SciFi Friday: Data Makes Robot Hall of Fame, More Heroes, More Galactica, and No More Veronica or Cleaver

Congratulations to Lt. Commander Data, who has been inducted into Carnegie Mellon University’s Robot Hall of Fame:

Portrayed by actor Brent Spiner during the 1987–1994 run of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Data was the chief operations officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise and possessed both super-strength and an encyclopedic memory. “Data played a pivotal role on questions of robot ‘right to life’ matters and human/machine philosophies,” said juror Ray Jarvis, director of the Intelligent Robotics Research Centre at the Australian National University.

“In one episode,” recalled fellow juror Anne Balsamo, “Data is put on trial to determine whether he has the right to refuse to submit to a procedure that would disassemble him. During the trial, it is determined that Data is not ‘property,’ like a computer or a toaster, but rather a sentient life form entitled to rights of self-determination,” said Balsamo, managing director of the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at the University of Southern California.

The ashes of James Doohan (Scotty) have been found in New Mexico after plans to shoot him into space didn’t work out too well:

More than two weeks after being launched and lost, a capsule containing mortal remains from “Star Trek” actor James Doohan, pioneer astronaut Gordon Cooper and 200 others has been located, more or less, in the rugged mountains of southern New Mexico. Tracking experts are converging on the site for a beefed-up recovery effort due to start Wednesday.

The April 28 suborbital flight was the first true space shot for Connecticut-based UP Aerospace, which fired its SpaceLoft XL rocket from New Mexico’s Spaceport America. The idea was to send capsules containing small samples of cremated remains above the 62-mile boundary of outer space and back – thus providing a posthumous taste of space.

The headliners for the flight were Doohan, who played Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on the popular “Star Trek” TV show and movie series; and “Gordo” Cooper, who in 1963 became the last astronaut to fly in the Mercury program (and the first American to snooze in space). Cooper passed away in 2004, Doohan in 2005.

The up part went superbly for UP Aerospace, but the down was something of a downer. The rocket sections floated down on parachutes into rugged mountain terrain in the White Sands Missile Range. The bottom section was recovered last week, thanks to radio transmitters mounted on the rocket. But the top section, containing the “memorial spaceflight” payload, is still out in the wilderness.

The good news is that the transmitters on the top section are still beaming out signals. Radio surveys have narrowed down the search area to a radius of about 1,300 feet, said Eric Knight, UP Aerospace’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

Another former Star Trek star, George Takei (Mr. Sulu) has recently discussed his role on Heroes an interview reported here. Masi Oka (Hiro) has provided some hints as to how the current season ends:

“I think it’s great the way the finale ends,” Oka said in an interview at the Saturn Awards in Universal City, Calif., where he was honored for best supporting actor in a television series. “It’s a wrapping up of volume one, which is [called] ‘Genesis.’ And it wraps up the whole bomb storyline. So it’s a nice finale, and there’s a great cliffhanger with everybody, I would say. And you do get to see a little bit of volume two, which is called ‘Generations.’”

Heroes creator Tim Kring gives more hints about next season, including new heroes:

“The idea of multiple generations has started to crop up on the show,” Kring said. “And in the second season we will deal with that more, hence the title, ‘Generations.’ … The idea was that we wanted to make it easy for viewers to be able to come on in the second season. And we thought if we wrapped the show too tightly around itself, so that you had to watch 23 episodes before, It would be harder for a new viewer to find the show. And we always want to be a show that has the barrier of entry low enough so that new viewers can join if they want.”

Kring confirmed that the show will indeed end on a cliffhanger, but one that hopefully won’t be frustrating for the viewers. “No, I think it’ll be intriguing more than frustrating,” he said. “The idea was to end one idea of the show, one story, and then slingshot you into the next season.”

Not only where there be more heroes, there will be thirty hours of them coming up. This includes a six hour show during the summer hiatus in which a new hero will be introduced each week. Viewers choose which remains for the second season.

We might also be getting more Battlestar Galactica than previously reported as executive producer David Eick denies the reports originating from Edward James Olmos a decision has already been made to end the show after next season:

“For those of you who have been paying attention over the years, this is not the first time Eddie has made an announcement about the possibility of the show’s end,” chuckled Eick. “I promise you that when [executiuve producer] Ron [Moore] and I make a decision about Galactica’s future, we’ll let you know.”

One genre show will not remain around to see an ending. Jehrico has been cancelled by CBS without a resolution of the season ending story line about an attack from a neighboring city.

veronicamars.jpgThe cancellation of Gilmore Girls (posts on the finale here and here) left many thinking that this would leave room on the schedule for Veronica Mars. Despite some rumors persisting that it might be revived as a new show, the show is now scheduled to end next week. The Hollywood Reporter writes:

“At a news conference after the presentation, Ostroff confirmed that Veronica Mars has solved her last case in her current incarnation but that no final decision has been made on a proposed new version of the series by creator Rob Thomas in which the title character, played by Kristen Bell, is at the FBI Academy.”

The Ausiello Report is not very hopeful after receiving a response from Rob Thomas to the above quote:

“No one has talked to me about a new, non-Veronica project. All my writers have been offered jobs elsewhere, and I believe they will now all accept these jobs. Very, very, very sad day around the VM offices.

“I assume that anything Dawn would be talking about in the realm of a Rob-Kristen project would involve a new from-scratch pilot as they don’t have me in a deal, and they’ll lose Kristen in a couple of weeks.”

Veronica Mars fans might not get to see Kristen Bell next year, but they will hear her as she has a role as narrator of Gossip Girls. I don’t see much hope for the CW Network after dumping Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, and then making someone who looks like this an off screen narrator.

My advice for the week is don’t drink and drive. If you do drink and drive, don’t get Tony Soprano involved in an auto accident, and then tell him you wouldn’t pass a sobriety test. It seemed inevitable that this would happen sooner or later. Tony had warned Christopher to stay from alcohol and drugs. I also guess Christopher got what he deserved for shooting Tim Daley the previous week and I bet this means we won’t be seeing any more of Cleaver.

Conservativism and Fascism

The blog war of the week is between Andrew Sullivan and Johah Goldberg on whether conservatives are fascists. To be exact, conservatives are not fascists, although they share many common traits. While Sullivan might technically be incorrect if he calls conservatives fascists, he wins the debate with Goldberg in showing some of the authoritarian traits of conservativism while Goldberg has no meaningful rebuttal. Sullivan wrote:

What American ‘conservatism’ has become fits closely within the definition of fascism: an intensely nationalist movement intent on defining membership in the ‘nation’ on linguistic, religious, and (increasingly) ethnic/racial criteria, accompanied by an unquestioning loyalty to (male) authority, enshrined in family leaders, business leaders, religious leaders, and especially, the leader of the nation, who is seen as embodying the Nation. Loyalty to the Party or Movement and its ideology is of great importance. Violence is the preferred means of accomplishing goals. Diplomacy, compromise, negotiation, are all identified with (feminine) weakness. The rule of law is also despised, because it lacks the immediacy of (violent) action, and its emphasis on balance and its concern with proper procedure is also seen as a sign of (feminine) weakness.

This is the outcome of the bargain the GOP made with the Devil back when it decided to go for the Wallace voters after the ’68 and ’72 elections. Kevin Phillips has repented a hundred times over for counseling the Southern Strategy, but too late. The GOP has discovered that when you sell your soul to the Devil, the only question is when does the Devil come to collect? Well, he’s come.

There are many other valid comparisons between fascism and modern conservativism which Sullivan left out, but this is only one blog post and he has addressed some of the others at other times. In conservativism we see manipulation of public opinion with mass propaganda. We see militarism, even when their military adventures ultimately undermine our national security. Creating a state of perpetual warfare has become more important than the effects of their adventures. The collusion between business and political leaders seen under the Republicans is also more a characteristic of fascism than capitalism, while the conservative propaganda machine labels those who support a restoration of capitalism as “socialists.”

Goldberg responds by arguing that “the conservative base is braying about how Bush has betrayed them and the party has lost its way” for his support of the immigration bill. Conservatives, who have generally backed Bush regardless of the damage he has done to the country, and regardless of his authoritarian policies, have placed their xenophobia above following Bush on this one matter. That’s hardly a meaningful defense of the authoritarian right.

Related Posts on the Authoritarian Right

Which Conservative Idiot Said This?

Anyone know which right wing hack is on Chicago radio in the morning? I have a couple of Chicago AM radio stations set in my car, and wound up hitting one of them while turning on the local NPR station. Someone was ranting about Rosie O’Donnell, complaining that she was claiming over 600,000 Iraqis have died during the war. The idiot on the radio was claiming that this was some number that liberal bloggers gave to Rosie and it is totally made up.

Actually this number comes not from liberal bloggers, but from a study in The Lancet estimating that 655,000 Iraqi civilians died during the war.

Initially conservatives claimed these numbers were untrue, but subsequent reviews, including from the Iraqi Minister of Defense’s science advisor, supported these findings.

This is an excellent example of the brainwashing of conservatives in this country. Facts come out which they don’t like, so first they claim that the facts are untrue. As these numbers hold up, they now tell their listeners that the numbers are made up by liberal bloggers, hoping that none will realize that the numbers are really from one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world.

Getting people to vote Republican means getting them to believe things which just are not true. This is just one tiny example of how it is done.

Gore Not Planning To Run, Not Ruling it Out

I think we have as definate an answer as we are going to have for the next several months on whether Al Gore is going to run. He doesn’t currently plan to run, but he’s not ruling it out. Reuters reports:

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore says he has “fallen out of love with politics” and does not want to run for president although he has not ruled it out completely.

“If I do my job right, all the candidates will be talking about the climate crisis,” Gore said in an interview with Time Magazine released on Thursday.

“And I’m not convinced the presidency is the highest and best role I could play.”

He added, “It would take a lot to disabuse me of the notion that my highest and best use is to keep building that consensus.”

Asked what it would take for him to run, Gore said, “I can’t say because I’m not looking for it. But I guess I would know it if I saw it. I haven’t ruled it out. But I don’t think it’s likely to happen.”

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