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More King v. Burwell & Star Trek


March 17 2015

Here are some other predictions for King v. Burwell, and reviews for four Star Trek episodes.

==Predicting King v. Burwell==

This continues my discussion of King v. Burwell which I describe in a previous blog entry.

The most accurate predictor of Supreme Court decisions in the world is a gentleman named Jacob Berlove. He has put up his prediction for King v. Burwell: 6-3 that the ACA subsidies will be upheld. His prediction is the exact same prediction I made.

==The {Marshall}+ prediction==

The {Marshall}+ computer program predicts that the ACA subsidies will survive, but its prediction is a little odd:

  • It predicts that Thomas will vote to uphold ACA subsidies for states without exchanges (?)
  • It predicts that Ginsburg will vote to remove ACA subsidies for states without exchanges (???). Not bloody likely, since Ginsburg, right at the start, raised questions about standing, and also raised questions about how the plaintiff’s interpretation of King v Burwell is even constitutional.

Marshall+ is pretty unsure about Roberts (52% change of upholding ACA subsidies), Thomas (51%), Kennedy (49%), and Ginsburg (48%). Since Thomas didn’t say anything during the oral arguments, the computer prediction of him upholding subsidies is interesting — and even plausible.

==Star Trek: Spoiler warning==

I am now watching episodes from the original Star Trek. Below are my thoughts on four episodes; spoilers follow. Since the story are nearly 50 years old, at this point anyone who is interested has probably already seen them.

==The Naked Time==

What makes this story great is George Takei without his shirt on swashbuckling a fencing sword. Watching him makes me wish I was gay and could fully appreciate the scene — especially in light of the fact that it came from 1966, when “Gay Pride” did not even exist.

There are other memorable scenes: Spock admitting his inner suffering (not in the script; Leonard Nimoy completely improvised this scene) and Captain Kirk talking about the sacrifices he has to make to be captain — namely, that it is impossible for him to be romantically involved and take walks on the beach because of his duties as captain. This theme of sacrificing romance and being a noble character is one I have seen in other stories from the 1960s; in To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus never remarried after losing his wife.

This story, above all, is a lighthearted look at the characters on the Enterprise and their motivations. I can see why they redid this story as one of the first episodes in Star Trek: The Next Generation; this plot is perfect for introducing the audience to all of the characters as they lose their inhibitions and reveal their true selves.

==The Enemy Within==

The premise, scientifically, of a transporter malfunction separating our internal Dr. Jekyll from Mr. Hyde is pure fantasy, but Star Trek was never hard science fiction.

The attractive girl in this story is a victim of attempted rape — and the way she reacts to it is an incredibly realistic portrait of how a woman reacts to a man raping her. It was, of course, a traumatic experience, but there was also some level of mixed feelings. There’s a reason why women often times do not react to rape appropriately (call the police immediately, get a rape kit and every other possible bit of evidence for the inevitable trial where the rapist will try and claim the sex was consensual), which this episode portrays beautifully.

Sadly, truth emulated fiction a little too closely: The actress playing the attractive girl and attempted rape victim ended up being a victim of a real rape on the set of Star Trek; in the aftermath, she ended up being fired. Women’s rights, thankfully, have made a lot of progress since then.

The reason they do not solve Sulu’s problem (well acted by George Takei) with a shuttle craft is because the Enterprise did not have a shuttle yet; fans have retconned the issue by saying the upper atmosphere of Alfa 177 made it impossible to bring a shuttlecraft through.

This story is a well-written look at our psychological nature, and the need for our dark side, but the story is one which could have been told in 30 minutes; I get the sense that a lot of filler was added to this episode to give it a 50 minute run.

==Mudd’s Women==

Beauty is only skin deep. In this comedy-themed episode (which still makes me laugh after all these years), we meet three beautiful women. But where does their beauty come from?

The best part of the episode is the relationship between Eve and miner Ben Childress. Ben is intimidated when he finds out that Eve is smarter than he is, and that Eve’s beauty is temporary. Eve doesn’t want to be seen as beautiful, yet Ben’s marriage to her is based strictly on physical attraction. Kirk resolves the problem by a psychological trick to make Eve being out her inner beauty.

While this episode impressed me as a child, I find the way all of the men fawn over the women downright annoying rewatching this episode. The women are not treated like human beings, but objects of the men’s lust, seen as goddesses and not people.

Sulu’s reaction to the ladies is muted; while he can appreciate their beauty, he is not overwhelmed by desire the way other men are. This is because George Takei, the actor playing Sulu, is gay, a fact reflected in his character.

This episode is a good look at how shallow lust really is, and how foolish it is for men to think any woman, no matter how beautiful, is somehow a goddess.

==What Are Little Girls Made Of?==

This is the first episode where the “redshirts” killed to demonstrate the danger the main characters are in are, indeed, wearing red shirts. Two redshirts get killed in total. There is also a scene, which has become an internet meme, where William Shatner is holding an object that looks a little like a penis.

The best parts of the story include scenes with the beautiful Sherry Jackson who plays an innocent and naive robot that was programmed to be a sex toy, as well as a well-filmed scene where William Shatner talks to his double.

The plot is a fairly standard action story with an interesting take on how machines can not have empathy the way humans can, and how that lack of empathy can be dangerous.

==More to come==

I will be watching more episodes of the original 1960s Star Trek and will continue to post my thoughts here on my blog.

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