Gene Roddenberry and Animal Rights

Captain’s Log: Stardate 201704.30. Last week we watched and analyzed “The Devil in the Dark” and learned about Gene Roddenberry’s views on animal rights. In Judith Barad’s book The Ethics of Star Trek, Roddenberry says that although he was not a vegetarian, he had serious concerns about factory farms and that he hoped someday to be able to eat a steak without killing an animal. Ethicist Tom Regan also discusses the conditions necessary for an animal to be a “Subject of a Life” which Barad applies to the very intelligent animal (the Horta) encountered in the episode. Just as interesting, in my view, is the fact that William Shatner’s father passed away while he was filming this episode, but didn’t let it affect his performance. Say what you like about Shatner’s acting, I think he’s a real pro, and he shined in this episode. Attached are public domain photos of Roddenberry and Shatner for your edification. Live long and prosper.

Netflix and Star Trek

Captain’s Log: Stardate 201704.27. I just checked Netflix Korea and found that they now have ALL THREE SEASONS of Star Trek TOS available with Korean subtitles. Since there are no TOS DVDs or Blu-rays available here, and there probably never will, this is as good as it gets in Korea. Now my students have a convenient and inexpensive way to watch Star Trek with Korean subtitles, and I couldn’t be happier. Here once again is a public domain photo for your enjoyment. Live long and prosper.


Starfleet Academy Diploma

Captain’s Log: Stardate 201704.19. The mid-term exam for cadets at the Kyung Hee Campus of Starfleet Academy is the day after tomorrow. If history is any guide, and it usually is, some students will not show up for the exam because they finally realize that they should have heeded my warnings at the beginning of the semester. I warned them that this class is much more difficult than simply watching an old TV show. Oh well. Attached is my diploma from Starfleet Academy, which hangs on the wall of my office. My actual diplomas from King’s College and Dalhousie, where I really went to school, are in a tube in my guest room, undisplayed. Don’t get me wrong because I am proud to be a graduate of these great universities, but they are in my past now, and I am looking to the future. May you live long and prosper. You can get your own Starfleet Academy diploma here.

Starfleet Academy Diploma

The Cloudminders

Captain’s Log: Stardate 201704.16.

“This troubled planet is a place of the most violent contrasts — those who receive the rewards are totally separated from those who shoulder the burdens. It is not a wise leadership.” — Spock

The Cloudminders is one of those episodes that I didn’t really care for until I started teaching ethics. The episode clearly demonstrates that social injustice can lead to violence, and possibly catastrophe for the inhabitants of planet Merak II because they desperately need Zenite from the troubled planet Ardana. Kirk’s decision to seal himself along with Vanna and the High Advisor of Ardana in the cave was a very effective way to bridge the gap between the two sides and eventually lead to mutual understanding, maybe even peace and equality. A very good episode, especially for season 3. I attach another public domain photo for your edification. Live long and prosper.


The History of Star Trek in Korea

Captain’s Log: Stardate 201704.12. I had a Korean friend do some research on the history of Star Trek in Korea, and here is what she told me. She said TOS aired briefly in the 1970s, was dubbed into Korean, and didn’t stay on very long. Keep in mind that Korea was still a very poor country in the 1970s, with few people owning a TV. Later, in the mid-90s, TNG was on Korean TV, once again dubbed into Korean, and it didn’t last the first season. When I came to Korea in 2002, Voyager was on the Hallmark Channel in Seoul, but this time it had Korean subtitles. Sadly though, my cable company quickly dropped the Hallmark Channel. The original and TNG Star Trek movies, from The Motion Picture onwards, were released in Korea, and were available on DVD, but they are exceedingly rare and hard to find these days. I was lucky to get Star Trek I-IV on DVDs with Korean subtitles for my class. What does all this mean? It means that most Koreans have little to no knowledge of REAL Star Trek, of creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future. In a small way, I am the man who has brought classic Star Trek back to Korea, albeit decades later. I have been teaching Star Trek since 2014, but I have just been informed that TOS is FINALLY available on Netflix Korea, however only season 1 at the moment. Seasons from TNG, DS9 and Voyager are at last on Netflix Korea too. Let’s hope this won’t be another passing fad here. In closing, I have attached another public domain photo. May you live long and prosper.

Kirk Spock Public Domain

The City on the Edge of Forever

Captain’s Log: Stardate 201704.11. The City on the Edge of Forever is easily one of the most compelling episodes of the original series, and we watch and analyze it in my class. According to Sara O’Hare, Nietzsche would describe Kirk as a Tragic Hero, whose private relationship, not to mention his happiness, must be sacrificed for the public good (to save humanity), whereas Spock is the Apollonian figure who represents logic and rational thinking, and McCoy is the chaotic, emotional Dionysian figure who must be stopped from saving Edith Keeler to prevent a chain reaction that will cause the Nazis to win World War II. A fan favourite and one of mine too. Below is a public domain photo of William Shatner as Kirk, although it is not from this episode.