ST:TNG Treadmill Review #19: The Bonding

The Bonding
Season 3 Episode 5
Original airdate: October 21, 1989

Netflix Synopsis

A startling surprise awaits the crew of the Enterprise when a mission costs the life of a crew member, who left her son behind.

My Brief Review

Ugh. I’ll say this: you can tell this is a season 3 episode, because the writing and acting are a lot more cohesive than they would have been in a mediocre episode like this in one of the first two seasons.

I like kids in Star Trek about as much as Captain Picard does… which is to say, not much. But he manages to be kind and understanding towards Jeremy Aster, whose rando mom, Lt. Marla Aster — apparently the ship’s archaeologist, who we never knew existed — dies in the first minute of the episode.

Worf was leading the away team, so he feels an obligation to Jeremy, now orphaned, and so ultimately helps as Picard and Troi convince an energy being from the planet, who tries to recreate Jeremy’s mother and house from Earth as a refuge for him, that humans need to suffer loss as a natural part of life. In a genuinely heartfelt moment, Worf connects with the boy over their shared experience of becoming orphans, and bonds with him in a Klingon ceremony that joins their families and makes them brothers.

But guess what, just as Lt. Aster was a rando, so is her son. This “brother” of Worf’s is never seen again.

That’s what makes this a crappy episode. One of the few true “red shirt” moments in TNG (although Lt. Aster, being a scientist, wore a blue uniform), but we’re supposed to believe both that Lt. Aster was a valued member of the crew and that her son is now forever a part of Worf’s life. But it’s all throwaway, and the context — a barren planet and a simulated Earth house created to ease the pain of someone left alone — is way too similar to The Survivors an episode that had aired just two weeks prior to this one.

Once I had achieved my bare minimum running distance of 3K, I actually watched the majority of the rest of this episode at double speed with the closed captions on, just to get through it. It wasn’t bad enough to turn off altogether, but I wanted to hurry and get it over with.

Skip this and just watch The Survivors again.

Memorable Moment

Not the R’uustai itself, but I will remember the moment when Worf finally figures out how to connect in a meaningful way with Jeremy. Right as Troi and Picard are doing a terrible job talking to Jeremy, Worf steps up and shows he can be the most human of them all, convincing Jeremy that the energy being taking his mother’s form is not really his mother, and that from now on she lives in here (Worf’s heart) and here (Jeremy’s heart). It’s sappy, but it works.

Crew Rando

Lt. Aster, of course!

Distance Rating: 3K

IMDb score: 6.7/10

An open letter to Microsoft Word users (i.e. everyone)

Steve BallmerI am currently in the midst of developing a website for a client (great client, by the way), featuring a WYSIWYG text editor (TinyMCE) within its CMS. At some point along the way, I looked at the source code of some of the HTML that the client had inserted into the database via TinyMCE. With dismay, I noticed the likes of the following amongst the “actual” content:

<p><!–[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState=”false” LatentStyleCount=”156″> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]–> <!–[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} –> <!–[endif]–></p>

Ugh. For those keeping score at home, that would be more than a kilobyte of… well… absolutely nothing on a web page. Oh, except some browsers will turn it into a couple of extra, unwanted blank lines thanks to the paragraph tags wrapping it all.

The sad thing about all of this is that I am no longer even at a point where I look at that and say “What the hell is this?” I know exactly what the hell it is. It’s code generated by Microsoft Office for some inscrutable, presumably nefarious purpose. It seems to have no effect whatsoever on the presentation of the content on the page in any known browser or application that I’ve bothered to investigate. But whenever you copy-and-paste content out of a Microsoft Office application like Word and into a web-based text editor, or if you use Word’s “Save as Web Page” feature, the resulting HTML consists of significantly more of this bloat than of the content itself.

Aghast — or, at least, I would be aghast if I weren’t so numb to all of this now, after more than a decade of confronting it — I began crafting an email to the client, in my ongoing quest to reduce dependence upon Microsoft applications, one user at a time. But then I decided the client didn’t need my admonitions (although I don’t rule out the possibility that he’s reading this); the whole world does.

I was all set to copy and paste that draft email into this post. Unfortunately, although I had copied it to the clipboard, I didn’t paste it before going off and copy-pasting of the Microsoft garbage code above, and I also didn’t save it as a draft in Mail. Once again Microsoft seems to have the upper hand. Balllllmerrrrrrr!!!!!

The upshot of all of it, though, was simply that Microsoft Word generates copious quantities of garbage HTML and includes it in what gets put into the clipboard when you copy-paste content from a Word document into other applications (such as a WYSIWYG text editor box in a CMS). Most of the time there’s no visible effect from this garbage code (other than the fact that it increases page load times slightly by virtue of being more data to download), but there’s no way to know for sure that it’s not going to break a page in some browser, either now or at some point in the future when browsers adhere more strictly to XHTML DOCTYPE specifications. Plus, it’s just pointless garbage Microsoft is making me look at when I view source. I object to it on principle.

Then again, who am I to challenge the Goliath of software?