Resurrection without revolution not likely even in the 23rd century

I saw the new “Star Trek” movie this weekend, and I’d recommend it to Trek fans without reservation.  (If you want to see it but haven’t yet, don’t read on—thar be spoilers here.)

I’m still not comfortable with the whole “let’s reset the timeline” thing introduced in the 2009 movie, which I suppose means I don’t like it.  While I appreciate that the new writers and producers don’t want the new stories in what they hope will be a whole string of movies to be constrained by the history established in six previous television series (counting the animated series, 726 episodes in total) and ten previous movies, so far I can’t help but think “that’s wrong” each time I see something that didn’t happen in the original timeline, especially the lovestruck Uhura.  Maybe I’ll get over it.

With that in mind, I have to say I was disappointed in myself for taking quite so long to see the parallels between the new movie’s story and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”  Of course I remembered Khan (“I grow…fa-tigued again.”  “ADMIRAL?  ADMIRAL Kirk?!  “I’ll chase him round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares maelstrom and round perdition’s flames before I give him up!”), but I didn’t recognize the hero-selflessly-saves-the-Enterprise motif, with Kirk and Spock exchanging roles and dialogue, until it was completely unmistakable to anyone who saw the 1982 movie.

Back then it took another whole movie to bring the hero back from the dead, but today it just took the last ten or so minutes of this flick.  And I took it all in as presented, jumping right from resurrection of the captain to the relaunch of his ship a year later without giving any consideration to what probably would really have happened in the wake of McCoy’s greatest feat of medical prestidigitation.  Fortunately, our friends at The Awl have turned up the good doctor’s own recollection

Ridiculous, to think it all started over a tribble. A lifeless bundle of fur. I always kept a dead tribble in my Curio of Maladies in those days, for medical reasons, and was especially glad of it when they finally hauled Khan’s body aboard for study after the battle.

Kirk was particularly dead that day; I remember because everyone was crying and the science woman kept all of her clothes on. As is my habit, I injected several of Khan’s more personal fluids (super-fluids, if you’ll pardon the medical terminology) into the tribble to see what would happen.

The tribble returned almost immediately to life. I remember because I thought to myself, “Ah, I seem to have conquered death. Tremendous,” at the time.

As a doctor, this made my job a great deal easier.

As I mentioned before, Kirk was dead—terribly dead—being chock full of radiations and so forth, so I decided he’d make an excellent second test subject for my Home Death Remedy and plugged him with a bit of the super-blood a few minutes later.


Within a week, the Federation had clawed itself into thirteen warring factions, all ready to destroy entire star systems at the prospect of getting their hands on that serum.

Kirk was immediately taken to a research-torture facility by a group of scientists from Section 31. In a way, I think we all failed to take into account the interest this shadowy government organization, with the resources to build a super-advanced death-ship in absolute secrecy, might take in a serum that reverses death.

I tried to tell them I was a doctor, but it didn’t even slow them down. They killed most of the crew in their raid, which I thought damned inconvenient, until I remembered the immortality serum I had developed, from super-blood.


The rest you undoubtedly know. The wild-eyed men and women who took to showing up at my offices at all hours of the night, bearing the fresh and mangled corpses of their loved ones in their arms, begging for serum. The armies of the frozen half-dead, the resurrected children brought back to crazed and formless life by their deranged, grief-stricken parents, the Blood Colonies.

You wanna talk about changing history…

Memorial Day means…

The point of the day is to remember those who gave their lives in the defense of our country…and I don’t remember ever being as touched on this subject as I was reading this story about the way the remains of American war dead are taken care of at Dover Air Force Base. Read it, and be grateful.

The soldier bent to his work, careful as a diamond cutter. He carried no weapon or rucksack, just a small plastic ruler, which he used to align a name plate, just so, atop the breast pocket of an Army dress blue jacket, size 39R.


For each of the war dead, the journey through Dover begins with the arrival of a cargo jet that is met by military officials and, usually, family members. A team of service members wearing white gloves carries the coffins, covered with flags, to a white van that takes them to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner. Once an autopsy is completed, the work of the mortuary staff begins.

Remains are first embalmed and then washed. Hands are scrubbed clean, hair is shampooed. Where appropriate, bones are wired together and damaged tissue is reconstructed with flesh-toned wax. Using photographs, or just intuition, the embalmers try to recreate the wrinkles in faces, the lines around mouths, the corners and lids of eyes.

“It has to look normal, like someone who is sleeping,” said Petty Officer First Class Jennifer Howell, a Navy liaison at the mortuary who has a mortician’s license.


Working so intimately with the dead can take a toll, so the mortuary has a large gym and a recreation room where workers are encouraged to blow off steam. A team of chaplains and mental health advisers are available for counseling.

Mr. Zwicharowski, a former Marine, said many workers were haunted by the youthfulness of the dead, and by the fact that so many leave behind children. He counsels his staff to avoid researching their backgrounds, but he has not always abided by his own advice.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, he read a note placed in the coffin of a boy who died on the jet that crashed into the Pentagon. It was from a brother, thanking the boy for defending him on the playground days before.

“It was something I wish I didn’t do, and I learned my lesson not to do it again,” Mr. Zwicharowski said, fighting back tears. “If I knew the story of every individual who went through here, I would probably be in a padded cell.”


A week later, Captain Blanchard’s remains were flown to his home state, Washington, where he was buried in a military cemetery near Spokane.

His mother, Laura Schactler, said Captain Blanchard enlisted in the Marines after high school and served two tours in Iraq before marrying and returning home to attend college on an Army R.O.T.C. scholarship. After graduating, he learned to fly Apache attack helicopters, fulfilling a boyhood dream.

Before his funeral, Ms. Schactler spent time alone with her son but did not open his coffin. But later that night, she said, her husband and two other sons did, wanting to say one last farewell.

Inside, they saw a uniform, white gloves crossed, buttons gleaming, perfect in every detail.

Memorial Day

Please take three minutes and click here: look at these two remarkable photos; read this thoughtful essay; give a thought to those of our fellow Americans who were lost while picking up the tab for the lives we enjoy.

It is impossible to be unmoved by the juxtaposition of the eternal stone-faced warrior and the disheveled modern military wife-turned-widow, him rigid in his dress uniform, her on the floor in her blanket nest, wearing glasses and a baggy T-shirt, him nearly concealed by shadow while the pale blue light from the computer screen illuminates her like God’s own grace.


I believe that the civilian-military gap isn’t always born of indifference, but rather, at times, a sense of helplessness on the civilian side. What can I do? If you do nothing else, you can remember those who have given their lives for their country. Our country. Remembrance, which may seem a modest contribution in the moment, is a sacred act with long-term payoff — a singularly human gift that keeps on giving, year after, year after, war-fatigued year. I don’t need to remind you that America’s sons and daughters are still dying in combat. I don’t want to browbeat you into feeling guilty for not doing more. Instead, I want to tell you that as the wife of a veteran, it is tremendously meaningful to know that on this Memorial Day, civilians will be bearing witness and remembering in their own way — that those who are gone are not forgotten. I also want to say that as you remember them, we remember you.

Boss, and Ballyard—both gone

In March, in the days when the final slashes of the cranes were knocking down the last pieces of Yankee Stadium in that old cow pasture in the South Bronx, I wrote about my family’s history with the Big Ballyard.

Today, the old building is gone…and on the day that Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner gave up the ghost, New York Times sports columnist William C. Rhoden wrote about time, The Boss, and the old stadium, looking out at the empty lot from his bedroom window across the Harlem River.

I’ve spent the last two years avoiding the sight of the old Stadium being dismantled, and wondering, Would you rather be demolished and go quickly, or be dismantled like this, little by little?   The symmetry of watching the vibrant old Stadium and the once robust Boss deteriorate became a daily reminder of my own mortality, a reminder that nothing lasts forever.