Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Galaxy?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Thor Damar, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    ^ Good point Nerys Ghemor, and well put too.

    I will lay my cards on the table on this issue because I think it's a very important question that needs a sensible answer. Now I'm quite far to the Left (I will not say how far because this isn't TNZ and we don't want to get drawn into a massive debate) and can not be in any sense called a conservative, and yet I am a huge Cardassian fan. I personally think that it is because of the complex nature of the Cardassian society and the counterpoint the Union poses to the UFP.

    I do see a lot of arrogant sneering from some of my fellow Lefties both on the interweb and the real world but I will also say that self righteousness and arrogance crosses all political borders and can be poison to political discourse. I hold firmly to the view that politics is both the art of the impossible and the area of our ideas and hopes, that the point is to share and debate in order to help shape society for the better. Therefore all points of view deserve respect.
    I think for the Cardassians politics is both a deadly form of combat and a means of enlightenment, a way to understand an often harsh universe. They may be tyrants, spies and often cruel but at least they know that life and success have to be fought for.
    And that is one of the many reasons for the greatness of the Cardassian people!
     
  2. JustKate

    JustKate Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    "...but at least they know that life and success have to be fought for."

    That's really good, Thor Damar - really powerful. And I think it demonstrates one of the reasons why the Federation can be so very annoying (keeping in mind that I admire many things about the Feds). I know bad things happen to Federation citizens; we see some of them on episodes every other week. But on the whole, life is pretty damn easy in the Federation. You almost have to create difficulties for yourself by colonizing distant worlds or joining Starfleet. That can make you smug. Even before the Dominion war, nobody on Cardassia was smug - they couldn't afford to be.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
  3. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    What does "conservative" mean in the 24th century, then? What does it translate to?

    Fiscal responsibility? Economic libertarianism? Utilizing the fleet in its traditional role as a primarily military arm? We should speak in concrete terms here. Does it simply mean "unwilling to integrate and give up sovereignty"? If that's the case, then I can see your point--but for what it's worth I see the Ferengi as potentially filling that role more nicely than the Cardassians, as they are, more than anyone, the "anti-Federation," an amoral alliance of libertarians set against the self-righteous communards of Earth and Vulcan. And they do not have the baggage of war guilt and the intense self-examination.

    They need only be written as competent and efficient... which I'll grant is apparently beyond any Trek writer to date, that I know of.

    Now I'm not saying the Cardassians need to be humans with scales. That would be dull. But despite the received wisdom, I personally believe that Federation allies and members can be at least as interesting as any adversary.

    Not really. Of all the factions in the Star Trek universe, the ones that most closely approximate my own values might actually be the Borg. :p I find the Federation often hypocritical and parochial... and yet for a society of humanoids, I fear there is no better alternative, just like the real world state for which the Federation is an avatar.

    And what better way to recover than to loot the corpse of the Cardassian Union?

    Simply from a realpolitik perspective, I'd presume the Klingons and Romulans, who have lost millions of lives on account of the Cardassians, would demand, perhaps even rightfully, tremendous concessions from the prostrated Union, likely in the terms of territory.

    I doubt they were much swayed by Damar's rebellion--any more than the Allies were by von Tresckow's attempted coup (and I just realized that Valkyrie already came out three months ago, I thought it was slated for a summer 2009 release :wtf: ). After all, Damar only got serious about fighting the Dominion... once he started losing.

    Indeed, the question really isn't whether the Klings and Roms wanted to annex large portions of the Cardassian Union, but who was there to stop them? The Cards? No. The Feds? Yeah, I bet they stopped them with as much vigor as we stopped the Soviets from occupying Berlin.

    The alternative to a lack of Federation occupation is occupation by the Klingons and Romulans.

    From the perspective of the Federation itself, the Cardassians have been a thorn in the side of the Federation for years. These wars were apparently so damaging that the Feds even gave up territory in the form of a "DMZ" which the Cardassians did not respect. And then they served as the power base of the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant--there was no way they were going to allow the Cardassians to regain their footing on such terms that they would again become a threat. And practically, the Cardassian society and economy was so devastated by the war that they were likely incapable of functioning on their own.

    Now, that doesn't mean I think Federation occupation would be brutal or even undemocratic--I think it would be similar to the situation in West Germany, after our war. The Klingons would be permitted to reap some benefits from conquest but eventually would be obliged to leave--by the Federation--once (after maybe a decade) the Feds considered the Cards ready for sovereignty again. The Romulans, like the USSR, would refuse to give up their gains, and Cardassia would be split into two parts for the long term.

    Unfortuantely, the situation we actually have is the Romulan state being split in two for the long term, and the Federation is utterly without enemies, except the bloody Borg or a combination of minor players like this newfangled Typhon Pact is meant to be.
     
  4. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    Actually, Thor Damar, I just saw your sig, and it sums up my point of view about how the Federation must have felt after being attacked by the Dominion and Cardassia and spending two years finally triumphing over them...

     
  5. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    Many have forgotten that...and I am very glad to see others that remember. :)

    YES!

    One thing that unnerves me about the Federation is that I am not sure sometimes if they'd even have the fire left to fight for a just cause. Yes...we saw the Borg and the Dominion Wars--but I have to wonder, for instance, just how long they would maintain their commitments in a different sort of combat situation. Let's say the Federation sent aid to Cardassia, but some Cardassians decided to play terrorist.

    Part of me fears the Feds would abandon the reconstruction just because it was hard. That they would fail to keep their promises out of fear of pain. And that without the Federation's actual survival threatened, they would not have the capacity to put the cause before the comfort of the individual.

    I think it's more than that, though some of those are components. (And another component, I think, is the value of the family--taking relationships seriously, as commitments and not as flings, and placing the care of one's children and elders first.)

    I think it's refusing the easy route of relativism. It's the belief that there are standards beyond the individual. They always had that--though they stopped at the society/government level and didn't move beyond that to the consideration that the universe itself has laws as to what is right or wrong--a higher power, in other words.

    Now, just as for those who undertake a 12-step program, the Cardassians need not necessarily restore their old religious beliefs (though I do like the idea of some religious diversity among them, as the novels are showing) to accept a "higher power". As I just pointed out, one could even entertain an idea that the universe itself has laws--corollaries to the laws of physics, perhaps--and that by these objective standards certain things are right or true and certain things are wrong or false. People can disagree on their understanding as to which is which--but in the end there is only one right answer...not a different answer for each person.

    As long as the Cardassians abandon the idea of forcing their systems and ways upon others, then I think if they were able to function on a democratic system yet hold to ideals so opposite to the Federation's, it would really get some people's hackles up. Especially if any world (or worlds) that the Federation would've liked to have in their court ended up making a different alliance.

    But somehow I see those as in the end, making the Cardassians stronger. If they can face the truth about themselves in ALL aspects--see what is bad AND what is good (kind of a societal 12-step program), then they really WILL go to great heights.

    The suspicion of others towards them and the bigotry towards opposing views would actually add a good dose of drama to the plot were a show to be created along those lines. Just like with the Detapa Council's uprising--would the rest of the quadrant fail to accept evidence of change even if it were right before their eyes? And where would that lead?

    For me the closest approximation would be a Cardassian like Tekeny Ghemor. He loves his family and his nation dearly, and also believes strongly in doing what is right. He believes in principles. :) (Or as I would put it in my own beliefs, God, family, and country.)
     
  6. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    Firstly, Nerys, I do want to point out the irony of you asking for cultural relativism in the view of a non-relativist society.:p

    How does membership in the Federation keep Cardassians from staying true to their families? The Federation is no more going to coerce Cardassian lasses into flings than any truly democratic Cardassian state is going to coerce them into not having flings.

    Fine and very dandy--but any society worth respecting places limits on the extent that such standards may be imposed.

    Strength in unity. Unity through faith (in the Federation). I think you overlook the dramatic possibilities in a schismatic Cardassia that is torn between those who want the Federation and those who want Cardassia for Cardassians. Those who recognize the Federation is a flawed but friendly thing, and that not all foreigners are sub-Cardassian, as you put it, and those who are extremely wary of the potential for the loss of identity in the Babel sea of kooky aliens.

    Taking a page from Enterprise, the latter could call their movement Cardassia Prime Prime.

    Such a drama could be pursued with the Cardassians in or out of the Federation. Personally, I think it could be done even more profitably within. (What would the Bajorans think if Cardassia Prime and her colonies suddenly applied for membership into the UFP? "Great, the Cardassians took our resources for half a century by force, but they found a better way: now the Federation will do it for them!")

    And if we have the Romulans having annexed Cardassian territory de facto, but the Cardassian Union is whole de jure, what results from the sudden admission into the Federation of all these Cardassians under Romulan control? Interestingly, this could be used as a vehicle for exploring what the Federation itself has become after a war that nearly annihilated it--a power in no mood to be flexed with anymore, the Quadrant's arrogant superpower.

    The Federation respects your beliefs, citizen. Now, give us your dilithium.:p
     
  7. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    For someone who claims not to care for post-TMP Klingons, you've stated the perspective of True Warriors on this issue succinctly. :klingon: ;)
     
  8. Thor Damar

    Thor Damar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    Interesting debate and some very thought provoking points made by Myasishchev, some of which I hope to address in this post. (Warning: this may result in either a rant or a Cardassian style monologue)

    With regards to my sig, I included it because it is one of my favorite Weyoun/Dukat moments and it highlights the differences in their personal Philosophies. Weyoun shares the typical Dominion viewpoint that anything and anyone who poses a threat to their Gods should be eliminated entirely whereas Dukat believes that one has to prove that you are the superior being to your enemies. The line that you quoted Myasishchev is more revealing of Skrain Dukat than of official cardassian policy, Dukat needs to prove that he was correct to justify his actions to the universe and to gain the respect he feels that he deserves. Basically Dukat has a serious ego problem! However the first sentence could be applied to the Federation after the dominion war but more in the sense that the UFP would want to build up Cardassia as a ally. After all the UFP's greatness is in its diversity not it's conquests.

    As for the Ferengi becoming the "anti-Federation" I have several reservations with this concept. Firstly the Ferengi are a caricature of capitalism and quickly became a running joke (Quark was an admirable attempt to move beyond this but too many Ferengi episodes ruined it IMHO). Secondly why should a alliance of arrogant libertarians be the only alternative to the alleged Communism of the Federation? Oh look it's 400 years in the future and we're still fighting the Cold War. Hooray for neo-Liberalism:rolleyes:.

    It's precisely because the Cardassians occupy (and I hope you'll forgive me for using that word) a middle ground between the two that makes the Cardassian Union's interactions with the rest of the Alpha Quadrant so interesting. I do hope they don't just revert to being the federation's adversaries in 20 years time, perhaps a neutral Cardassia would have more dramatic impact:vulcan:.


    As for the Borg, I have never liked the collective and aside from the first few times that they appeared, I never found them to be that interesting. All they do is take from others subjugating entire worlds and civilizations to the Collective's will. The Borg have nothing to offer to the universe and I'm glad that they are finally gone.

    As for the Klingon's looting the corpse of the Cardassian Union in order to recover from the War? I don't think the Klingons have that right personally, after all it was their arrogant and misguided aggression based on the paranoia of an easily tricked high council and the stupid belief that the Klingon Empire needs to expand or die. The Klingons attacked their closest ally and would have left the AQ wide open to the Dominion after the UFP, KE and the RSE had fought each other to exhaustion . I should also note that the Federation nearly fought a civil war due to Founder influence and none other than Enabran Tain himself was taken in by a Dominion plot. The point is that occupying a dying and resource poor Cardassian Union will not help anyone recover from the War and it is particularly disguising of the Klingons to demand reparations and territories from the Cardassian people when they have spent the last few years launching unprovoked raids and wars of aggression on the Cardassian Union that have cost the lives of millions. Indeed the only group that has caused more harm to the people of Cardassia (and indeed the AQ itself) is the Dominion.

    As for Damar's rebellion I will be addressing the causes and affects of Damar's actions in my next essay which will be on the politics of the Union.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
  9. JustKate

    JustKate Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    And what's wrong with that? ;)

    I agree completely. The Feds should have a foe who makes us think. I enjoy the Ferengi (in smallish doses) but I wouldn't call them particularly thought-provoking. Honestly, I don't think the Klingons ever caused me to think that much either. The TOS Klingons were just regular old bad guys - not without interest, but it was always really clear who wore the white hats and who wore the black ones. Nothing thought-provoking there. The later Klingons had some interesting characters and could have been interesting, but...they got too much into all that pseudo-honor stuff (and some of it was pseudo), and after a while it was all treachery and revenge and aggression and clashing swords and so on. Eh.

    The Romulans had real potential, and still do. But they'd need to be filled out a bit now - they haven't been used enough so that we know enough about them to make them thought provoking.

    Still agreeing here...

    I agree (again). The Borg are kind of like a tsunami - an impersonal destructive force. When they were new and unknown, they were really creepy, with all those spare parts and grey skin and everything. But the problem with an impersonal destructive force is...what can you do with it? Is it possible to make the same impersonal phenomenon dramatic again and again over a relatively short time?

    I think the Trek writers did their best (the Borg queen, having the Borg assimilate characters we care about, having some Borg freed, etc.). But that cow has been milked dry, IMO.

    Great. I look forward to it.
     
  10. neogothboy74

    neogothboy74 Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    Cardassians and Bajorans are my favorite Trek aliens. I can't really see 1 race without the other. My best friend Mollie and I both love the Cardassians though, and find many of them, oddly sexy. lol. :alienblush:

    Garak could carry his own series. :techman:
     
  11. Hoshi_Mayweather

    Hoshi_Mayweather Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    I want to put my vote in for the Cardassians over the Klingons.

    Yes, the Klingons were one-dimensional and over-used....although, I do like the early TOS Klingons. (I prefer Romulans as the top villans, and not what TNG/onward did with them in terms of characters and appearance; I think I'm more upset with the appearance).
     
  12. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    I hate their foreheads. It makes no sense--they are Vulcans, they are not similar, they are the same, because speciation doesn't happen in 2000 years. The makeup was a waste of money that could have been better used to make sure phasers didn't come out of the photon torpedo tube.
     
  13. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    While from an evolutionary standpoint you're quite right...I can't help noticing the actors cast as Romulans tend to have a very different stature and build, in some cases, than those playing Vulcans. I personally like to reconcile it in my head by saying that the Romulans tampered with their own DNA to achieve a physique suited to a more temperate world like Romulus, as opposed to a desert like Vulcan. (Hell, maybe they even created the Remans as they experimented, either by accident or deliberately.)
     
  14. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    What we needed was a two-episode arc in a prospective fifth season of Enterprise, to explain this inconsistency!

    I ultimately do rationalize it as most do--Romulan foreheads are to the Vulcan genome what an epicanthal fold is to the human one, a trait shared by many but not all. Now the morphological gulf between giant creases of bone and the precise construction of an eyelid is large, but at that point I can comfortably suspend disbelief.

    As for the Remans, I assume they're the result of two thousand years of living in mildly radioactive caves. This is of course not ultra-scientific, but it's more fun to assume they're Vulcan, genetically. Their paleness could be attributed to simple lack of UV light (melanin production must be stimulated in Vulcans as well as humans). The curiously missing inner eyelid function which protects Vulcans (and presumably Romulans) from bright light might yield to the same principle, that without exposure, the specialized cells which produce polarizing compounds simply don't develop normally.

    Apropos of nothing, one of my biggest beefs with how Trek dealt with the Romulans was the ridigity of their society, particularly a throwaway line in Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges, when Garak regales Bashir with the "grayness" of life on Romulus. If you're just going to wind up boring, why bother leaving Vulcan?:p
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2009
  15. Tachyon

    Tachyon Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    No. Romulans are much more interesting.
     
  16. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    I don't know about Star Terk, never watched it. But I do think the Cardies are one of Trek's best alien races.
     
  17. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    And they have a really cool name. "Cardassian". You can just say it over and over. Cardassian Cardassian Cardassian! Like that old Python sketch - it's a great "woody" sort of phrase. Not "tinny" at all. ;)
     
  18. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    Oh damn. I just watched that, and no...I can't say I have THAT sort of reaction! :eek:
     
  19. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    Wow, I just found this great thread. Cardassians are definitely one of my favourite Trek races as well - very interesting, and, as others have pointed out, one of the few that actually has been portrayed with versatility and complexity. I must say that I also find Bajorans and their storylines very interesting - and most of all, Bajoran/Cardassian interaction and intertwined history. I am also glad to see that there are other people who dislike TNG-era Klingons. They are one of my least favourite Trek races, after Ferengi, even though some individual Klingons and their stories have been compelling. The best Klingon episodes were always those in which their image was subverted by revelations about the political games in the Empire, and the hypocrisy that often lies in their protestations of "honor": the arc about Duras in TNG, Gowron's actions in DS9, "The House of Quark" in which Quark had his best moment ever, showing Ferengi courage while exposing the hypocrisy of his Klingon opponent who was using violence and protestations of 'honor' to steal the land and property (I didn't think that a Klingon/Ferengi episode could be intelligent and great, but I was proved wrong.) Unfortunately, too many times Klingons were used just as walking stereotypes. :klingon:

    It doesn't hurt that I also find Cardassians strangely sexy - perhaps the second sexiest race in Trek as far as I am concerned. :cardie: (Bajorans would be in top 5, but they have considerably less makeup, which makes it less remarkable.)

    However, I have to say a word in favor of the sexiest race in Trek ;) :vulcan:

    ^ Exactly! And that is just the tip of the iceberg. ThorDamar, how can you not find the Vulcans interesting? They're the people who try to suppress all emotion to the point of pretending that they have none - while actually having much more intense, violent emotions than any of the races they despise for their 'emotionalism'. Their history was so violent that they nearly destroyed themselves before choosing to logic and stoicism as their way of life. They worship logic above all things, yet they are still keeping their old traditional customs which are highly illogical, such as their stupid and violent mating/marriage/divorce customs. They are one of the founding races of the Federation, yet they so often exhibit definite traces of arrogant nationalism and even racism and xenophobia. Is there any race in Trek that is more contradictory? Those people are really screwed-up. :p And let's not forget that they're one of the very few alien races in Trek who are actually described as having superior abilities compared to humans - and not just physical ones, although it is great that Vulcans are so much physically stronger than humans, even though they rarely chose to show that strength; but their mental abilities such as mind-meld and telepathy (which is interesting as long as the species is not full of people who choose to become counsellors and say things like "I sense XY [insert feeling] :p ") offer some really fascinating :vulcan: possibilities (pun not intended, but welcome ). This is something that can't be said for Cardassians or Bajorans - as complex as their culture is and as interesting as their individual characters are, they are basically humans with rigged noses or scaled reptile-like skin. Can you imagine just how dangerous :vulcan:s could be if it were not for their culture and morals and way of life? And the individual Vulcans are certainly not to be trifled with when they're losing their self-control.

    Now, on the other hand, I have to say that, contrary to what a few people here think, their "cousins" Romulans, are actually quite disappointing and ordinary in comparison (even though I liked them in TOS). First of all, those stupid TNG and post-TNG rigged foreheads - what's up with that? They are supposed to look identical to Vulcans (that was the whole point of "Balance of Terror")! It would have been much more interesting if they were actually genetially identical to Vulcans and only separated by culture - imagine if they used it to infiltrate the Federation with undercover agents? You'd have to wonder who the real and the fake Vulcans are. Secondly, and more importantly, they are nothing but another militaristic race prone to deceit and secrecy, but don't seem to have any of the superior mental abilities of Vulcans. And most of them don't even have the intense passions that Vulcans are always hinted to have. As a branch of Vulcans who decided not to follow logic and stoicism, Romulans should really be more a lot more intense, crazier, more dangerous and fascinating that they've been shown to be, they should be what Vulcans would be if they rejected logic or had their emotional control stripped from them. But instead :rommie:s just seem like poor man's Vulcans, stripped of most of what makes :vulcan:s interesting.
     
  20. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Are the Cardassians the most interesting Race in the Star Terk Gal

    My, my, but you underestimate Cardassian mental discipline, don't you, DevilEyes? ;) These people are capable of resisting mind-melds, not being read by telepaths, have eidetic memories--need I go on? ;)

    Also, I might add something interesting to think about, when it comes to the Cardassians' abilities as spies. They are remarkably successful at it--and considering that their hearing is quantitatively inferior to other species, to include humanity, this is an even cooler achievement. (Personally, I like to think that they don't artificially enhance their hearing--that it's all in the technique. ;) )