Zen Poetry 2

South of my house and north – all spring there is water.
Day after day I watch flocks of gulls return.
Fallen petals on my path are never swept for guests,
And only now is the thatched gate opened – for you.
Food so far from market must be simple;
The wine in this poor house is home brewed.
If you are willing, we’ll drink with my old neighbor.
Let me call across the fence before we drain the last cup.

– Du Fu

Zen poetry

Once in a while
I just let time wear on
Leaning against a solitary pine
Standing speechless,
As does the whole universe!
Ah, who can share
This solitude with me?

– Ryokan

Biological etiology for transexual/transgender people

there is quite a bit of discussion on the interwebz regarding the etiology of transexuality.  based on the current level of research into this subject the evidence is strongly indicative of a morphological difference between cis females, cis males and trans women and men. there are several reputable medical journals which delve into this subject in more detail.
http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223%2808%2901087-1/abstract
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306453005001770
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302210000580
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01484.x/abstract?userIsAuthenticated=false&deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=
http://opusgay.org/files/microstructure_1.pdf

science works on the basis of evidence, not proofs. proofs are properties of formal systems like mathematics and logic rather than science, per se, thus scientific articles in peer reviewed journals speak in terms of evidence that confirms or falsifies an hypothesis. many, many people ask for proof when what science can provide is only evidence.  indeed, even something as universally accepted such as gravity is supported by evidence rather than proof.

unfortunately most of the peer reviewed material is on pay to view sites and usually only the abstracts are available for public viewing.  nevertheless, as our ability to view parts of the brain increase and our understanding of the functions increase the understanding of humanity will increase.

that is not to say that biological determinism is correct, indeed, this has been shown to be a dead end path.  since humans have, to a limited extent, an ability to exercise their will we can overcome our biological programming and change our predetermined outcome.

A brief exposition of Buddhist Philosophical Schools

Buddhist philosophical views are classified, at least by Tibetan Buddhists in general, into four main categories: Vaibhasika, Sautrantika, Yogachara, and Madhyamika.

1. Vaibhasika has been called “direct realism.” It is similar to the first few of the Indian views that see the World of Experience as composed of various physical elements that interact with the components of beings.

2. Sautrantika considers that awareness is merely representational. These first two schools consider that there are two kinds of interactors: Physical aspects, ie. skandhas of which one, rupa comprises the traditional elements, and the Mental aspects including consciousness (vijnana), sensation (vedana) which contributes to pain/pleasure, cognition (sanjna) and the impressions derived from experience (samskara.). The 12 Links of Causality go into this in more detail.

3. Chittamatra/Yogachara sometimes referred to as the Knowledge Way or Vijnanavada. It has also been called Subjective Realism, acknowledging that individual factors including karma contribute to an experience of reality that must be different for every being. It mentions the idea of “Buddha nature.” Vasubandha and Asanga finally adopted this position.

4. Madhyamika basically holds that there is no ultimate reality in the sense that something exists apart from the experiencer, but that this does not mean that there is nothing at all. It turns around the definition of Shunyata and therefore has been called Sunyatavada. Nagarjuna and Aryadeva are the main proponents. Chandrakirti expounds upon Nagarjuna.

The Madhyamika view has given rise to two particular schools of thought: Svatantrika and Prasangika, which is the school that i adhere to. According to the Prasangika school, the object of refutation (or negation, gag-cha)* is an extremely subtle object that is ever so slightly more than—a little over and above—what is merely labeled by the mind.

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso Rinpoche in The World of Tibetan Buddhism: An Overview of Its Philosophy and Practice. Boston: Wisdom Pub., 1995. (49-54):

“According to the explanation of the highest Buddhist philosophical school, Madhyamaka-Prasangika, external phenomena are not mere projections or creations of the mind. External phenomena have a distinct nature, which is different from the mind.

The meaning of all phenomena being mere labels or designations is that they exist and acquire their identities by means of our denomination or designation of them. This does not mean that there is no phenomenon apart from the name, imputation, or label, but rather that if we analyze and search objectively for the essence of any phenomenon, it will be un-findable.

Phenomena are unable to withstand such analysis; therefore, they do not exist objectively. Yet, since they exist, there should be some level of existence; therefore, it is only through our own process of labeling or designation that things are said to exist.

Except for the Prasangika school, all the other Buddhist schools of thought identify the existence of phenomena within the basis of designation; therefore, they maintain that there is some kind of objective existence.

Since the lower schools of Buddhist thought all accept that things exist inherently, they assert some kind of objective existence, maintaining that things exist in their own right and from their own side. This is because they identify phenomena within the basis of designation.

For the Prasangikas, if anything exists objectively and is identified within the basis of designation, then that is, in fact, equivalent to saying that it exists autonomously, that it has an independent nature and exists in its own right.

This is a philosophical tenet of the Yogacara school in which external reality is negated, that is, the atomically structured external world is negated. Because the proponents of the Yogacara philosophical system assert that things cannot exist other than as projections of one’s own mind, they also maintain that there is no atomically structured external physical reality independent of mind. By analyzing along these lines, Yogacara proponents conclude that there is no atomicly structured external reality.

This conclusion is reached because of not having understood the most subtle level of emptiness as expounded by the Prasangikas. In fact, Yogacarins assert that things have no inherent existence, and that if you analyze something and do not find any essence, then it does not exist at all.

Prasangikas, on the other hand, when confronted with this un-findability of the essence of the object, conclude that this is an indication that objects do not exist inherently, not that they do not exist at all. This is where the difference lies between the two schools.”

* Object of Refutation: one possible technique for searching for truth is to employ the process of elimination, and see what is left. Therefore, the principle or topic under consideration may be called the object of refutation which helps keep in our mind the notion that the thing is not to be assumed to exist. It is merely a target, so to speak.

this link has some very good information for the interested reader:
http://www.khandro.net/Bud_philo_Madhyamika.htm

According to the listing in the previous post, in the Tibetan tradition, the 4 schools each teach the Three Vehicles of Hearer, Solitary Realizer and Bodhisattva.

The 4 philosophical schools correspond to the Hinyana and Mahayana view Vaibhasika and Sautrantika are Hinyana schools whereas the Chittamatra and Madhyamika correspond with the Mahayana. In this post i shall explain our view of the two Hinayana schools.

According to Vaibhasika and Sautrantika, Hearer and Solitary Realizer Foe Destroyers (Arhan) are lower than a Budda. All three are equally liberated from cyclic existence and all will equally disappear upon death with the severance of their continuum of consciousness and form. However, while they are alive, a Bodhisattva at the effect stage is called a Buddha whereas the others are only called Foe Destroyers – those who have destroyed the foes of the afflictions, mainly desire, hatred, and ignorance – because a Buddha has special knowledge, more subtle clarivoyance, and a distinctive body. A Bodhisattva accumulates merit and wisdom for three countless aeons, thus attaining the greater fruit of Buddhahood. For Vaibhasika and Sautrantika, a person treading the path of Buddhahood is very rare.

Both Hinyana tenet systems present three vehicles which they say are capable of bearing practitioners to their desired fruit. Both present an emptiness that must be understood in order to reach the goal, and in both systems this emptiness is the non-substantialiy of persons. They prove that a person is not a self-sufficient entity and does not substantially exist as the controller of mind and body, like a lord over it’s subjects. Through realizing and becoming accustomed to this insubstantiality, the afflictions and thereby, all sufferings are said to be destroyed. According to the Hinyana tenet systems the path of wisdom is the same for Hinyanists–Hearers and Solitary Realizers–and for Bodhisattvas. The length of time that practitioners spend amassing meritorious power constitutes the essential difference between the vechiles.

Hearers and Solitary realizers all eventually proceed to the Bodhisattva path. After sometimes spending aeons in solitary trance, they are aroused by Buddhas who make them aware that they have not fulfilled even their own welfare, not to mention the welfare of others. Thus, though there are three vehicles, there is only one final vehicle.

As i said in a previous posting regarding the differences in Buddhist philosophy, the best way to get an understand of the different schools is by understanding their view of emptiness

each school asserts a certain view of selflessness and proceeds from Hinyanaist schools Vaibhasika and Sautrantika to Mahayanist schools Chittamatra, Svatantrika and finally, Pransangika.

Selflessness is divided into two types: of persons and of phenomena. The selfless of persons is also divided into two: coarse and subtle. Vaibhasika and Sautrantika do not assert a selflessness of phenomena because, for them, phenomena truly exist and are other entities from a perceiving consciousness.

With regard to the personal selflessness, all systems present a subtle and coarse view. According to the non-Pransangika systems the coarse is the emptiness of a permanent, partless, independent person. The misconception of such a self is only artificial, not innate — it is based on the assumption of a non-Buddhist system. In other words, we do not naturally misconceive the person to have the three qualities of permanence, partlessness and independence.

perhaps, this will help show the matter in another way:

Vaibhasika and Sautrantika:

selflessness asserted: selflessness of persons. coarse: lack of being a permanent, partless, independent self. subtle: lack of being a self-sufficient person.

Chittamatra:

selflessness asserted: selflessness of persons. coarse: lack of being a permanent, partless, independent self. subtle: lack of being a self-sufficient person.

selflessness of phenomena: subtle: lack of a difference in entity between subject and object and lack of naturally being a base of a name.

Madhyamika (Savtantrika and Prasangika):

Savtantrika:
selflessness asserted: selflessness of persons. coarse: lack of being a permanent, partless, independent self. subtle: lack of being a self-sufficient person.

selflessness of phenomena: coarse: lack of a difference in entity between subject and object (though this is properly Yogachara)
subtle: lack of being an entity not posited through appearing to a non-defective consciousness.

Prasangika:
selflessness of persons. coarse: lack of being a permanent self-sufficient entity. subtle: lack of inherent existence of persons

selflessness of phenomena: subtle: lack of inherent existence of phenomena other than persons

(please note, the use of the term Hinyana is to denote the historical schools which used to exist in this Vehicle. in modern Buddhism, the only extant school of Hinyana Buddhism is Theraveda. thus, we simply call it Theravedan Buddhism today)

The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theraveda Buddhism

in the Pali Canon, there is a section of the Tipitaka called the Dhammapada. this section of the Sutra contains many stories of the Buddhas past lives… from animals to humans to, in his last life, Bodhisattva.

the presence of the bodhisattva ideal in the Theraveda Buddhist Pali canon is primarily restricted to Gotama Buddha. the use of the term “bodhisattva” occurs in a number of the suttas (Skt: sutra) in the Majjhima, Anguttara, and Samyutta Nikaayas where the Buddha is purported to have said: “Monks, before my Awakening, and while I was yet merely the Bodhisatta [Skt: bodhisattva], not fully-awakened….” in addition to referring to the present life of Gotama, the term “bodhisattva” is also used in relation to the penultimate life of Gotama in Tusita heaven, as well as his conception and birth.

in the Pali canon, the term “bodhisattva” is also used in reference to other previous buddhas. For instance, in the Mahaapadaanasutta of the Digha Nikaaya, the notion of past buddhas (and hence past bodhisattvas) is elucidated. In the beginning of this sutta, the six buddhas who preceded Gotama are mentioned as well as their names, the eons when they became buddhas (i.e., when they attained enlightenment and taught), their caste, their clan, their life span, the trees where they attained enlightenment, the number of their disciples, their personal attendants, and their parents. (1) After briefly outlining the lives of these six buddhas, Gotama begins an in-depth recollection of the first buddha, Vipassii, from his life in Tusita Heaven until he dispersed his monks for the purpose of spreading the teachings. In this narration, the Buddha not only refers to Vipassii up to his enlightenment as a bodhisattva, (2) but also takes the life events of Vipassii as the example for all future bodhisattvas and buddhas, including (retroactively) Gotama himself. (3)

another section of the Sutta-pitaka where the term “bodhisattva” pertains to each of the six previous buddhas is the Samyutta Nikaaya. For instance, in the fourth section of the second book, we find the phrase “To Vipassi, brethren, Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, before his enlightenment, while he was yet unenlightened and Bodhisatta, there came this thought….(4)” This same phrase, then, is used in conjunction with the other five previous buddhas in the following verses: Sikhi, Vessabhu, Kakusandha, Konaagamana, and Kassapa.

1. – Diigha Nikaaya 2:1-7

2. – For instance, we find: “Now Vipassii, brethren, when as a Bodhisatta, he ceased to belong to the hosts of the heaven of Delight, descended into his mother’s womb mindful and self-possessed” (Diigha Nikaaya 2:12).

3. – In many of the following paragraphs, for instance, we find the phrase “It is the rule, brethren, that….” (Ayam ettha dhammataa) used to refer to the paradigm set by Vipassii.

4. – Samyutta Nikaaya 2:4 ff.

Infallibility of Star Trek

(from several years ago and the hyperlinks may or may not work)

It has recently come to my attention that a certain group of uninformed amateur film critics have been spreading misinformation about Star Trek containing numerous “plot holes and contradictions”, which they deem “nits”. This article is intended to demonstrate that such accusations are groundless and only intended to preach to the choir of the lowest common denominator skeptics, the ones who seek out plot holes in the most trivial details and argue that this somehow proves Star Trek is mere fiction.

The article I’m critiquing can be found somewhere or other. No, I’m not telling you where it is unless the author embarrasses me in public.

At one point in “Devil in the Dark,” Kirk says to Spock, “You go right. I’ll go left,” except that he points right when he says “left” and points left when he says “right.” Happens to the best of them.  This is the first plot hole mentioned, and immediately reveals the author’s ignorance of the rich Star Trek universe. As any _ HYPERLINK “http://www.fstdt.com/../../kidshealth.org/kid/body/eye_noSW_p3.html” _entry-level biology textbook_ will tell you, the human eye receives an inverted (upside-down) signal that the brain is then forced to compensate for. Similarly, the eyes of many species in the galaxy have left-right reversal of vision, which, from their point of view, would account for this seeming discrepancy. His ethnocentric opinions of how other species should view the world around them are altogether arrogant.

“In the scene where Picard and the others are transported into the courtroom [in “Encounter at Farpoint”], Q appears and Data says, ‘At least we’re acquainted with the judge.’ I jumped three feet above my sofa. ‘We’re?’ Well, well, well. Seems that Data unlearned how to do contractions after the pilot.”  Yes, folks. This skeptical individual is actually wondering that strange things happen in the presence of an entity, such as the Q, capable of altering fundamental constants of the universe on a whim. Nothing more needs to be said here.

When Data is speaking with Admiral McCoy, he says, ‘I’m an android.’ (major error) When Riker is first viewing the record of Q’s visit, when he turns from it the special effects guys forgot to fill in where his shoulder was and the actual screen can be seen.”  Gee, let’s see–“I am” vs. “I’m”. A sufficiently brisk pronunciation could readily account for the appearance of Data using a contraction. Why do these bozos always pick the most inane examples in vain attempts to stroke their ego?  “Special effects guy”? Is this person really under the impression that Star Trek is mere fiction? Unfortunately, the epic adventures of the Enterprise gang were recorded on primitive magnetic media to facilitate human viewing. This leads to many optical illusions, film defects, double-exposure and other problems that can account for this seeming boo-boo. Of course, had DVD technology already been widespread, we wouldn’t be having this particular discussion.

“Data graduated from the Academy in 2345. In ‘Conundrum,’ Data’s bio screen listed that he entered the Academy in 2341. ‘The First Duty’ established the Academy as a four year institution. The remark [that Data makes on the holodeck stating that he graduated with the class of ’78] is wrong.”  This individual again shows his basic lack of knowledge, this time ignoring the calendar used by the United Federation of Planets. At this rate, we’ll soon be seeing the uninformed arguing that since the ancient Mayan calendar isn’t in tune with the Gregorian, one of them is wrong! Federation stardates take the form 00112.2, such as 37801.5 (Data’s presumed graduation date, if you’ll pardon the pun). Once again, we see that referring to it as the “class of ’78” is only wrong if you don’t already believe Star Trek is inerrant!

“Captain Picard tells Yar to rig main phasers into an energy beam and lock it onto Farpoint station. But when the beam is engaged, it is coming from the captain’s yacht on the bottom of the [saucer section] not the phaser banks”  If this person had done his homework, he would have known that the saucer section, _ HYPERLINK “http://www.fstdt.com/../../starships.virtualave.net/galaxy/galaxy_specs.htm” _as shown in these schematics_, contains TWO phaser banks. A Galaxy Class starship would certainly be a waste of resources if it couldn’t even shoot craft below it! How dumb does he think Federation engineers are?

“As a friend pointed out, during the saucer separation sequences in Encounter at Farpoint and Arsenal of Freedom, the stars indicate that the ship was going at warp. But the saucer has no warp drive. After the separation it should have immediately [dropped] to impulse.”  What laws of physics is this person using?? Has he even heard of the _ HYPERLINK “http://www.fstdt.com/../../www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/conmo.html” _Law of Conservation of Momentum_? In case he got his physics lessons from “Science for Dummies, 3rd Edition”, _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___an outside force is needed for change in velocity. Since subspace contains no dust particles or cosmic debris to cause friction, you could hypothetically attain any speed and then maintain it indefinitely.

Dr. Crusher says, ‘send it to the starship, charged to Dr. Crusher,’ when referring to a bolt of cloth she finds at a merchant shop. Huh? I’ve never seen any Starfleet officer paid, nothing seems to cost anything on the Enterprise, and how could you have money in a society in which virtually anything can be created via replicators?”  Looking at the universe through rose-colored Federation glasses again, are we? Although nothing in Terran society seems to involve money by the 24th century, others, like the Ferengi, have fertile trade industries. Moreover, intellectual property laws are still maintained, so replicating an evening gown without due compensation would be illegal. One needs only look at the counterfeit clothing industry to understand why. This poses no problem when human inhabitants are happy to have their work enjoyed for free, but other societies are not as utopian.

“The Enterprise is being pursued by Q. Prior to the saucer separation, Picard orders a salvo of torpedoes to be fired (from the rearward Photon tubes). Eight torpedoes are fired, but when you count the detonations there are only five.”  I think the writer of this particular tidbit should get a high-resolution TV set instead of that 1940’s black and white model Granny left him in her will. _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___It’s clear that several shots can converge to produce the effect of one explosion when you don’t look carefully enough. And if a new TV doesn’t fix the problem, you have to remember that the original copies of Star Trek, recorded on holographic optical media that contained no errors, are unviewable with our backwards technology.

“Another example of Data using contactions is where Data says to Riker, ‘I can’t see as well as Geordi . . . .'”  Has it occurred to our resident skeptic that “can’t” and “cannot” are errors an AI program like the Universal Translator could easily introduce into the films? He doesn’t really think people still speak 20th Century English in the 24th, does he??

“Q takes Picard, Troi, Data and Yar to stand trial for the crimes of humanity. Why then, is Data, an android, included in the group? It makes some sense that Troi be included, being half human, but Data has no human DNA. He has no DNA, period!”  Data is an offshoot of humanity, what could be considered an artificial human. By that logic, would in-vitro fertilized humans also be unaccountable for the crimes of their forefathers??  Human society has always recognized this not to be the case, as any of a number of competing creation myths can show you. What’s next – he’ll be saying that Adam and Eve eating a magical fruit isn’t grounds enough to condemn all their descendants to a fiery death? _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“Riker beams aboard the Enterprise and is greeted by Yar in the transporter room. From here, Yar turns to lead him out of the transporter room and into the hall. When the door opens, we see a blue uniformed crewmember standing in the hallway. Yar enters the hall and a red uniformed crewmember passes by the door. As Riker enters the hall, the blue uniformed crewmember start walking behind him. Making you think that she missed her cue and started walking a bit late. Anyhow, Riker exits the scene behind a wall and the camera position changes to just down the hall from them. We see Yar and Riker, but the two crewmembers have vanished!”  You’d think this would actually be impressive if the two crew members who “vanished” didn’t have shore leave that let them disembark to the planet below. They merely called to be transported down while the camera was on Riker and Yar. Of course, as Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Heh. “Vanished”, indeed.

“Look very closely at the circular stained-glass window in Groppler Zorn’s office (The best time to look is during Part II, just before the window is blown out during the alien assault.) The colored pattern on the window spells out Zorn’s name, in English, no less!”  You know this article is bottom-of-the-barrel when our author isn’t even familiar with _ HYPERLINK “http://www.fstdt.com/../../skepdic.com/pareidol.html” _pareidolia_. Out of all the chapters of Star Trek in existence, it’s almost guaranteed that strange things like patterns arising from cracks in the glass will be found by people looking to nitpick every minor detail! Perhaps, soon, he’ll be telling us he can see Mohammed’s name in a tortilla._ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“At one point, Picard orders that all communication be stopped and use only hard copy printouts. But when he records a log, he taps his combadge and starts talking. The worst part of this is not that he is using a radio but he is summarizing everything that’s going on. Not exactly a great time for him to go against his own orders.”  And where, exactly, did he “go against his own orders”? Does our skeptic expect him to replicate a goose feather and ink bottle and start scratching out a “hard copy”?  Even with our primitive technology, speech recognition is already a big industry. The computer must have been recognizing his spoken words on-the-fly and printing them out behind the scenes.

“[In the holodeck], Data throws a rock at the wall. It hits the wall and the image of green plants temporarily blurs into squares. Shouldn’t the holodeck dissolve the rock and show a picture of the rock landing on the ground?”  Shouldn’t boats never capsize? Shouldn’t computers never crash? Shouldn’t cars never refuse to start?” The inventive minds who designed the holodeck were still only human, after all. Everything simulated in the holodeck has real weight and mass, as evidenced by the numerous chapters were it malfunctioned and started killing people. The ability of a rock to temporarily disrupt the holographic walls may be an oversight on the part of the engineers, but it’s no real problem in the veracity of Star Trek.

“When the viewscreen replays what had happened on the way to Farside for Riker, why didn’t he see Troi? She and Tasha, Picard and Data should have figured prominently in the logs. But Riker is shocked to see her on the Enterprise at the beginning of part 2.”  The replays were obviously meant for different purposes and audiences, as anyone with the most basic familiarity of the underlying themes would understand. Little unimportant details like “Troi was there” or “Picard almost died on that away mission” or “Florida was just assimilated by the Borg” need not be included in every replay – this is no inconsistency, and the allegedly differing accounts only complement each other when taken together.

“When Troi, Yar and La Forge are under Farpoint, Riker is contacted by Yar. La Forge and Troi join the conversation. La Forge and Troi both tap their communicators to talk to Riker when Yar had already opened a channel to him. Yet, on the alien ship after Riker opens a channel to Picard, Troi can be heard on the Enterprise without tapping her badge.”  As any aficionado of the series should know, combadge signal strength varies with environment and atmospheric conditions. While the alien ship was much closer to the Enterprise and had only a thin layer of air inside, the planet contained a highly ionized atmosphere and was much farther away. That’s probably the reason why both La Forge and Troi needed to activate their communicators, boosting the signal to compensate.

The Naked Now “Just before the star collapses, the Enterprise is seen, in orbit, hovering over the Tsiolkovsky. But in the next scene, the star collapses and the Enterprise is 15 minutes away.”  Has it occurred to this (not exceptionally bright) fellow that not every minute scene need be recounted for the message the series presents to be perfectly valid? Of course not. It’s self-evident that there was a 15-minute gap on the record between the time the Enterprise was orbiting and the time it was far away.  I’ll shortly be expecting his complaint that the bathroom scenes are also omitted. _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“Data calls up the record for the original instance of the water problem on the first Enterprise. The graphic on the computer screen illustrates the refitted movie version of the Enterprise, rather than the original you might expect.”  Or maybe the computer simply misread file A from location B and mixed up the images? For this to be a contradiction, one would have to demonstrate that even the most unlikely scenarios I could fabricate on the spot were false. Can’t do that, can you? Coincidentally, no one’s ever been able to demonstrate – to me – that Star Trek contains inconsistencies.

“When Dr. Crusher injects herself and Picard with the antidote, they should start to recover as quickly as Geordi, but they don’t.”  Sheer genius! I guess all those patients who respond to medical treatment differently “should start to recover as quickly as” the rest. Boy, am I glad this guy’s medical education is limited to fretting about the booster shots he’ll need before 4th grade. _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“For glaring starters, the use of current computer terms demonstrates the writers’ eagerness to use current technical buzz words, but also reveals the fact that they failed to check to see if they were being used properly. As a programmer you should instantly recognize the error in the scene when Picard orders Riker and Data to ‘download this information to Doctor Crusher. . . .’ Perhaps this gaff is why these terms are rarely used ever again.”  Folks, remember – friends don’t let friends ignore linguistic context. This is exactly what happens when you stick to outdated 20th century usages in lieu of the modern ones. Why, only a while ago a “broad band” would be the opposite of a “boy band”. _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“Lutan spoke of the Ligonian’s general reluctance to accept visitors, and yet somehow the Federation had compiled an exceptionally detailed description of the planet’s culture and resources. The alien culture was, by its own admission, not as technologically advanced as the Federation; yet they had a very sophisticated transporter system that could even elude the tracking of the Enterprise sensors. Then there’s the hapless extra who caught the ‘fist-o-spikes’ glove in the stomach. In the close-up, his abdomen was clearly seen bleeding, but when they carried him off, there wasn’t a mark on him. Also, in the final scene Riker orders La Forge to set course for Styris Five, and La Forge acknowledges setting course for Styris Four.”  The first might only pose a problem if the Ligonian’s accepted no visitors at all, and even then, Starfleet Intelligence would still be able to paste together a rather detailed report on the planet, as the CIA has done for remote locales. As for the second – has this amateur Siskel and/or Ebert ever heard of _ HYPERLINK “http://www.fstdt.com/../../www.ccdump.org/dermalreg.html” _Dermal Regenerators_? Had a doctor been there and healed his skin with such a device while the unfortunate victim wasn’t on screen, then vanished back from view with no indication he was ever there, there’d be no problem.  “Fayev”, by a strange linguistic coincidence, must be the Styrian name for their planet, which in the Starfleet classification is Styris 4. Both Riker and La Forge would have been correct.

“While on the planet, watch Deanna’s arms. In the group shots, Deanna’s arms are at her sides, while in the close-ups, her arms are behind her back.”  While I’m as impressed as I could possibly be with the author’s arm fetish _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___, this poses no problem, as people tend to move around a lot while under stress anyway.

“[When Yar and Yareena beam back to the ship], Dr. Crusher runs over to the transporter pad where Crusher gives Yareena two doses of the antidote that will help Yareena to live. But, when Crusher gives her the second spray of medicine in Yareena’s right shoulder, I noticed that Doctor Crusher was wearing a small white faced watch with a small leather band.”  Dr. Crusher obviously needed to check the time to make sure it wasn’t too late to administer the antidote, and since she probably kept an antique 20th century Timex watch in her pocket for just such a situation, she put it on for the duration of the procedure.

“. . . all during the show they keep getting reports on how bad the plague on Styris IV is. But . . . the last scene of the show when they leave Ligon II with the vaccine they set course for Styris IV at warp 3.”  The crew of the Enterprise would never be so careless, so there must have been a temporary engineering problem, which they didn’t mention, that forced them to use a lower velocity while they fixed it.

“Lutan and Yareena had a mating agreement. When Yareena died and was resuscitated, that bond was broken. However, Lutan wanted Yareena to die so he could inherit her wealth. Why, when Yareena died, did they conveniently enforce one law and break the other?”  This is only an apparent contradiction, and is different than an actual contradiction. If our uninformed skeptic had even bothered to obtain and read a copy of Ligonian post-mortem laws, he would have no doubt found some loophole that prevented the other law from being enforced, such as the fact she came back to life. On the other hand, he’s amply demonstrated that he’s neither doctor or lawyer material by now. _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“When LtCmdr. Data tells the joke during Lt. La Forge’s ‘shaving scene’ he says, ‘A man goes to the store to buy some kidneys. He says to the shopkeeper, “I’d like a pound of kitilies please…”‘ Data uses the contraction ‘I’d’. Then he says, ‘The shop keeper says, “You mean kidneys don’t you?”‘ Another contraction, ‘don’t’. One could [also] argue that he uses a contraction when he says the punch line, ‘Diddle I?’ because he means ‘didn’t’. Finally Data says, ‘including the kitilies, I’ve told 662 jokes . . . ‘ Another contraction, ‘I’ve’. Four in one scene!”  Data was obviously repeating, verbatim, what he overheard on the Intergalactic Tonight Show with Jay Lightyear. A tape recorder that successfully relates “I’ve” can hardly be blamed if it can’t reuse that contraction intelligently in different sentences, can it?  The last mention of “I’ve”, while at first troubling, has at least two solutions (and don’t get your hopes up, skeptics – we have plenty more!). Either Data was mispronouncing “I have” as “I. Vvv”, which is common in certain kooky dialects, or he was once again repeating what he heard on the subspace airwaves.

There are many more alleged problems listed at the place I found this article, but most of them hardly even warrant a response. Concerned readers losing their sleep over any such problems can send them in via email, and I’ll address them as I did the preceding.

And with this, the article ends. Needless to say, biased, closed-minded skeptics claiming Star Trek is full of “plot holes” and “internal contradictions” should watch the show and movies more carefully, preferably with an open mind (the type that knows there are no inconsistencies). If they’d only believe that, all these “problems” could be easily reconciled, as I’ve shown with this response.

my new tattoo

i’d been wanting to get another one for awhile now but hadn’t really settled on the design and text to go with it.  since these things are pretty permanent i like to make sure that it’s something i like, something that is meaningful to me and something which appeals to my taste.

to that end, i’ve finally settled on a Quetzel and the text in Latin which reads: Alis Volat Propriis which means “She flies by her own wings.”  the Quetzel will be a stylized version of the bird which, in it’s life as something other than a tattoo, is a creature of myth in Mesoamerican cultures.  in some contexts it’s the representation of liberty and freedom and that is what she means to me.

i have two more ideas for tattoos that i’ll get sooner rather than later but everything comes at the right time and i’ll be patient for those.

the process of tattooing is also very liberating since not only is there a massive endorphin release but the deliberate nature of the act reassociates the feeling of pain, changing the dynamic from something being inflicted upon you without any control to a controlled process that is at your will.  it is hard to articulate the transformative nature of such a process.

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