Analysis

Mythos in Star Trek Discovery 1.10 Despite Yourself

This blogpost is focused on looking at how Lethe, the sixth episode of Star Trek: Discovery fits into the events and themes of the previously established universe. I’ve written similar blogposts looking at each previous episode (you can read the first here, and a full list under the Star Trek Discovery tag).

The Pseudoscience of Star Trek’s Parallel Universes

The TNG episode Parallels has Worf travelling through parallel universes .On his way back to the Enterprise from a holiday, Worf’s shuttle passes through a “quantum fissure“, which causes a “quantum flux” in Worf’s cellular RNA. As a result throughout the episode when Worf is close to Geordi La Forge, a “quantum field pulse” that Geordi’s visor sends out, interacting with Worf’s altered state, pushes him into the body of himself in a slightly different parallel universe. During this process Data confirms Worf’s account by noting that his ‘quantum signature’ is different to the rest of the crew – a line repeated in Despite Yourself.

These shifts are very subtle at first. The first Worf notices being that Picard shows up unexpectedly at a party. These differences become more divergent from the main timeline, until Worf ends up in a timeline where Captain Riker commands the Enterprise, Worf is his first officer, and Wesley Crusher is a member of the senior crew.

The coincidences of the Mirror Universe often seem incredibly unlikely – same people, children of the same parents, serving on the same ship…even though the fundamental philosophy of their society is different. But using Worf’s example justifies this. In a multiverse of infinite possibilities, he travels first to those universes most like his own, getting further and further away, but never too different. (He is always serving on the Enterprise, never anywhere else.)

Perhaps the Mirror Universe has a few big differences in it’s ‘quantum signature’ but is otherwise similar to our own, which makes it easier to access than some others. If you think of it in terms of magic rather than hard science, it works. I doubt that any of this has anything to do with the real theoretical science behind parallel universes, by Hugh Everett and others. It’s probably best to think of this level of ‘science’ in the same manner as magic – what matters is that it serves the story and is internally consistent.

(Incidentally, Burnham refers to the ‘mirror Discovery’ which I think is the first textual mention of the term ‘mirror’ in relation to the mirror universe.) There’s certainly no mention of the term in Mirror, Mirror – the TOS episode which introduced this timeline.

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Comedy

Toby Young’s Eugenics Speech

Toby Young has been mired in controversy this year, with the latest revelation being that he attended the London Conference on Intelligence, where several pseudoscientific arguments on the superiority of white and male genetics have been made over recent years.

I’ve decided to discover a memo written while constructing a speech delivered to the LCI. It might be real for all you know.

Lynne,

I’m sending you a draft copy of the speech I’m going to give to the secret eugenics conference, just to check on the scientific accuracy of my speech. [I’ll see what I can do. Though I’m not keen on the phrase ‘secret eugenics conference’.]

Welcome ladies and gentleman. And welcome also to the not so gentle men, such as the the guy in the third row with the swastika tattoo on his forehead. (Wait a moment for people to turn around.) I’m joking of course, there are no members of the working class here.

I’m here to talk to you today about eugenics, an area of science that has a negative reputation as the result of some misapplications in the 1930s and 40s. Because of these…unfortunate uses of eugenics – the whole genocide thing – many people reject the idea entirely out of hand. I personally have been no-platformed by Teach First, who deleted my blog on eugenics. [That’s not what no-platforming means. I’ve been rejected by many journals, you don’t have a right to be paid for your words in whatever publication you want.]

This conference has a long legacy of brave speakers, willing to challenge taboos. One of my predecessors at this podium, Emil Kirkegaard, argued that paedophiles should be allowed to rape sleeping children provided that they’re unaware of what’s done to them. Many of the ideas expressed at this conference and those like it will be considered controversial to mainstream ivory tower elites. But the development of new ideas requires debate. Without an in-depth discussion, can we really say for certain that it’s wrong for a paedophile to rape a sleeping child?

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FootballOpinion

Legacy Issues – How Hartlepool United Made it to the Brink

News emerging over recent weeks have revealed that Hartlepool United have some major financial issues to overcome in the next few weeks. Ian King of TwoHundredPercent.net has a good summary of Hartlepool United’s situation. As a fan I’ve a few more things to add.

First of all, a bit of recent history. Going back years Pools were owned by IOR, an Aberdeen-based oil company who subsidised the club’s finances. The spending was never anywhere near as much as al Fayed at Fulham or Whelan at Wigan, who were in the lower leagues around the same time, but enough to help compete with Cardiff, Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City etc.

IOR’s motives seemed to use Pools as corporate entertainment (showcasing their business skill in the process) and as a tax write-off (Pools made losses of around £1m a season under their leadership despite going up and down divisions, which seems too steady to be coincedental.) The impression grew over time that IOR had gotten bored of Pools, and were happy for us to tread water. There was disaffection with them long before they sold the club.

A deal was initially struck for the club to be sold to Stephen Murrall and Peter Harris (known as The Monkey Hangers 2014 – a business set up for the purpose of buying the club). Gate money was transferred into their accounts during the transitional period before the formal takeover, which led to the deal collapsing. In financial terms this is classed as ‘self-dealing’, and was one of the reasons that they were later jailed.

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Review

Review – Bright

Dealing with racism through the metaphor of supernatural beings in a world very similar to our own, Bright is superficially similar to the vastly superior Alien Nation. Will Smith plays the mildly racist cop Daryl Ward, with Joel Edgerton as his stoic Orc partner Nick Jakoby. In a world full of fantastical creatures but little magic, the discovery of a magic wand sets off a chaotic night with Ward and Jakoby protecting the wand from the various groups intent on wielding its’ power. There’s also some stuff about a prophecy, but if you’ve ever seen that trope in action Bright won’t surprise you.

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Comedy

Predictions for 2018

As we enter 2018, here are a few predictions for the year ahead…

Donald Trump will be recorded on tape asking an aide if Narnia is a real place, and if “that’s where Islam comes from”. The White House’s official line will be that Trump was joking.

Ed Sheeran will release a bland and inoffensive acoustic song which will somehow infuriate half the planet.

Britain First’s Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen will break into a mosque and set Sikhs on fire in the street. When convicted of attempted murder they will release a statement criticising a ‘dangerous PC culture’ which makes it ‘impossible to stand up against foreign invaders’, ‘even when they look a bit brown’.

Trailers for the new Han Solo film will infuriate fans by introducing two new characters who previously didn’t have their own Wookiepedia page.

Manchester City will win the Premier League with a record 100 points. Jose Mourinho will say that Manchester City’s budget is solely responsible, and demand Manchester United break the world transfer record again. Manchester United finish fifth.

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Analysis

Mythos in Star Trek Discovery 1.06: Lethe

This blogpost is focused on looking at how Lethe, the sixth episode of Star Trek: Discovery fits into the events and themes of the previously established universe. I’ve written similar blogposts looking at each previous episode (you can read the first here, and the fifth here).

 

Science, Magic and Spirituality

Arthur C. Clarke famously claimed that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. The genres of science fiction and fantasy overlap a great deal in practice, with the ‘science’ in scifi being so advanced and unexplained that it may as well be magic. Star Trek has generally been more solidly scientific than Star Wars or Doctor Who, but there are beings like Q and the Squire of Gothos who are so highly evolved that they effectively play the same role the gods did in Greek mythology. On a smaller scale, an important part of series 6 of DS9 is the concept of ‘self-replicating mines’, which realistically would need to draw an enormous amount of energy from the vacuum of space in order to replace themselves. The scientific accuracy in any work of science fiction will be limited by the writers’ scientific knowledge and imagination, and the audience’s ability to understand. The story is more important than getting the jargon right, and that will mean some compromise.

Probably the most magical aspect of Star Trek mythos is the katra – the Vulcan idea of the soul. In The Wrath of Khan Spock incapacitates McCoy and instructs him to “remember” before entering Engineering to perform an operation which he knows will irradiate his body. After Spock ‘dies’ and his body is jettisoned, Kirk and crew learn that Spock’s katra is inside McCoy, prompting them to steal a ship to search for Spock’s body, and reunite it with his soul.

This potentially raises some interesting questions – what happens if Spock had survived the process, but had become separated from McCoy? Does this mean what’s probably the most iconic speech in the franchise (“The needs of the many” and “I have been and always shall be, your friend”) was delivered not by Spock, but by an empty husk, an echo of who he is? The location of Spock’s katra is either a plotpoint that we shouldn’t think about too much (like the self-replicating mines) or an interesting philosophical question.

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Analysis

Mythos in Star Trek Discovery 1.05: Choose Your Pain

This blogpost is focused on looking at how Choose Your Pain, the fifth episode of Star Trek: Discovery fits into the events and themes of the previously established universe. I’ve written similar blogposts looking at each previous episode (you can read the first here, and the fourth here.

Sometimes Down is Up

For the third time in five episodes we begin by viewing things from an unusual perspective, in this case a dream sequence in the halls of Discovery. (The Vulcan Hello begins by moving through a star cluster and through T’Kuvma’s eye; The Butcher’s Knife begins inside a replicator.) Approaching the familiar from odd angles and re-examining what we thought we knew appears to be a key theme for the show.

For example, Discovery draws on Lower Decks, the TNG episode which followed junior officers rather than the senior crew. After three episodes on Discovery we know very little about Airiam, (the android or cyborg who seems to be Discovery’s second officer) and Culber refers in this episode to “the CMO” implying that he is not the ship’s Chief Medical Officer. Normally all of the senior crew would be introduced in the opening episode, and be the focus of the show.

Similarly, it’s unusual to get the viewpoint of a non-Starfleet Human who’s expressedly against the actions of Starfleet. From across the whole franchise I can only think of Harry Mudd, Carol and David Marcus, Joseph Sisko, and you could arguably include Michael Eddington and Mortimer Harren on that list. Breakthroughs in science and diplomacy often require a shift in perspective, such as Stamets’ observation that (in Star Trek science) physics and biology are fundamentally the same. Discovery appears to be encouraging the viewer to look at the familiar from a fresh angle.

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