Planet News Views

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Time Travel to the Past With Star Trek!

By Scott McLean

Time travel was a subject dealt with in the original Star Trek series, and the episodes were quite suspenseful.

My favorite episode of this genre is “All Our Yesterdays”, which is to take nothing away from the sci-fi masterpiece “The City on the Edge of Forever”, starring Joan Collins. If time travel ever becomes possible, it would serve as a cautionary tale not to get emotionally involved with someone from the past.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy take an unexpected 'leap' back in time to Earth's early 20th century, where they try to help a special woman (played by Collins). But should they follow their hearts and not their minds, their good deeds could have disastrous consequences for future generations.

“All Our Yesterdays” visits a world bracing for the end brought on by a supernova, but instead of leaving the planet for safety, it's inhabitants transport themselves to the past, which isn't all bad because they are allowed to choose which eras they would like to spend the rest of their lives.

Captain Kirk, Spock and Doctor McCoy get separated in different historical periods many centuries apart, and they must find each other and their way back to the present time.

The three men find themselves in difficult situations, though that is nothing new for them. They must hurry or it will be too late to leave the planet. The plot is tense and taut. Each time I've seen this episode, I wanted it to go on for another hour or two.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Have a Nice Breakfast...

lunch or dinner. Thanks for stopping by. Take care.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Favorite Star Trek Episode

With so many great episodes, how could anyone pick one over the others? But I did and will explain why.

By Scott McLean

I might as well begin with what I feel was the best episode in terms of having a wonderful plot, touching moments, the unexpected and an incredible surprise ending.

“Return to Tomorrow” was a brilliant look at what might happen to a civilization that becomes too advanced and powerful.

The Enterprise crew is used to beaming down to planets but not deep beneath the surface of a planet as they do this time. (Most people know how they get from a starship circling a planet down to the planet's surface, but if you don't, I won't spoil it for you. At least not until the next article.)

When they get there they find beings that no longer have bodies and are something like pure mind and energy, and the energy is almost gone, as they are being kept alive by artificial means. The one being able to speak claims they have ties to the human race, going way, WAY back in time.

This could be a sweet, little reunion of sorts, except for one small catch: These beings want to spend some time in the bodies of three crew members. Of course, Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner) and Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) the First Officer, a Vulcan who is part human, say they will let the beings use their bodies, add in a female crew member, and this story begins to show signs that it is special.

The problem is these beings are in this predicament in the first place because their civilization became too powerful, and, well, uncivilized in the way they treated each other. So then one might wonder whether letting them use bodies is such a good idea.

Then the big issues, which Star Trek is superb at bringing up, come forward as these beings show maybe they can't be trusted. At the same time side plots are developing wonderfully, the eternal battle between mind and emotion, so well displayed in the life of Spock, brings him nearly to the brink of disaster as the being in his body goes out of control.

Spock is the central character in "Return to Tomorrow", and this is perhaps Leonard Nimoy's finest performance in the original Star Trek series.

This is my favorite episode because the writers deal with such important issues, it's so exciting and has a wonderful surprise ending.

It's a Good Evening here, but...

This site is having some problems tonight. Sometimes when I was typing, the letters didn't print out right away. I wanted to publish earlier this evening, but it took at bit more time due to these technical difficulties. Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Some of My Favorite Star Trek Episodes

By Scott McLean

Science fiction movies and TV series for decades have provided audiences with great entertainment.

Modern sci-fi films seem quite believable as they dazzle viewers with remarkable special effects. While they are realistic looking, how would anyone know what's really possible?

Human beings have been to the moon, but space missions to far away worlds don't seem likely in the near future.

Star Trek has taken viewers on a journey through outer space to unusual planets, made us believe space travel could happen in the future and that it would be amazing.

I have been a huge fan of the first Star Trek TV series pretty much all my life. It often touched on serious themes, especially getting at the complexities of human beings, who love, laugh, cry, hate and at times fight like savages.

Anyway, the next few articles will have mini reviews of Star Trek episodes, but I've chosen not to do a "Top 10" or list them in chronological order of when they first aired on TV. Since I'm doing this from memory and I haven't seen some of the episodes for several years, I won't get into much trivia.

I will be back tomorrow with an article on some of my favorite episodes.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Have a nice breakfast...

lunch or dinner! Thanks for stopping by. Take care.

Kyiv is the Capital of Ukraine

By Scott McLean

Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine, and that's the way the U.S. Department of State will now spell the Ukrainian city.

Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman for the U.S. Department of State explained the spelling change Thursday in the Daily Press Briefing, which is on the U.S. Department of State web site.

"Now, this decision was made to change the spelling of the capital of Ukraine to what is now currently spelled K-y-i-v. The reasons for this as I understand the board's decision making was that this is more in keeping with how the Ukrainians themselves pronounce the name of their capital. It is also now in keeping with how a number of international organizations, including NATO and the UN, are now spelling it. So basically it was a change designed to be more consistent both with local pronunciation standards as well as to ensure some consistency with what other international organizations as well as the Ukrainians themselves are doing," said Casey in response to a reporter's question.

However, if you write and say Kiev, you are not alone.

Kiev is the spelling Americans learned in school, it's spelled this way on maps and the pronunciation is from the Russian language. Kyiv is a spelling in English letters that when said sound like the Ukrainian pronunciation of the capital.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hi! I'll be here for the next few hours

I will be posting again in about 30 minutes. Thanks for visiting my site. Feel free to leave a comment or just say hi. Take care.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Thais Listen For a Big Winner

By Scott McLean

Radios and televisions across the country are being turned on as people anxiously await a major announcement...

It's what Thailand is talking about, although it has nothing to do with the political changes following last month's military coup.

I'm told someone could be smiling there this afternoon, if he or she has the winning lottery ticket for the grand prize. Many Thais, like Americans, seem to be hooked on the lottery.

For some people, the lottery announcement is bigger than the major news of the day. Most of us have known someone with a plan to win the lottery and what they would do with the money "when" they win it.

Back to what's happening in Thailand...

The setting: sunny, but not hot, a regular workday in the middle of the afternoon.

People are at their jobs as usual but "some people don't pay attention to their work," says N.P., MBA in Thailand.

"We still work but we understand together because we have announcement of lottery today. Many people will not go out of home because they want to know result of the lottery," said N.P, who adds that some business offices turn on the radio and most bosses don't seem to mind.

However, the lottery in Thailand, which is announced every 15 days, is not without it's critics and while the government uses lottery revenues, some members of government are opposed to it.

"It makes people's life with dreaming, and not do anything... It's a social problem, too," N.P. said.

Also, there are lots of prizes but the biggest prize or jackpot can range from a few million baht to around 70 million baht.

Note: N.P., MBA, Thailand contributed to this article.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Human Beings Everywhere are More Alike Than Different

By Scott McLean

People keep looking for differences between themselves and others, which often leads to anger, hatred and war. But "we" (human beings throughout the world) are more alike than different, and this statement is backed up by more than anatomical sameness.

Some of those shared characteristics of human beings, whether in the Eastern or Western half of the planet, are good while others quite bad, indeed.

People everywhere have hopes and goals, most of which are natural and good. However, a winning number is becoming the means more people think will help them reach their financial goals. Lottery luck isn't just an American obsession.

It has been brought to my attention that the lottery is on many people's minds in Thailand. What makes that even more interesting is less than a month ago Thailand had a military coup.

I will have more to say on this topic in the next post.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Star Trek Episodes of the '60s Among Sci-Fi's Best

By Scott McLean

After a few readers requested movie reviews, I decided to write a list of my favorite Star Trek episodes, which makes sense as this is the 40th anniversary of the famous TV series.

Aside from my sister’s objections when we were kids that the rocks looked fake (it was the 60’s, what did she expect?) Star Trek was among the best, most original TV series of all time.

Actually, sis would have been more accurate to have said Star Trek “rocked” because the stories were always interesting, the characters personal, and the episodes dealt with big issues, not shying away from the topics of human nature and emotions.

In recent years, sci-fi movies have become more believable with incredible special effects that dazzle moviegoers. Like sci-fi fans all over the planet, I enjoy those movies (Star Wars, The Matrix and others) but the original Star Trek series, in my opinion, did a better job of taking on big issues and making it all very exciting.

Over the next week or two, I’ll write about a few of my favorite Star Trek episodes.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Editorial Note:

Planet News Views focuses on news and issues in Asia and Southeast Asia. Not all the issues will be written about due to lack of time, although such important topics as the coup in Thailand and North Korea testing a nuclear weapon have been featured here during the last three or four weeks.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

North Korea Poses a Difficult Assignment In Diplomacy, and Psychology

By Scott McLean

U.S. foreign policy is much more difficult in recent times, as there are so many unpredictable leaders of the so-called rogue nations, the ones that seem to follow none of the rules and could be dangerous if and when they develop major weapons of mass destruction and the ability to launch them great distances.

North Korea tested a nuclear weapon this week, as was widely reported, making action by the United States, China and other countries an urgent matter.

If North Korea’s leader doesn’t care that much about his own people, it’s unlikely trade sanctions by the United States and it’s partners will lead to the desired action of getting North Korea to give up it’s nuclear weapons.

How do you reason with leaders like North Korea's when they don’t appear to care about their own people! When the military is built up at the expense of goods and services for the people of any country, such as what happened in the Soviet Union under Stalin, that speaks loudly about what’s important to such a regime, and limits the productivity of bilateral or multilateral talks.

In trying to get a country perceived as a threat to become more friendly in it’s actions, doesn’t it ultimately come down to what the other countries can do for them?

The problem isn’t only that this type of leader will not do what other countries want him to do, but that he doesn’t even care what they will do in response to his actions.

If compared to a board game, for example, the losing player rather than admit defeat might throw the whole game on the floor, which if North Korea acts this way could lead to dire consequences for Asia and all of the world.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Have a nice Day...

or night! Take care.

The Nuclear North Korea Headache

By Scott McLean

A headache is one way to ruin a fun time. My Sunday evening started with a splitting headache (the kind that makes me feel nauseated and weak) and it got worse when I heard North Korea had tested a nuclear weapon.

I did get something to eat, which helped me keep going, but the North Korea issue continued to make me feel sick inside. However, it did get me thinking about this foreign policy dilemma.

The standard type of foreign diplomacy is unlikely to be successful with North Korea. At least if the goal is to get them to give up their nuclear weapons. I'll continue with this topic next time.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Future Never Truly Leaves The Past Behind

The '60s Star Trek series is outstanding science fiction with humans battling their emotions on far away planets of the future

By Scott McLean

Human nature keeps standing in the way of intelligent action. Our emotions often cause things to turn out very badly, and it's nearly impossible to break free from our emotions.

I'm referring to love, hate, jealousy, envy, greed, anger, etc. But for some reason we never give up hope for the best. Hope that we will overcome difficulties, and ultimately that civilization will make real progress (not the kind associated with bulldozers clearing land to make way for strip malls and apartment buildings) toward the improvement of who we really are on the inside, call it our minds, souls, or simply what makes human beings run...

Getting to that higher level may require us to reach out beyond our own planet in order to learn about ourselves and achieve significant inner growth. We are able to learn from others. But we don't have alien beings to learn from, at least not to my knowledge.

Someday if we do encounter higher beings throughout the universe, then we will become enlightened like never before, or be destroyed in the process.

The struggles of humans adapting to the future, including interaction with other planets and their inhabitants, are complicated by human emotions.

The original Star Trek, which recently celebrated it's 40th anniversary, touched upon just about every human struggle, and shows that the future of human civilization intersects with the past at every moment in time where human emotions reside. It's pretty cool stuff, and a lot of fun!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bangkok's New International Airport

Thailand Has a New Airport
By N.P., MBA, Thailand on headline

Suvarnabhumi Airport is open. The article by N.P., featured last week on Planet News Views, provides details on the new airport in Thailand. Give it a read. It's a great article!

To readers: Hope all your travels are safe, interesting, fun and without too many hassles! If you are flying to Bangkok, may you enjoy your time in the new airport, and in Thailand.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Editorial Statement:

Planet News Views has no position on partisan politics in Thailand. In other words, this blog is objective and has no opinion on Thailand's political parties and the Thai people's choice of leaders.

What matters is that the Thai people be able to choose their leaders through democratic elections, and those freedoms limited since the coup (expression, press, political assembly) are restored.

A free press independent of government control must be allowed to report the news on a daily basis. For in depth analysis of this issue, please see the article posted on Monday.

Some of the media seem to leave out what's most important about Thailand.

The Thai people respect, revere and love the King. This is quite obvious to anyone who has visited Thailand and spoken with people there. This blog echoes the words of the Thai people:

"Long live the King of Thailand!"

At the same time, may Thailand's leaders, present and future, regardless of their political party always put the people of Thailand first in their decisions and their actions.
The priority should be to bring back democracy, civil liberties and state them in a constitution.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

What I'm doing...

I'm adding more links tonight. Also, a few hours ago I posted another article. Sometimes my computer doesn't work, or I have problems getting online. I post here when it's possible. Take care.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Good Night, Have a Great Lunch...

or at least have a good day! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments. Take care.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Free Press Necessary On Thailand's Road Back To Democracy

The media provide important information on government, those in power and those seeking power, and in so doing act to safeguard the survival of healthy democracy and stand in the way of threats to freedom

By Scott McLean

Thailand is setting out in a new direction, as the world watches with many hoping the destination is democracy. Following the September 19 coup in Bangkok, the military leaders suspended the constitution and declared martial law.

Less than two weeks later, Thailand has an interim prime minister and temporary constitution, as is widely reported by many credible news sources including the Bangkok Post. The world may feel as though Thailand is headed back in the right direction, although it's still too early to breathe a sigh of relief as elections reportedly will not be held until 2007, and it's difficult to assess how the media will be treated.

Freedom of the press is important to safeguard the survival of healthy democracy, and in this case necessary to moving the politics of Thailand back in that direction.

In the United States, the Fourth Estate (the media) is considered essential for the preservation of democracy. After all, who are the people going to turn to in the event that the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government are corrupt or violate the rights of the people!

In a healthy democracy government criticism by the media is to be expected-- and it is welcomed. Without scrutiny of government, protection of the other parts of a constitution become problematic.

At times the media deserve to be criticized for publishing or broadcasting conjecture posing as facts. But without the media, all we really have are guesses about what's going on where the political decisions are being made, and no way to head off an attack on democracy. With this in mind, it's important for these media to go beyond reporting basic facts and get at 'why' and 'how' a political event occurred.

Numerous theories exist on why major events in history happened. Thailand's military coup similarly has received thoughtful analysis. One of the leaders in critical thinking is the blog Bangkok Pundit. In a recent post, the blog examines one possible scenario leading up to the coup. The blog is both popular and getting the recognition it deserves.