Thoughts on “Star Trek: Into Darkness”

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Star TrekA few days ago, I achieved one of my major short-term goals when I saw the new Star Trek movie. This was a thing that I had decided was very important in my life, for I expected the movie to be awesome, and indeed, I was not disappointed. When the previous Star Trek movie came out in 2009, I had mixed feelings about it. As good as the plot was, I wasn’t sure I liked the casting. In particular, it was difficult for me to accept that anyone besides James Doohan could be Scotty. Scotty is my second favorite Star Trek character, and nobody else can be Scotty the way James Doohan can. My very favorite character, of course, is Spock. I cannot imagine how anyone could favor any other character over Spock. Although Leonard Nimoy is just as incomparably cool as James Doohan, Zachary Quinto does a good job of filling his shoes. I wouldn’t have imagined that was possible, but it is. Also, I would just like to point out that Zachary Quinto is an incredibly good science fiction name. All in all, I’ve pretty much come to peace with the current casting, and with that out of the way, I actually enjoyed the new Star Trek movie more than the previous one. And whoever decided to cast Benadryl Cucumberpatch in the movie was a very clever person. (For those of you who aren’t on tumblr, I should probably clarify that we do not call Benedict Cumberbatch by his real name very often because it’s so much fun to make up variations of it. I have admittedly used “Benadryl Cucumberpatch” far too many times, because you’re actually supposed to change it every time you say it.)

Tumblr people will understand why I had to post this. Those of you who don't use tumblr, never mind. There are too many inside jokes to explain.

Tumblr people will understand why I had to post this. Those of you who don’t use tumblr, never mind. There are too many inside jokes to explain.

Although the plot and the acting are obviously the most important things, good science fiction movies are also characterized by explosions and spaceship crashes, a dramatic soundtrack, and technological lingo that sounds so practical that it’s easy to forget that the scriptwriter is just making stuff up and it doesn’t mean anything in real life. Star Trek: Into Darkness definitely had all of those traits. Also, I have noticed that most good science fiction (Doctor Who, Star Wars, etc.) has some very emotional scenes in between the high-action and/or high-tech scenes. I’m not sure whether I think that this is necessary or just an interesting trend, but in either case, the new Star Trek movie is no exception. It was actually something of a tear-jerker, except that I don’t cry at movies when I’m watching them with other people.

Spock 2There was one part that did make me tear up a little, though. It wasn’t one of the sad parts, not even the part where a certain character died. (For the sake of anyone reading this who hasn’t seen the movie, I won’t specify which character died.) It was the part where Spock committed a logical fallacy.

I can’t quote the lines verbatim, which just goes to show that I need to see the movie again. But I can look it up on imdb, which is good enough. Captain Kirk says, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and then Spock expresses his disagreement by responding, “An Arabic proverb attributed to a prince who was betrayed and decapitated by his own subjects.” This, I said to myself, is an ad hominem argument, and I nearly cried to hear such words come from the mouth of Spock.

When I mentioned this to my sister later, she laughed and called me a nerd, and we agreed that this was entertaining enough to merit a facebook status. But as my hand touched the keyboard, I remembered a thing. Some logicians claim that ad hominem arguments are not always fallacious. Thus was I told in my logic class a couple semesters ago. Google has informed me that these logicians include Doug Walton and Olavo de Carvalho. Neither of these names mean anything to me, but they are apparently people whose thoughts and opinions on logic hold some weight. And if it is true that ad hominem arguments are sometimes completely okay, then Spock’s remark would be one of those cases.  In fact, after giving it further thought, I’m not sure that it counts as ad hominem after all.

Spock 1Spock’s argument refutes Kirk’s statement on the grounds that he is quoting someone who was wrong, and the information that Spock relates about this wrongness is what invalidates what Kirk has said. That’s why my automatic response was to sense an ad hominem, but Spock’s point was actually not irrelevant. He was actually just giving an example of a case in which the maxim did not hold true, which is perfectly logical. The fact that his example involved the person to whom the quotation is attributed doesn’t actually lend any additional logical value to the point; it merely adds a touch of irony that the scriptwriters found useful for the sake of humor, and humor does not cancel out logic. Spock was indeed not wrong.

All of this, I decided, would be too lengthy to make for a good facebook status, and I couldn’t very well accuse Spock of a logical fallacy without refuting my accusation with these further points. So I closed facebook and said to myself, “Self, save it for the blog.”

I am sorry, Mr. Spock. I should never have doubted you.


Logic is a Little Tweeting Bird


Ah, the beauty of logical stuff written out on nice, neat lines

Ah, the beauty of logical stuff written out on nice, neat lines

Maybe it’s just because I’m kind of a nerd, but I really love my logic class. In fact, when I do my logic homework, I almost think of it as taking a break from homework. I’m actually really looking forward to the exam because it’s going to be fun, and I don’t mean that sarcastically at all. I wish I was studying for my logic exam tonight, but I have two other exams before that one and two papers to work on, so I doubt I’ll get around to doing any logic for a couple days.  (You may be wondering how I can find time to blog about how I don’t have any time. That’s a good question. Now please stop questioning my time management.)

The cool thing about logic is that it makes sense. It’s not like math because it doesn’t have all those confusing numbers and equations. It’s not like writing an English paper because, once you’ve found the right answer, you know you’re right and you don’t have to go back and question the degree of intelligence and aesthetic style of everything you’ve already  accomplished. It’s not like real life because you can be absolutely certain that there’s a correct answer to every problem, and that once you find it, you’re free to devote all of your attention to the next one.

"Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad." -Spock

“Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad.” -Spock

It occurred to me in class a few days ago that most logical proofs are irrelevant to real life. It’s highly unlikely that I will ever have to prove the validity of a convoluted argument where each premise has several terms. If such a situation ever does occur, it’s even more unlikely that the other people involved will be willing to wait for me to write out the premises, the conclusion, and a proof that might be twenty or thirty steps long. In short, everything I know about symbolic logic is fairly useless in real life.

But if I had a choice between symbolic logic and real life, I think I’d choose symbolic logic. ‘Cause I like things that make sense.

First Day of Classes

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A random picture I pulled from my facebook page
Although it is irrelevent, I would like to note that there are frogs who live in the area where this picture was taken. I’ve never actually seen them, but they’re sure loud in the nighttime.

Summer has come to an end.

Well, technically it hasn’t; the first day of fall is September 22, which is still a ways away. But summer break has come to an end. Classes start tomorrow. That means that the schedule, lifestyle, and general mindset that I’ve been accustomed to for the past three months is suddenly going to cease to exist. I can no longer set aside entire evenings every now and then for going outside and reading until it gets too dark, then wandering around aimlessly, listening to the cicadas and watching the fireflies until I feel like going back inside.  I can no longer ease into the day so slowly that I don’t actually get anything done until mid-morning. I can no longer decide for myself what I want to read and whether or not I want to decide ahead of time when to finish it.

Yeah, I’ve used this before, but it seemed very fitting in this particular context.

If this sounds like a complaint, it really isn’t.  I’m not going to lie and say that I absolutely love school and enjoy every moment of it, but I will say that I enjoy many moments of it and that I’m aware that I get a lot out of it. And this time of the semester, it’s easy to be motivated about academia, optimistic about grades, and excited about the opportunities and experiences of the upcoming months. Amid the frustration of paperwork, the confusion of schedule conflicts, and the constant worry about where the camaduka all the money’s going to come from, there’s still something fun about the start of classes.

I think I’m going to really like all of the classes I’m taking this semester. One of them is a dance class that I’m contracting off campus, which will be an interesting experience; I’ve never contracted a college class off campus before. I’m also taking three English classes and a logic class, so that I can be awesome like Spock. But I’m going to enjoy it more than Spock would, because enjoyment is a human emotion.

So that’s pretty much where I currently stand on the issue of school and stuff. Within the next six weeks or so, my opinions on this matter will very likely change to some extent.