Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Star Trek

Saturday video break: It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie

Combining two of my favorite things in this post, beginning with the Asylum Street Spankers:

Man, I miss these guys. I caught every show they did in Houston for several years running, including some in the most smoke-filled room in town, a dive called Rudyard’s, back before the city’s no-smoking ordinance was extended to bars and other non-eateries. Probably took a couple of years off my life, but it was worth it. They owned any stage they were on, and their range and musicianship could not be beaten. Oh, and they all had potty mouths, as I probably should have warned you before you played that clip. Oh, well.

Did you know that Brent Spiner, a/k/a Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation released an album back when that show was on the air? It was called Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back, and it featured this song. You can probably guess what happened next:

With bonus Patrick Stewart, even. This, THIS, is why the Internet was invented. Anyone who tells you otherwise is telling you a lie. And you know what telling a lie is.

UPDATE: How about this, from the Quebe Sisters?

Awesome. Thanks to Ginger in the comments for the recommendation.

Friday random ten – To the stars

Because Audrey got to watch “Star Trek: Into Darkness” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with us last December, that’s why.

1. Science Fiction/Double Feature – from “Rocky Horror Picture Show”
2. Enterprise-Sulu Medley – Hi-Fidelity
3. The Saga Begins – Weird Al Yankovic
4. Star Wars – Moosebutter
5. Star Wars Medley – Lager Rhythms
6. Starships – Pentatonix
7. Beam Me Up, Scotty – Feo y Loco
8. UFO Attack – Asylum Street Spankers
9. Space Oddity – David Bowie
10. Mean Green Mother From Outer Space – Audrey II

She asked when the next Star Trek movie would be out as soon as the credits were rolling (it showed on TV and I grabbed it for the TiVo). Thankfully, the answer to that is “July 22”, which happens to be exactly one week after the “Ghostbusters” reboot that both of my girls are super excited about. It’s going to be a good summer.

Astrodome: Deep Space Nine

This is now my favorite idea for What To Do With The Dome.

Houston, the final frontier

Right now the folks in Houston are trying to figure out what to do with the Astrodome, which has been sitting vacant for several years. Many plans for the dome have fallen by the wayside, including this multi-use approach which I really like. I’m going to throw my esteemed hat into the ring and declare that the Astrodome be converted into Deep Space Nine.

That’s right: a mega Star Trek tourist destination in the very city where the Space Program resides. This resort would look and feel like the space station seen in the show.

This is made possible by building the central hub and encircling promenade in the middle of the field, with three bridges that connect to the existing concourse in the Astrodome. The dome’s circular shape is quite handy here!

Thanks to the dome you can create a lot of celestial facades within, making it feel like you’re in deep space when you’re looking out of the windows of the station.

The resort would feature a hotel with lots of “housing quarters”, restaurants, bars, shops, and a casino (Quark’s bar and casino, naturally). In addition to the main bridge and promenade, other destinations would include “docked” spaceships like the Defiant. There is still plenty of real estate in the dome to include rides, a few space museums (of the non-fiction and science-fiction variety), Imax theaters, and so on.

Click over to see his illustration of how this would work. I don’t care how feasible this is or what the financing situation is, this needs to happen. Who’s with me on this? Link via Swamplot.

Saturday video break: Boldly going forward

This past week, a life-size cutout of Captain Kirk appeared in my office. That’s as good a reason as any for this:

I love the classics, don’t you?

Petitions to overturn homeless feeding ordinance submitted

There’s plenty of signatures, but no guarantee that this will make it onto the ballot.

Activists seeking to repeal a new law requiring City Hall’s permission to serve charitable meals on city-owned land turned in 34,000 petition signatures on Monday asking that the issue be put to voters in November.

Despite the passion surrounding the issue from feeding groups, clergy and others who decried the ordinance as the criminalization of charity, City Attorney David Feldman said it was too late to get the issue on the ballot.

He said the deadline was July 1, the day the law went into effect.

Wrong, said Paul Kubosh, one of the petition drive’s organizers.

“This ordinance is dead. It’s just a matter of how hard and how much political capital will City Council spend to fight the people,” Kubosh said at a news conference in the City Hall rotunda.

The standoff sets the stage for a replay of the legal battle set off by the petition that called for the November 2010 election that outlawed the use of red-light cameras in Houston. Kubosh was also a key player in that battle.

In that case, the election went forward but a federal judge later invalidated it because the petition was turned in too late. However, the ruling is no longer in effect, with both sides claiming victory. Feldman says the legal principles embodied in the court ruling still apply, while attorney Randall Kallinen, who sides with Kubosh, says they don’t.

As noted before, if this becomes law it will leave in place the requirement that organizations get permission from private property owners before setting up a place to distribute food to homeless folks. Again, for all of the fuss over this, I don’t think that part of the ordinance was ever truly controversial. The question is whether permission is needed for doing so on city-owned property. I have no intention of re-litigating any of this, I’ll simply repeat my assertion that if this does get on the ballot, I believe it wins easily. The proponents have many times the energy, desire, and strength of opinion on this.

The question is whether or not it belongs on the ballot. The distinction Kubosh and Kallinen make that this is a charter amendment that happens to overturn – in this case, modify – a city ordinance and not a referendum to repeal it is one that Judge Hughes specifically rejected in his red light camera ruling. I’m not a lawyer, I can’t give you an opinion as to why this time it’s different. I’ll wait for a judge’s ruling like everybody else.

Again, assuming it gets that far. There are at least two more obstacles that I can see, one of which is mentioned in the story and one of which is not.

Council faces a deadline under state law of Aug. 20 for placing items on the Nov. 6 ballot.

City Secretary Anna Russell said Monday that it generally takes her office two weeks or more to count and validate so many petition signatures before they can go to council. Because the Texas Open Meetings Act requires a 72-hour advance notice of a government meeting, her office would have to finish the job in four days to provide for proper notice.

“Even under the best of circumstances I don’t see how in the world that could be done,” Feldman said.

There were complaints about how late the petitions were turned in back in 2010, too. The City Secretary managed to get the job done on time then. Based on this, it would seem impossible. Having said that, remember that episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” where the Enterprise discovers Scotty suspended in a transporter beam where he’d been for however many decades? Anyway, he and Geordi get into an argument about the proper way to inform the Captain about how much time is really needed to accomplish a task:

Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Look, Mr. Scott, I’d love to explain everything to you, but the Captain wants this spectrographic analysis done by 1300 hours.

[La Forge goes back to work; Scotty follows slowly]

Scotty: Do you mind a little advice? Starfleet captains are like children. They want everything right now and they want it their way. But the secret is to give them only what they need, not what they want.

Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Yeah, well, I told the Captain I’d have this analysis done in an hour.

Scotty: How long will it really take?

Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: An hour!

Scotty: Oh, you didn’t tell him how long it would *really* take, did ya?

Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge: Well, of course I did.

Scotty: Oh, laddie. You’ve got a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker.

So the question to ask is whether Anna Russell is more like La Forge or more like Scotty. I’ll leave that for you to debate. As for the other obstacle, given the August 20 statutory deadline for putting a referendum on the ballot, it seems to me that a tag by any Council member would settle the issue regardless of what a judge might say. I have no idea if any member would be inclined to do that, I’m just saying that one of them could. Houston Politics and Campos have more.

Saturday video break: It’s never wrong to mash up “Star Trek”

Some things don’t require an introduction, others defy the very attempt at one:

Beam me up, Scotty.

UPDATE: This can happen when you draft stuff in advance. Go here to see the video. Sorry about that.

Space travel: Not as high tech as you might think

It may be the final frontier, but that doesn’t mean we’re using bleeding edge technology.

[The International Space Station’s] 44 primary computers that do everything from guide the station around Earth at 17,000 mph to monitor for fires are powered by Intel 386 processors, first built in the mid-1980s, with a clock rate of 16 megahertz. To put that in perspective, today’s processors are measured in gigahertz, a speed increase by a factor of 1,000.

Needless to say, the task of maintaining the network of computers on the station humming along is more difficult than, say, putting together a home network.

I suppose it isn’t exactly a trivial matter to do upgrades on it. Funny how this sort of thing was never a problem on Star Trek – “Open a channel, Lt. Uhura.” “I can’t, Captain, their version of Skype is totally incompatible with ours.” Gives me hope that we’ll get this problem licked one of these days.

Saturday video break: Maynard Ferguson does “Star Trek”

This video combines two of my geeky loves: Jazz band and “Star Trek”.

Add to that all of the 70s hair and fashion, and you’ve got a giant sundae of awesomeness with whipped cream and a cherry on it. I just can’t believe they didn’t keep the cameras rolling.

If you want more Maynard Ferguson – and who wouldn’t? – try Chameleon and Shaft. Oh, hell, let’s just make this a Saturday video twofer:

Two words: Valve trombone. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Saturday video break: He’s dead, Jim!

I still haven’t seen the new Star Trek movie. But I’ll always have this:

Live long and prosper, yo.

To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations

It’s not quite boldly going, but it’s still pretty darned cool.

The universe may be filled with Earth-like planets — worlds where extraterrestrials might flourish.

But these planets were once considered too small to spot, even with the latest in space technology.

Now, many astronomers believe NASA’s $600 million Kepler telescope, which is scheduled to shoot into space this week, will help to clear up the mystery.

Named for Johannes Kepler, a 17th-century German astronomer who studied planetary motion, the telescope is designed to search 100,000 stars in the Milky Way for Earth-sized rocky planets where water could flow and form streams, lakes and oceans.

Some astronomers believe the spacecraft could eventually find about 50 Earth-like planets.

“If we find that many, it will certainly mean life may well be common throughout our galaxy,” said William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center, the astronomer who leads the Kepler science team.

“On the other hand, if we don’t find any, that is still a profound discovery,” he said. “It will mean that Earth must be very rare. We may be the only life in our universe.

“It will mean there will be no Star Trek.”

Dude. There will always be Star Trek. It just may be a little different. Regardless, I look forward to hearing of Kepler’s discoveries.