Klingons in the White House, and Doctor Who in Westminster

draws my attention to this congressional intervention accusing the US administration of being faux Klingons:


I wondered to myself, does this happen in other jurisdictions too? And it does:

(From Dail debates, 18 May 2006)
Trevor Sargent TD: We have a choice. Do we use money to go down that dangerous and expensive road or do we spend it more cost effectively on insulation? I am proud to say that my area’s local authority has been leading the national debate on energy insulation and has doubled the number of new energy efficient houses in its development plan. It has passed the point that Sustainable Energy Ireland believed we could reach. I am beginning to sound like the introduction to a “Star Trek” film.

(From Hansard, 25 October 2005)
Eric Pickles MP: The discussion about whether we should use national insurance numbers was utterly pointless. Sure, we could use some other method—iris recognition, DNA, blood sample, or a person’s ability to recite the “Star Trek” cast list.
Eleanor Laing MP: No.
Eric Pickles MP: I am sure that my hon. Friend would qualify in that respect.

Later that same day:
Colin Challen MP: …five times more research money is spent on looking for the holy grail of nuclear fusion than is spent on renewables, even though we know that renewables can deliver in our lifetime, not in a time frame that “Star Trek” fans would be more familiar with.

(From Hansard, 11 June 2002)
Paul Flynn MP: In “Star Trek”, which is one of my favourite television programmes, the Ferengi are a dire warning of what the future is likely to be. They are based on a nightmare view of Thatcherism. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) should be shown tapes of the programme so he knows what he is really suggesting. The Ferengi are the likely result if the daughters of financial advisers marry the sons of bankers and breed a generation instilled in their philosophy. They have 250 laws of acquisition, including never cheat a man who is wearing a better suit than you are; treat people in your debt like family; and employees are the rungs on the ladder of success, so step on them. Those laws would not be out of place in the boardrooms of many insurance and banking companies. Two precepts of acquisition—rules 239 and 59—strike a chord. They are: never be afraid to mislabel a product, and free advice is never cheap. The word “integrity” does not occur in the Ferengi language.

Paul Boateng MP: We should remember that there are people in the financial services industry who possess integrity and who are concerned about the welfare of those to whom they sell products. We need to achieve a balance in the debate, because we want to ensure a successful industry. I hope that no one will take that as a sign that I have gone over to the Ferengi. I rather lost interest in “Star Trek” when Lieutenant Uhuru was subject to a compulsory redundancy: when she went, so did I. I have no doubt that lessons can be learned from the Ferengi—and my hon. Friend shared them with us.

(From Dail debates, 17 April 2002)
Alan Shatter TD: At the conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors just a few days ago, the general secretary was anxious to say in his speech that he was concerned that Operation Encounter was simply a short-term public relations exercise. That is exactly what it is. The name has more to do with the “Star Trek” television programme than with any coherent, comprehensive policy to tackle the problems of street violence.

(From Hansard, 1 January 2002)
Michael Weir MP: We have heard much in the debate about e-business and the threat from text messages and e-commerce, but although we can order goods over the internet and even pay for them electronically, until we get our hands on Star Trek’s transporters, someone physically has to move goods from one place to another.

(From Dail debates, 25 November 1999)
Dan Neville TD: To the man on the street, a person with Asperger’s syndrome may just appear to be odd, eccentric or irritating. Their most notable characteristics are the absence of friends and their tendency to have obsessional interests, be it astronomy, cars or Star Trek.

(From Hansard, 23 November 1999)
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: …for the first time in history, into the mouth of the Sovereign was put a split infinitive. Knowing the effort that goes into the preparation of the Queen’s Speech, I do not believe that this was a flaw on the part of the Civil Service and it must have been intended by Ministers. I suppose that in a modernised Britain, what is good enough for “Star Trek” is good enough for the Sovereign.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, what is good enough for Sir Ernest Gowers is good enough for the Sovereign.
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, the noble Lord may say that, but it is the first time that a split infinitive has appeared and I am happy, if nothing else, to record that change in our modernised Britain.

(From Dail debates, 29 June 1999)
Alan Dukes TD: It is a measure of how desperate the problem is, and how desperate the Government is, that it must resort to clapping itself on the back because the rate of increase in house prices appears marginally to have slowed down or, to borrow a phrase from “Star Trek”, reduced from warp speed to the merely supersonic.

(From Dail debates, 15 April 1997)
Seamus Brennan TD (attacking Alan Dukes, as it happens): Does the Minister not agree that this is a general election trick which he has dressed up in “Star Trek” language when he refers to “spectrums”, etc?

(From Dail debates, 27 February 1997)
Brendan Kenneally TD: Genetic science is at the point where susceptibility to common causes of death such as heart disease and cancer can now be assessed. As tests become more sophisticated the risks of dying young or needing expensive medical treatment will be increasingly quantifiable. It is expected that within a decade full scale genetic tests will be able to predict a threefold difference in mortality between people with good and bad genes. Far from being a Star Trek issue, genetic rating is now a reality.

(From Dail debates, 19 February 1997)
James McDaid TD, on the same issue: This area is not covered in the Minister’s Bill. Some people might regard it as a “Star Trek” type of issue. However, with genetic engineering making headway as it is — and a [351] recent BBC programme pointed this out — it will be statistically possible to earmark people who will have specific conditions in years to come, and insurance companies, for example, might demand to use genetic profiling in the future. Could legislation be introduced to prohibit insurance companies using genetic profiling to load people who may have specific conditions i.e. diabetes, blood pressure and so on?

(Dail debates, 7 November 1995)
Pat Rabbitte TD: I do not accept that it is impossible to turn a scientific article into a piece of popular journalism. I do not believe that we have to write every science article as if it were the most grave and serious matter of earth-shattering importance. It permeates every facet of our daily lives, for example: the application of microwave technology is a fairly recent development; now you can buy a microwave cooker for less than £100; microprocessors, often thought of as the preserve of high tech computer and communication companies, run our domestic washing machines; and laser beams used to be “STAR TREK” material; now they tell us our weekly supermarket bill.

(Dail debates, 26 October 1995)
Pat Gallagher TD: Nonetheless, the overall manner in which the Department of Justice deals with migrants, other than refugees, is in need of overhaul. Any Member who has had dealings with that Department, for example, through the Aliens Office on behalf of people endeavouring to gain entry to this State to study or work, or even those endeavouring to take out Irish citizenship will know its antiquated, convoluted and secretive system for dealing with such applications; even the term “aliens” is offensive, sounding like something from the movie “ET” or “Star Trek”.

(Dail debates, 3 October 1995)
Alan Shatter TD (again): In his foreword to a new book “The Physics of Star Trek” by the American astronomer, Lawrence Krauss, Professor Stephen Hawking acknowledges that time travel is possible.

(Dail debates, 8 February 1995)
Charlies McCreevy TD: When Deputy Quinn talked about the 2010 strategy, one of the backbenchers on this side of the House referred to a space odyssey. I would describe this budget as being rather like the “Star Trek” TV programme, which has the great line: “Beam me up, Scotty”. This budget is more like “Beam us up, Ruairí” into a world of fantasy where no one will pay bills either now or in the future.

But we should not be restricted to Star Trek:

(From Hansard, 11 July 2006)
Peter Luff MP: Did the Paymaster General by any chance watch “Doctor Who” on Saturday? If she did, she might understand why her statement today reminds me of a cyberman coming, appropriately, through a portal from a parallel universe and insisting that its purpose was to upgrade humanity to achieve perfection. I freely acknowledge that the tax credit system has done much good, but in the universe in which I live, I hear of another case of despair and misery caused by the malfunctions in the system virtually every day. Unlike the heartless cybermen in “Doctor Who”, will the right hon. Lady at least acknowledge that harm has been done and apologise to the families who have suffered so much?

Dawn Primarolo MP: Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to travel back in the Tardis and experience the despair and destitution that existed when his party was in government and child poverty doubled. That was a disgrace, and it is about time that he joined the real world and supported the Government’s objective to eradicate child poverty, and of reaching our first target of halving it as soon as we can.

(From Hansard, 10 July 2006)
Denis MacShane MP: I am unsure whether my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was able to watch the last episode of “Doctor Who” on Saturday night. I say—with the affection that she knows that I have for her—that she could be very well-placed to audition for the role of the next Rose, to replace Billie Piper, because that young lady is an expert in the concept of the parallel universe, which, having watched “Doctor Who”, I am beginning to understand. I have to say to my right hon. Friend, with affection and respect, that I am not sure that my Rotherham constituents are prepared to be quite as enthusiastic about the BBC as she is… I am just not convinced, however, by the arguments, which seem—if I may finish on a “Doctor Who” analogy—to come from a parallel universe not inhabited by my constituents.

(From Hansard, 6 June 2002)
Viscount Astor: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, has done this House a service by bringing this issue to your Lordships’ attention? The Minister explained that there are normally six pips to enable us to recognise the hour. Does he realise that once a year there are seven pips, usually on New Year’s Eve, because the Earth’s rotation is slowing down and a seventh pip is required, no doubt due to the Government’s economic policy in that area? Does the Minister agree that we will forgive the BBC for being a couple of pips late if it returns the weather forecast to its original state on the television?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I should confess that I am not a time lord and more of a Doctor Who—perhaps I should say “Lord Who”. The answer to the noble Viscount’s question is straightforward. Of course he is right. That adjustment has to be made because the Earth’s travel around the Sun is not precise and we are not able to measure it with the precision that is indicated. We have, of course, got atomic clocks to which people can refer. The Great Clock of Westminster—sometimes referred to as Big Ben—is governed by that. Railway digital clocks are governed by a signal sent out from the National Physical Laboratory. So we maintain accurate time in this country, but there is a problem with regard to the broadcast. I am sorry if on this occasion I am obliged to give the noble Viscount the pip.

(From Hansard, 23 May 2005)
Stephen McCabe MP: It is pure fantasy for a party that gained fewer seats than Michael Foot did in Labour’s disastrous 1983 election to claim a partial victory. It is a figment of the Leader of the Opposition’s imagination. The scriptwriters for “Doctor Who” could not come up with a better storyline; it is complete and utter nonsense.

Unfortunately the Oireachtas debates search engine won’t let me fine-tune searches which include the word “who”, so this is all just Westminster.

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