Here are the results of my Star Trek Personality Quiz. It is pretty easy to identify which character they have in mind for each question (“Do you frequently wear mini-skirts?”). Therefore, it is likely that I did not give totally honest answers in a subconscious attempt to be Spock (that almost worked, but not quite, damn you subconscious).
You are Will Riker
|At times you are self-centered
but you have many friends.
You love many women, but the right
woman could get you to settle down.
My mother just arrived from our future home in Florida with news of this bizarre wildlife story. See the slideshow. As Mom says, this captures the beauty and the terror of Florida. And that’s before we even start to think about hurricanes.
Let’s get this straight once and for all:
It’s “mischievous” (MISS-chi-vuss), not “miss-CHEE-veeus”. Take a close look between the v and the s and you shall find e’s, i’s, and y’s are missing.
And please: the French gave us a perfectly reasonable pronunciation for “banal.” Let’s not ruin it by making it rhyme with anything other than “canal.” Or, if you like, “ball” with an “n” in the middle. I was once in a play with an actor who insisted on making it rhyme with another word with a similar spelling. She bet me a six-pack of soda that she was saying it right, and to this day I’m sorry to say that I found a dictionary that did list that scatalogical pronunciation as an acceptable alternative. Well, it’s not acceptable to me.
But I did give her the sodas.
Yes, Galaxy Quest is old news. But this has been bugging me ever since it came out. As much as I enjoyed the movie I was that irritated by it constantly being described as a spoof of Star Trek.
Galaxy Quest is not a spoof of Star Trek, or of anything for that matter. A spoof is a work that imitates another work in an exaggerated fashion for humorous effect. Spaceballs spoofed Star Wars, among other movies, by replacing Darth Vader with Dark Helmet whose dark helmet was comically large, and Jabba the Hutt with Pizza the Hut. Get it? Galaxy Quest is funny not because of the similarities to Star Trek, which are present, but because it puts a bunch of actors on a spaceship and forces them to be the dashing heroes they played in their television show. The ace pilot doesn’t know how to fly the spaceship and can barely get it out of spacedock. Because he’s an actor. Guy panics at the sight of the “red thingy” and the “green thingy” on the screen because he’s some shmuck from Los Angeles who has been transported to an alien spaceship that’s about to get blasted by a giant lobster. It’s funny because of the juxtaposition of our everyday life with a fantasy life transformed into reality, not because there is another corny (though filled with insights on the human condition) science fiction TV show with a rabid fan base.
The only part of Galaxy Quest that comes remotely close to spoofing Star Trek is the science fiction convention scene. Frankly, real Star Trek conventions are more amusing than the Galaxy Quest convention. I speak from experience. The sparkle of Galaxy Quest comes from seeing a bunch of regular 20-th century actors confronted with an absurd situation.
Alan Rickman’s alien bears virtually no resemblance to Spock, and whatever resemblances there are, aren’t funny. (Spock has prosthetic pointy ears, and Rickman’s character has a prosthetic headpiece. It bears no resemblance to Spock’s ears, and actually it’s a pretty good alien make-up job.) If Rickman’s character had 10-inch pointy ears and a permanently raised eyebrow, that would be a spoof of Spock. What makes his character funny is that he’s an actor with some pride in his craft forced to walk around with a piece of rubber glued to his head saying things like “By Grapthar’s hammer, by the sons of Worvan, you shall be avenged, ” on a campy TV show and then has to confront the very real existence of a world he has scorned for so long.
Sigourney Weaver’s cheesecake character on the Galaxy Quest TV show repeats whatever the computer says. If a character did that on Star Trek, then that would be spoofing Star Trek. But no one does that on Star Trek. If Sigourney Weaver wore a giant telecommunications insert in her ear, that would be a spoof of Uhura. If there were a medical doctor on Galaxy Quest who regularly announced that someone was dead and repeated that he was a doctor all the time, that would be a spoof of McCoy. If there was an engineer on Galaxy Quest with a thick ethnic accent bemoaning the inevitable destruction of the ship because there’s not enough time, that would be a spoof of Scotty. If there was a race of aliens ridiculously more interested in death with honor than actually living, that would be a spoof of Klingons. But there isn’t.
Weaver’s character’s role on Galaxy Quest is funny because they put a hot woman on the show with no role other than to attract young male viewers, and that’s a spoof of TV in general but not Star Trek (which usually had hot villainous female guest stars). Tony Shaloub’s engineer is funny in Galaxy Quest because he is cool and unphased by his alien surroundings that would totally freak out any normal person (like Guy). It is funny because, as Gwen DeMarco (Weaver) says, “we are actors, not astronauts.” A Star Trek spoof would take place entirely within a fictional universe like the Star Trek universe, but everything would be exaggerated. Someone could probably make a pretty funny spoof of Star Trek. Galaxy Quest is pretty funny, but it’s not a spoof. Geez!
The Bush administration is invoking the slippery slope argument in its opposition to legislation expanding federal funding of stem cell research. There are numerous sources pointing out that the slippery slope argument is a logical fallacy (just google slippery slope fallacy for a sampling). The slippery slope argument goes like this: if we allow destruction of stem cells for research we will eventually allow vivisection and live human transplants. Or: if we outlaw guns then we will have to outlaw knives. Or: if we legalize gay marriage we’ll have to legalize polygamy. One doesn’t need a degree in logic, philosophy, or law to throw the slippery slope argument out the window.
Here’s one way to see that the slippery slope argument is no argument at all. Every law we have is a matter of degree and would be subject to the slippery slope argument. Here are some examples.
(1) We let people drive 75 mph on the interstate, but this does not oblige us to let them drive 80 mph. Conversely, if you wish, we limit the speed of driving to 75 mph, but this does not force us to limit the speed 70 mph.
(2) Some drugs require prescriptions, some don’t; some are illegal. None of these restrictions puts us on a slippery slope.
(3) We have a federal minimum wage, but it hasn’t changed in almost a decade. Hardly a slippery slope to a higher minimum wage.
(4) We let 16-year-olds drive. Not 15-year-olds.
(5) We lowered the voting age to 18, but no further. No sliding down a slope to toddlers in the voting booth.
(6) You can buy a gun, but not an anti-aircraft weapon. You can carry your gun, but not into a school.
Our entire society is based on drawing lines. The idea that moving the line results in an avalanche down a slippery slope until the line is completely gone is simply absurd. In fact, I cannot think of a single law that does not involve drawing a line across a slippery slope and defining one side as legal and the other as illegal. Legal gay marriage will not oblige legalizing polygamy any more than it will oblige legalizing marriage between people and box turtles. What mythic force pushes anyone down the slippery slope? The U.S. Senate passed the legislation expanding stem cell research funding by a 63-37 vote today (short of the supermajority needed to override Bush’s promised veto). If that were to become law, how exactly would we be forced, or even tempted, to expand it further? If a precedent doesn’t work, we change it. If stem cell research were somehow found to be disastrous, it would be just as easy (even easier, in fact) to reverse this legislation. And Bush did allow limited federal funding of stem cells in 2001 anyway. Why didn’t the slippery slope argument apply then?