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

July 16, 2000 ---------- Vol. 7 No. 4 ---------- Star Date: 36723.6


Editor's Note
Captain's Log
TV Schedule
The USS McNair's Mission
McNair Ready Room
Chief Medical Officer's Log
Comm Channel News
Code 47 via Subspace Radio
Science & Space News
From Data's Humor Chip
Real-life 'Patriot' May Have been a Racist
Afraid of the Dark
Reparations for Slavery?
Fun On The Internet

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


Once again, I am pleased to provide an issue that is jam packed with news, rumors, and upcoming events. Be sure to read the Captain's Log so that you don't miss the achievements of both former and present USS McNair crew members.

Also, the ship has several away missions planned. Friends and other sci-fi fans are welcome to join us. For more information, see the Comm Channel News section.

Have we seen too much of the Borg? Or too much of Seven of Nine? While the "Code 47 vis Subspace" section of this newsletter contains tnews and rumors about upcoming Star Trek films and TV shows, it also contains information on current and upcoming sci-fi films. For humor with a different perspective, be sure to read the "From Data's Humor Chip" section.

As an editor and writer, it is with sadness and anger that I report this information about the Boston Globe newspaper. Current readers have noted that the newspsper no longer offers several high-quality articles, features, and columns. The reason is that the newspaper has attempted to change the contractual agreement with its freelancer writers. Essentially, the newspaper wants to retain the rights of the freelance writers' past and future articles in both print and electronic version, without providing adequate comepnsation for the electronic versions.

One column I enjoyed that no longer runs in the Boston Globe is "Ever So Humble" by Linda Weltner. At Weltner's Web site, you can more about how the Boston Globe newspaper has mistreated Weltner and why she decided to stop doing business with the newspaper. Reportedly, about two-third's of the newspaper's freelance writers have made a similar decision. The new contracts are very one-sided arrangements.

Unfortunately, more newspapers and magazines will likely attempt to expand their control over writer's materials, especially when this information is also published electronically via databases or the Internet. The impact from this will also affect the sci-fi and Trek information you read (and will soon pay for) via the Internet. One-sided agreements like the Globe's make it much more difficult for freelance writers to earn a living; particular in a business that is already very difficult. Unfair and unreasonable agreements like the Globe's do not compensate freelancers for the quality material they provide. There is enough money via Internet sales for publishers to share electronic revenues with freelancers and still make a profit.

To read the text of the Boston Globe's new contract and why it is unfair, visit the National Writers' Union Web site. Weltner also became a plaintiff in the freelancers' class action suit. To send complaints and letters of protest to the Globe, visit the Contact the Globe page or Boston Globe Online Feedback.

At the N.W.U. Web site, you can also learn what you can do about this situation. For one, I have stopped buying and reading the Boston Globe newspaper until a fair arrangement is reached with the freelance writers and photographers. I have also stopped reading the newspaper's Web site and will support the class action suit. I now read the Boston Herald newspaper daily.

George Jenkins
First Officer
Stardate 36723.6. July 16, 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!

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


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.

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


Captain Kevin Johnson reporting
Captain's Log July 16, 2000
Stardate: 36723.5

The summer of 2000 is a busy time for the USS McNair crew. There have been and will be several away missions to the movies, miniature golf, and a picnic bar-b-que. Todate, the crew has seen the films "Titan AE" and "Chicken Run." Later this month, the crew will see "X-Men" and "Rocky and Bullwinkle." Friends and other ships are invited to join us. For more information, contact Vorlon Ambassador Ken Dumas.

Also this summer, several present and former crew members have reached milestones that are worthy of recognition and congratulations. I am very proud that the USS McNair crew takes the time and effort to recognize these achievements. It is one item that distinguishes us from most other sci-fi clubs.

On behalf of the USS McNair command staff and crew, I would like to congratulate Amy Weaver and Marc Johnson on their recent marriage on July 1, 2000 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada! Besides the wedding ceremony and reception, the weekend-long event included an outing to watch the Canada Day fireworks and another reception at the Ontario Science Center. What a way to marry in style!

Congratulations also goes to Ambassador Ken Dumas who is also an adjunct professor at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley College. Later this month, Ken begins teaching classes on Adobe Photoshop graphic design. Way to go, Map Man!

Congratulations also goes to Ensign Todd Carmel, who recently passed his exam to start an advanced eudcation in teaching. Way to go Todd!

Great news! Internet World in Chicago just announced their six categories of "Best of Show" awards. Roxanne's company, OrderTrust, won an award in the Commerce category with their SmartSettlement offering. You can read the full text of the press release about the award at OrderTrust's Web site. Congrats to Roxanne and her coworkers!

Our First Officer, George Jenkins's company Digitas, Inc. recently won several Internet industry awards. Forrester Research recently rated Digitas, Inc. as a leading e-comerce integrator and interactive agency. Advertising Age, in its survey of 100 interactive agencies. Forrester also awarded Digitas the highest rating of any interactive agency, 3 1/2 stars, for the quality of its work and its client relationships. At the @d:tech.World 2000 conference, Digitas received a Gold award for "Best Interactive Design Site," for its work on the L.L.Bean Web site. George worked on the navigation and site architecture for the revised site which debuted in the fall of 1999.

On a somber note, on behalf of the ship I would like to wish the Klingon a speedy and full recovery from her illness. Like any proud and independent Klingon warrior, Val has kept quiet about her situation. Like Commander Worf, she does not easily or frequently complain. The USS McNair crew will be organizing post-operative support activities. To contribute or for more information, please contact the USS McNair Captain or First Officer.

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

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


You know the deal. It's summer and that means reruns. We expect the fall television schedule to be available around late August or early September.

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

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


By George Jenkins, XO
Star Date: 36723.2 (July 16, 2000)

These days, not much is happening on the small tube. Voyager is in reruns and I am not a fan of the CBS's so-called reality-based TV show "Survivor." This show is lame. Why? Read on.

Sure, over 6,000 people applied to be on the show. CBS interviewed only 800 people and chose 48 finalists. It's still lame. My teenage son has a rougher time at his YMCA summer camp in Connecticut. How's that? consider this: according to the June 9th Entertainment Weekly magazine, the "Survivor" show participants receive unlimited amounts of suntan lotion (50 SPF), bug repellant, tampons, anti-diarrhea tablets, iodine, Band-Aids, aspirin, contact lenses solution, hand sanitizers, personal medications, and condoms. How rough can this be? Is this survival? I think not.

Do "survivors" need hand sanitizers? And unlimited amounts of it? My teenage son doesn't get unlimited anything at his summer camp. Unlimited condoms? My son definitely doesn’t get these either at his summer camp.

If anything is happening on television, it is the surge in commercials. Consider these facts from the June 9th Entertainment Weekly magazine (page 22):

And network television executives wonder why the television audience had steadily declined during the past decade? Duuhhh! These executives need to wake up and smell the crap they are shoveling! There is this little tool called the Internet where users can view what they want when they want. And as bandwidth increases, we Internet users will be able to download the animation and movie clips we want to without commercials; or at least watch the commercials and banner ads at those Web sites that provide value.

Users will shift to the medium and shows that provide the greatest value-added or utility. No amounts of gratuitous T&:A or scantily clad babies will reverse this trend. (Voyager executives are you reading this? You cannot sustain a show with only Seven of Nine. Big boobs does not make quality television. Even Pamela Anderson Lee learned this. She decreased her bust size, took acting lessons, and increased the quality of her acting.)

Rather than learn from this, television executives seem hell-bent on going for the short-term dollars. Radio revenues are up 15% over 1999. The major television networks generated more advertising revenue than ever in the 1999-2000 TV season: $16.8 billion, a record amount. A TV viewer would logically conclude that with such huge increases in revenues the networks would increase the quality of programming.

I’m not holding my breath. This viewer concludes that network executives don’t care if we views complain while watching TV; just as long as we continue to watch their TV.

Fearless leader of the Trek franchise, Rick Berman, continues to hint at what the next Trek series might be. I only hope that he remembers that "quality matters." I hope that he assembles a high-quality writing team. In a recent interview in Star Trek Communicator magazine (#129) Berman said, "Brannon Braga and I are right now actively working on the story for the pilot episode which we hope to be writing soon. We'll be discussing the pilot episode story with the studio shortly and we hope to be starting on the screenplay within the next four to six weeks. We are extremely excited about the story idea - this is really a unique and fresh approach to Star Trek."

A timeframe for the new series hasn’t been set yet. It could debut in the fall of 2001. Accordint to TrekToday, Paramount has registered three Internet domains:,, and Some fans speculate that this indicates that the next series will focus on the Enterprise during the early years or the birth of the Federation.

My guess is that Paramount is probably doing the 'ole CYA maneuver. Corporations regularly register several similar domain names to protect their trademarks and intellectual property. It's always better to have the domain name and not need it, than to need the domain name and not have it registered.

Berman continues, "From the very beginning, my mandate to both Brannon, and myself was that we felt it was imperative that we not give the fans just another variation on the last three shows. We just didn't want to slap another crew on another starship and give it another name and send it on its way. I think that after 500 episodes, and a year from now it will be 526 episodes, that it is time for something that is a dramatic departure both for the fans and also for the people involved in creating these shows on a week-to-week basis. So we put a very big task in front of ourselves and, for the last six months, Brannon and I have been working daily on this and we are anxious to tell you and the fans and the public what it is all about but the studio wants to wait until the proper time."

It's time for a dramatic departure alright! It's time for Berman and some of the slumbering writers, that have let Voyager go on auto-pilot, to dramatically depart from Paramount. It's time for the arrival of some writing and producing talent that will take risks; that will maintain the consistency of the Trek univers; that will keep the show honest. The actors have worked hard on the show. It's time for the writing talent to carry its weight.

A big task indeed for Mr. Berman and company.

As if this wasn’t enough, I received the following email message back in April:

From: "Michelle Erica Green"
Date: Sat, 08 Apr 2000 17:10:52 -0000
Subject: [NowVoyager] Kate Alert: Dissolution

KMAS Inc., Kate Mulgrew's fan club, will be shutting down effective immediately. Ms. Mulgrew and the members of the board of directors are each dealing with a number of personal commitments which make it impossible for us to plan club gatherings, attend to correspondence, or offer any of the other amenities which people expect of an official fan club.

This is just a brief notification to let people know that we will no longer be involved in forwarding gifts, passing on requests, etc. More details will follow when I have more information. If we owe you a refund for the cancelled New York luncheon or for a recent renewal, please be patient with us, as we need to let the checks clear the bank before we begin to send money back.

Please do not contact the club about any correspondence you have had or wish to have with Kate Mulgrew. All inquiries should be forwarded to the studio:

Kate Mulgrew c/o Star Trek Voyager
Paramount Pictures
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

On a personal note, I want to say that I have truly enjoyed meeting the people who make up this club and sharing our enthusiasm for Captain Janeway. Best wishes to everyone.

Michelle Erica Green

P.O. Box 88341
Carol Stream, IL 60188-8341

This makes one wonder what Paramount is doing to ease the situation. The fan club for the show’s leading character and captain folds up. While I wish Kate Mulgrew and her family all of the best, this message gives the impression that Paramount has the V’GER series in "cash cow" mode. That is, they plan to milk it for as much money as possible and let it die the horrible death we see on the screen each week.

So with nothing happening on television I’ll focus my comments on the big screen.

According to Variety, writer and director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) might write the fourth Indiana Jones film. Shyamalan is in discussions with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford about the film’s script, which Spielberg would direct in 2002. In 1993, Lucas, Spielberg, and Ford agreed to do a fourth Indy movie. If an agreement is reached, Shyamalan will start writing in January 2001 after he completes his supernatural thriller "Unbreakable" which will star Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.

The plot for "Unbreakable" is a tightly guarded secret. However, Internet rumors describe the plot as a supernatural and Sixth Sense-like story that focuses on blue-collar workers in Philadelphia. Co-star Bruce Willis plays a security guard and survivor of a train accident who learns something "special" about himself afterward. He also meets up with a mystery man played by Jackson. Robin Wright Penn plays the female lead (a role she won after Julianne Moore took a pass to star in Hannibal). The film is currently shooting in Shyamalan's hometown, Philadelphia.

Robert Gordon has completed the script for the Men in Black sequel (MIB2) and delivered it to Columbia Pictures and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment. Columbia wants to director Barry Sonnenfeld to direct again with actors Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

The Coming Attractions Web site reported a rumor that Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue) may appear in Star Wars: Episode II and Episode III. Quoting an unnamed source, the site said Smits will appear briefly in Episode II, but have an expanded role in Episode III. Smits will reportedly shoot his role for only a few days, either this summer in Australia, where most of Episode II will be shot, or later this year. The site didn't name or describe Smits' character. The site also reported that the character of "Beru," the woman who was Luke Skywalker's aunt in Star Wars, will appear in Episode II as a young girl. Meanwhile, actor Hugh Quarshie, who played Capt. Panaka in Episode I, has been asked to reprise his role, though he has not signed on yet.

If you haven’t seen the film Chicken Run, then I suggest you flap you wings and see it soon. It is one fowl movie with lots of laughs. The movie has jokes for both adults and children. The film about "plucky poultry with a plan" includes a lot of action and humor. Several jokes play on the tensions between Americans and the British. After watching this film, I learned that chickens indeed do have lips and can swing-dance.

In case you don’t know the film’s plot, a group of chickens attempt to escape a chicken farm. Their fate is to either die trying or die frying. Their leader, Ginger, cooks up several feather-brained escape attempts. Several fearful chickens and an aged rooster squawk at Ginger’s new escape plan. The final chase scene is extremely entertaining as it parodies the films "The Flight of the Phoenix" and "Air Force One."

A friend commented that, "[Chicken Run] contains a lot of thought-provoking scenes that lend well to class-, nationalistic, and gender-based interpretations." I like the scenes taken from classic films such as "The Great Escape" and "Stalag 17." One extremely funny scene included a couple inside jokes from the original Star Trek series. With these inside Trek jokes, either producer Aardman, co-directors Peter Lord and Nick Park, or script writer Karey Kirkpatrick must be Trekkers.

Reportedly, the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain rejected a new advertising campaign that would have debuted with the film’s opening. The rejected KFC advertising campaign was titled, "Eat the Ones That Didn’t Escape!" Executives from the Mrs. Winers and the Church’s Chicken restaurant chains declined to comment. I say that KFC executives probably chickened out.

Meanwhile, the Burger King restaurant chain got a leg up on its competition with their new TV advertising campaign, "Save the Chickens! Eat a Whopper."

The USS McNair scifi club also saw the film "Titan AE." With little happening on television we have increased out away missions to the movies. I found Titan AE entertaining. I loved that there was an Asian female lead. The special effects and animation were stunning with truly alien settings. I found the plot predictable and thin. The character Korso seemed inconsistent and the motivations behind his treachery seemed artificial. The teenagers in our group loved the film. Fox has shown itself to be a worthy competitor to Disney in terms of a high-quality, animated movie.

For me, there was too much rock and roll in the music score for my tastes. A little more R&B, hip-hop, or rap would have made the music score better. One USS McNair crew member summed up the music score: "Well, it was cheesy, white boy, electronic R&R!" I am glad that we went to a matinee instead of a full-priced viewing.

Do you miss the DS9 television series? Do you wonder what has happened to your favorite characters? I do. Well there is good news. Wildstorm Comics shipped "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine--N-Vector" on June 14, according to the official Star Trek Web site. N-Vector, written by K.W. Jeter with art and cover by Toby Cypress, is a four-part series that picks up the story after the disappearance of Captain Ben Sisko. Major Kira is in charge of the Federation outpost, and the new adventure involves Quark's lending habits, a Romulan researcher and sabotage. The comic book series will introduce new characters that will also appear in a new series of DS9 paperback novels coming from Pocket Books later this year. Of course, you can continue to read the novels from Pocket Books to get your DS9 fix.

Shatner Continues to Loudly Go The Captain James T. Kirk Singalong Site has been absorbed the Web site The combine site offers a new look, new information, new songs, and a few surprises. The site includes expanded music selections from Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, Patrick Strewart, Brent Spiner, Tim Russ, Jeri Ryan, and Captain Quirk. Facts and trivia accompany each performer, too. The "Soundtracks" section features music from all four Star Trek series and all nine movies!

Some highlights:

The film Free Enterprise, co-starring William Shatner, won the Best Genre Home Video Release category at this year's Saturn Awards (Sci-Fi Wire). George Takei was among the guests at the 11th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards on June 3rd (West County Times). Mr. Takei is also a narrator of "Alien Oceans: The Voyage to Dharmok's Gate." The film opened at the Burke Baker Planetarium (part of the Houston Museum of Natural Science) on June 16th (Sci-Fi Wire).

Reportedly, Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi in TNG) will appear as a guest star in an upcoming episode of Stargate: SG-1. The broadcast date was not known at press time. I hope her role in SG-1 expands. We have seen entirely too much of her and Lt. Barclay (Dwight Schultz) as Paramount over-uses the Troi-Barclay chemisty attempting to contact Voyager.

Unfortunately, we will probably see more of them as Paramount will probably want to save money by reusing the Starfleet communications set as many times as possible.

In her newsletter "Hailing Frequencies," guide Julia Houston writes, "If you're eager for news about the new series *Andromeda,* then you'll be delighted to learn that a certain very news-oriented Trek Webmaster is planning to devote his talents to a site on *Andromeda* as well. We'll also have to deal with a certain mouthy Guide as a review writer, but that can't be helped. (sigh) More news on this when I'm given permission."

According to Entertainment Newswire, the new biograpy series "Sciography" will devote an entire episode to the story of the TV series "Babylon 5" on Sunday, September 24, 2000 at 9 PM (ET). The story will accompany the start of the rebroadcast of the "Babylon 5" TV series in letterbox format exclusively on SCI FI beginning September 25th. The series will air Monday through Friday at 7 PM.

The Fresno Bee newspaper recently interviewed actor Robert Beltran (Chakotay on Star Trek Voyager). He said some interesting things about the show, guest actors, and generally about his acting career. Some excerpts:

"He is the funniest guy on the set," says Ethan Phillips, who plays Neelix on the show. Beltran plays the dashing Commander Chakotay, the Native-American who is second in command of the starship. "He consistently makes me laugh. I bet he didn't tell you that he is a great mimic. He can do Robert DeNiro, Burt Lancaster, Ronald Reagan, Ed Sullivan. And I mean he is pin-drop perfect," says Phillips.

"The fans are generally great. Fans of 'Star Trek' are intelligent and support the show because they believe that it is good, positive television. There is no gratuitous violence or sex. It is good, one-hour morality plays, " Beltran says. "Fans are rarely intrusive as only a small minority cross the line."

Beltran deals with all of those acting distractions by keeping his feet planted firmly on the ground. He's a second-generation Mexican-American whose roots run deep in the central San Joaquin Valley's dusty soil. His grandparents -- Romulo and Louisa -- lived in the same house in Bakersfield for 30 years. All seven of his brothers and two sisters are Bakersfield born.

To read the full interview, point your Web browser to Keep On Trekking 'Serious;' Actor Finds Time for Fun in the Cast of Sci-fi Voyager".

The movie "The Perfect Storm" features TNG actors Bob Gunton and Christopher McDonald. Gunton played the Cardassian-hating Captain Ben Maxwell in the TNG episode "The Wounded." McDonald played the doomed Enterprise-C crewman Lt. Richard Castillo in "Yesterday's Enterprise."

The film "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" features Jason Alexander as the villain Boris Badenov. Alexander played Kuros in the V’ger episode "Think Tank." Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan) also appears in the film.

Have we seen too much Seven of Nine? The Star Trek Guide at is running a poll about Voyager’s Seven of Nine. When asked, "Do you think we see Seven on Nine on Voyager….?" 40% of fans said "Too Little." Voyager executives please note: 60% of fans checked "Just Enough" or "Too Much." Almost as many fans (36%) checked " Too Much" as checked "Too Little (40%). Now that Brannon Braga isn’t writing for the show, reducing Seven’s air time shouldn’t be a problem. Poll results compiled on July 3, 2000.

Gee, they never asked the question, "Do you think that we see too much of the Star Trek Voyager series?" An even better question to ask, "Do you think that we see enough high quality scripts and writing on the Star Trek Voyager series?"

Have we seen too much Borg? The Web site had asked a very relevant question: Who would you like to see as the main villain in the next Star Trek film? As we suspected, Paramount has over-used the Borg as an alien threat. Fans voted for the following:

  1. 34.6% - Something New and Unseen
  2. 24.3% - The Romulans
  3. 13.8% - The Dominion
  4. 13.5% - Species 8472
  5. 9.2% - Combination of the Above
  6. 3.7% - The Borg
  7. 0.5% - The Son'a
583 fans voted through July 3, 2000.

Other news from around the Internet: Daniel Hugh Kelly (Sojef in the film Star Trek Insurrection) will direct his first film, the independent feature "Shooting Blanks." Filming starts in October. Mr. Kelly will play President Kennedy in a forthcoming NBC miniseries, "Jackie, Ethel, Joan: The Women of Camelot." The series will debut in November.

Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan in TNG) renewed her Hollywood Squares contract for the 2001-2002 season. Armin Shimerman (Quark in DS9) and wife Kitty Swink will perform "Love Letters" at the Mount Hood Repository Theatre in Gresham, Oregon, on July 7, 8, 9, 15, and 17th.

Scarlett Pomers (Naomi Wildman in V’ger) had a guest-star role in the TV series "ER" with the farewell to Nurse Hathaway. On June 7th, Jeri Ryan hosted the 40th anniversary showing of "The Time Machine" at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. The actress will appear in Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000 to be released in December.

The Kes Internet Support Society is campaigning for Jennifer Lien’s return to Voyager again, either as a guest-star or returning as a regular. I hope that this fan group argues for a quality script. It doesn’t help the actress if she returns in another failing episode with a poor script, such as last season’s "Crazy Kes Returns" episode. (Note: the real V’ger episode name was "Fury." It still stunk.) If you want to write directly to the show’s writers, use this address:

Kenneth Biller
c/o Star Trek Voyager
Paramount Pictures
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

William Shatner appeared in the season finale of the hit NBC comedy "Third Rock from the Sun." Gee, just when I was getting gtired of seeing him dance and sing in those awful PriceLine commercials. At least he’s sporting a high-quality toupee.

According to a story in Scifi Wire, Patrick Stewart confirmed that a 10th Star Trek movie would happen featuring the TNG crew. The actor mentioned few details. A director has not been selected and the script is not finished.

The Excelsior Campaign began phase II last month! Phase I included a letter writing campaign. Phase II includes a series of public rallies in front of Paramount and in front of the local Trek television affiliates around the world. See the group’s web site for details and to join the email list. Paramount is considering other concepts, but the group seems undeterred.

Why the Excelsior Campaign? Why is this important? The Star Trek Galactic Newsletter perhaps said it best, "Over the past seven months, since the announcement of Star Trek: Voyager's final season this coming fall, fans have been fighting for a series that fills in some empty gaps. I would like to encourage the fans to continue fighting for Excelsior. Paramount does not really [care] about what the fans want. Star Trek has collapsed under the weight of Rick Berman. Berman was just a Paramount executive when he was assigned to the pre-production team of [TNG]. He used that to get up to be Gene Roddenberry's second in command. Berman has no real sense of what the Star Trek fans want. The closest involvement he ever had with the classic Star Trek was with the Enterprise-B scenes in [the film] Star Trek Generations… Tell Rick Berman you want Excelsior. Write Paramount Pictures. Write Sherry Lansing (Paramount's Numero Uno, or chairman). Write Dean Valentine (UPN president). Tell them that you are sick and tired of how Star Trek is. Tell them that you want Rick Berman to be fired. Tell them that you want Paramount to give Star Trek over to those who know what the heck they are doing. Tell them that you want Star Trek to go back to basics. Tell them that you want EXCELSIOR!"

More turbulence for the Excelsior. Pocket Books won't publish a Star Trek novel based on the travels of the USS Excelsior led by Captain Hikaru Sulu, John Ordover, Pocket Book’s executive editor for Trek fiction, told SCI FI Wire. Ordover said that fans failed to rise to his challenge to write 1,000 letters to him by May 1, 2000 seeking such a book. Ordover said that he received only 826 letters. Ordover added that Pocket Books will continue to use the Captain Sulu character as appropriate in their novels.

Those of you who are alert will recognize the connection: if Pocket Books doesn't see enough demand for Excelsior books, then Paramount definitely won't think that there is enough demand for an Excelsior TV series.

Speaking of campaigns, fans of the canceled CBS TV scifi series "Now and Again" are trying to rally to save the show with a letter-writing campaign like the one that helped get The WB's teen alien series Roswell picked up.You can read all about it at the Save Now and Again Web site. If you decide to write to CBS, use these addresses:

CBS Audience Services
524 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 975-3166
CBS Programming: (323) 852-2202

Leslie Moonves
CBS Entertainment
7800 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (323) 852-2345. Fax: (323) 653-8276

Michael Jordan
CBS, Inc.
51 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 975-4321

According to Fandom, Lolita Fatjo is Leaving the Voyager crew. Fatjo worked for the Franchise for 13 years including the entire TNG series. She has been the script co-ordinator for TNG, DS9 and V’GER. She was promoted to the pre-production co-ordinator for V’ger. Part of Fatjo’s responsibilities included processing the spec scripts received from fans and writers. She also set up "The Writers Workshop" along with Eric A. Stillwell in 1991.

In 1993, Fatjo and the Writers Workshop visited a convention in Boston where I met her and the founding members of the USS McNair. With dreams of becoming a contributing writer to the show, I bought my first TNG scripts at that 1993 convention. I wish her all of the best in her future endeavors. She is a class act.

Are many staffers leaving Voyager? Well, people have left the show's staff. The list includes people who have had a huge impact on the Franchise: executive producers and co-creators Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor; writers Joe Menosky and Ronald D. Moore. Moore wrote many quality scripts for the TNG and DS9 series, but found it impossible to contribute effectively on the V’GER set. An important observation is that none of people who have left are working on either the next series or the next movie. That speaks volumes about the future level of quality we can expect.

Former TNG and V’GER executive producer Michael Piller and his son, Shawn, are developing Day One, a science-fiction pilot for The WB network. The Pillers have formed a production company called Piller2 (Piller Squared) to develop TV and film projects. Day One is a proposed hour-long action-adventure show about survivors 60 years after an asteroid has collided with the Earth and altered its climate. The pilot was reportedly shot earlier this year in Vancouver and is being considered for a mid-season replacement series next year. Day One is based on a British science-fiction miniseries of the same name.

How bad was the movie "Battlefield Earth?" Some of the fan reviews and email comments I have received said it better than any professional critic.

A fan wrote on one email list, "I made the mistake of seeing Battlefield Earth last night. I had read the book and was looking forward to seeing Forest Whitaker's portrayal of Ker in the movie. This was a god awful attempt of writing. If you hadn't read the book; this movie made no sense at all. If you did read the book; this movie made no sense at all."

USS McNair crew members weighed in with their views, too. Klingon Colony wrote, "The reviews said the story was veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery bad. To me it looked like a bunch wantabe Klingons with a very bad weave." Joan added, "I believe that the critic in the Washington Post said that a million monkeys with a million crayons in a million years could not make a movie as bad as Battlefield Earth."

The State of Science Fiction Movies What can we expect from science fiction today? Should it only entertain us? Should it be a "light show" or should it have a social message? Should it be a means to display only the latest graphic technology?

Growing up, a lot of science fiction warned of pending doom, destruction, or pain due to mankind’s abuse of the environment, weapons, or segments of the population. Science fiction films, books, and television shows had a message. This was a large part of the appeal of the original Star Trek series. One can name numerous examples of sci-fi works with messages: the TV show "The Twilight Zone," for example. There is a though-provoking commentary online that explores this subject:

Star Bores
By Daniel Richler
Saturday Night Magazine - June 10, 2000

"Science-fiction movies used to thrill us, teach us, and move us. Have the films changed or have we?

In 1984-that is, 1948-George Orwell foresaw a movie audience howling with laughter as a fat man, swimming desperately from a ship under fire, is riddled with bullets and rolls over in the waves like a punctured whale. Earlier this year I sat watching Brian De Palma's interplanetary epic, Mission to Mars, in which Tim Robbins's character, an affable space cowboy named Woody, commits suicide to save his wife and crew:

MEDIUM SHOT: Floating helplessly in space, Woody takes off his helmet and is turned instantly into a slab of creased black ice.

CLOSE-UP ON: His wife in her spacesuit, tearful, disbelieving.

WIDE ANGLE: Woody drifts away to burn up in the Martian atmosphere.

PULL BACK TO: The audience howling with laughter! Me, I sat there moved almost to tears by the man's sacrifice, wondering if I was the only sensitive person left on earth. As the movie riffed off a catalogue of references to the great space movies, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, derisive hooting turned to something like anger.

"This could be the grand sucking vortex of big-budget science-fiction movies," wrote Eye, an alternative Toronto weekly. The sentiment was echoed all over the Net and the mainstream media, but what struck me was that no space flicks these days are spared the litany of filmgoers’ gripes. Contact, Sphere, Deep Impact, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Event Horizon, Pitch Black-all have been met with, at best, crabby indifference. This does not bode well for the opening this weekend of the animated sci-fi epic, Titan AE, or even the re-release of 2001 in December.

The crowd at Mission to Mars seemed personally offended by the film, as if outer space were now a public domain wherein all images and dialogue must be democratically vetted and approved. But I thought De Palma was deliberately saying that the old familiar space epic is washed up. It's clear he made no effort to show us anything new: the spacecraft are antiques out of Kubrick, and, anticlimactically, the alien is the same old skinny, big-headed doll Whitley Strieber popularized in Communion thirteen years ago. De Palma served up these clichHs cold as a reminder to us that no matter how deep we press on into space, the only thing that will ever matter is family. Of course, an earth-shattering disclosure like this is not what SF fans hope for, and their reactions to similar conclusions at the end of Deep Impact and Contact were just as aggressive.

It's unclear what people actually want from space movies these days. A bug hunt? A cool dystopia? A haunted house with retro rockets? You would think that cosmic revelation is the key-whether the featured aliens are angels or demons, they've got to answer the question, "Are we alone?" But, if that was all people wanted then they'd still be going to church.

The problem may be that at the start of the new millennium all these scenarios have been exhausted; we're in the post-post-postmodern age of sci-fi, a kind of time warp whirling with futuristic special effects but looking backwards with all those ironies and satires and arcane references."

My reaction to the film was so out of step with the popular attitude that I thought I should phone Graham Yost, Mission's Canadian co-writer.

"Actually, I never met De Palma, I just mailed the script in," Yost said. He was clearly in a rush. "And when I saw the movie I laughed-especially the part where Woody commits suicide."

"You did?" I said. "What about the fundamental message about family?"

"You know, I was working on a big space adventure. If De Palma was working on family then that's too bad. Had I known I would have given more three-dimensionality to the characters, some metaphysics like in The Matrix. Sorry, I gotta go - I've got Lakers tickets."

Okay. But if the movie did suck, why then did I still feel some kind of gravitational pull to its ideas?

"There's an apparently insatiable appetite out there for the Grand Explanation," Mark Kingwell, professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, told me. "But Star Trek leached a lot of philosophical energy from the movies. It seems to me there's no point in making space flicks anymore, for the same reason that fireworks displays have that vaguely depressing quality-there's nowhere you can go with them."

We've been spoiled, ruined maybe, by special effects. They've surely blinded us to the simple wonder of it all. Still, I'd rather be accused of earnestness than cynicism, and I know I'm not alone, especially after I spoke with Roberta Bondar, Canada's star astronaut.

"I have to admit," she said, "that I'm in a phase where I'm cynical about cynics, about critics. People feel we're far more sophisticated than we really are. They're bored by the Space Shuttle, where real people are risking their lives. They think there should be something more."

Hollywood doesn't seem to be able to answer the big questions, and now that we're inured to the sight of exploding galaxies and imploding astronauts, it's not going to impress us like it used to. Maybe it's fitting that the only scenes in Mission to Mars that everyone agrees were magnificent were the exteriors, shot right here on earth, with Jordan standing in as the Red Planet. Driving back from the cinema I'd noticed the sun setting over Lake Ontario and thought, What could be more awesome than this? The massive success of the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York proves that people can still be moved by the fundamentals. And a piece of Crown land in Georgian Bay was recently designated as a "Dark Sky Reserve," a place off-limits to development in order to preserve the visibility of stars. How about that-dark sky is now considered a precious resource. Mission to Mars is no longer at a cinema near you, but if you hurry you might be able to lie on your back in the grass and catch the Crab Nebula."

Recently, the SciFiNoir email discussion group ran a poll asking subscribers which sci-fi movie sequel they would like to see: Matrix 2, ID4-2, or T3? Well, we kow that we soon will see Matrix 2, so I won’t comment on that. T2 was great and I don’t see how they could build upon that wonderful story. A well-made time travel story is very difficult.

I'd like to see Blade Runner 2. Did Decker (Harrison Ford's character) and his replicant companion (Sean Young's character) survive? Where exactly did they go? How did they make a living?

The SciFI Channel recently broadcast the wide screen edition of "Blade Runner." I'd like to see a squel that includes replicants of other races. In the original we only saw white replicants. There seems to be a lot of messages that a sequel can explore about slavery, seduction, profiteering, genetic engineering, and ethical choices that builds upon what the original explored. Given recent advances in cloning, the sequel could explore issues regarding clones vs. replicants. In the film we never saw how other nations approached the issues or the activities of any activist groups (e.g., free the replicants).

Also, in the original film we never saw how the replicants were used beyond Earth in mining and other slave activities. I think it would be an interesting movie given a good script and appropriate director. It could explore stuff far beyond what Star Trek has done. The only Trek script that comes close to Blade Runer is the TNG episode "The Measure of a Man" that includes the trial about whether Cmdr. Data is property of Starfleet or an individual.

Pocket Books will publish a new series of Trek books this summer. "Star Trek: New Earth" will comprise six novels set in the time period between the first and second Trek films. The series will focus on the U.S.S. Enterprise as it travels beyond the borders of Federation space to help establish, explore, and defend a new colony of settlers on a planet called Belle Terre (French for Beautiful Earth). The last book, Challenger, will pave the way for a new New Frontier-style series of books to be written by Diane Carey. If Berman and company fail to launch the new TV series, then there will be plenty of novels to fill the gap.

© 2000 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.

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


This arrived recently via email:

"People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do. When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are."

"They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on."

"When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real!"

"LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person (anyway), and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind, but friendship is clairvoyant."
-- author unknown

For the medically inclined among us:

If you want to know more about mosquito-carried diseases, then you will find the new Mosquito-Borne Viruses Web site of interest. HSPH research on West Nile Encephalitis has been a boon to public health agencies up and down the East coast since the discovery of West Nile Encephalitis in New York City last year.

This site contains a clear explanation of West Nile Encephalitis and other types of mosquito-borne viruses, in addition to mosquito lore, frequently asked questions, and suggestions for what people can do to reduce their own risk of mosquito-borne viruses.

If you are a parent and you are looking for support or to network with other parents, then there are several options in the Boston metro area. The "Eat well, do good" event will be held on Monday, August 7th at the Austin grill at 350 Mass. Ave in Cambridge. One-third of restaurant sales after 5:00 PM will be donated to PARENTS FORUM. For more information about Parents Form, visit their Web site.

Starting in September, the Medford Family Network will offer free parenting classes based on the Love and Logic approach. I’ve taken this class and it has brought the joy back into parenting. I am not stressed out anymore. It has also made parenting three teenagers much easier. For more information visit the Parenting with Love & Logic Web site.

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


I bought this book from It was so good that I wasn’t able to stop reading it! Once I picked it up I had to finish it. The book is as good as I hoped that it would be.

The author, a White male, addresses all -- and I mean all -- of the stereotypes, attitudes, perceptions, and misconceptions. That is, you can read about the stereotypes, misconceptions, and attitudes Whites have about Blacks and Blacks have about Whites. He addresses all of the subjects: hair, buttocks, TV shows, finding a place to live, athleticism, intelligence, DWB, dating, cleanliness, affirmative action, the O.J. Simpson trial, and so forth. Confronting the stereotypes we all have and getting past them is the only way we, as a society, are going to really understand each other.

The author is very honest and direct in the discussion of these topics. The presentation is balanced in that he presents the stereotypes, fears, and attitudes that BOTH sides have. It is a very refreshing book it its honesty, scope, and readability. It is an easy read. The facts and statistics do not get in the way. The author doesn't pretend to have or know all of the answers.

The book's main theme: by avoiding the subject of race, we all suffer. As a society we are unable to talk about race. Hence we don't know and don't understand each other. Without the opportunity to learn more about each other, we all suffer. And we - society - will never deal with it effectively until we can talk about it. No one group has the answers.

This book should be required reading for all U.S. citizens and junior high school students. It is an excellent primer for White folks since many of them never take the time to think about these issues; and many live in an area without access to Blacks (or other minorities) where they can learn. The dynamics between Whites and Blacks could easily apply between Whites and Asians or others. The author addresses some of the issues between Whites and Hispanics, but the focus of the book is how Whites and Blacks view each other.

You may also find the below book review insightful:

'Afraid of the Dark' Sheds Light on Race By D. T. Lee
Emerge Magazine – April, 2000

In the months leading up to his death, Malcolm X wished he could amend his dismissive reply to a White coed's earnest question about what she could do to eliminate racism. In his autobiography he writes: "America's racism is among their own fellow Whites. That's where the sincere Whites who really mean to accomplish something have to go to work."

Jim Myers takes up this challenge in his new book, "Afraid of the Dark: What Whites and Blacks Need to Know About Each Other," as he attempts to analyze both seemingly trivial and serious sources of misunderstanding and distrust among Whites and Blacks. Myers isn't the all-too-familiar White intellectual telling Blacks what they need to do to improve their situation. Instead, he offers revealing anecdotes, statistics, and advice in the belief that as these groups understand each other better the tensions between them will subside.

The author starts by candidly addressing the question of what gives him the insight to write this kind of book. A former writer with USA Today, Myers is married to a Black woman with whom he has biracial children. He espouses interracial relationships of all kinds as one way to demystify interactions with other racial groups. Throughout, Myers paints a convincing image of himself darting back and forth across the color line making careful notes.

The author addresses his argument largely to Whites. He takes this group to task for being largely disrespectful, at best, and malicious, at worst, toward the people who share this country and the world with them. One of Myers' most striking examples involves John Hope Franklin, the eminent historian and chair of President Clinton's panel on race. At upscale hotels on separate occasions, Franklin was approached by White strangers and alternately was handed trash to throw out and asked to fetch a woman's coat from the cloakroom. Worst of all, a White man addressed the then 80-year-old Franklin as "boy" and offered a set of keys to retrieve his car.

Myers doesn't go far enough to answer how some Whites can be oblivious to their own sense of entitlement. For example, it would have been enlightening to hear from those who don't acknowledge that their family trust funds may be the compounded interest on the wages not paid to Black mill workers, slaves, and sharecroppers. Also, the book does not address those Whites who simply do not want to share this country (or the world) with people of other races.

As the author tries to cover everything from reparations to the question of whether size matters, the book seems a bit too long. But Myers spends a good deal of time spelling things out for Whites because, he says, most don't think about or discuss race relations until something as polarizing as a race riot (or the O.J. Simpson trial) comes along. At the same time, and to his credit, Myers is careful not to make broad generalizations by sticking to what he knows and admitting he doesn't know everything.

"Afraid of the Dark" adds a down-to-earth dimension to the large number of often dispassionate texts that attempt to wend their way through the barbed wire of race relations. Myers may not have all of the answers, but his book offers a good place for conversations to begin.

If you live in the Boston area and would like to learn more, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education offers a very interesting course: People of Color: White People Challenging Racism. The course description:

"This series is for white folks who are committed to racial justice and to doing something about it. We may think that we are not racist, but as whites raised in a society steeped in white supremacy, racism is deeply ingrained in us - so deeply in fact that we may not even know it. We need to come to terms with this and to take on the task of re-educating ourselves, making explicit the systems that privilege us at the expense of people of color, and figuring out how we can stand against these systems into which we are so tightly woven. It's not a simple matter - it takes steadfastness of purpose, practice, and a good measure of loving kindness. We'll have the opportunity to meet with white people who have taken a strong and effective stand against racism, and to learn from them as well as from each other. Because we believe that doing is the most powerful way of learning, we will not only explore, but will actually practice strategies for challenging racism - in ourselves, in each other, and in the institutions around us."

Have American students benefited from a diverse classroom population? What conclusions have teachers drawn? >The American Council on Education (ACE) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have introduced a new Web site that presents three studies of college teachers' and students' attitudes toward and experiences with racial and ethnic diversity. The study concludes that "campus diversity represents an educational benefit for all students-minority and white alike -- that cannot be duplicated in a racially and ethnically homogeneous academic setting." To learn more, visit Does Diversity Make a Difference? Three Research Studies on Diversity in College Classrooms. The study’s authors "strongly support the proposition that practices such as race-sensitive admissions lead to expanded educational possibilities and better educational outcomes for all students, regardless of race or ethnic origin." Opponents have already questioned these conclusions, claiming that the report overlooks the legal and ethical difficulties associated with admissions based on racial preferences. At this site you can download the full text of the report, read it for yourself, and decide.

© 2000 George Jenkins. All rights reserved. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Prior Issue


From NASA Science News for June 30, 2000:

"June 30, 2000 -- On the 4th of July, Earth will be at its greatest distance from the Sun in the year 2000. But don't expect any sudden relief from the heat. Northern summer will be as warm as ever despite our arrival at a distant part of Earth's orbit that astronomers call ‘aphelion.’ "Earth moves in an elliptical orbit," says George Lebo, an astronomer at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. "We make our closest approach to the Sun (147.5 million km) in January -- that's called perihelion. We're at the greatest distance (152.6 million km), or aphelion, in July. This year aphelion falls on Independence Day holiday in the U.S." To read the full story, point your Web browser to: Aphelion Day .

Geordi La Forge’s visor is one step closer to reality. From an article in Wired News: "Blending neurobiology with computer design, scientists have created artificial neurons on a silicon chip, a step that may lead to everything from better artificial-vision systems for robots and computers to better prosthetic eyes and ears for humans. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs made the chip from a network of neuron-like circuits that behave in many ways like cells in the brain." To read the full story, point your Web browser to: Building a Smarter Circuit.

The official Star Trek site lists a fun article about recent scientific discoveries that parallels technology in Star Trek. To read the full story, point your Web browser to Science Roundup: Mars, Lasers, Hyposprays & Warp Speed (June 22, 2000).

From a CNN news report: "A rocket fueled by what some scientists consider a fourth state of matter could boost payload capacity and slash travel time to Mars, according to NASA, which agreed this week to work with a Montana company to develop the advanced technology. Rockets powered by electrically charged plasma gas could carry a cargo of more than 100 tons and reach the red planet in only three months, NASA said. A mission fueled by a conventional chemical rocket would require at least eight months to reach Mars." To read the full story, point your Web browser to Plasma Power Could Usher in Human Travel to Mars (June 15, 2000).

The planet Mars is in the news. "In what could turn out to be a landmark discovery in the history of Mars exploration, imaging scientists using data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft have recently observed features that suggest there may be current sources of liquid water at or near the surface of the red planet. The new images show the smallest features ever observed from Martian orbit -- about the size of a sport-utility vehicle. NASA scientists compare the features to those left by flash floods on Earth." For the full story, point your web browser to New Images Point To Recent Water Activity (June 22, 2000).

You may also find this article interesting:

The Salty Tears of Mars
"Sydney - June 23, 2000 - In a recent paper presented at the 31st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference two Russian researchers highlight various common salt solutions that have surprisingly low melting points. Mars' soil is now thought to be very salt-rich. They suggest that such liquid brines may frequently erupt to the surface during Mars' periodic axial tilts to 45 degrees or more every hundred thousand years."

A scifi fan submitted this description about the Apollo Surface Journals: "It's actual copies of the originals with hand corrections and additions. Nothing spectacular, but rather fascinating, if you like that kind of thing." The journals are a record of the lunar surface operations conducted by the six pairs of astronauts who landed on the Moon from 1969 through 1972. Your computer will need the QuickTime 4.0 plug-in to view the video clips, and the RealPlayerG2 plug-in to hear the RealAudio and RealVideo clips.

I say wow! This is great stuff! If you are under the age of 28, then the lunar landings are truly ancient history for you. It’s hard to describe the excitement that there was in July of 1969 when humans first landed on the moon. Everybody watched it on television.

© 2000 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.

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


Star Date: 36723.5 -- 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: May 14, 2000
Attendees: Alison, George, Joan, Jocelyn, Ken, Roxanne, Todd

  1. Dues are due. If you haven't paid, please come with check or mail it to the PO box. Please make checks payable to the USS Ronald E. McNair
  2. Welcome guests
  3. Upcoming away missions. Howard Cronson, of the USS Mcauliffe, and I have talked about a possible joint social function between the two ships. This could be a picnic or visit to an amusement park this summer (e.g., 6 Flags New England, mini-golf, etc.)
  4. Summer away missions: what else we may want to do outside as a group now that it is warm and sunny and there is no RebelCon. Last year, we did the George's Island trip in Boston harbor
  5. Upcoming flicks: Battlefield Earth. When do we want to go see it?
  6. Any other new business any member wishes to raise

Date: June 11, 2000
Attendees: Alison, George, Joan, Jocelyn, Ken, Kevin, Roxanne, Sabrina, Sally, Todd

  1. eviewed notes & decisions from the last meeting. Sat., July 8, 2000, 2 pm. Mini-golf at the Village Greenin Natick on Rte. 9. Dinner afterwards at Nick's on Rte. 135. Second Sat. in August: picnic or bar-b-que. Future meetings: Sept., Joan; Oct., Todd; Nov., George.
  2. Movie dates. Matinees. Exact times and locations to be announced. June 24th: Titan AE. July 1st: Chicken Run. July 22: Rocky & Bullwinkle. July 29: X-Men.
  3. Las Vegas trip to see the Star Trek Exhibit. The group agreed to the week of April 22, 2001.
  4. McAuliffe Farewell Party on the Lake, July 1 - 4th. Lake Winnisquam, NH
  5. Birthdays: Ken and Kevin
  6. Fun activity: watched the movie "Mystery Men"

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)
Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


FYI. I found the article below on the Internet recently and thought that you might find it interesting, especially if you plan to see the film. KCRA-TV is a Hearst-Argyle TV station in Sacramento, California. Here's the article:

'The Patriot' A Racist?
KCRA-TV -- June 20, 2000

Although the name of the lead character in Mel Gibson's upcoming historical epic "The Patriot" has been changed, the actual events of the film leave no doubt that it is based on the life of Francis Marion, who in real life may have been far less heroic than the character Gibson portrays, the London Express observed Tuesday.

According to the historians cited by the newspaper, Marion's prowess as a Revolutionary War fighter was overshadowed by his reputation as a racist who hunted Indians for sport and regularly raped his female slaves.

According to Christopher Hibbert, a British expert on the American Revolution, Marion "was a wily and elusive character, very active in the persecution of Cherokee Indians and not at all the sort of chap who should be celebrated as a hero."

"The truth is that people like Marion committed atrocities as bad if not worse than those perpetrated by the British," Hibbert said. A source at Sony Pictures told the newspaper that the film initially was supposed to be promoted as a fact-based film about Marion, who was known as The Swamp Fox. "However, they couldn't go ahead once historians gave them chapter and verse on the life of The Swamp Fox so they changed his name (to Benjamin Martin)," the source said.

"The Patriot" features DS9’s Rene Auberjonois (Odo) as Reverend Oliver. Also appearing is Leon Rippy as John Billings. Rippy played revived 20th Century Country star Sonny Clemonds in the TNG episode "The Neutral Zone." StarGuide, a news site for Showtime's 'Stargate SG-1' series, reported that René Auberjonois (Odo) will make a guest appearance on the series. The British science-fiction magazine Starburst first reported this. Auberjonois's episode will air early on in the season.

Does this article above represent America bashing by the British? Did Sony narrowly avoid a real public relations disaster? Or is this hype surrounding the movie? You decide. Either way, it it is interesting.

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


July 8, 2000. Miniature golf away mission to the Village Green in Natick. Tee time: 2 PM.

July 22, 2000. Away mission to the movies to see X-Men. Call for exact time and location.

July 29, 2000. Away mission to the movies to see Rocky & Bullwinkle. Call for exact time and location.

August 4 – 6, 2000. Wizard World Chicago in Rosemont, Illinois. The event calls itself the "2nd largest annual comics and multimedia event in the U.S." Guest of Honor: J. Michael Straczynski ( Babylon 5 ). Other guests: Ray Park ( Darth Maul, Toad )and Joss Whedon ( Buffy). Call (800) 690-1669 for tickets

August 12, 2000. Away mission picnic: USS McNair crew and friends. Call for exact time and location.

Sept. 2 – 3, 2000. Creation Con at the Hyatt Richmond Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. Hours: 12 – 6 pm daily. Guests: Saturday, Bruce Campbell (Autolycus of Xena); Sunday, Garrett Wang (Harry Kim of V’ger).

Nov. 4 – 5, 2000. Creation Con at the Pacific Beach Hotel I Honolulu, Hawaii. Who cares who the guests are? Go to the convention, enjoy the warm weather, and have a great vacation in Hawaii. ‘Nuff said. HONOLULU, HI

Nov. 24 – 26, 2000. Star Trek/ Sci-Fi Media Convention at Hofstra University on Long Island in Hempstead, New York.

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 2000, 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.

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Home | Prior Issue


The following messages arrived recently via e-mail:

Subject: Thoughtful

Think about this one... HOPE YOU FIND THE QUIZ THOUGHTFUL.

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
  4. Name 10 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
  5. Name the last six Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people whom have made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
  6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Was this easier?

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care. Pass this on to the people who have made a difference in your life.

Top 10 Rejected Taglines For The X-Men Movie
By Sonia Mansfield
MotherShip Newsletter – June 23, 2000

Top 10 Least Popular Summer Movie Tie-In Products By Sonia Mansfield MotherShip Newsletter - June 30, 2000

The American Film Institute recently pushed their list of the 100 Funniest Films. The top 20 funniest films:

  1. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  2. Tootsie (1982)
  3. Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying About And Love The Bomb (1964)
  4. Annie Hall (1977)
  5. Duck Soup (1933)
  6. Blazing Saddles (1974)
  7. M*A*S*H (1970)
  8. It Happened One Night (1934)
  9. The Graduate (1967)
  10. Airplane! (1980)
  11. The Producers (1968)
  12. A Night At The Opera (1935)
  13. Young Frankenstein (1974)
  14. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
  15. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  16. Singin' In The Rain (1952)
  17. The Odd Couple (1968)
  18. The General (1927)
  19. His Girl Friday (1940)
  20. The Apartment (1960)
Some of my favorites made the Top 100 list: Ghostbusters (1984), 28; National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), 36; Big (1988), 42; Topper (1937), 60; City Slickers (1991), 86; and The Nutty Professor (1963), 99.

Subject: A Smile

Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu.
When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized I'd passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile , then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin, don't leave it undetected.
Let's start an epedemic quick, and get the world infected!
-- Julie Graham

Everybody has encountered an obnoxious cell phone user. You probably know one. You may even be related to one. This may help:

  1. Thou shalt not subject defenseless others to cell phone conversations.
  2. Thou shalt not set thy ringer to play La Cucaracha every time thy phone rings.
  3. Thou shalt turn thy cell phone off during public performances.
  4. Thou shalt not wear more than two wireless devices on thy belt.
  5. Thou shalt not dial while driving.
  6. Thou shalt not wear thy earpiece when thou art not on thy phone.
  7. Thou shalt not speak louder on thy cell phone than thou would on any other phone.
  8. Thou shalt not grow too attached to thy cell phone.
  9. Thou shalt not attempt to impress with thy cell phone.
  10. Thou shalt not slam thy cell phone down on a restaurant table just in case it rings.
To read the full story and anecdotes, point your Web browser to the following site:

The 10 Commandments of Cell phone Etiquette by Dan Briody
InfoWorld – May 26, 2000


  2. KEEPING YOUR CONSTRUCTION PROJECT UNDER BUDGET AND AHEAD OF SCHEDULE by the Boston Central Artery/Tunnel Project Management with a special introduction by former Massachusetts Turnpike Chairman James J. Kerasiotes
  3. BEAUTY SECRETS by Janet Reno
  4. HOME BUILT AIRPLANES by John Denver
  6. THINGS I LOVE ABOUT BILL by Hillary Clinton
  7. MY LIFE'S MEMORIES by Ronald Reagan
  8. THINGS I CAN'T AFFORD by Bill Gates
  9. THINGS I WOULD NOT DO FOR MONEY - by Dennis Rodman
  10. THE WILD YEARS - by Al Gore
  17. ALL THE MEN I'VE LOVED BEFORE - by Ellen DeGeneres
-- Author unknown

Cowboy Humor

A bunch of Native Americans captured a cowboy and brought him back to the chief. The chief says to the cowboy, "You gonna die. But we sorry for you, so give you one wish a day for three days. On sundown on the third day, you die. What is first wish?"

The cowboy says, "I want to see my horse."

The Indians get his horse. The cowboy grabs the horse's ear, whispers something, then slaps the horse. The horse takes off. Two hours later, the horse comes back with a naked blonde. She jumps off the horse and goes into the teepee with the cowboy. The Indians look at each other, figuring, "Typical white man - can only think of one thing."

The second day the chief asks, "What you wish today?" The cowboy responds, "I want to see my horse again."

The Indians bring him his horse. The cowboy leans over to the horse, whispers something in the horse's ear, then slaps the horse. The horse goes running off again.

Two hours later the horse returns with a naked redhead. She gets off and goes into the teepee with the cowboy. The Indians shake their heads, figuring, "Typical white man - gonna die tomorrow and can only think of one thing."

The last day comes, and the chief says, "This is your last wish white man. What you want?" The cowboy says, "I want to see my horse again."

The Indians bring him his horse. The cowboy grabs the horse by his ears, looks him straight in the eyes and says, "Read my lips, I said POSSE!"

Contributed by John Kezer

I once made a remark about the hidden books of the Bible, it was a lu lu, kept people looking so hard for facts, and for others it was a revelation.

Some were in a jam, especially since the names of the books are not capitalized, but the truth finally struck home to numbers of readers, to others it was a real job. We want it to be a most fascinating few moments for you. Yes, there will be some really easy ones to spot, others may require judges to help them.

I will quickly admit it usually takes a minister to find one of the seventeen, and there will be a loud lametation when it is found. A little lady says she brews a cup of tea so she can concentrate better. And see how well you can compete. Relax now, for there really are the names of seventeen books of the bible in these sentences.

One preacher found sixteen books in twenty minutes. It took him three weeks to find the seventeenth one. This is a really neat brain twister, but they are all there.
-- Happy Hunting

We've all heard the saying, "Nice guys finish last." Well guys, are you a nice guy? Women, is your man a nice guy? Take this test and find out: The Nice Guy Test.

Is your relationship going anywhere? How well do you and your partner click together? Is he a keeper? Or should you "kick that sucker to the curb?" Now you can use the Internet to help you decide: How Well Do You Click?


  1. You! Off my planet!!
  2. Not the brightest crayon in the box now, are we?
  3. Well, this day was a total waste of makeup.
  4. Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.
  5. And your crybaby whiny-hiney opinion would be...?
  6. I'm not crazy, I've just been in a very bad mood for 30 years.
  7. Allow me to introduce my selves.
  8. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
  9. Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.
  10. Do they ever shut up on your planet?
  11. I'm just working here till a good fast-food job opens up.
  12. I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.
  13. Stress is when you wake up screaming and you realize you haven't fallen asleep yet.
  14. I can't remember if I'm the good twin or the evil one.
  15. How many times do I have to flush before you go away?
  16. I just want revenge. Is that so wrong?
  17. You say I'm a witch like it's a bad thing.
  18. Can I trade this job for what's behind door #2?
  19. Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?
  20. Chaos, panic & disorder - my work here is done.
  21. Everyone thinks I'm psychotic, except for my friends deep inside the earth.
  22. Earth is full. Go home.
  23. Is it time for your medication or mine?
  24. Aw, did I step on your poor little bitty ego?
  25. How do I set the laser printer to stun?
  26. I'm not tense, just terribly, terribly alert.
  27. When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you.


Good: Your wife is pregnant.
Bad: It's triplets.
Ugly: You had a vasectomy five years ago.

Good: Your wife's not talking to you.
Bad: She wants a divorce.
Ugly: She's a lawyer.

Good: Your son is finally maturing.
Bad: He's involved with the woman next door.
Ugly: So are you.

Good: Your son studies a lot in his room.
Bad: You find several porn movies hidden there.
Ugly: You're in them.

Good: Your hubby and you agree, no more kids.
Bad: You can't find your birth control pills.
Ugly: Your teenage daughter borrowed them.

Good: Your husband understands fashion.
Bad: He's a cross-dresser.
Ugly: He looks better than you.

Good: You give the "birds and bees" talk to your daughter.
Bad: She keeps interrupting.
Ugly: With corrections.

Good: The postman's early.
Bad: He's wearing fatigues and carrying a shotgun.
Ugly: You gave him nothing for Christmas.

Good: Your daughter got a new job.
Bad: As a hooker.
Ugly: Your coworkers are her best clients.
Way Ugly: She makes more money than you do.

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Prior Issue


It’s summertime! Everybody goes to amusement parks to have fun. Many of us ride roller coasters. Duane Marden developed the The Roller Coaster Database (RCDB) as an easy-to-sue method to find statistics on over 650 roller coasters across North America. The statistics for each coaster include length, duration of ride, height and highest drop, maximum speed and g-forces obtained, and number of inversions. The site lists the designer of each ride and there are pictures of many rides.

Lets play games. The Toyota car company’s Australia Web site presents several interactive, online games. The best game of the bunch is SuperFro. Players start the game with a miniscule afro haircut on top of a what looks like a camel dressed in a white leisure suit ala "Saturday Night Fever." The sound track for this animation uses elements from the original Shaft film score.

Obviously, any good video game includes attacking alien space ships. The more ships you shoot down, or the more Toyota emblems you collect, the larger your afro haircut gets. If the alien ships shoot you, your afro haircut shrinks. Oh! Don’t let the bottles of curl-relaxer get you. Those will shrink your afro haircut, too. Yes, your computer will need the latest version of the Shockwave plug-in.

Another great game you can play on the Internet is "King of the Hill Paintball" at the Shockwave Web site. It’s a lot of fun and the game comes with its sound effects. To find the free game, click on "Search" at the Shockwave site's home page. Then enter the phrase "King of the Hill Paintball" in the keyword search form. If the Web browser on your PC doesn’t have the Shockwave plug-in, you can download it for free at the site. If you like to play games often, then you should download ShockMachine. It allows you to download, save, and play free games locally on your home computer as often as you want.

The Shockwave site has plenty of free arcade, sports, adventure, and puzzle games available, including "King of the Hill Mini-golf," "Shockwave Foosball,"and "Tetris." If you don’t like games, then you can view cartoon shows. Two of my favorite shows are "Thugs on Film: Shaft" and "South Park: Pay Attention Children." Another funny show is "Undercover Cartman."

The next time I need work done on my house, I'm going to go to the Contractor's License Reference Site. At this site you can click on any state in the U.S. and find out if a contractor is licensed there. You can also find out what the licensing requirements are for contractors. The site provides links to the state's licensing agencies, contact information, types of licenses available (general contractor, plumbers, electricians, etc.), lists of training courses available in the state, licensing fees, and more.

With over 75,000 pages, this is the ultimate online resource for beer lovers and homebrewers. The Real Beer Page presents breaking beer news, features, an events calendar, a searchable brewery with over 3,500 entries, a searchable library with original publications, links to related beer sites, a BREWMall with retail items, and a collection of classified beer and brewing links. The site also has contests, games, and polls. was founded in 1999 to present "information and commentary reflecting the diverse concerns of people of African descent." Designed by Harvard Square Netcasting, with Harvard University professors Henry Louis Gates and Anthony Appiah on the its Board of Directors, provides a wide variety of information, lifestyle articles, and news headlines. There is a free email service for registrants, a quiz (AfriQuest), and Radio Africana, listings of radio stations worldwide webcasting Black music.

Sooner or later it was bound to happen. Several companies are starting to fail. That isn’t surprising. Nobody is going to buy online items such as shoes when part of the thrill is trying them on. What is surprising are the "watchdog" Web sites that are tracking these company failures.

My favorite site is Fucked Company. Do you work for a start-up company? Do you own stock in a company? Then this site is one you’ll want to visit soon.

This site delivers the company news and rumors in an interesting, unique, and funny style. The chief feature is that you can subscribe and enter the dead pool game. Based on the companies you pick, players receive points for each company failure or major mistake. The scoring is fairly simple. Events like bankruptcies generate more points than layoffs.

Plus, the site has an extensive set of message boards with rumors and complaints from customers and employees of these failures. The message boards are not for the thin-skinned. If you are easily offended, then I suggest you avoid them. There are some good warnings in there buried amidst the rants and raves.

Another site that tracks company news and failures is This site presents the (bad) news in a straightforward, newsy manner. One recent news item described a racist mistake at the Wells Fargo Web site: "Wells Fargo overhauled an online home referral program that described low-income neighborhoods as places heavily populated by blacks who ‘tend to purchase... takeout food from chicken restaurants.’ "

If your employer is mentioned in either site, then I suggest you update and redistribute your resume.

Pricedecline: In a unrelated move, according to a recent issue of "'National Enquirer TV," William Shatner (James T. Kirk) is selling 35,000 of his shares for an estimated $3 million.

Are you suffering from sticker shock from the high ticket prices at major league baseball parks? Then, try this new Web site: Minor League Now information about the minor league teams, players, and league is easier to find. You can browse a wide variety of information including statistics, team standings, scores, news, schedules, and more for all the AAA, AA, and A Leagues. You can also look up data for individual players, track attendance figures, and learn about the Umpire Corp.

After a friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Rick Voithofer created CancerShock "as a place where people can build new ways of talking about cancer, and themselves-with-cancer." The site features a StoriesBoard, an electronic bulletin board divided into different categories; a collection of quotes; a section called NewToCancer, for people newly diagnosed and their family and friends; Writing Space, open-ended stories that users write with others; and a collection of short Flash animations. Other features include polls, recent cancer-related news, and related links.

Do you have a contract with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to access and surf the Web? Have you bought items over the Internet? If you have or if you plan to, then this is one site you will want to visit. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) created the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) Web site to "combat the growing problem of fraud occurring over the Internet by providing a vehicle for victims around the country to report incidents of fraud online." The IFCC allows cooperation between private citizens and law enforcement agencies in order to track and prosecute fraudulent Internet practices. At the site, you can submit complaints on specific cases of Internet fraud and each complaint is carefully reviewed and referred to a law enforcement or regulatory agency for further investigation.

Created and maintained by Thomas Costa of the History Department at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, the Virginia Runaways Project is a collection of runaway and captured slave advertisements from eighteenth-century Virginia newspapers. The database builds significantly on the pioneering work on runaway slave ads published by Algerna Windley in 1984. At the site, you can browse ads by year or searche by keyword. The site offers full transcripts and images of runaway and captured slave ads placed in Virginia newspapers from 1736 to 1790. The site also includes white servants who were somehow associated with runaway African-Americans.

For over 25 years, collector James Allen accumulated a disturbing but important visual legacy of racial violence in America: photos and postcards taken and sold as souvenirs at lynchings across the country. These photos were recently published in a book accompanied by a number of essays and then placed on display at the New York Historical Society. At the Journal E Web site, users can view the photos as a Flash movie with commentary by Allen or individually in a gallery with over 100 images. Also, more information on Allen's photo collection and the exhibit was offered in a report from National Public Radio's Morning Edition program.

Please note that images at the site are, obviously, graphic and discretion is advised when viewing the site with very young users. I strongly urge all other viewers to visit this Web site. You may also find this article of interest:

Excessive Use of Force:
A new report from Amnesty International summarizes the organization's continuing concerns about police brutality in the USA:

"Amnesty International has just released a new report entitled "United States of America: Race, Rights, and Police Brutality." The report is part of the organization's current campaign focusing on human rights in the U.S.A., Rights for all. According to the report, many victims of police brutality are members of African American, Latino, and Asian communities.

For example, the report cites the case of Mario Paz. Just this last August, a SWAT team from the El Monte police department shot Mr. Paz twice in the backshot while he was in his bedroom. He was unarmed. No drugs were found in the raid and a different name to that of the residents was on the search warrant. The report provides a number of additional examples.

The report also addresses

  • use of dangerous restraint holds
  • inappropriate use of pepper spray
  • use of the stun belt
  • misuse of police dogs
  • harassment of mentally disturbed people and gay people"
To read the full report, point your web browser to: Excessive Use of Force

© 2000 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.

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | Prior Issue


On May 3rd I received an email message which said:

"Yesterday in the Chicago Tribune, U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) told a joint hearing of the Chicago City Council Finance and Human Relation Committee that descendants of African-American slaves deserve compensation from the U.S. Government.

I would like all of you, recipients of this message to go in the computer and vote. These people know that many Black homes do not have computers, and are aware that we as a people don't vote, therefore they are basing Bobby Rush's agenda on weather or not we go into the computer and vote, sets the tone if they will pass this reparation.

I for one don't care if I get compensation for being a descendants of slaves or not, but let's think of our children and their children, children. Please pass this on and YOU go into the computer and vote. Please vote and look at the results at

Don't forget to send this to at least 10 people. PLEASE NOTE THAT IT TAKES LESS THAN 30 SECONDS TO VOTE!"

It’s a rally good idea to use the Internet for activist and watchdog purposes. I visited the Chicago Tribune’s Web site to read the poll. What I found was disturbing.

Every once in awhile an idea comes along that at first seems very sensible and appealing. However, the closer you evaluate it the more absurd and divisive it is; if not impossible to administer. The Chicago Tribune newspaper recently reported a discussion among several Illinois representatives and politicians about whether or not the government should give reparations to the descendants of African-American slaves:

Rush, Others Urge Slavery Reparations
By Rick Hepp, Tribune Staff Writer
Chicago Tribune - April 26, 2000

At the above web site you can both read the article and vote on whether or not reparations should be given. Before doing so, I urge you to consider the following:

I read the poll and found its wording highly offensive. The poll is phrased in a way that shifts the focus onto the descendants of African-Americans instead of focusing on the issue of reparations. The poll's wording: "Do the descendants of African-American slaves deserve government reparations?" I decided not to vote for this for several reasons:

1. I thought that the central issue was whether or not reparations should be paid to a group of people; not whether or not this group *deserved* payments. With its current wording, the poll implies that the vote is about what this group has or has not done to merit a payment of money. This is highly misleading and offensive. This wording subtly implies that it is a vote on the merits of current African-Americans. This shifts the responsibility from one group to another.

2. The issue is not whether or not African Americans vote as the announcement e-mail message suggested. Nor is the main issue whether or not African-Americans have computers and vote using them. There are lots of ways to evaluate whether a group of people are active voters or not. There are lots of ways to evaluate whether certain groups are high computer users or not. The topic of reparations does not have to be used in this manner. It confuses the issue.

3. More importantly, is seems that the central issue is how this country -- and that primarily means WHITE folks since that group is largely in charge and is the dominant group in terms of numbers (e.g., about 82% of the total U.S. population is White) decides to act in a fair and just manner. Will this group support reparations? If not, why not? And if they need to learn more in order to have a conversation, how will they learn what they need to learn?

A more accurate wording of the poll could be, "Should Whites authorize the government to provide government reparations to the descendants of African-American slaves?"

A more *inclusive* wording of the poll could be, "Should U.S. citizens authorize their government to provide government reparations to the descendants of African-American slaves?"

Or an even better wording of the poll might be, "If U.S. citizens authorized their government to provide reparations to the descendants of African American slaves, is that the most effective way to combat racism in the United States?"

A multiple-choice poll would be even better: "What is the most effective method to combat racism in the United States today?

4. Let's consider how feasible it would be to distribute reparations money. Politician Bobby Rush suggested that, "The concept of reparations is simple." Is this true? Let's actually look at the logistics of reparations.

How exactly would this payment be made? The process of identifying African American slave descendants is tricky. What antebellum plantation records or slave rolls would be used, if they exist? And if they exist, are they accurate enough for the task? While some families have tracked their ancestry over the generations many haven't or can't. During slavery, many slaves were forbidden to read or write, so keeping a family tree was difficult at best.

If slave rolls are used, one could argue that many true descendants of slavery that are eligible wouldn't receive payments because either they don't have the documentation or the documentation is incomplete. In this instance, some resentment would surely result among African Americans who miss out on reparation money.

In the newspaper article, one of the reparation proponents Alder-person Dorothy Tillman suggested that "all [African Americans] are direct descendants of slaves." Hmmmm. That suggests that reparation money should be given to all African-Americans in the country today without any documentation or eligibility rules. So, someone who is the descendant of a free black would get paid. And any African-American-looking immigrant who arrived last month, last year, last decade and who didn't have any slave ancestors in the United States would also receive reparation money.

To pay all African-Americans without some eligibility requirements would send a message to the broader population that I think that Tillman and the other proposal's proponents really don’t want to send. It effectively says to the U.S. population that it is okay to play "fast and loose" with your hard-earned (and paid) tax money. It sends a message that many could argue is an irresponsible management of money to pay reparations to all African Americans regardless of eligibility. Some resentment amongst Whites would surely result.

And how much money are we talking about? Blacks or African-Americans make up about 11.4% of the population or 31.4 million people. If each receive about $20,000, then the total payment would be $628 billion. We are not talking small change here. (Why $20,000 per person? I'll address that soon enough.)

I argue that many people would strongly disagree if the U.S. government decided to give away $628 billion to a group of citizens. There'd be much discussion, fears of tax increases, and resentment.

5. There is the issue of former U.S. citizens. The reparations proponents seems to be saying implicitly that payments would go only to U.S. citizens. Consider this: Many slaves fled slavery through the "Underground Railroad" through Buffalo to Canada. Are these people eligible for reparations? And if not, why? On what basis would they receive reparation payments? What documentation would be used? How many more people would this include? And how much would it cost?

The absurdity of the reparations proposal becomes increasingly apparent. The proposal's divisiveness quickly starts to exceed its benefits.

6. There is the issue of biracial or multiracial individuals. If one can prove their ancestry to both Whites and Blacks, should payments be made to these individuals? What about African-Americans who are passing for White? They may *look* White, too but be able to prove their ancestry to African Americans. Would payments be made based upon looks? How would representatives Tillman and Rush identify who is African American and who aren’t?

The proposal's proponents didn't address this issue. They seems to be implying that the "One Drop Rule" should apply. Continuing the "One Drop Rule" supports a certain form of racism where part of a person's ancestry is more valued than another part. I wonder if the reparation proposal's proponents have thought about the implications of this. Consider this example: The descendants of Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson are the descendants of both slaves and slave owners. Are they eligible for reparation payments? Or do they receive a prorated share?

Implementing the concept of reparations would be difficult at best. Developing eligibility rules is full of thorny issues and problems. Developing a workable implementation plan is even trickier and likely to produce divisions. It seems to me that this would breed more resentment within both Blacks and Whites than the goodwill it might produce.

7. Reparations have not solved bigotry against Native Americans. You may recall that the government has already offered monies to Native Americans in several Northwest and Midwest states for land that was stolen from them and for broken treaties. Many Native Americans wanted the land returned instead of a cash payment. If you think about it, there is a certain logic and respect about wanting the land and not cash.

Reparation payments have not solved bigotry against Japanese Americans. You may recall that the government already gave monies to Japanese Americans that were illegally imprisoned in internment camps in the United States during World War II just because of the color of their skin. The U.S. Government paid $20,000 per person, which seemed to me and to many Japanese Americans to be very small and insufficient given that homes, businesses, land, and jobs were lost. Is $20,000 an adequate payment for all that was lost?

How does one put a price on the effects of slavery? How does one put a price on the lost opportunities? How does one put a price on the poor housing, lynchings, beatings, rapes, and broken families during slavery? How much is enough? $20,000? $50,000? $500,000?

The absurdity of the reparations proposal becomes increasingly apparent. The proposal's divisiveness quickly starts to exceed its benefits. The reparations issue takes our eyes off of the prize of making today's society more just.

8. There is the issue of who is making the reparations payment. The proponents suggest that the government make the payment. As an African-American, that means the government reparations is really taking money out of my pocket through taxes and then giving it right back. What is really gained by this approach?

Why not have the businesses that profited during slavery make the reparation payments? Many insurance, shipping, and agricultural/farming businesses today existed during slavery. For example the ancestor of the insurance company Aetna sold antebellum insurance policies to plantation owners.

Does this sound impossible? Earlier this year, Aetna Insurance *apologized* to African-American slaves' descendents. Our government has yet to do that. And an attorney in South Carolina is suing Aetna and several other companies for reparations from profits made during the slavery period.

If you want to read about both the Aetna apology and the lawsuit, visit any of the following links:

In Aetna's Past: Slave Owner Policies
By Peter Slevin
Washington Post – Thursday, March 9, 2000, Page A17

Aetna Apologizes for Slave Policies Issued 150 Years Ago
Associated Press - March 10, 2000

Lawyer To Hit Aetna For Reparations
Associated Press – Sunday, March 19, 2000

Other Firms on Attorney's List; Descendant of Slaves Asks Aetna to Pay $1 Billion in Reparations
Wilmington Morning Star - March 20, 2000

So now I wonder why Representative Rush and other Illinois reparations supporters have targeted the government as a payer of reparations instead of the ancestors of current U.S. businesses. I wonder if Rush and others are taking the easy way out. Or are they playing politics to gain an edge on their political rivals? Unfortunately, The Chicago Tribune article didn't address this issue.

9. A one-time payment of money doesn't really solve anything. Sure some people might receive money to pay bills, pay for an education, buy land, or buy a home. Does reparations make today's society more just? Does reparations make today's society more fair? Does reparations solve bigotry today such as DWB? Does it ensure fair hiring and promotion in employment? I don't think so. After reparations, I can imagine a conversation in response to complaints about racism today, where Whites would be able to say, "What are you Blacks complaining and whining about? We paid you for that. What's the problem?"

Reparation payments are dangerous and seductive in that it takes our eyes off of the prize. It can divert us away from the focus to make today's society more just and fair for all citizens. Reparations can divert us from the goal of teaching each other how not to be and act with prejudice.

I would love to see an anonymous 12-Step program for bigots and people to learn how to behave fairly and justly. People need a safe place to learn how to interact with others who are different. And often this applies to Whites because many of them have few or no interactions "along the color line" with other groups. (Minority groups are forced to develop their skills with interactions "along the color line" in order to survive in this society. If you want to read more about why this is so, there is an excellent book called, "Afraid of the Dark: What Whites and Blacks Need to Know About Each Other" by Jim Myers. You can buy it online at

Is a class on bigotry a crazy idea? Actually, there already is such a course that is a first step in this direction. The Cambridge Center for Adult Education near Boston offers a class:

People of Color: White People Challenging Racism
Cambridge Center for Adult Education

In the class, students increase their awareness about the destructive stereotypes in U.S. society and how to act in a more fair and just manner.

I would rather work towards a solution where all citizens are held accountable for acts of bigotry. I would rather work towards a solution where all citizens learn to interact more positively and consistently "along the color line." Reparations would probably backfire in that it would produce resentments and divisions that would far outweigh any benefits.

On this issue, Representative Rush and the other proponents of reparations are severely misguided. There are many other more effective, more inclusive, and less resentment-producing solutions.

George Jenkins
May 6, 2000

Note: If you want to learn more about race relations or reparations, then I strongly urge you to visit the Race Relations Web site at

© 2000 George Jenkins. All rights reserved. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

Table of Contents | Top of Issue | TREK Humor | Prior Issue