How Social Media Saved the World

It cannot be understated that we are living through a history-making difficult time. Hundreds of thousands of people are falling victim to a global pandemic and everyone is else either staying home or acting brazenly stupid. It shouldn't be surprising, though, that one of the upshots of all of this is that there has been a rise in meme-making.

First defined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 as a cultural idea that takes on a life of its own and is passed down through generations much the same way that genes are, the word "meme" has itself taken on a life of its own to define pictures made and passed around on the Internet that often lampoon various aspects of life. I don't think I've seen any new memes in the past few days that weren't about the COVID-19 epidemic. But this isn't the first time a global catastrophe has been made fun of in what could be described as a "childish" fashion. In fact, one of the memes I've seen compared the uptick in Cor…

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Mark of Gideon"

Vital Information
Series: The Original Series
Episode: S03E16
Air Date: January 17, 1969
Written by: George F. Slaven and Stanley Adams
Directed by: Jud Taylor

Kirk finds himself stranded on an empty version of the Enterprise. Empty except, of course, for a hot chick.

So, the planet Gideon has been holding out on joining the Federation for quite some time, but now, for some reason, have finally agreed to open negotiations. They describe their planet as a germ-free paradise, but won't allow anyone to scan them. And their one stipulation for Federation membership: only James T. Kirk can beam down for negotiations. An odd request, but they follow it. Kirk gets on the transporter pad and then Spock beams him down to the coordinates given which lead directly onto... the transporter pad.

Kirk looks around for a while after stepping off the transporter and finds no one on board the Enterprise. Making his way to the empty bridge, he sees Gideon on the screen and believes that he is on his Enterprise, still in orbit over Gideon. Meanwhile, on the real bridge, Spock receives a message from Hodin, the Norse god of prostitution and mistress to Odin the de facto Gideon ambassador to the Federation. He says that Kirk has not arrived in the counsel chambers.
Actual artist's rendering of Hodin.
Meanwhile Kirk is running around on an empty ship and comes across Odona. Shes just prancing around merrily and stumbles upon Kirk who is watching her. She explains that she has no idea how she got there. That she was just in a room one moment and in complete solitude on this ship the next moment. In the meantime, Kirk realizes he's missing nine minutes and there are mysterious bruises on his arm.

Back on the ship, Spock and Hodin say a lot of stuff that basically boils down to "No, Spock, you're not coming down here to look for Kirk" and "But, sir, I really must insist." At one point they transport a Gideon up to test if the transporters are malfunctioning, but they still won't allow a Federation officer to beam down. Even Starfleet gets in on the action and refuses to let Spock go. So what does Spock do? He goes.
I do, Mr. Chekov, as I please.
Spock realizes that the coordinates that the Gideon used were different from the ones that Kirk had used. So he uses Kirk's coordinates to beam down because something's not right. Meanwhile, Kirk hears a weird thumping noise, looks all around and finds nothing. But, oh, well, there's a hot chick here, so it's time to get it on. They start making out and, lo and behold, a sea of faces appears on the main screen in place of the stars. Odona had been saying this whole time that her home world is plagued with overpopulation, so this is confirmation that they are, somehow, on her world.

And then Odona comes down with some kind of illness. So Kirk takes her to sickbay. But when he gets there, he finds Hodin! Kirk gets in a fight with his guards to save Odona's life, but then Hodin explains that she has Vegan choriomeningitis; something that Kirk had had and was cured of long ago. He's still a carrier, though, and passed it on to Odona. And she will die in 24 hours if not cured. Hodin knows all this and was, in fact, counting on it. He specifically asked for Kirk for that very reason.
And you think I'M messed up?
Turns out Gideon is vastly overpopulated. There is absolutely no more room for anyone. There is no disease, therefore anyone who dies dies of old age. In the meantime, people still reproduce and fill up every last bit of Gideon with people. And abortion is illegal and they can't... go... to other planets? I guess? The only solution is to get people sick! Starting with Odona.

SUDDENLY SPOCK! The first officer appears and, knowing he's already in trouble with Starfleet, asks Hodin not to interfere as he takes Kirk and Odona and transports back up to the real Enterprise. When they get there, Bones cures Odona. So now Odona can act as a carrier of Vegan choriomeningitis and still go around killing people on her planet without being killed herself! Hooray!

Overall Thoughts
This story hangs on a thread-bare plot line that only sticks together on the virtue of suspension of disbelief. There are plenty of ways to kill people off besides infecting them with a virus. I would think they would choose any one of those ways before allowing them to go through a painful illness. Still, I suppose the point of this episode was to address the sanctity of life even if it threatens itself with overpopulation. I still think the lack of food supply should have done their job for them.