May 8th, 2018

a rattling noise

Somewhere between last night and this morning, C and I awoke and heard the blinds of our bedroom window rattling. I thought it might be wind; C said it was probably earthquake. This morning I checked the noise and learned that there had been a Richter 3.9 earthquake in Hemet, a few miles down the road, with a 3.0 aftershock. This is the first one we've felt since we moved out of San Diego.

ahead of its time

As C and I have been watching the first season of the original Star Trek, I've been noticing how much ethnic variety there is on the show. Of course there are the continuing characters of Sulu and Uhura, whom everyone knows about. But we just saw "A Taste of Armageddon," where the yeoman who accompanies Kirk and Spock down to Eminiar is a young woman called Tamula who looks Japanese. She doesn't get a lot of dialogue, but she does get to ask questions, and at one point she's handed a weapon and told to guard a prisoner. (It's odd that the producers put l's into the names of characters played by Japanese actors, I have to say.) And this isn't the only such case; the court-martial episode had the court presided over by a black man and including a South Asian man. Then of course there was one of Kirk's main adversaries, Khan Noonien Singh, identified (linguistically plausibly!) as a Sikh (although the actor playing him certainly wasn't of Indian ancestry!).

The execution could have been better. But it seems clear that Roddenberry's vision of humanity venturing into space was one of people from all different ethnic backgrounds serving together—not just a token nonwhite character, but a steady series of other ethnicities in the background. It seems natural and inevitable now, but it's kind of impressive that he got a television network in 1966 to let him do it.