Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…


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And now, this!

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This won’t be a long post. Following President Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin, and some lines of his that will live in infamy, I saw this meme that James Gunn–the dude who directed Guardians of the Galaxy, among other–put out and thought it was great. Trump has said the following things after his meeting/summit in Helsinki, after he had called the entire EU a foe of the US:

When asked, “Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular,” responded: “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. … And I think we’re all to blame.” Instead of saying something straightforward like yes, I believe our intelligence community that Russia did meddle in the election to help my chances and hurt Hilary Clinton’s. By the way, he did say words to that effect not long after he was elected and got to meet with his intelligence officers for the first time. Not with Putin though! Then he contradicts himself completely a minute later in the next quote.

After rambling for really no reason about beating Hilary Clinton in his race (while still definitely losing the popular vote) and reiterating that there was “no collusion” he was then said, “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” This is an equally ridiculous statement. Not only because his believing Putin over his own ‘intelligence people’ means that he does not, in fact, have much confidence in them, but because this is Vladimir Putin! An evil dictator who is going to deny it, because then he can continue to manipulate Trump. In effect Trump is saying, “I asked him about it, he said he didn’t do it, that’s good enough for me.” It’s also this quote that is the source of the meme above, which I think is great.

That’s all I wanted to say, just had to get that out. I could say a lot more about this meeting, the backlash from it, the Trump administration in general, but I don’t feel the need to. I think the meme sums up the ridiculousness in the long stream of ridiculousness the past couple of years.

Picard out.

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Star Trek episode reviews: Hero Worship and Violations

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Hero Worship

I’ve finished my reviews for episodes 11 and 12 of season five: Hero Worship and Violations. Despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to do more than two episodes a month these days.

Hero Worship is a good episode to watch. The Enterprise encounters a mostly-destroyed ship in the middle of a black cluster and Data saves a 12-yr old boy. Like any 12-yr old boy who’s survived the deaths of everyone on a ship, not to mention his parents, he emulates Data. A being with no emotions at all. Meanwhile the Enterprise unsurprisingly finds itself in trouble yet again! It’s a layered telling of a sensitive subject, and is one of those Star Trek episodes that ages exceptionally well.

This is the second episode that Patrick Stewart directed, and is another hit. You may not know that it was during the shooting of this episode that the cast were informed of Gene Roddenberry’s death. Check out this and lots of other stuff in my full review.

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Violations

In contrast to the above episode, Violations sucks to watch. This episode goes from moderately uninteresting to downright uncomfortable with rapidity! The Enterprise is doing a bunch of napping–I mean mapping–and they are transporting some Ullians, which refer to themselves as ‘telepathic historians.’ While they say they want to build a library of memories for every civilization in the galaxy, what we actually end up seeing is the psychic rape of several crew members: Deanna Troi (literally), as well as Will Riker and Beverly Crusher. It’s one of those episodes you wish you could forget, but I have to review it.

For those remotely interested in behind-the-scenes tidbits of this episode, we get to see Gates McFadden’s real hair in this episode during her flashback scene. Recall that for most of the series she had to wear a wig that was pretty much the same color. Evidently the writers wrote a flashback scenario for every cast member, and I wish they’d used the one they wrote for Ensign Ro! Find out more details about this and some others things in my full review, if you’d like.

Next up to review are The Masterpiece Society and Conundrum. Hopefully they’ll be sooner rather than later!


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Why you’re safer driving with your doors unlocked

flipped car

Wouldn’t want to be inside this car, would you?

This particular issue has been on my mind for years. Given my overall irritation, I’m categorizing this as a rant.

It’s bugged me for years that cars in recent years have doors that automatically lock when you put the car in drive. I have a vehicle that was made in 2012, and it does this, though once I unlock the doors they stay that way. What’s more irritating is a 2015 vehicle that I have (a Honda) that will automatically lock the doors every time you start moving from a stop. No matter how many times I unlock it it locks them all back up, and there is no way to disable this feature, I’ve looked. This actually makes the people in the car less safe, and I’m going to explain why.

If you are involved in a car accident and for any reason are unable to open your door, you will have to rely on emergency personnel or a good samaritan passerby to extricate you. Having your door locked is one more barrier that they will have to overcome in order to do this, and it may end up costing you or your family their lives. This is an especially important issue if your car is burning, you are bleeding excessively, the car is in water, etc. If you are unconscious you won’t be able to help. If you have a broken arm, you won’t be able to help. If you are upside down in addition to any of these, you are very unlikely to be able to help. If the automatic door locks are broken as part of the accident, they won’t unlock. EMT’s are going to have a tough time pulling you out of the window if the roof of the car has been crushed, especially if you have a potential spinal injury. As someone put it, “As an ex-ambulance driver, it felt terrible to watch a patient dying inside a locked car where CPR could not be administered.” EMT’s and other safety personnel won’t have a problem getting you out through your seat belt; that’s one reason they have knives and shears, to cut through them. In the unlikely event you are in a serious car accident, the difference between getting out of the car when you need to, and not being able to can make all the difference. Please unlock your doors.

Do yourself a favor and unlock your doors whenever you get in your vehicle. The main reason people lock their car doors? It’s because it makes them feel safer. Please note the wording of that last sentence. It does not make you any safer, but people feel safer. It’s an illusion, and in fact will usually make you less safe in your vehicle. Don’t be at the mercy of your emotions, use your brain! The purpose of door locks is to protect your vehicle when you are away from it, not when you are in it. For those reading this that can’t help but think of scenarios whereby locking the doors could be a good idea, let me see if I can address them.

“But what if I’m driving in an unsafe neighborhood?” I will limit my response to scenarios in the US, which is where I live. I don’t know what it’s like driving down the road in Pakistan, and I don’t know how driving works in Mongolia (do they even have cars? Anyone living in Ulaanbaatar feel free to get back to me). Having your doors unlocked is not really a liability. People walking up to cars and yanking them out doesn’t happen that often, largely because of the invention of seat belts. If someone is going to carjack you, they will use a gun. Having your doors locked does you no good when a pistol is aimed at your head at a stop light or in a parking lot–you unlock the door yourself and give them what they want. Here’s a link to a good story on how to avoid carjacking, and having your doors locked has nothing to do with it. I’m not going to quibble about people who doggedly decide to lock their doors in rough neighborhoods or a major metropolis, this is the situation that I can most understand–but it’s still not protecting you as much as you think. Please unlock your doors.

“But what if I have young kids in the car?” If you have toddlers, they should be in the infant car seat where they can’t get out anyway. If you have older kids that’s what child safety locks for, they’ve been around since the early 80’s. Use them! If you don’t, depending on the model of your car someone in the back seat can open their door from the inside even if the car doors are locked anyway, so there really is no excuse. Please unlock your doors.

“Doesn’t having your car doors locked prevent you being thrown clear in an accident?” No. That’s what seat belts prevent. Wear your seat belt! It’s difficult to think of a scenario where a person is thrown sideways into their car door and having it locked magically saves their life. Locked or unlocked, that car door is staying shut; anything with enough force to crack open the door will either kill you anyway, or be unaffected by whether it’s locked or not. The federal government has set safety standards for door latches that are very strict; doors almost never open anymore due to the force of the crash itself. Even if they did, your seat belt will keep you in the car. People being ‘thrown clear’ in the event of an accident has nothing to do with car doors, it’s to do with whether or not they were wearing their seat belt. Please unlock your doors.

“There must be a reason it’s standard to automatically lock the car doors on almost all modern cars!” There is, but not a good one. Remember that “almost never” part? As I researched I found what the deal was on the cartalk website: “The one weak link is the door handle and the rods that it connects to. If your car is moving very fast at the time of a crash, the inertia can move that handle or the rods it attaches to in the door, and that can unlatch the door — as if you’d pulled the handle. If a door is locked, the handle becomes inoperative. You can pull on it or push on it, but it’s detached from the rods that activate the latch, and the door won’t open.” For those of you waiting and hoping to see if there’s a reason not to change your minds or your behavior, here’s your ray of hope. There is a tiny possibility that this can happen. It’s far, far lower than the possibility of you being trapped in your car, but it exists. Even in that scenario however, you will be kept in the car by your seat belt. Please unlock your doors.

*Takes a big exhale* Okay, got that out of my system. Thanks for reading my extended rant. As with all of my blog posts, keep in mind what Dennis Miller says: this is just my opinion, and I could be wrong.


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Star Trek episode reviews: A Matter of Time and New Ground

A Matter of Time

My reviews are complete for episodes nine and ten of season five: A Matter of Time and New Ground. Life has gotten in the way a bit, but I’ve managed to barely keep things from going longer than a month between posts.

A Matter of Time is an episode I usually look forward to seeing when it’s on the air, or if I get a hankering to watch the whole series again. It’s a rare bright spot of levity and light in a very serious fifth season. A professor from nearly 300 years in the future appears and tells them he’s there to document them and ask some questions, while denying answering any questions of his own. His visit happens to coincide with a rescue mission to help colonists on a planet that have just had an asteroid crash onto it. Professor Rasmussen has a lot of fun teasing the crew with various comments peppered throughout the show, while things get more and more dire on the planet. Something seems off with the ‘professor’ and learning more about him and his true aims are enjoyable and the twist is one I didn’t see coming.

What you may not know is that Matt Frewer was a backup choice to play Rasmussen. Originally Robin Williams was set to play him! Unfortunately his commitment to play in the great masterpiece of a film Hook *rolls eyes* prevented him due to scheduling conflicts. Oh what might have been! Meanwhile Marina Sirtis used the bridge set to film a little promo of her own for a university. Learn more and watch a video of the promo on my full review.

While the previous TNG entry is a delight, New Ground is an episode I have to suffer through. The Enterprise is participating in the testing of a new kind of propulsion system, the soliton wave. While orbiting the planet starting the experiment, Worf’s mom pays a brief visit and drops off his son, Alexander, permanently! The focus of this episode is not on the ridiculous soliton wave–which promptly goes awry like just about every bit of new tech on TNG–but rather on a father and son learning how to relate to one another. This forgettable and uninteresting episode comes up short of its goal of entertainment, though it’s not outright terrible.

It’s hard not to notice that they’ve cast a new actor to play Alexander, Brian Bonsall. Anyone who watched Family Ties would recognize him as a Keaton kid. He does do a good job, even if we have to deal with the albatross that is Alexander taking up space on the show for six more episodes after this appearance. For those paying attention to continuity, however, Alexander should only be about three years old here, as he was born at approximately the time the Booby Trap episode takes place. For a full explanation of this mutant fast-growth strain of Klingon, as well as why he’d have been better utilized on DS9, click here to check out my full review.

Next time I’ll be summarizing my reviews of Hero Worship, a pretty good episode, and Violations, a virtual gang rape of an episode.


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Star Trek episode reviews: Unification I and Unification II

Unification I

That worked out well, didn’t it? The Unification two-parter just happened to be episodes seven and eight of the season, so I get to include them both in this post. My pace is slightly faster this month, as I keep plowing through season 5.

“Plowing through” is the right term when talking about Unification I. It starts off provocatively, with a grainy photo of Spock on Romulus, and talk of a possible defection. The problem with this episode is that despite it’s incredible promise (Spock is actually on TNG?!), not a lot happens except setup, so it’s not that exciting. It’s not like Best of Both Worlds or Redemption, where wonderful things happen in part one. Not only does the audience never believe that Spock would defect, he doesn’t even make an appearance until the last 10 seconds. Sarek is the highlight of this episode for me.

It’s actually pretty incredible that Leonard Nimoy would agree to be on TNG. This episode was released just a few weeks after Gene Roddenberry’s death, and there is a nameplate that appears in the first minute of Unification I. I’m not sure why it didn’t air for The Game, however, as that episode also aired shortly after his death. You may (or may not) recognize the Klingon captain as Stephen Root, from Office Space and NewsRadio fame! Check out this and other trivia on my full review.

Unification II

Unification I is–dare I say it?–unsurprisingly followed up by Unification II! This episode is a bit of a step up from part one, because we actually get to see Spock in action. He also quickly reveals his purpose: the potential reunification of the Vulcan and Romulan races, which Star Trek aficionados will know were originally one people. There’s a reference to the Star Trek VI film, which would be released in theaters just a few months after this episode aired. It turns out those dirty Rommies have tricked Spock however, and not only are they betrayed but the entire purpose has been to facilitate a Romulan takeover of Vulcan. We even get a surprise appearance from Sela!

One thing I didn’t know, is a major purpose of this two-parter was simply to promote Star Trek VI. In fact, while Leonard didn’t get paid much above scale as an actor for his appearance he secured a promotion to executive producer for the upcoming movie, so he was happy. This is the last time we’ll see Sela, which is a shame because I thought she could be a good adversary that would pop up more often. Denise herself will only appear one more time, in the series finale. Overall this two parter has always been something of a disappointment to me, or at least underwhelming, however nice it is to see Spock one last time. Still, Relics alone is better than both of these episodes put together. Check out more tidbits and analysis at my full review.

The next two episodes up for review are A Matter of Time and New Ground, one of which is good, the other not so good.


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Star Trek episode reviews: Disaster and The Game

Disaster

Wish I could say I’ve accelerated the rate at which I write reviews, but life has been a bit tumultuous lately. Not to fear, I will finish! In the meantime I’ve at least written two more, the fifth and sixth episodes of season five.

Disaster kicks us off with a disaster, as the Enterprise runs into a quantum filament. Quantum filament, really? This is a fish out of water episode for most of the crew: Picard is trapped in a turbolift with children, Troi is put in command on the bridge, Worf is stuck in Ten Forward with the injured and the pregnant, and has to deliver a baby. There are other vignettes too, and virtually all of them work.

Any Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman fans out there may recognize Marissa as Erika Flores, who portrayed Colleen Cooper for the first three seasons. What you may not know is this episode was a bit of a test run, to see the kind of chemistry O’Brien and Ro had, since they were wanting to get her on DS9. She later turned them down. Check out my full review for a lot more content.

The Game

Following this is The Game, where prodigal son Wesley Crusher returns for a guest spot. He’s back briefly from Starfleet Academy. Yep, he’s back home with his family…who are out to get him! This episode is full of sentiment at Wil Wheaton’s brief return, which is nice. What’s not so nice is the plot, which involves an addictive, mind-controlling video game that the entire crew of the ship (even Ashley Judd, in her last appearance) gets infected with, before everyone gets saved by Data and a strobe light.

Ashley Judd has her first on-screen kiss, and everyone’s favorite ensign does the honors. Marina Sirtis has her infamous “chocolate scene” in this episode, which is almost pornographic. *heh* You may not know that Marina had to spit out the chocolate after every take, because she was afraid she’d gain weight. Check out my full review for some other tidbits and nitpicks on this episode.

Thanks for visiting! Next up for review are Unification I and II, which involves possibly the most anticipated guest star of all: Spock!


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Star Trek episode reviews: Ensign Ro and Silicon Avatar

Ensign Ro

Slow but steady, I’ve completed two more reviews for season five. The episodes I’ve done are Ensign Ro and Silicon Avatar. Not exactly outstanding episodes like the previous two. One is definitely worth watching, the other is definitely optional.

Ensign Ro introduces us to…*drumroll* Ensign Ro! She’s a member of a new race in the Star Trek canon: a Bajoran. A troubled ensign that an admiral had to get out of prison so she could go on a mission to help the Enterprise hunt down terrorists, Ensign Ro has got attitude to spare; but we learn she is also in over her head, and not everything is at it seems.

Between The Wounded and Ensign Ro, the Cardassians and Bajorans were set for a show that would be debuting the following year, Deep Space 9. The producers liked Michelle Forbes’s performance in Half a Life so much they offered her a recurring role on TNG, and eventually the part that she turned down on DS9, which went to Nana Visitor. Check out my review for a lot more content.

Silicon Avatar

Silicon Avatar is about the return of the Crystalline Entity, the deadly but beautiful life form that annihilated the colony on Omicron Theta, where Data and Lore were created. Riker, Data and Beverly are on a planet along with a Starfleet team preparing a planet for colonization when it attacks! Barely surviving, once the Enterprise arrives they get an expert and begin tracking it down. Unfortunately the expert, Dr. Marr, has an agenda of her own. The episode starts out great but slides into mediocrity.

This episode title doesn’t help anyone understand what the episode is actually about. Star Trek: The Next Generation (and maybe Star Trek in general) is sort of famous for having inaccurate, vague titles but this one is flat-out nonsensical. The producers finally said it actually was meant to convey “a repository of knowledge”, referring to Data! Does anyone think that?? Click here for my review, where I give a breakdown of how things start out and where they went wrong with this episode, as well as more trivia that no one else has.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog! Next I’ll review Disaster and The Game, a bit of a mixed bag in both cases.