Wednesday, September 8, 2021

To Boldly Go…

There are a few completely modern movie and TV phrases which have become a permanent part of our culture; phrases which one can say which anyone in the US would immediately recognize.   “I’ll be back,” “Make my day,” “Here’s looking at you, kid,” and “we’re not in Kansas anymore” are a few.  

But there is a phrase, or verse, that is known not just in the United States, or the English speaking world, but globally, that a very large percentage would know; and it was heard for the first time some 55 years ago today. 
“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”

Star Trek first premiered on September 8, 1966 on NBC.  The show was canceled after only three seasons and seventy-nine aired episodes.  

The show would not disappear from the airwaves, as many others would.  It would eventually give birth to 13 major motion pictures, 7 television and streaming series of 755 episodes and counting, 3 animated series, and well over 1000 authorized books.

But, the importance of Star Trek is not its television, streaming, theater, and literary success.  The importance of Star Trek is how it has changed, and continues to change, the world we live in.   

There is no doubt that other works have made major impacts on the world.   Jules Verne's Captain Nemo and the Nautilus inspired generations of submarine designers, oceanographers and explorers.  Upon Sinclair's "The Jungle" has been credited with the drive for food safety regulations in the US.  Admittedly, not all of these changes have been positive; the 1915 film "Birth of a Nation" was the inspiration for the birth of the modern KKK.

Yet it can be argued that no other modern dramatic work, no other work of science fiction, no other television show, has changed the world as much as Star Trek.  

All it takes to see Star Trek's impact is for one to look at their mobile phone.   Or perhaps take a look at a tablet computer. Kirk and Spock had and used both.  Touch screens, 3-D Printers, Smart Watches, have proliferated across the planet; all were seen, years- decades even- before their time, being used by the crew of the Enterprise.  Lt. Uhura and Cdr. Spock's single-ear, wireless earphones are certainly not much different than the Bluetooth headsets millions use. According to Jeff Bezos, the voice of Alexa was inspired by the voice of the computer on the Enterprise 1701-D (voiced by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry).   Private space transport is here, and there is a $10 million X-Prize for the development of the "Medical Tricorder."  The Autonomous Vehicles used to explore everywhere from under the oceans to space are not much different than the probes launched from Enterprise.  Even tractor-beams and transporter technology have moved from the theoretical and are currently under development.

Beyond the inspiration for new technology, Star Trek as certainly been an inspiration for exploring "strange new worlds" and seeking out "new life and new civilizations."   NASA and the ESA are filled with scientist, engineers and technicians who freely state that watching Star Trek inspired them to join NASA or the ESA.   And for those that may not be old enough to remember, the test vehicle of the Space Shuttle Program- an actual space shuttle, without rocket engines aboard- in which manned test flights were flown, was named Enterprise; a name demanded by a letter writing campaign of Trekker's in the 1970's to then US President Gerald Ford.  Enterprise (OV-101) was supposed to be refitted after the drop tests to fly in space, but structural changes during construction of Columbia (OV-102) made it cheaper to build Challenger (OV-099) from scratch.  A refit of Enterprise was considered once more, after the 1986 Challenger disaster, but again, the cost of refit made building Endeavour (OV-105) the better option.

Perhaps the both the greatest impact, and the least easy to measure, is the incredible social impact Star Trek has made.  In 1966, the racial diversity of the lead actors in the show was unheard of in American Television.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek was one of the only shows he would allow his children to watch.  When Nichelle told Dr. King she was planning to leave Star Trek for Broadway, she said he told her that was not acceptable. Dr. King said she couldn’t leave because she was a role model for millions of young girls and women – the only African-American on TV in a role worth having.

The social impact goes beyond just the first interracial kiss on American Television (between Kirk and Uhura).  Star Trek used problems on alien worlds as parallels and parables for issues we were facing when the show aired.   Issues like racism, the risks and dangers of war, eugenics, genetic engineering, and the dangers of unbridled automation were addressed in the original series.  When Star Trek returned to the television screen, they continued to address social issues, such as apartheid, colonialism, terrorism, drug addictions, aging, the right to live, as well as continuing to address themes that mankind struggled with when the show began in 1966.   Above all, Star Trek presented a world of hope, a world that could be, where the social issues of today were no more.

The world has changed and science has advanced since the first broadcast of Star Trek, the night of September 8, 1966.   We landed on the moon.  Mankind has sent space craft to explore every planet in our solar system and even a "planet" that was demoted to a dwarf-planet while the space craft was  in route (Pluto).   We have landed a spacecraft on the moon Titan, orbiting Saturn.  We have sent space craft out into deep space, beyond the reaches of our solar system.  We can communicate around the globe electronically, and there is practically nowhere on Earth where we cannot maintain communication with our friends, family and home.

Technology has advanced, and we have in the 21st Century, many of the things Star Trek set in the world of the 23rd Century- although I am still waiting for the food station I can just talk to and tell what I want for dinner, and have it beam right in.  

Despite all our advances, and maybe because of them, the dream Gene Roddenberry showed us in Star Trek 55 years ago, remains:  The dream of a better world for all, as well as the goal and mission, to boldly go where no one has gone before.


Friday, July 16, 2021

Will No One Rid Me of This Troublesome Priest?

The White House is expressing frustration about what it terms “misinformation” about COVID and vaccines on Social Media.  Expressing frustration is one thing,  but directing the suppression of statements the White House believes are wrong is quite another.   

The White House is very close to an old, historical precedent: “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

I wish this was unbelievable- but it is not.    I do not care if individuals are saying the Earth and Moon are flat and that dancing naked in Times Square will cure cancer, the White House has NO BUSINESS restricting, flagging, correcting or doing ANYTHING to ANY US Citizen or Resident’s Facebook Posts (or the statements of anyone protected you the Constitution).    

I do not care WHO is in the White House- the White House MAY NOT direct, decide or even influence the statements of anyone but themselves!!!    

Once the Government gets involved with saying content should or should not be allowed, they have crossed the line.    This is a plain and simple free speech and free press issue. 

To make matters worse, the White House is actively trying to make sure if a user is banned on one social platform they are banned on others.   THIS IS A GROSS VIOLATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS to have the White House use Social Media Platforms as a stalking horse!!!!  

While Facebook itself is NOT bound by the First Amendment, the White House is- and if Facebook is acting at the direction of the White House, then Facebook is acting as an agent of the Government.  Just as the The White House cannot directly censor individuals, it may not use a third party, acting at the White House’s direction, to violate the First Amendment either.   


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Living In A Changing World, or Time For A New Atlas?

When I was a kid, I was taught there were certain constants, like there being Nine Planets in our Solar System, and there were Four Oceans on our planet.   

Well, Pluto got demoted, and I have to consciously remember there are only 8 planets in the solar system along with scores and scores of dwarf planets - and that while planetary moons can be satellites, our moon is not a satellite of earth.  There is some argument that the Earth and Moon actually are a binary planet system  because the same rule that demoted Pluto, actually established that the Moon meets the 3 criteria to be a Planet! (So technically we may be back to nine planets).  

If that all were not confusing enough,  according to National Geographic, we now have 5 Oceans instead of 4.   National Geographic will now update its Atlases and maps to show the Southern Ocean - which surrounds the continent of Antarctica.  

We lost a planet (maybe) but gained an Ocean.  

Now I have to buy a new National Geographic Atlas .  ok, to be fair, the old atlas shows a big country that crosses from Europe into Asia- The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics- and of all the countries in Europe I had to memorize the names and locations of for a test, probably less than half still exist- of course they are all still in that atlas - so maybe I am due for a new one anyway!


Sunday, June 6, 2021

A GOOD Ruling from A California Court

I must again praise US District Judge Roger Benitez of the District Court of Southern California.  This praise is for his opinion in Miller v Bonta which was released on Friday.   At issue is the so called “Assault Weapons” Ban imposed by the People’s Republic of California.  Not only did Judge Benitez, in no uncertain terms, strike down the ban; he also addressed in the introduction of his ruling, the misconception that AR-15’s (etc) are used in a high percentage of homicides. 

From the introduction:
“One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter. Federal Bureau of Investigation murder statistics do not track assault rifles, but they do show that killing by knife attack is far more common than murder by any kind of rifle. In California, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle. For example, according to F.B.I. statistics for 2019, California saw 252 people murdered with a knife, while 34 people were killed with some type of rifle – not necessarily an AR-15.2 A Californian is three times more likely to be murdered by an attacker’s bare hands, fists, or feet, than by his rifle.3 In 2018, the statistics were even more lopsided as California saw only 24 murders by some type of rifle.4 The same pattern can be observed across the nation.”
Unfortunately, although Judge Benitez imposed a permanent injunction upon California enforcement of the ban, the State of California will appeal, and that appeal will go to the 9th Circuit.   If historical precedent holds, a three judge panel of the 9th Circuit will hear the case.  If the three judge panel agrees with Judge Benitez (they have previously on 2nd Amendment cases such as Duncan v Becerra) - the case will be heard by the ENTIRE 9th Circuit- which will of course strike down any case that holds in favor of the 2nd Amendment as a matter of course, just as they did in Peruta v San Diego and 
Young v Hawaii


Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Television Show That Has Saved Lives

Forty-four years ago (May 28, 1977)  the last episode of “Emergency!” ran on NBC.  The show was certainly the most “realistic” medical show of the 1970’s- probably the most realistic until ER debuted.   From the beginning, the show presented the fire crew wearing SCBA’s,  protecting accident victims with full C-Spine precautions (backboards and cervical collars) and using a defibrillator in cardiac arrest- all of which were “cutting edge” at the time.  They even went so far as to show the “right” cardiac rhythm  for what the said a patient had, on the cardiac monitor- as well as following the correct protocols that were in place at the time.  Part of the reason the show was so “realistic” was that the shows lead actors, Randolph Mantooth (Johnny) and Kevin Tighe (Roy) actually went through paramedic training (they did not sit for the board exams) and did extensive “ride-a-longs” with LA County Fire.  The character of Mike Stoker - the engineer on the fire truck crew - was played by “real-life” firefighter/engineer Mike Stoker, and the dispatcher (seen in a couple episodes - but mostly just the “voice” of LA County Fire Dispatch) was played by LA County Fire Dispatcher Samuel Lanier 
Roy DeSoto (played by Kevin Tighe) and Johnny Gage (played by Randolph Mantooth)

The show was created by the legendary Jack Webb and there were multiple  crossover episodes with ADAM-12 (Officers Reed and Malloy showing up at Rampart General etc).

Maybe the most significant aspect of Emergency! was that it inspired a generation to become firefighters or medics.   I am willing to bet there are very few firefighters/paramedics/EMT’s who are older than 45, that do not know who are unfamiliar with “Johnny and Roy.”    To this day, Banner Hospital emergency rooms in Phoenix play the “Station 51 tones”  overhead as an alert when an ambulance crew is radioing the hospital.  (Tones are the alert sounds that are transmitted by fire department dispatch before a fire/EMS call and are unique to each station/unit in a department).   
Engine 51

A 2007 article in “University of Baltimore Law Review” credited the show with the rapid expansion of laws in a large number of states that officially created paramedics and paramedic licensing. Prior to the early 70’s ambulance crews barely had first-aid training and few people understood what a paramedic was or did.  Just before the show premiered, there were only TWELVE paramedic programs in the United States.    “Emergency!” helped to change that.   In 1977,  Newsweek credited the show for “ creat[ing] a national demand for [EMS/pre-hospital care] services." 
Squad 51

Some television shows are considered great because of ratings.   Some because they manage to address tough social issues, while still maintaining an audience (Star Trek immediately comes to mind).  Emergency! should be considered great because of the tangible effect of the show- the public demand for EMS services and the laws that authorized paramedics around the US- that can be witnessed and felt by every one of us today. Knowing you can pick up the phone in a medical emergency, dial 911 and have qualified help in minutes, is at least partially thanks to this show.  

If you have never seen Emergency! (Or want to see it again), it is streaming currently on Hulu.  

This is Carden Chronicles, signing off, KMG365.  


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

A juror in the Derek Chauvin trial has spoken to the press about his time on the jury, and some of what he says should frighten us all.  

Brandon Mitchell was Juror 52.   He is quoted in a CNN story as saying, 

“During the opening statements, I was curious or find out what the defense was going to bring to the table and convince us jurors. I didn't see any avenues to which they could go."

At the beginning of the trial, during opening statements, before a single witness is sworn or a single scrap of evidence is presented this juror is wondering what the DEFENSE is going to bring to convince the jurors that Chauvin was not guilty?  HOLY CRAP!!!!   In our system of jurisprudence, we are INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty. At the beginning of a trial a juror should NEVER be wondering how the DEFENSE is going to prove it’s case.  The ONLY side that must PROVE anything is the Prosecution!   The Prosecutor must prove the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt.    

The statement by this juror that he wondered how the DEFENSE was going to prove their case, along with the jurors written statement in his juror questionnaire that he wanted to be on the jury “because of all the protests and everything that happened after the event” he felt the trial was historic and he want to be part of that- says this juror was exposed to the case in advance, and that he did not go into the trial with an open mind.    

In this country, we are INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, based upon the preponderance of the evidence.   Jurors are supposed to understand that, and a guilty verdict MUST be one that is arrived at through a process such that when the verdict is delivered, no one should be able to point out obvious flaws and errors.  

In this case, based on the published statements of this juror, there is HUGE concern that Chauvin did not get a fair trial.  At least one juror felt Chauvin was guilty going in, or at least that the defense needed to PROVE Chauvin innocent.  

This should frighten ALL of us.   Every one of us should have absolute faith that our judicial system will treat us fairly and that if accused of a crime, we are presumed innocent until proven guilty.   All of us should be afraid that if ever taken to court, we might have a Juror 52 who goes into the trial, wondering how the defense is going to prove us innocent.  


Monday, April 26, 2021

BREAKING - SCOTUS to hear NYSRPA v Corlett

BREAKING NEWS- From this morning’s orders list issued by the Supreme Court- the Supreme Court WILL hear New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett sometime this fall (October 2021 Term).  The question before the Court will deal with “good cause carry”- a scheme in place in seven states (NY, NJ, MA, MD, DE, CA & HI) that limit carrying a firearm for self defense to those that show “good cause”- meaning a specific threat to them that is well beyond that which is experienced by the general public which includes even the threat of domestic violence.   This will be the first case since McDonald where the Court will hear a question which goes to the CORE of the Second Amendment.  Does the individual have the right to BEAR arms outside the home for self-defense. 

Case documents for NYSRPA v Corlett (20-843) may be found here.