Archive for September, 2019

On Star Trek Day 2019: some thoughts on the Prime Directive

September 8, 2019

On Star Trek Day 2019: some thoughts on the Prime Directive

September 8th is Star Trek Day…in 1966, the first episode was aired in the USA of the original series (ST:TOS). That was Man Trap…not really a typical episode, and not the first one filmed, but it marks when the public could first have seen the Enterprise and crew.

In honor of Star Trek Day, I’m running a poll on Twitter (I usually run at least one poll a day: #BufoPolls):

Twitter poll

People are picking an idea from ST:TOS. One of those is the Prime Directive, and that prompted quite an interesting discussion online about it.

Every Star Trek fan, certainly of the original series, is familiar with the Prime Directive. It gets referenced a few times, although we don’t see it, say, posted on the walls on the ship.

It’s basically this:

  • Federation vessels and crews can’t interfere with a developing civilization

The idea is usually credited to producer Gene L. Coon, and is believed to suggest positive development since the then current time, when the Vietnam War was seen as technologically superior countries fighting in countries which weren’t as advanced (again, technologically), and affecting their development.

It raises some serious ethical questions, and logistical ones.

I’m going to give you some of my interpretations of and thoughts about the Prime Directive. I’ll quote the show at least once, but I’m not claiming that what I say is canonical. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.

Let’s pretend that you are a potential starship captain, learning about the Prime Directive at the Academy…let’s further imagine that they give you an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document:

Q. When do I have to worry about the Prime Directive?

A. When you are encountering a developing civilization. The Prime Directive does not apply when interacting with other members of your crew, or with other developed civilizations, such as the Vulcans, Klingons, or Tellarites. See document SFA094732, “List of Developed Civilizations”

Q. What is a developing civilization?

A. A civilization is a group of sentient beings which live according to an agreed set of rules. “Developing”, in this case, means that they have not yet developed interstellar flight. Anyone you encounter traveling through space using their own methodology can be considered to be part of a developed civilization

Q. What is considered interference?

A. Any action you take which changes the development of the civilization. This would include, but not be limited to, the sharing of advanced technology. Other examples might include changing the social structure, such as introducing an alternative political system

Q. What if using our advanced technology is the only way to defend ourselves or the ship?

A. The Prime Directive still applies. To quote starship captain James T. Kirk: ” A star captain’s most solemn oath is that he will give his life, even his entire crew, rather than violate the Prime Directive”*

Q. Does that mean we can’t ever defend ourselves?

A. No. The Prime Directive applies to civilizations, not individuals. If attacked by someone from a developing civilization, a member of Starfleet is justified in defending themselves with the least force necessary, provided that such defense would not alter the course of the development of the civilization. Any such action should be reported to the Starfleet member’s commanding officer for evaluation

Q. What if I have more questions?

A. Ask your commanding officer, or alternatively, consult with a Federation counsel

Again, that’s just my take on it, but that seems to work. Being attacked is not a reason to invalidate the Prime Directive. You can’t say, “That kid threw a rock at me: fire photon torpedoes!” For an interstellar traveling race, they are probably going to find you…after all, that’s part of the mission: to seek out new life and new civilizations.

Does the mission mean they should just find new civilizations and catalog them, rather than interacting? There are a lot of things in the series which suggest that’s not the case, including the amount of resources that the Federation puts into diplomacy.

Now, for another question: why does the Prime Directive exist?

Is it to keep the Federation and its opponents from exploiting the developing civilizations, which was the concern with the Vietnam War? Well, the Prime Directive appears to be part of Starfleet: not something to which the other space-faring civilizations are signatories.

I think it’s a point of humility, and a scientific understanding of how to get the best outcomes. It’s better to have a variety of options when approaching a problem, especially an unknown problem. If Starfleet considered that they were the best possible model, it would make sense for them to align other civilizations with theirs.

However, if one acknowledges that another society might turn out be better for the universe, then cutting off lines of development is counterproductive.

That’s honestly what I think the intent is. I think Starfleet is allowing for the possibility that a civilization would develop which is better than their own…if they are given the opportunity.

Obviously, you might have another opinion about that. If that’s the case, I’d love to hear it, either in replies to this post or on Twitter, where I am (@bufocalvin)

Live long and prosper! \\//_

*This quote is from the Omega Glory, a season two episode written by Gene Roddenberry, and which examines the Prime Directive pretty thoroughly.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

The ultimate fan gift? A custom video from a celebrity from Cameo

September 2, 2019

The ultimate fan gift? A custom video from a celebrity from Cameo

Do you have somebody in the family who seems to already have everything?

People say you should get them experiences, but here’s another possibility…

You can have a celebrity record a custom video for you…a message you request!

Naturally, it has to be appropriate…

I only just recently heard about this, and it’s a fascinating site.

Celebrities can ask to be part of it. After they are verified, they set their own prices…and Cameo takes 25% (which seems reasonable…they process the payment and make the arrangements). A celebrity can also refer to another celebrity…and get five percent (it comes out of Cameo’s cut) for the first year.

Now, the obvious question: who is on it and how much does it cost?

The price ranges a lot: I saw prices close to $10 and ones that were hundreds of dollars. The celebrities were a pretty diverse: from current YouTubers to actors (I’d say going back the 1970s or so) to athletes. I didn’t see many authors: I think that may be an area for expansion.

There was a search and there were categories, but I think that part could be improved. I’d like to see an alphabetical listing of everybody, for one thing.

Here are some examples…the prices can change at any time (that’s up to the celeb), so don’t be surprised if it’s different when you look.

  • Wesley Snipes (Blade) $500
  • Linnea Quigley (The Return of the Living Dead) $100
  • John Kassir (Tales from the Crypt) $55
  • Brett Favre  (Green Bay Packers quarterback) $500
  • Bobby Hull (Chicago Black Hawks) $175
  • Brett “Hitman” Hart (wrestler) $150
  • Ruth Buzzi (Laugh-In) $150
  • Mindy Cohn (The Facts of Life) $50
  • Carson Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) $65
  • Richard Karn (Home Improvement) $80
  • Gilbert Gottfried (comedian) $150
  • Garrett Wang (Star Trek: Voyager) $80
  • Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) $150
  • Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters) $135
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer) $150
  • Sophia the Pug $12
  • Lisa Loeb (singer) $175
  • George Lowe (Space Ghost) $50

Susan Bennett might be one of the best! She’s the voice of Siri…and hers is only $20!

I have to say, I totally get this. However, it is odd to browse the site: you can watch videos they’ve made for other people. I watched one of Ruth Buzzi’s: she probably mentioned five specific things for the recipient!

I checked one of the animals: a person spoke while Sophia the Pug did cute things…that would be worth $12.

It can also be done for charity.

While some of the prices aren’t cheap, I can see a family chipping in together. You do get to keep the video, and this might be a dream come true.

I’m probably being too effusive about something with which I’m unconnected…and that I’ve never tried. I just like the idea of it

I was alerted to this on Brad Server’s Twitter feed. He’s the youngest grandson of Curly of the 3 Stooges (he’s called Curly G), and does a good Curly…great for a fan for $20! I’m also not connected to him except through Twitter (@grandstooge).

This is Curly G’s Cameo site…thanks, for keeping the Stooges going!

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

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