INTERCOM NCC 74657
The Official Communique of the USS Ronald E. McNair
Boston, Massachusetts

March 15, 2000 ---------- Vol. 7 No. 2/3 ---------- Star Date: 36600.8

CONTENTS

Editor's Note
Captain's Log
TV Schedule
Code 47 via Subspace Radio
The USS McNair's Mission
McNair Ready Room
From Data's Humor Chip
Comm Channel News
Some Thoughts
African-Americans in Sci-fi Movies
iSoko.com
High Energy Collisions
The Trouble with Trek
Catalyst Census Finds Gap in Largest Companies' Women Board Directors
Fun On The Internet

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EDITOR'S NOTE

It's been a while since the last issue. I apologize for the delay. Better to provide an issue with quality than quantity.

A lot is happening in the sci-fi genre. Voyager still cranks along as the only Trek on television. In this issue we explore the stte of the Trek Franchise and the challenges facing the show's executives. Some of the best challenges are yet to come as Rick Berman and company strugle to develop a creative, innovative, and appealing premise for the next TV Trek series.

If you haven't yet voted, then we encourage you to vote in our latest Star Trek polls. What is the best idea for the next Trek TV series? Here's your chance to weigh in on where you think the Trek franchise should go next.

Which is your favorite Spock? You say you didn't know there were different kinds? In this poll you can learn about the different types of Spock. Before voting, click on the selections to learn more. Yes indeed, there is a Spock Security Program. You can find both polls on the Intercom main page.

On the big screen, rumors continue to fly around. Will Brent Spiner return for one more film as Lt. Cmdr. Data? Will Patrick Stewart return? Can Berman and company develop another solid hit like "Star Trek: First Contact?" Or will it be a smoothie like Insurrection? Can Berman and company develop a successful film while developing the next TV series?

Several new films about travel to Mars are coming later this year. After seeing a thoroughly enjoyable Galaxy Quest film earlier this year, it will be exciting to see how green the red planet films are. Will they make money? Will the films present a believeable and authentic premise? Will the plots hold up to scrutiny? Will the characterization be realistic?

The USS McNair crew will schedule soon several movie nights. Come joins us and enjoy the upcoming crop of sci-fi films. You are welcome at any of our monthly ship meetings.

George Jenkins
First Officer
February 20, 2000 - Boston, MASS.

P.S. DS9 will live on both in reruns and ultimately as a mini- series sometime after 2002. Note this prediction. You read it here first in INTERCOM!

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McNAIR'S MISSION

INTERCOM is published quarterly. Copyright © 1999, USS Ronald E. McNair. All rights reserved. Questions, comments, permission requests, and submissions should be sent to the INTERCOM Editor, USS Ronald E. McNair, P.O. Box 255159, Boston, Mass. 02125 - 5159.

INTERCOM is free for USS Ronald E. McNair crew members, and single courtesy copies to region ships offering a newsletter exchange. For others, an annual subscription (4 issues) is available. Enclose a check or money order for $5.00, payable to the USS Ronald E. McNair, and send it to the above address.

If you decide to link to this web site, to an INTERCOM newsletter issue, or to an article within an issue, please register with the USS McNair Guest-book. Otherwise, the INTERCOM Editor will not be able to notify you when links or pages change.

Star Trek: Voyager is a Trademark of Paramount Pictures. Star Trek, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: The Next Generation are Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. This publication in no way intends to infringe upon any copyrights, trademarks, or licenses held by Paramount Pictures or by Viacom.

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CAPTAIN'S LOG

Captain Kevin Johnson reporting
Captain's Log December 15, 1999
Stardate: 36509.1

Next year the year will begin with a 2 which is the same number that the years begin with in Star Trek. I hesitate to say the same millennium since there was no 0-year (1 BC followed by 1 AD) and there are a lot of other reasons (too many to list).

At any milestone of time at least two questions come up:
What has been done?
What will be done?

We (where we can mean us as individuals, groups of people are the human species) should spend some time to ponder the questions above and/or others. This may be difficult with all the festivities, shopping and anything else that life brings during the last few days of the 1900's and the early days of the first year that start with a 2 but life is not always easy.

I think that's enough of me trying to be philosophical.

The USS Ronald E. McNair wishes you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Captain Kevin D. Johnson
Commanding Officer, USS Ronald E. McNair

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TV SCHEDULE

Here's the latest, based upon reliable web sites. At press time a final schedule was unavailable:

STAR TREK: VOYAGER - 6th Season (Unofficial)
#DateEpisode #Prod#TitleStar Date
119 5/26/99 STV526 220 Equinox NG
120 9/22/99 STV601 221 Equinox, Part II NG
121 9/29/99 STV602 222 Survival Instinct NG
122 10/06/99 STV503 223 Barge of the Dead NG
123 10/13/99 STV604 224 Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy NG
124 10/20/99 STV605 226 Alice NG
125 11/03/99 STV606 227 Riddles 53263.2
126 11/10/99 STV607 225 Dragon's Teeth 53167.9
127 11/17/99 STV608 228 One Small Step 53292.7
128 11/24/99 STV609 229 The Voyager Conspiracy NG
129 12/01/99 STV610 230 Pathfinder NG
130 1/12/2000 STV611 231 Fair Haven NG
131 1/19/2000 STV612 233 Blink of an Eye NG
132 1/26/2000 STV613 234 Virtuoso 53556.4
133 2/02/2000 STV614 236 Memorial NG
134 2/09/2000 STV615 232 Tsunkatse 53447.2
135 2/16/2000 STV616 235 Collective NG
136 2/23/2000 STV617 237 Spirit Folk NG
137 3/01/2000 STV618 238 Ashes to Ashes NG
138 3/08/2000 STV619 239 Child's Play NG
139 3/15/2000 STV620 ??? Good Shepherd NG
140 3/22/2000 STV??? ??? ??? NG
141 3/29/2000 STV??? ??? ??? NG
142 4/12/2000 STV??? ??? ??? NG
143 4/19/2000 STV??? ??? ??? NG
144 4/26/2000 STV??? ??? ??? NG

Notes: Obviously, (R) indicates a previously aired episode, and NG indicates a star date not supplied during the episode. The air date is the date of the first uplink to affiliates. Actual air time will differ. In many local TV markets you can catch reruns of Voyager five nights per week.

Sources: Vidiot: Voyager

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CODE 47 VIA SUBSPACE RADIO

By George Jenkins, XO
Star Date: 36576.8 (February 20, 2000)

For the Star Trek Voyager fans who can't get enough of Tom Paris as Captain Proton fighting the bad guys in Voyager's holo-deck, you can now read the book from Pocket Books. Thanks to David Hewel for showing me his book. It is a funny parody of 1950's sci-fi genre. The book is available in many local book stores and at www.amazon.com:

Captain Proton (Star Trek Voyager) by Dean Wesley Smith
List Price: $14.95
Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours.
Format: Paperback - 128 pages (November 1999)
Publisher: Pocket Books. ISBN: 0671036467

I wonder how many fans dressed as Queen Arachnia or as the robot on Halloween? The following was reported recently in the SciFiNoir discussion group:

"Kes to return to Voyager
Jennifer Lein will guest star on an upcoming episode of Star Trek: Voyager reprising her role of Kes, according to Robert Picardo (the Doctor) at a convention January 10th. Lien left Voyager two seasons ago to pursue other acting roles, and had said that she doubted she would make another Voyager appearance. But things change I guess and she will be back. No word on the storyline or circumstances for her return."

"Ethan Phillips, who played Kes' love interest Neelix and has continued on board Voyager after Kes left, hopes the return will mean a bigger part for him for a change. In an article in Eon magazine, Phillips sounded unhappy with his characters lack of involvement in plots and with the heavy makeup his role requires. He also is not happy they haven't used a single story idea he's pitched the writers. Could another cast member leave soon? Sounds like Phillips wouldn't mind."

"Jeri Ryan is honored
TV Guide has nominated Jeri Ryan, Voyager's 7 of 9, for the second year in a row as Best Actress in a TV Drama. The awards ceremony is in March and the ballot can be sent in from the current (Jan. 15-21) issue of TV Guide."

"Mulgrew talks about Voyager's end
Voyager is set to end after seven seasons as Next Generation and Deep Space Nine did, though Kate Mulgrew, Capt. Janeway in the series, is not so sure. Paramount has not told the cast when the series will wrap. She would love to see them get home either at the end of this season or early next season (Voyager's 7th). Returning home would open up some interesting plot lines to end the series on - after all, the Maquis are criminals, Tom Paris is supposed to be in jail, and Seven is a Borg. Imagine how Earth and Starfleet would deal with all that!"

Actually, Tom Paris is not supposed to be in jail. He was released with the understanding that his release was conditional upon his satisfactory performance on Voyager at the helm.

Is Harry Mudd, the con artist, returning to Trek? Rumor has it that a new episode began filming in February called "Live Long and Prosper." The episode will air this Spring. The reported episode plot? Three aliens named Feydra, Mobar, and Zev impersonate Janeway, Tuvok and Chakotay. Gee, we haven't had an impersonator episode in Voyager in a long time since a Kes episode. Having learned enough about Voyager and its crew from other aliens, the three imposters scam unsuspecting aliens. Obviously, the real Voyager crew are held accountable for the scam artists' crimes. Sounds like a Harry Mudd episode to me.

Congrats to Jimmy Doohan on the birth of his new baby. We now know how he plans to pay for those added babycare expenses. If you haven't received the email message with "Scotty" pitching the new paypal.com service, then read the treat below. I received his message from one discussion group on www.onelist.com:

"Hi, this is James Doohan, Star Trek's (TM) "Scotty." I just beamed you $10 to use toward buying computer accessories through an online auction. Yes, I've been beaming people up throughout my acting career, but now I can Beam Money, too. And it doesn't require a starship or even a captain's rank to do it - just the click of a mouse! To claim the money I beamed you, log on here:

http://clickhere.egroups.com/click/xxxx

"PayPal.com is a completely free service that lets users Beam Money to anyone with an email address. Paying for a gadget you bought through an online auction or splitting up a restaurant bill with your coworkers was never easier!"

"Here's how it all works. After logging on to the site, you just type in your recipient's email address and dollar amount and then click "Beam." PayPal sends a "you've got cash" notice right to your recipient's inbox telling them how to claim their money - now that's what I call space age!"

"Do you know what else I like about PayPal.com? It keeps my money safe. Emailing money through the Internet is faster and more secure than mailing a personal check; PayPal is the galaxy's safest way to pay someone! And with PayPal.com there are no strings attached - there are absolutely no fees and you can withdraw your money at any time."

"I'm proud that PayPal.com recruited me to serve as their official spokesman... Come join PayPal.com and me as we explore a new frontier of digital commerce!"

Signing Off for Now,

James "Scotty" Doohan, Spokesman for PayPal.com

Well, if Shatner can pitch priceline.com, then Doohan can pitch paypal.com. This is not an endorsement of paypal.com. We haven't tried it. If you decide to try the service, you are on your own. Let us know what you think of it. End of subject.

Congrats to Voyager on the below nominations. The Trekker Newsletter reported the following:

"Voyager Hair & Makeup Nominated
The nominees for the First Annual Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards were announced. Voyager was nominated in three of the 17 categories:

  1. Best Special Effects Makeup - Television (For a Single Episode of a Regular Series - Sitcom, Drama or Daytime): Michael Westmore, Scott Wheeler, James Rohland and Ellis Burman. "Dark Frontiers.'' "Star Trek Voyager'' - UPN/Paramount
  2. Best Character Hair Styling - Television (For a Single Episode of a Regular Series - Sitcom, Drama or Daytime): Josee Normand, Charlotte Parker and Gloria Montemeyor "Bride of Chaotica.'' "Star Trek Voyager'' - Paramount/UPN
  3. Best Innovative Hair Styling - Television (For a Single Episode of a Regular Series - Sitcom, Drama or Daytime): Josee Normand, Charlotte Parker and Gloria Montemeyor "Dragon's Teeth.'' "Star Trek Voyager'' - Paramount/UPN"
To read the entire story and other nominees, point your Web browser to: Yahoo News.

Warner Brothers has moved the debut of its Mars film "Red Planet" from March 31, 2000, to June 16, 2000. That means Red Planet will land in theaters about three months later than Disney's competing feature, "Mission to Mars" which is still a go for a March, 2000, launch. Variety magazine reported the schedule change.

"Red Planet" stars Val Kilmer and Carrie-Anne Moss and tells the story of an astronaut who becomes stranded on Mars. "Mission to Mars" features Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise, and Connie Nelson. It also centers around an astronaut who becomes trapped on the Martian surface.

Did you see the Star Trek special with Jason Alexander, which UPN broadcasted in December, 1999? How was the special? Let me answer it this way: how bad was it? It stank worse than a very sweaty Klingon who's just ran a marathon. The show was called "Ultimate Trek: Star Trek's Greatest Moments" of which it wasn't. How ironic. The special included moments form all four TV series, with categories such as, "Most Beautiful Guest Stars," "Sexiest Moments," "Most Memorable Villains," "Best Dialogue and One Liners," "Those Last Minute Heroics" and a tribute to the late DeForest Kelley called "Our Man Bones." The Bones tribute and the bloopers were the best part of the show. Skip the rest of it.

Scifi.com ran a fan poll recently asking its readers, "What's the best Star Trek TV series of all time?" Web site visitors rated TNG the most popular (41%), followed by DS9 (24%), TOS (24%), VOY (8%), and TAS (1%). 2,931 visitors voted. For those of you who don't remember, TAS = The Animated Series which aired in the early 1970's. Yes, it was "that 70's show." And like most 70's TV shows, it should be left in the 1970's.

Another Scifi.com poll in September, 1999 asked Web site visitors, "What do you think about the announcement that professional wrestlers will guest star in upcoming episodes of Star Trek: Voyager?" Visitors said the following:
I'll turn the channel! (20%)
Anything to help the ratings! (14%)
It's time for a new Trek series... (64%)

Clearly, cheap gimmicks aren't wanted. Real, substantial story arcs, plots, and well-written episodes are wanted. 1,549 fans voted in this pole. I hope that the show's executives both read and pay attention to this because I doubt that UPN executives will. Wrestling is popular on UPN. Heck, it's about the only thing popular on UPN besides Voyager.

Over the past few months, the USS McNair ran our own poll at our Web site. We asked our readers what Star Trek Voyager's executives, writers, and producers should do to improve the show. Here's what you said:

Star Trek Voyager Poll: Advice for the show's writers, producers, and executives.

Which option should the writers and producers implement toimprove the quality of the Star Trek: Voyager television series?
QuestionVoters (#)% of Votes
Get the crew back to the Alpha Quadrant (20) 30%
Terminate the series, and substitute Star Trek: Deep Space Nine instead. (2) 3%
Continue with the Voyager series in the Delta Quadrant. Give Seven of Nine a love interest. (7) 11%
The Voyager series can't be saved. It's hopeless. Just terminate it. (6) 9%
Leave Voyager alone. The show is great as is! (15) 23%
Hire the writers from DS9 when DS9 ends. The DS9 writers consistently produce high quality scripts. (11) 17%
Kill off Neelix. Like Wesley Crusher, he doesn't add anything to the show. (0) 0%
Add more conflict between the Maquis and Starfleet officers. They became buddies too quickly. (5) 8%
Total66 Votes100%

What conclusions can we draw from this data?

23% of respondents suggested that Star Trek Voyager (STV) be left alone. Those fans felt that the show is okay as it is. That means over 75% of our readers -- more than three of every four respondents felt changes in the show were necessary. The most popular change requested was to get the crew back to the Alpha Quadrant. It would seem that the Delta Quadrant setting just isn't very popular, at best, or isn't working.

The next most popular suggestion was to hire the writers from the DS9 series to improve the quality of the scripts. This would seem to suggest that the fans like the show, like the actors' efforts, but feel that there is plenty of room for improvement with the scripts and the story lines. So, have the show's executives heeded these research results?

Nope. Voyager is still stuck... er lost in the Delta Quadrant. Occassionally, our intrepid Voyager crew almost gets home in episodes like "Pathfinder." And, this season's episodes have featured a lot more action. Action is good. This is a start. We've also seen more of the Borg. Actually, we've seen the smaller side of the Borg. Borg children. This was not so good. The episode "Collective" seemed like a further watering-down of a perfectly good, nasty, powerful alien enemy. As if Flotter wasn't enough. We now get Rug Rats with implants. I guess Naomi Wildman needed some playmates.

I was kinda annoyed that all of the Borg children Seven of Nine rescued were white. When I see this happen in a story, I wonder if the writers "slipped." Star Trek has made som many efforts to be inclusive. Then we get an episode like this and one begins to wonder if there some subtle, unconscious message that the only races and children worth assimilating by the Borg happen to be of lighter hues.

On one of the email discussion lists, a Trek fan added a very interesting perspective: "The sad thing is that it's [exclusion of people of color from an episode] very rarely conscious or intentional. It's so ingrained that it's as natural as breathing to leave minorities out of many shows."

Well, this is the 21st century! With all of the open access to information on the Internet, there is no excuse for this kind of "slip." Search the Internet. Understand your audience. There are so many tools available to the show's writers to educate themselves. You can write better than this.

Geting back to the USS McNair poll, many respondents wanted to see the better writers move from DS9 to Voyager. Why? To improve the quality of the scripts and to increase the consistency of high quality scripts. Did this move happen? Apparently, all is not well in the house that Gene built which Berman manages.

Writer and producer Ron Moore moved from DS9 to Voyager. He didn't stay long. Perhaps two months. Moore clearly knows Trek. He has demonstrated his ability to write popular, well-written episodes and story arcs. In my opinion he's one of the better writers if not the best. Consider his Trek writing credits:

Ron Moore's Trek Writing Credits
TNGDS9FILMSVOYAGER
53. The Bonding
58. The Defector
78. Family
99. In Theory (co-writer)
100. Redemption, Part I
101. Redemption, Part II
119. The First Duty (co-writer)
124. The Next Phase
130. Relics
139. Aquiel (co-writer)
141. Tapestry
146. The Chase (co-writer_
164. The Pegasus
172. Journey's End
55. Defiant
67. The Die is Cast
87. Sons of Mogh
101. Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places
119. Soldiers of the Empire
126. Rocks and Shoals
131. You are Cordially Invited
135. Waltz
140. Change of Heart
146. Valiant
154. Take Me Out to the Holosuite
157. Once More Into the Breach
165. Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges
172. Tacking Into the Wind
ST: Generations (co-writer)
ST: First Contact (co-writer)
121. Survival Instinct
122. Barge of the Dead (co-writer)

The above credits include episodes he wrote himself except where noted. If we include the episodes where Moore wrote or cowrote the teleplay (of someone else's story), then his list of credits would probably be twice as long. Regardless, his credits match up to most of the other show's writers including Brannon Braga. Unfortunately, Moore's time on the Voyager staff barely lasted a couple months before he was pushed out. Either Berman and Braga couldn't find a place to use his skills, or worse, they didn't want to. This is not good.

In September 1998, I reviewed in this column the book, "A Vision of the Future: Star Trek Voyager" by the late author Stephen Edward Poe. His book provided "behind the camera" descriptions of the daily work routine, the interactions and conflicts between employees, the grueling film production pace, the impact of cost and schedule overruns, the professionalism, the dedication, the motivations, and the sense of humor of the executives and employees at Paramount who produce the weekly Voyager television series.

Poe's book is crucial to understanding the Voyager show because it finally addressed the "burning" question I've always had about the Voyager TV series: why did the show's executives decide to use the "Lost in Space" premise knowing that it was problematic? Poe provides some answers that are both simple and complicated. Years later we see the results. The writers have not entirely overcome the problems in this premise. Declining viewship ratings, disatisfaction by fans and some executives formerly with the show, and other ripples are indicators of continuing problems surrounding the show.

In an interview at www.fandom.com, writer and producer Ronald Moore disected the Voyager television series. Rather, he disected the decision making and writing efforts. Consider some of Moore's comments about his experience on the Voyager writing staff and why he left:

In some ways you could say that the character of Seska was more real, more honest, and more consistent than any other character in Voyager, including the Bridge crew. Seska accepted Voyager's lost status and fought for changes. Her Maquis friends gladly accepted assimilation into the Federation; all too quickly. Sadly, she was another strong woman who the writers killed off when it wasn't necessary. Ultimately, Voyager would have flown out of Kazzon space and Seska would have become a non-issue.

About the next Star Trek television series and movie, Moore says:

The core issue isn't whether or not Star Trek is dead. It isn't dead. Not even close. Is Trek in decline? You bet. The core issue is innovation, or rather a severe lack thereof. Star Trek isn't going as boldly as it used to go. Everything about the Voyager series -- from concerns fans have expressed to me to the list of Moore's observations -- point to this conclusion. Th writers have played it safe. Too safe. And we fans know it. To regain the momentum, the next television series will need to be as innovative and creative as TOS was in 1966.

Redoing TOS with different actors as Kirk, Spock, and McCoy would be a huge blunder. Star Trek is not James Bond. Bond never had to be true to the universe it created. It was more fantasy and could survive with different actors playing 0-0-7. Berman and Braga need to be mindful of this and of the history of scifi TV programs. Every Trek fan I know has seen and read a lot of scifi. We know good scifi when we see it. We realize how difficult it is to produce really good scifi. Just look at all of the grade "B" scifi films with poor plots, poor characterization, and awful special-effects.

A space-based hospital series like "Mercy Point" won't cut it. Been there. Seen that. TV hospital shows are a dime a dozen. A space-based comedy won't cut it. "Homeboys in Outerspace" and the 5th Trek film both proved that to be an unworkable and unpopular premise. Been there. Seen that. Hated it.

A space-based cops show won't cut it either. Remember the fiasco that was "Space Precinct?" TV cops shows are a dime a dozen, too. Been there. Seen that. Should the new series have more romance? "Now and Then" has proven that to be an attractive attribute combined with action and scifi special effects. What about a lot of martial arts and bare bodies? Perhaps, but it had better have some believeable stunts and not the facre seen in "Xenia: W.P." or "Jack of All Trades." Get an actor like Jackie Chan who can actually do the stunts, do them well, and has substantial training.

The next Trek series will need to be different from all of this. The Starfleet Intelligence or Section 31 premise probably won't work. A variation of this premise is the rumor about a Temporal Investigations unit based in the 29th century. Been there. Seen that. Remember "Time Tunnel," "7 Days," and the movie "Time Cop?" As Moore points out, Paramount's executives will need to produce a new series that is really innovative with outside-of-the-envelope thinking.

There is an interview of executive producer Rick Berman in the current issue of Star Trek Communicator (issue #125). When asked directly about the new series, Berman revealed nothing; not even if it is set in the 24th century or not. That means they are considering a series set in another century. We may yet see the Temporal Investigations unit premise as UPN or the studio pressures Berman and company to make a decision soon. I hope not.

Can Berman and company do this will managing Voyager through its final season? Do they have the writing and creative talent to improve Voyager while develop at the same time a fresh, new, and innovative TV series? Given the uneven quality of Voyager episodes, one would conclude that the odds are against them. Plus, they let go one of their most talented writers.

The next TV series will have to be as innovative and creative as TOS was in 1966; as fresh as the introduction of the holodeck was in 1986 on TNG; as bold as the exploration of religious themes and female church leaders in DS9 in 1993; as innovative as Captain Sisko, a comander and a single parent; as appealing as the Seven of Nine ex-Borg babe introduced in Voyager in 1997; as consistent with the Star Trek universe as TOS, TNG, and DS9 were; and with true, consistent characterization.

Each Trek TV series had in it a character that was an outsider; a person who was part of the crew but different at the same time. In TOS it was Spock. In TNG it was Data. in DS9 it was Odo. In Voyager it is the Doctor and Seven of Nine. With each character, Trek has explored bigotry, lifestyles, aspirations, and expectations. Trek has always had something to say about the human condition; about how we think, what we think, and what we fear. Study Star Trek in any academic course and you will quickly see that the show has always been about current American values, not some set of posssible 24th century values.

I like the questions that Moore has asked. What does Trek have to say? What does Voyager have to say? What does Berman have to say? The person at the helm of The Franchise has to be more than a caretaker. Heck, we alredy have had two of them in the show. The person at the helm has to have a vision; something to say through Trek.

Although much screen-time has been given to Seven of Nine, there is so much that hasn't been explored about her. While Trek parades this character around in a skin tight suit, the rest of the show is so puritanical. Voyager has a tendency to start a story arc and then drop it, or wrap it up in the same episode. I call these lost opportunities. There are many of them.

What happened to the crewmem from the Equinox that joined Voyager? Have they fit in already? How does the existing crew treat them? Are the show's writers telling us that there is no conflict with them? People were killed during the battle with the Equinox. There has to be further conflict. Will the writers be true to the Equinox episode and follow up with episodes featring the new crew members?

Why did Janeway dismantle the Borg weapon enhancements after their encounter with species 8472? If I were alone in the Delta Quadrant, I'd want as much speed and firepower on my ship as possible. I'd have kept those weapon enhancements. Hence, it's logical to expect that the ship's exterior would begin to change. (Silly me! Paramount wouldn't do this becuase they couldn't reuse all of the stock shots of Voyager fly-bys. It would cost too much.)

How has Seven's dating gone? We've only seen this in one episode. Has she dated anyone else? What are her thoughts on marriage as she rediscovers her humanity? Is she heterosexual? Is she attracted to aliens? With the episode "Collective," the show's writers seem to be taking the easy way out by making Seven a "mother" of the ex-Borg children, rather than face the tougher storylines that include less puritanical plots. Seven is a competent, smart, independent, sexual, and curious single woman. Write stories about Seven with consistent characterization!

What other crewmen have paired off on Voyager? In TNG, we saw an episode titled "Lower Decks" which explored life on the starship for lower ranking crew. What's happening on Voyager? Are Maquis only dating Maquis? Are Starfleet only dating Starfleet? How many couples has Janeway married? What about divorce? What about Neelix? Life for him did not die when Kes left. What is Naomi Wildman's mom doing about a Dad for Naomi? Is Chakotay still holding the torch for Janeway? Or has he moved on? And if so, with who?

Who is acting as the ship's counselor? What is the crew doing to battle depression as they begin to realize that Earth is still dcades away? And why haven't the crew replicated more portable holo- emitters for additional doctors? In one episode, the Doctor was happy to acquire some Borg technology to use in Sickbay. Why don't we see any of these new medical instruments? All we've seen are Borg nanoprobes and the Doctor's shiney new camera.

I prefer episodes to explore these more real themes. Don't give me any more "Fair Haven" or 1950's muscle-car lovin' Paris fantasy stories set in the holodeck! It's like watch scifi wrapped inside of scifi. It gets boring quickly. Heck, there's an entire Delta Quadrant to explore, which is much more interesting than whatever goes wrong in the holodeck this week. The goal of Starfleet is to seek out new life, to boldly go; not to seek out new fantasies in the safety of the holodeck.

Why is Neelix the only alien to ride along with the Voyager crew? Why hasn't Voyager ferried more aliens? What happened to his shuttle craft? Heck, Picard's Enerprise carried an entire village. And Voyager can only carry two guests? Why don't any of the crew have pets? Are the show's writers telling us that there are no cats or dogs in the Delta Quadrant? Heck, even Data had a pet and he wasn't stuck in the Delta Quadrant.

In the next TV series, more of the same just won't cut it. Voyager needs to get real. The next TV series had better be real with continuity. We fans deserve more.


Just in case you missed this news item from the Associated Press:

Ashes of late 'Trekkie' set for space adventure
December 14, 1999

SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts (AP) -- Carol Berman didn't want to be buried beneath the ground. She had higher aspirations. Mrs. Berman, former president of Springfield Day Nursery and a "Star Trek" fan, may get her final wish Sunday when some of her ashes are sent into orbit.

Her ashes and those of 35 others were scheduled to blast off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Celestis Inc. of Houston purchased spots on a commercial NASA rocket for what is billed as a "Millennial Flight."

"She didn't want to be in the cold ground," said Eugene B. Berman, Carol's husband. "And she wanted to explore. She was also a devotee of 'Star Trek.' So, you start thinking about things celestial."

Celestis pioneered post-cremation spaceflight memorials in 1997 when it sent the ashes of LSD prophet Timothy Leary and "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry aloft. "There's something poetic about ashes to ashes, dust to dust, as it were," Berman said Monday. "She will become celestial dust, from which we may have all originated."

© 1999 USS Ronald E. McNair. All rights reserved. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

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SOME THOUGHTS

by Jessica Howe
December 9, 1999
Star Date: 36503.9

Well, as the New Year approaches this time, of course there's one major thing on everyone's mind. But since nobody knows what's going to happen, let's not reflect on that right now.

I'd personally rather think about the future. It's loomed large for several thousand years of history, ranging from ominous to squeaky clean. "Star Trek" and all of its spinoffs and whatnot makes an interesting picture, but are we really anywhere near that?

I think Gene Roddenbury made a very intelligent guess when he picked the 24th century for the setting of his "Five Year Voyage". There have been many science fiction writers who've gone and looked only a decade or so into the future and made fairly good predictions: Ray Bradbury, for instance, pops into my mind, with his talking house that about 20 years after he wrote of it is now being built in various locations. You can have such things as computers, or maybe people walking on the moon, if you guess shrewdly enough. And then you can sit back and enjoy the results.

Well, Gene never will enjoy the results of his particular guess about what the future will be. Maybe none of us will. And like all science fiction writers, probably some of his predictions will never come to pass. Imagine a world with little crime and almost no poverty, no illness. Yes, I'd like that myself, but I don't think it's possible within the realms of nature. Wipe out the use of money, as he's also suggested, and it makes the first two more feasible of course. And maybe he's right: maybe one day we or our descendants will use something else for tender.

And what about space, the aliens, people keep crying. Where are all those wonderful and horrific Ferengi and Klingons and Founders and Crystalline Entities? Where are we, with respect to finding them? For myself, I think that one day they will be found, whoever they really are. But in this respect too, Gene hit the mark: at the rate that this country and the world in general is going, it's going to take another few generations for people to really get out into space. And we won't find anybody or anything until we go.

So let's hear it for the end of the 20th century, and the 24th yet to come. Maybe someday Heinlein's "No Time for Love" will be true and we'll all have lived over 400 years to see the aliens Gene Roddenbury and the rest of us have dreamed about all our lives. Maybe our children's children's children will see them. The great thing - and the frightening thing too - about the future is that you never know until you get there.

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THE TROUBLE WITH TREK

FYI, in case you hadn't read this article at Salon.com:

October 29, 1999
The trouble with "Trek"
Plagued by falling ratings, rampant merchandising and a boss who hates the franchise legacy, the noble "Star Trek" faces the indignities of age.
By Robert Wilonsky

Oct. 29, 1999 -- Mr. Spock is laughing. It sounds as though he will never stop. His is a deep, long chuckle -- "Haw haw haw haw!" Then, Spock -- OK, Leonard Nimoy -- suddenly stops long enough to read a small excerpt from a letter I sent to him, requesting an interview for this story about the future, or not, of "Star Trek." The italics are his.

"The piece will deal with the fact that there is currently only one 'Star Trek' show on the air ..."

Nimoy stops, offers a very theatrical, "Oh, no!" and continues.

"And, at present, only rumors about a second show, which may or may not debut in 2001." Again, he pauses, laughs, and says, very dramatically, "What are we going to do?!"

He begins again: "Even Bill Shatner says it's over: 'The window of "Star Trek's" phenomenon status is closing rapidly!' Oh ... my ... God! The sky is falling." Spock laughs. "Your letter was so dour, so negative. I figured I had to talk to this guy." Again, a chuckle.

Suddenly, he turns very serious. "To say there's only one 'Star Trek' show on the air, as though that were a problem, is curious to me. It's as though we're losing. It's all perception, isn't it?"

To read the entire story, point your browser to:

Arts & Entertainment
The Trouble with Trek
http://www.salon.com/ent/feature/1999/10/29/trek/index.html


Another item you may not have seen:

INTERVIEWS: CONVENTIONS AND PEOPLE:
STAR TREK : THE NEXT-NEXT GENERATION

Report by SFX Magazine, December 1999 issue

"THE INDICATIONS SEEM TO BE EVERYWHERE: Star Trek simply isn't what it used to be. While still an entertainment force to be reckoned with, it just doesn't have the power that it once had as evidenced by last years lacklustre ratings for Deep Space Nine and Voyager and the disappointing box-office takings of the latest feature, Insurrection. Simply put, everyone seems to be aware of the Franchises disarray, except for the creative forces behind it."

"Mark Altman, long-time Star Trek historian and now a film producer (Free Enterprise, The Specials), reckons, "Anyone who says Trek isn't in decline is deluding themselves. I'm not talking from a subjective point of view. Some think its better than its ever been. But purely objectively, the merchandising isn't selling, the ratings are down and interest is at an all-time low. Star Wars fever has supplanted Trek for the time being. That doesn't mean things can't change, but it does mean the creative team needs to be audacious in what they do next to get people excited about Trek again. Frankly, I think the people involved in Trek do see the writing on the wall, but they're like the band playing on the Titanic. They're going to go down with the ship. I'm optimistic, though, that they'll try and shake things up."

You'll have to visit the web site to read the entire article:
http://www.greatlink.org/convention-reps/st-nextnextgen.sfxdec99.html

© 1999 USS Ronald E. McNair. All rights reserved. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

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AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN SCI-FI MOVIES

This was posted recently in SciFiNoir:

Boldly Going Where No Others Have Gone . . .
African-Americans in Sci-Fi Movies

"While science fiction movies have been made since the early 1900s, roles and recognition for African-American actors have been a struggle -- not unlike Roy Batty's in Blade Runner."

"Roles for African-American stars emerged in the 1940s but served only to capitalize on the stardom they'd already achieved in their field of entertainment -- Lena Horne, and Louis Armstrong are good examples. The science fiction movie boom of the 1950s failed to increase the number of roles for African-Americans. Ossie Davis rose to take up the standard but it was the first Black Oscar winner, Sidney Poitier (Lilies of the Field, 1963), together with Bill Cosby, who significantly affected Hollywood's employment of African-American actors."

To read the full story, point your browser to:
http://scifimovies.about.com/entertainment/scifimovies/library/weekly/mcurrent.ht m.

© 1999 USS Ronald E. McNair. All rights reserved. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

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iSOKO.COM

The following announcement arrived recently:

From: AOLNews@aol.com
Subject: BlackVoices.com Launches iSoko.com, a New Online...

BlackVoices.com Launches iSoko.com, a New Online African-American Retail Store

CHICAGO, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- BlackVoices.com, the nation's largest online community for African-Americans, has launched iSoko.com, a new online retail store featuring African-inspired merchandise.

iSoko.com offers six full-service shopping areas: at home, apparel, collectibles, seasonal goods, stationery and BlackVoices.com merchandise. More specialized departments will be added in 2000. The site, created by BlackVoices.com, is accessible at www.isoko.com or via www.blackvoices.com.

"The addition of iSoko.com creates the ultimate African-American experience on the Internet and solidifies BlackVoices.com as the preeminent African-American retailer online," said Barry Cooper, BlackVoices.com president and CEO. "At iSoko.com, our customers can choose from a wide range of merchandise and can easily and securely shop online."

The word iSoko derives from the Swahili word "soko," which means marketplace. From the coastal plains of East Africa to the islands of the Caribbean, a "soko" has been a place where family, friends and merchants engage in the art of shopping. iSoko.com is designed to be more than a retail store; it will be a center of culture and artistry.

BlackVoices.com is the nation's largest African-American virtual community on the Internet. The site features a variety of lifestyle, career and community activities, including news, information, entertainment, sports, a full-service career center, special interest clubs, chat rooms and its popular member photo page. Audited by Nielsen I/PRO, BlackVoices.com registered more than 20 million page views in October, 1999.

Tribune Interactive brings together the interactive functions of Tribune Company's four newspapers and 18 television stations, as well as other Internet products and services, including BlackVoices.com, cubs.com, Go2Orlando.com and metromix.com. The group also is responsible for developing new Internet products and services.

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McNAIR READY ROOM

Star Date: 36800.6 -- Meeting agendas are available via Internet e-mail or fax. To learn more, see us at the next ship meeting. New members are welcome! Meetings are the second Sunday of the month at 3 PM. Call or write us for directions. Contact the USS McNair at P.O. Box 255159, Boston, Mass. 02125-5159.

The meeting minutes from prior USS McNair meetings:

Date: February 13, 2000.
Place: Brian & Tina's
Attendees: Alison, Brian, George, Jocelyn, Ken, Kevin, Roxanne, Taka, Tina,Todd
The ship decided on the month of April, 2001 to visit the Star Trek exhibit in Las Vegas, Nevada. No other business was conducted.

Date: January 14, 1999.
Place: George & Alison's
Attendees: Alison, Brian, George, Jessica, Ken, Kevin, Leigh, Roxanne, Tina, Todd
The group enjoyed a lively game of "Star Trek Jeopardy." The Red Dward video marathon was scheduled for February 26th. Ken will provide further details as the date approaches.


Submissions to INTERCOM are welcomed and encouraged from both crew and non-crew. Articles must relate to TREK events, planets, characters, adventure, actors, literature, fandom, IDIC, collectibles, conventions, events, space science and exploration, or NASA. Articles should not exceed 1,200 words. For writer's guidelines, send a SASE to the INTERCOM Editor. Send submissions to: INTERCOM Editor, USS Ronald E. McNair, P. O. Box 255159, Boston, Mass. 02125 - 5159. Unsolicited manuscripts will not be returned. Submissions and coments are also welcome for sci-fi movies, the X-Files, Crusade, or other sci-fi works. Submissions received after the deadline will appear in the next issue, space permitting. The Editor reserves the right to edit and/or reject any submissions. Submission deadlines:
Deadline (Issue Date)
June 12, 2000 (June 15th)
Sept. 12, 2000 (Sept. 15th)
Dec. 12, 2000 (Dec. 15th)
March 10, 2001 (March 15th)
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HIGH ENERGY COLLISIONS

A very interesting news item:

High-Energy Collisions Create New Form of Matter
Traces of particles flying out from a collision of lead ions in atom-smashing experiments at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. The experiments have yielded evidence of a new form of matter.

By Kenneth Chang

Feb. 9 -- A series of atom-smashing experiments in Switzerland may have created the same form of matter that filled the universe for the first moment of its existence. In the first 1/100,000th of a second after the Big Bang that give birth to the universe, temperatures were so hot that fundamental particles known as quarks floated around individually.

A Search for Primordial Matter
"If the Big Bang theory is correct, if the universe started the way which we believe it did, then at some stage these quarks must have been floating around in a kind of soup before they got caged inside other particles," says Neil Calder, spokesman for CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, located outside Geneva. "All around the world physicists have been trying to recreate this soup, and this we have now cooked up at CERN."

Scientists at CERN say a series of experiments slamming iron ions together provide strong evidence that they have recreated this primordial state of matter.

To read the entire story, point your browser to: New Form of Matter Created.

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COMM CHANNEL NEWS

January 29, 2000 Do you miss DS9? USS McNair crew members can get their fix at the DS9 video marathon. For details, crew members should contact the Captain or the First officer.

February 26, 2000 The 2nd Red Dwarf video marathon. For details, crew members should contact the Captain or the First officer.

2001 Noreascon *2001. The fan con of the next millenium. Memberships start at US $8.00. For more information, write to Noreascon*2001, PO Box 1010, Framingham, MA 01701-0205. E-mail: Noreascon 2001 or Boston for Orlando in 2001.

For a comlete list of conventions in the Northeast for 1999, visit the Northeast Science Fiction Conventions Web site, Creation Entertainment, or Cruise Trek. If you visit this Web site you'll quickly notice that most Creation conventions now feature guests from a broad range of sci-fi shows: Xena, Hercules, X-Files, and Babylon 5.

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FROM DATA'S HUMOR CHIP

The following messages arrived recently via e-mail:

A few popular quotes by Morpheus from what was by far the best sci-fi film in 1999. Yes Mr. Lucas, you read that correctly. Jar-Jar did not cut it. If you haven't seen the film on DVD, then you are truly missing something special. Now for the quotes:


Subject: Updated State Mottos

Alabama: Yes, We Have Electricity!
Alaska: 11,623 Eskimos Can't Be Wrong!
Arizona: But It's a Dry Heat.
Arkansas: Litterasy Ain't Everthing.
California: By 30 Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda.

Colorado: If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother.
Connecticut: Like Massachusetts, Only The Kennedys Don't Own It Yet.
Delaware: We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water.
Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids.
Georgia: We Put The "Fun" In Fundamentalist Extremism.

Hawaii: Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru. (Death To Mainland Scum, But Leave Your Money.)
Idaho: More Than Just Potatoes... Well Okay, We're Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good.
Illinois: Please Don't Pronounce the "S".
Indiana: 2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free.
Iowa: We Do Amazing Things With Corn.

Kansas: First Of The Rectangle States.
Kentucky: Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names.
Louisiana: We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That's Our Tourism Campaign.
Maine: We're Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster.
Maryland: If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It.

Massachusetts: Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's (For Most Tax Brackets).
Michigan: First Line Of Defense From The Canadians.
Minnesota: 10,000 Lakes And 10,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes.
Mississippi: Come Feel Better About Your Own State.
Missouri: Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work.

Montana: Land Of The Big Sky, The Unabomber, Right-Wing Crazies, and Very Little Else.
Nebraska: Ask About Our State Motto Contest.
Nevada: Whores and Poker!
New Hampshire: Go Away And Leave Us Alone!
New Jersey: You Want A ##$%##! Motto? I Got Yer ##$%##! Motto Right Here!

New Mexico: Lizards Make Excellent Pets.
New York: You Have The Right To Remain Silent, You Have The Right To An Attorney...
North Carolina: Tobacco Is A Vegetable.
North Dakota: We Really Are One Of The 50 States!
Ohio: At Least We're Not Michigan.

Oklahoma: Like The Play, Only No Singing
Oregon: Spotted Owl... It's What's For Dinner.
Pennsylvania: Cook With Coal.
Rhode Island: We're Not REALLY An Island.
South Carolina: Remember The Civil War? We Didn't Actually Surrender

South Dakota: Closer Than North Dakota.
Tennessee: The Educashun State.
Texas: Si' Hablo Ing'les. (Yes, I Speak English.)
Utah: Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus.
Vermont: Yep.

Virginia: Who Says Government Stiffs And Slackjaw Yokels Don't Mix?
Washington: Help! We're Overrun By Nerds And Slackers!
Washington, D.C.: Wanna Be Mayor?
West Virginia: One Big Happy Family...Really!
Wisconsin: Come Cut The Cheese.
Wyoming: Where Men Are Men...And The Sheep Are Scared!


Subject: FW: New Words dictionary
Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2000 14:15:04 -0500

The Washington Post's Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are some recent winners:

REINTARNATION
Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

FOREPLOY
Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

GIRAFFITI
Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

SARCHASM
The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

INOCULATTE
To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

HIPATITIS
Terminal coolness.

OSTEOPORNOSIS
A degenerate disease.

KARMAGEDDON
It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

GLIBIDO
All talk and no action.

DOPELER EFFECT
The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

INTAXICATION
Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

IGNORANUS
A person who's both stupid and an asshole.


Date: Fri, 31 Dec 1999 12:26:49 -0800
Subject: Reasons to Go to Work Naked. Because...


Subject: Things to think about in the new year.......

FOR THE NEW YEAR 2000 FOR GOOD LUCK AND GOOD LIFE THE FOLLOWING IS A NEPALESE GOOD LUCK TANTRA TOTEM

This tantra totem has been sent to you for good luck. It has been sent around the world ten times so far. You will receive good luck within four days of relaying this tantra totem. Send copies to people you think need good luck.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIFE

  1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
  2. Memorize your favorite poem.
  3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
  4. When you say, "I love you", mean it.
  5. When you say, "I'm sorry", look the person in the eye.
  6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
  7. Believe in love at first sight.
  8. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.
  9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.
  10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
  11. Don't judge people by their relatives.
  12. Talk slowly but think quickly.
  13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"
  14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  15. Call your mom.
  16. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
  17. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
  18. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.
  19. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  20. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  21. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
  22. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
  23. Spend some time alone.
  24. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
  25. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  26. Read more books and watch less TV.
  27. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll get to enjoy it a second time.
  28. Trust in God but lock your car.
  29. A loving atmosphere in your home is so important. Do all you can to create a tranquil harmonious home.
  30. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
  31. Read between the lines.
  32. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
  33. Be gentle with the earth.
  34. Pray. There's immeasurable power in it.
  35. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
  36. Mind your own business.
  37. Don't trust a man/woman who doesn't close his/her eyes when you kiss.
  38. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
  39. If you make a lot of money, put it to use helping others while you are living. That is wealth's greatest satisfaction.
  40. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
  41. Learn the rules then break some.
  42. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each other is greater than your need for each other.
  43. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  44. Remember that your character is your destiny.
  45. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Date: Thu, 02 Dec 1999 18:15:04 -0800
Subject: Humor (primarily for the literate)

Not everyone will enjoy the following humor but I hope you will.

Merge-matic books from the Washington Post Invitational: Report from Week 312, in which readers were asked to combine the works of two authors and provide a suitable blurb.

"Machiavelli's The Little Prince" -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery's classic children's tale as presented by Machiavelli. The whimsy of human nature is embodied in many delightful and intriguing characters, all of whom are executed. (Erik Anderson, Tempe, Ariz.)

First Runner-Up:
"Green Eggs and Hamlet":
Would you kill him in his bed?
Thrust a dagger through his head?
I would not, could not, kill the King.
I could not do that evil thing.
I would not wed this girl, you see.
Now get her to a nunnery.
(Robin Parry, Arlington)

And the Winner of the Dancing Critter:
"Fahrenheit 451 of the Vanities" -- An '80s yuppie is denied books. He does not object, or even notice. (Mike Long, Burke)

Honorable Mentions:
"Where's Walden?" -- Alas, the challenge of locating Henry David Thoreau in each richly detailed drawing loses its appeal when it quickly becomes clear that he is always in the woods. (Sandra Hull, Arlington)

"Catch-22 in the Rye" -- Holden learns that if you're insane, you'll probably flunk out of prep school, but if you're flunking out of prep school, you're probably not insane. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

"The Maltese Faulkner" -- Is the black bird a tortured symbol of Sam's struggles with race and family? Does it signify his decay of soul along with the soul of the Old South? Is it merely a crow, mocking his attempts to understand? Or is it worth a cool mil? (Thad Humphries, Warrenton)

"Tarzan of the Grapes" -- The beleaguered Okies of the dust bowl are saved by a strong and brave savage who swings from grapevine to grapevine. (Joseph Romm, Washington)

"The Hunchback Also Rises" -- Hideously deformed fellow is cloistered in bell tower by despicable clergymen. And that's the good news... (John Verba, Washington)

"The Silence of the Hams" -- In this endearing update of the Seuss classic, young Sam-I-Am presses unconventional foodstuffs on his friend, Hannibal, who turns the tables. (Mark Eckenwiler, Washington)

"Portnoy's Choice" -- A man is forced to choose between his right and left hand. (Tom Witte, Gaithersburg)

"Jane Eyre Jordan" -- Plucky English orphan girl survives hardships to lead the Chicago Bulls to the NBA championship. (Dave Pickering, Bowie)

"Nicholas and Alexandra Nickleby" -- Having narrowly escaped a Bolshevik firing squad, the former czar and czarina join a troupe of actors only to find that playing the Palace isn't as grand as living in it. (Sandra Hull, Arlington)

"Looking for Mr. Godot" -- A young woman waits for Mr. Right to enter her life. She has a looong wait. (Jonathan Paul, Garrett Park)


Answering service at the Mental Health institute: "Hello, and welcome to the mental health hotline...

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FUN ON THE INTERNET

Do you like books? Then January Magazine is a site worth visiting. Not only is it a popular destination among publishers and authors, but readers can browse timely reviews of new books every month. At the Web site you can subscribe to the email notification list. Book categories include Fiction, Non-fiction, Art & Culture, Children's Books, Cookbooks, Biographies, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Profiles.

Thanks to Rob Leach for passing along this interesting web site: The Amazing Robot Museum. I found the site interesting, but missing many robots that have appeared in sci-fi movies. Check out the web site and make your own opinion.

There is a very funny site about your favorite Trek captain, William Shatner. The site is called Sim Shatner. Make sure that the volume controls on your computer are set but not too high.

What were the worst computer bugs of 1999? You don't know? In the article "The Biggest Computer Bugs of 1999," ZDNET News reviews the ten worst computer crashes of 1999, including the Pentium III processor serial number, "exploding" email, the Hotmail security hole, the Melissa Virus, and the ColdFusion exploit.

The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) issued a report that reveals that around the world "at least one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex or abused in her lifetime." Based on over 50 population-based surveys and more than 500 studies of domestic violence, the report finds that by far the greatest risk of violence comes not from strangers, but from male family members including husbands. We encourage you to read this report: Ending Violence Against Women.

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) at the National Academies of Sciences produces and maintains the Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) Database, the "world's largest and most comprehensive bibliographic resource on transportation information." The online TRIS site covers over 400,000 bibliographic records covering transportation research published in books, journal articles, technical reports, and other media. The time period covers the 1960s to the present.

American Scientist magazine along with authors Philip and Phylis Morrison operate a Web site that has compiled a list of approximately 100 books that readers, reviewers, and editorial staff at the magazine felt were "memorable and influential English-language books" in twentieth-century science. The books are organized in nine sections, such as Field Guides, the Physical Sciences, History of Science, and the Evolution of Life. See the site: 100 or so Books that shaped a Century of Science.

I recently received this new Web site announcement via e-mail:

"Hey there, folks. As some of you know, I've been working on a new video game Web site for the last couple of months. That site is now live: GameDad.Com. GameDad is different from other video game review sites in that the game reviews are for parents -- instead of concentrating on whether the game has cool graphics or fast gameplay, GameDad reviews let parents know about issues that concern them: Violence, sexuality, moral issues and game complexity."

"I do this because I know many parents are in the dark about what's in a game until they take it home and pop the game into the computer. This is a way to let them know whether a game is suitable for their child's age and ability. GameDad doesn't exist as a criticism of the video game industry -- it exists as a tool to help parents do the job of parenting"

"GameDad is presented by Road Runner, the cable modem service provider, and is a featured content provider on that service. GameDad is also accessible on the Web, at www.gamedad.com."

I visited this site especially since I'm the father of a teenage video game playing son. Overall GameDad.com is a very appealing and interesting site with a decent design. Here are my observations and reactions:

  1. Very appealing content. As a parent, this is the type of content that interests me
  2. The use of frames seems to work well, but I am not a frames proponent. The site could still operate well without frames
  3. Navigation was intuitive and easy to learn
  4. Some of the game reviews are very long. The same content could be said in fewer words
  5. The site is difficult to find. I tried the following search in Yahoo: video game reviews parents. GameDad didn't show up in the first two results pages.
  6. The name Game Dad and its logo seems very limited and internal focused instead of customer-focused. The target audience probably isn't only Dads with kids who play video games. Game Parent might be more inclusive since a lot of women surf the web. The logo graphic is limited too in similarly obvious ways
  7. The site seems US-centric in that the reviews are for releases in the U.S. If I'm a parent living in another country I might have access to a different game version. This wasn't readily apparent to me in the site description or reviews.

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CATALYST CENSUS FINDS GAP IN LARGEST
COMPANIES' WOMEN BOARD DIRECTORS

December 15, 1999
Monica Blaizgis/Debbie Zarlin
(212) 514-7600 ext. 333/305
blaizgis@catalystwomen.org or dzarlin@catalystwomen.org

CATALYST CENSUS FINDS SIGNIFICANT GAP BETWEEN TWO TIERS OF AMERICA'S LARGEST COMPANIES IN NUMBER OF WOMEN BOARD DIRECTORS

NEW YORK, December 15, 1999-America's 500 largest companies are significantly more likely to have at least one woman board director than the next largest group, according to the 1999 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of the Fortune 1000. Eighty-four percent of Fortune 500 companies have at least one woman on their board; only 62 percent of Fortune 501-1000 companies have women directors. Further, 190 companies in the Fortune 501-1000 group have no woman board directors, compared to 81 in the Fortune 500.

For the first time, Catalyst has expanded its annual count of women board directors to include the entire Fortune 1000. Since the first Catalyst Census in 1993, the number of Fortune 500 companies with at least one woman board director has increased by 21 percent. According to Catalyst President Sheila Wellington, "It is our belief that by shining a spotlight on the full Fortune 1000 list, we will eventually see similar growth."

The divide between the two tiers of companies becomes even more pronounced when focusing on multiple women directors: 39 percent of the Fortune 500 have two or more women directors vs. 20 percent in the Fortune 501-1000 (nearly a 2:1 ratio). Fortune 500 companies are more than four times more likely than the Fortune 501-1000 to have three or more women directors (45 Fortune 500 companies compared to 10 Fortune 501-1000 companies.)

However, even within the Fortune 500, scant progress has been made since 1998. According to the 1999 census:

There is one index in the Census, however, that has risen consistently year after year: the number of companies with multiple women board members. For example, the number of companies with more than one woman director has increased this year to 196 from last year's 188. In 1994, there were 146 companies with more than one woman director. Five years ago, there were only 19 boards boasting three or more women; now that number has more than doubled to 45 this year. "Additional analyses of change over time in the Fortune 500 show that the percent of companies with multiple women board directors is rising," says Wellington, "while the percent of companies with zero women directors is getting smaller. At the same time, the percent of companies with one woman director remains virtually unchanged."

This year, Catalyst was able to obtain data on women-of-color board directors from 777 companies. Out of the 8,463 board seats among those companies, only 159 are held by women of color, thus comprising 1.9 percent of the total board seats. African-American women represent the largest minority group among these directors, accounting for 111 of the 159 board seats. Hispanic/Latina women hold 25 board seats, Asian women account for 18 seats, and 5 board seats are listed as held by "Other."

Catalyst is the nonprofit research and advisory organization that works with business to advance women. Its dual mission is to enable professional women to achieve their maximum potential and to help employers capitalize fully on the talents of their female employees. In 1993, Catalyst published its first Census of Women Board Directors of the Fortune 500 to measure women's progress in corporate governance arenas and, in 1996, launched the Catalyst Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners.

For more information about Catalyst and this Census, please visit our web site at www.catalystwomen.org or call 212-514-7600.

Editor's Note: Many Star Trek fans complain about the lack of women in leadership positions in the TV show's 24th century setting. We find it relevant to present the above information as an indicator of how well (or not) society is doing in the 21st century.


Thanks to Roxanne for sending the next two items:

American Indians Overlooked by Presidential Candidates, Parties
By Chaka Ferguson - Associated Press Writer
January 13, 2000

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Gov. George W. Bush says during an Iowa campaign stop that he's pumping thousands of dollars into an ad campaign to court Hispanics, describing it as "a fresh start for America."

From the church pulpit where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "Mountaintop" speech on the eve of his assassination, Vice President Al Gore invokes the name of the slain civil rights leader to rally blacks in Memphis, Tenn.

As the presidential campaign heats up, the leading contenders are reaching out to minority groups: women, blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. But there is one group that hasn't been wooed, stroked or courted. The nation's oldest inhabitants -- American Indians.

"We are not even getting a blip on the radar screen of major candidates," said JoAnn Chase, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, a nonpartisan Washington-based lobbying group that represents more than 250 tribes.

Political black-tie fund-raisers are almost nonexistent on the nation's 550 or so reservations. Buses filled with candidates and their entourages rarely pull up to campaign rallies in Indian country. And while some tribes have strengthened their political clout and gained influence through the financial successes of tribal casinos, most American Indians still remain largely outside of the political sphere.

In fact, President Clinton's visit to the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota last July was the first by a chief executive since Franklin Roosevelt passed through Cherokee country in North Carolina on vacation in 1936. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was the only presidential candidate to speak at the NCAI's national convention in October. And he is the only major candidate who has taken his campaign to the Navajos, the country's largest tribe with 225,000 members and a reservation that spans three states.

Tribes have been wary of Bush, the Texas governor, especially after he was quoted in The (Syracuse) Post-Standard in October as saying "state law reigns supreme when it comes to the Indians, whether it be gambling or any other issue."

The governor refused to elaborate on his comment at the time. But Bush spokesman Scott McClellan repeatedly has said Bush respects the "long-standing tribal sovereignty and self-governance of Native Americans."

Bush has promised to run a "positive, inclusive campaign" that reaches out to people across the United States, McClellan said. McCain, Gore and Bill Bradley, Gore's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, did not respond to several requests for comment.

Most American Indian leaders cite demographics, economics and historical disenchantment with the political process as major reasons why politicians make so few overtures to their people. American Indians make up one percent of the population, with 2.4 million people, and are among the poorest. Also, many aren't registered to vote.

"If you line up Indian dollars to other interests, it doesn't bode well in a process that is dominated by dollars and numbers of votes," Chase said. "The perception is that you don't carry a lot of weight in determining the outcome."

Times are changing, though, and both parties are beginning to take notice of the growing political muscle some tribes have shown in important states like California, where tribes won approval for gambling despite opposition from the powerful gambling industry in Nevada.

In California, tribes are using their success with the gambling initiative to broaden their political leverage to other issues such as tribal sovereignty, taxes and dealings with labor unions. "We are not a huge voting bloc like Hispanics and blacks, but in key states, we matter," said Gwen Carr, former political director of American Indians for the Democratic National Committee and former executive director of the state party in Arizona.


Report: Glass Ceiling Limits Women Astronomers
January 13, 2000

ATLANTA (Reuters) -- Even the cosmos has a glass ceiling, according to information to be discussed at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society this week.

Things are not as bad as they were a half century ago, when women were barred from using some of the biggest telescopes in their work. But a report on the status of women in astronomy found they sometimes get short shrift in the job market.

"First, it is clear from the statistics gathered by various experts that discrimination based on gender is faced by women in astronomy and physics at all levels, from entering students to highly qualified professionals striking the glass ceiling," wrote Margaret Burbidge, a pioneer woman astronomer.

Burbidge, an astronomer at the University of California, San Diego, was writing in the January edition of "Status," a publication of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy. The AAS is meeting this week in Atlanta and is taking up the question of women's status in the profession.

About 15 percent of astronomers are women, with great variance from country to country. A survey presented in "Status" found that virtually all "youngish" astronomers -- those 10 years on either side of their doctoral date -- believed there was gender bias in the field of astronomy.

Among young women astronomers, 94 percent said they were treated differently than their male counterparts, and the survey's author noted this difference was sometimes positive. But 66 percent of women in the survey said they expected their careers would be hindered because of their gender.

About one-quarter of astronomy graduate students were women in 1999, and that percentage stayed about the same in the post-doctoral realm, but the percentage of women dropped in the higher-ranking areas of academia, up to full professor, according to a "Status" survey. In a section of "Status" set aside for anonymous comment on gender issues, participants gave anecdotes from their work lives:

Lynn Cominsky, a professor of physics and astronomy at Sonoma State University in California and an AAS press officer, found the selection process for certain jobs was so narrow that only a few candidates would even qualify. Of that small pool, only the top woman candidate would likely be hired, while second- and third-ranking men would probably get jobs, she said.

Cominsky, who works in the esoteric field of X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy involving high-energy particle physics, also found that women tend to gravitate toward work with ground-based telescopes. In her speciality, Cominsky said, there were only three women among hundreds of men.

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