Star Trek: An Oater in Space

When Star Trek was first pitched by Gene Roddenberry, I believe he said ‘Have Gun Will Travel’ in space (or some other Western). I just recently thought about how well that description fits.

First you have to get past the type of organization that prevailed in the Old West. The US Marshalls and their deputies, with the aid and sometimes detriment of local sheriffs and their deputies. The only regular military force was the US Army and they were a handful of regiments sent to deal with the Indigenous American ‘threat’. The well to do landowners, are a third force (with the wealthiest capable of fielding troops or squadrons of light cavalry, roughly thirty and ninety men respectively). Although, they were just as likely to serve as a manpower source for the aforementioned. Their ability to operate as a third force depended on the corruptibility and/or willingness of the deputizing official to work outside the constraints of the law. In any event this led to the predominance of small bands of men committing most acts of violence.

When you look at Star Trek, you have large vessels travelling the cosmos. Despite the ‘tall ship’ analogy waiting to be made, this is not Hornblower in Space or any other high seas adventure tale. The vessels, the Enterprise and those of the adversaries serve to get them planet side where the adventure occurs. This leads to so much action being performed by small bands of men and women. Thus making this a tale of a small few struggling, not just against the elements but adversity.

The Marshalls Service and Starfleet are different organizations. What then, is the common thread? It is in fact the similarity of the USA and the UFP (United Federation of Planets); for where the Marshalls and Starfleet are different, the UFP is a fair analogy for the USA. Or at least Earth is, with the other planets resembling the core of an international framework. Think of Tellar and Andor as Britain and France, not respectively. Vulcan could be Italy (formerly violent now dedicated to knowledge, arts and science) or perhaps Germany is a better fit (a formerly unruly people shaped by discipline and regimentation).

How are they similar? If you look at key hints like travel times( days or weeks between destinations); the existence of radio (instantaneous in system but not so in deep space e.g. the equivalent of message packets) and the big one the founding of the Federation. The Federation was founded in the mid-22nd century, approximately a hundred years before the series is set in the 23rd century making its founding correspond with the Revolutionary War. It is hinted that prior to the Federation, Earth went through Troubles (analogous to the Colonial Era). In this sense Vulcan can be seen as Enlightenment Era Europe supporting America, if only out of curiosity to see where she is headed. Fast forward a century and you have a Federation similar to 19th century America; both being centralized organizations with security/military/exploration outfits composed of the unorthodox, responsible for operating in an expanding frontier and tasked with keeping the peace. Two seemingly unalike settings that make for great storytelling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Purge: Election Year

When I saw that the third installment of the Purge franchise was out I had to see it. In for a penny in for a pound as they say. Produced by Michael Bay  the action scenes kept you on the edge of your seat and the fight scenes were riveting. This movie was made by and for those who can’t sit still. Further, this film brings back the white/black buddy film with a little brown thrown in the mix, at a time when this nation desperately needs it.

I was disappointed with the a couple of the stereotypes, mainly the Italian who’s good with knives and carries a lot of them (cause that’s the best way to fight racist violence, get an Italian that’s good with knives), and the lecherous old black man. The former thug with a heart of gold is a draw.

One plus is the sacrifial lambs in each movie. A white guy, another white guy (though I believe the actor is Latino) and two black guys. Both races get a chance to show their grief, at the loss of a comrade. Although for once I’d like to see a movie where a multiracial crew all gets out alive.

Another peculiarity is a scene where the homeless are fed discount sugary snacks. These will purge more people than any bullet or knife. Then there is the argument that the insurance companies can make money on premiums and that the rich don’t want to support the poor. What insurance company wants to tangle with the bankers who own all the property that stands to get damaged. And as for the poor, someone has to build all the subsidized housing they will live in.

Still, this trilogy has proven to be an interesting study in the viciousness and savageness that are a part of human nature as well as compassion and strengthens the argument that societies must bend before they break.

 

 

 

 

 

George Takei and Sulu

Geeking Out about It

George Takei has come out as being in disagreement with making Sulu a canon gay character in the movies. I love George. Have loved him since I was a kid watching him on Star Trek but I’m going to have to respectfully disagree, with him on this.

Yes, He’s entitled to his opinion,and I can see his argument, but I don’t agree with him and Simon Pegg, sums it up nicely:

I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humour are an inspiration. However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.
He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been…

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The Oxford Companion to Black British History

Found this little gem in my local public, library. Well not little, it’s darn near textbook size. Can’t wait to read what it has to say about Arthur Murray and Dido aka Belle.

This volume serves as an encyclopedia of sorts, to subjects in Black British history. It is a must have for anyone wishing to research this topic. Simply look up an entry then head to the bibliography for more in depth info.

Rachel Miner and that ‘peculiar institution’

She was amazing in Roots; playing a southern planter’s wife who is secretly opposed to slavery. This is the sort of three dimensional portrayal I discussed in the prior post, although her character opposes the ‘peculiar institution’ for moral reasons and not the self interest that I mentioned before.

It may have been possible to show her attempting to appeal to other Southern women’s self interest and this potentially leading to her downfall. But that’s just me.

Roots

Watching Roots,got to admit I like this new interpretation. Especially, the way they used the same actor for Kunta Kinte. More believable that he never lost his accent. Wish, they’d done the same with Kizzy.

Another interesting point, is that they portray the female characters using a more feminist approach. Missy is shown to develop a friendly yet unequal relationship with Kizzy. Looking for a companion that will never turn on her, someone she can confide in who will never betray her to her peers, because she can never be one.

Later Kizzy has another similar relationship with the wife of her new master (despite her knowledge of his dalliances), teaching her to read. She does this, knowing that Kizzy has more knowledge of the upper class than she as well as the ability to read.

This is a curious viewpoint. White Women in slave narratives are often shown to be vengeful harpies, not as actors in their own right. They are, after all, the second most powerful group in 19th century American society,  albeit a distant second. We can assume they would make accomodations and foster relationships advantageous to themselves.

Finally, why this portrayal. Is it merely our more modern sensibilities that cause us to show women as not being so one-dimensional or is it to insure Black and White Women vote for Hillary, maybe a little bit of both.

Canadians at the Naval Battle of Jutland, May 31–June 1, 1916

Quite an interesting historical morsel.

Library and Archives Canada Blog

By Alex Comber

A century ago, the largest naval battle of the First World War took place off the coast of Denmark’s Jutland peninsula. More than 250 warships of the Royal Navy and the Imperial German Navy manoeuvred to get ready for action.  The first salvoes of long-range cannon fire were discharged at 14:30 on May 31, 1916, and the ensuing clash lasted into the morning of June 1. With three British battle cruisers and 11 other ships destroyed, and more than twice as many sailors killed and injured, British naval power seemed to have suffered a setback. However, in a strategic sense, the smaller German fleet could not afford its more modest losses, and Kaiser Wilhelm II’s military commanders avoided a similar fleet battle for the duration of the War, focusing instead on submarine attacks.

A black-and-white photograph showing three large warships. HMAS AUSTRALIA, HMS NEW ZEALAND, HMS INDOMITABLE, Second Battle cruiser Squadron ca. 1917–1919. This…

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Why I decided to go natural.

Royally Melaninated

Hey Kings & Queens, can we talk real quick?

Grab a drink and a snack because it is about to get real!! (This is going to be so uber long and I apologise in advance, so I’m going to break this up into segments.)

I’ve been chemical free for 1 year and 6 months. I did the big chop last year. Joining the natural community, I really thought that I would get natural sisters who would encourage me on this journey of re-loving my hair and being natural. I’m not going to lie I did find some amazing people on this journey but along with those amazing people I also found some people that were down right just rude about my hair choice.

For anyone who has seen my natural hair journey video on YouTube, you will recall that one of the first pictures in the day after I cut…

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What Movie Trailers Actually Tell Us

Comparative Geeks

It has been really interesting to see the reaction to the new Ghostbusters movie coming out soon, particularly in regards to the trailer. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and it is okay to think a movie should never have even been made, but passing judgment on a movie based on the trailer really is not fair. A trailer does not actually tell us what the movie as a whole is going to be. It can give us glimpses, but really all a trailer does is tell us what the studio thinks we want to see. There are things that we can figure out from a trailer, but in the end unless you watch the movie you cannot really make your own judgment call. At the same time there are certain things that a trailer can tell us.

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Polysar, or the adventure of producing synthetic rubber in Canada

Cool

Library and Archives Canada Blog

By François Larivée

If you were born before 1980, you may remember a picture of a large industrial complex on the back of the ten-dollar bill. An image of the Polysar (originally Polymer) plant in Sarnia, Ontario, was featured on the bill between 1971 and 1989. The company was created by the Government of Canada in 1942 as a Crown corporation, and its archives are held by Library and Archives Canada. Its history is nothing short of fascinating.

Black and white photograph showing three large spherical reservoirs and a complex network of pipes in the foreground. In the background we see a tall chimney spewing out flames and smoke as well as a building with five other chimneys. View of pipes and three Horton Spheres storing a mixture of butylene and butadiene used in the manufacture of synthetic rubber at the Polymer Rubber Corporation plant, September 1944 (MIKAN 3627791)

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