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.

Continuous Partial Attention

Multitasking is out. The new thing is Continuous Partial Attention (CPA):


With continuous partial attention we keep the top level item in focus and scan the periphery in case something more important emerges. Continuous partial attention is motivated by a desire not to miss opportunities. We want to ensure our place as a live node on the network, we feel alive when we’re connected. To be busy and to be connected is to be alive.

Linda Stone is the one credited with coming up with the idea.

Quirks and Quarks1, a CBC podcast that I listen to, just had an episode that dealt with Multi-tasking.

There is some interesting research being done to discover why there’s a bottleneck in in the brain and why the brain can then only work on one thing at a time.

A good analogy are computer processors. Until recently, most computers were single core (one processor). This meant that they could only perform one operation at a time.

However, most modern operating systems are multithreaded. This means that the computer can do (or at least appears to be able to do) multiple operations at once. It accomplishes this by creating threads of processes (task) that each take a turn using the single processor. In short: multitasking.

Nowadays, many computers have multiple processors on a single chip. This allows for for true multitasking, assuming your program of choice is designed to use multiple processors. The most common applications that take advantage of multiple processors are video and photo editing software. Why? Graphics often need to be generated and this just happens to be a perfect task that can be split up and parted out to multiple processors.

1 See also: This American Life; Radio Lab