Green Room

Who Mines The Dilithium?

posted at 1:07 am on May 15, 2009 by

One of my favorite little moments in the very entertaining new “Star Trek” movie comes when the young James T. Kirk activates the computer system of a car he swiped for a joyride, and the Nokia logo comes up. It’s nice to see Nokia’s still in business in the twenty-third century. Such simple touches help to humanize the Star Trek universe, which had drifted a bit too far from recognizable human experience for audiences to fully engage with its characters. The presence of a good old-fashioned corporate logo in the new movie put me in mind of a long-ago, free-wheeling, beer-fueled rant after I saw a previous “Star Trek” movie with some friends, and we asked ourselves, “Who mines the dilithium?”

In the 1996 film “Star Trek: First Contact,” there is a scene in which a woman from our near future asks time-traveling twenty-fourth century Captain Jean-Luc Picard how much the Enterprise cost to build. Picard replies that money doesn’t exist in his enlightened future era. “The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives,” he assures her. “We work to better ourselves, and the rest of humanity.”

Gee, that sounds swell, doesn’t it? How did the Federation outgrow capitalism? Well, they have a technology called “replicators,” which allows them to manufacture almost any form of matter out of energy. This might not seem like a very useful technology, since if I remember my high school physics correctly, it would take the power of a thousand exploding suns to create enough matter for a decent New York strip steak and a side order of mashed potatoes, but not to worry – they also have virtually unlimited energy in the future, thanks to a crystal called “dilithium.” So, in the twenty-fourth century, they have vast amounts of cheap energy, and they can create matter with it, so nobody needs money, because all material desires are easily fulfilled.

Where does dilithium come from? You mine it from extremely unpleasant planets, where the miners live stoic lives of terrible loneliness and physical hardship, as seen in the 1960s Star Trek TV episode “Mudd’s Women.” The miners’ lives are so wretched, they’re willing to contract with a con artist to bring them mail-order brides. It would seem the mining process cannot be fully automated, since the technology of Captain Kirk’s day was sufficiently advanced to have done so, if it were possible. (Of course, until the character of Lt. Data was introduced in the “Next Generation” series, the Star Trek guys seemed very squeamish about building self-aware machines – and with good reason, since they always turned into planet-destroying psychotic monsters.) So: who’s working in those dilithium mines? Is the Federation lucky enough to have an adequate number of people who find self-fulfillment by volunteering to work in dingy hell-holes, digging up those precious crystals? Those guys aren’t prisoners being forced to work off their sentences, are they? That didn’t seem to be the case in the TV episode.

More evidence of the absurdity of the twenty-fourth century’s flimsy Utopia is easy to find. In the series “Deep Space Nine”, Captain Sisko’s father was an expert chef who ran a restaurant in New Orleans. He might indeed have been cooking because he enjoyed it and found it fulfilling, but what about the people waiting tables in his restaurant? Is that your fate if you score poorly on the benevolent Federation’s aptitude tests? A “D” grade leaves you slinging crawdaddies in Sisko’s restaurant, while an “F” means it’s off to the dilithium mines? That doesn’t sound like a society to brag about. And what happens if you refuse to accept the menial job assigned to you by the Federation, when they determined you’re a moron? Do they force you to work at gunpoint? Or is the future Earth filled with layabouts who just watch holographic game shows and replicate Hot Pockets all day? If so, perhaps they were too quick to repel the Borg invasion in “First Contact” – it would have been their best chance of reaching Bush-era unemployment lows. The Borg are always hiring.

There’s an even deeper flaw in the Star Trek utopia, revealed by contemplating Sisko’s restaurant: Who gets to eat there? The elder Sisko is supposed to be one of the best chefs around. How do you get a table at his restaurant? Is there a four-hundred-year waiting list, the way “free” medicine is rationed in socialist countries? All the free matter and energy in the universe can’t change the fact there’s only one Sisko Senior, and he’s only got two hands to cook with. What about works of art? Certainly they can be copied easily enough, but what if somebody wants an original? All of the “Star Trek” shows had literary pretensions, especially regarding Shakespeare. How are theater seats doled out, when the greatest actors of the twenty-fourth century stage a production of “Hamlet?” If I get sick, I’d sure like to have a doctor as dedicated as Doctor McCoy. How are the services of the top doctors assigned? Are they exclusively assigned to take care of high-ranking military officers and Federation politicians? I’ll bet that would be a feature of the twenty-fourth century that Captain Picard wouldn’t employ to advertise how advanced and enlightened it is.

“Star Trek” is famous for its wonderful transporter technology, which lets people teleport instantly with planetary range. You could have breakfast in France, pop over to Alaska for a moose hunt, and be in Australia in time for dinner. Who gets to do that? How is the limited amount of transporter capacity distributed between the populace? There might be a lot of transporters, but there certainly aren’t enough to allow billions of terrestrial citizens to zip around the globe at will. For that matter, who gets to ride around in starships, besides the military officers that crew the Starfleet vessels? The “Next Generation” crew were forever talking about a wonderful pleasure planet they loved to visit on vacations. Can the people waiting tables in Sisko’s restaurant go there for a holiday?

It’s interesting to note how quickly the futuristic utopia Captain Picard described to the woman in “First Contact” falls apart when you stop to think about the lives of the ordinary citizens – the people who don’t get to boldly go on adventures in starships. Magical technologies that provide limitless resources do nothing to resolve the eternal shortage of the human resource. The kind of thinking that leads socialists to believe they can create perfect national medical systems, welfare programs, or government-controlled financial institutions doesn’t even work if you have dilithium crystals to back it up… because somebody has to mine the dilithium, and somebody has to do something meaningful and valuable with all that cheap matter and energy.

Freedom, industry, and capitalism will always be the most ethical and efficient way to allocate those precious human resources. The new “Star Trek” film might have a lot of plot holes, but they’ve also got Nokia, which means they’re living in a world that bears some resemblance to the real one.

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The real answer to the question, of course, is that the Hollywood writers (thanks to their politics and education) have no more idea of how economics works than a goldfish has of quantum mechanics.

Small wonder you end up with a complete mishmash of economic ideas, many of them contradicting each other or making no sense at all.

If they did this on the science end of things, you’d be watching a show where the characters were flying hot-air balloons to other planets.

tbrosz on May 15, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Whoever said “Insurrection” shows a Federation in decline due to their idiotic policies, congrats – you’re the first person to make me reconsider my refusal to see that film.

Blacksmith on May 15, 2009 at 1:55 PM

Count to 10 on May 15, 2009 at 1:32 PM

I was being a bit lowbrow with the sarcasm.

Don’t you know that the show always has some device or whatever to conveniently explain away the problems which make the Trek gadgets unworkable in the real world?

If you are really curious though, here’s the definition.

catmman on May 15, 2009 at 1:57 PM

TheUnrepentantGeek on May 15, 2009 at 1:52 PM

It’s still in its development stage, unfortunately, so it’s not yet at the level where I can publicize it. However, we intend on opening shop pretty soon, and I will definitely post it on a related thread sometime. Thanks for your interest!

peter_griffin on May 15, 2009 at 2:03 PM

I was reading a review of the new movie over at Huffington Post (I know, I’m a glutton for illogical arguments) and one poster was complaining about how there were no gays in Star Trek. At first I thought, well DUH, because it’s only been out and open on TV for the last ten years or so. None of the shows really had a chance to have openly gay characters. To an extent. They had to deal with it in metaphor like that TNG episode where Riker had a fling with a hermaphridite species. Then I realized what it really was… They found the gay gene and fixed it so nobody would have to go through that again. It was bred out of existence…

oddjob1138 on May 15, 2009 at 1:42 PM

After seeing the movie I remember thinking “at least they didn’t throw a gay character into the movie.”

Also, there was a gay romance in DS9 – between Dax and one of her former loves (when Dax was a guy).

I don’t necessarily have a problem with a gay character in a tv show (like the above DS9 episode) but it’s done in a completely lame way 99% of the time. Usually the gay character is ‘the gay character’ and the character’s purpose is to be gay and tell you how you’re supposed to ‘tolerant’. It works when a character happens to be gay but it’s not really in the fore-front at all.

gwelf on May 15, 2009 at 2:06 PM

I was being a bit lowbrow with the sarcasm.

Don’t you know that the show always has some device or whatever to conveniently explain away the problems which make the Trek gadgets unworkable in the real world?

If you are really curious though, here’s the definition.

catmman on May 15, 2009 at 1:57 PM

Heh. Sounds like Loony Tunes to me.

On the other matter, its sad when they use a gimmick to explain a problem that isn’t there, while ignoring a problem that is.
Of course, the recurring theme (at lest in TNG) is that an insurmountable problem presents itself, and they are all screwed until some fantastic new technological breakthrough saves the day.

Count to 10 on May 15, 2009 at 2:09 PM

Don’t forget Anheuser-Busch!

Jim Treacher on May 15, 2009 at 2:13 PM

This might not seem like a very useful technology, since if I remember my high school physics correctly, it would take the power of a thousand exploding suns to create enough matter for a decent New York strip steak and a side order of mashed potatoes

That would be the coolest technology, ever. Even better if it could do a good ribeye.

thirteen28 on May 15, 2009 at 2:18 PM

I was never a fan of the Deep Space 9 show, but one of the memorable characters from that series were the avaricious Ferengi, who had a particular love for “gold-pressed latinum”, seemed to be less currency and more bullion.

kayo on May 15, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Browncoats…

elgeneralisimo on May 15, 2009 at 1:45 PM

Hahahhaha! Shiny!

dmj on May 15, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Whoever said “Insurrection” shows a Federation in decline due to their idiotic policies, congrats – you’re the first person to make me reconsider my refusal to see that film.

Blacksmith on May 15, 2009 at 1:55 PM

On the other side of the coin Picard saves a bunch of space hippies living in some sort of commune. They live very long lives so they have learned to put aside their differences to live in harmony with nature. He saves them from the evil Federation and their own children who want to remove them from the planet and rape it of its most valuable natural resource.

jmarcure on May 15, 2009 at 2:36 PM

Anyone remember gold-pressed latinum and the value of Bajoran self-sealing stem bolts (all together now, 3 times fast!)

C’ mon, people! I’m as big a conservative as they get, but Trek is meant to be fun. It’s television, film–entertainment! Sure, most of the franchise’s ideas fall apart on close examination but the idea is to suspend disbelief for an hour or so.

The idea of what a replicator can do isn’t a bad one. If such things could be created, hunger would be eliminated. So would every grocery store on the planet. And if you could materialize a glass of water, there go all the water companies.

And more unemployment.

Why do people in our time mine anything in the first place? Adventure, or because their dad and granddad did? You couldn’t get me into a mine of any sort, but strong brave people do it for a living–in most cases, I imagine, for reasons other than that they have to.

ST-TNG was a lot preachy at times, especially during its final season. Many social ideas just won’t work but some will.

It’s entertainment, friends! Are we, as conservatives, going to politicize it any more than some on the Left have done with it? The Left politicizes everything, including what we call ‘manhole covers’.

That’s sick, in my book. If you like Trek, just enjoy it. More than a political statement, it’s escapism for a short while, with great FX and scantily-clad women wearing dresses in the original series that look ready to drop off in a light breeze.

Liam on May 15, 2009 at 2:40 PM

After seeing the movie I remember thinking “at least they didn’t throw a gay character into the movie.”

gwelf on May 15, 2009 at 2:06 PM

There were lots of gays shown.
Oh, I see, you expected to see overly stereotypical gays or blatant stereotypical gay talk between the characters. Sorry, in the Trek universe they are fully accepted and like most non-activist gays of today they just kind of blend into the crowd.

jmarcure on May 15, 2009 at 2:41 PM

Of course, the recurring theme (at lest in TNG) is that an insurmountable problem presents itself, and they are all screwed until some fantastic new technological breakthrough saves the day.

And for the first few seasons, that “breakthrough” was always discovered by Wesley Crusher.

eaglescout1998 on May 15, 2009 at 2:42 PM

Although Picard was correct that wealth was no longer the driving force, a kind of Federation currency existed, known as the Federation credit, which used more as a bartering system than wealth. McCoy wanted to pay a smuggler Federation credits to transport him to the Genesis Planet. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) Picard was authorized to spend a large amount of Federation credits in order to secure the rights to the Barzan wormhole. (TNG: “The Price”) Tom Paris bet Harry Kim Federation credits and holodeck time in a game of billiards.

eaglescout1998 on May 15, 2009 at 2:52 AM

So it’s something like WOW gold?

pseudonominus on May 15, 2009 at 2:45 PM

Sorry, in the Trek universe they are fully accepted and like most non-activist gays of today they just kind of blend into the crowd.

What makes you think there are gays in the 24th century? Maybe they discovered that homosexuality is caused by a hormonal imbalance and have developed a treatment for it.

Yea… I’m suggesting homosexuality is a mental defect. What are you going to do about it, Perez Hilton?

eaglescout1998 on May 15, 2009 at 2:46 PM

As for Firefly: Who cleans the hospitals on Ariel? Or takes care of the sewers?

eforhan on May 15, 2009 at 12:38 PM

I’m going to guess union workers living on above-market wages and gold-plated pension programs, who keep reelecting the incumbents. Sound familiar?

Either that or browncoat prisoners being “rehabilitated” to love the Alliance.

TheMightyMonarch on May 15, 2009 at 2:50 PM

eaglescout1998 on May 15, 2009 at 2:46 PM

There are dudes running around the enterprise in skirts. Play close attention, you’ll see them.

lorien1973 on May 15, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Speaking as a long time Star Trek fan (before I grew up and fell in love with Firefly), let me make a few notes here:
Star Trek does have money, the Federation doesn’t. That doesn’t mean that citizens of the Federation don’t use money. In DS9 Quarks bar charges for Holosuite time and runs gambling tables with gold-pressed-latinum (whatever that is). Note also that in one episode Quark and the Cardy spy (his name escapes me) discuss how the Federation is like the “positively vile” beverage rootbeer. It’s so “bubbly and happy”. Quark had acquired a large quantity to sell to Federation personnel just has the Dominion seized control of the sector. So money is there, and humans use it, but the Federation does not.
Recycling is perfected in the future. Sewage is converted directly to your morning’s breakfast or even today’s uniform. But Replicator technology is rationed even on the flagship of the Federation. It seems there are limits to their “money-less” society.
As for property rights and such, it’s not really mentioned directly but in some secondary sources (the expanded Star Trek Universe one might say) it seems that Earth isn’t actually “united” under a single government. Rather it is suggested that the United States of America still exists but as a member of a larger government not unlike how the states of Alaska and Texas are members of the Union. It seems that most of Earth now lives a “simple” life with a few high tech conveniences, hence Sisko’s restaurant and Picard’s vineyard. Only Star Fleet seems to use more than just replicators and cheap electricity. Though, thanks to the wonders of technology, the weather is controlled as easy as your thermostat.
Oh, and Star Trek does have prisons- and not just the Klingons. Two of the secondary characters over the years, Tom Paris and Roe Larin (I don’t really know how to spell her name actually) both were prisoners. Prisons in Star Trek (at least in the federation) are like 12 step programs. A little planting trees, a bit of counseling, and then some time of restricted access. I can’t ever remember murder or rape being mentioned, and the entire idea of holding a trial is considered barbaric. Apparently, along with the “gay” gene they managed to neutralize the “crime” gene too.

Browncoatone on May 15, 2009 at 2:55 PM

Surprised no one has posted the Ferengi Rules of Aquistion yet.

pseudonominus on May 15, 2009 at 2:58 PM

I stopped all tendencies towards taking Star Trek seriously ( in any political sense ) when I heard a Leftoid talking about “the White male power structure of the Enterprise”.

She was furious that the captain, first officer, chief engineer and doctor were all whiteys…and MEN.

Like Shat-man said, it’s only a TV show………..

Janos Hunyadi on May 15, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Surprised no one has posted the Ferengi Rules of Aquistion yet.

pseudonominus on May 15, 2009 at 2:58 PM

“Rule #1: Once you have their money, you never give it back.” Sounds like the Federal government to me.

Browncoatone on May 15, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Nobody normally has to dig up dilithium crystals. When needed, they can quickly be replicated. Ditto for beryllium spheres. The mining was required to bootstap the system, so to speak.

if I remember my high school physics correctly, it would take the power of a thousand exploding suns to create enough matter for a decent New York strip steak and a side order of mashed potatoes

You are thinking of a Philly cheese steak. It only takes a couple of hundred exploding G class suns to make a New York strip steak. The difference is the cheese, which is a complex hydrocarbon which can’t be replicated via your normal helium-to-carbon fusion process (which is normally considerably accelerated by the imploding shell of a supernova but doesn’t have the subtlety to make cheese spread).

What you are searching for in your article is the effect of productivity on the lives of the citizens of the Federation. If everyone can have everything, what’s the incentive for advancement of knowledge or of the arts? The answer is obviously some form of interior motivation — the same type that keeps billionaires making money long after their every whim could be satisfied with what they have stored away. There are no theoretic limits on population growth in such a society, and one would expect thereby the generation of insane power-crazed individuals to increase substantially in such an environment. Hmmm.

unclesmrgol on May 15, 2009 at 3:04 PM

Another homerun

chicagojedi on May 15, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Nobody normally has to dig up dilithium crystals. When needed, they can quickly be replicated. Ditto for beryllium spheres. The mining was required to bootstap the system, so to speak.

unclesmrgol on May 15, 2009 at 3:04 PM

It’s a pity nobody explained that to Captain Nero, who was the master of a gigantic mining vessel from the post-Next Generation era. If everything can be easily replicated, what was he mining?

I might be mistaken, and beyond the limits of my Star Trek knowledge, but I thought dilithium was one of the few things that could not be synthesized through the replicators, with gold-pressed latinum being another – that’s why the Ferengi used the latter as currency, because it couldn’t be counterfeited. I seem to recall there was an even trickier substance called “trilithium,” which either produced even more energy than dilithium, or turned Superman evil.

Doctor Zero on May 15, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Or is the future Earth filled with layabouts who just watch holographic game shows and replicate Hot Pockets all day?

Now you’re talking about a utopia.

“Computer: Another cold ale, a sausage and pepperoni Hot Pocket, and bring up Top Gear episode #8371924.”

Screw that whole business of being one of those suckers stuck on a cramped spaceship with nothing to do other than cavort with fake women on the holodeck and face the prospect of wearing the red shirt on a landing party.

Hollowpoint on May 15, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Thank you, Doc, for writing this. I have often thought that Roddenbery’s view of the future is akin to what our utopian driven libs are striving for. And while it looks great in theory and on screen it always turns into a living nightmare and a hell on earth when put into practice.

vapig on May 15, 2009 at 3:23 PM

I’ve always thought WoW would be an excellent tool to teach children about how free-market economies work.

Have them level up a profession. For those who don’t know WoW, there are several “gathering” professions (gathering herbs, ore, or skinning animals for leather) that provide materials necessary for “assembly” professions (blacksmithing, leatherworking, jewelcrafting, etc).

You can either choose two gathering professions, which allows you to either sell raw materials or hire another player to make needed items using them (usually tipping them for their time), or sell crafted items through an assembly profession (mining provides materials for blacksmithing, for example).

Alternatively you can raise several characters, and spread out the professions amongst them. Excellent way to teach kids about vertical integration. You control the production across all steps but ultimately it costs much more time as well as more money to develop and maintain several gatherers and crafters.

It also would teach kids about operational costs. In order to develop, say, engineering as a profession you typically must either spend an inordinate amount of time “farming” materials, trade your excess materials for ones you need to develop your profession, or simply farm money (i.e. killing and looting) to buy the materials you need.

And lastly it would teach them about supply and demand. Not all crafted items are equally useful, and you learn quickly what the profitable items are, by watching the open market (in this case the Auction House) as well as what crafting those items would cost you in terms of time or money.

Despite all this it’s still amazing to see, in-game, a sense of entitlement, whether it’s people bitching about high prices on the Auction House or people sitting in city streets literally begging for change. The begging is especially hilarious since they could have spent that time outside the city, killing for fun and profit instead of getting yelled at by other players.

TheMightyMonarch on May 15, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Trilithium was a plot device used in “Star Trek: Generations”.

From Memory Alpha:

Trilithium is a synthetic compound that is an explosive of tremendous power. More importantly, however, it acts as an inhibitor of nuclear reactions, such as the fusion processes within the interior of stars. Even a small amount of trilithium is sufficient to halt all nuclear fusion in a star, resulting in a quantum implosion. The star would collapse under its own mass, generating a shockwave powerful enough to destroy everything in its system. If the star was of sufficient size, the core collapse could lead to a supernova.

eaglescout1998 on May 15, 2009 at 3:26 PM

There are dudes running around the enterprise in skirts. Play close attention, you’ll see them.

He’s right, the earlier episodes actually have men running around the Enterprise in little short skirts like the ones they made the gals wear in the original series.

I can just imagine the justification that went into that, some utopian socialist hippie on the show going on a rant about “We got too many labels, man…we gotta show the people that the future means that we don’t judge people, and everyone gets to do their own thing, man.”

Bullsh*t. That dude’s wearing a miniskirt, his little phaser is poking out, and it’s flippin’ hilarious.

TheMightyMonarch on May 15, 2009 at 3:31 PM

If I can go a bit deeper into Dr. Zero’s Post.

Lower Rungs

Star Trek was very uncomfortable showing the lives of normal people. Humans with an I.Q. of below 140 were generally not depicted at all. Waiters, busboys, labors were generally not shown or were shown with a creepy “happy smile” attitude that was indicative to me that the “advanced economic theroy” had really not been examined.

For example, many scenes in Star Trek showed damaged systems, piping, holes in plating which “Damage Control” teams were expected to deal with. Why them? The biologists got to study new life, the Stellar Cartographers got to study new stars, even the Engineers got to study new enginerring. But what the hell motivated some guy to want to get up every day and repair damaged overhead structure and lay new carpet? What motivated someone to develop and maintain the toilets? Sure you can order someone on a Star Ship to “Fix the John” or put them in the brig for “Dereliction of Duty”, but what the heck made you on Earth or a Colony world want to get up at 2 am and fix the toilet for someone else? I mean sure, you can say it’s for the betterment of the Human Race, but suppose today is the day of the big Pod Race on Bunta Eve and you heard that a local boy, young Skywalker, is going to be competing? What motivates you to bang pipes instead of taking the day off?

Coercion, Exchange of Value, Inspiration

As others have pointed out, there are three possible ways to motivate people. Coercion, exchange of value, inspiration.

Coercion = punishment if you do not obey

The Federation was full of Rehabilitation colonies. It seems that every character that was not in the Military (and some that were, Mr. Paris for example) had spent some time in a Rehab colony. Some were for growing food, some were merely work camps, but every person who had been in them clearly did not like their life at the Rehab Colony, was ashamed of their time there, and did not want to return. These were gulags, pure and simple.

ECX Value = Value for Value or Central Planning?

Transporter credits, Holodeck time, Shuttle allocation, Duty roster, Work Assignments, Choice Developement projects (like who worked on the new generation of Warp Engines vs those who worked with new Citywide Sludge piping; all examples of Central Planning and/or Rationing. The higher you were in Rank or Status, the more you got. Blow a few exams and you ended up in the reclamation plant working night shift, get angry about it and you were medicated and/or you got a Counselor “treating” you (And not always a beautiful, dark eyed Betazed either). Astonishingly, large scale income producing Real Estate property is still held by law (The Picard Vineyards, for example). People still bartered to fill personal “collections”. Several characters have referred to becoming a “trader” or purchasing their own ship after a term of service but of course this is not explained. The Starship Raven, a one family sized exploration vessel had to be supported by a Grant from the Federation Council, yet Scotty was able to go into a Partnership with another man to acquire about the same sized vessel to do some deep space exploring for both profit and pleasure. Money, collectibles, “valuable” materials, new technologies and labor are all referred to as items of barter, but without any objective means of allocating value in the 24th Century.

Inspiration = Make my Values your Interests.

While I can see this in the Star Fleet Officers, they are clearly apart from the general public. They serve a term of service and then “retire”. Their service rewards are unknown other than the experience itself, though Kirk got a nice 70th floor apartment overlooking San Francisco. It is not explained how the general population bides their time. Hard, dirty, dangerous work, that is required in any society is not shown. Interestingly, raw ambition and clawing for position is not only open, but celebrated.

GunRunner on May 15, 2009 at 3:48 PM

I was reading a review of the new movie over at Huffington Post (I know, I’m a glutton for illogical arguments) and one poster was complaining about how there were no gays in Star Trek.

oddjob1138 on May 15, 2009 at 1:42 PM

I once read a complaint that there were no arabs in Star Trek. The response:

Thats because it set in the future.

agmartin on May 15, 2009 at 3:55 PM

My trek-inclined friends actually cite this as a reason why the world will improve – people who just want to indulge themselves all the time will do so, leaving the only people who reproduce those who chose to have children. Still not clear how that will necessarily improve the gene pool.

That might explain why there are no ugly or fat people in Star Trek’s world.

Socratease on May 15, 2009 at 4:01 PM

What motivates you to bang pipes instead of taking the day off?

Coercion, Exchange of Value, Inspiration

1. Coercion

2. Exchange of Value

3. Inspiration

Today’s leftists use #1 to get #3. In other words, using taxes and guilt to “inspire” people to care about the environment or their fellow man, when in fact it just breeds resentment for having been subject to #1.

In this scenario, #2 gets flushed away. Har!

TheMightyMonarch on May 15, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Star Trek was very uncomfortable showing the lives of normal people. Humans with an I.Q. of below 140 were generally not depicted at all. Waiters, busboys, labors were generally not shown or were shown with a creepy “happy smile” attitude that was indicative to me that the “advanced economic theroy” had really not been examined.

GunRunner on May 15, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Remember the excellent ST:TNG eppisode “Tapestry

Picard is lamenting his mis-spent youth, so Q shows him how his life had been if he had not been a hard-charger. He is shown as a crewman with no rank, doing mundane tasks with no one noticing him. A non-entity. Someone to be pitied, ignored, or reviled.

This more than anything points out to me the elitism the show was based on, and the Leftist contempt for the Everyman. Enlisted men in Trek were either not shown, or were of no consequence (Cheif O’Brian being the exception…but DS9 was the exception for realism in comparison to the others).

pseudonominus on May 15, 2009 at 4:15 PM

My trek-inclined friends actually cite this as a reason why the world will improve – people who just want to indulge themselves all the time will do so, leaving the only people who reproduce those who chose to have children. Still not clear how that will necessarily improve the gene pool.

Wouldn’t it stand to reason then that the layabouts spending all day indulging themselves would naturally produce more children (after all, there’s one leisure activity adults participate in that never gets old), while the people who work to provide for them are breeding less?

It’s like the movie “Idiocracy”. The so-called intellectuals in their fancy high-rise apartments bide their time and wait for the opportune moment to have and raise children, while the rubes are busy rutting away in the trailer parks.

TheMightyMonarch on May 15, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Do they use dilithium to treat tripolar disorder?

Daggett on May 15, 2009 at 12:22 PM

+1000

My vote for Best WTH comment on the thread. Took me about three seconds to piece it together. Still wiping up MtnDew, thanks.

TASS71 on May 15, 2009 at 4:28 PM

TheMightyMonarch on May 15, 2009 at 4:21 PM

Exactly

And while I can see that ugly can be cured with surgery, turning out vast numbers of hot Federation women, that “Gayness” could be changed with a hypospray and even ambition might be able to be put in a pill, Picard and Kirk both Lamented that they would not have any children to follow in their footsteps, while several “colonists” were shown with vast families. Riker got to feed the Gene pool with some Irish colony chick.

It shows you though, even in the future, you can’t replicate a baby, and stupid goes right to the bone.

GunRunner on May 15, 2009 at 4:37 PM

Wait a minute!! I know who mines the dilithium….

Illegal
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Wait for it…..

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Aliens

eaglescout1998 on May 15, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Oh crap. They do.

I’m reevaluating the wisdom of this proposition…

TheUnrepentantGeek on May 15, 2009 at 12:47 PM

It seems you are not the only one who has had second thoughts about how bat’leths are used… Warning, do not continue drinking your drink while reading this.

…you’re welcome. I thought so too…

TASS71 on May 15, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Enlisted men in Trek were either not shown, or were of no consequence

Aah, but there was. Remember the episode with the Federation bureaucrat conducting some kind of witch hunt? There was a half-Vulcan enlisted kid being interrogated who admitted under pressure that he lied to his superiors, and was in fact half-Romulan??!

Good God I’m a dork.

TheMightyMonarch on May 15, 2009 at 4:58 PM

artlover on May 15, 2009 at 6:51 AM

Starfleet does in fact have prisons. I believe the Tom Paris character from the Voyager series spent some time in one before becoming a member of the Marquis. The ship he was in was swept away with the Voyager into the delta quadrant where all forgiven and he was again an officer with the Federation.

boomer on May 15, 2009 at 5:54 PM

Utopia — partially foisted on the viewers by the 60′s environment and 60′s radicals who were behind the later series was the goal but there was still money and other forms of exchange. Capitalism is part of human nature no matter what they choose to call it.

Dilithium was mined by dilithium miners.

It couldn’t be replicated because of it’s unique crystalline structure. Dilithium was the only thing that could be used to control the violent matter/anti-matter reaction required for the massive amount of power required for the replicators and pretty much everything else in the Star Trek Universe.

It wasn’t toxic, it was just a controller that had to be properly aligned.

The combination of matter/anti-matter would, theoretically, cause a huge release of energy completely destroying the two substances in the process and the surrounding space/time if not controlled. When controlled the power was nearly unlimited producing even the unfathomable amounts needed for warp drive.
David

LifeTrek on May 15, 2009 at 7:30 PM

TRIVIA NOTE: A silly Star Trek joke floating about goes: “We’ve secretly replaced the Dilithium crystals with Folger’s dark roast crystals. Let’s see how long it takes for the Enterprise crew to notice…

Kini on May 15, 2009 at 8:31 PM

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