My review of “Star Trek: Beyond”

I’m trying to just talk about the movie itself here, and not about past Trek movies and TV shows and my own nearly lifelong relationship with the series. I can’t do it.

In the new movie, the characters seemed most true to the original series. In earlier JJ Abrams Trek movies, Kirk especially but all the characters seemed like children. Chris Pine is 36 years old now — a year older than William Shatner was when he started playing Kirk. He’s believable.

I had a lot of problems with the first two movies in this series. For me, there were a couple of themes that were always important to Trek. The Federation sought peaceful solutions to problems, and only resorted to violence when the peaceful solution proved impossible. Of course, this being a science fiction action-adventure series, the peaceful solution was impossible just about every episode. But they tried for peace first.

The new series of movies seemed too bloodthirsty. In the first two movies, Kirk and the gang were going after vengeance. True Trek doesn’t do vengeance. Vengeance is for the bad guys.

A second major theme of the movies was that the Federation was a meritocracy. Captain Kirk was born a nobody, an Iowa farmboy. He achieved his position through hard work and ability (and, sure, cheating on the Kobayashi Maru — but still that was his work). In the new movies, Kirk gets in Starfleet Academy because his Dad was an officer. He doesn’t get his position from hard work and talent. He inherits it.

But all that baggage is gone now. The new movie finds the Enterprise on a rescue mission gone wrong. Kirk has now earned the captaincy he previously inherited — and he has his doubts about what he’s doing. He’s burned out.

I loved the opening sequence. There’s a real sense of the ship being a tiny little bubble of comfort and safety in the indifferent vastness of space. I don’t remember that from any of the series or other movies.

The character interplay was easygoing. They’ve been cooped up together in this tiny bottle for three years. They know each other very well, better than family.

Likewise, I loved the bits at the end, after the bad guy has been vanquished.

In the middle…. too much action. I love a good action movie, but today’s action movies seem to be ALL action. It needs pacing.

Julie got motion sickness from all the swooping camera angles.

The sets and special effects were gorgeous, particularly the Yorktown, one of the most science-fictional things I’ve ever seen on the big screen.

I liked that every one of the major characters got a turn to shine. Scotty and Jaylah stole it. Or maybe Spock and Bones stole it. Or maybe it was Kirk and Chekov. Poor Anton Yelchin — I don’t remember him from the previous movies. In those movies, he seemed like just an extra with a few speaking lines and a Russian accent. He was quite good in “Star Trek: Beyond.”

I liked that the women were portrayed as powerful and self-reliant, the equal of men. The second J.J. Abrams movie in particular was all about the white men, except for one scene where a female scientist strips to her underwear for no particular reason.

I loved the new character, Jaylah. I hope we see more of her in future movies.

I loved that we got to see some real alien-looking aliens, who didn’t just look like human actors wearing rubber masks.

I thought the main storyline was confusing. I get the broad strokes, but I was confused on the details. Who were all the other people on the planet with the main villain? Where did he get the swarming thingies he used to take down the Enterprise? What was the origin of the superweapon?

I could have used more Idris Elba acting, rather than just being a generic science fiction villain.

Overall, I liked it. Didn’t love it. Looking forward to the next movie, and the TV series in January.

As Israel Prospers, Obama Set to Give Billions More in Aid While Netanyahu Demands Even More

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept:

For all the chatter about animosity between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, The Washington Post reports that “a senior Israeli official will arrive in Washington next week for a final round of negotiations involving the largest military aid package the United States has ever given any country and that will last more than a decade after President Obama leaves office.” The U.S. already transfers $3.1 billion in taxpayer money every year to Israel – more than any other country by far – but the new agreement Obama is set to sign “significantly raises” that amount, and guarantees it for 10 years.

In response to this massive windfall, Netanyahu is angry that he is not getting even more.

As Israel Prospers, Obama Set to Give Billions More in Aid While Netanyahu Demands Even More

Israelis enjoy universal health care coverage, while 10.4% of the US population is without health insurance — Israelis get better care for less money than we spend, Greenwald notes. They have longer life expectancies and better infant mortality.

Maybe Israel ought to be sending money to the US?

“The Martian” author Andy Weir: stun weapons like Star Trek phasers would be fantastic

I say Weir has a vastly overoptomistic view of humanity. Rapists would absolutely love a weapon that could render a victim unconscious quickly and reliably, as would kidnappers and terrorists collecting hostages.

I see a possibility for a whole series of crime stories. Larry Niven did something similar in the 1960s about the criminal possibilities of matter transmitters, like Star Trek transporters. Likewise, Vernor Vinge imagined the criminal possibilities of a field inside of which time stopped.

vintagegeekculture.tumblr.com

Trailer for the “Gilmore Girls” comeback this year. Excited!

Julie got me into this show when it first aired. I stayed away because I thought it had girl cooties. Which it does but I guess I have girl cooties because I love “Gilmore Girls.”

Earlier this year we started to rewatch the show but Julie was all, “Meh. I’m done with Gilmore Girls.” And then I heard there was going to be a revival and I was all OMGOMGOMGsqueeeeeeee!! and Julie was all “meh.”

Donald Trump’s slander of Captain Humayun Khan’s family is horrifying, even for Trump

Ezra Klein, Vox:

If you would like to see Ghazala Khan speak, you can do so in this interview she gave to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. As Fallows writes, she breaks down sobbing while speaking of her son. It suggests she let her husband give the DNC speech for a simple reason: she remains overwhelmed by grief.

This is the woman Trump decided to slander. This is the gauge of his cruelty….

Trump also wanted the Khans to know that, like them, he had sacrificed for this country.

“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” Trump said. “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

I honestly do not understand how a human being can respond to a family that lost their son for this country by saying that he has sacrificed too, he’s worked really hard, he’s built “great structures.”

Donald Trump’s slander of Captain Humayun Khan’s family is horrifying, even for Trump

Donald Trump, coward and chickenhawk, criticizes the parents of a dead war hero

Donald Trump responds to the Khan family: ‘Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say’ – Philip Bump, The Washington Post.

Donald Trump has spoken out about Khizr Khan, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq who issued a devastating critique of Trump at the Democratic convention.

Khan, his wife, Ghazala, at his side, demanded that Trump read the Constitution when considering his proposal to bar Muslims from the country, pulling a copy of the document of his pocket and offering to lend it to the Republican nominee. Had Trump’s policies been in place, he said, his family wouldn’t have been in the country, and his son Humayun Khan would not have served in Iraq, giving his life to save his men. “You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” Khan said to Trump.

Trump’s response to the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd was brief: “I’d like to hear his wife say something.”

If your assumption was that Trump was suggesting that, as a Muslim woman, Ghazala Khan may have been forced into a position of subservience, Trump made that point explicitly in an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos.

“I saw him,” Trump said of the speech. “He was very emotional and probably looked like a nice guy to me. His wife … if you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say.”

“She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me,” Trump continued.

Trump the coward also says he sacrificed plenty, creating thousands of jobs and donating to veterans’ causes. Because that’s totally the same as dying for your country.

Always, Donald says “maybe… you tell me.” The big orange baby can’t just state his bigotry outright.

Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz calls Apple’s tax strategy ‘a fraud’

Jeanna Smialek and Alex Webb, Bloomberg:

“Here we have the largest corporation in capitalization not only in America, but in the world, bigger than GM was at its peak, and claiming that most of its profits originate from about a few hundred people working in Ireland — that’s a fraud,” Stiglitz said. “A tax law that encourages American firms to keep jobs abroad is wrong, and I think we can get a consensus in America to get that changed.”

Apple has a corporate structure that allows it to transfer money to low-tax jurisdictions, and one of those is Ireland, where the corporate tax rate is 12.5 percent — far below the U.S. top statutory rate of 35 percent. The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, is probing whether Ireland violated the bloc’s state-aid rules by helping Apple lower its Irish tax liability.

 Apple, which declined to comment on Stiglitz’s remarks, has firmly denied using any tax gimmicks, telling an EU tax panel in March that it had paid all of its taxes due in Ireland. Apple employs 5,500 people in Ireland, according to its website.

Stiglitz Calls Apple’s Profit Reporting in Ireland ‘a Fraud’ – Bloomberg

Via Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing, who says:

Apple, Google and other tech giants have shown themselves to be capable of resisting government demands when it suits their interests — see, for example, Apple’s brave and admirable stance on being forced to compromise its cryptography — but when it comes to things like paying its fair share of tax to compensate its host nations for the educations provided to its workforce, the roads they drive on, the courts and laws that defend their interests, and the health systems that keep the majority of their workforce dying from TB or yellow fever, the companies’ stance is “We comply with all laws and pay as much tax as they require.”