Star Trek II: The Wrath of Thomas L. Friedman

Star Trek II is an amazing movie. Perhaps, just perhaps it has unexpected relevance to our lives?

Any nerd worth his or her own salt has seen this film and remembers the Kobiyashi Maru test — the infamous command evaluation given at Starfleet Academy in which the cadet is presented with a no-win scenario. But if you need a refresher, it goes like this:

Imagine you’re the cadet. If you rescue the imperiled ship, you face certain destruction as well as possibly sparking an inter-galactic war. But If you don’t respond to the distress signal, the passengers and crew of the Kobiyashi Maru will definitely die. You lose either way. What do you do?

Now imagine you’re a candidate in the super tight Democratic nomination contest for the 2008 Presidential election.

Do you support suspending gas tax (a very silly policy at best) in order to possibly gain some popular ground against your charismatic opponent? Or do you stick with a somewhat more sensible policy but risk being branded an elitist? You lose either way.

Author and NYT columnist Thomas L. Friedman is getting more and more frustrated with the the fact that no one supports his initiative to increase gas taxes, even though it clearly makes a lot of sense. (He’s probably also still reeling from a recent pie in the face at Brown University) He refuses to accept that it is impossible to make real strides away from the oil economy in a political system whose very existence is based on the abundance of cheap oil. The situation itself is an excellent example of the no-win scenario.

Spock, always the epitome of logic, points out that the point of the Kobiyashi Maru test is to see how the cadet faces death. Kirk, the wise-cracking cowboy Captain, is supposed to have beaten the no-win scenario by cheating– he re-programmed the simulator’s computer banks so that it was possible to win. He even got a medal for his ingenuity!

*That’s* what needs to happen, and fast.

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2 Responses to “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Thomas L. Friedman”

  1. Rob Says:

    Trek II is such a remarkable film. I’ve always wondered with Kobiyashi Maru, once the bluff is revealed and the cadet knows it’s a Klingon trap, doesn’t the Enterprise have enough of a window to go to warp speed? Uhura mentions that the signal is lost, then if it was me…. high-tail it out of there!!! You’re in the neurtal zone… you get out!

    • tripinchina Says:

      nothing to add here except RIP Ricardo Montalban. He was a unique and charismatic actor who always played the weirdest freaking roles, including, of course, the role of Kahn.

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