Episode 158: Klingonial Williamsburg

The Overthinkers tackle space travel in pop culture.

Peter Fenzel hosts with Mark Lee, John Perich, and Dave Shechner to overthink space travel in pop culture and *gasp* even more listener feedback, this time from the Twitter stream!


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22 Comments on “Episode 158: Klingonial Williamsburg”

    • JosephFM #

      Though I suppose one could make an equally good case for Trantor or Kaitain, if urbanity and imperial/republican power is what you’re looking for.

      I can safely say, though, that I would ABSOLUTELY NOT want to visit Arrakis.


  1. petrlesy #

    for some reason every time i turned on the tv in the 90s in our backwater eastern european country there was an episode of hardcastle & mccormick going on… good times


    • Brian #

      Incontrovertible eye witness testimony Hardcastle & McCormick really, truly, beyond a shadow of a doubt is badass and necessarily makes society and it’s people richer. Exhibit B http://youtu.be/GIMAfwJSfKw Basketballs in tubas, Basket-Balls INside tu-bas, ladies and gentlemen… this evidence speaks for itself.


  2. Wade #

    Hooray! No matter who reads my questions/comments on the air, be it the evening news or you guys, I will always cheer like Kermit the Frog. It’s hard to get a full question like the Zookeeper thing into 140 characters, so thank you for humoring me.

    I think I’d like to visit Ghost Planet. I’ve always wondered how difficult it must be for Space Ghost to run and broadcast a late night talk show so many light years away from Earth.


  3. Eric #

    When I was a kid Pluto was a planet and we used shuttles to get into space.


  4. Johann #

    Excellent episode, guys! This is an episode I will point friends to when referring your show.

    I like the thought discussed earlier in the show that with technology becoming more and more “normal”, we are less visionary about what to do with it.

    However, I do have one major criticism and that is: Just because the last Space Shuttle started, this is not the end of space travel! There will still be astronauts leaving planet Earth, they will just be using “old fashioned” rockets & capsules – Russian Soyus spacecrafts will continue to service the ISS – hey, we still have the ISS, which is in itself a great achievement (several nations cooperating). And then we have countries like China who have started their own space program.
    I did have the feeling during parts of the show that you guys were being a little Americo-centric. Granted, the US have made the greatest achievements in human space travel so far, but they were not the first ones in outer space, and likewise space travel is not over just because American Space Shuttles are put out of service. Who knows what the future brings! :-)

    I would visit Omicron Persei 8, which may not even be fictional.


    • Chris #

      Yeah, this is exactly what I was going to say more or less. It was bizarre to listen to this podcast discussing space travel as if man would never break Earth’s orbit again. In addition to the Russians and the Chinese, most American space travel will be done by private organizations, who are starting to succeed in terms of low Earth orbit space travel.

      Thanks for answering my joke question asking why you guys are so great. Which isn’t to say it isn’t a great podcast.


      • Chris #

        Oh, you also answered my real question. My real answer to my question would be The Rockford Files, because it is a really good show and could be kind of interesting with a modern remake. They actually came close to remaking it, with Dermot Mulroney as Jim Rockford which would have been awful, but no dice. Now, if Val Kilmer was interested in headlining a TV show, there would be a match made in heaven.

        Another possibility would be The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage, another Stephen J. Cannell show. If this synopsis doesn’t get you interested, I don’t know what to tell you:
        The series followed the story of Black Jack Savage, the ghost of a legendary 17th century Caribbean pirate who teams up with Barry Tarberry, a crooked Wall Street con-artist who has escaped trial by coming to the Caribbean. Eternally damned, both of them discover that they need to save 100 souls to compensate for the damage done by their sinful lives.


      • fenzel OTI Staff #

        I am very, very skeptical of privately funded space flight even on the current level of government projects. There is no reason to believe it will happen. American corporations love to make you think they are more efficient than the government and can do things government can’t, but they’re bald-faced liars. The power to privatize is the power to destroy.

        American corporations can’t even run a deisel train without government assistance. The only reason anyone gets anywhere in this country is the billions in highway construction and maintenance and subsidy and guarantees and legal support to airlines.

        No corporation is going to take you to space; the risk/reward just doesn’t work from a market perspective. They might take wealthy tourists to space one or two times so they can see their houses, but that’s a far cry from what the government was doing even more than thirty years ago.

        We were talking about an end to manned space flight because I think that is the tone of the cultural moment, even if it isn’t what is actually going to happen. But I think for the sake of science and research, you’ll see fewer people going into space and more machines.

        What you are likely to see is not the privatization of space flight, but its militarization (and then its use by corporations under the funding and protection of government defense contracts).

        If governments are less likely to want to fund civil institutions like NASA (and there’s no reason to think austerity programs won’t hit similar programs in other countries), that opens the door to the military programs that will not be cut alongside social and civil programs.

        I mean, no doubt you will see China land on the moon as part of its theatre of superiority, but it seems to me much more likely that the medium-term future is one of anti-SAT technology and orbital weapons systems than of peaceful exploration and international cooperation.


        • Chris #

          Oh, undoubtedly there will be less people and more robots going into space, which is just a practical thing to do. However, while you might be right about private space travel, I think it will at least exist in a minor sense, and this list I feel solidifies that argument: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_private_spaceflight_companies

          Although, you are also probably right about increased militarization.


          • fenzel #

            That list doesn’t mention the end clients, which is where the meaningful difference is between public and private – are the missions funded by market-driven private interests or by tax dollars?

            There is precisely one operational spacecraft on that list – and you know who’s flying its first missions?


        • Timothy J Swann #

          ‘The power to privatize is the power to destroy.’
          Ladies and Gentleman, I give you British trains. Rising prices, falling service, worse accidents, overcrowding without significant customer increase.


  5. JosephFM #

    Minor point, but since you asked, the Ferengi casino game in DS9 was called Dabo, and is similar to roulette, but with the twist that the “dealers” are always attractive women called Dabo Girls whose job is partly to “distract” the players into losing.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Awesome! Thanks!


    • Ed #

      There was also Tongo, which was the game they played mostly themselves (and Dax). You got the impression that Dabo was for tourists and Tongo was a Ferengi specific game that was a combination of roulette, poker and Monopoly (acquire, retreat, evade, confront).

      Another point mentioned in the podcast was whether the Star Trek universe had done away with human frailties. In the original series under Roddenberry this was definitely something they conveyed. In the episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” with the aliens that were half white, half black, the Enterprise crew were discussing racism like it was this long forgotten thing that they could barely comprehend. In later series humanity was less perfect and technology was credited. Sisko would lament that Starfleet Command back on Earth had unrealistic expectations because Earth was a paradise and it’s easy to be perfect in paradise, but out there on the front lines it isn’t.


  6. Brian #

    On the Space Shuttle and colonialism: My dad was an engineer on then new B-2 bomber so I spent my youth in the self-billed “aerospace capital of the U.S.” Palmdale, CA where some of the Shuttle was built and got repaired sometimes, Palmdale’s other main export is the rapper Afroman- Grammy nominated single “Because I Got High.” http://youtu.be/WeYsTmIzjkw

    When I was 10 I thought the two most badass people ever were Katrina Mumaw a local girl who had just become the youngest person to break the sound barrier at age 11 flying in a Mig-29 (and the only “celeb” I got an autograph from), and the class tough who was a tagger for a gang. Planes new from the factories flew test flights all day, constant jet roar and sonic booms were normal, but every once in awhile the Space Shuttle would fly by riding on top a 747 and all us kids so accustomed to the point of boredom with futuristic B-2’s,SR-71’s,F-117’s would all stop playing soccer, which were those absurd 32 vs. 47 player teams you only play in elementary school, and look up in amazement and wonder for 5 whole minutes or until some smartass stole the ball and scored a goal while everyone was distracted.

    Fond memories yeah, and I was gonna agree with everyone else it’s no big deal, that it’s not the end of manned space travel because private companies will do it, and that America will rise above it’s Daniel Plainview mindset to shout “Bastard in an orbital pod!” at any person or country that goes into space. But Fenzel vaporized like the laser satellite in GoldenEye that naive optimism and explains what the somber tone is really about- it’s not just a jock in vain self pity mourning he only 2nd place this time. Militarization, feels bad man. -To well, actually myself I think the satellite in GoldenEye was only emp but you get my point.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      I love that Afroman and the Space Shuttle (in part) come from the same place. Because they both get high.


  7. Gab #

    I went straight from watching Firefly to listening, here… How appropriate. :)


  8. Ninety-Three #

    I think it’s telling that this is the thing that got me to write my first comment on the site after two years of listening and reading, so here we go. To answer the question from early in the podcast, the term for the shape that gravity tends to form planets into is, in scientific circles, a sphere. However, when you account for the fact that planets like to spin through space, that rotation deforms them slightly, meaning gravity + rotation forms the much fancier sounding “oblate spheroid”, which is basically what you’d get if you took a ball of silly putty and squished it slightly from top to bottom.


  9. Rafal #

    Thanks for another great episode. A minor curio: one piece of sci-fi literature that deals (among others things) with the failings of technology is to me the 1959 set of S. Lem’s short stories “Tales of Pirx the Pilot,” in particular “On Patrol,” but I guess that is a bit of an exception.


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