Why Are We Killing Our Future and Dreams with Hollow Rules?

Uhura was right to doubt joining Starfleet in “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
5 min readAug 25


Photo courtesy of author

We have got ourselves some problems. They may look harmless at first glance, but they cause ripple effects across our lives that slowly transform the world into a ridiculous, cartoonish dystopia.

I waited in line to check in for my domestic flight to Fukuoka in Japan. I had plenty of time before the flight was due to depart. So, I didn’t especially mind when the ground staff asked the person in front of me to weigh his hand luggage.

It’s going to be too heavy, I thought. And I was right. His bag was several pounds over the permitted weight limit.

I looked at my “fellow” passenger’s face and noticed there was no way he was going to check in his bag.

He started negotiations to convince the ground staff to make an exception.

“The items in this bag are too valuable, personal, and important to me.”

“It’s only a couple of pounds. What difference can it possibly make?”

“I’m a frequent flyer with your partner airline and never had this issue before.”

Back came the predictable response.

“I’m sorry, Sir. It’s company policy.”

When the ground staff didn’t back down, he opened his bag and put some items in his pockets. It was the only way to reduce the weight to the acceptable level.

The ground staff appeared satisfied and encouraged him to keep doing this.

Socks. A shaver. Was that underwear? I wish I hadn’t seen that.

Surprisingly, they all disappeared into his pockets. But still, the bag was too heavy. A few minutes later, he appeared to be wearing two jackets, had a pair of shoes concealed behind his belt, and couldn’t walk normally because of the full pockets of his jeans and some socks stuffed down his pants.

And yet, the only thing that mattered was that the ground staff could now accept the cabin luggage. He had complied with the rules and procedures.



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (Law) | Sci-fi | Sociological storytelling