when undirected, diverse approaches to measuring or forecasting produce surprising results. This was recently the case with a model from the UK, which predicted an inverse relationship between surface sea temperature and low cloud cover, providing positive feedback to temperature oscillations. This model predicted more accurately than any of the other 18 simulations reviewed, and it was also closest to the average of th…

Star Trek by the Minute 028: Ship of Fools

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Previous: Three Years LaterNero walks onto the bridge, and Ayel says: "Sir, we've arrived at the coordinates you've calculated, there's nuthin' here. What are your orders?" Nero and the Romulan miners apparently have advanced since they came out of the original lightning storm from beyond visual range, now they not only can calculate when and where they are, but have taught themselves temporal cosmology beyond that of any scientists in any of the planets of the Federation, and the miners' retroactively analyzed trajectories through time and space for both their ship and that of Spock prime, and were able to predict that Spock would reappear not merely in the same universe, but when and where his ship would emerge. Compared to these sand diggers, the Vulcan Science Academy Council looks like Pakled Larry, Moe, and Curly. Unfortunately like many super geniuses concerned with lofty physics, these Romulans lost interest in mundane trivia like razors, and the …

Not Destroying Someone

The proposition "Not destroying someone certain to kill only postpones" was just presented to me. The passive, defensive wording is, as far as I know, universal among aggressors who must cast their violence as protecting virtue X from mortal peril. I would maintain that "Not destroying someone certain to kill provides an opportunity for them to change", "Not killing prevents unavoidable killing of children and others innocent and a spectrum of of other possibilities to non-destroyed people", which happens in war. The proposition also disregards the fog of war, which is "uncertainty regarding one's own capability, adversary's capability and adversary intent during an engagement, operation or campaign." We might observe that "Not destroying others" is a morally obligatory form of behavior that embodies courage. In all but the most unlikely circumstances violence appears to remain morally unjustifiable.
People who ascribe to the id…

F22 Raptor Purchase

Please support the amendment to the FY10 Defense Authorization bill to eliminate any and all funds for procurement of F-22 Raptor fighter jets and avoid a Presidential veto. The Senate voted this week to cut the funding and I am writing to urge the Defense Appropriations Committee to do the same.
The United States should be leading the world to a future free from warfare. Modern military conflicts in the world today appear much as we might imagine evidence that industrialized weapons sector had been allowed to circumvent democratic control by exercising its economic power: obtaining favorable legal status and the ability to influence policies directly affecting that sector's welfare, control and profits.
It seems reasonable that profitable, violence-related globalized industries will drive increasing authoritarian domination rather than better defense of individual liberty and democracy, a dynamic we observe in many countries. Significant high-level allocation of resources to the mi…

Star Trek by the Minute 027: Three Years Later

Previous: Addicts Aboard! Kirk holds up the flask and says: "Jim Kirk" as if anyone would introduce themselves this way, and in response, the wannabe doctor delivers a "Bond…James Bond" homage/ripoff with "McCoy, Leonard McCoy". I can't help but imagine Bart Simpson sitting at a word processor, writing the script, and giggling after re-reading that line. In an external shot, the shuttle cruises off to San Francisco, and Starfleet Academy.
In another external shot (somewhere in deep space), we see it is "Three Years Later", and the Romulan deathship is happily cruising through nothingness – apparently to nowhere. In an extreme close-up, we see Captain Nero gazing maniacally out at us. In the background, we hear someone tell him he is "…requested on the bridge. Ayel says it's time." If Kirk was 21 in the bar, this would make the current time about 24+ years after the Kelvin incident.
One wonders how a mining ship that has been rippe…

Star Trek by the Minute 026: Addicts Aboard!

Previous: Safety Belts?Kirk spots Uhura while strapping in and smirks: "I never did get that first name…" as she looks away and smiles. In the background, we hear a raised female voice say, "You need a doctor," followed by a male voice responding a bit more loudly: "I already told you people: I don't need a doctor dammit, I am a doctor!" The woman (flight attendant?) demands more loudly "You need to get back in your seat!" as we see her pushing him aft, toward the stern of the shuttle. Nope. I'm terribly sorry scriptwriters, but this is as phony as the opening scene of "A Million Little Pieces" and for similar reasons. Long before any controversy, I received the book as a gift, admittedly with skepticism based primarily on the kind of praise that my generous and enthusiastic friend provided. The praise had a similar feel as that received when a couple I met after a nice day of skiing started extolling the virtues of OxyContin i…

STbtM 025: Safety Belts

Previous: Bike RideIt is a bright, shiny morning as Jim Kirk rides into Starfleet's Riverside Iowa shipyard on his motorcycle with wheel rims, but for some reason possesses no hub or spokes. Alas, there are no more shots of the Enterprise under construction, but we do see lots of workers running around and one of them comes up to Kirk, admiring his bike and Kirk tosses him the keys and says: "It's yours." This is apparently another sad and misguided effort at substituting apathy for virtue and arrogance for style. On a more basic level, one wonders why discard a perfectly good motorcycle? Are personal vehicles not allowed at Starfleet?
Captain Pike, who has been watching Kirk approach, is standing at the shuttle hatch when Kirk strides by and says: "Four years? I'll do it in three." Is this claim anything other than arrogance? As far as we've seen, Kirk only asks for information when he's trying to ridicule, as in the sarcastic and drunken "…

STbtM 024: Bike Ride

Previous: Starfleet Wants FelonsPike walks out of the bar, apparently leaving behind a model of the Kelvin (with "Authentic Battle Damage!®") which Kirk picks up and holds in front of the camera, possibly to signify he's thinking about the disaster or something. The music has lots of gentle, bittersweet strings flowing in the background to tell us this is an emotional moment… which may explain something of the shaky-cam close-ups that have infested this scene. While it worked in The Blair Witch Project, here I'm actually glad I hadn't seen it on a big screen with a half hour of salty, buttery, coconut oil popped fluffy deliciousness in my stomach.
The next thing we see is Kirk zipping down a lonely road in the early morning mist past fields on a sportbike, somewhat like Maverick in another Top Gun homage. In the next shot, he is riding off-road and we see that he's been tearing around on this motorcycle with nothing to protect his eyes. Even with goggles, gras…

STbtM 023: Starfleet Wants Felons

Previous: Leap Without LookingCaptain Pike asks whether Kirk feels he was meant "for something special", pauses and then commands: "Enlist in Starfleet." Oops: "enlist", according to Merriam Webster, means "to enroll oneself in the armed forces". It occurs to me that this entire film should have been set in "mirror universe", and Pike should have said "Enlist in the forces of the Star Empire" because to enter Starfleet, one has to apply, pass tests, get recommendations, etc. Look at Wesley Crusher: grew up on the Enterprise, served as acting ensign for years, saved hundreds of lives, was an inventor, genius, and had recommendations up the wazoo, and the best he was able to do was get a chance to test for entry into Starfleet. Abrams' Starfleet is now a place for young, violent and destructive scumbags with senior officers who advocate deliberately blinding oneself from the consequences of one's actions? Incredible.
Kir…

STbtM 022: Leap Without Looking

Previous: Barfight! Kirk, miraculously saved from being pummeled to death in the fight he started, lays across a table at his Starfleet benefactor who asks, "You all right son?" Kirk gurgles through the blood and alcohol, "Yoo c'n really wissel loud, y'know that?" Fortunately, he was wearing an instant-dry shirt, so all the dozens of drinks and bottles-worth of alcohol he was rolling in a second ago have disappeared without a drop of wetness remaining - cool!

We cut to a few minutes later and Kirk and Captain Pike are sharing a drink at a table. Shouldn't Pike be getting Kirk's open and bleeding wounds cleaned and closed somewhere? What about checking for concussion, the most common traumatic brain injury and one which kills thousands? Behind the two, the floor is getting more attention than this injured and bleeding lowlife. If Pike really has no care for this violent criminal's welfare, he might as well have left Kirk drooling blood on the floor…