Rule-abiding Ferengi

The Ferengi are an alien species in Star Trek—orbiting around all things pecuniary. They are easily identified by their enormous ears and low brows, and of course with their unmistakable personalities which are motivated only by one thing, profit. In the era that Star Trek takes place, our race, the human race, is no longer driven by wealth, money, and a healthy economy. These things no longer exist in Earth, and are unneeded–and as a direct consequence so are, crime, poverty, and war. In fact, Earth is considered to be a paradise. The human species evolves into a race that is committed to exploration, knowledge and the sole pursuit of “bettering themselves”, fully embracing the ancient quip that money is the root of all evil.

Which brings me again to the Ferengi, the big-eared and tan, 4 foot 9 race, made purposely to look uglier then most other species. They still live a lifestyle revolving around wealth, business and acquiring more, and for the sake of Star Trek, represent astounding similarities to the way we, in this age, currently live our lives. Every time we watch the Ferengi and snicker at their loathsome ethical values, every time we shiver in disgust at their inexorable avarice, we are showing deprecation not at the Ferengi, but at a mirror, one reflecting the current state of our race—it’s a sobering perspective.

But the Ferengi, are an extreme. An extreme that, again, may be intentional to play the duel role as comic relief in Star Trek. What is particular amusing with the Ferengi is something they are continually quoting from in order to justify their sometimes dubious actions. It is called the “Rules of Acquisition”, the Ferengi ancient text that is simply a serious of aphorisms that the Ferengi model their lives around. Some of these “rules” are very funny in their complete disregard to what we would consider to be sound business ethics, and then again, some of them are surprisingly wise in their veracity.

A couple of my favorite rules are:

6 Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity.
15 Acting stupid is often smart.
21 Never place friendship above profit.
29 When someone says “It’s not the money,” they’re lying.
31 Never make fun of a Ferengi’s mother … insult something he cares about instead.
37 You can always buy back a lost reputation.
44 Never confuse wisdom with luck.
47 Don’t trust a man wearing a suit better than your own.
60 Keep your lies consistent.
100 Give someone a fish, you feed him for one day. Teach him how to fish, and you lose a steady customer.
111 Treat people in your debt like family … exploit them.
180 Never offer a confession when a bribe will do.
284 Deep down everyone’s a Ferengi.
285 No good deed ever goes unpunished.

I have a complete list here.

Quark: Ferengi
Dax: non-Ferengi

Dax: And, as the 34th Rule of Acquisition states: “Peace is good for business.”
Quark: That’s the 35th Rule.
Dax: Oh, that’s right. What’s the 34th?
Quark: “War is good for business.” It’s easy to get them confused.

Street Signs

You know that daily commute home? The one you’ve taken every day for many years, where you have every detail memorized, every pot hole, every street light, to the point where you really don’t need to pay attention anymore, you kind of just make it home without thinking too much. Well, today for the first time in years, I started to think about a particular street sign. It’s one that I’ve must of crossed maybe a thousand times and I’ve become so used to this sign that I apply the same predicable reactions in resonse; I slow down, turn my head from left to right, over and over, and examine the sidewalks till I get to the end of the road.

No, the sign isn’t a silhouette of a deer or a moose, or of a man on a horse (which I ran into once near Charleston). In fact, those probably wouldn’t apply on a street with a sidewalk. It’s a simple sign with the words “Deaf Child” on it.

What struck me as odd for the first time was that I have seen this sign on this road all my life–well at least since my family first moved to East Providence 14 years ago. So if it was there at LEAST 14 years ago, God knows how far it really goes back. 20 years? 25 years? In all probability this “child” the sign refers to is probably not really a child anymore, and in fact, he probably doesn’t even live on the same street anymore. Do they ever retire these signs? And how does a sign like this go up in the first place?

Talk about minutiae …

War and Peace

I’ve finally finished reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, an absolutely phenomenal book. It takes place during the Napoleonic war between the nascent French Empire and the sovereign nation of Russia. The book serves as a history of that period, told by an omnipotent narrator who expatiates the lives of various Russian Aristocrats. Each character in the story is so complex and so easily identifiable, who in the end serve as postulates to Tolstoy’s elaborate proof of the farce of man’s free will, and the leading role that fatalism can have on the course of history.

It is so rich and can be read and interpreted on so many levels. It’s really one of a kind. I strongly recommend!

4.5 stars
(One star deduction because I think it may have been a tad too long.)