Star Trek Canon Database

Displaying 101 to 150 of 157 records.

Database started: 1999-07-27
Page generated: 2014-04-23

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TNG Season 5, Ep# 119: "The First Duty"

PICARD: The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth... be it scientific truth, historical truth, or personal truth. It is the guiding principle upon which Starfleet is based.

Culture: Picard's self-important speech drips with irony. He bellows that the first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, and makes a point of mentioning historical truth.

But in the very next sentence, he goes on to state that it is the guiding principle upon which Starfleet is based, when that is totally untrue. The primary goal of Starfleet is the same as that of any other military organization: to defend the state. It may have other peacetime obligations, but the fact of the matter is that when the call to arms is heard, Starfleet drops everything else and responds immediately. That is how you know what their true "prime directive" is.

A soldier's job is not to champion the truth; that's the province of ethical historians and philosophers. The soldier's job is to safeguard his nation. The truth is a very minor casualty if its sacrifice will save a nation, and the historical conduct of the world's militaries is anything but the search for truth.

Picard is an ivory tower intellectual; his mind is full of lofty ideals, but he's got his nose so far up in the clouds that he can't see whether he's about to walk off a cliff. As a debate team captain or cocktail-party conversationalist, the man would be outstanding. But as the man entrusted with the defense of his nation and the safety of his ship, he's a loose cannon, and he's got his priorities completely wrong.

Wesley did the wrong thing, but not because he betrayed some lofty principles about defending the truth at all times. He did the wrong thing because he violated regulations by attempting the banned Kolvoord Starburst, and then he disobeyed a direct order by giving false testimony to the inquiry despite his oath not to do so. An all-consuming obsession with the truth may not be necessary in a soldier, but adherence to regulations and obedience of direct orders certainly is.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 121: "The Perfect Mate"

RIKER: The replicator is here ... comm panel here ... the sonic shower is through there ... you can adjust the lights by verbal commands ... and if you have any questions, just ask the ... (she approaches him, he finds himself becoming distracted) ... the ... computer ...

(she kisses him)

RIKER: I'm beginning to sense those elevated pheromones you were talking about.

KAMALA: You were curious, weren't you?

RIKER: Curious isn't exactly the way I'd describe it.

KAMALA: Do you know what is remarkable about empathic metamorphs?

RIKER: You mean, there's something even more remarkable about you?

KAMALA: We learn so quickly what stimulates a man... that the second time is even better than the first...

(she kisses him again, more passionately)

RIKER (obviously suffering from Blue Ball Syndrome): Listen ... this has been ... educational ... but I've made it a policy never to open another man's gift.

KAMALA: I know my role in history, Commander... but it's going to be a long voyage...

RIKER: It certainly is. We'll try to make you as comfortable as possible (he rushes out the door).

RIKER (sweating, palpitating, leaning against the wall): Riker to bridge. If you need me, I'll be in holodeck four.

Culture: poor Riker. We've all experienced the "aching balls" syndrome (well, all of us guys, anyway), but none of us have ever had a holodeck in which to "relieve" the pain.

Riker obviously does, and I suppose this means that such activities aren't prohibited (perhaps they're even commonplace). However, we saw in "Hollow Pursuits" (and numerous other incidents) that it's not unusual for people to barge in on somebody's holo-adventure without so much as a warning bell.

If people routinely use holodecks to relieve sexual frustration, it would be pretty embarrassing to get caught. I would think that some taboos should apply, much like the taboos that keep most people from peeking their heads over the partitions between toilet stalls in a public bathroom.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 121: "The Perfect Mate"

KAMALA: I'm afraid my premature emergence from stasis has left me a little... vulnerable to the desires I sense from men. Nevertheless, this is who I am, Captain. You might as well ask a Vulcan to forgo logic... or a Klingon to be nonviolent.

Culture: again, they act as though logic and violence are intrinsic characteristics of Vulcans and Klingons, rather than learned behaviours. At the risk of beating a dead horse, I would like to point out that if you replace "Vulcan" and "Klingon" with race names such as "black" or "hispanic", these sentiments are quite obviously racist in nature.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 123: "I, Borg"

GEORDI: If I'm gonna figure out his command pathways, I have to learn how he processes information. The only way I know to do that is to give him perceptual tests. That means getting his cooperation.

BEVERLY: So he can participate in the destruction of his entire species.

GEORDI: Doctor...

BEVERLY: I know, I know. We're at war.

Culture: I find it interesting that Beverly describes the Borg as a "species" even though they're nothing of the sort. They've assimilated many different species and cultures, therefore, they have none of the genetic and structural commonality that is required in order to be a "species".

Is it possible that they've gotten into the habit of describing nation-states as "species" even when they obviously aren't? Perhaps the word "species" is perverted before the 24th century, so that it actually refers to national citizenship rather than biology.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 123: "I, Borg"

GEORDI: It's funny... when I first started out, I had no problem with creating this invasive program, but the more I work with Hugh, the more I --

GUINAN: Hugh?

GEORDI: That's the name we gave him.

GUINAN: You named a Borg.

...

GEORDI: And now I'm having second thoughts about what we're doing. Programming him like a walking bomb, sending him back to destroy the others.

GUINAN: This "kid's" big brothers are going to hunt us down. They won't rest until they have him back. And they'll destroy us in the process -- without any of this soul-searching you're going through.

GEORDI: Maybe you should go talk to him. It might not seem so clear cut then.

Culture: Geordi spouts a load of politically correct garbage. When soldiers shoot at the enemy, they know perfectly well that they're shooting at other young men, who have dreams, aspirations, loves, hopes and fears just like anyone else. That's tragic, but that's war. No one said it was pretty.

Only a soap-opera writer would depict professional soldiers getting all touchy-feely in this situation. Hugh is the enemy, and he's also a potential superweapon in the war against the Borg. The Borg are perfectly willing and able to obliterate the Federation way of life, and they've shown an utterly ruthless disregard for any remotely humanitarian conventions of war. A failure to respond in kind is not only stupid, it's suicidal.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 123: "I, Borg"

GUINAN: If you're going to use this person-

PICARD: It's a Borg, damn it, not a person!

GUINAN: If you're going to use this person to destroy his race, don't you think you should look him in the eye once before you do it? Besides... I'm not so sure he is Borg anymore.

PICARD: Because he's been given a name by a member of the crew doesn't mean he's no longer Borg. Because he's young doesn't mean he's innocent. He is what he is and in spite of the efforts to turn him into some kind of pet -- I will not alter our plans.

GUINAN: Fine. But unless you talk to him -- at least once -- you might find that decision harder to live with than you realize.

Culture: Guinan joins Geordi in spouting PC nonsense (which is all the more amazing since her entire civilization was obliterated by the Borg).

Hugh developed the beginnings of an accessible personality, and he even showed sympathy for Geordi, calling him a "friend". That's all well and good, but he's still a POW.

Therefore, they should either imprison him indefinitely, find a way to permanently separate him from the Collective, or send him back with the invasive program. Each one of those alternatives has merit, but the solution they eventually chose (simply letting him go) has no merit whatsoever.

There is no conceivable reason to render medical assistance to an injured enemy soldier, show him around your finest starship, and then release him back to his side with knowledge of your hiding place in the star's chromosphere. It was only blind luck that Hugh somehow managed to corrupt the programming of his cube instead of simply giving them away, which is the fate they truly deserved.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 123: "I, Borg"

GEORDI: Then... you've reconsidered the plan?

PICARD: Yes. If we used him in that manner, we'd be no better than the enemy we seek to destroy.

Culture: these people seem to have no concept whatsoever of the purpose of war. War is the means by which nations defend or increase their power and prosperity. Morality doesn't enter into it.

Military strategies aren't designed to demonstrate superior ethics! They are designed to achieve victory over the enemy, or in this case, to defend your nation against a ruthless, implacable aggressor. How much are your ethics going to be worth if you're dead, or your society has been obliterated?

After this episode, I was struck with the conviction that the Federation deserved to be assimilated by the Borg. Their brand of high-minded preaching should never be rewarded.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 127: "Time's Arrow Part 2"

TROI: Poverty was eliminated a long time ago. And a lot of things disappeared with it: hopelessness, despair, cruelty, war ...

Culture: Troi spouts her communist party line about how they've perfected life in the 24th century. She starts by claiming that poverty has been eliminated, and for those who still insist on claiming that the Federation isn't communist, I would like to point out that the elimination of poverty is an inherently communist goal.

For those without knowledge of basic economics, poverty is not defined in terms of absolutes. It has nothing to do with absolute measures of subsistence, or health, or quality of clothing or standards of living. It is simply based on income percentiles; if you rank financially in the bottom third of the population, then you are below the poverty line (the exact placement of the poverty line may vary from country to country).

To put this concept in stark relief, consider this: if everybody in North America experiences a tenfold increase in wealth over the next 30 days, the number of people living below the poverty line won't change one iota. The "poor" grocery store clerks might have 6000 square foot homes and Porsches, but the "rich" people would have 30,000 square foot homes and McLarens (insert whatever ostentatious displays of wealth you prefer, if you're not into cars).

In other words, a general increase in the standard of living cannot possibly eliminate poverty, no matter how high that increase is. It's all relative, so even the most comfortable country in the world must have poverty ... unless the government forces everyone's standard of living to be the same. Do you know of any economic systems which attempt to do that? I can think of only one: communism.

Of course, she can't stop there, so she goes on to claim that "hopelessness, despair, cruelty and war" have also been eliminated. This is spin-doctoring of the worst sort. Tasha Yar's homeworld used to be a Federation planet, but it suffered all of these things. Instead of admitting that their society isn't immune to those problems, the government simply cut that "bad" colony loose and continued to boast that nothing bad ever happens on a Federation world.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 128: "Realm of Fear"

BARCLAY: Ever since I was a child, I've been scared to death that if I ever dematerialized... I wouldn't come back whole again. I know it sounds crazy.

TROI: There's nothing crazy about it, Reg -- you are being taken apart molecule by molecule. You're not the first person to have anxiety about transporting. We can desensitize you to this type of fear. It's a slow and gradual process... but it works.

Culture: they treat fear of transportation as an irrational phobia despite the obvious philosophical issues, so instead of taking these concerns seriously, they use psychological conditioning techniques to "desensitize" people.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 128: "Realm of Fear"

GEORDI: Transporting really is the safest way to travel, Reg.

Culture: Geordi thinks transporters are the safest way to travel, but that's probably just because he's comparing them to the Federation's Mighty Explodin' Starship Fleet. It's not as if transporter accidents are that rare in Star Trek ...

TNG Season 6, Ep# 129: "Man of the People"

PICARD VO: Captain's Log, Stardate 46071.6. We have been called to the aid of a transport ship, which has been attacked near Rekag-Seronia. Hostilities between the two factions on that planet have intensified recently, threatening an important Federation shipping route.

DATA: Captain, sensors have located the transport ship. Two Rekag battle cruisers are flanking it.

Culture: money talks, bullshit walks, and the Prime Directive balks. A planet's internal turmoil is threatening an important Federation shipping route, so they send an ambassador in on a transport, in order to "fix" the situation (ie- interfere in the inner politics of another world). When that ambassador is attacked by the Rekags while trespassing on Rekag territory, the Federation responds by sending in their mightiest warship. In effect, they end up invading Rekag territory in force, in order to ensure that their interference in Rekag politics goes unimpeded.

So if I understand the Prime Directive, it goes as follows: if the internal affairs of another nation cause inhumane suffering or threaten your security, do not interfere. But if the internal affairs of another nation threaten your precious shipping routes, then by all means, interfere. Immediately.

To be fair, I do understand why the Federation would get involved here. I just think it's the height of hypocrisy for them to hold their noses high in the air about their superior ethics the rest of the time. It's a bit like Bill Clinton preaching the importance of family values or honesty.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 129: "Man of the People"

ALKAR: I am grateful for the Federation's offer to escort me, but if I arrive at Rekag-Seronia on the Enterprise, the armed Flagship of Starfleet, my mission as a Peace negotiator will be compromised. There must be a Federation transport ship in the area that could take me there.

...

ADMIRAL: However, we also recognize that safety is an issue -- not just yours, but the crew that escorts you. To send you on an unarmed transport puts everyone at risk. I think it's best if you proceed to Rekag-Seronia aboard the Enterprise.

Culture: the only two alternatives available to Ambassador Alkar are a "Federation transport ship" and a Starfleet warship. In other words, he has two forms of government-owned transportation to choose from. The option of a privately owned vessel is never discussed, most likely because there is no such beast in the Federation.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

KANE: These are standard guest quarters, sir. I can try to find something bigger if you want.

SCOTT: Bigger? In my day, even an Admiral wouldna had such quarters on a starship. I remember a time when we had to transport the Dohlman of Elaas. You never heard anyone whine and complain about quarters like that...

KANE: The Holodecks, Ten Forward, and the gymnasium are all at your disposal. The computer can tell you how to find them. Until we issue you a combadge, just use one of these panels if you need anything.

SCOTT: You know... these quarters remind me of a hotel room I once had on Argelius... oh, now there was a planet... everything a man could want -- right at his fingertips. 'Course on my first visit, I ran into a wee bit of trouble...

KANE (impatient, slightly irritated): Uh, excuse me, sir... but I have to return to duty.

Culture: Starfleet cadets may be force-fed latin, and anthropology, and philosophy, and all sorts of other things which enlighten while diverting their time away from the core requirements of their profession, but they apparently don't care much for something which is important for their profession: military history. Captain Montgomery Scott reappears from the dead, and he is met with disinterest. His stories are ignored as the prattlings of a senile old man.

This isn't just a shameful mistreatment of a beloved TOS character, but it's also very revealing of the cultural mindset of the TNG era, in which their distaste for their own recent history has apparently led them to forsake it. I can't imagine that real-life soldiers would be so disinterested if, for example, Admiral Nelson or General Patton were brought back from the dead and began to tell war stories. Scotty should have been swarmed by half the off-duty personnel on the ship, but instead, he found himself alone and unwanted.

Roy Cowan points out that there is also an issue of Starfleet protocol here. In a real navy, would an enlisted man or ensign snub a superior officer in this way? And why wasn't Scotty assigned a guide for the duration of his stay, given the special circumstances?

Alternatively, this may simply be an indicator of horrendous education standards; maybe these cadets are simply unaware of Scotty's pivotal role because their history teachers are useless. This explanation is somewhat weak, however, since they seem quite familiar with the ancient history of alien societies (their collective awe at the Promellian battle cruiser in "Booby Trap" seems rather odd if they are so ignorant of their own history that they are unimpressed by Mr. Scott's appearance).

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

SCOTT: Pardon me for asking... but what exactly is a Ship's Counselor?

TROI: I'm here to take care of the emotional well-being of our crew. And of our guests.

SCOTT: And you're an officer?

TROI: Yes.

Culture: Scotty is obviously surprised that a psychotherapist would be a ranking officer on a starship (as was I). This indicates that their coddling, California-style over-use of psychotherapy is a relatively new phenomenon.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

SCOTT: You're giving me one of your shuttles?

PICARD: Call it... an extended loan. Since you lost your ship while saving ours, it seemed only fair.

Culture: Scotty's pretty happy at being given one of the ship's shuttles. Wait till he finds out that the Federation has gone communist in his absence, and that government-owned vehicles like that shuttle are pretty much the only game in town.

Roy Cowan notes that Starfleet shuttles seem to be the pre-eminent mode of transportation for individuals, rather than privately owned spacecraft. Scotty is given one here, Geordi took one for a pleasure trip to Risa in "The Mind's Eye", Worf took one to a bat'leth tournament in "Parallels", etc. They are arguably cheap enough to make that they can be considered almost disposable (they seem to be treated that way in Voyager, thus continuing the replaceable Viper TV precedent from Battlestar Galactica), but this would merely force us to revisit the question of why we don't see hordes of them whenever we approach a Federation world (even Earth, with its population of billions). It would appear that only military personnel get to tool around in these things. Everyone else must "book passage" on a transport.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

DATA: Oh Spot, the complex level of behavior you display connotes a fairly well-developed cognitive array. And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend, I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.

Culture: Data recites his humourously awful poem, "Ode to Spot". It's a throwaway item in the plot, where he recites a poem which is otherwise factually correct (describing Spot's anatomy and behaviour in excruciating detail), but which includes the interesting claim that Spot is "not sentient".

I object to that claim. Cats and dogs may not be geniuses, but I do think they're sentient. Sentience is self-awareness, and I think that anyone who thinks dogs and cats are not sentient must not have much experience with them. In any case, this makes me wonder what the definition of sentience is in Star Trek.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 133: "Rascals"

LURIN: We Ferengi do not bring our offspring along with us aboard ships.

RIKER: Then I suppose that's your loss. We consider our families to be one of our strengths.

LURIN: I think you will find they can also be a weakness. Unless you release the computer to our control, I will execute every child on this ship ... beginning with yours.

RIKER: Even you aren't that cruel.

LURIN: It is cruel to put children in danger by bringing them aboard a starship in the first place.

Culture: Lurin is absolutely right; it is callous and irresponsible to put children onto a military vessel which is routinely ordererd into dangerous situations. But none of the officers on the Enterprise seem to realize that.

Logan Gish points out that it might have been more than irresponsible; it may be deliberate endangerment. It's no secret that the Federation espouses all the values of militarism (obedience to the state, loyalty to the state, refusal to question the state's motives, jingoistism, military duty is the highest and most noble calling, keep no secrets from the state, allow the state to keep secrets from you, etc), and by putting families aboard military ships, the Federation tries to ensure the loyalty and utmost efforts of its crew. After all, if they fail, their families die. The Roman Empire employed a similar policy (punishing the families of deserters), as did the Nazis.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 136: "Chain of Command Part 1"

PICARD: Starfleet Intelligence believes the Cardassians are developing metagenic weapons.

BEVERLY: Oh my God.

WORF: I am not familiar with metagenics.

BEVERLY: They're genetically engineered viruses which are designed to destroy entire eco-systems. The metagenic toxins are released into the atmosphere of a planet and immediately begin mutating. They seek out and destroy every form of DNA they encounter. In a few days, everything is dead.

PICARD: Within a month, the metagenic agent itself breaks down and dissipates completely... leaving every city, road, and piece of equipment perfectly intact.

WORF: Leaving the planet safe to be conquered. Wouldn't using such a weapon pose as great a risk to the attacker as it does to the target?

BEVERLY: That's why metagenics and other biological weapons were outlawed years ago. Even the Romulans abide by those agreements.

Culture: an advanced form of biological weapon has been outlawed in the 24th century, in much the same way that chemical and biological weapons are outlawed today.

However, their shock and outrage at the notion of continued development is a bit surprising. The harsh reality is that since those weapons exist, a certain amount of research will always go on; both the United States and Russia have large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, public denials notwithstanding (former researchers have publicly come forward from both countries).

Their outrage at Cardassian research into this field is probably very similar to modern superpower outrage at third-world acquisition of nuclear and biological weapons technology. The superpowers already have it, and they not going to give it up, but they don't want anyone else to get it.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 140: "Face of the Enemy"

DESEVE: There will be a Corvallen freighter arriving in the Kaleb sector in the next twelve hours. Spock wants you to rendezvous with that ship and take its cargo back to Federation space.

...

PICARD: This is why you've returned... to bring this message?

DESEVE: Partly.

PICARD: In order to know whether Spock's message is being delivered accurately... I need to understand the messenger.

DESEVE: I was... ready to come back. Romulus had... lost its appeal.

PICARD: And yet you found something very appealing about it at one time.

DESEVE: The Romulans are very... moral, Captain. They have an absolute certainty about what is right and what is wrong... who is a friend and who is an enemy. They have a strict moral compass which provides them with a clarity of purpose. (beat) I once found their sense of purpose, their commitment and passion, to be very compelling.

PICARD: But not any longer... A long beat.

DESEVE: As I've grown older, I realize that clarity of purpose is a more ambiguous matter than I had thought in my youth.

SCREENPLAY: A long beat as Picard considers this man. He taps his combadge.

PICARD (to COM): Mister Riker. Set course for the Kaleb sector. Warp eight.

Culture: when I first saw this episode, I found this scene only mildly compelling. I made no note of it in the first version of this database. However, in February of 2002, with the World Trade Centre's destruction in recent memory and the infamous story of American traitor John Walker-Lindh, this scene takes on an almost chillingly prophetic undertone. Consider:

  1. John Walker-Lindh was fascinated by the moral absolutism of Islam, as compared to what he saw as cultural and moral relativism in the West. Similarly, Deseve was fascinated by the moral absolutism of the Romulans.
  2. John Walker-Lindh was raised to value moral absolutism and authoritarianism as taught in the Bible and by the church hierarchy (he was raised Catholic), but he lived in California where people are taught not to force others to conform to his beliefs (ie- to show religious tolerance). The result is modern moderate Christianity and it's a good development, but as John Walker-Lindh demonstrated, some have trouble resolving this seeming dichotomy. Similarly, Deseve was raised to value moral absolutism and authoritarianism in the style of communist nations such as the USSR and China (where the state simply takes the place of God, as opposed to a secular humanist state where individual human rights are held to be more important than any authority, divine or otherwise), but he was also taught to "value and respect" other cultures and other belief systems, and he obviously had trouble resolving that conflict.
  3. John Walker-Lindh received far different treatment than any other Taliban prisoner because he is a white former American citizen. He will receive a fair trial, while the US government declares Taliban and Al-Queda prisoners to be "unlawful combatants", holds them without trial, and refuses to treat them as POWs (mostly so they can interrogate them even though the Geneva Convention stipulates that a POW need only reveal his name, rank, and serial number). Similarly, Deseve receives special treatment because he is a human former Federation citizen. Based only on this brief conversation, Picard believes him and orders the Enterprise to a rendezvous with unknown forces (outside Federation territory, no less!) on that basis alone! He doesn't even ask what type of freighter they're meeting, when it picked up its cargo, or what its flight path is (we eventually learn that Deseve had all this information, but nobody asks him)! Skip to Episode #58 ("The Defector") in order to see how he treats Romulans coming across the Neutral Zone. Even knowing full well that he had abandoned his prestigious position in order to bring his message, Picard insisted that Admiral Jarok prove his willingness to help the Federation by revealing sensitive military information before Picard would even consider anything he might have to say.
  4. John Walker-Lindh apparently longed for an unquestioned moral code, which he believed he could find in Islam but not in the West. Similarly, Deseve believed that the Romulans "are very moral" because no one questions their society's judgements on what is right and what is wrong. He felt that this absolute certainty gave them an admirable "sense of purpose".
  5. John Walker-Lindh converted to Islam as an impressionable teenager. Deseve defected to the Romulan Empire as a very young man (the precise age was not discussed, but Riker had earlier stated that he'd been gone for 20 years and that he was an ensign when he left, so he might not have been much older than John Walker-Lindh when he first converted).
This may not reveal much that we didn't already know about Star Trek, but I simply found its parallels with the real-life story of the infamous "American Taliban" too striking to ignore.

Note: thanks to Logan Gish for alerting me to the significance of this passage.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 142: "Birthright Part 1"

DATA: I plan to shut down my cognitive functions for a brief period of time each day. I hope to generate new internal visions.

BASHIR: It sounds like you're talking about dreaming...

DATA: An accurate analogy.

BASHIR: Remarkable... This is just the kind of thing that could get me published in the Starfleet Cybernetics Journal ... would you mind if I authored a paper about all this?

DATA: Of course not.

Culture: Starfleet Cybernetics Journal? Fascinating ... the Federation's pre-eminent scientic journal in the field of cybernetics (going on the assumption that Bashir wouldn't publish such a ground-breaking paper anywhere else) is published under the auspices of its military organization rather than an academic or private industry consortium.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 143: "Birthright Part 2"

BA'EL: Tokath is my father. I thought you knew that.

WORF: How could your mother... mate with a... Romulan?

Culture: Ba'el is half-Romulan, half-Klingon. The degree of genetic commonality among the major Star Trek powers is astonishing; Vulcans can mate with humans, who can mate with Romulans, who can mate with Klingons, etc. Just one big happy family ... even though they all call each other separate "species".

TNG Season 6, Ep# 146: "The Chase"

BEVERLY: Wait a minute. These fragments all have similar protein configurations... they could be chemically compatible.

PICARD: How can that be possible? They're different species... from different planets. There shouldn't be any compatibility at all.

Culture: Picard insists that Vulcans, humans, Romulans, and Klingons are "different species" and that they shouldn't be genetically compatible, even though he knows perfectly well that various combinations of the above have been breeding for decades.

That fact instantly contradicts his belief that these "species" are incompatible, yet he continues to cling to his belief anyway. This reminds me of certain racists who believe that there are genetic incompatibilities between whites, blacks, asians, etc.

In fact, a registered nurse racist bitch once earnestly explained to my wife that she should beware marrying a non-white man like me because our children might not be genetically viable. A similar brand of repulsive ignorance and racism seems to pervade the Star Trek universe.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 146: "The Chase"

HUMANOID: Our scientists seeded the primordial oceans of many worlds, where life was in its infancy. These seed codes directed your evolution toward a physical form resembling ours -- this body you see before you.

Culture: the assembled group actually accepts this horrendous misrepresentation of evolution theory, which suggests that their knowledge of biology stems from the same deep wellspring of scientific ignorance from which creationism draws its strength.

It is impossible to "direct" the evolution of a biosphere through the insertion of a DNA fragment at the primordial stage, because evolution is driven by environmental conditions. You can affect its current state, but you can't control its future direction (especially not for four billion years into the future).

TNG Season 6, Ep# 149: "Rightful Heir"

WORF: There is another possibility. It could be the real Kahless. He may have actually returned, as he promised.

DATA: The appearance of Kahless in the lava cave is consistent with the stories found in the Klingon sacred texts.

RIKER: No offense, Worf... but I have trouble believing that the man I just escorted to deck eight is supernatural.

WORF: I am not saying that he is. I merely think we should not completely reject the possibility.

PICARD: We have no reason to rule out anything.

Culture: Klingon culture appears to be dominated by a single unified religion. Not only is the belief in (and interpretation of) religious stories and texts virtually uniform across their society, but even Worf, a Klingon raised in isolation, seems to accept this dogma once exposed to it.

This is quite interesting; Klingons appear to have banished any secular movement from their society! Their culture and their unified religion appear to be indivisible. Even their government is beholden to their religious system, as evidenced later in this episode when Gowron is forced to appoint the clone Kahlass as Emperor. In other words, there is no separation of church and state, and apparently no religious diversity or freedom.

A society structured thusly cannot possibly thrive in a technological era. It is not a coincidence that the rise of science coincided with the rise of the secular state (more than half of the scientists throughout all of human history lived during the 20th century). The development of science and technology require a strong rational mindset and an environment open to revolutionary ideas, not a mindless adherence to dogma and an environment hostile to diversity.

Since Klingon society seemed to be more progressive in Kirk's time, it is possible that the Klingon Empire may be headed into an age of darkness much like the Dark Ages on Earth, when priceless cultural artifacts and libraries were obliterated by Christians bent on eliminating intellectual opposition (for example, the Byzantine libraries were completely destroyed, and many ancient philosophical and mathematical texts were defaced and overwritten with prayers). Given enough time, this kind of society will either undergo a secular revolution or it suffer the fate of China during the industrial revolution, and it will fall behind its competitors (unless they are also stunted in their technological growth, and that's a distinct possibility given the highly centralized nature of scientific research in the Federation, the Romulan Empire, and the Dominion).

TNG Season 7, Ep# 153: "Descent Part 2"

WORF: I am detecting a faint energy reading.

RIKER: Residual thermal traces ... someone stopped here.

WORF: The decay rate indicates they were human.

Culture: notice the tendency to describe the mundane in excessively verbose, technical-sounding terms. A modern soldier would simply say something like "I can see footprints on infrared. They're close."

But in the Federation, they talk about "residual thermal traces" and "decay rates". Their language is designed to obfuscate rather than illuminate.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 155: "Interface"

YRANAC: Family honor is important. If someone had defiled my sister, I would do anything ... pay anything ... to find the one responsible.

RIKER: I see. And just how much would "anything" be?

YRANAC: As much as five bars of goldpress latinum.

Culture: this is our first encounter with "goldpress latinum" which, as we learn later, is apparently some sort of sintered gold which is impregnated with a precious clear liquid (latinum).

TNG Season 7, Ep# 156: "Gambit Part 1"

RIKER: You've got twelve outstanding arrest warrants for fraud and petty theft in the Klingon Empire. If you tell me what you know, I'll pull a few strings...

YRANAC: You can't turn me over to the Klingons! They don't just imprison you ... do you know what the punishment is for fraud?

RIKER: Yes. I certainly do.

YRANAC: If I tell you what I know, you must promise you won't give me to the Klingons.

RIKER: I'll think about it.

YRANAC: Perhaps you could send me to a Federation rehabilitation colony instead.

Culture: the Federation still has prisons, although they're apparently called "rehabilitation colonies" now. I get the feeling they resemble modern "country club" prisons for white-collar criminals.

Mark Berger adds that this is indeed the case. The first episode of Voyager ("Caretaker") showed the Federation rehabilitation colony where Tom Paris was incarcerated, and it was indeed very much like a modern vacation resort. Obviously, they do not employ physical hardship in order to reform criminals (perhaps they use sophisticated drug-assisted brainwashing techniques instead?).

TNG Season 7, Ep# 156: "Gambit Part 1"

SANDERS: Commander, no one is allowed on the surface without prior authorization from the Federation Science Council.

Culture: Federation Science Council? There is a centralized government-run science council which can deny access to certain planets which it deems scientifically valuable? Fascinating.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 159: "Dark Page"

(Maques is a telepath who is speaking about Lwaxana, specifically the difficulties of communicating telepathically with her)

MAQUES: there is a part of her ... a part of her that is dark.

TROI: Dark?

MAQUES: A part of her that... can not be seen. Do you understand?

TROI: Did you ask my Mother about this?

MAQUES: She called it ... privacy.

TROI: Of course ... you said that among the Cairn, nothing is hidden. We value honesty, but we don't always share everything we're thinking and feeling.

MAQUES: This is... privacy?

TROI: Yes.

MAQUES: It is... normal?

TROI: For us, yes.

Culture: Lwaxana and other Betazoids understand the importance of privacy, even though they are so contemptuous of the privacy rights of humans that they routinely peer into our minds without asking permission. How nice.

She has a deep dark secret and she doesn't want anyont to know. It's too bad she doesn't think other living beings deserve the same right to mental privacy, and it's too bad the Federation never enacted any laws to protect those rights.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

SEROVA: Our planet is already being affected. We have measured large gravitational shifts throughout our system.

RABAL: If something isn't done, our planet will become uninhabitable.

GEORDI: Captain, I've heard this theory before. Their research was evaluated by the Federation Science Council a few years ago. Their claims just didn't hold up.

Culture: this illustrates the danger of centralizing scientific research under the auspices of a socialist government bureaucracy. In a more open and independent research environment, some researchers would have probably looked into the situation further, perhaps finding ways to experimentally test and verify these claims. But instead, a single governing body announces that it's not worth looking into, and all scientific inquiry ceases.

In real life, scientists can be a fratricidal lot, often bickering for years over differences of opinion on matters which would seem hopelessly dull to the average layperson. This conflict is part of the nature of science, and it is healthy. Much as unsuitable creatures are weeded out of the biosystem by the merciless process of evolution, scientific theories are ruthlessly attacked until they either collapse under the scrutiny or frustrate so many would-be rebuttals that they become accepted by mainstream science.

However, this process is completely dependent upon a diversity of opinion and a diversity of activity. People must be running off in opposite directions for this to work. When all activity is controlled and directed by a centralized government agency, no matter how "benevolent" they may claim to be, the result can only be scientific stagnation. When one bureaucracy decides which theories are valid and which theories aren't, which ideas merit research and which ideas don't, then progress will be slow and halting at best.

This may explain why they've polished and developed new applications for their existing technologies but they've made no major breakthroughs since the TOS era. Transwarp drive, for example, has been in development for more than eighty years without success, and researchers were so discouraged that they actually abandoned the effort even though they know full well that other societies (such as the Borg) were able to make it work.

Interestingly enough, the USS Voyager has made more progress in the field of propulsion science in a few years than the entire Federation scientific community made in the previous century. Now that it is cut off from the rest of the Federation collective, its crew has been forced to branch out on its own, with dramatic results. This provides a stark illustration of the dangers of a centralized, unified approach to scientific research.

An observant viewer may also note that Dr. Soong, working in isolation, was able to singlehanded surpass the Federation's entire combined efforts in artificial intelligence research. Decades after his disappearance, the Federation is still unable to duplicate his work. Again, note how the outside, the isolationist, the maverick was able to move forward while the stilted bureaucracy failed.

An even more observant viewer may go on to recognize that the Federation prototype phase-cloak was developed by Captain Pressman of the USS Pegasus, again on a maverick mission outside of normal Federation procedures (and in explicit violation of Federation law and government directive, thus leading to a ship-wide mutiny). Yet again, the maverick succeeds where the bureaucracy fails. The Klingon and Romulan empires have been trying to develop the same thing without success, perhaps because their governments are also modelled around excessive centralization.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

PICARD: Doctor, if you wanted us to review your research, you could have placed a request through the Science Council.

RABAL: Their resources are limited. It would have taken over a year before they dispatched a science ship to come and evaluate our work.

Culture: they had no recourse other than the centralized Science Council bureacracy. Since the Science Council regarded their problem as a low priority issue, that meant they had no recourse at all.

In an open environment, the people of Hekaras Two could have gone to the press. They could have gone to alternate research organizations. They could have spent some money to hire independent researchers. But the Federation is not an open environment. If the government says it's not worth researching, then the game is over.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

RABAL: No. What I didn't realize... was how brilliant my sister is. It took two years of study for me even to grasp the principles behind her theoretical models... they're that sophisticated.

GEORDI: Well, our Commander Data is no slouch. If there's anything there, he'll find it.

Culture: theoretical models are all well and good, but in this case, this is a theory which they could have easily tested. Why didn't they ever think of setting up a scaled experiment in an isolated region of space?

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

PICARD: I see. It's like pacing up and down on a carpet... eventually, you wear a hole in it.

DATA: The analogy is essentially correct.

PICARD: Can their theory be proven?

DATA: At this time, there is insufficient evidence to do so. In order to determine whether or not a rift would form, we would have to expose a region of the Corridor to warp field energy approximately one-million times greater than that normally generated by a starship.

RABAL: Commander, we believe the warp field effect is cumulative. Each starship that passes through the Corridor at warp brings us one step closer to forming a rift.

DATA: I agree that is a possibility. Captain, I suggest we ask the Federation Science Council to send a research vessel to this area. A more detailed investigation would resolve many of our questions.

Culture: again, Data makes reference to placing a request with the Federation Science Council for research efforts. Again, there seems to be no other source of scientific research funding but the government-run Federation Science Council; a stifling environment in which to conduct research.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

DATA: Captain, when the Fleming activated its warp drive, the rift expanded by two-point-three percent. We no longer have sufficient momentum to escape.

...

DATA: Distortion waves are now occurring every fifty-nine seconds. Hull stress is nearing maximum tolerance.

RIKER: Data, what if we forced an EPS discharge through the impulse reactor ... would that be enough to blast us out of here?

DATA: I do not believe so, sir... and the resulting explosion would most likely destroy the saucer section in the process.

Culture: amazing. Even when entering the deadly subspace rift, Captain Picard didn't separate the saucer! How wonderful; it must be nice to know that the captain of your ship doesn't even think about the safety of your families before flying into dangerous situations.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 164: "Pegasus"

RIKER: They were brave enough to risk their lives to stop you from violating a treaty the Federation signed in good faith.

PRESSMAN: That treaty has bound our hands and given the Romulans a tactical advantage for sixty years. I was simply trying to level the playing field.

Culture: the Federation was apparently so desperate for peace with the Romulans that it signed an arms control agreement that was asymmetrical! Arms control treaties in real life are always either symmetrical (ie. a weapon or defensive technology is denied to both sides) or negotiated by the victor (eg. the WW1 armistice which forced harsh restrictions on the defeated Germans).

This suggests that sometime shortly after Kirk's death, the Federation found itself in desperate straits against the Romulans and was forced to sign a highly disadvantageous one-sided treaty (one which the Klingons never had to sign). Perhaps the Federation was staring into the abyss of defeat; there may be an interesting chapter of Federation history here which has never been revealed.

Could such a near-defeat explain the appearance of communism after TOS and before TNG? A disastrous war helped Lenin surge to power in early 20th century Russia, so there are some historical parallels here. Catastrophes and severe hardships can be driving forces behind revolutions and other severe changes in government, and in fact they have been driving forces behind revolutions many times throughout human history. Marie Antoinette wouldn't have lost her head if the people were happy.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 165: "Homeward"

NIKOLAI: I propose we create an atmospheric shield on the planet. We can camouflage the equipment just like my observation post. No one will ever know it's there.

RIKER: You can't be serious.

NIKOLAI: I realize it would only provide atmosphere for a limited area of the surface. But it would be enough to save one village.

PICARD: I have no intention of compounding what you've already done by committing another gross violation of the Prime Directive.

Culture: why would the Prime Directive prohibit protecting other societies from natural disasters, even if such protection is rendered without their knowledge? Can Federation isolationism really be that harsh a doctrine? According to Picard, the answer is yes.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 165: "Homeward"

PICARD (addressing the crew): This is one of the times when we must face the ramifications of the Prime Directive... and honor the lives we cannot save.

Culture: sometimes Captain Picard really annoys me. How can a man talk about "honouring" the lives of people that he is deliberately and callously allowing to die?

Even if he must let an entire society die, and even if he hides the immorality of his neglect by using the "just following orders" excuse, there is no reason to make a pompous speech about it. He should be hiding his face in shame.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 165: "Homeward"

WORF: You never had any intention of obeying the Captain!

NIKOLAI: I wasn't going to let those people die just because your Captain started quoting Federation dogma to me.

Culture: some of the Federation's citizens are aware that the Prime Directive is just dogma. I can't help but wonder how common that is; Ted Collins pointed out that Nikolai was portrayed as a "bad" Federation citizen; a chronic misfit. Could that be the only personality type willing to question the Federation's mindless support for the Prime Directive?

TNG Season 7, Ep# 165: "Homeward"

DOBARA: Please go to him... make things right between you. I want us to be a family.

WORF: Us?

DOBARA: Yes. I want you to consider yourself my brother. After all -- you're going to be the uncle of my child.

...

WORF (later, to Nikolai): How could you have mated with a Boraalan? What were you thinking?

Culture: the Boraalans are human, or at least they are so close to humans that Nikolai could successfully mate with one without any medical assistance whatsoever. The level of biochemical and genetic commonality among Alpha Quadrant "species" is so ridiculously high that I find it unthinkable that 24th century biologists still insist on believing that they all evolved independently. This tells us a lot about the scientific ignorance of the writing staff, whose collective comprehension of evolution is obviously non-existent.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 166: "Sub Rosa"

RONIN: He was trying to destroy me... I had to defend myself... But I would never hurt you, Beverly. I'm here to protect you...

BEVERLY: No, you're not. There's no such thing as a ghost... you're some sort of ... anaphasic lifeform. Anaphasic energy is extremely unstable ... without an organic host to maintain your molecular cohesion, you'd die ... isn't that right?

Culture: "there's no such thing as a ghost", Dr. Crusher insists, but there is such a thing as a technobabble life form which satisfies all of the criteria for being a ghost. And she eventually exorcises this demon by destroying the magic candle which is his connection to the physical world ... er, I mean, she destroys the candle which maintains the cohesion of his anaphasic energy patterns. Yeah, that's it. Somebody had better remind me once again of how Star Wars has mysticism and Star Trek doesn't.

Roy Cowan points out that Star Trek is arguably more mystical than Star Wars on this basis, since Star Trek merely slaps pseudoscientific labels on such phenomena and then carries on without understanding them or even trying to research them, while Star Wars depicts a society where these phenomena are so well understood that they can detect infants skilled in their use, they can quantify those abilities, and they already have an array of training techniques which they can use to hone these skills. Measurement, application, and training indicate a certain level of scientific understanding which is completely absent from the Federation's approach toward telekinetic and/or telepathic phenomena.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 167: "Lower Decks"

TAURIK: Perhaps something you have in common?

BEN: He likes Jazz... poker... he's Canadian --

LAVELLE: Yeah? My grandfather was from Canada.

BEN: There you go.

Culture: in "Conundrum" we found out that Riker was born in Alaska, but now we hear that Ben thinks he's Canadian. Apparently, geography is no longer being taught in the 24th century school system (the only alternative is that Alaska becomes part of Canada for some reason).

In any case, as a Canadian, I find it highly unlikely that Riker is one of my countrymen. Not once during the entire Star Trek TNG series run does he ever mention beer or hockey!

As an aside, I notice that none of the hard contact team sports (rugby, Canadian or American football, lacrosse, or hockey) are ever mentioned in Star Trek. Baseball seems to be the only modern team sport that lasts into the 24th century.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 170: "Eye of the Beholder"

SCREENPLAY: He is Lieutenant Kwan, a humanoid in his mid-thirties -- part Asian, part Napean. He is clearly agitated and distraught.

(he kills himself)

...

WORF: These were his quarters.

SCREENPLAY: These are the smaller, windowless quarters. There are Chinese and alien artifacts in evidence, reflecting Kwan's mixed heritage. Everything is neat and orderly.

Culture: more of the writers' blatant racism. Kwan has a "mixed heritage" because of his racial background, so he must surround himself with mixed cultural items, eh? Typical.

The way these writers think, they'd probably be dumbfounded that I have no Chinese cultural artifacts in my possession. After all, I'm Asian, so my "heritage" must be Chinese, right? I should have a combination of Canadian and Chinese cultural artifacts in my possession, and I should be trying to combine the best aspects of Chinese and Canadian culture. Perhaps a Buddha idol with a hockey stick in his hand? Offensive assumptions like this contain two levels of racism:

  1. The assumption that all Asians are Chinese. That's a variation upon the redneck "y'all look alike" garbage that visible minorities constantly must put up with.
  2. The assumption that cultural heritage is genetic. Asian genes mean you have "Asian" values and beliefs. Well I'm Asian, and the things I claim for my culture are things like ice hockey, beer, rock 'n roll music, and pizza, not geisha girls, squid meat, or taoism. I guess that means I don't fit into their neat little packaged view of race and culture.
There was once a time when Star Trek bucked social conventions and made progressive moves against racial stereotyping and ethnic separatism. That time is long gone. Star Trek has gone from socially progressive trend-setter to politically correct trend-follower.

Wayne Poe reminds us of the 1980's chic trend of hanging Samurai swords on the wall over your fireplace. I can only wonder what Federation anthropologists would think upon discovering such swords. They'd probably assume the occupant was Japanese.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 170: "Eye of the Beholder"

DATA: According to Starfleet records, Pierce and the other two persons Counselor Troi identified were killed in an accidental plasma discharge eight years ago. Their bodies were never found.

TROI: I don't believe it was an accident. I think that Pierce found out that the other two were having an affair. He lost control... and killed them both. Afterwards, he probably activated the plasma stream, then threw himself into it.

WORF: The plasma discharge would have obliterated any evidence that it was murder.

GEORDI: I scanned behind the panel Counselor Troi asked me to look at. I didn't find any bone fragments... but I did find traces of cellular residue. It's showing some kind of ... empathic signature.

TROI: It may be that when Lieutenant Pierce was struck by the plasma stream, the  subspace energy present there imprinted his empathic pattern into the residue.

Culture: they carefully describe everything from spirit possessions to ghosts and psychic visions in pseudoscientific terms. I can't help but think of stuff like this when some smart-ass Trekkie tries to tell me that Star Wars isn't "real" science fiction because of the Force. The only difference between Star Wars and Star Trek is that Star Wars is honest about its mystical elements.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 172: "Journey's End"

NECHEYEV: The Federation has just completed a very long and difficult series of  negotiations regarding the final status of our border with the Cardassians. These will be the official boundaries... you'll notice that a demilitarized zone has also been created along the border. Neither side will be permitted to place military outposts, conduct fleet exercises, or station warships anywhere in the demilitarized area.

PICARD: This border will put several Federation colonies in Cardassian territory... and some Cardassian colonies in ours.

NECHEYEV: The agreement is by no means perfect... neither side got everything they  wanted... but everyone got something. And as someone once said, diplomacy is the art of the possible. Those colonies finding themselves on the wrong side of the border will have to be moved.

PICARD: The colonists are not going to be very happy about that... some of them have been there for decades.

Culture: where was the debate over this treaty? Why doesn't Picard even know about its terms until Necheyev tells him?

In real life, the terms of a peace treaty are discussed in the press almost as quickly as they're discussed at the summit. In fact, that kind of publicity is actually necessary, because public feedback gives the politician some idea of how he might proceed.

The Federation/Cardassian negotiations, on the other hand, appear to have been conducted in relative secrecy, so that even a high-ranking officer in Starfleet has no idea what the terms are until a Starfleet admiral sees fit to enlighten him.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 172: "Journey's End"

LAKANTA: I have known you would come to us for the past two years.

WESLEY: I'm... not sure what you mean.

LAKANTA: Two years ago, I went into the Habak and began a vision quest. While I was there, I saw many things... talked to many animals and spirits... and I saw you.

Culture: vision quests, spiritual possessions, ghosts, psychic visions ... oh wait, I forgot. This is a hardcore science fiction show. No mysticism here. There must be something involving the word "subspace" which can explain all of this. Yeah, that's the ticket ...

TNG Season 7, Ep# 172: "Journey's End"

TRAVELLER: You've evolved to a new level ... you're ready to explore places where thought and energy combine in ways you cannot even imagine. I will be your guide... if you'd like.

WESLEY: What about them? I can't just leave them like this.

TRAVELLER: They must find their own destinies, Wesley. It is not our place to interfere.

WESLEY: But...

TRAVELLER: Have faith in their abilities to solve their problems on their own.

Culture: the Traveller seems to share the Federation's morally bankrupt belief in isolationism and non-interference. He claims to be able to peer past the veil of normal space-time to see the future, but if that's true, then he already knows the tragic fate that will befall these people.

They will strike a deal with the Cardassians, but it won't last. They and others like them will eventually rise up against their Cardassian rulers and become known as the Maquis. They will fight a hopeless battle against insurmountable odds while the Federation government ignores their plight, refuses to render aid, and worse yet, actually arrests anyone who tries to help them. Their final fate will be a brutal massacre at the hands of the Jem'Hadar, alone, unaided, forgotten, and ignored by the Federation.

But none of that apparently matters to the Traveller, who's just as amoral as the framers of the Federation's Prime Directive.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 172: "Journey's End"

PICARD: Anthwara... I want to make absolutely sure you understand the implications of this agreement. By giving up your status as Federation citizens... any future request you or your people make for assistance from Starfleet will go unanswered. You will be on your own... and under Cardassian jurisdiction.

Culture: Picard makes it sound as if Anthwara and the others will no longer be Federation citizens, which would presumably mean that Starfleet no longer has any jurisdiction over them whatsoever. But as we shall eventually learn in "Pre-emptive Strike", that is a one-sided deal.

As it turns out, they will still be expected to obey Federation laws and respect the terms of Federation treaties, but they won't be entitled to Federation aid. In DS9, we will even discover that independent attempts to render aid will be considered criminal acts by the Federation government! Talk about a raw deal ...

TNG Season 7, Ep# 173: "Firstborn"

QUARK: How could I forget the only man ever to win triple down dabo at one of my tables?

RIKER: And how could I forget that you didn't have enough latinum to cover my winnings?

QUARK: I thought I explained that my brother had misplaced the key to the safe. Besides, those vouchers I gave you are every bit as good as latinum.

RIKER: Not exactly. You can spend latinum just about anywhere. Those vouchers are only good at your bar.

Culture: latinum is what passes for a universal currency in Star Trek. In other words, they've reverted to something similar to the precious-metal currency system (ie- glorified barter) that was prevalent on Earth before the appearance of modern financial systems.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 173: "Firstborn"

K'MTAR: It is. The only way you'll ever feel like you really belong, is if you leave here and go live with your own kind.

Culture: K'mtar is, of course, Alexander himself, having travelled back in time to meet himself as a child and change his life history. He has to convince Alexander to "embrace his Klingon heritage" because his life will fall apart if he doesn't.

The moral of this story seems to be that after all the travails of Alexander's life, he finally learned to embrace the dogma of racial separatism that infuses Star Trek and much of popular culture today. How wonderful.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of real-life people (both white and non-white) who feel the same way; who counsel separatism as a solution to racial discord. It would be nice if Star Trek actively resisted this disturbing cultural movement instead of cheerfully going along with it, but as I've said before, they've become trend-followers rather than trend-setters.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 173: "Firstborn"

RIKER: Where's this... Corvallen now? I have orders to acquire some magnesite.

YRIDIAN: He is gone ... Where? I don't know.

RIKER: Wouldn't you be interested in selling me the ore you're carrying?

YRIDIAN: No, I have a buyer.

RIKER: You haven't heard my offer.

RIKER: Half a gram of Anjoran bio-mimetic gel.

YRIDIAN: Done.

Culture: notice that Riker has to use primitive barter in order to negotiate a purchase with an independent smuggler, who probably has as little use for Federation credits as a free-market trader would have had for Soviet rubles.

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