geeks in space

From io9, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Spaceship Captains. Click the link for full justification, but here’s a summary of the captain and the lesson:

1. The Prime Directive is just a suggestion.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Enterprise, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Lesson learned? Rules are made to be broken.

2. Always shoot first.
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain, Serenity – Firefly)
Lesson learned? Show your crew that you’re willing to take a bullet for them, and they’ll do the same for you.

3. Don’t be afraid to hook up with a cute spaceman.
Leela (Futurama)
Lesson learned? A good leader has to get laid once in a while, and she shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

4. When you’re about to go genocidal, get a second opinion.
Admiral William Adama (Battlestar Galactica)
Lesson learned? True leaders do not ever make decisions alone.

5. Just because you have a crappy ship doesn’t mean you’re a loser.
Han Solo (Captain, Millennium Falcon – Star Wars; god help you if you don’t know that one)
Lesson learned? Every crappy PC is a lean, mean Linux box waiting to be born. Oh, and in case that didn’t make sense: It’s not the tools; it’s what you do with them.

6. Freedom fighters make good teammates
Captain Janeway (Star Trek: Voyager)
Lesson learned? A little subversion goes a long way.

7. There is always somebody out there who can bend spacetime better than you can.
Captain: AI Ship Sleeper Service (AI that captains itself)
Lesson learned? No matter how in control you are, always be ready for something for which you’re completely unprepared.

If I were doing the list, I would probably swap out Leela – I don’t watch Futurama – and replace her with Jack O’Neill (Stargate: SG-1). The lesson learned would probably be something about a good leader using humour for group cohesion/loyalty, or the value of using both brain and brawn. Or maybe just that there’s always time for a good Simpsons joke…

It’s Stronger Than A Shark

And because it’s come up not once, or even twice, but three times this week, here’s the cold open of Stargate Atlantis that talks about (and pokes delightful fun at) Phillipa Foot’s trolley problem.

Also, I’ve determined that Sarah Connor is the ultimate consequentialist. Of what particular type, I haven’t yet decided (although I’m leaning towards ethical altruism).

Edited to add:
Since the video keeps disappearing from the internet, here’s a transcript.

Rodney: Let me ask you a question. Say there’s a runaway train. It’s hurtling out of control towards ten people standing in the middle of the tracks. The only way to save those people is to flip a switch — send the train down another set of tracks. The only problem is there is a baby in the middle of those tracks.
Teyla: Why would anyone leave a baby in harm’s way like that?
Rodney: I don’t know. That’s not the point. Look, it’s an ethical dilemma. Look, Katie Brown brought it up over dinner the other night. The question is: is it appropriate to divert the train and kill the one baby to save the ten people?
Ronon: Wouldn’t the people just see the train coming and move?
Rodney: No. No, they wouldn’t see it.
Ronon: Why not?
Rodney: Well … (he sighs) … Look, I don’t know — say they’re blind.
Teyla: All of them?
Rodney: Yes, all of them.
Ronon: Then why don’t you just call out and tell them to move out of the way?
Rodney: Well, because they can’t hear you.
John: What, they’re deaf too?
(Rodney throws him a look)
John: How fast is the train going?
Rodney: Look, the speed doesn’t matter!
John: Well, sure it does. If it’s going slow enough, you could outrun it and shove everyone to the side.
Ronon: Or better yet, go get the baby.
Rodney: For God’s sake! I was just trying to …

Stargate Atlantis: Conversion

“I know you have a high threshhold of pain, but this is…
…gone.”
“What?”
“Gone.”

Heh. Dr. Beckett gets a lot of the good lines on Atlantis. Geeks abound! Geeks abound!

Don’t feel like doing a writeup of this, but I am surprised by how much I really liked this episode. I was expecting it to be relatively trite and irritating. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by an intense and character driven episode. The horror aspects were well done, and I really liked how Rodney reacted to everything. It was obvious how much he cared, and how impotent he felt in the face of something that could only be solved by something outside his field. Also, the interplay between Weir and Sheppard was incredibly thick with emotion; it was nice to see the two play so strongly off one another.

I really, really liked this episode. Might just be the best of the season.

Stargate SG1: Babylon

“Well done, Bones.”

*chuckle* Nice. Glad they did that nod. (Sorry, I don’t really feel like a writeup this evening. Story didn’t much move me, although I liked the bits with the Prior. They’re just popping up everywhere, aren’t they?)

Stargate Atlantis: Trinity

Random comments:

- Aaah, Teyla has a bulldog. How cute! She’s going to kick his ass the minute she gets the chance…
- The Daedalus is leaving. Wonder if that will come up on Stargate in the next few weeks, to see Daniel refusing going to the Pegasus galaxy.
- Hey! Nice redress of the Ori village!
- Oooh, bad Ronan. That’s really gonna piss Teyla off. There goes his chances with her.

Okay, now then, to the story. Oh my. Could I possibly love McKay any more? I keep thinking no, it’s not possible, and then I’m proven wrong. David Hewlett is an awesome, incredible actor. This episode highlighted the “best” of Rodney’s incredible arrogance, and finally showed him coming against something he can’t handle, fix, or even get his massive brain around. It’s nice to finally see his comeuppance, even if it had to be a program/weapon that did it, as opposed to an actual person. I’m also rather impressed that Shepperd had some of the necessary knowledge to stay up with McKay; Shepperd often comes arcoss as the dumb military muscle, and seeing that he does have a brain is an unusual event.

I found the intersplicing of two totally separate stories to be really irritating, and breaking the tensions existing in either. I realize that writing a story that focuses solely on certain characters runs the risk of alienating fans, but it also seems that fans won’t stop watching based on a single episode. I’d rather have had Teyla and Ronan’s story in one, McKay and the others in another. It would have flowed much better.

Seeing Elizabeth chewing out Rodney out through Teyla and Ronan’s return was a nice touch; it might have been a bit much to see it up close. But the last bit of dialogue between McKay and Shepperd, regaining trust… seeing McKay at his most arrogance, and then at the end at his most vulnerable, hoping for trust and seeing that he’s not going to get it. Well, it had just the effect that the writers wanted. McKay needing to regain the trust of the people he respects the most will be an interesting motivation for the character.