SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Timelines; Olivia Munn in Playboy; Topless Thirteen; and Kristin Bell


J.J. Abrams made things simpler for himself in developing an alternative timeline, but this makes the overall Star Trek universe more complicated. Above is a view of the timeline, with the Abrams timeline included (click on image to enlarge). Star Trek Online discussed the significance of the two time lines:

In the movie, two characters travel back in time from the year 2387. When Nero arrives in the year 2233, he disrupts the time continuum, creating an alternate reality from the point of his arrival. Star Trek (the new movie) takes place in this alternate reality. This is explained in the film in a conversation between Uhura and Spock on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Star Trek Online is set in the “prime” Star Trek reality. This is the timeline of the five television series and the first 10 movies. It is the world in which the Gorn attacked Cestus III, Kirk fought Khan in the Mutara Nebula, Picard explored the galaxy, the Federation fought the Dominion War, Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant and Captain Archer and the crew of the NX-01 showed us how it all began.

Events in the movie that happened in the prime timeline (the destruction of Romulus, and the disappearance of Spock and Nero) have affected STO. You can learn more about the aftermath of these events in the Path to 2409 and in STO itself.

So how can the movie and STO be in different realities? When working on Star Trek, screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman referenced the theory of quantum mechanics, which allows for the simultaneous existence of parallel timelines and universes. Parallel universes are self-contained, separate realities that exist as a consequence of different choices and outcomes. This concept was explored in the TNG episode “Parallels,” in which there were thousands of alternate timelines (and thousands of Enterprises!). It also is seen in the Mirror Universe, which is a darker take on the world of the Federation.

There are many, many stories to tell in the prime universe. The fallout of the destruction of Romulus and the upheaval that causes in the Alpha and Beta quadrants creates storytelling opportunities that we at Cryptic didn’t even imagine when we first began working on STO. We’re excited by the possibilities, and fans should be as well. The best is yet to come.

Star Trek has been inconsistent in its handling of changes in the timeline. In many episodes involving alternative timelines, when something changed the timeline the timeline we know was obliterated and the episode centered around restoring the original timeline. Other episodes, as in those of the Mirror Universe, showed the alternative timelines as existing in parallel to the one we know. The new timeline created in the last movie is clearly intended to represent an example of a timeline in parallel to the one of the television series and previous movies.

If we are to have a totally different timeline, there is another way that I would like this to have been done. Previous Star Trek shows existed in a timeline different from our own as the history presented in Star Trek is inconsistent with late 20th century history. If we must have a new timeline created for a  new movie series, I would have had the difference from the original timeline occur in the 20th century to create a timeline which includes both our history and a Star Trek universe.


If we are looking at science fiction timelines, Dan Meth has made the above timeline of multiple science fiction movies. In discussing this project he wrote, “This is by far the geekiest thing I’ve ever done.”

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Olivia Munn of G4’s Attack of the Show has a role in Iron Man 2. She will also appear in Date Night with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. In addition to additional movie roles Munn has made the cover of Playboy (picture above).


While Olivia Munn wears a bikini in some of the pictures and doesn’t reveal much in Playboy, another Olivia revealed more. Olivia Wilde, who plays Thirteen on House, posed topless in Maxim.


The beginning of summer also seems like a good time for a picture of Kristin Bell (Veronica Mars and Heroes) in a bikini. There’s no good reason for including this picture, but is it really necessary to have a reason to post a picture of Kristin Bell?

Poll Shows Report For Health Care Reform

The New York Times has published yet another poll on health care reform. The polls  shows the same results as most earlier polls:

Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.

Yet the survey also revealed considerable unease about the impact of heightened government involvement, on both the economy and the quality of the respondents’ own medical care. While 85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, 77 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their own care.

The first two paragraphs show why the Republican arguments against health care reform have not been very effective. Americans see a need for increased government involvement and are not swayed by Republican chants of “socialized medicine.” While some Democrats have backed away from the public plan, the poll showed that 72% support a government run plan like Medicare while only 20% are opposed. Americans are even willing to pay higher taxes to achieve health care reform.

Proponents of health care reform are most likely to quote the first two paragraphs and ignore the third. It must be remembered that while there are tens of millions who are uninsured and under-insured, there are also a tremendous number of people who are satisfied with their coverage. In some cases this is because they have been healthy and are unaware of the risk of losing coverage should they develop a serious illness and actually need the coverage. In other cases they really do have good coverage.

Regardless of the reason, a large majority are satisfied with the quality of their own care. While economically a single payer plan would make more sense, politically this is not feasible. If a plan is going to be accepted in this country, it is necessary that it be designed to help those who do need help and leave those who are satisfied with the option of continuing their current coverage. Legislation should ensure that those who are happy with their current coverage really have the coverage they believe they do, and that the coverage not be terminated once they become seriously sick.

There are also ambivalent feelings with regards to government involvement in medical decision making:

Three of four people questioned said unnecessary medical tests and treatments had become a serious problem, suggesting that they would support calls by health researchers for a payment system that would better reward appropriate care. But an even higher number, 87 percent, said the inability of people to have the needed tests and treatments was a serious problem.

Being concerned with both appropriate care and ensuring the ability to have needed tests and treatments makes sense. While calling for appropriate care in principle makes sense, it is very difficult to actually measure this. Treatment guidelines are often helpful and more should be done to ensure that they are followed when appropriate. However treatment guidelines cannot be strictly applied in every case. Individuals do vary in their response to treatment. Individual preference does often make it necessary to make changes. Treatment guidelines are typically written for a specific disease but individuals typically have more than one medical problem making the recommendations for one condition inappropriate for each individual patient. While health care reform should encourage appropriate care, it could also be dangerous if this is decided on a bureaucratic level.

Update: Maggie’s Farm questions the results because “73% of respondents who said they voted in 2008 only 34% voted for McCain and 66% for Obama. The actual vote was 46% (corrected) McCain.” This is most likely explained by the considerable decrease in people identifying as Republicans since the election. I suspect that any poll taken now would show that far more people will claim they voted for Obama than McCain as opposed to how they actually voted.

Regardless, this objection is only a concern if the exact numbers are an issue. The key results of the poll, such as support for health care reform, higher taxes to pay for it, and support for a public plan, have been present in multiple other polls. At worst this poll exaggerates the numbers on these issues, but more likely it is a case of less people saying they voted Republican than actually did.

Extremism and Conspiracy Theories

I spent much of Saturday driving which meant little opportunity for blogging but I did spend part of the time listening to podcasts of recent NPR shows. One of particular interest was of last Thursday’s episode of Fresh Air entitled Extremism, Conspiracy Theory And Murder. Terry Gross interviewed Chip Berlet, who provided background on extremism and conspiracy theories. The show concentrated on right wing extremism, noting nine murders by right wing extremists so far this year, including the recent killing of a guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The show also discussed the atmosphere of hatred created by the right wing media and how it promotes violence from the more unhinged element of the right. Berlet discussed the manner in which Bill O’Reilly targeted George Tiller. He argued that while he could not be held legally responsible for the murder, O’ Reilly is morally responsible.

While they primarily discussed right wing extremism and conspiracy theories, going back to conspiracy theories involving the Bavarian Illuminati, Freemasons, and the Elders of Zion, the show did also touch on conspiracy theories held by some on the extreme left with a discussion of the 9/11 “truther” theories.