Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
My soon to be wife has a gift for thinking in rugged, non-linear, non-feminine ways on occasion. Somehow we were babbling away about Star Trek, not sure why. We may have meandered to the subject because of Sonic Charmer’s observation that Captain Kirk evidently incinerated the Enterprise and everybody on it at the end of The Undiscovered Country. The visual evidence seems to back this up, in spite of the fact that Kirk and Scotty were seen at the beginning of Generations, and Spock and McCoy made appearances on The Next Generation.
Deductive reasoning then makes it clear to us what happened: Those four made off with a shuttlecraft, bailing on the Enterprise-A while poor Chekov, Uhura and the rest of the crew were vaporized in an agonizing death, as they zipped off somewhere in the general opposite direction. Probably laughing maniacally as they did so. With the exception of Spock, of course, who was simply doing the logical thing.
But seriously, here is the observation: You have this United Federation of Planets which is dedicated to “…the principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality…” From over seven hundred television episodes and eleven movies, we are not left with much question about how this part of it works. And, true to the founding vision of the franchise, this is merely a continuation of a long-standing trend, which our left-wing fellows consider themselves to be working hard to continue, in which societies become more unified and egalitarian over time. Captains outrank ensigns and admirals outrank captains, but when it comes to justice, liberty and universal human rights, all are equally entitled. Presumably, the same holds for distribution of limited supplies of life-sustaining resources, and presumably such conflicts arise very rarely because technology has removed shortages.
Therein lies the problem: Technology’s victory over the concept of shortage, is so complete that they have “food replicators.” Now think on that term “universal.” It doesn’t apply because not everybody is in the UFP. The Prime Directive makes it very plain that some people are to be kept out.
The litmus test, as we saw in First Contact, is whether the civilization has developed warp drive. There’s evidently a presumption in place that once this level of technology is reached, interstellar travel becomes an inevitability and the indigenous peoples are going to run around and meet everybody else anyway, so why not stop off and introduce yourselves? That particular film, for those who’ve not seen it, ends with a Vulcan crew doing exactly that in the middle of Montana somewhere. Possibilities exist that perhaps the Vulcans are renegades who don’t care about rules, or perhaps they are committing an infraction against a rule that will not exist for another century or so. (I’m ignoring those because the central thread of suspense in this movie is that the Vulcans can’t & won’t land, and First Contact won’t happen, until the warp-drive flight is accomplished; so that seems like the proper way to go.)
Okay so look what you’ve got going on here. We have these alien civilizations who are toiling away within a vast array of positions on this one-dimensional technological spectrum. Some have only just recently begun walking upright, and must risk life and limb to gather meat and berries so they don’t starve to death. Once they get to the point where they can climb into these big ships and travel faster than the speed of light, they can be invited to join the Federation. Within my understanding of all these hundreds of episodes, which is only a fraction of what’s been produced, never once has the situation been confronted in which such an invitation is extended and then refused. Perhaps someone can enlighten me in the comments…but if I’m right about that, this might be proper because, hey, food replicators. Why would anyone say no? But here’s my fiance’s point: Within the known universe you’ve got these Federation-member civilizations who can have baby back ribs or marshmallow sundaes on a whim, and then you have these savages wallowing around in their own waste clubbing each other over the head. And, one might fairly presume, elevated religious mystics telling women they can’t have abortions? What would the progressive Star Trek producers think of that? Anyway…doesn’t seem like universal equality to me.
There is another problem with these Vulcans telling one another “hey, woudja look at that they got warp drive down there, let’s go introduce ourselves.” Would it work that way? Really? Because in 2012 on Earth, we’ve already been busily at work using technology to obviate shortage issues for quite some time, along with making our societies more fair and egalitarian; we’re several centuries into it and it’s fair to say we have a good understanding of how the journey works, although we’ve yet to reach the destinations discussed. Based on what we have learned up to this date, it seems safe to conclude it wouldn’t work quite like this. The Vulcans would have to record their observations and submit an application to some centralized construct of bureaucracy and wait for approval to introduce themselves. This centralized bureaucracy, then, or some localized representative of their central wisdom, would then comb over the application looking for trivial anomalies or flaws that they could use as a pretext for rejecting it. Which they would have every incentive to do, because they’d be bureaucrats, motivated toward reducing their own pile of work. Failing that, they would then reconcile this application with some ever-sprawling mass of “easy to stop, hard to go” regulation such as environmental impact, access for the handicapped, et al, which would take some extended period of time. If they still couldn’t find a way to clog things up, they’d summon the Vulcans back to the home planet and put together a “panel” of distinguished representatives, call them “ambassadors” or “emissaries” I suppose, who would then be presumed to possess the requisite skills in diplomacy and wisdom to get the introduction done the right way. Since you Vulcan starship people are all just a bunch of, ya know, shipping-lane people or whatever. Quite logical in your own way since you’re Vulcans and all. But still, just freight crew. Can’t have these first-contact things left up to just any ol’ folks. First thing a bureaucracy does is put the bureaucrats in charge, by tying the hands of the non-bureaucrats. Anyone who doesn’t know that, has never seen one in action.
The funny thing is, I cannot claim that this last realization of mine is entirely outside the community of Star Trek writers/producers. How many stories and arcs are out there that have made it all the way to the little- or big-screen, about the plucky and cocksure “Starfleet officer” who saw what needed doing & went ahead and did it, in defiance of his “orders” from the central bureaucracy. Dozens, maybe hundreds! The defiance was regretful, or thumb-your-nose brazen, but there was no mistaking the common lesson: Local control is better. These are not even bad Star Trek episodes, contradictory as they may be against the United-Nations-inspired founding vision. The episode in which the parasites started taking over the Federation by burrowing their way into the Starfleet officer’s bodies, ranks as one of my all-time favorites.
I suppose some of this is the price to be paid for having lots of writers from a diverse selection of backgrounds, collaborating on a common franchise over the course of half a century, and collaborating only loosely. But I believe some of this conflict is inextricably connected to the problem with the vision. “Universal equality” is a pipe dream, a dream that cannot be realized, and all who take umbrage at that that can be adequately answered with this simple truism: Those who dream the dream most ardently are the first to abandon it. It doesn’t even taken them forty-five years or seven hundred episodes to do it. Just by fleshing in the details of their fantasy, they reject it in the blink of an eye.
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