Archive for the ‘Science Fiction/Fantasy’ Category
My wife and I recently watched Star Trek: Into Darkness, the second in the series of J.J. Abrams-directed”reboot” Star Trek movies that began in 2009. On the plus side, the film had some impressive action scenes and special effects. It also had more and somewhat better character development than its predecessor. Long-time fans of the series might like the many clever nods to the original series from the 1960s. At the very least, the movie was fun to watch, and I think we got our money’s worth.
Nonetheless, the negatives outweigh the positives. Unsurprisingly, Into Darkness has most of the same flaws as the previous Abrams Star Trek movie, which I criticized here. Both films essential turn Star Trek into an action movie that just happens to utilize Trek characters and settings. I am far from an uncritical admirer of Star Trek as envisioned by Gene Roddenberry and his successors. Nor was I ever the kind of fanatical Trekkie who goes to conventions wearing Vulcan ears or signs up for classes at the Klingon Language Institute. But, despite its many flaws, I admired the Star Trek franchise’s willingness to take on big questions about the kind of future we should want for humanity. Abrams’ “reboot” essentially ignores all serious issues, and just ramps up the action. I don’t deny that a “reboot” may have been needed, given the poor quality of the last several old-line Star Trek movies; but not a reboot that jettisons almost everything that made Star Trek interesting and unique.
In addition, Into Darkness has huge plot holes big enough to fly a whole fleet of Romulan warbirds through. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I won’t go through them in detail. I will only note that, for the Federation to get into the predicament that is the main focus of the plot, Star Fleet’s leadership would have to be ridiculously stupid. To take just one of many examples, it seems that Star Fleet Headquarters and Earth generally have no fixed defenses of any kind against incoming warships and missiles, even though previous history clearly established that such defenses are both feasible given the level of their technology, and clearly necessary, given previous enemy attacks. Yet none of the characters even mention this and other comparably ridiculous mistakes, not even the supposedly hyper-logical Mr. Spock (who makes some whopping errors of his own in the movie, which are also ignored by the other characters).
Perhaps the real implicit message of the reboot movies is to endorse the views of social critics who worry that advancing technology has bred a “generation of nincompoops.” Maybe the producers expect the nincompoopery to get even worse in the future, infecting Vulcans and Klingons as well as humans. Indeed, if the Klingons, Romulans, and other rivals of the Federation were minimally competent, it’s hard to understand how the Star Fleet portrayed in the reboot movies could possibly have become a major power in the galaxy. Maybe the “darkness” into which the Federation has descended is a severe outbreak of extreme stupidity among Star Fleet’s best and brightest. Although I strongly disagree with this kind of technopessimism, a science fiction series that seriously explored the idea that high technology leads to a “dumbed down” society might be interesting. Unfortunately, Abrams’ movies seem to raise the issue only unintentionally.
UPDATE: Mike Rappaport responds to this post here:
I agree with Ilya that the new movie fails to address the serious questions, but I think that was largely true of all of the Star Trek movies – especially the good ones. It was the series – and especially some of the individual episodes – that really addressed these matters. And, of course, it is a lot easier to do that in a series....
[T]he new movie and the rebooted movie series were able to accomplish something that the old movies never achieved: the first two consecutive movies were both good. The old series of movies, peculiarly but consistently, generated one good movie only to be followed by a bad movie. That was frustrating. Star Trek: Into Darkness was able to avoid this affliction.
I agree that serious issues are easier to address in a TV series than in a movie. But I think Mike is too soft on the Abrams movies (neither of which were actually good, given the stupidity of their plots, and the weak characterization in the first one), and too hard on some of the earlier Star Trek movies. The first two earlier movies were both good and took on serious issues. The first movie addressed the nature of sentience, while the second took on the ethics of genetic engineering and revenge. And both had at least minimally intelligent plots, which is more than can be said for either Abrams production.
At Slate, Matthew Yglesias has an interesting article reviewing all of the Star Trek and many of the movies from the original 1960s series to the present. He especially focuses on the series’ ideology and politics, and its “utopian” vision of the future.
Despite coming at the issue from a very different perspective, I actually agree with much of Yglesias’ analysis. I think he is right that Deep Space Nine had many of Star Trek’s best episodes, that Voyager was the worst of the TV shows, and that the 2009 “reboot” movie (which I criticized here) takes the series in the wrong direction. Most fundamentally, I think we agree that Star Trek is interesting because it takes on serious issues about the kind of future we should want for humanity. That is a big part of the reason we are still talking about Trek almost fifty years after it began.
On the other hand, I have a much more critical perspective than Yglesias on Star Trek’s mostly left-wing politics, which I articulated in this Institute for Humane Studies podcast. As I explain in the podcast, I like Deep Space Nine better than the other series in part because it is more willing to question the Federation’s values, though it ultimately does still endorse them. I also disagree with Yglesias’ view that the economy of Star Trek is post-scarcity, thereby making socialism workable (and indeed the only feasible economic system). As I discuss here, many important goods and services are still limited in the Star Trek universe, including the energy sources that power starships, planetary real estate, a variety of personal services, and – most importantly – replicators. The replicator – the very technology that supposedly eliminates scarcity – is itself scarce; the Federation and its various rivals apparently cannot replicate a replicator.
Even if scarcity were more fully eliminated than in the Star Trek universe, I don’t think it follows that socialism is the only viable response, or that the knowledge and incentive problems that make socialism a menace in our world would suddenly disappear. So long as there are any important scarce goods at all, a government monopoly over them would still be a terrible danger, even if the government were democratic. If scarcity were truly abolished and anyone could have any good or service they wanted at zero cost, there would be no point to socialism, since we would not need government to either facilitate production or redistribute wealth.
Be that as it may, I agree with Yglesias that there is much to admire in Star Trek at its best, and I like some of his ideas for a new Star Trek series. Perhaps a new series will go where no series has gone before and hire him as a consultant.
A young transient who said he was trying to shake zombies off a stolen semi-trailer truck he was driving caused a major freeway incident in southern California that sent four people to the hospital and tied up traffic for hours, the California Highway Patrol said.
Jerimiah Clyde Hartline, 19, was arrested in connection with the theft an 18-wheeler fully loaded with strawberries on Sunday near Temecula, according to the highway patrol.
Officer Nate Baer said Hartline had been riding with truck driver Daniel Martinez since his trip started in Tennessee after being kicked out of his home. When Martinez stopped to fill out paperwork at an inspection site, he left Hartline alone in the truck, Baer said. Hartline then jumped behind the wheel of the truck, sped off and soon after crashed into several vehicles on the freeway, Baer said.
Hartline was apparently under the influence of a substance that caused him to hallucinate, Baer said.
“He thought zombies were chasing him and clinging to the truck,” Baer said in an e-mail....
Hartline has been charged with taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and receiving known stolen property, court records said.
Mr. Hartline and his defense team will have to read up on the politics of zombies, which I blogged about here. For an appropriate fee, I would be happy to serve as an expert witness on the law and economics of the undead, as well as on the special legal rights and obligations of those who are called upon to defend humanity against them.
Scotland is considering a new law that would grant official recognition to wedding ceremonies performed by practitioners of the new “Jedi” religion:
The Force is strong with the Jedi in Scotland. A bill under consideration in Scotland would grant those who have literally made “Star Wars” a religion the power to perform marriage ceremonies.
The BBC reports that the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill would apply to other nonreligious groups such as the Flat Earth Society and the Jedi Knights Society, aka Temple of the Jedi Order.
And while it may sound like a joke to most, the Jedi religion is quite popular in some parts of Europe. In England, it is the second-most popular “alternative religion,” with more than 175,000 people listing themselves as Jedi in the 2012 nationwide census.
“Our current consultation covers not only the introduction of same-sex marriage but also the detail of important protections in relation to religious bodies and celebrants, freedom of speech and education,” a Scottish government spokeswoman said.
“At the moment, marriage ceremonies by bodies such as humanists have been classed as religious, even though the beliefs of such organizations are nonreligious....”
The Scottish government plans to hold a public consultation on the bill and, of course, not all traditionally religious groups are happy about creating a new category for ceremonies that are by their very nature, arguably, a religious practice.
“There are loads of people in a diverse society like this for whom belief can mean virtually anything—the Flat Earth Society and Jedi Knights Society—who knows?” the Rev. Iver Martin told the BBC.
“I am not saying that we don’t give place to that kind of personal belief, but when you start making allowances for marriages to be performed within those categories, then you are all over the place.”
For their part, the Jedi say the very nature of their beliefs would prevent them from tarnishing any other religious institutions.
“We believe in Peace, Justice, Love, Learning and using our abilities for Good so it’s unlikely that our way conflicts with your beliefs and traditions,” reads a statement on the group’s website.
The Jedi faith may now be the fourth largest religion in Britain, though there is some question as to whether it’s really a religion, as opposed to a secular philosophy.
Despite the objections of the Reverend Iver Martin, I don’t see the problem with letting them perform officially sanctioned weddings. Most liberal democracies already allow wedding ceremonies performed by every conceivable religious group, as well as purely secular ones. Western civilization can easily survive having a few ceremonies performed by Jedi Knights, especially if The Force is truly with them.
Still, the fact that the possible legalization of Jedi weddings in Scotland is an outgrowth of a bill intended to legalize gay marriage might reinforce claims that gay marriage leads to a dangerous slippery slope. If we allow gay marriage, we will end up legalizing Jedi weddings, and weddings performed by Sith Lords wielding the power of the Dark Side can’t be far behind. To paraphrase Darth Vader, “[t]he ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force to perform weddings”!
The Wall Street Journal national security reporting team has a new article in today’s Journal on how US surveillance drones are providing intelligence and targeting information to French forces in Mali, which then use the information to direct French (manned) airstrikes. The drone surveillance marks, according to the article, a widened role for the US in support of French military operations in Mali:
U.S. Reaper drones have provided intelligence and targeting information that have led to nearly 60 French airstrikes in the past week alone in a range of mountains the size of Britain, where Western intelligence agencies believe militant leaders are hiding, say French officials.
The operations target top militants, including Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the mastermind of January’s hostage raid on an Algerian natural gas plant that claimed the lives of at least 38 employees, including three Americans. Chad forces said they killed him on Saturday, a day after saying they had killed Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, the commander of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s Mali wing.
French, U.S. and Malian officials have not confirmed the deaths of Mr. Belmokhtar or Mr. Zeid, citing a lack of definitive information from the field. But they say the new arrangement with the U.S. has led in recent days to a raised tempo in strikes against al Qaeda-linked groups and their allies some time after the offensive began in January. That is a shift for the U.S., which initially limited intelligence sharing that could pinpoint targets for French strikes.
The lack of French drone capacity, for surveillance or attack, was noted in a New York Times article two weeks ago that profiled the French Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Le Drian was blunt about the need for and the lack of drones (emphasis added below):
[W]hile the French express hope that African forces will pursue the Islamists into the mountains and deserts of the vast north, it is highly likely that French special forces will have to continue to operate on their own and alongside the Africans, with the help of American surveillance drones.
One of the most shocking lessons for him from Mali, Mr. Le Drian said, was the lack of French surveillance drones, which he called “incomprehensible.” France has only two drones in theater, he said. “A country with aeronautical skills, that makes good airplanes and that did not anticipate what surveillance and intelligence will look like tomorrow — or even combat!” he said. France “did not anticipate and refused to make this choice — but this doesn’t date from today but from 5 or 10 years ago. I have asked that someone explain the story to me so I understand why we didn’t do it, since, really, we should have.”
Perhaps the problem was national pride and a refusal to buy American? “I’m trying to remedy this impasse and this pride,” he said. “It’s a real question for us.”
Le Derian says that this dates back five or ten years. No doubt that is true, but I wonder whether part of the problem in the last few years, especially, has been the increasingly vocal anti-drone campaigners and their impact upon national parliaments in Europe. The anti-drone campaign has done a lot to create a stigma in Europe around drones, whether for surveillance or strikes. It paints them as anything from a coward’s weapon – the “you refuse to fight your enemy man-to-man, mano-a-mano” meme, ignoring the fact though most of modern weaponry promotes remoteness, whether firing a cruise missile from the bowels of a ship, or firing an artillery shell from many kilometers away – to Skynet, a universal brooding presence watching everything.
The reality is a lot more prosaic, of course. Drones require an airstrip, refueling and repair facilities, a sizable human team, just to keep them in the air, and all of that in-theater – piloting it from Nevada changes none of that. But the prosaic reality doesn’t count much, so far as I can tell, against predictions of the dystopian technological future drawn from a 1991 movie starring Arnold. Sci fi pop culture is an easier narrative for public consumption than the much less interesting facts of how automation is gradually entering into the machines of war, as part of the process by which it is entering many technologies, military or civilian. The problem is that all of us enjoy the pop culture references – me and you and everyone else – but we have passed the point at which we can rely for envisioning the future on Philip K. Dick novels. There are actual technologies underway, with actual directions for future technologies, paths that open some possibilities and close others. Those interested in serious discussions about where technology will and should go need to separate the “fun” moments of Terminator this and Skynet that from the real discussions of what real technologies are underway. Continue reading ‘US Surveillance Drones Aid French Airstrikes in Mali’ »
Following up on Spencer Ackerman’s critique of Imperial strategy at the Battle of Hoth, Wired magazine has posted a symposium on the battle with commentary from six defense policy experts. I myself commented on Ackerman’s article here.
I’m not entirely convinced by the symposium participants who argue that Darth Vader actually had a good strategy at Hoth. But I do agree that Hoth was far from the worst failure of the Imperial military. That dubious distinction belongs to the infamous debacle in which “an entire legion” of the Emperor’s “finest” troops was defeated by a handful of Rebels leading an army of stone age teddy bears.
Co-blogger Sasha Volokh asks for examples of Catholic science fiction. As with the debate over Jewish fantasy literature a couple years ago, a lot depends on the definition of the relevant field. But even under a pretty narrow definition, there are many, many examples.
One of my personal favorites is Frank Herbert’s Dune series, where the Bene Gesserit order (which plays a key role in the plot) is based on the Jesuits, and the dominant religion has substantial elements derived from Catholicism. The characters even often quote from the “Orange Catholic Bible,” the result of a future rapprochment between Catholicism and Protestantism.
Another famous example is Keith Roberts’ alternate history novel Pavane, which portrays a world in which the Catholic Church managed to crush the Reformation and then went on to severely constrain social, economic, and technological progress. Roberts viewed that result as a natural outgrowth of the Church’s doctrines if it had succeeded in staving off challenges to its position as the dominant church for all Western Christians.
If we expand the focus to include fantasy literature, there are even more examples. As Tom Shippey documents in an important study of Tolkien’s work, Catholic theological concepts significantly influenced the themes of The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien was a strongly committed Catholic). Criticism of the Catholic Church and its theology are central themes of Phillip Pullman’s atheistic Dark Materials trilogy, and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s well-known feminist reinterpretation of Arthurian legend, The Mists of Avalon.
It would be easy to extend this list. Overall, I would say that the Catholic Church and its theology get far more attention in science fiction and fantasy literature than any other religion, possibly more than all others combined. That’s not surprising, given that the Church has had more influence on Western history than any other, and to this day epitomizes organized religion in the minds of many Americans and Western Europeans.
UPDATE: I did not cover Walter L. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz because it was already mentioned in Sasha’s original post.
In this Wired magazine article [HT: Instapundit], Spencer Ackerman gives a detailed critique of Darth Vader’s strategy at the Battle of Hoth. Presented with a golden opportunity to wipe out the rebels once and for all, Vader let them slip through his fingers:
How did the Galactic Empire ever cement its hold on the Star Wars Universe? The war machine built by Emperor Palpatine and run by Darth Vader is a spectacularly bad fighting force, as evidenced by all of the pieces of Death Star littering space. But of all the Empire’s failures, none is a more spectacular military fiasco than the Battle of Hoth at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.
From a military perspective, Hoth should have been a total debacle for the Rebel Alliance. Overconfident that they can evade Imperial surveillance, they hole up on unforgiving frigid terrain at the far end of the cosmos. Huddled into the lone Echo Base are all their major players: politically crucial Princess Leia; ace pilot Han Solo; and their game-changer, Luke Skywalker, who isn’t even a Jedi yet.
The defenses the Alliance constructed on Hoth could not be more favorable to Vader if the villain constructed them himself....
When Vader enters the Hoth System with the Imperial Fleet, he’s holding a winning hand. What follows next is a reminder of two military truths that apply in our own time and in our own galaxy: Don’t place unaccountable religious fanatics in wartime command, and never underestimate a hegemonic power’s ability to miscalculate against an insurgency.
Actually, Vader’s errors at Hoth are even worse than typical mistakes in counterinsurgency warfare. In this case, the insurgents were trapped, and forced to fight a conventional battle against a greatly superior force. Yet Vader still let them get away. In addition, it’s hard to understand why the imperial ground troops went in on clumsy snow walkers, which move at a snail’s pace and are highly vulnerable to air attack. Even World War II-era battle tanks were faster. And speed was clearly of the essence, as the storm troopers needed to occupy the rebel base before key insurgent leaders like Leia could escape. The Imperial troops could have taken the base faster by adopting the primitive WWII strategy of landing paratroopers on top of it (thereby outflanking the defending forces which were miles away waiting for the snow walkers) or even riding in on tauntauns. It’s almost as if Vader was just toying with the rebels so he could fight a more tactically interesting battle against them in the next movie!
In fairness, the Emperor and Vader were not always this incompetent. I offered a more positive appraisal of their leadership methods here.
The Obama White House knew, of course, that creating a web-based system for ordinary citizens to call on the government to do something, and promising a response if 25,000 people or more sign an online petition within 30 days, would inevitably produce some silliness. There’s a reason we’re not a direct democracy, no matter how dysfunctional Congress has become. There have been some serious matters raised, such as MPAA Chris Dodd’s (shocking, shocking) insinuations that the Obama campaign owed taxpayer goodies to Hollywood. And anything genuinely offensive can simply be ignored. We live in a knowing and ironic age, and what might once have seemed beneath the dignity of the White House can be an opportunity for some light-hearted national and, dare one say it, decently unpartisan fun.
Hence the official White House reaction to the petition calling upon the Obama administration to “secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016,” which garnered some 35,000 signatures. As reported by Entertainment Weekly (the only truly canonical outlets for this kind of news would have to be EW or Wired, Hollywood or Silicon Valley), here is the official administration response, from Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch of OMB (we must assume this went through the interagency clearance process and perhaps even constitutes the opinio juris of the United States for purposes of international, nay interstellar, law):
“The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense,” begins Shawcross, “but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon.” He cites a Lehigh University study that calculated that a Death Star would cost a deficit-exploding $852,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s $852 quadrillion), notes that ”the Administration does not support blowing up planets,” and rightly points out that it would be foolhardy to build a space station “with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship.”
Shawcross then goes on to tout the many space endeavors, both public and private, that are currently underway. (“Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun.”) He concludes by encouraging the diligent soul(s) who created the petition to pursue a career in a science, technology, or math-related field, declaring that anyone who does so embraces the power of the Force: “Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”
I watched Peter Jackson’s first Hobbit movie tonight. Most previous reviews have ranged from lukewarm to mostly negative. All I can say is that I strongly disagree. Peter Jackson has done a great job of capturing the atmosphere and themes of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book. And the actors playing the key characters – Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, and Gandalf – bring them to life very effectively. You really get a strong sense of Bilbo’s transition from homebody to adventurer, and of the dwarves’ longing to recover their lost home (which, interestingly, is portrayed slightly more sympathetically in the movie than the book). The key confrontation between Bilbo and Gollum is very well done too. I also disagree with those who criticize Jackson’s use of advanced film techniques and CGI. With a few exceptions, these worked very effectively.
Like many, I was skeptical of Jackson’s decision to turn a book with less than 300 pages into a massive trilogy of three-hour movies. To do so, he included a lot of back story and parallel incidents that Tolkien developed only in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings and other later writings. There is also some added material that was developed by Jackson himself. Not all of this additional plot works well. Although it was fun to see Radagast the Brown brought to life, I’m not sure incorporating him into the The Hobbit adds much of value to the story. Overall, however, the additional plot elements mostly work well, and don’t detract from the main story.
We won’t be able to make a final judgment on Jackson’s interpretation of The Hobbit until the next two movies come out. But the first one is a great start. If you loved the book, and especially if you loved Peter Jackson’s earlier Lord of the Rings movies, I think you’ll be favorably impressed. I know I was.
It turns out that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a 20 sided Dungeons and Dragons die made in ancient Egypt:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns what may be the world’s oldest d20 die. It’s made out of serpentine and looks to be in remarkably good shape for its age.
The die is a little over an inch tall. The symbols carved into the die appear to be of Greek origin, in keeping with it coming from the Ptolemaic Period.
The symbols for eta, theta, and epsilon can be clearly seen. Maybe it was used to determine which frat the ancients were going to pledge, but I’d like to think it was used to roll for hit points for warrior and sphinx classes. Now all we need is for someone to 3D-model this so we can print it out and make up our own ancient Egyptian version of D&D.
Historical evidence validating the Lord of the Rings and D&D mythos continues to pile up. We also have evidence that prehistoric hobbits traveled half the world, probably on a quest to destroy the Ring of Power. And, as I have previously pointed out, scientific evidence for the existence of vicious trolls is readily available right here in the comments section of this and other blogs. Can proof of the existence of elves, dwarves, orcs and dragons be far behind?
CNN reports that Superman has quit his long-time job working for the mainstream media, and may well take up blogging:
Add Superman to the list of reporters leaving the newspaper business behind.
In the comic book series’ latest issue, which went on sale Wednesday, an outraged Clark Kent quits his job at The Daily Planet after his boss berates him....
In an interview with USA Today this week, writer Scott Lobdell said Kent is much more likely to start his own blog than he is to search for new work in the news business.
“I don’t think he’s going to be filling out an application anywhere,” Lobdell said. “He is more likely to start the next Huffington Post or the next Drudge Report than he is to go find someone else to get assignments or draw a paycheck from.”
Well, allow me to invite the Blogger of Steel to do a guest-blogging stint here at the Volokh Conspiracy. Perhaps he would care to respond to my 2006 post on “The Law and Economics of Superman,” where I criticize him for misallocating his superpowers and ignoring opportunity costs, or the post where I pointed out legal errors in his latest movie.
One of my few pedagogical innovations as a constitutional law professor is using Darth Vader’s “alteration” of his agreement with Lando Calrissian in the The Empire Strikes Back to illustrate the importance of the Contracts Clause, which forbids state laws that “impair the obligation of contracts.” A government that can renege on its contracts not only tramples the rights of the people, but ultimately harms itself, because many will become reluctant to work with it in the future.
Here is the dialogue from the relevant scenes. After the second scene, Lando turns against the Empire, which ultimately leads to its downfall. He helps Luke and Princess Leia escape Cloud City, thereby foiling Vader’s plan. Later, in The Return of the Jedi, it is Lando who leads the successful assault on the second Death Star. If the Imperial Constitution had had a judicially enforceable Contracts Clause, Lando could have vindicated his rights in court, and the rebellion would have been crushed:
Lando: Lord Vader, what about Leia and the Wookiee?
Darth Vader: They must never again leave this city.
Lando: [outraged] That was never a condition of our agreement, nor was giving Han [Solo] to this bounty hunter!
Darth Vader: Perhaps you think you’re being treated unfairly?
Lando: [after a pause; nervous tone] No.
Darth Vader: Good. You know it would be unfortunate if I had to leave a garrison here.
Lando: [to himself] This deal is getting worse all the time!
Darth Vader: Calrissian. Take the princess and the Wookie to my ship.
Lando: You said they’d be left at the city under my supervision!
Darth Vader: I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.
Interestingly, Goldwater Institute public interest lawyer Christina Sandefur informs me that she used the above quote from Vader in a recent brief in a Contracts Clause case.
Elsewhere, I have argued that much of the criticism of Emperor Palpatine’s management style is misplaced. But he and Vader blew it when it comes to the Contracts Clause.
This recent post has an interesting list of legal citations to Star Trek. Unfortunately, however, the author inexplicably omitted Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s discussion of Vulcans in the oral argument for last year’s video games case.