Vulcan Stev's Database

It's a BLOG Captain, but not as we know it.

The view from my chair: Non Benevolent Doctor Names in Star Trek

Gene Roddenbery began a tradition when he recasted the role of Dr Boyce from The Cage.  Hiring DeForst Kelley for the role of the irascible Dr. Leonard H. McCoy or “Bones”, he started something that has been kept through each of the spin-off series.

Roddenberry gave the character the nickname of “Bones” in homage to naval tradition of calling the doctor of the ship “Bones”, short for sawbones.  Doctors or early sailing ships were limited in what they could do for scurvy, frostbite, or severe wounds.  The doctor would usually end up sawing off the affected limb or appendage and thus was called sawbones by the crew.

Roddenberry used this terminology as well as other naval terms to link Star Trek to a reality fans embraced.  The non-benevloent sound to the nickname was unintentional.  The morbidity of the nickname was hinted at once in the episode “Catspaw”.  Kirk begins to address Dr. McCoy with the usual “Bones,” he then turns and looks at a skeleton and calls the good doctor, McCoy for the remainder of the episode.

Intentional or not, this non-benevolent naming continued with Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Doctor Beverly Crusher signed on for six years of the show and all four TNG movies.  I’m not counting Dr. Pulaski in this article.  This could be entirely coincidental as Roddenberry could’ve pulled a name out of a hat for all we know.   Berman and Pillar could be forgiven for following suit when they created the doctor for Deep Space Nine.  Doctor Julian Bashir, a fresh graduate from Starfleet medical signs on for a full seven years of antics on the fringes of the Federation.

I don’t think I’m the only one who noticed the trend; Bones, Crusher, Basher er… Bashir.  I chalked it all up to mere coincidence when Voyager was announced and the character of the Holographic doctor was originally supposed to take the named Dr. Zimmerman.

Yes it was all a coincidence.  This was just my fevered imaginings.  I was looking for conspiracy where none existed.  Alas my relief was short-lived when the doctor did not take the name of his creator.  In fact the whole idea of his looking for a name became one of the underlying character-arcs of the entire run of the series.  I remember posting this question on Star Trek Bulletin Board (you remember those forerunners of the internet don’t you?).  We suggested all sorts of horrific names for the doctor; Cruncher, Smasher, Annialus, that list went on to have all sorts of comments but was eventually relegated to the archives.

When Enterprise was announced and it was revealed that one of the aliens on board would be the doctor, I wondered how or even if this tradition would continue.  When I discovered the name of the doctor was going to be Phlox.  I inwardly smiled, the “conspiracy theory” had all been in my head.  That is until I noticed that Phlox sounded suspiciously like ‘flogs’.

Bones – Crusher – Basher – Flogs – and a doctor who is still searching for his non-benevolent identity.  Coincidence? perhaps.  However I wonder if the creators of Star Trek have some deep subconscious fear of doctors.  I’ll let you decide.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Star Trek | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cancer Crisis: 5:30 am at the UIHC

I hope folks will forgive me for this as this post is only tangentially about Virginia and her cancer.  It’s still dark outside as I begin this.  Virginia is sleeping right now.  Her breathing is heavy and a trifle labored.  She is hugging tightly the most recent acquisition to her stuffed critter collection, a large green frog holding a heart that says “Kiss Me”.  I’m awake answering e-mails, thinking, and praying

I’ve been getting a lot of e-mail and phone calls.  The words of encouragement are, well, encouraging.  Some of the e-mails have asked me blunt questions, one in particular asked “How could I still post those Demotivational Posters during this time?”

My answer to that is that I’ve got to do something to keep the smiles coming.

One e-mail from an online buddy struck a chord.  I won’t re-post his e-mail because he revealed some personal information that I assume is for my eyes alone.  As I read through my response to him, I realized that it very nicely summed up how I was currently coping with the whole situation.  S.L. I wrote this to you but I hope you don’t mind my sharing it with everyone…

At 43 years of age I have seen careless death, needless death, folks who have spent years in pain wishing they could die, and more senseless tragedy than I really care to.  I’ve lost both sets of grandparents.  Virginia and I have had a miscarriage.  I also lost a cousin when he was 10 due to drowning.

I have also seen pregnancy where the doctors said it couldn’t be done.  I’ve personally witnessed miracles of healing that defy common wisdom (I wish cell phone cameras had been invented the day I witnessed of boy with a serious birth defect grow his face back in front of the entire church).

My faith has always carried me through the toughest parts of my life.  I’ve been told by many people that my faith is a crutch.  That may be true, but then everyone has a crutch of some sort.  I just happen to replenish mine at church instead of the liquor store.  Please be aware that in no way am I representing those as the only two options and am by no means placing you or anyone else in a category. 😎

Yes, my faith tells me that someday after she passes from this life, I WILL see Virginia again.  I will see my grandparents.  I will see the child who never even had a chance.  I will see my still-born sister.  I do believe that the human soul is an eternal creature and will spend eternity in one of two places.  However Virginia’s eternal soul will not help me feed the boys.  She will not help in keeping the house clean.  Once she’s gone, I’m faced with some things on this plane of existence that truly scare me.  We are barely making ends meet with both of us working.  PIT #3 is only 11 years old, he’s not taking the whole “Mommy is going to heaven” thing very well.

Even though my faith gives me comfort and hope it does nothing to change some of the very real problems I’ll be facing once Virginia has left her cancer ridden shell.

Why does God allow things like this to happen?  Why is a young mother torn from the embrace of her husband and children?  Why does $h!t happen, God?  Believe me, even though I have my faith I still ask these questions.  They’re not easy to answer and folks who have asked these questions are faced with two choices; one to abandon that faith or two to accept that there is more to this existence and that we as humans do not comprehend everything.

We have never met face-to-face but I do number you among my friends.  If your conclusions about life, the universe, and everything are correct then my faith costs me nothing and provides me comfort in the time of a serious crisis.  If my conclusions about what’s going on are correct then again I have lost nothing but have gained something in the long run.

When I wrote that I was scared about the future, I may have unintentionally given the wrong impression of my thoughts regarding what will happen after Virgina has passed from this life to the next.  Yes, I am scared.  However, it is not the scared-out-of-my-wits-unable-to-do-anything-but-piss-my-pants sort of fear.  It’s the type of fear I had as a child, the “Daddy the thunderstorm is really scary is it going to get us?  No Steve, we’re safe inside the house.  C’mere, Daddy has a hug for you” fear.  I’m still scared but my faith tells me something larger than I has things under control.  I don’t see the whole picture.  I don’t know the reasons for “WHY?”.  But Daddy did and I believe that God does.

Science does not have all the answers.  Science cannot explain that spark of life.  Science cannot explain everything.  Every scientific FACT out there has yet to disprove God.  Scientific THEORIES abound that try to explain things that science cannot test for.  The thing is that faith does NOT require proof.  I believe that God exists.  I believe that He is in control of a larger plan that I do not understand.  This plan requires that my wife have cancer.  The future is not set, she may recover, she may not.  I do not know what the future has in store.

Pain is temporary, pain is something we have to endure here.  When Virginia leaves us she will leave the pain behind.  Someone will still have to feel it.  We live in an imperfect universe.  I will happily share my faith you if you ask.  I hope am not now and will not ever be seen as shoving it in front of you.

To answer your implied question, What is Truth?  Is it what the doctors tell us?  Is it what Televangelists tell us?  Is it what the Media spoons out to us in carefully measured sound-bites?  No, Truth is something that each individual must find for themselves.  There are guideposts for that journey.


That in a nutshell (ok a very large nutshell) sums up why I am both afraid and unconcerned about the future.

To this I add that I do not make friends easily.  Once made, I do not give them up easily either.  I have been disappointed many time by people who claimed to be my friends.  When I say that someone is my friend please be aware that this is not a title I bestow lightly nor is it a title I take for granted.

I’m not going to apologize for sharing my faith in this post.  If it offends you, it offends you.  I do not claim that I have discovered THE TRUTH, only that I believe that I have.  Truth is a personally journey for everyone.  I cannot make your choices for you.  I can only give you a glimpse of my journey and hope and pray that it helps you along yours.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , , , , , | 13 Comments