Linkdump for May 26th through July 11th

Sometime between May 26th and July 11th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Linkdump for May 13th through May 25th

Sometime between May 13th and May 25th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • George Takei Accuser Scott Brunton Changed His Story of Drugs, Assault: “A fabricated coffee meeting. Key facts withheld or walked back. A ‘great party story’ about a sexual assault—which the accuser now says may not have actually happened. What happens when an activist’s legacy is tarnished by the story of an old friend who later says it could have all been a misunderstanding? And how do we process such an anomaly in an era of overdue social justice?l
  • when i say ‘don’t make jokes about rednecks and hillbillies’, that doesn’t mean i think you’re being racist against white people: “i say that because you are perpetuating extremely toxic rhetoric about our region, you are promoting stigma, you are encouraging blatant classism, and you are furthering the idea that we somehow ‘deserve’ it because our elected officials vote republican. it’s not cute. stop acting like none of us have the right to call you out on your classist bullshit.“
  • Dear NRA, It’s Time to Take Away Everyone’s Gun: “I’m finished trying to reason with you. So now I, a guy who was ambivalent about guns just a few years ago, want to take your guns away. All of them. I want to take them all and melt them down and shape them into a giant sphere and then push it at you so you have to run away from it like Indiana Jones for the rest of your lives. I want Ted Nugent to roam the halls of his gunless house, sighing wearily until he dies. I want to end this thing once and for all, so that all of you who have prioritized the sale of guns over the lives of children have to sit quietly and think about what you’ve done. God help me, I want to take all of your guns out of your hands, by myself, right now.”
  • The respect of personhood vs the respect of authority: "In April 2015, Autistic Abby wrote on their Tumblr about how people mistakenly conflate two distinct definitions of 'respect' when relating to and communicating with others. This is an amazing & astute observation and applies readily to many aspects of our current political moment."
  • How the 50-mm Camera Lens Became ‘Normal’: “The idea that a 50-mm best approximates human sight has more to do with the early history of lens production than any essential optical correspondence between the lens and the eye.”

Linkdump for April 15th through April 18th

Sometime between April 15th and April 18th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Freshly Remember’d: Kirk Drift: “There is no other way to put this: essentially everything about Popular Consciousness Kirk is bullshit. Kirk, as received through mass culture memory and reflected in its productive imaginary (and subsequent franchise output, including the reboot movies), has little or no basis in Shatner’s performance and the television show as aired. Macho, brash Kirk is a mass hallucination.”
  • Discovery Needs to Put Section 31 Down and Back Away Slowly: "Section 31 literally destroys the the idea of a better tomorrow, which is the very backbone of Star Trek. Because, if Section 31 is real then tomorrow is way worse than today. I refuse to believe that."
  • ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ USS Enterprise Design Change Clarified As Creative Decision, Not A Legal One: Correction regarding a link I posted earlier in the week that said there were legal reasons for the Enterprise design changes: "CBS TV Studios does, in fact, have the right to use the U.S.S. Enterprise ship design from the past TV series, and are not legally required to make changes. The changes in the ship design were creative ones, made to utilize 2018’s VFX technology."
  • Woman Who Shared Philadelphia Starbucks Arrest Video Tells Her Story: “People ignore this kind of stuff. They don’t believe that it happens. People are saying that there must be more to this story. There is not. This would never happen to someone who looks like me. People don’t believe black people when they say this stuff happens. It does. They want to know the extenuating circumstances. There are none.”
  • Star Trek: Discovery’s Version of the Enterprise Had to Be Modified for Legal Reasons: Interesting tidbit of information. While Discovery’s been a bit hit-and-miss for me, I’ll admit that in the moment, the end-of-season reveal did just what it was intended to do. I’m not too put off by the design changes to the Enterprise, either; it was a given that it wouldn’t be identical, and I thought they did a reasonably good job of staying true to the classic form while updating it for modern needs (and a much better job than the oddly lumpy NuTrek version).

CSI Gets Geeky

I don’t often talk much about my TV watching — in some small part because after spending something over a decade as as anti-TV zealot, I’m in some ways still coming to terms with actually finding some TV worth gritting my teeth through the commercials — but one of the shows that Prairie’s managed to get me into is CSI, and last night’s episode, “A Space Oddity,” was so worth it.

I was pretty sure that I’d be getting a few laughs out of the episode from the previews, which made it clear that the murder of the week was going to be at a Star Trek convention. I didn’t expect just how entertained I ended up being, though. The writers obviously knew their stuff (not surprising, as it turns out the episode was written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, two former writers for Battlestar Galactica, and directed by fellow BSG alumnus Michael Nankin), and the show was crammed with funny and knowing tributes to fandom — specifically, Star Trek and BSG.

Hodges surrounded by Astro Quest fen

Hodges surrounded by Astro Quest fen

The show opens with Hodges running around Whatifitcon, a Star Trek Astro Quest convention, surrounded by various alien-costumed fen. Soon he runs into fellow CSI labrat Wendy, all dressed up in an AQ uniform. They don’t have long to bond over their shared love of “the greatest science-fiction show ever” before there’s a commotion nearby — a murder (imagine that)! Hodges calls in to CSI headquarters to let them know that, yes…”He’s dead, Jim.”

The victim turns out to be Jonathan Danson, a producer who’d been working on a modern “reimagining” of the classic Astro Quest show. The night before, he’d shown off the first glimpses of Astro Quest: Redux, and the response was…well, it was pretty much what happened when Ron Moore first started showing off his “reimagined” version of the classic Battlestar Galactica. In short, the fans were not impressed.

And here was where an already enjoyably silly episode really took off for me. I’d already been grinning from the various Star Trek gags, then even more when it became obvious that they were riffing off the recent BSG reworking. But then, as the camera pans across the shocked and horrified fans…

BSG's Grace Park isn't a fan of the new Astro Quest

BSG's Grace Park isn't a fan of the new Astro Quest

…waitasec, that was Grace Park — Sharon Valerii/Boomer/Athena/and lots of other cylons in BSG! But after just a quick glimpse of her, just long enough for me to register the cameo, another offended fan jumps out of his chair, yelling “You SUCK!” at Danson.

BSG creator Ron Moore _really_ isn't a fan!

BSG creator Ron Moore _really_ isn't a fan!

And, of course, that’s none other than Ron Moore himself, responsible for “reimagining” BSG. And the cameos don’t stop there, as an academic researching the cultural impact of the Astro Quest television show is played by none other than Kate Vernon, BSG’s Ellen Tigh.

The episode goes on from there, with Hodges and Wendy dancing around their newfound connection, complete with fantasy scenarios giving nods to ST:TOS episodes “The Menagerie” and “The Gamesters of Triskelion”, über-geeks a little too involved in the AQ world living with their mother in a room entirely remodeled to match the AQ set, and so on.

The one criticism I might have with the episode would be that it falls victim to the same trap that so many other shows do when involving the geek community, in that they rely so heavily on comedy at the expense of the fringe members of fandom (the geeks in their remodeled room in mom’s house, for example). However, given that they also spent time letting Vernon’s academic and the bartender espouse some of the less cringeworthy sides of science-fiction shows and fandom, and “outed” two regular cast members as fans (and it wasn’t even the less socially adept character who got all dressed up in costume for the convention), I’m willing to cut them some slack.

Bottom line: great episode, and worth watching (you can even see the whole episode online at CBS’s CSI site) if you’re a fan of CSI, Trek, BSG, or any combination of the above.

International Talk Like William Shatner Day

In honor of William Shatner’s 78th birthday tomorrow today, 3/22/09, I am declaring March 22nd to be “International Talk Like William Shatner Day!” Hey, we have “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”, and Shatner inspired a helluva lot more kids to be like Captain James T. Kirk than any who wanted to be some smelly, toothless, “arrr”-spouting frickin’ pirate.

Now, since talking like our hero is a bit more challenging than walking around going, “Arrr”, I’ve included the following video tutorial for your edification, filmed by producer Bill Biggar, on a loooong drive to the airport on L.A.’s fabulous 405 freeway. Enjoy, and remember, it’s pronounced “sabotaaj”, not, “sabotahj”.

Star Trek Original Series DVD Choices Suck

Prompted in no small part by the upcoming movie, I’ve been on a complete _Star Trek_ kick lately. I’ve been reading _Star Trek_ novels like they’re going out of style (check out [my library sorted by what I’ve read most recently][1] for an idea), I’ve been jonesing to watch the movies, one by one, in order (though I don’t know when I’m going to manage that, as Prairie is decidedly _not_ of a mind to do any such thing…the things she has to put up with, living with a geek…), and I’m really noticing a pretty glaring gap in my DVD collection. While I’ve got the entirety of _TNG_ and _DS9_ on DVD, I don’t have the ones I grew up with. I don’t have the original series.

[1]: http://www.librarything.com/catalog.php?view=djwudi&shelf=list&sort=dateread&sort=dateread “LibraryThing: djwudi’s catalog”

And, sadly, I don’t think I will anytime soon, because the current choices…well, they aren’t good.

When _Star Trek_ was first being released to DVD, the ‘season set’ trend hadn’t kicked in, so they were initially being released on the same model of the old VHS collections: two episodes per DVD, with two DVDs released every few months. Slow going, and expensive. I made it about halfway through Season One when those were first being released, then gave up, and eventually sold the DVDs off.

The second stab was a bit better, collecting an entire season in a set. In all honesty, these are the sets I’d like to have. However, they’re out of production, and I remember them being priced pretty high. No matter what they were priced originally, they’re rather ridiculously priced now: [Amazon has the full three seasons][2] for $199.99 _used_ — that’s $67 per season! If I actually wanted a new set, it’d be $400! I like Trek, but I’m not _that_ dedicated. Even eBay only brings the full collection down to the [$150 range][3]…better (but not great), _if_ the price doesn’t get pushed up too high, _if_ the seller doesn’t ship you scratched, crappy disks, and _if_ you’re willing to take the risk of eBay — which I’m not.

[2]: http://www.amazon.com/Star-Trek-Original-Complete-Seasons/dp/B0002JJBZY%3FSubscriptionId%3D0PZ7TM66EXQCXFVTMTR2%26tag%3Ddjwudicom-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB0002JJBZY “"Star Trek The Original Series – The Complete Seasons 1-3" (CBS Paramount International Television)”
[3]: http://www.librarything.com/catalog.php?view=djwudi&shelf=list&sort=dateread&sort=dateread “eBay search for ‘star trek original series seasons'”

Then there’s the current releases. They’re [all overpriced][4], at around $80 each, or $200 for the full three seasons (come on, most TV season sets are now in the $30 range, and even the [full 40-disc 7-season Buffy set is under $200][5]), [Season One][6] is a weird hybrid normal DVD and HD-DVD (which is unplayable for me) that would keep me from accessing all the special features…and to top it all off, they’re the new “remastered” versions. Now, I’ve heard good things about the work done on the remastered episodes, and I wouldn’t really mind owning those versions…_if the originals were included as well_ (gee, does this sound familiar, _Star Wars_ fans?).

[4]: http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fs%3Fie%3DUTF8%26x%3D0%26ref%255F%3Dnb%255Fss%255Fgw%26y%3D0%26field-keywords%3Dstar%2520trek%2520original%2520series%2520remastered%26url%3Dsearch-alias%253Daps&tag=djwudicom-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=390957 “Amazon search for ‘star trek original series remastered'”
[5]: http://www.amazon.com/Buffy-Vampire-Slayer-Collectors-discs/dp/B000AQ68RI%3FSubscriptionId%3D0PZ7TM66EXQCXFVTMTR2%26tag%3Ddjwudicom-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB000AQ68RI “"Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Collector’s Set (40 discs)" (Joss Whedon)”
[6]: http://www.amazon.com/Star-Trek-Original-Season-Remastered/dp/B000VDDDY6%3FSubscriptionId%3D0PZ7TM66EXQCXFVTMTR2%26tag%3Ddjwudicom-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB000VDDDY6 “"Star Trek: The Original Series – Season One Remastered" (CBS Paramount International Television)”

I don’t want my only option to be the new, George Lucas inspired, “we’ve got to put new special effects in or noone will want to watch this show anymore, even though it’s been consistently popular for _forty years_” versions. I want the show that my dad introduced me to. The show that had me pointing excitedly somewhere behind me and over my shoulder, exclaiming “Speeeeshhh!” as the _Enterprise_ flew by in the opening credits. The show I grew up with, that I watched whenever I had the chance, that Royce and I would quote lines at each other from, that influenced my ongoing love of science fiction. The show that got me to my first ‘con, many, many years ago in Anchorage.

And right now, I can’t get it.

And I’m annoyed.

Meh.

(On the bright side, at least I’m not posting about politics….)

Star Trek Story Record #8 (BR 513)

Star Trek Story Record #8 (Front)

Star Trek Story Record #8 (Front), originally uploaded by djwudi.

A treasure I found a long time ago, and recently reacquired from my brother. Star Trek [Story Record #8][1], Power Records BR 513, _still in the shrink wrap_. This set includes the LP and a comic book with two stories: _[A Mirror for Futility][2]_ by Alan Dean Foster, and _[The Time Stealer][3]_ by Cary Bates and Neal Adams. While there’s a little bit of damage to the top right corner (it looks like it got nibbled at while in storage at some point) so I can’t claim perfect mint condition, since most of the shrink wrap is still intact, I assume the record and comic are both still mint. From [this eBay search][4] it looks like I could get as much as $60 for this if I wanted to…I’m just not sure that I want to!

[1]: http://www.danhausertrek.com/Records/Records.html “Guide to the STAR TREK Story Records”
[2]: http://www.danhausertrek.com/Records/Story_6.html “A Mirror for Futility”
[3]: http://www.danhausertrek.com/Records/Story_4.html “The Time Stealer”
[4]: http://shop.ebay.com/items/_W0QQ_nkwZtrekQ20Q28recordQ2crecordsQ29QQ_armrsZ1QQ_fromZQQ_mdoZQQ_sopZ3 “eBay search: trek (record, records)”

Retkhan

[Khan Noonien Singh][1], long one of the most famous and most loved villains in the Star Trek universe, has over time presented some (extraordinarily geeky) issues to fans who know his story.

[1]: http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Khan_Noonien_Singh “Memory Alpha: Khan Noonien Singh”

Namely, the [Eugenics Wars][2] of the 1990’s. According to Star Trek canon as established in the original series episode ‘[Space Seed][3]’…

[2]: http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Eugenics_Wars “Memory Alpha: Eugenics Wars”
[3]: http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Space_Seed “Memory Alpha: Space Seed”

> From 1992 to 1996, Khan was absolute ruler of more than one-quarter of Earth’s population, including regions of Asia the Middle East.
>
> In the mid 1990s, [Khan and other genetically engineered] Augment tyrants began warring amongst themselves. Other nations joined to force them from power in a series of struggles that became known as the Eugenics Wars. Eventually, most of the tyrants were defeated and their territory re-captured, but up to 90 “supermen” were never accounted for.
>
> Khan escaped the wars and their consequences along with 84 followers who swore to live and die at his command. He saw his best option in a risky, self-imposed exile. In 1996, he took control of a DY-100-class interplanetary sleeper ship he christened SS Botany Bay, named for the site of the Australian penal colony. Set on a course outbound from the solar system, but with no apparent destination in mind, Khan and his people remained in suspended animation for Botany Bay’s (nearly) 300-year sublight journey.

Of course, when this was all dreamed up in the 1960’s, no-one knew that Trek would survive until the mid-’90’s, let alone grow into the phenomenon that it did. Once the ’90’s rolled around, though…well, yes, as fans, we are perfectly aware that Trek is fiction. It’s just more _fun_ when we can find ways to make the Trek universe and our universe overlap. When Trek takes place tens or hundreds of years in the future, that’s easy. Once we get to a point where we’ve moved solidly into the decades referenced in Trek with no sign of genetically engineered supermen or Eugenics Wars…well, that’s when things start to get creative.

A couple of years ago, I picked up two Trek novels by Greg Cox: [The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume I][4] and [Volume II][5]. Cox does an incredible job of retconning (that is, ‘[retroactive continuity][6]’: “…the adding of new information to ‘historical’ material, or deliberately changing previously established facts in a work of serial fiction. The change itself is referred to as a ‘retcon’, and the act of writing and publishing a retcon is called ‘retconning’.”) as he merges the established Trek universe with the known recent history of the real world.

[4]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=ws%26link_code=xm2%26camp=2025%26creative=165953%26path=http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html%253fASIN=0743406427%2526tag=ws%2526lcode=xm2%2526cID=2025%2526ccmID=165953%2526location=/o/ASIN/0743406427%25253FSubscriptionId=02ZH6J1W0649DTNS6002 “‘The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Vol. 1 (Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars)’ (Greg Cox)”
[5]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=ws%26link_code=xm2%26camp=2025%26creative=165953%26path=http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html%253fASIN=0743406443%2526tag=ws%2526lcode=xm2%2526cID=2025%2526ccmID=165953%2526location=/o/ASIN/0743406443%25253FSubscriptionId=02ZH6J1W0649DTNS6002 “‘The Eugenics Wars Vol. 2: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek)’ (Greg Cox)”
[6]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retcon “Wikipedia: retcon”

In Cox’s version of history, many of the perceived minor skirmishes and events around the world during the ’90’s, from middle-eastern conflicts to terrorist incidents were actually the public result of conflicts between the supermen as they battled with each other behind the scenes. It’s done quite well, and nicely filled in the details of Khan’s life on Earth up to his exile on the Botany Bay.

Hundreds of years later, of course, the Enterprise discovers the Botany Bay drifting in space and has their first encounter with Khan, culminating with Khan and his crew being marooned on Ceti Alpha V. Then, eighteen years later, Khan is rediscovered and eventually killed during the events of [_Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan_][7].

[7]: http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Star_Trek_II:_The_Wrath_of_Khan “Memory Alpha: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”

While long recognized as one of the best (if not the single best) Trek film, _Khan_ left a number of unanswered questions regarding Trek continuity:

1. Why did the _Reliant_ not recognize that Ceti Alpha VI had exploded and that they were actually orbiting Ceti Alpha V?
2. Why did nobody realize they were in the same system that Khan had been marooned in?
3. Why had Khan never been checked up on, as Kirk had promised to do at the end of ‘Space Seed’?
4. How could Khan recognize Chekov (and vice versa) when Koenig wasn’t on the show until the season after ‘Space Seed’ was filmed?
5. What happened during Khan’s years on Ceti Alpha V?

Yesterday while on lunch and browsing the bookstore shelves, I noticed that Cox had a new Khan book out, [To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh][8], in which he explores the eighteen years between ‘Space Seed’ and _The Wrath of Khan_. I’ve only read the first chapter so far, but Cox is continuing to display his ability to construct believable retcons. The majority of the book is concerned with the last of the above posed questions, telling the story of Khan’s years in exile. The first chapter, though, in addition to setting up the framing story of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Sulu returning to Ceti Alpha V to investigate and assuage Kirk’s guilt over the deaths of his crewmen, family, and ship during the events of the second, third, and fourth Trek films, also quickly and concisely answers the first three questions.

[8]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=ws%26link_code=xm2%26camp=2025%26creative=165953%26path=http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html%253fASIN=B0007GLLUK%2526tag=ws%2526lcode=xm2%2526cID=2025%2526ccmID=165953%2526location=/o/ASIN/B0007GLLUK%25253FSubscriptionId=02ZH6J1W0649DTNS6002 “‘Star Trek: Eugenics Wars #3: To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh’ (Greg Cox)”

Cox even comes up with an explanation for the fourth — though he did fail to use Koenig’s “[Chekov kept Khan waiting in the restroom][9]” idea.

[9]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek_II:_The_Wrath_of_Khan#Problems_and_Inconsistencies “Wikipedia: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Problems and Inconsistencies”

Khan’s long been Trek’s best villain, and Greg Cox is doing a bang-up job of filling in the holes outside of established canon. It’s well worth picking up his books if you’re in the mood for a little Trek-based fun.

(Incidentally, consider ‘retkahn’ or ‘retkahnning’ to be my proposal for Greg Cox’s ability to flesh out Khan’s story. The word amuses me, and neither seems to show up in Google yet [[retkhan][10], [retkhanning][11]], which actually surprised me a bit.)

[10]: http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=retkhan&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 “Google for retkhan (‘Do you mean gretchen?’)”
[11]: http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=retkhanning&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 “Google for retkhanning”

The Gamesters of Triskelion

This is jaw-droppingly cool — [a simple ‘brain in a jar’ that can learn how to play a flight simulator][1].

[1]: http://www.spacedaily.com/news/robot-04zm.html “‘Brain’ In A Dish Could Fly A Plane”

> A University of Florida scientist has grown a living “brain” that can fly a simulated plane, giving scientists a novel way to observe how brain cells function as a network.
>
> The “brain” – a collection of 25,000 living neurons, or nerve cells, taken from a rat’s brain and cultured inside a glass dish – gives scientists a unique real-time window into the brain at the cellular level.
>
> […]
>
> “Initially when we hook up this brain to a flight simulator, it doesn’t know how to control the aircraft,” DeMarse said. “So you hook it up and the aircraft simply drifts randomly. And as the data comes in, it slowly modifies the (neural) network so over time, the network gradually learns to fly the aircraft.”

Sure, today they’re flying a flight simulator. Tomorrow, they’ll be betting [Quatloos][2] on how well we fight. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

[2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quatloo “Quatloo”

(via [Ben Hammersley][3])

[3]: http://www.benhammersley.com/weblog/2004/10/22/a_brain_the_consistency_of_a_bogey.html “Ben Hammersley’s Dangerous Precedent: A brain the consistency of a bogey”