John C. Dvorak: Bad Dvorak vs. Good Dvorak on NSA Star Trek Center, Parallel Weirdness

Written by John C. Dvorak

John C Dvorak woke up to find he’d sleep-written a column, arguing with himself over the NSA’s spending tax dollars to build a fancy Star Trek bridge. It’s Good Dvorak duking it out with Bad Dvorak. Guess who wins? Guess who’s to blame. Answers inside. — It is weird but what I am about to tell you is true.

On Oct. 6, 1968, season 1 episode 5 of the original Star Trek series showed on television. Recently I watched this episode again. But I dozed off right in the middle of it.

As most Trekkies will recall, this was one of the many shows where the transporter yet again malfunctioned and ended up as the main thrust of the plot. In this episode’s case, Captain Kirk comes back from a planet in two pieces, each with a missing aspect to his personality. One is a cupcake softie who is unable to make a decision or say no to anything. The other is an over-confident ruthless brute.

As I said, I fell asleep during this episode. But apparently news about the NSA chief creating a Star Trek-like captain’s bridge with taxpayer money turned me into some kind of  a split-personality sleepwalker. I woke up and spontaneously wrote a column where I argued with myself over the screwball-ish true story as reported in the UK Guardian that the NSA had built a super-high-tech command center inspired directly from the Star Ship Enterprise flight deck. NSA guys are wacky guys.

But I believe this automatic sleep-writing of the column below was more than likely triggered by this Ted Rall cartoon — it shows a parallel universe in the NSA intelligence community. I don’t know, but for what it’s worth, the below is what I found on my computer. A debate with myself. Either I am going mad or the NSA has lost it.

ED: My vote’s on the latter. Rall’s comic is below the fold so you can see if it gives you similar symptoms.

My sleep-written column read:

Good Dvorak: I found it amusing and cute that the head of the National Security Agency, Keith Alexander, would build a copy of the flight deck of the Star Trek Enterprise to use as an office. Cool!

Bad Dvorak: Are you kidding me? Who does this guy think he is? The captain of us all?

Good Dvorak: Aw, he’s just a whimsical administrator making a serious task more fun and lighthearted. I really like it.

Bad Dvorak: What? This is the kind of thing only some kind of deranged egomaniac might do.

Good Dvorak: Now, now. Why are you so harsh? If all the government agencies would be less serious, we’d all be better off, you know.

Bad Dvorak: Are you nuts? This is a waste of the taxpayers’ money. I cannot even imagine how much money was spent on this stupidity.

Good Dvorak: Nonsense. This makes for good public relations. I’d love to see this office and sit in the captain’s chair like all his guests say they wanted to. Maybe say, “Engage!” or, “Make it so.” That would be too fun.

Bad Dvorak: If you did, they’d just record your voice and use it against you. This is a horrible spy agency, you dingbat!

Good Dvorak: Well, someone has to protect American interests around the world. The NSA has done a fine job as far as I can tell. How do you argue with success and high-tech. It’s neato.

Bad Dvorak: How can you say that? The NSA is like a secret Gestapo agency. You have no idea what its spies do or what they’ve done. They should be shuttered. But it’s too late — especially with apologists like you around.

Good Dvorak: Oh pooh. You are being brainwashed by the media. What would be the point of them doing anything other than working for our best interests? It makes no sense what you are saying.

Bad Dvorak: I ought to sock you right now, except you and I are the same person. Look, the country is crawling with spies of all sorts and to you this is great? To me, this is a waste of the taxpayers’ money and all it does is invite abuse.

Good Dvorak: Whatever do you mean? Invites what abuse? I mean, they’re Americans, right?

Bad Dvorak: These spying mechanisms can be used to develop stock market manipulations, they can see who is buying and selling what stocks. What a perfect way to get rich. And then there is just old-fashioned blackmail. And not blackmailing just you. I mean real blackmail — blackmail of legislators to get them to vote a certain way. It invites all sorts of corruption.

Good Dvorak: Okay. But what besides that?

Bad Dvorak: You are a hopeless idealist. You are the problem — and you are seeing these awful things in a naïve positive light to an extreme.

Good Dvorak: So you think I’m wrong?

Bad Dvorak: Cripes.

Apparently that’s when I woke up. I looked at my computer and there it was, what you just read above. A good Dvorak and a bad Dvorak. Bizarre.

At any rate, after reading this weird exchange, I went back to check out the Star Trek episode. I realized that the title said it all. It was The Enemy Within.

Now that’s Spooky.

John C. Dvorak is co-founder of with Gina Smith and Jerry Pournelle. Follow him @theRealDvorak

p.s. The Ted Rall cartoon that triggered my episode is below — and here.

Intelligence Dominance


  • In a perfect world this kind of argument would be impossible. However, a perfect world would have no need for an intrusive government. Keep the pressure on.

  • That’s why we’re here, John. To give the facts to people so they know why they ought to care. And certainly people outside U.S. care. The president of Brazil cancelled her visit to Brazil because of this spying stuff.

  • People are too busy staring into their iPhones and debating whether the changes in iOS 7 made it better or worse. The fact that the NSA is violating the Constitution through illegal search and seizure is the least of their concerns.
    Of course, the Supreme Court and Congress have twisted the meaning of the Constitution for years. How Congress has unlimited power through the regulation of inter-state trade is beyond me. How that authority has been somehow warped into the power to mandate inter-state trade is also beyond me.
    All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.

  • Do we have any idea how much this “Command Center” cost? In fact is there any way to put a price tag on the NSA’s, let’s call them questionable, activities?

    The thing that amazes me is what appears to be the naivete of people. For example anytime I bring up the fingerprints on the iPhone and the NSA, they respond that its impossible for anyone to get that data. But it hasn’t even been 6 months since news broke that things they swore weren’t accessible actually were.

    Just seems the government consistently gets the benefit of the doubt, no matter how many times they break that trust. Yet individuals are constantly doubted despite the fact that a huge majority of individuals we deal with daily have not broken that trust. Not sure how much of this is generational vs inherent in the culture.