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 Neutral Zone"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E26
Air Date: May 16, 1988
Written by: Maurice Hurley, Deborah McIntyre & Mona Clee
Directed by: James L. Conway

In the middle of checking out the Romulan Neutral Zone, Picard has to deal with some dbags from the 20th century.

While Picard is busy on a Starbase, having been summoned to discuss a mission to the Neutral Zone, Riker and the crew have been monitoring a capsule that seems to have been from Earth a looooooong time ago. Riker is about to just let it go, discounting it as space trash, but Data insists on studying it as an intriguing piece of history. So, since they have nothing better to do while waiting for Picard, Data beams over with Worf and they discover some dead and frozen human bodies.

When Picard calls and says he's on his way back, Riker calls Data back, but Data says it's probably a good idea to bring the frozen bodies back. So they're transported to sickbay, Picard comes to the bridge and orders a course plotting to the Neural Zone. Now, apparently some Federation outposts have disappeared, and it's now Picard's job to go find out why. Of course, the suspicion is that it's the work of the Romulans.
The Council to Decide if the Neutral Zone Attacks were Romulan
Meanwhile, Dr. Crusher was able to thaw out the 20th century humans with her fancy-schmancy medical technology. They were all frozen after their death during the cryonics fad in the late 20th century in the hopes that a cure could be found in the future. Turns out... those cures are, indeed, available. Clare Raymond was a homemaker and when she wakes up she's worried about her family. Ralph Offenhouse is a financier and when he wakes up he's worried about his investments that no longer exist unbeknownst to him. L.Q. "Sonny" Clemonds is a southern musician and when he wakes up he's not worried about a thing except where his next drink is coming from.

Well, after Riker tries to introduce them to the idea that they're in the future, Ralph tries to call Picard on the intercom. He really wants to get back to Earth and, in the midst of his complaints, he compares the Enterprise to a cruise ship. Picard goes down to where the three are staying and reprimands Ralph while telling him that humans of the future no longer want for material gain. Ralph apologizes because he's used to knowing what's going on and now he has no idea. Meanwhile, Sonny tries some replicated alcohol, tries to get some drugs from Crusher and tries to set up a party with Data (to whom he has quickly taken). And Clare cries about her entire family being long gone while Troi introduces her to the computer system that shows her where her descendants have gone.
And then Data replicates a guitar for Sonny.
So while the three are settling in, the Enterprise gets to the Neutral Zone and finds that several more Federation stations have gone missing. Then they detect a Romulan signal from a cloaked ship. Both ships hold the other in dead lock trying to figure out the other's intentions. And then Ralph, who still isn't used to not knowing things, shows up on the bridge and screws everything up. Picard orders him taken off the bridge, but before that can be done, everyone is distracted by the Romulans decloaking. To Picard's surprise, they, too, are investigating their own stations disappearing. When he asks if they know who's responsible, they hesitate, but Ralph interrupts saying that they have no idea, but they're too arrogant to admit it.

Well, since they're Romulans, this is a good theory. So Picard discusses the terms of a cooperation in order for both governments to figure out what's going on. And then Ralph is finally taken of the bridge. In the meantime, Troi has found where Clare's descendants are and came up with a plan to return all three of the 20th century humans to Earth on the USS Charleston which is at a nearby starbase. Riker says it's a pity they can't bring them home personally because for some reason he's enjoyed meeting people from the 20th century. But Picard's like "Screw that! We have exploring to do!"
"Screw that! We have exploring to do!"

Overall Thoughts
This is the final episode of season one of The Next Generation and it serves well as an introduction to some of the themes of Star Trek through the eyes of 20th century humanity, the kind of humanity that originally saw the episode on the air date. It neatly wraps up the overall themes of Star Trek while introducing the new Romulan threat and explaining everything clearly. To me, it totally works as a season closer, but, in reality, there's nothing that really gets resolved. I guess Ralph settles down a bit by the end, but what's really interesting is the mystery of the disappearing stations and the fact that, after 50 years, the Romulans are back.