Berman on Canon

A hat tip to Wayne Poe, who managed to only slightly misquote Star Trek Communicator #154 . . . a vast improvement over his normal misquotations!

Check out the quote here. (Wayne's version was only different for its artificial paragraph breaking.)


Threshold Cancelled

Hehehehe . . . I love it. I mean, I feel bad that decent folks like Mike Sussman and hottie-mchothots like Carla Gugino are out of work, but the sheer gut-punch to Braga is well-deserved. The guy stomped Trek into the ground, and I freely admit that I'm bitter. I'm quite pleased to see that his utter crappiness has been confirmed in the form of a show that didn't even make it a full season.

The funny part was that I was doing a write-up around the time it premiered, intending to be a little prescient because I knew . . . knew, I say! . . . that Braga the No-Talent Hack was going to kick a particular bit of technology in the balls just as he does with all other technology and science. As soon as I heard that he was going to do a show based on a sound that altered DNA, I knew it was only a matter of time before he utterly failed to consult a science advisor and had it happen over the phone.

"(weird dumbass alien noise)"

The funny part is that Braga's hackery got himself cancelled so fast I never got a chance to finish the write-up!

Anyway, here it is, unfinished, its unfinishedness yet another proof of Braga's suck factor.

(Kickass link that sounds like a Trek fan bitching about Braga's bad writing (but is in fact some other guy bitching about Braga's bad writing) follows.)

It's not even a DNA-mutating disease per se, from what I read before the premiere . . . it's a *magic sound* that, even if it comes through a TV playing a camcorder's recording of the sound, can *alter your DNA*.

Note also that Braga has recently stated that Threshold is based on and grounded in real science.

So, if that's the case, then we ought to be able to ascertain something of this sound, should we not? After all, how long is it until Braga will have one of the Big Bad Aliens calling someone and playing the Sound of Doom, hmm?

The human voice occupies a certain sound frequency range, and ears hear another. Telecomm engineers took advantage of this and discovered that speech could be compressed into a 64kbps data stream with no loss in audible quality. Of course various errors occur, but on a phone call you'll hardly notice.

So, as soon as the aliens pick up the phone, we'll know that the Magic Sound has, at best, the ability to transmit information at 64kbps. That's 64,000 bits per second, or 8 kilobytes per second . . . or ever so slightly faster than a 56k modem.

Human DNA consists of about 3 billion base pairs, with the bases commonly represented as A, C, G, or T. Even if you just number them as 1, 2, 3, 4 and transmit that in binary (say, like 0, 1, 10, 11) you're going to need at least two bits per base pair, and realistically you'll need at least four (i.e. 00, 01, 10, 11 . . . otherwise how would you know that 1011 was 3,4 (i.e. G,T) versus 2,1,2,2 (C,A,C,C) or even 2,1,4 (C,A,T)?). But let's assume two bits for kicks . . . that gives us six billion bits for the human genome . . . or 715 megabytes.

Just try downloading that at 56k!

But this genetic-mutation-Magic-Sound-disease-thing probably wouldn't need to send that many . . . it might only need, say, half a million base pairs, or a million bits. That brings us down to 122 kilobytes, which at 64 kilobits per second (8 kilobytes per second) would only take 15.25 seconds.

"Aha!" you could say . . . "Braga was right! Half a million base pairs is all that a densely-coded virus like Herpes has, so indeed that data could be transmitted!"

You could say that, but you would be stupid. The sound would have to be activating pre-existing DNA in the human genome in the best case . . . otherwise how in the world would simply playing a sound make people have this genetic freakout? There's no mechanism, just magic.

Of course Braga doesn't realize that will be necessary, though he might eventually include that if someone tells him. I say this because in the premiere the sound was capable of making a funny fractal pattern for no apparent reason, and bloodstains would spontaneously reorganize into this pattern. Because, you know, blood cells are mobile little bastards.

"Oh, but Braga's smarter than you. He knew that the alien virus thingy was creating flagella on the red blood cells so they could move and make the pattern. Oh, and some sort of autolocation thingy so they'd know how to orient themselves into the pattern and if they'd done so correctly."


In fact, let's just go ahead and do a complete runthrough of all the bad science (along with the crappy writing) in just the premiere.


1. The smokin'-hot Carla Gugino has almost no hesitation whatsoever in that one of her many doomsday scenarios is coming to pass. I sure wouldn't have minded seeing her bite her lip pensively . . .

. . .

Oh yeah, hi. What I was saying, though, was that Braga doesn't write human beings. He just sort of skips over humanity. Can you imagine if a chopper landed in front of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and said "hey, that book Icefire that you wrote about nukes causing a megawave from Antarctica? Yeah, that's happening, so could you maybe hook us up with some of the research you did?" I'd bet hard-earned cash that one or both of them would shit.


See also: Kickass Link

Must Be Getting Senile

I've always had a certain aversion to the Star Trek vs. Star Wars fanfics. Sure, it's a quite popular genre among Vs. Debaters, but I guess I always felt it was a waste of time when there were still facts to be discovered. Or perhaps I didn't like how most of them are so crappy, biased, or both. Or maybe it was just the fact that once you've read one or two you've pretty much read them all. (I mean, how many variations of "Q decided to have a little fun" or "what's that odd spatial anomaly sending us far, far away and across time?" can you really have?) Or, maybe I was still ticked off because the one I started to write about ten years ago got lost in a disk failure. (It featured a spatial anomaly, BTW.)

Whatever the case, much of my weekend was spent working on crafting some preliminary notes for a potential fanfic . . . the ships, the overall plot, dramatis personae, and so on. (At the moment, it features a spatial anomaly, too.) It's probably going to suck given my complete inexperience, but I'm thinking it might be a fun exercise all the same. I'll let you know how it goes.


ST Canon Updates

Wow . . . Star Trek novel authors get really pissed off about canon. It's amusing, really. Whereas Karen Traviss and other SW authors have been polite (if strained) even in the face of SD.Net flamefests and blog comment invasions against them, Trek authors seemingly aren't so well-behaved.

I started asking the proverbial 'too many questions' in the Star Trek Lit forum at TrekBBS in response to a claim that those two of Taylor's novels said to be canon in fact weren't, and that furthermore StarTrek.com wasn't a valid source of Trek information. Specifically, I asked for sources, and pointed out links to my sources so as to explain the reason I was asking.

And then I was surprised to find myself set upon, being flamed like a newbie Trekkie after his first SD.Net post. (They were slightly more well-behaved, but only insofar as language was concerned. Check it out here.)

In any case, as a result of the exchanges I've thus gotten some material for my Trek canon page, and have updated it a bit and added new quotes to the quotes page. The main update to the Trek canon page appears here.

UPDATE: Not all of them in that thread are bad. One of them PM'ed me and we had a manly-hug sort of moment, so don't think too harshly of the whole lot.


TVG Lucas Quote - Minor Modification

One of the canon policy quotes was a few words off, as discovered thanks to my recent eBay activities.

The variant most frequently quoted (the origins of which seem to be lost to history):
"TVGuide: Yet novelists have written "Star Wars" sequels using the same characters and extending their stories.

George Lucas: Oh, sure. They're done outside my little universe. "Star Wars" has had a lot of different lives that have been worked on by a lot of different people. It works without me."

The Actual Version (extended to aid in understanding the context):
"What would it take for you to do a third trilogy, with episodes VII, VIII and IX?
Each time I do a trilogy it's 10 years out of my life. I'll finish ”Episode III” and I'll be 60. And the next 20 years after that I want to spend doing something other than ”Star Wars.” If at 80 I'm still lively and having a good time and think I can work hard for another 10 years between 80 and 90, I might consider it. But don't count on it. There's nothing written, and it's not like I'm completing something. I'd have to start from scratch. [The idea of episodes VII, VIII, and IX] was more of a media thing than it was me.
Do you know how many fans would be willing to feed you Cream of Wheat and wheel you around in your chair if you did?
I don't think that's going to happen. Time catches up with you.
Yet novelists have written "Star Wars" sequels using the same characters and extending their stories.
Oh, sure. They're done outside of my little universe. ”Star Wars” has had a lot of different lives that have been worked on by a lot of other people. It works without me."

The wording changes are minor . . . "outside my little universe" versus "outside of my little universe", and "different people" versus "other people". However, the addition of contextual evidence locks the concept up a bit more tightly.

The TV Guide quote still isn't a devastator on par with the canon quotes from Starlog #337 or Cinescape. However, not only does it remain another confirmation, but it's a wee bit stronger now.



I have Star Trek Communicator #154 and the TV Guide with Lucas from 2001 inbound.

I wouldn't have bothered with the TV Guide, but given the difference between the Galvaron rendition of the Starlog #337 quote and the actual quote itself, I figure it might be best to go ahead and have the real deal in front of me.

As for the Communicator, Poe reported a quote on canon out of it that no one else seems to have heard of. When Poe is one's only source the chances of a 'factual problem' rise dramatically, so I'm going to get one and check.

Also, take a peek at the just-released Volumetrics 101 article by 'BHMM' from the STrek-v-SWars.Net forums. I'm trying to catch up on some of the guest article submissions that, much as with the rest of the site, I've been running behind on.


Star Trek on the Web: Old School

So I find some quote from an interview with Jeri Taylor . . . it was an e-mail posted on Usenet. I searched for the subject line of the e-mail . . . something about "Warp 10" . . . and did further searching. Seems it was a Star Trek news service that came via e-mail, way back in the day . . . it's amazing how much of that kind of info just isn't around anymore. But in any case, I happened upon the sort of website I haven't come across in ages.


I mean, wow . . . just check that out. "World Wide Web" . . . hehe. And man, I haven't seen a dithered .gif like that in forever. That's from when VGA was good but the new SVGA was awesome. That's the sort of image I'd have opened up in my old "CShow" DOS program (which was so excited to have 'CompuServe .GIF' support) while using StupenDOS as a shell to navigate directories ("WTF is a folder?") more easily than the File Manager in Win 3.11. And heaven forbid you had a .bmp file you wanted to put on your 5.25 floppy . . . you'd probably have to use pkzip from the command line to make a zipped version, but then that was okay because you were used to doing things outside of Windows, especially when it came to playing games.

And that's when you even had Windows 3.1 or 3.11 available . . . back in those days, you booted to the C:> prompt and if for some odd reason you wanted to go into Windows you typed "win", which if I remember correctly was just a batch file on the C: drive's main directory . . . though it's not like I have my old 486DX4/100 around to hit 'dir/w' on to check. She had SVGA and an eye-popping 540Mb hard drive, with real Sound Blaster sound. Oh, sure, those new Pentiums had come out, but the DX4s could beat them, and didn't have a goofy name either.

Ack! I'm old!



Well, crap. It just occurred to me that I'm about to lose a little feather that's been in my cap. See, typing in 'Star Trek canon' on Google had me coming up first. My Trek canon page has been holding on to the #1 spot for quite some time, in fact.

I have a feeling that's about to change.

See, at one point this year my incomplete Star Wars canon page was in the #2 spot behind Saxton's ancient, erroneous, and never-updated version . . . I assumed that upon completion it would eventually surpass all others. Instead, when Google's bots finally caught the update a few days ago the Google system shuffled it down to the bottom of their sixth page! As of this writing it's back up to the second page, but still.

I'm not an expert on the innards of Google so I can't really say what the cause was . . . I figured actually that there was simply so much 'Star Wars canon' there that it got flagged as one of those 'faker' pages you find online that just have the same word over and over in an effort to boost rank. 'Cause otherwise, I'd have to assume that Google was run by EU Completists. ;)

But, returning to the matter at hand . . . now that I've updated the Trek canon page, I'm waiting to see what happens when Google catches the update. How many pages will it plummet?


A Clockwork Asshat

Someone over at the STrek-v-SWars.Net board mentioned the Spacebattles forums a few days ago, and I decided to go take a gander. The last time I'd looked over there was a couple of weeks after I publicized the Starlog quote, and it hadn't hit there yet.

Well, now it has.

Like clockwork, the rabidly pro-Wars moderator 'HBMC' shut down the thread, saying "Nope. Enough of this. I'm not letting this one continue."

By their actions, you will know them. I'm reminded of the SD.Net weirdo that tried to delete all links to my site from Wikipedia's Trek vs. Wars page. 'Don't debate points -- suppress them!'


Piller 1948-2005

It's a rare thing for TV watchers to really mourn the passing of backstage personnel. Roddenberry's death was one such occasion . . . today we have another.

I've often referred to Michael Piller glowingly . . . he was one of those rare jewels who actually worked on Trek while simultaneously knowing what it was about. Like Roddenberry, he could take the 'ugly little advertising box we call television' and make it work for him, sharing and considering ideas with meaning.

He was neither a writer nor a producer nor a hyphenation of the two . . . he was a working philosopher. His absence was keenly felt after he departed Trek, and would be keenly felt in any Trek history which failed to mention him glowingly.

My sympathies to all who knew him.