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Captain Kirk is (will be?) a terrible captain

Recently, in an attempt to escape the real world, I started watching Star Trek: The Original Series again.

It’s the perfect form of escape, set not just in the far off future, but in distant, distant lands under the aegis of exploring for a utopian government. How much further from today’s reality could you possibly get?

A little further, it turns out.

I used to watch the show religiously on broadcast television when I was a kid, oddly enough for a similar reason I’m watching it now: to escape the terror of real life and the homework it entailed.

I still have homework, but as a husband and father, it is of a profoundly different nature than that assigned by my grade school teachers.

Oh, 20/20 hindsight, how I wish my life now could be as simple as it actually was back then, my contemporary prepubescent protestations to the contrary.

But I digress. As an adult, I found myself returning to the show every now and then, dialing up an old favorite and re-watching it just for nostalgia.

Tiny, single episode bites. Get the nostalgia hit but fail to see any overarching patterns.

But this is the first time I watched a sustained number of episodes in a small amount of time – about ten episodes in the last week.

And I discovered that Captain Kirk is a terrible captain.

I’m not talking about all the bad decisions he made that led to unnecessary loss of life, or even the sheer amount of loss of life that occurred under his command.

Those are real issues, but his incompetency is more basic than that.

Captain Kirk completely loses his head around women.

Episode after episode, he pursues one ill-advised romance after the next.

I mean, in one episode he even gets into a fight with another man over a sentient sex doll!

(Don’t believe me? Give Requiem for Methuselah another spin if you think you can handle the fully woke squick factor.)

And more often than not, he isn’t using his wily ways to save the ship. Requiem for Methuselah is a prime example of a recurring pattern of (bad) behavior: he meets a woman he finds attractive, becomes genuinely smitten (to the point that sometimes Spock has to use the Vulcan mind meld to erase the failed relationship from Kirk’s mind at the end of the episode), and chaos, heartbreak, and often a crew death or two ensues.

Pathetic.

This man is not just in command of not just an incredibly powerful military ship (yeah, yeah, I know, “ship of exploration” – how many ships and alien crews has he destroyed, how many planet surfaces has he severely damaged?). He is also responsible for the lives of his crew and, as a representative of the Federation, maintaining peace throughout the galaxy. But hey, that green-skinned, scantily clad lady over there is really hot, so the heck with duty.

That’s a commendable trait in a captain, right? A pretty face turning your head and causing everything else to go out the window is a vital skill in the enlightened future, yes?

Even worse, he flirts with his own crew members! You know, the women under his command? How is that not, well, to be perfectly blunt, rape-y?

(Not talking about Rand – watch the end of Mirror, Mirror and Kirk’s interaction with Lt. Marlena Moreau if you want to see just how creepy and unprofessional the “great” Captain Kirk is.)

This is your captain speaking. Commence to Phase I of creepiness: Manspreading

Due to heat transfer requiring air and space being mostly a vacuum, it’s harder for men to keep their junk cool, hence Manspreading…In…Spaaaace

Oh sure, I suppose you could argue that all the men on the Enterprise (and Starfleet in general?) have this problem, as McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and even Mr. Spock have their own unwise romantic escapades.

Or perhaps you’d claim that he’s a product of his time because the men on the show are constantly referring to women (including fellow officers!) as “girls”. Certainly don’t see any of them (male or female) routinely calling the men “boys”!

But isn’t the Captain supposed to be above that? *cough* *cough* Picard thank you very much *cough* *cough*

It makes you wonder why any woman would want to join Star Fleet to begin with.

Yes, I know, ST:TOS was ground-breaking at the time, had a diverse cast, a positive message about Humanity, blah blah blah. It’s true, I won’t argue it. But I’m not here to nitpick about that.

I’m just pointing out that Captain Kirk was a dude bro who always assumed that if the woman was beautiful, he automatically loved her, needed her, and was allowed to aggressively pursue her. To the point that he did, at best, inappropriate things, and at worst, endangered the ship, his crew, even the galaxy.

WTF, Jim? WTF?

Hark! What yonder noise is this? I believe a beautiful woman is approaching! I MUST HAVE HER!

“I feel pretty!”

Captain Kirk couldn’t keep it in his pants, and as an adult only now seeing this for what it is, the eight-year old fanboy (yes, I said “boy” – go ahead and call me on it) in me is having a hard time reconciling my childhood hero-worship with the reality I now see in these old episodes.

Remember that every time someone whines about how horrible things are today and can’t we just go back (forward?) to the “good ol’ days”.

Because the past’s vision of a future utopia reveals a lot about said good ol’ days. And sadly it’s often this:

They’ve fallen a little short.

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The Great Bird of the Galaxy Has No Quality Clothes

Outsourcing is destroying our future.

A common enough refrain, especially in these tough economic times. It’s easy to blame other countries when you can’t find work.

But just because the economy is bad doesn’t mean the statement is false.

It’s true.

And I can prove it with three words:

Star Trek: TOS

OK, that last word is an acronym. But it still proves the evils of outsourcing.

What are you talking about? I hear you ask. What does Star Trek: The Original Series have to do with outsourcing? you sputter. Wasn’t it filmed in the US, providing local jobs in the entertainment industry? you feel compelled to point out.

Shut up.

I’m talking about the future, so stop letting facts get in the way and listen.

Gene Roddenberry was a genius. He realized, way back in the 60s, that we were headed inevitably and inexorably towards off-shoring, and he correctly predicted the inescapable end result.

Torn shirts.

Yes, in Star Trek, the Federation outsourced the manufacture of their uniforms to the slave sweatshops of Orion. Oh sure, they did this via shell companies, middlemen, and alien middlemen who wore shells, all to make themselves feel like they weren’t directly bolstering the slave trade and undermining the human textile industry.

But they were all the same.

And that is Roddenberry’s lasting legacy to us: a clarion call to arms, a desperate warning, subtly delivered to avoid the notice of the all-powerful and unforgiving textile outsourcing industrial complex of the 1960s.

He gave us Captain Kirk’s ever-tearing shirt.

Thank goodness these shirts are so cheap to replace!Thank goodness these shirts are so inexpensive to replace!If we used money, we could still afford more of these!
Dammit, Bones, I just bought this shirt!I'm not a piece of meat, Bones. How about dinner before tearing my poorly made shirt off?Kirk to Enterprise, time to order another gross of my shirts.

Who among the rabid fans watching the series over and over again hasn’t commented, mentally or aloud, “Why do his shirts tear so easily?”

Because they were outsourced, made by slave labor that just didn’t care how embarrassing, personally or politically, a torn shirt at the wrong moment could be.

This also explains the wide availability of cheap Star Trek uniform costumes, especially evident around Halloween: these Orion scum produce even worse quality knock-offs to sell to the general public despite ‘binding’ contracts that explicitly ban that practice.

Unconscionable.

It wasn’t just the uniforms that were outsourced, by the way. The Federation also outsourced their stardate system. Which explains why fans have been in a constant state of twisting themselves inside out trying to make sense of the seemingly random numbers thrown at us, episode to episode.

That’s because they were seemingly random numbers. The ‘system’ was cooked up by a company run by Horta drunk on rich mineral deposits that submitted the lowest bid. How in the galaxy are a bunch of sentient rocks high on Zirconium and that sleep for eons supposed to have a calendar that would make sense to ephemeral carbon-based life?

Sheer insanity!

In the 80s, Roddenberry realized his subtle message was in danger of becoming lost, so when he made Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, he had the Federation, finally cognizant of its horrible, unethical failing, move uniform production back to Earth. And look at the snazzy maroon jumpsuits we got.

That’s human (a.k.a. American) manufacturing quality for you!

It is not a coincidence that these new uniforms lasted for near on 50 years, with only minor modification. Until the dark days of the Next Gen ‘pajama’ era began.

I don’t want to go there. Who wears stretchy footie pajamas to explore the galaxy??

It’s absurd.

So there you have it. If we don’t reverse this dangerous trend of outsourcing, the quality of our clothes will continue to degrade to the point that we’ll give up getting dressed and going outside our homes. And when that happens, we won’t need to keep track of what day it is.

And that’s when the Horta will strike.

No, not the Horta! Those stone-cold killers and their crazy stardate system made me miss a date with the hot alien princess with the green skin and srpay-on bikini! It would have been an EPIC date!!!

Khaaan! Er, I mean, Hortaaaaaaaaa!

 
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Posted by on 6 February 2012 in Conspiracies Out To Get Me

 

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Writing a novel is like writing a book (or a novella, only longer)

People are always coming up to me on the street and asking, “How do you write a novel?”

I don’t know why they approach me. I guess I just have that ‘successful novelist’ look.

(It’s all about personal grooming. And tweed jackets with elbow patches. Wear one of those to a writing conference and you’ll be beating off the agents. And the ladies. And the lady agents.)

((Then they finish reading my manuscripts and quietly slip away in the pre-dawn hours, unsatiated and bitterly disappointed, before I wake up and can say goodbye. It’s very depressing. One of these days I’ll write a book about it.))

Because I’m tired of total strangers harassing me about the secrets to writing greatness, I’m going to put it all out right here for you.

(OK, I’m not tired of it. But the missus is sick of dinners interrupted, evening walks detoured, child-births missed as I’m chatting up a desperate wannabe writer in the waiting room.)

Writing a novel is a lot like writing a book. It’s also remarkably similar to writing a novella, only longer.

Much longer.

There are a few key things you need to remember when it comes to writing a successful novel:

You have to use letters. Preferably strung together into words. Words of a language that, again preferably, you know. Or at least a language your readers will know.

(Readers are funny that way, not willing to learn a new language just to experience an amazing novel. Lazy bastards. Most of them will download a pirated copy of your e-book too, cause they’re lazy AND cheap. Makes me wonder why I even try.)

A catchy title is also important. No one will bother to look at the letters strung together inside your book if the title is, “Mmm, Cupcakes.” No matter how perfect that title might be for your book about sentient cupcakes hell-bent on domination of the bovine artificial insemination industry, that title sucks ass and will pull the rug out from under your sales.

(Try “Miniaturized Death Cakes of Sexy, Sexy Doom, Coming For You!” instead. As a starter.)

Which brings me to the third thing you need for a successful book. Awesome cover art. Because if your book IS called “Mmm, Cupcakes” but has a photo-realistic picture of a large-breasted woman cupping her bare bosom, head tilted up and eyes rolled back in ecstasy, then “Mmm, Cupcakes” is gonna be a blockbuster.

(At least amongst the 15-23 year old male market demographic.)

The last, and most important item you need, after the letters smooshed together in a familiar language, a catchy title, and awesome cover art, is marketing.

A book is dead in the water if you don’t have marketing. You could write the next War and Peace, but if you don’t market it effectively, your sales will be so bad you’ll actually lose money.

But if you have awesome, kick-ass, spam-all-your-followers-on-twitter-every-ten-seconds marketing, well…with that, you don’t even need a book!

(Also, please, if you write the next War and Peace, keep it brief. Nothing sinks a book faster than the dead weight of too many pages, too many letters. Bleech.)

((You should shoot for novella-length.))

 
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Posted by on 15 September 2011 in Other Blogs

 

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