Image found on Facebook
Today, Monday, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day. I found that out on Facebook when it was associated with the television and film franchise Star Trek, and the original series debuted on September 8, 1966. That anniversary was only two days ago.
I hadn’t realized these Star Trek related actors had all committed suicide, including TV and film icon Brian Keith. Most people know that Robin Williams committed suicide, and I think I recall that Get Smart actor Ed Platt (“the Chief”) took his own life.
I’ve been wanting to write about something today, but the topic eluded me until just a few minutes ago. Decades ago, I worked for a suicide prevention hotline in Berkeley, California, on the “graveyard” shift, so, as you can imagine, I’ve talked with many people who had been having tough times.
Image of the Galileo shuttlecraft from the Star Trek episode “The Galileo Seven” – Found at memory-alpha.wikia.com
Charlton Ortega piloted his light scout ship “Lily Sloane” into the nebulous Murasaki 312 quasar-like formation at half impulse power not knowing if he and his three crew mates would make it back out again.
“Shields are nominal. Continuing sensor sweep. Still nothing.” Helen Olssen was both the ship’s systems expert and Ortega’s lover, and they were nothing alike. While he was impulsive, adventurous, and as dark as his Inca ancestors, the Swede from Uppsala was fair-skinned, blond to the point of having almost white hair, conservative, reserved, and studious. If Retenox Five hadn’t been invented, she would have been a natural for a pair of horned rim glasses.
“This whole area for a diameter of twelve light years is completely infused in a shell of hard radiation. If our shields drop even for a few seconds, we’ll sizzle like bacon on a griddle.” The navigator’s east Texas accent was what Ortega called “thick enough to cut with a knife.” Bethany “Red” Harrington checked her navcom against the readings of the old shuttlecraft that had visited the unknown planet more than a century ago. They’d been uploaded to the Enterprise’s ancient duotronic-based information system seconds before the Galileo Seven had burned up in the atmosphere, and hopefully they’d be enough to guide the Sloane on its mission. “You sure you can fly this thing under these conditions, Charlie?”
Behind the scenes of the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
If you like science fiction and/or are a Star Trek fan, you’ve probably seen the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982) a time or two. In the movie, the late Ricardo Montalban reprised his role as Khan Noonien Singh which he first played in the original Star Trek series episode Space Seed (1967). I must admit that “Wrath of Khan” is one of my two favorite Star Trek films, the other being Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991).
Some of you may know that Montalban also played the lead in a television show popular in the 1970s and early ’80s called Fantasy Island. Montalban portrayed the mysterious Mr. Roarke who had a diminutive assistant called Tattoo, who was played by Hervé Villechaize. Villechaize’s most famous line from the series is “The plane, the plane” (you had to be there).
I found a behind-the-scenes photo from “Wrath of Kahn” on a Facebook group called Science Fiction Cult Classics. It depicts Montalban as Kahn laughing at some inflated figure with Villechaize’s face on it, placed on the set as a gag.
This probably won’t be funny to anyone who didn’t see the television show and the film back in the day, but I thought I’d share anyway.
I won’t attempt eloquence at this. Many people, like National Review correspondents Jonah Goldberg or Kevin D. Williamson, have eloquently criticized famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ill-conceived Tweet of last week: “Earth needs a virtual country: #Rationalia, with a one-line Constitution: All policy shall be based on the weight of evidence[.]” His Tweet was followed by a compilation of photos of prominent scientists such as Carolyn Porco and Richard Dawkins holding a sign stating, “Citizen of #Rationalia.”
“Neil deGrasse Tyson’s #Rationalia: A World Where Evidence is God? ”
Tyson has taken plenty of heat for this, and probably rightly so. One of the better commentaries was published at New Scientist and is called “A rational nation ruled by science would be a terrible idea”
Tyson is a very smart man, but this is not a smart idea. It is even, we might say, unreasonable and without sufficient evidence. Of course, imagining a society in which everyone behaves logically sounds appealing. But employing logic to consider the concept reveals that there could be no such thing.
There has always been a hope, especially as elites became less religious, that science would do more than simply provide a means for learning about the world around us. Science should also teach us how to live, pointing us towards the salvation that religion once promised. You can see this in any of the secular utopianisms of the 20th century, whether it’s the Third Reich, scientific Marxism, or the “modernisation thesis” of Western capitalism.
Yet each of these has since been summarily dismissed, and usually for the same two reasons.
Tyson is a rational person and from his perspective, what better basis is there for a society than rationality? He and Star Trek’s Mr. Spock would probably get along well, except…