Mar 132013
 

On Feb 28 Brian Lilley, host of Sun TV’s Byline was in London to talk about his new book, “CBC Exposed.” I was on-hand to video the entire event which was hosted by the International Free Press Society (Canada). Introductions were by Mary Lou Ambrogio and before Brian took the stage we heard from Bjorn Larsen, President of IFPS, and Joseph Ben-Ami of the Meighen Institute. A Q&A followed were Brian answered questions on the CBC, conservatism, immigration and other topics.

Mar 152012
 

241 - Monckton-Essex - 168x100

GUEST: The Rt Hon Christopher Monckton, Autodidactic Mathematician, Game Designer, Architect, Journalist, Politician, Skeptic
GUEST: Professor Christopher Essex, Dept Of Applied Mathematics And Past Director, Theoretical Physics, UWO; Co-Author Of Taken By Storm

Global Warming – Has All The Hot Air Dissipated?
Advising Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – Changing The Views Of The Iron Lady
From SudoKu X To The Puzzle That Is Lord Monckton
The Courtier’s Conundrum – The Intersect Of Science And Politics

Depending on you browser settings you can click here to download the show or use the player below to stream it.

Dec 222011
 

One of Christmas’s perennial favourites is Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.  What apparently makes this a classic is its underlying theme that one’s life, however ordinary influences many others like the ripples in pond.

While this might be a truism it does not in my mind make this a great film.  In fact, I would describe “It’s a Wonderful Life” as homage to the dominant philosophy of our time, that of altruism and certainly not a great piece of cinema.

George Bailey is the protagonist.  An ambitious young man with dreams of seeing the world, going to college and becoming an industrial engineer or architect.  He has planned out his whole life and can hardly wait for the day to leave his “crummy little town” of Bedford Falls.

George’s personal flaw, instilled in him by his father, who by everyone’s account is a poor businessman as the Chief Executive of Bailey Bros. Building and Loan, is both a sense of duty to others in his community and a personal hatred for the successful banker Mr. Potter.

Mr. Potter has a hard nose for business with little empathy for others.  It is this lack of altruism that riles the Bailey’s to the point where their hatred of Potter has made for very poor business decisions, giving loans to people the bank declines, which leaves the Building and Loan in a perpetual state of near bankruptcy.

George’s personal dreams are put on hold when his father dies and he ties up fathers’ dealings with the Building and Loan.  Potter, a member of the Board makes a motion to dissolve the company but George’s hatred for Potter gets the better of him and he persuades the Board to keep the business. They do so, but with the condition that George stays to run it.

George’s sense of duty to the down-trodden of the community and his personal hatred for Potter convince him to sacrifice (and I mean this in the strictest definition of the term) his life-long dreams and run the Building and Loan.  He marries Mary, they have four kids, and throughout the years the embittered man constantly regrets his decision to forsake his personal dreams.

Along comes the great depression and the Company narrowly escapes bankruptcy.  Potter tries to give George a way to escape his failing business by offering him a job at $20,000 a year.  This would solve many of George’s problems but once again his personal loathing for the banker causes him to refuse the offer with an onslaught of vitriolic, vulgar epithets hurled at his nemesis, Mr. Potter.

His deep-seated rage finally boils over when his absent-minded uncle loses the Companies deposit of $8,000.  With Mr. Potter and the Bank Examiner breathing down George’s neck he finally loses it.  He ruffs up his uncle, trashes his living room, frightens and yells at his wife and kids, tells off one of his child’s teachers, gets drunk, and drives his car (while drunk) into a tree.

Wonderful Life - Children 168x100Unsatisfied with his not so wonderful life and realizing that his life insurance policy will save the Company he prepares to commit suicide.

So far I have described the first hour and fifty minutes of this two hour and ten minute movie.  Up until this point George Bailey has undoubtedly hated his life.  It has been one disappointment after the other.  He never wanted to get married and yet he did.  He never wanted anything to do with his father’s company and yet he now runs it.  He never wanted to live in Bedford Falls but he has never left it.  None of his dreams have been fulfilled.  It has not been a wonderful life for George Bailey.

If you ask any who have seen the film this first part is often forgotten.  The last twenty minutes are what seem to matter to most viewers.

George’s guardian angel, Clarence, saves George from committing suicide in the most insightful way.  Knowing of George’s sense of duty to others, Clarence throws himself into the river first, thereby forcing George to save him, and thus himself.  So, even George’s desire to kill himself has been sacrificed for the sake of a perfect stranger.

While drying off from his dip in the river George tells Clarence that he wishes he was never born.  That’s how wonderful he thinks his life is.  Clarence grants his wish and shows George a Bedford Falls where he had never been born.  It is a town now called Potterville with nightclubs and gambling halls.  His wife, Mary becomes a spinster librarian, his taxi driver lives in Potter’s slums and the Building and Loan is closed down.

George becomes unhinged.  He tries to drink away his problem in a bar but gets thrown out.  He breaks into the house which was supposed to be his home. He punches a cop and gets shot at.  In utter despair he returns to the river where he was going to commit suicide and prays to God to return him to his real life.

His wish is granted and he finds himself surrounded by his friends who bail him out of his financial troubles.  The guardian angel leaves him a note saying “No man is a failure who has friends;” A nice sentiment to be sure.

The character of George Bailey is today’s everyman.  He believes his highest virtue is not himself but in helping others, while at the same time denigrating and hating the successful among us who do not share his ethic of self-sacrifice.

The end result of his philosophy is a life not worth living, a life of regret, disappointment, frustration, guilt and a mounting hatred for success.  At one point in the story George is deliriously overjoyed that he has just given away his life’s saving of $2,000 which was to go towards his honeymoon.

It is fitting, if not timely, that the villain in the story is Mr. Potter the banker, paralleling today’s Occupy Wall Street altruists who call for an end to capitalism, the destruction of the rich and the imprisonment of bankers.

Ayn Rand described the moral code of altruism thus:

“The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.”

This describes the motives of George Baily perfectly.

I’ll paraphrase Rand when I say that;

  1. George Baily lacks self-esteem – since his first concern in the realm of values is not how to live his life, but how to sacrifice it.
  2. He lacks respect for others – since he regards mankind as a herd of doomed beggars crying for someone’s help.
  3. He has a nightmare view of existence – since he believes that men are trapped in a “malevolent universe” where disasters are the constant and primary concern of their lives.

The movie is reminiscent of another Christmas favourite, “Scrooge,” based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  Scrooge is portrayed as a banker, or money lender.  The casting of successful, rich, corporate executives as heartless, selfish, unsympathetic villains has become commonplace in popular literature and film.  The latest Disney movie, “The Muppets” has as its antagonist, oil magnate Tex Richman.  His name says it all.

The real villain in “It’s a Wonderful Life” is not Mr. Potter.  It is George Bailey, a man who lives for others, forsaking his own selfish desires, plans, and hopes; a man of duty to the community; a man of altruism and sacrifice.  These are the attributes of a man who finds his own life distasteful.  So much so that suicide is his only escape.

Allow me to take some license to propose an alternative to Capra’s “It’s a wonderful Life.”  Let’s suppose we look at George’s life if had followed his dreams and left to explore the world, go to college and build bridges and airports.  What would have happened?  Could he have impacted as many lives as he did as the Executive Secretary of Bailey Bros. Building and Loan?

I’m reminded of Frederick Bastiat’s piece written in 1850 called The Broken Window, or “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen.”  Don’t just see what would happen if George Bailey never lived but see what he would have accomplished if he followed his dream.

I suspect he would have influenced more lives in his travels, his adventures, his education and vocation as an architect or industrial engineer than as a lowly officer of a loan company in the dead-end town of Bedford Falls.

But that is not the point.  It is not as important how many lives you affect, what is important is how you live your own life, whether or not you follow your own dreams and desires.  You have but one life to live.  Cultivate friends of course, but not at the expense of fulfilling your own dreams and following your own path.

I don’t know if that would have made for a better movie to have Clarence show us an alternative world where George lived his life with his own self as the standard of his morality, but it certainly would have been a more honest treatment of the evil and morally destructive philosophy of altruism, and a much more uplifting film to view whether at Christmas time or at any time of the year.

Apr 212011
 
William Shakespeare

William ShakespeareWith the release of the Atlas Shrugged movie, not to mention the past recession, there has been a renewed interest in the works of Ayn Rand.  Having read all her books my personal favorite of the non-fiction has to be The Romantic Manifesto.  It is this book which has stayed with me for all these 20 years since I first read it.

The Romantic Manifesto is about aesthetics, the appreciation of art and who among us can live from day to day without listening to music, seeing a statue or a painting, reading a book, watching a play, a movie or even a television program?

If I were to mention to you Whistler’s Mother who would not imagine an old lady in a chair?

If I were to say to you, ”Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—“ you would know at once that I was quoting Edgar Allen Poe who wrote those lines 166 years ago.

And how about “Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou,”  a 900 year old poem from Omar Khayyam still resonating with us today.

Art, whether poetry, music, painting, sculpture, play, or television program is an essential requirement for the human mind.  In fact it is singularly human.  No other animal has anything which can be said to be art or anything near to it.

Art also seems to be as old as man with many artifacts which could be called art dating back tens of thousands of years.

But what purpose does art serve?  Art exists as an end unto itself, but not for the sake of itself.  “Ars gratia artis”, or “art for art’s sake” is not entirely correct.  Instead it should be “ars gratia hominem”, if my Latin is correct, or “art for man’s sake”. It exists to please us.  It is there to be contemplated by man.  It needs only to be reflected upon, to be appreciated.   A work of art lives although its creator may be long dead and buried.  It lives but only as we, man, can contemplate it.  When the last man dies so too dies all art.  From that point on a novel will be only ink on paper, a painting will be only dried oil on canvas, and a sculpture will be only a lump of marble.

There is the age old question of what makes art good as opposed to bad?  It is here that The Romantic Manifesto is clear.  Art requires at least two choices by the artist.  The first is selection.  What aspect of reality will he choose to focus upon?  It cannot be random.  It must be chosen.  The second is how the artist will choose to stylize the selection.  Both the selection of the subject and how it comes to represent reality reveal the artist’s sense of life.  His fundamental philosophy encapsulated in a moment of song or image evoking an emotion in those who perceive it.  Likewise the emotion that a piece of art evokes reveals something of the sense of life of the recipient of the art.

What makes good art or bad art, however, is not a matter of how we as critics simply feel.  It requires a cognitive evaluation of work, a thoughtful evaluation which analyses style, technical ability and subject matter.  The result of such an analysis determines whether or not an art work is good or not.  A value judgment is made which says something not only of the artist but of the viewer or listener.

If I might drop a cliché, I may not know art but I know what I like.  But more importantly not only do I know what I like I know why I know what I like.

By way of contrasting good and bad art I have chosen two pieces from two of my favorite playwrights, William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde and I will compare them with the painter  Jackson Pollock and a playwright I consider to be particularly bad, or more specifically to represent a negative sense of life, Samuel Beckett.

The first play excerpt requires a bit of explanation.  If any of you have read or even listened to Shakespeare without having the pleasure of seeing it performed you will understand that it can be virtually indecipherable without context and a bit of explanation.

What follows is from Love’s Labor’s Lost Act 4 Scene 2.  Holofernes is a very learned schoolmaster who prides himself on his wit and intelligence.  I like to think that Holofernes is actually Shakespeare himself having some fun with the audience by showing off his remarkable skill at wordplay.

Holofernes recites an extemporal epitaph about the killing, by the princess, of a deer.  A pricket is a buck of two years and a sorel is a buck of three years.  The L he refers to is the Roman numeral for fifty.  Look for some false humility when he explains his gift for poetry and rhyme and also for the sexual innuendo when complimented on his skill by his friend curate, Sir Nathaniel.

HOLOFERNES

The preyful princess pierced and prick’d a pretty
pleasing pricket;
Some say a sore; but not a sore, till now made
sore with shooting.
The dogs did yell: put L to sore, then sorel jumps
from thicket;
Or pricket sore, or else sorel; the people fall a-hooting.
If sore be sore, then L to sore makes fifty sores
one sorel.
Of one sore I an hundred make by adding but one more L.

SIR NATHANIEL

A rare talent!

DULL

[Aside] If a talent be a claw, look how he claws
him with a talent.

HOLOFERNES

This is a gift that I have, simple, simple; a
foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures,
shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions,
revolutions: these are begot in the ventricle of
memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater, and
delivered upon the mellowing of occasion. But the
gift is good in those in whom it is acute, and I am
thankful for it.

SIR NATHANIEL

Sir, I praise the Lord for you; and so may my
parishioners; for their sons are well tutored by
you, and their daughters profit very greatly under
you: you are a good member of the commonwealth.

HOLOFERNES

Mehercle, if their sons be ingenuous, they shall
want no instruction; if their daughters be capable,
I will put it to them: but vir sapit qui pauca
loquitur

As another example of art which portrays a positive sense of life I chose Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest, a marvelous, up-lifting, and humorous play about, love and deception from the master of wit himself.  This is a an edited excerpt;

Algernon.  …Besides, your name isn’t Jack at all; it is Ernest.

Jack. It isn’t Ernest; it’s Jack.

Algernon. You have always told me it was Ernest. I have introduced you to every one as Ernest. You answer to the name of Ernest. You look as if your name was Ernest. You are the most earnest-looking person I ever saw in my life. It is perfectly absurd your saying that your name isn’t Ernest. It’s on your cards. Here is one of them. [Taking it from case.] ‘Mr. Ernest Worthing, B. 4, The Albany.’ I’ll keep this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever you attempt to deny it to me, or to Gwendolen, or to any one else. [Puts the card in his pocket.]

Jack. Well, my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country…

Algernon. Now, go on! Tell me the whole thing. I may mention that I have always suspected you of being a confirmed and secret Bunburyist; and I am quite sure of it now.

Jack. Bunburyist? What on earth do you mean by a Bunburyist?

Algernon. I’ll reveal to you the meaning of that incomparable expression as soon as you are kind enough to inform me why you are Ernest in town and Jack in the country.

Jack. My dear fellow, there is nothing improbable about my explanation at all. In fact it’s perfectly ordinary. Old Mr. Thomas Cardew, who adopted me when I was a little boy, made me in his will guardian to his grand-daughter, Miss Cecily Cardew. Cecily, who addresses me as her uncle from motives of respect that you could not possibly appreciate, lives at my place in the country under the charge of her admirable governess, Miss Prism.

Algernon. Where is that place in the country, by the way?

Jack. That is nothing to you, dear boy. You are not going to be invited… I may tell you candidly that the place is not in Shropshire.

Algernon. I suspected that, my dear fellow! I have Bunburyed all over Shropshire on two separate occasions. Now, go on. Why are you Ernest in town and Jack in the country?

Jack. My dear Algy, I don’t know whether you will be able to understand my real motives. You are hardly serious enough. …in order to get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest, who lives in the Albany, and gets into the most dreadful scrapes. That, my dear Algy, is the whole truth pure and simple.

Algernon. The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!

Jack. That wouldn’t be at all a bad thing.

Algernon. Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Don’t try it. You should leave that to people who haven’t been at a University. They do it so well in the daily papers.

Shakespeare should be no stranger to us.  His plays and sonnets about love, jealousy, betrayal, adventure, war, death, humour and every emotion one could think of have stood the test of time being over 400 hundred years old and still being played in theatres and made into movies to this day.  His themes are universal to the human condition.  His eloquence is iconic.   He was a master craftsman of the English language.  He was a great artist with a positive sense of life, extolling the virtues of man; love, honour, heroism, justice and beauty.

Oscar Wilde was a wordsmith as well and a commentator on the society of his day.  His restrained yet rebellious nature is evident in his plays and stories.  His positive sense of life and love comes screaming out of a Victorian background of suspicion and fear.  His words help change the attitudes of a nation in a more enlightened direction.

These have been two examples of artists who have exhibited uplifting art stemming from a positive sense of life.  Let’s contrast that now with artists who have the opposite sense of life.  A negative, pessimistic sense of life who choose as their theme the common, the vulgar, the depraved, the ordinary, the grotesque, the mundane.

Ayn Rand once wrote in The Romantic Manifesto;

Misery, disease, disaster, evil, all the negatives of human existence, are proper objects of study in life, for the purpose of understanding and correcting them – but are not proper objects of contemplation for contemplation’s sake.  In art, and in literature, these negatives are worth recreating only in relation to some positive, as a foil, as a contrast, as a means of stressing the positive – but not as an end in themselves…

That one should wish to enjoy the contemplation of values, of the good – of man’s greatness, intelligence, ability, virtue, and heroism – is self explanatory.  It is the contemplation of the evil that requires explanation and justification; and the same goes for the contemplation of the mediocre, the undistinguished, the commonplace, the meaningless, the mindless.

I once visited the National Art Gallery in Ottawa and there I saw a painting of oil on acrylic by Jackson Pollock.  It amounted to a random splashing of paint on a piece of plastic.  A blind five year old could have replicated the work, or at least the essential hap-hazard nature of the work, with no effort.  It is paintings like Pollock’s which have come to represent the pinnacle of ignorance in society.  So-called art experts have embraced the absurd and the unintelligible in some vane disguise at credibility.  They have created a niche market for garbage where they have exalted themselves into positions of authority on the indefinable.  Anybody who dares to negatively critique work such as Pollock’s are ridiculed for being unimaginative, out of touch, or plebeian, while they seem to hold some mystical understanding of these random scribblings and paint splashes.  This is not unlike an astrologist claiming to understand human behavior by knowing the position of the planets at the time of your birth or a witch doctor understanding what ails you by throwing the entrails of a sacrificial goat into a bowl and divining your ailment by deciphering the random patterns made by the guts.

I’m going to end my comparison of good and bad art with an excerpt from a modern playwright who has garnered a following of astrologists and witch doctors claiming to understand his verbal excrement.

Samuel Beckett has written a number of plays which have as their theme (if it could be said that any of his plays have a theme) the commonplace ramblings and disjointed thoughts of unremarkable people.

Perhaps his greatest known work, celebrated amongst the mentally challenged, is the play, Waiting for Godot.  It is about two men waiting on a hill adorned by a single tree who apparently are waiting for a man named Godot to meet them.  If you haven’t’ seen the play I don’t think I’m going to spoil your day too much by revealing that they never meet Godot.  It is intimated that the two men have been waiting an indefinite period of time for this man Godot.   Who Godot is is unexplained.  Who these men are or why they are waiting for Godot is left unanswered.  While waiting they briefly contemplate committing suicide by hanging themselves from the tree.  Unfortunately for the audience, who perhaps had the same thought while watching the play, they change their minds.

At some point they are met by two men, Pozzo and Lucky who arrive for no apparent reason.  Lucky has a rope around his neck and is led by Pozzo who refers to him as “Pig” Commanding him to walk this way and that.  When a hat is placed on Lucky’s head, Pozzo commands him to “Think!” What follows is a five minute logorrhea, a stream of consciousness that makes no sense.  In fact it should be called a stream of unconsciousness.  The meaning of the play has never been explained.  Nor has the meaning of any of Beckett’s other plays which are equally baffling in their incomprehensible gibberish.  And yet Samuel Beckett is praised as an iconic figure in modern theatre.  Here is the excerpt;

….wastes and pines and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming flying floating riding gliding conating camogie skating tennis of all kinds fying flying sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts penicillin and succedanea in a word I resume flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown but time will tell fades away I resume Fulham Clapham in a word the dead loss per head since the death of Bishop Berkeley being to the tune of one inch four ounce per head approximately by and large more or less to the nearest decimal good measure round figures stark naked in the stockinged feet in Connemara in a word for reasons unknown no matter what matter the facts are there and considering what is more much more grave that in the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman it appears what is more much more grave that in the light the light the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman that in the plains in the mountains by the seas by the rivers running water running fire the air is the same and then the earth namely the air and then the earth in the great cold the great dark the air and the earth …

Nine hundred years ago we had the brilliant imagery of Omar Khayyam asking us to reflect on the briefness of life.  Four hundred years ago we had Shakespeare titillating our minds with his eloquence.  Even 100 years ago we had Oscar Wilde stirring us out of our prudish, Victorian malaise with wit and satire.  While of late we have had the psychologically pathological likes of Jackson Pollock and Samuel Beckett mesmerizing and stupefying us into mass confusion.

I hope that one day we can dismiss artists such as Pollock and Beckett as life-hating, pitiable people not worthy of our attention and begin embracing art which is positive, up-lifting, life-loving and true to our nature as rational beings.  It’s time we stopped waiting for Godot.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #196, April 21, 2011 with audio clips where text excerpts appear here.)
Nov 192009
 

Star TrekMy first recollection of Star Trek wasn’t its philosophy or its depiction of a positive future of heroes and adventure.  It was being frightened at the image of Balok in “The Corbomite Maneuver”.  I was only six or seven years old after all.

Despite that I was an avid fan of the show since it first aired I have seen every episode of the original series too many times to count.  But as I grew up I began to be just as much a critic of the show as a fan.  Sure it was great entertainment, projecting a positive sense of life into our homes on an almost daily basis (once it was syndicated) but it was also full of contradictions.  It is, after all a TV show and the writers are just that, writers, not philosophers or great intellectuals, but writers for television with the goal to entertain and sell a script.  There are bound to be inconsistencies and contradictions.

Some of more glaring contradictions involved the show’s treatment of deities in such an advanced society.

God and religion featured prominently in many episodes of the Star Trek canon.  The second pilot to the series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” had crewman Gary Mitchell develop the powers of a God only to be killed by Captain Kirk.   In “The Paradise Syndrome”, Kirk himself fancied himself a God (Kirok) when he lost his memory among a tribe of North American Indians.  In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the Bajoran’s have their Prophets with Captain Sysko as their Emissary.  The Jem’Hadar and the Vorta regard the Founders as Gods. In Star Trek: The Next Generation the Edo of Rubicun III worshipped an orbiting lifeform as their god.  The Klingons killed their Gods as they were “more trouble than they were worth.”  The Starship Voyager was considered a god called the “ground shaker” to Kelemane who offered it fruit in the hope that the “God” would stop shaking the ground.

In the original series episode “Bread and Circuses”, the crew find themselves on a world identical to earth where Rome never fell.  Some of the inhabitants describe themselves as Sun worshipers and we are led to believe that they are actually deifying the sun in the sky.  As the show ends, though, Uhura lets the Captain know that it wasn’t the sun up in the sky that they worshipped but the son of God.  “A philosophy of total love and total brotherhood” says Dr. McCoy.  Well I don’t know where he got that notion but if you ask me which one I would I rather worship, the sun in the sky or the Abrahamic God in whose names millions have been killed and tortured to this day, I’ll take the sun in the sky please.

The crew of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation would more objectively and correctly consider primitive alien cultures who worshipped deities as just that, primitive.  This was a refreshing treatment of the supernatural which most likely arose with the easing of sponsor censorship and a liberalization of our society’s approach to religion.

If anything, these little morality plays certainly would make a person reconsider their notion of the God concept and I believe that Star Trek is probably responsible for a great percentage of atheists in the world; if not atheists then certainly a great number of skeptics and free thinkers.  This is a remarkable accomplishment.

If only the writers had a better grasp of Capitalism.  Their first attempt to portray what they regarded as a race of pure capitalists was the Ferengi, an ugly goblin-like, squat race of deceiving, conniving, untrustworthy con-artists who brandished whips and kept their woman naked and at home.  Around the same time we had Captain Picard declare that

“People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of ‘things’. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. “

From what I saw, Picard possessed a lot of ‘things’ from the clothes on his back to a saddle, to a star ship.  Apparently, everyone in the 24th century is on the dole.

Once again Star Trek contradicts itself in DS9 when we see that the Federation actually used a system of ‘credits’ or gold-pressed latinum to trade with.

I may be nit-picking, but sometimes when a great show like Star Trek comes along you expect perfection and forget that thousands of different people from all kinds of philosophies and backgrounds came together over the last 40 odd years to create this epic.  It could never be perfectly consistent.

Some of the things you might think we would all agree on I have my doubts about.  What about the Borg?  Nasty, right?  Who would want to be a Borg?  Well really if you think about it the only thing about the Borg which was frightening was the lack of choice when it came to being assimilated (no trifling item to be sure).  But I was thinking the other day (when I went and bought a bluetooth earpiece for my cell phone so as not to run afoul of the new law banning hand held devices while driving) that we, as a culture, appear to be getting closer and closer to the technology of the Borg.  We were glasses to improve our vision; we have headphones to talk to almost anyone in the world at any time; we have prosthetic limbs, cochlear implants, artificial hearts, and the Kindle and iPad which allow us to carry a good chunk of the total knowledge of our species in our pockets.  In many cases, at least with the bluetooth earpiece while driving, resistance is futile.

Here is another little contradiction in Star Trek.  In the episode called “The Savage Curtain” Abraham Lincoln calls Uhura a charming Negress but is ashamed when he realizes that he might have offended her.  She replies that people in her time have learned not to fear words, and yet Captain Picard gets a dagger through his heart in the episode “Tapestry” when he takes on a Nausican for calling him a coward.  Didn’t he watch the original series before he joined Star Fleet?

I could go on.  I haven’t even mentioned “Spock’s Brain”.

All in all there have been 726 episodes of Star Trek (if you include the animated series) over 30 seasons.  There have been 11 feature films (If you include Star Trek V which I would really rather forget).  If you sat down and watched everything Star Trek from “The Cage” to the latest film, 24/7, and didn’t take a bathroom break (remember there are no toilets on the Enterprise) you would spend over 30 days glued to the tube.  Anybody who has seen all the episodes at least once is going to be altered by what they have seen; some for the better, those who are comforted by the show’s acceptance of atheism, and some of for the worse, those who believe the show’s definition of capitalism.  It is no doubt great entertainment but we should view it critically and in the immortal words of William Shatner we should “Get a life.”

(Originally aired on Just Right #129, November 19, 2009)