Thoughts on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a Commentary on Present Day Issues

I’m just over 80 episodes into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and there’s a couple of episodes that I think people should watch because they offer a really great commentary on what I see in America today.

To me:

  • Duet is about a persons right to have a fair trial, no matter where they came from or what they did. It echoes some of my feelings about Guantanamo Bay detention camp. I also recommend listening to NPR’s This American Life: Habeas Schmabeas 2007.
  • In the Hands of the Prophets is about Christians demanding that religion be taught in schools and/or decrying the teaching of evolution.
  • Homefront and Paradise Lost are about power, fear, and control. They are about what happens when something you love so much (freedom and America) are taken away from you because a few people threaten you. It’s not a perfect analogy, yet there are definitely a lot of parallels to what has happened over the last six and half years. I think the best quote comes at the end: “If the Changelings want to destroy what we’ve built here, they’re going to have to do it themselves. We will not do it for them.” – Benjamin Sisko. Now, replace Changelings with terrorists.

What I think is interesting is that these episodes are about 12 years old. I don’t think the writers intended this as a commentary on the current events of the time. Yet, somehow, twelve years after their air dates, these shows provide such a great reflection of the current times!

Other thoughts I’m going to throw in:

  • There are a surprisingly large number of sci-fi TV shows with episodes named “Paradise Lost”.
  • I am now 51.59% the way through all the Star Trek episodes/movies made.
  • I have seen 372 episodes/movies with 364 (actually, 365 if you count the upcoming Star Trek movie) left.
  • I have watched about 286 hours of Star Trek thus far in this project.

Discernment

I had a post a couple weeks ago regarding callings…the holy kind. I think Jeff Staples’ comment was the most helpful:

One of my favorite professors here says that discernment is about the intersection of three things. Discover what brings you joy. Discover what you’re good at. Discover what the world needs. The intersection of those three things at any given moment is your calling. If (as I think you might be) you’re choosing between two good options, listen to where your desires are strongest and deepest. I think God wants us to be most fully ourselves, so I think that for some people emotion may play a significant role in the decision-making process, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

At the end of the day, knowing what you’re called to do means knowing who you are. It’s not a one-time deal, based on an isolated decision that impacts the rest of your life. It’s about living in a way that is in touch with your real identity, and the more you understand about that the more all of your actions and decisions are just an extension of yourself.

Kind of a ramble, let me know what you think or if it was helpful (or not).

The paraphrase originated from Father Michael Himes, a professor of theology at Boston College (where Jeff goes to school if you didn’t make that connection). Jeff was able to give me some more information about Father Himes thoughts: Three Keys to Intersection and a book Doing the Truth in Love: Conversations About God, Relationships, and Service.

I read the web page and I requested the book be sent over from Regis (they were the only library which had the book which makes it rather fitting I think).

I really like the concept of Three Keys to Intersection. I’ve know what I wanted to do for a long time now. It what brings me joy, which Himes differentiates from happiness because “[joy]comes from within and has to do with a deep and abiding sense of the rightness, the goodness, the fruitfulness of what you do with your life” whereas happiness “often depends on external things, your physical well being, the weather, whether you had a good night’s sleep or a good meal.” I think the joy/happiness differentiation also helps explain my love/hate paradox of Mines. In any event, the current thing that brings me joy is working on space exploration and that’s what I am doing and that’s what I’m going to continue to do for now.

I suppose it helps that I’m good at what I do, at least in theory. Himes also notes that knowing what I’m good at may not be a cut-and-dried answer and that there are people in my life who might be able to use to act as a mirror.

The final key to the puzzle is need. Not what I need, but what others need. To me, this seems like a “no duh” point, but I see people making this same mistake all the time and I pretty sure I’m not immune to it either. You could probably fill entire encyclopedias with stories of young and hot programmers who couldn’t just wait to code something, only to find out that it was something that nobody wanted.

That brings me to the Venn diagram I made up and included above. It has all three aspects: Joy, Ability, and Need. The intersection of those three circles is my target — my calling.

There’s a fourth point worth noting as well. What brings me joy, the abilities I have, and what the world need are all constantly changing. “We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day.” 1

There’s a reflection part of the Three Keys to Intersection. One of the questions asks:

Perhaps you now find yourself entertaining several life choices. That would not be surprising at all. Vocational discernment is an evolving process, a journey. Your goals may change several times as you try out some choices and learn more about the match between your passions and the world’s needs. But do you feel that you are growing in possession of the kind of knowledge that will enable you eventually to narrow down these choices in the future or to figure out how to combine them?

1 See https://andrewferguson.net/2008/01/22/constantly-searching/

Tattoo

I was having a conversation with my flatmate Ben about tattoos. We were talking to Amie, a girl in our climbing class about her tattoos. Ben expressed interest in getting a the outline of the Periodic Table. That made sense because Ben is a Chemical Engineer/Chemistry double major.

This got the gears turning in my head. Why EE related tattoo would be neat and interesting?

The idea of getting a tattoo has been in the back of my head for a number of years now. Originally, it started out as (naturally) some sort Star Trek related design: the Vulcan IDIC or Star Trek Command Insignia.

The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) has a pretty spiffy logo:
ieeelogo.jpg

I think the arrows are particularly spiffy since they represent the right-hand rule which is so often used in electrical engineering.

With that all this in mind, I mocked up the following tattoos:
tattoo-star-trek-idic
The original IDIC

tattoo-star-trek-insignia
The original Star Trek Command Insignia

tattoo-ieee
Right-hand Rule arrows (IEEE)

tattoo-ieee-star-trek
Combined Star Trek/IEEE

In any event, it’s not something I would get before graduation. I’m also not set on the getting it on my wrist. It was just a convenient place to mock it up.

Constantly Searching

During high school graduation, I gave a speech. I remember having a fun time writing it. I wanted it to be my own special moment of profoundness. Whether or not I accomplished that is not for me to decide.

Let’s take a short walk almost four years back in my life:
<a href='https://andrewferguson.net/2008/01/22/constantly-searching/youtube_1jpg/' rel='attachment wp-att-2244' title='youtube_1.JPG'><img src='http://www.andrewferguson.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2008/01/youtube_1.JPG' alt='youtube_1.JPG' /></a>

I pulled quotes from a couple of sources which had been influential in my life, namely Shakespeare and Star Trek.

Quoting Shakespeare is nothing new for anyone. In fact, Star Trek takes from Shakespeare on a fairly regular basis and there’s some considerable similarities between Klingons and Roman Shakespeare ((You Haven’t Read Klingon Until You’ve Read It In It’s Native Klingon by Andrew Ferguson, 10/11/2003)).

However, I did not use Shakespeare solely because of its Star Trek connection.

I had a hard time with Shakespeare in high school, and for me, quoting it was sort of a way for me to say: “I hate how complex you [the works of Shakespeare] are, but I still respect and admire you.”

I suppose that I could have also quoted Wordsworth, Blake, or Coleridge. But I didn’t.

I watched the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Sunday and was reminded of one of the Star Trek quotes I included in the speech:
<a href='https://andrewferguson.net/2008/01/22/constantly-searching/youtube_2jpg/' rel='attachment wp-att-2243' title='youtube_2.JPG'><img src='http://www.andrewferguson.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2008/01/youtube_2.JPG' alt='youtube_2.JPG' /></a>

It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day. And we explore the galaxy, trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here. Not to conquer you with weapons or ideas, but to co-exist and learn.

I never actually attributed this quote to Star Trek in my speech, which is probably one of my biggest regrets of the entire thing. I think my reasoning at the time was to try and reduce any negative impact that mentioning Star Trek would have on my speech.

For example, let’s say that I quoted this:

As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.

By itself, these come off as great words. Now let’s say that I told you C.S. Lewis wrote them. Now they’re even better words! Profound statement and respectable author makes a great quote.

Now let me postulate that Adolf Hitler was whom I quoted ((I think this fulfills Godwin’s Law for this discussion)). My guess is that would not go over so well.

Not that I would/should ever equate Star Trek and Hitler, but I think my point is made.

Back to the Star Trek quote though. I really like it, especially the first sentence: “It is the unknown that defines our existence.”

I like it because it is a statement of purpose and one that I can agree with. I exist because there are unknowns.

The statement of purpose then leads to a statement of mission: “We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day. And we explore the galaxy, trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge.”

We are explorers. We explore. We explore the human element and we explore physical element. And as we explore, we find answers to the aforementioned unknowns. But we also find more knowns.

To me, that’s exciting.

There really is no other point to this except to share that thought and rectify my failed attribution.

By the way, that quote was from Adolf Hitler.

Finished up with all of Star Trek: The Next Generation

I finally say down and watched Star Trek: Nemesis last night. I’m pretty sure that was only the second time I’d seen it, the first time being when it was released in theaters. I watched it at the Neptune on the Ave on cold December night. This is probably one of my least favorite Star Trek films.

In any event, I’m up to 40.48% completed (that’s over 224 hours). This is actually slightly misleading since the 11th Star Trek movie is going to be released in December.

I’ve cued up the first two seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and will probably start watching them over the weekend.

Also, per the request of a certain party, I’m going to try and have more Star Trek updates.

Finished Star Trek: The Next Generation

I finished watching all 176 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). According to NetFlix, I started watching late January of 2007. Call it 300 days. So, 1.7 days to watch each episode. Don’t forget that I also was also interspersing movies throughout the entire time.

TNG is what I grew up with and wanting to see every single TNG episode is what started me on this quest just over two years ago (I returned the first disc of Star Trek: The Original Series on 10/17/2005). I’m honestly not a huge fan of the Original Series. This and the fact that the Original Series only has two episodes per a disc is why it’s taken almost 2 years to get almost 40% of the way through.

My unofficial goal is to be finished with everything by time I graduate in May 2009. That’s 446 episodes in 528 days; 1.18 days per an episode. I can manage that.

The goal is to finish the TNG movies by the end of finals and then maybe start on DS9. My guess is that I probably won’t get a solid start on DS9 until after I come to school in January.

Stats as of completing Star Trek Generations Movie:

Minutes Seen: 13125
Hours Seen: 18.75
Days Seen: 9.11458333333333
Episodes Seen: 287 (movies count as one episode)
% Complete: 39.50%

Stay updated at: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pttmTCNRdHlyykyicsHrZRw&hl=en

Other Properties of Prussian Blue

As told by Wikipedia:
From en.wikipedia.org:

  • It is electrochromic-changing from blue to colorless upon reduction. This change is caused by reduction of the Fe(III) to Fe(II) eliminating the intervalence charge transfer that causes PB’s blue color.
  • It undergoes spin-crossover behavior. Upon exposure to visible light the Fe(III) centers change from low spin to high spin. This spin transition also changes the magnetic coupling between the Fe atoms, making PB one of the few known classes of material that has a magnetic response to light.

Despite the presence of the cyanide ion, PB is not especially toxic because the cyanide groups are tightly bound.

As a note, the chemical formula of Prussian Blue is Fe7(CN)18(H2O)x where 14 ≤ x ≤ 16. Cyanide is the CN part.

I was able to find out this relatively useless, albeit interesting, information due to a flaw in Wikipedia that allows one to wonder through the system aimlessly.

I had watched and then was reading up on the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Thine Own Self” on Memory-Alpha which links to the Goiânia accident which links to Prussian Blue.