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

September 15, 1998 ---------- Vol. 6 No. 1 ---------- Star Date: 36053.6

CONTENTS

Editor's Note
Captain's Log
Chief Medical Officer's Log
Treasurer's Report
The USS McNair's Mission
McNair Ready Room
TV Schedule
Comm Channel News
Lack of Visions
Tears of a DS9 Fan
Code 47 via Subspace Radio
From Data's Humor Chip
Kidbits
NASA Notes
Fun On The Internet
Online Workshop: Make The Link

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EDITOR'S NOTE

It was the year 1998.

It was the year of decision. It was a year of loss. It was the year we lost Jadzia Dax. It was the beginning of the seventh and final season for DS9. It was the year the number of Voyager episodes (93) surged far past the number of Classic Trek episodes (79).

It was the year Paramount decided the fate of "the franchise." Would the franchise continue successfully into 1999 and the next century with a single television series in production? Would fandom accept Voyager in this role? Would the show's writers get the Voyager crew get home, so fans could view expisodes with the full political intrigue of the Alpha Quadrant? Would The Doctor get a name?

It was the year fans accepted the fact that the novelty of the 7 of 9 character had (finally) worn off. It was another season without Kes. It was the year of the ninth feature film, and probably Patrick Stewart's last. It was the year fandom made some decisions about itself. Would the Internet replace conventions? Would the price of con tickets continue to soar to exhorbitant heights, or drop with the stock market? It was the year that sales of collectibles and licensed merchandise began to peak.

It was the year 1998 and this is the USS Ronald E. McNair's Intercom newsletter. Welcome!

I am pleased to present another issue for your reading enjoyment. If this is your first visit to the USS McNair's web site, then you are in for a treat! You'll get some news about the world of Trek, Babylon5, sci-fi and space exploration, plus some humor.

So, stay awhile. Browse this newsletter, and the prior issues.

George Jenkins
First Officer

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LACK OF VISIONS: Babylon 5,
the Internet, and the Death of Fandom

By Ken Dumas

Last July, a friend of mine and I went to the Visions convention at the Bayside Expo Center in Boston. I was very excited since I hadn't attended a convention for quite some time. The guests included Claudia Christian, Erin Gray (from Buck Rodgers) and the remaining cast from the "Lost in the Space" television series. Despite the great lineup of guests, the convention lacked something,... intimacy.

It felt like a family reunion where I was the one serving drinks. The dealers room was large, but it felt like a half empty airplane hanger. The main sitting room had the worst accoustics. I could barely hear Claudia speak. She only talked for 10 minutes. I asked myself, "where is the fun?" Conventions are supposed to be crowded, intimate affairs. You can hang out with strangers who love the same thing you do.

A month later I went to Rebelcon. Though much more intimate, the turnout was embarrassingly small. I still had fun, but I wanted more people. "Where had all the fans gone?" I asked. During the past two years, I saw a large turnout at Rebelcon.

Three weeks later, I attended the Boston Star Trek Association's 25th anniversary party. It had an even smaller turnout. Doesn't anyone go to cons anymore? Then, I realized that sci-fi fandom isn't what it used to be.

For fandom to work it has to just happen. It cannot be forced. In the early 1970's when Star Trek the series fandom began, it was people getting together to share a common love of Star Trek. This love grew, and over the years it had enough influence to bring about change. The original test vehicle for the NASA shuttle was named Enterprise. Paramount began making Star Trek movies.

Then in the late 1980's a new TV series began, "Star Trek: the Next Generation." Along the way Madison Avenue figured out that a lot of money could be made. Once fandom becomes a franchise, it is dead. Star Trek in all its forms became saturated in the cultural lexicon. It was everywhere. It was hip to be a Trekker. By being so popular fandom was destroying itself. The conventions lost that sense of pure fandom and became money making machines with tons of merchandise and high priced autographs. The cons became about the money and not about the love of the show.

When Babylon 5 began almost 6 years ago, I thought it would save fandom. I had never seen this kind of intensity of fandom in my life. People who had taped the episodes were having B5 marathon parties; getting their friends caught up on missed episodes. Conventions were teaming with life and vitality. Panels on B5 were packed, standing room only. People would talk for hours discussing who the Vorlons were, what the Shadows were up to, and so forth.

But like Star Trek, Babylon 5 became too popular. The underground, cult quality of the show was lost once it was bought by TNT cable TV. With its heavy rotation and promotion, B5 became too popular. I'm glad that TNT saved B5 from cancellation, but at the same time it has destroyed the show's charm.

The show is no longer special; that undiscovered gem that only you and your friends know about. Now with the "Crusade," I fear B5 will become a franchise like Star Trek - something that JMS said would never happen.

It seems that for fandom to work, there as to be an underground, cult quality to the show. It has to teeter on the brink of cancellation each season. That way, each year the show is renewed it is a triumph. The show in some level has to stay undiscovered by the general population in order to promote healthy fandom. They do not have conventions for "ER," "NYPD Blue," or "Seinfeld" because we all watch those shows. Cult (e.g., not very popular) shows bring people together in a way no other shows do. This is fandom at it best.

Now comes even more bad news: the Internet. Since most sci-fi fans are on-line, the demand for Conventions has grown smaller. You do not need to get together with your friends from both far and near 2 or 3 times a year at a con because you can interact with them nightly in a chat room. You can even interact with people you have never met. This quenches the needs of fandom.

Cons don't have the resonance they once had because there is too much money to be made, and fans feel they do not have to be in the same room with other fans to share the love of a show. The cons end up being large scale, bland, un-intimate affairs.

We fans are just going to have to wait for some even less popular TV show and hope that nobody finds out about it,... ever.

© 1998 USS Ronald E. McNair. All rights reserved. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

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McNAIR'S MISSION

INTERCOM is published quarterly. Copyright © 1998, USS Ronald E. McNair. All rights reserved. Questions, comments, permission requests, and submissions should be sent to the INTERCOM Editor, USS Ronald E. McNair, P.O. Box 255159, Boston, Mass. 02125 - 5159.

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

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

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

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CAPTAIN'S LOG

Stardate: 36043.3
Captain Kevin Johnson reporting

September 5, 1998

Here on earth it is September which signals the end of summer. Summer is the relaxing time of year for most if not all of my crew that grew up in the United States. When we were younger, school was let out for the summer, and in general people still feel that relaxing feeling even when they are no longer in school, but at work.

I hope that you all had some time to relax this summer because now that September is here your life will start to become more hectic. Remember, the USS Ronald E. McNair will be one of those few places you can come and relax with fellow sci-fi fans at meetings (2ND SUNDAY OF THE MONTH), a movie (STAR TREK 9 in November), a marathon (BEST/WORST SCI-FI MOVIES, B5 etc), and a convention (UNITED FAN CON). The USS McNair is not all fun and games. We still have a mission, and we will continue to come up with ideals on activities that will support our mission and that our club can participate in.

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

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TV SCHEDULE

Here's the latest, based upon reliable web sites.

STAR TREK: Deep Space Nine - 7th Season (Unofficial)
#Date#TitleStar Date
15006/13/98550Tears of the Prophets(Season Finale)NG
15109/26/98551Image in the SandNG
15210/03/98552Shadows and SymbolsNG
15310/10/98553AfterimageNG< /TD>
15410/17/98554Take Me Out To The HolosuiteNG
15510/24/98555Treachery, Faith And The Great RiverNG

STAR TREK: VOYAGER - 5th Season (Unofficial)
#DateEpisode #Prod#TitleStar Date
9305/20/98STV426[194]Hope And Fear51978.2
9410/14/98STV501[195]Night< /TD>NG
9510/21/98STV502[196]Drone NG
9610/28/98STV503[197]Extrem e RiskNG
9711/04/98STV504[198]Once Upon a TimeNG
9811/11/98STV505[199]In the FleshNG

BABYLON 5 - 5th Season: "The Wheel of Fire"
Air DateEpisode#Production#Title
98/10/28106519The Fall of Centauri Prime
98/11/04107522Wheel of Fire
98/11/08----The River of Souls (TV Movie)
98/11/11108520Objects in Motion
98/11/18109521Objects at Rest
98/11/25110522aSleeping in Light
99/01/03--TNT MoW4A Call to Arms
99/01/06----The Babylon Project: Crusade
Sometime in 2000The motion picture debuts in theaters!

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.

Sources: Vidiot: DS9 | Vidiot: Voyager | The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5
Credit: Thanks to Ken for The B5 data!

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CODE 47 VIA SUBSPACE RADIO

By George Jenkins, XO
Star Date: 36048.3

You Can't Do That on Babylon 5! is a new web site by two USS McNair crew members. The site features fan created artwork and clipped images with a humorous and irreverant view of the television series.

In his Web site, author Ethan H. Calk, presents several stories he pitched to Paramount for DS9 and Voyager. Paramount bought a few stories which aired on television. Calk also describes his experience of pitching and successfully selling a story. THose of you who have written spec scripts and have pitched stories (like I have) will find Calk's experience familiar and informative.

Several news wires reported on September 8, 1998 that actor Leonard Nimoy walked out of the radio studio during an interview by shock-jock Howard Stern. Stern asked Nimoy, "Is your penis pointed like your ears?" Nimoy's reply, "Let's call this off." Hurray for Nimoy! Booo to Stern!

In his new book, "A Vision of the Future: Star Trek Voyager" Stephen Edward Poe provides vivid "behind the camera" descriptions of the daily work routine, the interactions and conflicts between employees, the grueling film production pace, the impact of cost and schedule overruns, the professionalism, the dedication, the motivations, and the sense of humor of the executives and employees at Paramount who produce the weekly Voyager television series. Anyone who believes that the business of television is glamorous will think otherwise after reading Poe's book.

Poe painstakingly presents the viewpoints of a variety of employees including security guards, photographers, directors, actors, executives, writers, set designers, and special effects wizards. You can browse copies of internal memoes, and learn about specific industry and Paramount jargon such as "forcing a call," "the franchise," "Okudagrams," "Call Sheets," "wild walls," "breaking a story," and why employees sit on "apples" on the sound stage during filming.

The book provides some interesting insights and quotations. At age 19, Jennifer Lien was the youngest cast member. Poe describes the difficulty the actress encountered in dealing with the intense media coverage when the series debuted. Poe gives an excellent inside look and "blow-by-blow" description of the events that lead up to the hiring and departure of actress Genevieve Bujold as the ship's captain.

Executive Producer Rick Berman explained why he will never direct a television episode or film. You learn about Brad Yacobian's sweet tooth, the financial reasons why most series can't continue past seven seasons, and the chaos that resulted when the Voyager episode structure moved from a teaser and five acts to a teaser and four acts. We learn about how Elizabeth Janeway became Nicole Janeway and finally Kathryn Janeway.

At page 160, Poe finally addresses the "burning" question I've always had about the Voyager series: why did the show's executives decide to use the "Lost in Space" premise knowing that it was problematic? Poe provides some answers that are both simple and complicated.

The show's executives, Michael Piller, Rick Berman, and Jeri Taylor, faced several challenges. They had to create something fresh and new without duplicating characters and concepts in existing Star Trek series. They had to provide a series consistent with the established Star Trek universe. Another series duplicating TNG, but with a different captain and ship clearly wouldn't suffice. The "Lost in Space" premise was definitely different. It also presented several problems:

Regardless, the show's executives felt that they could keep the series "positive and hopeful." And if not, then according to Poe the show's executives were prepared to execute a "Cover Your Ass" maneuver. (First there was the "Picard maneuver" when he adjusts his uniform. Can we call this the CYA the "Piller-Berman-Taylor maneuver?") If viewer surveys, focus groups, and feedback were negative, then they would present a story with the second Caretaker Array and have it wisk the Voyager crew back to the Alpha Quadrant. Since this hasn't happened yet, then viewer feedback and TV ratings haven't been as negative as the "CYA" option required.

Of course, there is a chapter about the Seven of Nine character, and how the show's executives developed the character. You can read about Jeri Ryan's initial reactions to the role, how she became a Star Trek fan, and why her character is the "outsider" like the Spock and Data characters. Strangely, Ryan needs the assistance of wardrobe staff to put on her Borg jumpsuit. You can read about why it still takes her over 30 minutes get into the skin tight costume.

If you are an aspiring script writer, then this book is a must read. It provides a detailed view of what your life will be like as a staff script writer or intern: extremely long workdays, constant tight deadlines, numerous script rewrites, juggling several projects simultaneously, and frequently working weekends. Poe has written other Star Trek books under the pseudonym Stephen E. Whitfield. Overall, his book is a very interesting and easy read which I highly recommend, whether or not you like the Voyager series.

From various news wire sources: Persis Khambatta, 49, who portrayed a navigator in the film "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" died in a Bombay hospital on August 18th due to a massive heart attack. Khambatta, a former Miss India, had undergone a by- pass operation in 1983. She began modeling at the age of 13 and won the Miss India crown in 1965, dressed in off-the-rack clothes. Khambatta's other film credits include "The Wilby Conspiracy," "Conduct Unbecoming," "Night Hawks," and several Hindu films.

On August 4th, Circuit City Stores, Inc. introduced New York City consumers to digital broadcasting and HDTV with a demonstration at the Westbury Circuit City Superstore. The demonstration featured actor James Doohan (Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott from TOS). Recently, the The Federal Communications Commission recently authorized the nation's broadcasters to begin a transition from the current analog technology to digital technology. Today's broadcasts include television programming via analog signals. By 2006, most broadcasts will include only digital signals due to an FCC has mandate.

Worf gets lucky. Fans have speculated for months what the gender will be for the new Dax symbiant's host. To refresh your memory, in the June season ending cliff-hanger episode, a poltergeit possessed Gul Dukat killed Jadzia Dax, Worf's mate. The seventh season's opening episode "Image in the Sand" will debut the new host body for the "worm" or Trill symbiant: Ensign Ezri Dax, played by Canadian actress Nicole de Boer. So, it would seem that the new host will be a female.

While a female host may make choices easier for Worf, Ezri Dax will have difficulty assimilating the memories and experiences of the symbiant. Will the new host come to accept and love Worf? Will Worf and Ezri dax divorce? According to Rick Berman, the show's producer, Ezri Dax's difficulties will provide, "some fascinating story arcs, as well as a great deal of humor." Sisko's struggle continues as he tries to make sense of Jadzia's sudden death. The Prophets, presumed dead, also send Sisko a vision, and lead him to uncover a deep family secret.

Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler wrote the episode, which will air the week of September 28, 1998. De Boer's acting credits include a former series regular on the Sci-Fi Channel's "Mission Genesis," and Canada's CBC-TV series "Dooley Gardens." Her film credits include the upcoming film "Cube," an award winner at last year's Toronto Film Festival.

Interested in reading more? Visit STasis: Your Guide To The Scholarly Literature of Trek.

© 1998 USS Ronald E. McNair. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

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CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER'S LOG

The CMO position is currently vacant. We are currently accepting inquiries and nominations. Please send any correspondence to the Captain or the First Officer.

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TREASURER'S REPORT

Show me the money! Well, we would like to. The Treasurer's report for the USS Ronald E. McNair is available to all members. Ask the Captain for a copy.

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NASA NOTES

From various news reports...

NASA joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during the organization's annual convention on July 11-16, 1998, at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA. Astronauts Yvonne Cagle, Joan Higginbotham, and Stephanie Wilson joined several NASA officials to exhibit a full-scale mockup of the International Space Station.

Two trailers contain the mockup for visitors to view the station where six international astronauts will live and work. The modules featured interactive, hands-on exhibits including the astronaut bed, a full-scale bathroom with shower, and science workstations. The convention also included the Mars exhibit with a model of the Sojourner Rover, a diversity educational exhibit highlighting some of NASA's educational initiatives, a Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) enterprise wall, a technology spin-off display, a 10-foot tall Space Shuttle, and a NASA video wall.

The NAACP conducted its annual national Afro-Academic Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) competition during the convention. NASA scientists and engineers served as judges for the scientific part of the competition. The national winners in the technical competitions were presented with certificates from NASA as well as a sponsored visit to a NASA.

SpaceDev, the world's first commercial space exploration and development company, intends to launch the first privately financed spacecraft to land on another planetary body. SpaceDev is selling rides for scientific instruments to governments and companies to transport their instruments and experiments to a nearby Earth asteroid. SpaceDev will also sell the data collected by its instruments as commercial products.

Earlier this month, SpaceDev announced that a team led by Dr. Kevin Hurley from the University of California, Berkeley, submitted a proposal to NASA's MIDEX program. If the proposal is approved by NASA, the investigators' science instruments would be available to purchase a ride on SpaceDev's Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP) as Mission of Opportunity (MO) investigations.

If NASA decides to fund MOs, it would indicate a significant shift in NASA's historical business practices. Since NASA has historically funded only full, government missions under the MIDEX and Discovery programs, an MO funding would send a message to the science/research community and the commercial sector that NASA is serious about encouraging space commercialization. In this new business model, scientists can choose from a variety of inexpensive and insured opportunities to fly their instruments.

A scientist and lunar researcher believes that space travel to the moon can be performed more inexpensively by private businesses than NASA. According to Alan Binder, a principal investigator on the Lunar Prospector, the world's first private-sector moon mission,"We're showing that space exploration and space science can be done far cheaper than NASA has ever been able to do them." Last March, the mission made international headlines when it found near-certain evidence that vast quantities of water ice exist around the moon's north and south poles.

"NASA missions take 10 to 12 years and cost at least $ 1 billion a pop," said Binder. "Our mission took 22 months to launch and cost $ 63 million." Lunar Prospector is the first private project funded under NASA's Discovery Program, created in 1994 to encourage low-cost space science missions. Binder's venture was also funded by Lockheed Martin, his former employer, and used off-the-shelf hardware from space suppliers.

How much would a base on the moon cost? "The key thing to remember here is that it costs $ 10,000 a pound to get things to the moon from Earth," Binder said. He believes that a commercial commercial venture to build a moon base could happen during the next 10 years, and cost between $5 and $8 billion. Construction of the base would use raw materials already available on the moon. The March mission verified the existence in the moon of many of those raw materials needed.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Outsourcing Desktop Initiative (ODIN) is a series of fixed-price, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts, covering computer hardware and software, as well as communications services. Each contract covers a nine year period. ODIN's primary objectives:

  1. reduce costs
  2. optimize service delivery by having just one vendor for each center with a single point of contact
  3. improve asset management
  4. free up resources so NASA staff can focus on core NASA goals
  5. adopt common computing standards and infrastructures
Also, NASA is adopting the best practices employed by private sector corporations. In June, NASA selected seven companies to fulfill ODIN contracts. Each contract is worth a minimum of $1 billion. NASA selected Boeing Information Services Inc., Vienna, Va.; Computer Sciences Corp., Laurel, Md.; TechServ LLC, Reston, Va.; Federal Data Corp., Bethesda, Md.; OAO Corp., Greenbelt; RMS Information Systems Inc., Lanham, Md. ; and Wang Government Systems Inc., McLean, Va., to provide it with hardware, software and services.

Deep Space 1 arrives! On August 18, 1998, NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft, designed to validate 12 new technologies for scientific space missions of the next century, arrived at the Kennedy Space Center to begin prelaunch processing. Deep Space 1 will be launched aboard Boeing's Delta 7326 rocket currently targeted to lift off Oct. 15, 1998. This is the first flight in NASA's New Millennium Program.

At NASA's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) located in the KSC Industrial Area, the Plasma Experiment for Planetary Exploration (PEPE) instrument and the solar arrays will be attached and tested. NASA will also test the advanced technology science instruments and the basic spacecraft subsystems.The spacecraft will be fueled, and on on September 22nd it will be transported to a spin test facility on Cape Canaveral Air Station. There it will be mated to a Star 37 solid propellant upper stage, and the combined elements will undergo a series of spin balance tests.

At launch, Deep Space 1 weighs only 1,080 pounds fully fueled and is just 8.2 feet high, 6.9 feet deep and 5.6 feet wide, including attached items such as twin stowed solar arrays. When deployed, the arrays increase the spacecraft's size to 38.6 feet across. Deep Space 1 should complete most of its mission objectives during the first two months after launch. It will also perform a flyby of a near-Earth asteroid named 1992 KD in July 1999.

© 1998 USS Ronald E. McNair. All rights reserved. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

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TEARS OF A DS9 FAN

Editor's Note: This article was originally written immediately after the DS9 episode "Tears of the Prophets" aired in the U.S. in June, 1998.

SPOILER WARNING: DS9 "Tears of the Prophets"

Now that you've been warned, I can discuss the last DS9 episode and cliff-hanger, "The Tears of the Prophets." Basically, I thought that the episode was SLOPPY and lazily written.

First, the TREK franchise seems to have a nasty habit of killing off strong female characters. Denise Crosby left TNG and her character, Tasha yar, was killed off. Susie Plakson's character K'Ehlyer (Worf's mate and Alexander’s mother) was killed off, even though Plakson didn't ask to leave TNG. And now, when Terry Farrell leaves the show her character is also killed off.

The only exception I can think of: Michelle Forbes left TNG and the show’s producers decided not to kill her character, Ensign Ro. This wasn’t necessarily because of the executives’ and writers’ graciousness or enlightenment. Rather, it was in their own self interest since Forbes was originally targeted to play the DS9 character Major Kira. Regardless, somebody went to sleep at the wheel at Paramount.

I admit that when Jennifer Lien (Kes) left Voyager, her character wasn’t killed. I would argue that her character was transformed from a corporal being into a non-corporal entity. You might call this a "killing" of a different sort. Either way, Lien doesn’t appear to be coming back since her character doesn’t have a body to come back with.

Of course, the one actor that left TNG series that the show’s producers SHOULD have killed off was the pimply faced, insufferable Wesley Crusher, played by Will Wheaton. Why was Wesley spared a killing when he left TNG while Jadzia Dax, a much more complex and interesting character, was killed? Is the Wesley character a more valuable character? I think not. Do the show’s producers plan to bring back Wesley at some future point? By not killing off his character they’ve left the door open.

Oh boy! I tell you somebody was asleep at the wheel at Paramount.

Perhaps the writers like to kill off women in the series. Heck, even on Voyager the writers killed off Martha Hackett's character, Seska. I hate to compare, but with B5 JMS did a much better job with Ivanova's 4th season exit. A class act!

Next, the writers didn't even have the DECENCY to show the funeral and eulogy for Jadzia Dax! What? A major episode occurs where a leading character is killed and there's no funeral or eulogy? I say this was a major oversight. It was a missed opportunity to make the whole event more dramatic. But in this DS9 episode, the scene cut from Sisko's soliloquy at the casket to Sisko peeling potatoes in New Orleans. This was bush league stuff. (I'll bet that a lot of good film footage was left on the cutting room floor in post-production.) Maybe the post-production manager needs to be stabbed with a bat'telh. Regardless, Jadzia Dax deserved a MUCH better send-off. Look back at the TNG episode "Skin of Evil" and the exit eulogy Tasha Yar received in TNG.

Ken Dumas, a fellow USS McNair crew member said it well, "Dax should of died in battle, with Worf at her side. The writers should not have separated them. Dax's death should of been witnessed by many people not just the audience. It robs it of any meaning. In B5 when Marcus sacrifices himself to save Ivanova, what gave the scene it's impact was when the two nurses walked in and found them... Dax's funeral should have taken up at least half the episode to give it more dramatic weight."

I found it insulting when Dukat stood over Jadzia’s body and proclaimed that her death was an accident. This did not explain what or why the death happened. It seemed more like a quick, easy fix for the writers. Ron Moore and company usually do a much better job on DS9. Somebody fell asleep at the wheel on this episode.

Next, the writing for this episode was not the A level quality writing I've come to expect. It was more like the C- level of "The Magnificent Ferengi" episode. How did Dukat beam into the DS9 station unobserved? Heck, how did he get there? Did the Cardassians and Dominion steal a ship’s cloaking device? Or did they use the long range transporter the Vorta used when Sisko first captured a Vorta in the DS9 series? And if so, why haven’t they used this technology repeatedly? There’s a war going on you know. If this technology could have helped them keep DS9, it makes sense that the Dominion would have used it earlier and repeatedly. Any smart warrior would use any technological advantage whenever possible. This was a technical oversight by the story editor.

Plus, the method how Dukat got on and off the station was never explained. It just happened. The episode had too many story holes and unexplained events that just seemed to happen. Maybe the writers got hand cramps during the final drafts. The plot was sloppily handled.

Nor were the Prophets written with consistent characterization. Dumas smartly added, "The ending was stupid. The prophets said to Sisko, that he should not leave. What does he go and do? Leave. The prophets, being prophetic, knew they were going to be cut-off. They can see the future. After all they are prophets. That is what prophets do. So if the prophets can predict the future (even their own) then why didn't they stop Dukat? They have interfered before. Why not now for self-preservation? I would. This is all a plot device to try and make things interesting. Instead, it is people (and prophets) doing stupid things, ignoring the obvious..." in a failed attempt to drag out the plot and make it more entertaining.

Next, the worm hole alien's God that Dukat released from its prison was just too convenient a plot device to kill off Jadzia Dax. Consider the Latin phrase, "deus ex machina." The writers took that phrase both literally and figuratively as ONE BIG SHORT CUT to try and make a sloppily written episode work. They literally created a God as a plot device to quickly and surgically kill off a major character.

Well, it didn't work.

I can just imagine the writers kicking around story options in a staff meeting:

Writer A: Let's promote Dax to captain her own ship.
Writer B: No we need a replacement Trill character with the worm.
Writer C: I agree. Maybe another female of Jeri Ryan proportions.
Writer B: So we kill off Dax, and leave the worm. It's neat and
dramatic. Plus it provides some difficult, moral decisions for Worf.
Writer D: Yeah. Does he stay married to the new host?
Writer A: A promotion to Captain could be just as dramatic. Dax has earned it.
Writers B & C: Give it a rest! It's wartime. We kill off Dax and keep
our options open.

Wrong!

The writers seem blinded by the idea of sticking with a Trill host even though they couldn’t write a sensible killing. They seem blinded by the idea that a Trill host replacement can continue as a mentor to Sisko, and provide some tough moral decisions while married to Worf. (e.g., do they divorce? Does Worf become gay?) It’s a theory that sounds good at first, but the longer you let it sit and get room temperature, the more awful it tastes like warm McDonald’s hamburgers.

Sure, the writers could have sent Jadzia Dax to teach at Starfleet Academy, like Dr. Crusher did on TNG. Or she could have left to fight for the Trill home world against the Dominion. (The Dominion recently conquered Betazed.) Or, Jadzia Dax could have been assigned to another starbase or ship like Sisko was several episodes earlier. Or heavens forbid, she could have been promoted to Captain of her own ship. It’s war you know. Good officers are needed everywhere given the number of ships destroyed by the Dominion. Recently, she did captain the Defiant for several missions. Plus, Starfleet moves commanders around all the time.

But no, the writers took the lazy way out: kill off Jadzia Dax. Gee, I hate sloppy and lazy writing. I hate hastily crafted episodes.

Why do I argue so strongly for DS9? First, I don't want to view a poorly written final season of DS9. Second, I shudder at the thought that after next season the only TREK left on television will be the misery called Voyager. As bad as this DS9 episode was written, Voyager is worse... consistently.

What do you think?

George Jenkins
First Officer
USS Ronald E. McNair

© 1998 USS Ronald E. McNair. All rights reserved. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

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McNAIR READY ROOM

Star Date: 35868.8 -- 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. Future meeting schedule:
September '98: Kevin & Sabrina
October '98: Jocelyn
November '98: Robbi
December '98: Ken

The meeting minutes from prior McNair meetings:

Due to technical difficulties that included damage to the isolinear chips where these files were stored, the meeting minutes are currently unavailable.


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 Babylon Five, the X-Files, or other sci-fi subjects. 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)
Dec. 1, 1998 (Dec. 15th)
March 1, 1999 (March 15th)
June 1, 1999 (June 15th)
Sept. 1, 1999 (Sept. 15th)
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ONLINE WORKSHOP: MAKE THE LINK

This arrived recently via e-mail:

Date: Wed, 2 Sep 1998 06:24:15
From: "Thomas P. Copley"
Subject: ANNOUNCE - Fall Web Workshops Now Open

Workshops on the World Wide Web (WWW) for the beginner and slightly more advanced user will be conducted monthly this fall by Arlington Courseware. Three sessions of each workshop are now open. Both are eight week distance-learning workshops conducted entirely by HTML mail.*

MAKE THE LINK WORKSHOP: WORLD WIDE WEB FOR EVERYONE

This workshop focuses on how to gain maximum advantage from the Web. It covers how to gain access to the WWW, linking to and interpreting URLs, distinguishing between different browsers, navigating and searching, organizing your bookmarks, designing your own home page with HTML and installing it on a server, utilizing principles of good Web design, and choosing between and using HTML editors.

The cost is $20. For further information, see the Make the Link Workshop home page: http://www.bearfountain.com/arlington/links.html

TUNE IN THE NET: GLOBAL REACH FOR THE 21st CENTURY

This is the sequel to Make the Link, but may be taken independently by the more experienced beginner or intermediate user. It concentrates on Internet interactivity and assisting the more experienced user in making his or her Web pages into a standout interactive site. It covers prototyping Web pages with page generators and site builders, making HTML forms, using client-side image maps, customizing pages with frames and HTML 4.0, making content interactive with layers, dynamic HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), scripting with JavaScript, and utilizing push media, such as Netscape Netcaster and Microsoft Active Channels.

The cost is $40. For additional information, see the Tune In the Net Workshop home page: http://www.bearfountain.com/arlington/tune.html

The cost of both workshops taken together is $55.

HOW TO SIGN UP

Three Make the Link Workshops are scheduled for this fall:

1. September Session: September 14 - November 6
2. October Session: September 28 - November 20
3. November Session: November 2 - December 23

Three Tune In the Net Workshops are also scheduled:

4. September Session: September 14 - November 6
5. October Session: September 28 - November 20
6. November Session: November 2 - December 23

Sign up for ONE session of each workshop only unless you plan to take it more than once. To sign up, please send an email message to majordomo@arlington.com and in the body of the message,

include the words:to subscribe to:
subscribe links-septhe September session of Make the Link
subscribe links-octthe October session of Make the Link
subscribe links-novthe November session of Make the Link
----------
subscribe tune-septhe September session of Tune In the Net
subscribe tune-octthe October session of Tune In the Net
subscribe tune-novthe November session of Tune In the Net

This will automatically put you on the mailing list for more information about each workshop, and you will receive an acknowledgment with the particulars about signing up, and unsubscribing, should you decide not to participate. If you have any difficulty with this procedure or fail to receive a response, please send email to admin@arlington.com.

* A plain ASCII text version is also available.

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COMM CHANNEL NEWS

Sept. 18-20, 1998 Not Just Another Con 14 at the Murray D. Lincoln Memorial Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Guests: Terry Bisson, writer; Bob Eggleton, artist; and others. Musical guests: Don't Quit Your Day Job Players. Events: panels, gaming, video room, vendor/dealers room, and costuming. Ticket prices at the door: students, $13; non-students, $18. Children under 8 free. Day rates: $10.

Nov. 6-8, 1998 Ditto 11 in Newport, Rhode Island at the Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina. Guest of Honor: Ed Meskys, Editor of Niekas. Winner of the 1967 Fanzine Hugo. Tickets: $30. For more information: 800-955-2558 or 401-847-9000. Fax: 401-849-6380.

Nov. 20-22, 1998 United Fan Con in Springfield, Massachusetts. Guests: Tim Russ (Tuvok on Voyager), Ed Wasser (Morden on B5), Louise Jameson (Leela on Dr. Who), and sci-fi artist Sonia Hillios. Events: Art Show, Banquet with Cabaret, Radio Play, Dealers Room, Masquerade, Gaming, Autographs, Karaoke Party, 10-Forward Pajama/Lingerie Party, Two Charity Auctions, Meet the Pros, Party, and Panels. Discounted tickets if purchased before Nov. 1st. Ticket prices at the door: weekend, $45; Sat. or Sunday, $25; Friday, $10. Children 8-12 half price. For registration or for more information, send a SASE to: UNITED FAN CON VIII, 500 Monroe Turnpike, Monroe, CT 06468. Phone: (781) 986-TREK.

Nov. 28-29, 1998 New York Metro area. Meadowlands Hilton. Star Trek Convention by Creation Entertainment. Guests: Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker on TNG, DS9, and films), Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi on TNG and films), and Robert Picardo (The Doctor on Voyager and DS9).

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 1998 and 1998, visit the Northeast Science Fiction Conventions Web site, Creation Entertainment, or Cruise Trek. If you visit this Web site you'll quickly notice that most Creation conventions now feature guests from a broad range of sci-fi shows: Xena, Hercules, X-Files, and Babylon 5.

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FROM DATA'S HUMOR CHIP

The following messages arrived recently via e-mail:

Subject: If you think your family's eccentric...

Van Gogh Family Tree

After much careful research it has been discovered that the artist Vincent Van Gogh had many relatives. Among them were:

His obnoxious brother...............Please Gogh
His dizzy aunt.............................Verti Gogh
The brother who ate prunes......Gotta Gogh
The brother who worked at a convenience store....Stopn Gogh

The grandfather from Yugoslavia.....U Gogh
The brother who bleached his clothes white...Hue Gogh
The cousin from Illinois.....Chica Gogh
His magician cousin.............Wherediddy Gogh

His Mexican cousin.........Amee Gogh
The Mexican cousin's American half brother......Gring Gogh
The nephew who drove a stage coach.......Wellsfar Gogh
The constipated uncle...................Cant Gogh

The ballroom dancing aunt...............Tan Gogh
The bird lover uncle.................Flaming Gogh
His nephew psychoanalyst..............E Gogh
The fruit loving cousin...............Man Gogh

An aunt who taught positive thinking.......Wayto Gogh
The little nephew ..............Poe Gogh
A sister who loved disco.............Ahgo Gogh
And, his niece who travels the country in a van.........Winnie B. Gogh

Subject: If you weren't already feeling old...

Are you feeling old? If not, consider that the people who are starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1980. Think about this:

Do you feel old now? Remember, the people who don't know these things will enter college this fall.

And, it is quite sad to consider that a moon landing is probably ancient history to them, since man hasn't set foot on the moon since December of 1972. (As a nation, we seem content to allow our congressional representatives to spend our money on special prosecutor investigations, rather than on space exploration.)

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FUN ON THE INTERNET

New Web sites and information you may find interesting or useful:

In a September 7, 1998 Associated Press news release, Working Mother magazine listed the 100 best companies for working mothers. Is your employer on this list? Is Viacom or Paramount on this list?
  • Acacia Life Insurance Co., Bethesda, Md.
  • Aetna Inc., Hartford, Conn.
  • Allstate Insurance Co., Northbrook, Ill.
  • American Express Co., New York
  • American Home Products Corp., Madison, N.J.
  • Amoco Corp., Chicago
  • AT&T, New York
  • Autodesk Inc., San Rafael, Calif.
  • Bankers Trust Co., New York
  • Bausch & Lomb, Rochester, N.Y.
  • Bayfront Medical Center Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla.
  • The Benjamin Group Inc., Campbell, Calif.
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston
  • BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., Anchorage, Alaska
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., New York
  • The Bureau of National Affairs Inc., Washington
  • Calvert Group, Bethesda, Md.
  • Chase Manhattan Bank, New York
  • Chrysler Corp., Auburn Hills, Mich.
  • CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia
  • Cinergy Corp., Cincinnati
  • Citicorp/Citibank, New York
  • Commercial Financial Services Inc., Tulsa, Okla.
  • Coopers & Lybrand, New York
  • Corning Inc., Corning, N.Y.
  • Dayton Hudson Corp., Minneapolis
  • Deloitte & Touche, Chicago
  • Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, New York
  • DuPont Co., Wilmington, Del.
  • DuPont Pharmaceuticals Co., Wilmington, Del.
  • Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y.
  • Ernst & Young, New York
  • Fannie Mae, Washington
  • Federal Express Corp., Memphis, Tenn.
  • First Chicago NBD Corp., Chicago
  • First Tennessee Bank, Memphis, Tenn.
  • First Union Corp., Charlotte, N.C.
  • Gannett Co., Arlington, Va.
  • General Mills, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Glaxo Wellcome Inc., Research Triangle Park, N.C.
  • GTE Corp., Irving, Texas
  • Hallmark Cards Inc., Kansas City, Mo.
  • Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos Inc., Boston
  • Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Nutley, N.J.
  • IBM, Armonk, N.Y. (x)
  • Imation, Oakdale, Minn.
  • JFK Medical Center, Atlantis, Fla.
  • Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.
  • SC Johnson & Son Inc., Racine, Wis.
  • KPMG Peat Marwick, New York
  • Life Technologies, Rockville, Md.
  • Eli Lilly and Co., Indianapolis (x)
  • Lincoln National Corp., Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • Lotus Development Corp., Cambridge, Mass.
  • Lucent Technologies Inc. Murray Hill, N.J.
  • Marriott International, Washington
  • MassMutual, Springfield, Mass.
  • Mattel Inc., El Segundo, Calif.
  • MBNA America Bank, N.A., Wilmington, Del.
  • Mentor Graphics Corp., Wilsonville, Ore.
  • Merck & Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J.
  • Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., New York
  • Millipore Corp., Bedford, Mass.
  • J.P. Morgan, New York
  • NationsBank Corp., Charlotte, N.C.
  • Neuville Industries Inc., Hildebran, N.C.
  • Northern Trust Corp., Chicago
  • Patagonia Inc., Ventura, Calif.
  • Pfizer Inc., New York
  • Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Co., Hartford, Ct.
  • Price Waterhouse, New York
  • Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, Iowa
  • The Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati
  • Prudential, Newark, N.J.
  • Rex Healthcare Inc., Raleigh, N.C.
  • Ridgeview Inc., Newton, N.C.
  • Rockwell International Corp., Costa Mesa, Calif.
  • Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City
  • The St. Paul Companies, St. Paul, Minn.
  • Salt River Project, Phoenix
  • Sara Lee Corp., Chicago
  • SAS Institute, Cary, N.C.
  • The Seattle Times, Seattle
  • Security Benefit Group, Topeka, Kan.
  • Sequent Computer Systems Inc., Beaverton, Ore.
  • Southern New England Telephone, New Haven, Ct.
  • Stride Rite Corp., Lexington, Mass.
  • Texas Instruments Inc., Dallas
  • Tom's of Maine Inc., Kennebunk, Maine
  • TRW Inc., Cleveland
  • Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Atlanta
  • Union Pacific Resources Group, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Universal Studios, Universal City, Calif.
  • UNUM Corp., Portland, Maine
  • UPMC Health System, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • USAA (United Services Auto. Assoc.), San Antonio, Tx.
  • The Vanguard Group, Malvern, Pa.
  • Warner-Lambert Co., Morris Plains, N.J.
  • Xerox Corp. Stamford, Conn.

Suspicious Internet Banking -- FDIC
http://www.fdic.gov/consumer/suspicious/
Are you considering the Internet for your banking? Like any other business, there are reputable and not-so-reliable sites on the Web. It pays to thoroughly investigate any firm before doing business with them. So, to help consumers better navigate through the variety of financial services offered over the Internet, the United States Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) home site offers information on Suspicious Internet Banking. You can browse current FDIC memoranda to financial institutions on unauthorized banking operations, and submit a report on any suspicious web sites to the FDIC. You can also use the FDIC Institutions Search Engine to locate a reputable Internet bank.

The Initiative to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health - HHS
http://raceandhealth.hhs.gov/
The US Department of Health and Human Services recently created a Web site to distribute information on its Initiative to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health, a new strategy to "eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities in six key areas of health status by the year 2010." At the Web site, you can access information about racial and ethnic health disparities in six targeted areas: Infant Mortality, Cancer Screening and Management, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, HIV Infection, and Child and Adult Immunizations.

In the Sept. 7, 1998 issue of Newsweek magazine, David L. Evans, an admissions officer at Harvard University, explored in the column "My Turn: Despite Racial Progress, Too Many African-Americans are in Jail. A way to Change That" possible methods to address the problem. Some excerpts from the article:

"In the past 20 years, a black man has chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff, another has headed the Ford Foundation and still another has made two serious bids for his party's presidential nomination. Since elected, President Clinton has appointed more African-Americans to cabinet-level positions than all his predecessors combined."

"For all those high-visibility achievements, there is a hidden tragedy. A hugely disproportionate number of black men are locked behind prison walls. Though the U.S. population is only 13 percent black, 49 percent of the inmates in state and federal prisons last year were African-American, most of them males. In 1995 one third of African-American men between 20 and 29 were under criminal-justice supervision: in jail, in prison, on probation or on parole. And in 1991, the year that apartheid ended in South Africa, the United States imprisoned four and a half times more black males per capita than South >Africa."

"These figures are apocalyptic. A generation of young black males is at risk, but this is more than a "black problem." It is an American problem, and African-Americans must play a major role in solving it. To do so, they might look to an inspiring example from the post-Civil War era."

"More than a century ago, former slaves began establishing black colleges and thousands of schools... If America of 100 years ago could set up schools and colleges in numbers sufficient to save millions of illiterate former slaves, why can't we do something about the mass imprisonment and dysfunction of young black males in 1998?"

Would you like to know more? Try:

© 1998 USS Ronald E. McNair. All rights reserved. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

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KIDBITS

DEFINITIONS of a four-year-old:
ANTAGONIZE (an.TAG.on.ize): to play tag.
SMITHERINE(smith.er.een): what's left after something blows up.
CONJUNCTIVIRUS (con.junc.ta.vi.rus): Conjunctivitis
A-DAY-FAR-AWAY-FROM-ALL-THE-OTHER-DAYS: a long time ago

Mind your Manners
Two year old Eric was out to breakfast with his Grandmother one morning. Each time Grandma would give Eric a bite to eat, Eric would say ‘thank you,' but Grandma didn't respond. After a few rounds of this and exasperated Eric told his Grandmother "YOU"RE WELCOME!"

You missed your Que
One afternoon 21 month old Joshua was playing in the living room. It was snack time and he was having some crackers. I would give him a few and he'd come back and say "Crackers!" I'd say "Crackers what?" and he'd say "please!". I'd give him a few more and say "what do you say?" and he'd say "thank you." After a few rounds of this I decided not to remind him about saying thank you, just to see if he'd remember. As I gave him the crackers, he looked at me and paused a moment, then said "what do you say?"

Signs It's Time for a Night Out (without the kids!)

by Linda J. Driscoll
Parent

© 1998 Linda J. Driscoll. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. This article may be linked to provided it is presented in its entirety with this copyright message appended.

Editor's Note: The USS McNair would like to welcome this new column by Linda Driscoll which focuses upon the humor of parenting. Names have been changed to protect persons' privacy.

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