Friday assorted links


#1 Another classic example of, as IowaHawk put it, lefties seizing on a beloved institution, "killing it. Gutting it. Wearing its carcass as a skin suit while demanding respect." Hollywood is in late stage cultural decline. New ideas are dead, they've been replaced with remake after remake. They wonder why their results aren't different this time. Complacency.

#4 "Only When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Blockchain." - Native American Saying

#5 Only last year there was article after article talking about the rise in home cooking, fast-casual availability at grocery chains, and steep declines in eating out. Which is it?

That's the first liberal critique of Star Trek: Discovery I've seen, but I've seen loads of right wing critiques of the show for going too far from Star Trek canon and for plot contortions in order to appease the Gods of diversity and make thinly disguised anti-Trump political statements (I wonder if your commentator identified Klingon=Trump and whether that would have convinced him that pre-emptive strikes were not only excusable, but praiseworthy :-)). It looks like the writers have managed to annoy both sides - if the complaints are true, to the point of people deliberately not watching.

(Of the Star Trek successor shows, I like parts of Deep Space Nine best, when the Federation has its back against the wall and just carrying on with business is an exercise in grim determination).

Actually, it makes the rather apolitical point that Klingons are aliens and if you try to interact with them without understanding their culture, bad things will happen.

The point is that by Klingons cultural standards, the Federation's behavior is a sign of weakness and an invitation to be conquered. Only the Klingons are disorganized and losing influence to the encroaching Federation. The very phrase "We come in peace" is at once an insult and the symbol of the Federation's passive agreesive destruction of their very way of life. So when a high ranking official of the Federation shows up and says it, the Klingons strike first.

This in no way implies that what would have prevented war, showing strength by attacking the Klingons on sight (what the ever logical Vulcans had done to establish their peaceful relations with Klingons) is the only, much less best way to begin a cultural exchange, it was just what had to be done to avoid a larger war in this case.

And as I've said before, this answers the question, "what's so funny about peace, love and understanding?" Nothing, unless that's not what the other guy wants.

So the Klingons are the non western nations and our policy of red lines that we run away from is an invitation to walk all over us.

You are correct, we should understand their culture.

You mean that, if you support the Mujahideen terrorists, Pakistan and the House of Saud, you can come short of two towers and some thousands of lives? Who would have thought that terrorists would terrorize people?!

So it's basically the opposite of the backstory for Babylon 5?

I think Star Trek, especially the original series, has always had an element of gunboat diplomacy in the guise of lofty principles. Maybe they'll give some back story of unchecked expansion by the Federation with lots of collateral damage and make the Klingons have something of a point.

I think you've never seen the series.

"I think Star Trek, especially the original series, has always had an element of gunboat diplomacy in the guise of lofty principles. "

Yes, or at least sort of. The original series was full of cases where the Prime Directive was ignored so that Captain Kirk could correct some "obvious" moral flaw of the natives and get them on the path to true (aka: western) civilization.

rew parallels between the Kilngons and Trump supporters while watching the show, but noted that preservation of culture and independence is a very common cultural value so I viewed it more as an incidental coincidence than a planned political statement (especially given that the plot was likely written long before the election).

The snowflake tweetstorm seems quite premature. If Starfleet is eventually forced to nuke the Klingons out of existance (after continued diplomatic failures and loss of life) it will look like an endorsement of right-wing values, but I think it is far more likely that both sides find common ground which would be a more neutral political position to take.

I'm not sure what the left wanted - if saying "We come in peace, now join the EU" was all it took to bridge cultural divides the show would be about 20 minutes long.

Since it's set before but not too long before TOS, it's hard to imagine things becoming too peaceful between the Federation and the Klingons.

The last Star Trek film I saw was set about a billion years in the future ..... and the US military were still the bad guys.

The politics of Star Trek have become a cartoon-ish parody of the Left's infantile obsession with getting even with their fathers. So it is not hard to work out how this one is going to go.

What in the world does this have to do with the fact that they're unlikely to go neutral-war-peace-war between now and the time period of TOS?

Nothing. It's a SMFS post: something something leftists something Noam Chomsky Pol Pot something

It has to do with the fact that their politics are so asinine and obvious that we all can pretty much guess how this is going to go. It is not particularly hard to see what people whose emotions stretch the gamut from A to B will do.

Hi MSG. Bored with pretending to be Art?

Yes, Star Trek politics are juvenile. And its treatment of non-Federation (non-western) cultures is patronising and facile. You never get a real sense of "Alien" from the show. Or danger.

How many times has the Federation faced existential aggression or destruction? How many times has Earth been attacked and billions of lives threatened? The Borg, Dominion, Klingons etc. The threat level is like having WWII every decade or so. The military budget would be through the roof, but instead they just breeze through with a handful of Starfleet ships which seem more equipped for peacekeeping than defence.

If they could do a Star Trek show with hard, real choices between striking moral poses and surviving a hostile universe, then I might start watching again. As it is I've better things to do than watch unserious Californians in Space.

I recall the Dominion storyline had what seemed a reasonable number of starships for a massive WWII type war (i.e. hundreds to thousands).

The Borg were truly Alien IMO but they couldn't maintain their power in the narrative (basically red shirt ship screen thousands of ships get destroyed taking on one Borg Cube...on screen a Cube can only seriously damage the Enterprise in an engagement that seems to take way too long).

Here's something to consider, though. If you had something really Alien, it probably wouldn't even be a threat. If an alien entity comes into conflict with humans and the battle is over things like territory then on some level the alien has to have something in common with humans.


They did make that show. It was called Battlestar Galactica. It was much more worthwhile than any Trek that's been filmed.

5. America grocery stores are pretty awful. Bad layout and poor selection of nutritious food. A whole lotta bread and chips though.

And, donuts.

My bugaboo is processed meats, i.e., frankfurters and good, German bratwursts. They are to be avoided.

It was better when we had in the house three teen-aged sons.

We don't love to cook. It's hard to cook for two, old empty-nesters. We cook in "normal" quantities and get to eat left-overs for a week.

The problem with American sausages is it's a salvage industry. It's made from all the bits which you can't sell as cuts of meat. I used to work with a guy married to a German. He was surprised when he visited her family that they used the whole pig to make sausages. Loin, butt, it all goes in there. They care about the quality of their sausages.

Layout is pretty easy....all the stuff you buy is along the outside parameter. The inside is the diabetes trap except for the aisle with the spices, coffee and olive oil.

+1. In modern supermarkets, you literally have to go out of your way to get junk food.

5. I like to be cooked for. Does this count?

#5: that first photo is awful. Everybody has a dishwasher at home. Well, not very low income people but "at least 75% of US homes".

We have a dishwasher but barely ever use it, preferring to wash dishes by hand. Pans need to be washed by hand anyway, so you have to go to the sink in any case. Also unless you are putting it on straight away it is best to rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher which means you are halfway there so why not finish the job. Mostly we use it only when we have guests and lots of plates and cutlery.

Plates are easy to clean, getting glasses and cutlery thoroughly cleaned and gleaming is a job I and the wife are happy to automate.

For most people the dishwasher is really a cabinet in which to store dirty dishes until enough have accumulated to be washed.

5. Cowen is known as a foodie, but does he cook? I've never read a blog post by him about some new recipe he has tried. Or about a meal he prepared for friends and family. Or about a dish he ate at a restaurant that he wants to try to make himself. My father was a chef. When we traveled and ate at restaurants, my father would invariably end up in the kitchen talking to the chef/staff about this or that item on the menu. I'm certainly not the chef he was, but I enjoy nothing more than preparing a meal for family and friends. I usually host Thanksgiving, and my nephew (my niece's husband) and I are in charge of the kitchen. He is a great cook, a creative cook, a happy cook. They reside in Charleston, which has some fantastic restaurants. They moved to Charleston in part so he could own and operate a restaurant there. As fate would have it, there were no brokers specializing in restaurants, this in a city known for restaurants. Seeing an opportunity, and being his father's son, he became the restaurant broker instead. On my visits, we rarely eat at restaurants, my nephew preferring to cook, which of course follows the trip to his favorite grocery stores (yes, stores) to purchase just the right ingredients. I think I enjoy the trip to the grocery stores as much as the meal itself. The one exception, by tradition I treat the family to lunch on the day after Christmas at a restaurant of his choosing. It's always excellent, but I would prefer to be in my nephew's kitchen watching him do his thing while sipping a glass of champagne. He cooks some.

Nobody loves to cook. We cook because we want to eat. I call the crap you get from cafeterias and microwave ovens and fast food joints "prison food". I don't eat prison food.

What if a cafeteria got a hold of an exclusive supply of boiled Neandertal shoulder? You'd at least taste it, right?

I enjoy it, in moderation. If every day were a 19th century slog, maybe not.

Typed from a takeout chair, waiting for Thai food.

Ditto. It's a craft like any other. There's enjoyment in trying things out, in feeding others, and in simply doing good work. It's much more interesting than a chore like laundry or cleaning. But it needs a little skill, patience, time ... and knowing how to sharpen knives.

The linked piece seems about right on the distribution of skills and preferences in the U.S. pop.

I'm just back from a shopping run with fresh veg and frozen steamed buns, which are a killer convenience food.

"Nobody loves to cook. We cook because we want to eat" was pretty much what I thought. If those microwave packages were any good I'd probably eat them, but so long as something almost palatable can be made from cheap ingredients (and not much costs less than HFCS and salt), I don't see any breakthroughs happening here.

That is, there's a large gap between "loves to cook" and "willing to do utilitarian cooking to avoid eating crap."

In any case, there does seem to be an expanding market for ready-to-eat takeout, as there seem to be many who don't want to think about food selection (let alone prep) until they're actually hungry and ready to eat it. The problem for grocery chains is not in offering this, but in convincing customers to pay enough to make it profitable.

And, yes, the difficulty of predicting demand ensures that ready-to-eat takeout will produce plenty of food that goes straight from display to dumpster.

I love to cook. I cook mostly everyday, sometimes twice a day on the week-end or on vacation. Cooking is fun and helps me empty my mind after too much mathematics.

I like to cook as well. Even when my family are away I end up making elaborate meals just for myself, just to try out new recipes or ideas, or make an old favorite. I will do this even though perhaps I might have had a really busy day, cooking is actually relaxation for me. My wife can't understand it - she regards cooking as the ultimate chore. Fortunately she likes ironing and cleaning which makes for a good partnership.

If lots of people truly loved to cook, rather than loved to eat the food they cook, we would have fewer restaurants and more cooking practice facilities, cooking leagues, etc. We might also have cheap, inedible practice food, which people could cook without eating. Chef hero might be a video game.

Interesting you should mention that.

#1 "reminds me of the original Battlestar Galactica"

The best Battlestar Galactica. Good guys and actual bad guys.

Star Trek Discovery (Pilot Episodes) - re:View

2. "Educating doctors is a long and expensive process"

There's no good reason why it should be. Doctors aren't magicians, they're technicians that operate equipment, input data to computers, read print-outs and prescribe treatment on the basis of established medicine. They're over-educated and over paid.

Mike clearly doesn't understand the basics of medicine. The doctor-as-mechanic model only works if you actually understand human physiology / health in a deep way (similar to how an assembly line understands widgets) which sadly, is nowhere near the truth.

Medicine is much more a judgment-based field with tons of conflicting data (e.g., when to treat basic conditions and when not to and for what sub-set), theories later proved wrong or dubious (e.g., look at Alzheimer's or most of psychiatry where SSRIs are a misnomer), and one where getting the right data out of the patient and making a guess as to what is the most likely on subjective factors is critical.

A more accurate analogy would be doctor as judge who doesn't believe in originalism and has only dubious case law / precedent to work with.

V - what you said, plus there are a lot of people in the world who go for hundreds of days without talking to anyone with common sense, when they go to the doctor they at least are usually talking to someone with common sense. In the entire scheme of things, that may seem insignificant, but when one considers what the life of a person with terrible health habits is like, and when one then considers how much better that life would be with a little more common sense - well, consider that for a few moments and you will completely understand the reason why doctor shows on TV choose attractive people to play the doctors and less attractive people to play the patients . Common sense is a good that is not abundant (a scarce good, as we have been saying in Edinburgh since the 1780s) , and it correlates with a more pleasant view of life. That is why we all feel a little emotional, in a pleasant way, when our children announce they want to go to medical school. Well, most of us, anyway. Gene Wolfe wrote a couple of good novels on this subject. Even Sinclair Lewis wrote a good book - Arrowsmith - explaining what I was trying to say. And as bad as Greys Anatomy was (well not so bad if seen as a very very humble pastiche of Jane Austen) and as immediately dated as ER and "Saint Elsewhere" (stupid name, fitting for its clueless denouement) and "Chicago Hope" were, they had the virtue of resonance with our emotions about common sense and its rarity (don't get me started on General Hospital, which my babysitter - born in the 1870s, God bless the old girl, and fascinated by TV shows - used to watch when I was a mere toddler - I remember - or Dr Kildare or, my favorite because of the connection to uber-genius Loretta Young, Marcus Welby, MD (why Marcus and not Mark - simple - they wanted a pseudo-Shakespearean lilt to the title).

Many doctors are just Expert diagnostic systems ripe for computer replacement. A lot of doctors are unsurprisingly Not Very Good.

Try typing in something simple like "Fever" into WebMD or using Watson for your oncology treatments and see how that goes. Bit of humility in your future I would expect.

Biggest issue with AI / expert diagnostic systems in medicine is the subjectivity of so much of medicine along with the flux of major findings as mentioned above. Things as simple as mechanical readings of EKGs and findings spots on mammograms (CAD) have had decades of incremental improvement and still don't really work well because of the underlying knowledge constraints. Yet, we still hear a lot of hype from engineers / tech enthusiasts / etc. and a lack of the brutal criticism needed from docs (from the latter because it is human nature to hate to admit you and your field don't know as much as you portray)

For general diagnosis, the machines do well when THEY ask the questions. IIRC they are slightly more accurate than the average General Practitioner, but I'm not motivated to hunt a link at this hour.

Specific visual assessment of test data may be trickier, but the "Web MD" approach will work for most conditions and transfer the unknown cases to a human specialist.

Everyone should be seen by a nurse with a year's training. Except you and your family, I presume.

#1. I find it more than odd that the fact that the executive officer attacked and rendered the captain unconscious, lied to the other command personnel, and attempted to start a war wasn't remarked on. It is strangely reminiscent of the attacks by Leftist activists (I won't call them extremists since it appears they are if not the majority, then close to it of the population which considers itself Left) on alt-Right demonstrators. I would have thought that portraying a black (female) main character as murderous, disloyal, lying, and traitorous would have precipitated an enormous backlash from the African-American community, the People-of-Color Community, and the Equal Outcome community. Wait, am I talking about Empire, How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, or Discovery?

#4. Hahahahaaaaaahaha.

The best part is that our Stone Age ancestors ate a hell of a lot more than meat: berries, nuts, roots, etc.

Yeah the article is bizarre in that it doesn't distinguish between paleo and ketogenic and that. Paleo:that::a normal modern diet:paleo

We cook. Our friends treat that as unusual. I can endorse the following. Use the sauce on shrimp for something quicker.

Apparently scotch bonnet peppers are hard to finagle. Do you have a secret source?

As I understand it, same as habanero. We have a pot growing on the front porch I should try to use though.

Thai chilis a better substitute than jalapeno imo

It's interesting to me that Tyler posts a fine interview with a great Chinese science fiction writer, and all of the SF comments so far are about Star Trek.

Youtube and video in general are dead, blogs and the written word are the hot medium.

Still, we're talking about a television show.

Tom J - It is in fact hard to comprehend the Star Trek phenomenon. However, assuming that you are correct that the writer in question is "a great science fiction writer" - and he does not care whether I know if he is or if he is not, he is one of less than 100 people in the world who is guaranteed a lifetime income as a science fiction writer and nothing I say can change that - remember that Star Trek is an expensive (to create the original 4 series cost the equivalent of about 10 thousand middle class homes, cash-wise, and that does not take into account the opportunity costs for the actors - all those Shakespearean plays and Dostoevsky adaptations Picard and Shatner could have done on all those days when they were space suits at work) filter - as I was saying, Star Trek is an expensive filter through which people who like to watch TV shows are brought into a conversation, attenuated but still quite interesting, with much of the original generation of American science fiction writers - Doc Smith, Heinlein, Leigh Brackett, and so on. Not much Gene Wolfe or Cordwainer Smith there, but that is ok, there was not much William Morris or Lord Dunsany in the hobbit movies, and they were still pretty good.

Going back to the years they were first shown, F-Troop and Hogan's Heroes and Gilligan's Island and Star Trek were all unlikely candidates to be functioning franchises half a century later - while nobody can argue with the inherent interest of the semi-humorous challenges of an idealized US cavalry in the post-war (post War Between the States, that is) decades (with the bonus interest that Melody and Captain Parameter remind me of my youngest grandparent's mother and father, who were young people just like them during the years when F-troop took place), or the inherent interest of joking multi-cultural wise guy POWs facing off against the Evil of the Modern Age, or the inherent interest of Lust, Pride, Folly, Anger, Sloth, Greed and Forgetfulness living together on a South Sea Island, with frequent but fruitless visits from witty contestants from the Hollywood Squares - while nobody can argue with the inherent interest of those mostly forgotten shows, one has to admit that only Star Trek, with the concept of lovable familiar character actors adventuring in space, is still a viable source of marketable "TV shows" and marketable "movies".

Who doesn't like character actors? And who doesn't like space? The questions answer themselves.

the great grandparents in question were actually middle aged in the 1870s, but I am told they were young at heart, God bless them. Lust - the Captain, Pride - Gilligan, Folly - the Professor, Anger - Ginger, Sloth - Bunny, Greed - Mr Magoo from Rebel without a Cause, and Forgetfulness - Mary. But at their best there was not a trace of those faults. Either you like people or you don't - I liked them all - I don't watch much TV, but I still regret there were not a lot more seasons of those shows. 50 years worth, like Star Trek, I don't know about that, but a lot more seasons, in moderation - as the literary critics say, completeness in art is not a fault.

"F-Troop and Hogan’s Heroes and Gilligan’s Island"

It is .. balloon!"

1. A pretty interesting analysis, and I sort of agree, sort of disagree.

I think he's right that Trek has moved right in some ways, but I'm not sure I'd condemn any of the shows for that. Shows can explore conservative positions -- it's OK. It might also be said that Trek has become more realistic and less of an idyllic fantasy in which Commander Data can always find a peaceful resolution through the creative use of tachyons. Perhaps that shift to "reality" also requires that the characters do things that challenge, or even compromise, Star Trek's usual progressive values.

The analysis also seems to assume that Michael Burnham's instincts are correct or endorsed, a premature conclusion. It's possible, however, that the show is setting up two sides in opposition, one dovish and the other more hawkish. If Burnham represents the hawks here, the admiral seems to represent the doves. I suspect neither policy would work in that situation as Starfleet had no clue what was going on until it was too late to craft a principled strategy. It seems like the show will attempt to find a middle ground that will lead to peace (I suspect her new captain will be more of a hawk than she is). Further, it seems clear that Burnham is acting out of fear and the memory of the Klingons who killed her family. The writers may be trying to convey that childhood trauma is complex and powerful enough to sometimes override one's carefully reasoned principles. Again, is that an endorsement of such values? Probably not, though time will tell.

The analysis suggests that the show seems to recommend pre-emptive strikes against a hostile enemy, but I'd be reluctant to call the show an allegorical endorsement for the Bush doctrine. It is, further, just as easy to argue that the villains in this show are launching the pre-emptive strike. Finally, science fiction is allowed to create a situation in which violence could lead to a peaceful resolution, even if we all agree that is unlikely to happen on our planet.

Anyway, analyses like the one offered are certainly interesting and very helpful in developing a relationship with the show.

This made the LOL: "It might also be said that Trek has become more realistic and less of an idyllic fantasy in which Commander Data can always find a peaceful resolution through the creative use of tachyons."

1. Isn't this what happened with Wonder Woman? It was diverse but the themes were conservative.

And so what? I don't see what's the problem with shows not having the standard progressive viewpoint.

5. I like to cook

I don't like the commute to the grocery store or the cleanup

#5 I don't love to cook but I love to eat what I cook, made just the way I like it.

Food I cook always tastes better even when it isn't good

It depends, I always notice the small flaws in something I cook that other people don't see. It's a bit like when you paint a room, you can always see the bit where you made a mistake say and some paint went on the woodwork that shouldn't have. No-one else notices it though.

5: One of the local supermarket chains here switched half of their meat refrigerator (or whatever it's called, the big bins that you grab your plastic-wrapped meat out of) to hold about 20 bins of frozen prepared but unpackaged food. The sign says it's all $7.99 per pound. The frozen food in the bin is almost unrecognizable but the signs tell you its beef fajitas, or roast potatoes with rosemary, or ravioli, or whatever. You grab ladles-full of whatever you want, take it home, and I presume saute it to make it hot.

So it's not like grabbing the ready-made food from the hot food counter, but it's not real cooking either. Presumably the store is trying to reach a sweet spot between the ready-to-eat and frozen microwaveable markets, and the semi-prepared food markets where half the work is already done for the cook. Here it's more like 90% of the work is done.

The Klingons are basically Russians. In the Kirk series, they were Cold War Russians a belligerent and competitive superpower. Star Trek 6 made the parallel explicit with its equivalent of Chernobyl. In the TNG and DS9 era they were Yeltsin-era Russians, no longer a threat and feeling like occasional allies. Now they are Putin-era Russians. Very sensitive to encroachment on their borders and their space, hostile to the concept of Western liberalism, feeling very under threat and very conscious they have seen better days. The Klingon antagonist is the Klingon equivalent of ultranationalists like Aleksandr Prokhanov.

I really liked the first two episodes, been so long since there was a Trek series that had actual effort put into story and characterisation. I thought the lead was going to be another example of politically correct casting like the awful Janeway but she is very good and far better than I expected.

"I thought the lead was going to be another example of politically correct casting like the awful Janeway"

That was the take at the time:


"Now for a Politically Correct 'Star Trek'
Published: January 16, 1995

Much will be made of the political correctness of this new venture, not least in that the captain of this ship is a woman, but "Star Trek" has long been a multicultural champion of erasing prejudices of all sorts. This time it just goes a bit further. After all, it's the 24th century.

Capt. Kathryn Janeway, played with unmistakable authority by Kate Mulgrew,"

Mulgrew's acting was entirely...average..

But the writing for the character (and the show in general) was execrable. It tells you something that the only interesting characters were a hologram and an ex-borg; they were the only ones allowed humanity and growth.

You guys got it all wrong about the recent Star Trek. The new klingons aren't Russians or SpaceTrump...they're SpaceISIS and the greater arab/Muslim community. A fanatic attempts to unite his fellow travelers by forcing a conflict with the progressives. When the shooting starts, whose side are you going to be on? The lead, Michael, a black female, is shown to be irrational, violent, xenophobic, and racist....interesting making her the stereotype of conservatives. It was the boring white male admiral who was the dove.

This is the correct interpretation, for better or worse. Also note her comment that generalizations based on culture do not imply racism -- a conservative position, as liberals often claim that generalizations based on culture are tantamount to racist generalizations. Conservatives have their head so far up their collective ass they can't even see when Star Trek is trying to agree with them.

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