RIP Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy, American author best known for his technically detailed espionageand military science storylines that are set during and in the aftermath of the Cold War, along with video games which bear his name for licensing and promotional purposes, has passed away. He is well known for fiction works featuring the Jack Ryan character in The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears which have been turned into commercially successful films.

Clancy was born in Baltimore, Maryland and before making his literary debut, he spent some time running an independent insurance agency. Clancy launched his writing career with The Hunt for Red October in 1984, which garnered a positive review from President Ronald Reagan, who called it a ‚Äúperfect yarn.‚ÄĚ By the time his second novel Red Storm Rising was released in 1986, some military officials suspected that Clancy had gained access to classified information on weaponry, when really he had pieced the information himself through extensive research and informed guesswork. The author was also noted for his ‚ÄúGuided Tour‚ÄĚ nonfiction series that explored military machinery in detail.

Clancy wrote several nonfiction books about various branches of the¬†U.S. armed forces. Clancy also branded several lines of books and video games with his name that are written by other authors, following premises or storylines generally in keeping with Clancy’s works. These are sometimes referred to by fans as “apostrophe” books; Clancy did not initially acknowledge that these series were being authored by others, only thanking the actual authors in the headnotes for their “invaluable contribution to the manuscript”.

In his personal life he was married twice; first wife Wanda married in 1969, separated briefly in 1995, and permanently separated in December 1996. Clancy filed for divorce in November 1997. On June 26, 1999, Clancy married freelance journalist Alexandra Marie Llewellyn, whom he had met in 1997. Clancy died on October 1, 2013, at the age of 66, in a Baltimore hospital after a brief illness at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, not far from his Maryland home.

Thomas Leo “Tom” Clancy, Jr.¬†(April 12, 1947 ‚Äď October 1, 2013)

Cogenitor

I watched another favourite episode from Star Trek Enterprise last night- this one is called “Cogenitor”. Although a similar concept had been done in Star Trek The Next Generation, I find this episode to capture the concept better and it sticks in my mind a lot. I have seen this episode 3 times now and I love this episode and find it to be though provoking, sad and tragic all at the same time. This is what Star Trek or any good science fiction does to you when it is well. It resonates with you long after the episode has ended and since I first watched this episode back in 2006, it still is fresh in my memory.

The crew of the Enterprise is studying a hypergiant star when they are hailed by an alien species that they had never met before, The Vissians, who are traveling on a much larger spaceship. The technically more advanced Vissians are friendly and open to do First Contact with the humans and sharing knowledge. While captain Archer joins the Vissian captain on a smaller shuttle to conduct surveys and explore the inner workings of the star, Enterprise’s Chief Engineer Commander Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker befriends his Vissian counterpart and his wife. While eating food in the Enterprise mess hall Trip learns that the Vissians have 3 genders : male, female and cogeniter. With the Vissian engineer & his wife is a cogenitor, who are essential for Vissian couple who plan to have a baby – they supply an¬†enzyme¬†during the¬†sex¬†act which facilitated conception. Cogenitors make up about 3% of the Vissian population, are treated in a very pragmatic way, being shipped from one couple to another to keep the population growing. A side effect is that they are treated like objects, not deserving names nor education.

Trip is fascinated with the cogenitor and makes friends with “her” (as the cogenitor feels more female to him and is played by a female actor anyway) after he learned from Dr. Phlox’ analysis that they have the same intellectual potential as the two other sexes. He teaches it how to read and tries to make it understand that it has the same rights as the rest of its species. He gives her a pad and is pleasantly surprised when she learns to read quickly. He then sneaks her into the Enterprise and shows her around the ship and shows her a movie in his quarters. He teaches her to play the board game GO and is amazed when it beats him at a game, since the engineer has been undefeated for the last two years. Later T’pol is contacted by the Vissians who are upset with Trip and deny him access to their ship. She then debates him on the touchy nature of First Contact and especially with the Captain away for 3 days. When Archer comes back the cogenitor sneaks back to see Trip and asks Archer for asylum – because she won’t be able to have a decent life among her own people or do any of the things that Trip tells her about (get an education, go rock climbing, etc). The Vissians are angry as their chief engineer and her wife had to wait a long time to get the cogenitor and also they felt that the humans couldn’t possibly comment on practices of a culture that they barely know. Archer is furious at Trip, even though he wishes he could accept the cogenitor’s request for asylum, and in order to not offend the Vissians, Archer refuses.

The two ships depart and both captains are still optimistic about hat the incident will not interfere with the relation between¬† Earth¬† and¬†Vissia, the situation gets a lot less bright when Archer learns that the cogenitor committed¬†suicide, an evident result of the independence it developed out of Tucker’s teachings. She learned of possibilities she had never known till now and having them denied to her was¬† too much for her to bear. Archer ¬†severely reprimands him for his interference, as it has not only resulted in the cogenitor’s death, but now the Vissian couple will not be able to have a child for a long period of time. Tucker is deeply shocked, as Archer reminds him that despite all his time on¬†Enterprise, he still compares other cultures to Earth standards and interferes without thinking first. Archer is upset that first contact with the Vissians led to this conclusion, and Tucker begins to realize the consequences his actions can cause.

It is a good reminder to all of us that we have to think before we react and criticize another culture just because their ways are not the same as our own. Another culture may eat different food, have different ideas about family, sexual preferences, marriage, homes, employment, language, accents, medical practices etc. They may seem weird & alien initially but unless we take the time and effort to understand them, we cannot deem ourselves fit to comment, criticize, debate, lecture or discuss about the said culture. This will be crucial if humans ever do have contact with an alien species in real life. It seems like a distant possibility for now but if we ever do, the lessons from this episode will be crucial.

Before I end this post I must say that this does not apply to various cultures on earth among us humans. That is another post for another day :)

Arsenal 2 Napoli 0

Arsenal’s impressive start to their season (minus the opening day loss to Aston Villa) & their Champions League campaign continued as Mesut Ozil inspired them to victory over Rafael Benitez’s Napoli at the Emirates Stadium. The ¬£42m deadline-day signing from Real Madrid scored his first goal for Arsenal with a brilliant finish, and then set up a second for Olivier Giroud as this Group F meeting was effectively decided within the first 15 minutes. The money spent on the German international is paying off for Wenger and the Gunners.

Arsenal’s domination ensured the rest of the game was little more than a formality as Napoli, riding high in Serie A, never threatened to upset the optimism that has swept around Arsenal and also taken them to the top of the Premier League. At the heart of it all was Ozil, the German combining natural grace with deadly contributions that proved too much for Napoli, who had proved their own pedigree by beating last season’s Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund in their opening group game. Arsenal produced the perfect follow-up performance to their win in Marseille and now head a group that looked littered with hazards when the draw was made. Aaron Ramsey also produced another highly accomplished performance, setting up Ozil’s goal and continuing the outstanding form that has been a hallmark of Arsenal’s opening to the season.

Former Liverpool keeper Reina could not be blamed for either goal and he was in action to prevent a third for Arsenal with 14 minutes left, blocking from Laurent Koscielny from close range after Mikel Arteta flicked on. All that was left was for Arsenal to close out another important Champions League victory, which they did without alarm.