1. The Prime Directive would have a proviso that reads: "... Except where necessary for the purpose of testing antimatter torpedoes as away far as possible from Sector 001."
2. Romulan ale wouldn't be illegal as such on Earth - it would just never get past the Enterprise's one-ship blockade.
3. Whenever Q or a Ferengi started the "the greatest monsters in your planet's history - Hitler, Stalin, Khan Singh..." speech again, Picard would interrupt with "Ah, but you fourgaird, do you not, ze greatest monstair of all - ze Duke of Wairllingtong!"
4. L'Academie Starfleet would fine cadets for saying "Phasers on stun!" in English. Instead they would have to say "Ajustez les armes que émettont les courants des particules chargés et phasés, s'il vous plaît, parce que ils étourdont mais pas tuent les adversaires."
5. Picard would resist seduction by Vash and instead would ask her suspiciously: "Your parents, madame! Why is it, zat zey name you 'Cow'?"
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
1. The Prime Directive would have a proviso that reads: "... Except where necessary for the purpose of testing antimatter torpedoes as away far as possible from Sector 001."
Posted by Tom R at 11:38 am
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Katha Pollitt makes a very good point in favour of government assistance for parents, against the complaints of the "child-free" movement:
'... Rightly (conservative version) or wrongly (liberal version), the workplace is structured to suit men, preferably men with stay-at-home wives. The qualities rewarded there – self-reliance, ambition, single-minded devotion to work – make women unfit for marriage and vice versa.
By the time they are ready to settle down, their male contemporaries are married or looking for younger, softer women; if it’s not too late for a husband, it’s likely to be too late for a baby; if they manage to produce one, they’ll confront the fundamental incompatibility – practical, psychological, emotional – of motherhood and career.
With some variations, this narrative of forced choices and biological deadlines, in which feminism is either irrelevant or itself the problem, forms the theme of many recent highly publicised advice books. Sometimes the young unmarried woman is told she is having too much fun and will pay later; sometimes she is told she is miserable, and no wonder – while men postpone commitment, her eggs are already scrambling...
None of these writers [whom Pollitt is reviewing -- most prominently, I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson] seems to believe that caring for an infant could be made less exhausting, less harried, less solitary. But surely it could be quite different. After all, men (and now women) who join the military get a plethora of benefits from a grateful nation: in the United States, for example, they get scholarships, free medical care for life, extra points on civil-service exams and much more.
... If governments are worried about low birth-rates, as many are, they could do a lot better than lecture uppity women one day and offer paltry child bonuses the next. Free tuition for life would be more like it, along with free childcare, mandatory paternity leave (men in Britain have recently been granted two weeks’ paternity leave) and a Real Men Change Nappies campaign...'
-- Katha Pollitt, "In the family’s way: Superwomen who want it all, companies which depend on men with stay-at-home wives. How can they fit together?," The Guardian (9 September 2003)
But then she goes and spoils it all with an obligatory Bush-bitch on her favourite topic:
'... As the growing movement against abortion shows, self-determination for women is still controversial...'
Nice day's work, Katha. You're trying to refute the "child-free" lobby's complaint that "having children is a voluntary lifestyle choice, a hobby that parents should fund out of their own pockets". But then you impliedly concede that it's okay for children, like pet animals, to get put to sleep (Freely Safely And Legally) if they become inconvenient to your lifestyle. Put a band-aid on that foot gunshot wound ... And you wonder why young women these days don't want to label themselves "feminists".
Posted by Tom R at 11:00 am
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
"Halfway through the second series of new-century Doctor Who, and it’s looking dicey. The problem became clear to me in episode five, 'Rise of the Cybermen', as the relaunched 1970s arch-villains stamped in their silver moon-boots across the stately home’s front lawn. Fundamentally, they just aren't Daleks, are they? The first series, the one that was on last year, had Daleks, hordes of them, and what a delight they were: gliding like priests, talking like Nazis, chimerical yet simple, and with that unpleasantly ambiguous relation to the ground beneath them. I wasn't aware I had missed them until, suddenly, they were back. And back, too, was that sound made when the Doctor is arriving or departing, the scraping, groaning contractions of the Tardis - so wonderful, warm yet terrifying, the sound of childbirth, I always think, as heard by the baby.
When I was young, though - I dimly remember - the Cybermen did seem quite scary, with their blank, square faces and cruel, insatiable appetites for human whatever-it-was. But actually, most of that mystery came not from their appearance, but from their name. Back then, no one really knew what 'cyber' meant, though we sensed a sinister power: it was always clear that it meant something geared at some point to take over. This sense of awful potency lasted pretty much through the 1980s, powering the gorgeous prescience and horror of William Gibson’s Neuromancer novels, only to peter out, pretty much, by the mid-1990s, as the dull commercial reality - the real 'consensual hallucination', to re-purpose Gibson's phrase - of Internet shopping kicked in. There was also, after 1977, the Star Wars problem, and the visual similarity of the Doctor’s second-best adversaries to C-3PO, the trite butler-robot. Which is why Cybermen no longer impress us. The metaphorical connections no longer lead adults, at least, to things we find exciting - unlike priests, Nazis, our shabby 1960s and 1970s childhoods...."
- Jenny Turner, "Across the Tellyverse," 28(12) London Review of Books (22 June 2006)
Even the casual reader can tell that Ms Turner had a Protestant upbringing. To Catholics, "priest" evokes the image of snowy-haired Father Tim, with his red nose, his twinkling eye, and the Irish lilt in his voice, teaching young street urchins that they can be a winning football team if only they Believe In Themselves.
Whereas to Protestants, "priest" evokes a gaunt-faced, burning-eyed bonze, wearing a metal skull-cap with a pair of ram's horns attached, his chest bare but for a couple of richly-bejeweled bandolier straps, and waving a staff with bits of birds' skeletons jangling off it as he slaughters a bull before some ponderous gold idol.
Somehow, the idea of a group of Daleks sitting at the parish hall bingo table, smoking and roaring with laughter at off-colour jokes, with a pile of empty Baileys bottles beside them... just does - not - compute.
PS: And yes, I know that priests, like Daleks, come in different models. But I can no more easily picture a Dalek as a dedicated, somewhat intense late-twenty-something Vietnamese-Australian than as Father Tim, a-tarl, a-tarl. And how would the Jesuit Daleks wear elaborate gold poison-rings on those sink plungers? Would they have a coin slot for the bribes to be discreetly deposited, like a vending machine?
PPS: More similarities and differences between Daleks and priests...
[-] One lot are often depicted as cartoonish super-villains who have some fiendishly clever plan to take over the universe. The other lot are copyright-owned by Terry Nation.
[+] Favourite verb ends in "-ate".
[+] Both are surrounded by thick white smoke.
[-] Daleks have flashing lights on them all the time. Priests only have flashing lights on them when they become corrupted. A giant neon sign magically appears (ex opere operato) on the said cleric's forehead, flashing the words "Warning! Corrupted Priest!" If you know a priest, and he doesn't have such a flashing neon sign, then he can't be a corrupted priest. It's objectively not possible.
[-] Daleks do acknowledge the supremacy of the Emperor.
[-] Better a Rusty Priest than a rusty Dalek.
Posted by Tom R at 10:50 am
Monday, August 14, 2006
While the USA distracts itself with peripheral side-issues like flag-burning amendments and Intelligent Design in schools, la grande nation devotes its atttention to real political questions:
"The French taboo over politicians’ private lives has crumbled further with the publication of photographs of Segolene Royal, the left-wing favourite to succeed President Jacques Chirac next spring, on the beach in her bikini. Ms Royal, who is 53 next month and favourite to win the Socialist nomination later this year, is unlikely to suffer from the flattering first pictures to be published of a female politician in minimal attire...."
- Charles Bremner, "Socialist in a bikini has the French in a sweat," The Australian (10 August 2006)
Since the bikini was named after a Pacific atoll that was used for nuclear testing, I can't think of anything more appropriate for a French President to wear.
Pray that the custom is not continued, though, if France ever elects another M[a]cMahon as its leader...
Posted by Tom R at 3:04 pm
Friday, August 11, 2006
UPDATE: Tanveer Ahmed, "Why Islam is the new Marx," The Australian (11 August 2006)
* * * *
Stephen's earlier post on this topic brings to mind two passages I read a year ago:
The first is from Bertrand Russell's The Theory and Practice of Bolshevism (London, 1921, pp 5, 114), quoted by "ibn Warraq" in Why I am Not A Muslim (NY, 1995, p 163):
Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam... Among religions, Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism [sic] rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world.
The second is from Dave Crouch's article "Bolsheviks and Islam: Socialists can learn from how the Bolsheviks approached the Muslims of the Russian empire", in 280 Socialist Review (December 2003):
... Marxism is a materialist worldview and so is thoroughly athiest. [Sic. Deweyism may be fairly athy, but Marxism is even athier still. - ed]. But because it understands religion to have roots in oppression and alienation, Marxist political parties don't demand that their members or supporters are [scil. be] atheists too. So atheism was never included in the Bolsheviks' programme. Indeed, they welcomed left-wing Muslims into the communist parties (CPs). The Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky noted in 1923 that in some former colonies as many as 15 percent of CP members were believers in Islam. He called them the 'raw revolutionary recruits who come knocking on our door'. In parts of Central Asia, Muslim membership was as high as 70 percent.
The Bolsheviks took a very different approach to Orthodox Christianity, the religion of the brutal Russian colonists and missionaries. Party policy in Central Asia, endorsed by Moscow, stated that 'freedom from religious prejudice' was a requirement for Russians only. So in 1922 over 1,500 Russians were kicked out of the Turkestan CP because of their religious convictions, but not a single Turkestani.
This was part of Bolshevik policy to try to make amends for the crimes of Tsarism in the former colonies....
(Not sure whether I'm allowed to quote that much, since the article does have a big fat notice saying "Copyright © Socialist Review". But who gives a? La proprieté, c'est le vol.)
... And all that Muslim goodwill stood the Bolsheviks and their heirs in such good stead six decades later, didn't it.
Now that's an interesting policy: "affirmative action" with a vengeance. I'm sure devout, believing Muslims would be queuing in droves to join a Communist Party that told them "Of course, objective scientific thought proves your primitive faith in Allah, the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur'ân to be a ridiculous superstition. But since you have been oppressed by Russian Orthodox colonialism for centuries, that makes it a progressive superstition".
That's what it boils down to... That "superstition" (= supernatural belief) is tolerable among the Little Brown People, as part of their quaint primitive customs - although white Europeans whose societies are post- (rather than pre-) capitalist are held to higher standards of intellectual rigour.
I once got into a debate with some Australian neo-Trotskyites who ended up arguing that vilifying Catholicism would be "progressive" in Australia but "reactionary" in Northern Ireland. So: following the Russian Bolsheviks' logic, if the Communist Party of Iran ever were to win power, it should admit practising Jews, Christians, Bahá’ís and Zoroastrians, but not practising Muslims, as members. So what happens when the Communist International holds its World Congress and the Marxist Muslim delegates from Dagestan get to sit alongside the Marxist Christian delegates from Iran? "Fraternal greetings, comrade. If you lived just a few hundred miles northeast in my country, you would be expelled from the Party for your reactionary religious superstitions". "Indeed, comrade, and you for yours in my country". Workers of the world, unite!
Marxism in a nutshell: "People are basically good, and that's why the world is so f$%#$%#$ed up".
Posted by Tom R at 12:00 pm
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The latest from the land of Tony and Cherie Blair: Cross-country running at school can breach a student's human rights.
This reminds me of the horrors of the "hop" in Tomkinson's Schooldays, a wonderfully satiric episode of Ripping Yarns, poking fun at all things proper and British by Michael Palin and Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. Summary of the culminating "hop" event below:
Cross-country running in schools could be a form of child abuse that breaches human rights, teenagers have been told.
A textbook used in citizenship classes claims the traditional activity is a form of physical abuse.
The guide, which tells pupils their legal rights, suggests cross-country is as damaging as bullying.
PE teachers and health experts yesterday described the guide as 'indefensible'.
More than 30,000 copies of the book have been sold to schools across Britain by Coordination Group Publications, one of the country's biggest educational publishers.
The guide is targeted at 14 to 16-year-olds and designed for use in citizenship lessons, which became compulsory in secondary schools four years ago.
In a chapter titled 'Your Legal Rights', pupils are told: 'You have the right to be protected from emotional or physical abuse.'
The book goes on to give just two examples - bullying and cross-country
"Finally Tomkinson is put to the ultimate torture: the hopping race, which no boy from Graybridge had ever survived. As he was on the point of death, he was approached by Grayson with a sniff of a certain interesting substance, and
perked up, and became the first ever Graybridge winner. He was welcomed back as the new school bully (Grayson having taken up an offer of a place at Eton), and
had the moral dilemma of how to reform the system.
He violently hits the little boy who congratulates him."
Posted by Stephen at 3:11 pm
Monday, August 07, 2006
Re-issued in honour of Mel Gibson:
[not all of these are mine]
ANTINOMIANISM MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY
BUDDHISM IS GETTING THERE SLOWLY
CATHOLICISM: GOD'S WAY OF SAYING "DO I HAVE TO PUT THAT IN WRITING?!"
CATHOLICISM: MORE FAITH THAN THE ATHEISTS, MORE REASON THAN THE FUNDOES
CATHOLIC POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY: IS IT ALL JUST PIUS/ KANT?
DISPENSATIONALISM WAS FINE WHILE IT LASTED
DO I BELIEVE IN TRANSUBSTANTIATION? IT MAKES NO VISIBLE DIFFERENCE
DON'T JOIN THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR IF YOU REFUSE TO KISS BUTT
DOUBLE PREDESTINATION WAS DOOMED FROM THE START
FUNDAMENTALISM: A VALID OPTION FOR YOU AMONG THE WORLD’S GREAT LIVING RELIGIONS?
GIVE TRADITIONALIST CATHOLICS A FAIR CRACK OF THE WHIP
GNOSTICISM ISN’T ALL ON THE LEVEL
GREGORIANISM: POSTPONE YOUR Y2K CRISIS UNTIL 3972 AD
GREGORIANISM: WE DON’T WORSHIP MAMMON, HELL NO – WE JUST VENERATE HIM
GREGORIANISM: WE STILL KEEP TEN COMMANDMENTS IN TOTAL
HOLZMANNISM – IT’S NOT LIKE YOU’RE MAKING OUT
IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THANK WILLIAM TYNDALE
LUTHERANISM DON’T ACCEPT NO BULL
MARITAINISM: THIS TIME - IT'S PERSONAL
ME, A SEDEVACANTIST? IS THE POPE CATHOLIC?
MILLENIALISM: NO GOOD FOR EITHER MAN OR BEAST
MORMONISM’S NO FAKE – HONEST INDIAN!
NEITHER ROME NOR GENEVA - BUT INTERNATIONAL GREGORIANISM
PENTECOSTALISM: COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
PIETISM IS NO LAUGHING MATTER
PRE-MILLENIALISM’S DAYS ARE NUMBERED
PROCESS THEOLOGY IS EVOLVING DAY BY DAY
AMILLENIALISM: GOD'S WAY OF SAYING "DON'T MAKE ME COME DOWN THERE!"
SEMI-PELAGIANISM DOES HAVE SOME MERIT
SO WHAT IF IT’S NOT RATIONAL TO DERIVE AN “OUGHT” FROM AN “IS”? THAT DOESN’T MEAN I HAVE TO STOP DOING IT
UNIATE CATHOLICISM: NICE PAIR OF LUNGS
WELCOME TO THE WAITERS’ UNION! HELP US STAMP OUT EVEN THE TINIEST REMAINING VESTIGES OF LEGALISM!
WHO ARE YOU TO TELL ME TO QUESTION AUTHORITY?
WHY DO YOU WANT TO EXCLUDE MY MODERNIST MASTER-NARRATIVE FROM CONSIDERATION?
YOU’RE A MONERGIST? GOD HELP YOU!
Posted by Tom R at 4:08 pm
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
"You dare - accuse me - of smuggling budgies?"
Former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff was unable to board a flight from the UK on Wednesday because he was ill, not drunk, his publicist has said. Press reports claimed the actor, 54, was intoxicated and could not board the flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles. Hasselhoff's publicist Judy Katz said that "was totally untrue" and that the actor felt unwell after taking some medication for a recent arm injury...
- "Hasselhoff 'Not Drunk' at Airport", BBC News (28 July 2006)
Budgie-smugglers... the dregs of humanity. The International Community must act now.
At least the 'Hoff didn't start ranting about how the Rotarians control the world's finances...
PS: That last one is behind the subscriber wall. Here's what Benny Morris said:
"In Article 17, under "The Role of Muslim Women," the charter [ie, the Covenant of Hamas, the movement's constitution and platform, finalized in August 1988] states:
'The enemies have understood that role [and] therefore they realize that if they can guide and educate [the Muslim women] in a way that would distance them from Islam, they would have won that war. Therefore, you can see them making consistent efforts [in that direction] by way of publicity and movies, curricula of education and culture, using as their intermediaries their craftsmen who are part of the various Zionist Organizations which take on all sorts of names and shapes such as: the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, gangs of spies and the like.... These Zionist organizations control vast material resources.... Islam ... will wipe out those organizations which are the enemy of humanity and Islam.'
Rotarians and Masons had better watch out..."
UPDATE: Radio Triple-M does its part:
"We're on a mission to clean up the pools and beaches this summer with The Cage's Budgie Smuggler Amnesty. We want you to mail in a photo of your Dad or partner in a pair of Budgie Smugglers as well as the actual Budgie Smugglers themselves..."
"No 'budgie smugglers' for APEC photo: PM", Melbourne Age (3 September 2007)
Posted by Tom R at 8:24 pm