All posts by Rand Simberg

Star Dreck

OK, I thought that when I saw the pilot, that this prequel to the Star Trek series had promise. Perhaps it still does. But tonite’s episode sucked. I had hoped that with what happened a month ago, that all this politically-correct script nonsense from Hollywood (and Rick Berman and company) had ended, but this one was probably in the can long before the event, and they didn’t think it was any big deal.

(Note to non ST watchers–if you didn’t see the episode, feel free to ignore the rest of this rant–it is predicated on the assumption that the reader actually watched it.)

First of all, it really got off on the wrong foot with me when he is on the alien ship, and they offer him a bowl of something, and tell him that it’s the closest they can come to water.

Water is one of the most common and simple molecules in the universe. It is very easy to make. Take two atoms of hydrogen, one atom of oxygen, and mix (shaken, not stirred, and do it somewhere that can safely contain the exothermic energy thereby released).

Then they do this goofy alien sex thing where she (and it’s obvious that she’s a “she” even though “she’s” hairless–you can tell from the shape) and the visiting engineer put their hands in a box of packing peanuts in a holodeck of sorts.

And of course, he gets pregnant. Why am I not surprised?

Much of the rest of the episode deals with how he handles being pregnant, and they use all the stereotypes of a pregnant woman to demonstrate this. Was there some point to this? Are we supposed to now be more sensitive to how a woman in pregnancy feels because we see some redneck guy go through it?

Give me a break. Anyone who was insensitive to pregnant women before seeing this episode will remain so afterward.

Anyone who was not will find it faintly amusing, but no more than that.

I have to say, however, in redemption, that at least at the end, when the pregnant “father” caught up with the “woman” by whom he was impregnated, she found another host for the pregnancy, rather than just flushing it down a sink.

But still, my hopes for a more realistic Star Trek were somewhat diminished by this particular episode.

I probably won’t be posting much in the next few days, for those two or three people who have been logging in to see what I’m raving about currently. I’ll be at the Space Frontier Foundation annual conference. However, on Sunday or Monday, I’ll attempt to post a report on any interesting developments that I discover in the process of attending it.

More Questions For Osama (from Larry King)

Glenn Reynolds has a great list of questions for Osama–much better than CNN’s. I’m just glad that Larry King didn’t get the Osama interview. Here are the questions he might have asked. (Use your imagination for the voice)

  1. What was it like, growing up in such a big family?
  2. Does it bother you that none of your brothers or sisters have the same mother?
  3. Do you ever talk to them–what do they think about your profession?
  4. It must have been kind of a thrill to see those buildings fall down like that. Were you surprised?
  5. Does it make you feel bad to listen to all these people around the world who are angry with you?
  6. What’s it like living in a cave? How do you do the laundry? Do you have someone come in once a week and sprinkle fresh dirt?
  7. Do you really have a tiny penis?

Anthrax Hysteria

Brit Hume on Fox News just blasted what happened up on the Hill today. Apparently, the House just decided to close up shop because of the anthrax scare. The irony is that the only place that it’s been found is on the Senate side, and they’re staying in session. Brit appropriately pointed out that for all of the fuss and fury, we have had only one death, and only one serious illness from this, that the situation has been overhyped (e.g., it turns out that all the claims about the Senate attack being “weapons grade” were nonsense), and that if we’re going to react like this to such a relatively trivial concern, what will we do when we really have a major problem?

Right on, and I wish more of the press would be as clear thinking and rational as Brit. Congress is supposed to lead by example. Now, normally, I’m all in favor of Congress shutting down, and recessing early, on general principles, but this sends the entirely wrong message to whoever has been sending out these little love letters–that for a tiny investment in “powdery subtances” (aka powder, even wheat flour) and postage, they can shut down the American government.

Denny, you’re supposed to be a wrestling coach. Get a testosterone injection.

Why Media Targeted for Anthrax?

Attacking the media ensures the word will get out, and that the news will be laced with fear. For example, Sam Donaldson was asking Thompson stupid questions because Donaldson’s wetting his pants in fear of being a target. This enhances the effect of a very weak weapon.

Good point. They were counting on media stupidity and wimpitude. Unfortunately, they were right on both counts.

The War Has Come To Us

This apparently hasn’t sunk in yet. A lot of your save-the-Earth-grandmothers-against-guns types can parade around public buildings all they want chanting and carrying poorly constructed anachronistic peace signs, but they happen to be at war while doing so.

Why, just the other day passengers on a United Airlines airplane took it upon themselves to keep a deranged passenger from trying to enter the cockpit. Hip, hip, hooray! That behavior is an act of civil defense in a time of war, is it not? It even requires that we shake the conventions of peacetime travel when we are expected to sit tranquilly in our seats and follow federal regulations.

And on that note, I point out that I was prescient, and reprint a little editorial I posted on s.s.p the day after the attack.

End of an Era

They blew their wad.

The grounding of the nation’s air fleet can be lifted–it’s safe to fly again.

Whoever committed this heinous crime yesterday did do the world at least one favor. In a single day, they ended the four-decade reign of fear over aircraft hijacking.


This incident didn’t result from a breakdown of security–no one had weapons that the security system looks for. The reason, and the only reason, that the perpetrators succeeded in their diabolical plot was that they had the element of surprise.

Prior to September 11, 2001, aircraft hijacking was something to be prevented if possible, but if it wasn’t possible, the hijackers were people to be cooperated with until they could somehow be brought to justice, in order to save plane, crew and passengers.

This attitude allowed men armed, apparently, with only knives, to commandeer an aircraft in which they were massively outnumbered, by threatening or killing individual passengers and crew. To save those people, everyone went along, at least on three of the four planes.

Had those passengers been aware of the ultimate purpose of those hijackings, they would have failed–the hijackers would have been overcome and subdued, if not killed, by passengers and crew desperate to save themselves and their plane.

The paradigm has permanently shifted. From this day forward, passengers will now be aware that there are worse things than letting hostages die in an aircraft.

Whoever did this screwed it up for all future hijackers, regardless of their purpose. A similar scheme will not succeed today, or tomorrow, or any time that the flying public retain memories of what happened yesterday.

No need to change procedures–the potential victims themselves have changed, fundamentally, and will be victims no more.

Let the aircraft fly.