We got back and were just settling in after the amusement park stuff, but then my love turned on the TV and what do you know but Star Trek: Voyager was on? And not just any moment of its, like, 850,000 hours of talking about chronometric isofluctuations, but the scene that made My Love finally decide to hate Captain Janeway with the white-hot intensity of a thousand burning transwarp macrophases? So we’ve been busy watching that instead and trying to remember stuff about Voyager without looking it up. Remembering stuff is a fun old pastime, something done today mostly by podcasters recording a live episode while on stage when they’re away from their cell phones. We do it recreationally. Anyway, we’ve been trying to remember exactly what the deal with B’elanna was. Our best estimate right now is that she’s half-Klingon and half- … smart? That seems right but that can’t be everything, right? Research continues, at least until we hit that episode where Janeway and whats-his-name get turned into space lizards. That one happened, right? Actually I’d watch that again. It was awful but in the good ways.
My love discovered on Wikipedia the old English game of snap-dragon (“also known as snapdragon”), and it’s a bundle of wonderful things. The game, apparently, was one in which you poured brandy into a wide, shallow bowl, set it on fire, and then try to grab raisins out of the brandy. Only a cheater would fail to put raisins in. And yes, you might get burned, but that’s … I guess that’s the dragon part of things. It was popular from about the 16th through the 19th centuries, which reminds us that was also the height of competitive shin-kicking. Which is not even my joke but was part of the Cotswold Olimpick Games alongside beating each other with cudgels. Also competitive dancing while the opposite team throws a beer-soaked rag at you.
Anyway, there’s a lot that’s wonderful about the article so I recommend you read it yourself. If you can’t be bothered, fine, but do please enjoy this low-scale edit war playing out in tossing a heap of sentences onto each other and sprinkling  tags on the opponent’s pieces:
Nevertheless, children often burnt their little hands or mouths playing this game, which may have led to the practice mostly dying out in the early 20th century. In some families, this tradition continues to be practiced and enjoyed even into the 21st century.
So suppose some alien agency does find the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes and finds the golden record on them. That’s fine enough. And I imagine that they’d be able to work out what the disc was for, since aliens skilled enough to catch a space probe like that probably understand sound waves well enough and can work out what engraved wiggles probably are. And going from a long spiral wiggle to, you know, playing the sound is probably straightforward enough. But what happens if they take that recording of the sounds of Earth and play it backwards? Huh? What then?
Again I’m not saying we have to do something about this right this minute. We can wait until we have some idea what to do about it. I’d just like to know that somebody’s got the problem under control.
It’s the 24th century. Why are people having meetings in the lobby of a Cracker Barrel?
If you know or have a better thought what to do with this picture, please, use the space here. I’m mostly including a picture like this to pad out pointing over to my mathematics blog, which had some more comic strips to talk about the other day, which was yesterday. Suggested topic: why is Barclay’s cat eating a heaping dish of Brain Ice Cream? Is that really healthy for a creature made of live Photoshop “dry brush” pen strokes?
Tom Paris, the one holding his fingers together: “And if we combine the supporting casts of Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine we’ll form this mighty pop cultural armada so powerful that within five years people will ask `William Shatner who?’ … are you ready to join us?”
Quark, the bartender rocking the Rhoda outfit: “Yeah, you’re cut off.”
And here’s some space for your own captions, if you’ve got a better one.
And finally my mathematics blog talked about comic strips yesterday. All goes well it’ll talk about them tomorrow too.
I want it clear that I am not being kept awake at night by this thought. I have better things to steal my precious and sorely needed moments of rest from me. But I do have this thought coming. You know how the Voyager spacecraft have some gold-printed records with sounds of Earth, everything from children laughter to greetings from Jimmy Carter to Chuck Berry music, on them? Suppose it is ever picked up by aliens who figure out what the record is and the basics of how to play it. How do we keep them from playing the record backwards?
I know, I know, there’s supposed to be instructions on how to play it that we think aliens clever enough to grab a space probe will be able to work out. But I also know that humans are fantastically sucky at coming up with instructions for things. There’s packages of macaroni and cheese with instructions I find intolerable ambiguities in. Communicating how to set up and play a record to creatures with presumably no understanding of human norms? There’s no chance we’ve gotten that anywhere near right.
And all right, so it won’t be a big problem if a quarter-million years from now some aliens we don’t even know yet hear Chuck Berry backwards. And even if they play the record the right way around we won’t know that they won’t mishear things and come to Earth looking for more Chuck Barris. That’s at least something we get for the bother of being mortals.
Also, you know what? You could use a little Sparks in your life. Enjoy.
“I came into Star Fleet for the action, the excitement. Go anywhere, travel light, get in, get out, wherever there’s trouble, a man alone. Now they got the whole starship sectioned off, you can’t make a move without a form.”
The wrong riff? Could be. Please, enjoy this space for one of your own, or someone else’s:
Meanwhile, over on my mathematics blog, there were a couple comic strips for Pi Day. Also some general mathematics stuff. You’ll enjoy them, I hope.
Janeway: “Can opener?”
Did I get it wrong? Maybe. Let me know if you have the right caption in mind. Also, if you’re interested in mathematically-themed comic strips, I talked about a couple of them the other day and you might like that.
Before we get to the main stuff. My mathematics blog? I had a couple more comic strips to talk about yesterday. Yes, one of them is Barney Google. I think you might enjoy it anyway. A lot of cartoonists did jokes about gambling last week, for some reason. Now:
Ray Walston Character: “Humans. Humans think of themselves as the supreme beings of their universe, the masters of their destiny — if not now, then at least, as beings who will be someday masters of their destiny. And yet as you explore the universe, its great potentials, its vast failures, its diversity of form and thought and expression, you come to a realization. The fatal flaw of the species, my friends, one I imagine that will never be overcome, is that humans are quite mediocre at discerning whether very different shapes enclose approximately equal volumes.”
Go ahead, top me with a better caption. I can take it, I’ll pretend.
While it’s no Apartment 3-G update, my mathematics blog does talk about comic strips today, and works out whether a cartoonist’s joke 20 years ago about TV schedules actually makes sense. Please consider reading that. I think it’s worth it. Now on to making fun of a picture.
Chakotay: “According to the next five weeks of scripts all I do is play a chair.”
Janeway: “We want to use your strengths.”
Wrong caption? Wrong response? Wrong Janeway? Take the space here, please, and offer folks a better one. I won’t fume too long about a funnier line.
I spent a considerable part of that dream trying to work out exactly which crazypants episode of Star Trek: Voyager it was. It was yet another episode where Tuvok comes down with temporary insanity. This time I’m pretty certain it was meant to teach an endearingly sincere but klunky message about toleration. It just did it in the form of Tuvok being caught in a quasi-hallucinatory state where he shifts between the starship and being maybe in the past, maybe shifting back to Actual Planet Vulcan where he’s gradually realizing he’s too enthusiastic about hunting down the packs of cyborg Vulcan kangaroos rampaging through the endless desert. I think the cyborg Vulcan kangaroos might have had antennas, which suggests they might be an invasive species, possibly from the Andorian worlds. No, they didn’t display any ice powers.
Anyway, the cinematography on this was just fantastic. I mean, this was clearly the episode of the year where they were trying, with a deliberate color design and on-location shooting with deep focus so you can do stunts like have the attention on some tiny thing in the distance and have someone walk in the near foreground, crisp and sharp. I think they might’ve been using 70mm film for some of it. So I’m a little disappointed I didn’t see how it all turned out, but I’m going to go ahead and suppose that Tuvok came to decide he didn’t want to be prejudiced, but rather wanted to come to hate people individually and for his own reasons, not those he picked up from society.
I think it was an episode from before Seven of Nine joined the show. I’m pretty sure they rescued Neelix from the cyborg Vulcan(?) kangaroo mob, unless it turns out that he only died in a hallucination or something like that. That’s to be expected I guess.
You really forget just how different the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 looked.
Have I captioned it wrong? Possibly. I think “Boy, the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 looked totally different” might be a better version of the same joke, for example. Or there might be some other joke possible. Let me know!
Voyager: “Hey! Hey guys! Guys? Are you going somewhere? Where are you going? Can I come with you where you’re going? I can come with you, right? Where are you gonna go? Is it to the pizza place? Mommy said I can come with you if you’re just going to pizza. If you’re going to the pizza place it’s okay if I come along, right? Because Mommy said I can cross at the lights now and there’s two lights to the pizza place, so you don’t even have to hold my hand or anything. If you wait a second I can come with you and I even have some money for the games. If you hold up I bet Mommy’ll give me money for my own pizza too, so there’s no reason I can’t come with you. I can come with you, right? Guys? Guys, can I come where you’re going? I can come where you’re going if you wait for me a second. Guys? Where are you going? Can I come? I can come if you let me. What’re you gonna do when you get there? Is it something I can do too? I bet I can do it wherever you’re going. Guys? Can I come? Guys? Guys? Hey?”
Is there a better caption? Possibly. For example, obviously, there’s one of the Voyager gang saying, “We should be all right as long as that starship doesn’t keep following us around”. Or maybe something else. Let me know, please.
Another day in the Delta Quadrant, another horrifying fact about Neelix’s anatomy that Captain Janeway can’t un-learn.
Have I captioned this wrong? Let me know what it should have been instead. Or let’s just grump about how everybody calls him Geordi, instead of LaForge or by his rank or position or anything.
Mutated Lizard-Man Tom Paris ponders, “You know, I thought this would make me happy for sure.”