Progress Report

Still working on the RoTS Lesser Canon project. But, progress was briefly halted when, during a random visit to a used bookstore, I found Jeri Taylor's Mosaic. I already had the other canon novel Pathways, so that little mini-collection was completed.

Naturally, I had to read it. Between my limited time and the lesser skill novel-wise of Taylor compared to, say, Stover, it took several days. The story is so-so, but it contains a few interesting tidbits, mostly chronological.

In any case, I was once working on an analysis of Pathways much like the one being done for the RoTS novel. I have to say, such work is rather tedious. But, I'll get them both complete.

(After all, a few quite interesting things have come from such tedium . . . for instance, this page on Setlik III grew out of an overall look at the Cardassian conflict, which was a project spawned by data from Pathways. And, I'm working on a rough timeline of Star Wars based on correlated data from the canon.

(Trouble is, I think I'll have to revisit the Setlik III article. Mosaic might push back some of the Cardassian fighting, though I'll have to check to be sure.))


Now, now, don't get haughty

"Star Wars is something to enjoy and take away what you can from it that maybe helps you in your lives. Don't let it take over your lives. That's what they all say about Trekkies, and I know Star Wars fans don't do that. The point of the movies is to get on with your lives, to take that challenge, to leave your uncle's moisture farm, to go out in the world and change it to save the universe." - The Flannelled One, April 2005

"Star Wars fans don't do that"? Maybe he missed the X-Wing Car, or hasn't seen photos of conventions, weddings, and so on, just like there are people with shuttlecraft mini-vans, bad costumes at conventions, and of course Trek weddings.

I mean, sure, the Star Wars movies are considered more "mainstream" than Trek these days, but even if it were Berman saying Trek fans aren't weird compared to what people say about SW fans I'd be scoffing at the notion. It's inherently questionable to claim that the fanboys of one saga are somehow better than the fanboys of another. After all, in the end they're all fanboys.

(Then again, it does occur to me that Lucas seems to be talking about the movies, whereas most of the weird SW fanboys are probably EU-philes. After all, one of the "bestseller" books of the recent EU series "New Jedi Order" was the first book, Vector Prime. Only
200,000 of them were sold in hardcover, and this fell to about 110,000 sales for final NJO book The Unifying Force. Paperback sales averaged just 300,000 for the first dozen books of that series, according to Publisher's Weekly. While this was more than enough to make these bestselling books, compare this to the 1.4 million hardcover sales for the novelization of The Phantom Menace or the millions and millions who have seen Star Wars.

In other words, EU-philes are a minority.)


"No, no, we're completely normal, we swear!"

There are times when you just have to laugh at the absurdity.

First, a little history:

There's a fellow who, about a year ago, managed to post 146 messages on SD.Net's BBS before they banned him. He was by no means the strongest debater in the world . . . his sporadic decent points were not well-stated, and his inexperience left them as not-well-argued. Worse, he allowed their swarm tactics and personal attacks to distract and mislead him. He all too often fell back on tales of his personal military background which seemed unbelievable. But, when challenged, he'd always offer to demonstrate in person to nearby debaters, and even placed cash bets on the matters in question.

The SD.Net groupthink brigade, however, simply declared that (1) his tales were all completely impossible (in spite of at least a couple of them being acknowledged as possible by board posters), (2) he was a troll for either (a) posting too much or (b) not posting enough when people demanded a reply, and (3) he was a complete BS artist because he (a) did not have an operable scanner with which to (b) produce paperwork in support of his own background. He offered to mail them, but of course the SD.Net people declined.

Note, though, that I'm not really faulting them too much for the above. The personal attacks, mindlessly self-contradictory complaints, and other such distractions are the SD.Net status quo, and while this guy had the occasional interesting observation he was, alas, by no means the sharpest newbie debater ever seen.

Had that been the end of it, it would be a non-event . . . just another episode of the banning of the opposition by the SD.Net crowd. But, of course, they had to go and obsess over the guy:

- They looked up his phone number and encouraged each other to call it.
- They googled based on his name and town and made quite inventive claims based off of it.
- They posted aerial photos of his home.
- They passed around his IP, e-mail, and home addresses.
- They contacted the Better Business Bureau about the company he claimed to work for, and threatened to try to call the IRS (or, for non-US readers, the tax men) on him.

Naturally, Wong not only allowed these to be posted on his board, but also posted all the info on his website. And, of course, he has made a habit of encouraging his followers to harass his opponents outside of the Vs. Debate in examples innumerable. ("Stonesour" was a classic example of a direct encouragement, though tacit permission (such as was given to MK Sheppard) is also included.)

Oh, but before you think them completely insane, just step back for a moment, because you're obviously, clearly mistaken. You see, they are completely normal, and it is everyone else who is obsessed with them. It's so obvious, when you think about it. Naturally, everyone wants to be a part of their peculiar subculture.

I mean, really . . . if you disagree with someone about a TV show or a movie, don't you always make sure you can find aerial photos of their home and tell people you know to call them and harass them or send them death threats over their opinions while you make up a website with their personal info on it?

And so now, we come to the current events that inspired this post:

Of course, I've previously pointed out the profound contradiction of Wong's wherein he bemoans the "ASU Coward" who called his house to harass him, yet also posts other people's personal information and encourages its use for harassment. (Such contradictions are fairly common over there, after all . . . if SD.Net's BBS is invaded it is wrong and evil, so they simply pretend to all be going over to other boards individually when they're the ones doing the invading.)

But, I have to revisit the "ASU contradiction" for a moment. You see, the basic principle that Wong has evidently operated by is that it is morally okay to have your online opponents harassed offline. Be this at work, home, school, via government, or what-have-you, it's alright because if their opinions differ from yours regarding a TV show, politics, or whatever, they are idiots who deserve what they get (or whatever you can cause them to get).

And so I find recent events amusing . . . the guy who got banned a year ago apparently has contacted one of Wong's site sponsors and pointed out that SD.Net's BBS denizens trade in porn. Wong got a hold of the e-mail, then promptly posted to the BBS that this guy was a "chickensh[!]t" for trying to get a sponsor to withdraw and bring about a closure of the site. In other words, Wong got mad.

Now, while I don't condone the guy's actions, I have to laugh at the reaction of Wong and friends. After all, the guy simply took a silly online debate into the 'real world', after Wong and his fellow freaks had done the same to him. And, of course, we have to compliment the guy . . . he at least had the decency to keep his 'real-world' 'reprisal attack' SD.Net-related! Wong and friends never make such distinctions with their 'real-world' 'aggressions'.

(I would say that this might bite them in the butt someday if they found someone who plays as dirty as they do. But, they already know what this is like, at least in the online side of things . . . when Wong and SD.Net attacked TrollKingdom.com, for instance, the SD.Net BBS moderator's forum was suddenly available for public consumption. It was an interesting read, but more amusing for the smackdown value.)

Wong's re-posting of the reprisal attack instantly produced over 75 angry messages from the SD.Net crowd, which viewed him as stupid and vindictive. Almost immediately they were talking about signing up the posted e-mail address for spam and porn, actively stalking him all over the internet, making fun of him for being Republican (SD.Net regulars seem to almost all be leftists/Democrats), posting satellite maps of his neighborhood and downplaying its real estate value, and . . . inevitably . . . they then talked about doing drive-bys to take pictures of his house, stopping to knock on the door, and so on.

The only one of the above which got a negative response was the part about property values in the area, and that was only a guy saying it was a nice neighborhood, not asking why in the hell it mattered or pointing out that trying to say he was poor as another personal attack was just infantile.

All the rest of the suggestions or stalkings were seconded or applauded by the crowd. And yet, it's everyone else that is odd . . . not them.

But seriously, it isn't that they don't recognize that such activity is weird. Some of them got on to "MK Sheppard" when he was trying to call my home and workplace, and "Mike_6002" for his threatening e-mail, noting that such behavior was wrong. The only problem is that the leader of their little subculture doesn't agree, and over time they've all softened to the idea. (IIRC, "Stravo" was one of the ones who got on to "MK Sheppard" and/or "Mike_6002", though this time around he was the one calling for signing up SD.Net's enemies for pornspam.)

And, of course, to hear them tell it they really are completely normal and well-adjusted individuals. For instance, take Wong's hardline approach to those who disagree with him (i.e. to him they're all idiots and are treated as such), mix that with his posting of information about his opponents and encouragements to harassment, and then read the following quote:

"I don't think the man is brain-dead so much as just plain evil. Seriously, he has shown himself to be utterly devoid of anything resembling ethics; he has his little book of rules which everyone in the world must be forced to live by, and any kind of dishonesty, bullying, or otherwise immoral tactics are perfectly acceptable means to that end."

That quote comes from Mike Wong, during the recent Schiavo controversy. Ironic, isn't it?


Individual Debates

I've been thinking for quite awhile that the forum-theory of the Vs. Debate is no longer of value, for various reasons. As such, I've been pondering setting up a debate challenge page with a little list of rules, so that anyone who wants to tangle on some topic can come get some. (The debate need not even be public . . . unlike some people, I'm interested in the facts and not the spectacle.)

Well, some fellow has anticipated me on this. I had this feedback-heckler who, besides being quite saucy, has offered nothing of consequence except regurgitated old arguments already responded to on the main site. Indeed, I was about ready to simply hand him a link to the site search page. Instead, I simply let him know that his claims had already been specifically responded to on the main pages, and that he should give them a read.

His final e-mail was a challenge to debate me on three general topics (i.e. fleet and vessel capabilities, ground force capabilities, and production capacity). In other words, he wants to debate all the main things that would be involved in a war.

That, however, is absurd. We would literally end up revisiting the entire Vs. Debate. The reason peculiar minutiae like "do blasters produce sparks when they hit something?" gets discussed is because it is a part of the wider debate. Some minor bit of minutiae gets used to demonstrate some claim, and that claim applies to the debate at large.

(In the case of the blasters, the idea that the answer was "no" was used by pro-SW debaters to try to drive up blaster firepower (and then SW armor) levels. The idea was that a blaster shot where sparks were produced had to be against metal, and thus there was vaporized metal. If there was vaporized metal, then the blasters were stronger, they felt. They did this, apparently, under the theory that increased blaster firepower equals superior ground force capability. Unfortunately for that argument, I simply pointed out that most if not all blaster shots in RoTJ produced sparks on impact, whether against metal surfaces, clothing, or biological things like trees or tentacles.)

So, if you're someone who wants to debate me, please pick a more narrow topic.

Hello World

I assume it's the run-up to Episode III, but site traffic is up 50% over the same month last year, as judged by average unique visitors per day. (Checks) . . . Hmm, then again, the traffic six months ago was 35% higher than it was a year before that, so maybe my assumption wasn't completely accurate.

In any event, it still isn't coming close to the average from January '04 when we were linked to by Fark.com (when, for instance, I got 12,000 unique visitors one day, or 350,000 hits). On the other hand, when we had the board up in June '04 the daily visitors were matching January's monthly average.

In any case, I've got plenty of room to spare, so surf away.


The Blog of the Vs. Debate

I'd been pondering a weblog for the site for quite some time. I first started to really notice them around the same time CBS did . . . the 2004 elections in the U.S. and the forged document debacle known as Rathergate. Lately, I've also been following Groklaw.net. For those who don't know, that's a blog which is an excellent source of info regarding the many lawsuits of SCO, a small crappy company which seems to be of the opinion that the entire free world owes it money, especially (but not exclusively) those parts of the free world which use Linux.

But, I digress . . .

I realized that this might be a good tool to have here at ST-v-SW.Net. There have been dozens of little things . . . observations I've had, links I wanted to share, et cetera . . . that warranted a quick note, but would take too long to make a full page or page update out of. And, there have been occasions where I've e-mailed myself something to make note of later only to never get back around to it.

Incidentally, this should make those who deserved but never received replies to their feedback feel somewhat better . . . not only did I not reply to you, but I often don't even take care of my messages to myself!

But I digress, again . . .

My webhosts provide some blogging tools for free, but all of their tools required a MySQL database. Mine is currently housing the old forum experiment from 2004, and the hosts don't have things configured so that I could automatically set up the two to share a database. And, because I strongly feel that MySQL is the world's most efficient headache-producing agent the world has ever known, I certainly wasn't going to try to make that happen manually.

So, I was left with deleting the forum, but I didn't want to delete the old forum posts before backing them up. However, backing it up would be a pain in the butt, and so I procrastinated. Then, I promptly procrastinated some more. I then repeated this procedure several times.

We see here indications as to why I don't update the site more frequently. It's all based on a painstaking calculation of whether the pleasure of the hobby outweighs the headaches and can override the hobby procrastination factor. (I'm sure there's a way to make a mathematical equation out of that, but it would take too long and cause too much headache to make one up. )

And so the blog idea was going to have to wait until the procrastinatory period ended . . . that is, until I found out a couple of weeks ago that blogger.com would take care of the troubles for me. a short period of procrastination later, and here we are.

We'll see how this all works out . . . I hope we both enjoy my experiment.