In "Waltz"[DSN6], there's one aspect of that most excellent episode that has always seemed odd to me. Sisko and Dukat are stranded on a planet with only the emergency supply rations from a shuttle to sustain them. While eating some of Dukat's cooking, Sisko notes that it needs pepper. So, he adds some from what appears to be a shaker.

A pepper shaker?

Salt as a part of an emergency supply kit I can understand. Even sugar has its uses. But pepper simply is not a necessary part of the diet. Sure, I'm all about some pepper, but let's be realistic here.

Black pepper is simply the ground bits of the peppercorn plant. Although it has been a prized spice on Earth for millenia (even used as currency at times), that doesn't justify its inclusion in an emergency supply kit. Even if we assumed that it was included because of piperine (the relevant chemical of pepper, reportedly useful for lowering metabolism), there would surely be more efficient ways to store and deliver it to the species who would be properly affected by it than via ground peppercorn in a dedicated shaker.

(Of course this touches on the fact that everyone seems to be able to eat everyone else's culinary delights in Trek without being poisoned, but that's a rant for another time.)


Hey! Which one of you guys did this?

Well, I guess someone finally made the movie.

You may have been already linked to it, but I think it's hilarious. Not to mention a pretty decent take on the matter. Quality's a bit off, but still pretty good for a fan production. Makes use of the same Lysian-blasting clip I've been showing stills of to demonstrate what would happen to TIEs trying to strafe the E-D, with the TIEs inserted in place of the original small mobile targets.


Star Trek's Very Own Terrorist

Although Muslim extremists have pretty well captured the news lately insofar as terrorism is concerned, the problem of individuals with a sociopathic philosophy is by no means confined to that group.

In "And the Children Shall Lead"[TOS3], we see a group of children brainwashed by a dead guy from the planet Triacus. Calling itself a Gorgon (or Gorgan ... opinions differ), the dead guy has the children controlling the Enterprise crew by the use of fear and terror. Via some power the Gorgan provides, the kids do some sort of fist-shake thing and make the crew's "beasts" of the mind work against them. Sulu fears changing course because he sees a tube of enormous swords all around the ship . . . Scotty refuses to allow Kirk to override the bridge controls because the ship is delicate . . . and so on.

One of the children was played by a little girl named Pamelyn Ferdin (who was also the voice of Lucy in some of the TV Peanuts fare).

Pamelyn Ferdin, Future Terrorist Group Leader

Ferdin apparently grew up to be much like a few of my exes . . . cute, but out of her f***ing mind:

Pamelyn Ferdin, Terrorist Group Leader Babe

But I digress . . .

You see, Ferdin eventually got out of TV, became a nurse, and later became involved with animal rights people. Indeed, she has recently become the leader of SHAC, a group dedicated to ending the activities of Huntington Life Sciences by the use of fear and terror. (Sound familiar?) Huntington is a research company which performs animal testing in order to help cure diseases and ensure that potentially beneficial chemicals are actually safe to use.

As per ActivistCash.com's write-up:

It’s called SHAC, which stands for “Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty” (our pick for a more appropriate moniker: “Sadistic, Hysterical, Angry Criminals”). SHAC has decreed that Huntingdon Life Sciences “must be shut down for good.” And they’re not too particular about how that comes about. British Animal Liberation Front (ALF) leader Robin Webb told protesters at a December 2002 SHAC rally: “It doesn’t matter if it’s closed through economic pressure! It doesn’t matter if it’s closed because the employees are too scared to work there! And it doesn’t matter if it goes out with a bang either!” The rally was held within earshot of Huntingdon’s New Jersey employees.

SHAC has employed physical violence, large-scale vandalism, verbal and physical intimidation, financial extortion, burglary, grand theft, Internet piracy, mail fraud, and even identity theft -- all in a bid to make HLS the first animal testing lab to throw in the towel and close its doors. That, says SHAC organizer Brenda Shoss, “is a door to shutting down all the rest of the labs.” At the Animal Rights 2002 convention, SHAC director Kevin Jonas [a.k.a. Kevin Kjonaas] vowed: “When we shut down HLS, we’ll move on to the next, the next, and the next.”

This siege mentality doesn’t sit well with law enforcement officers, who universally condemn SHAC’s goals and tactics. “There is no nice side to SHAC,” said Cambridgeshire (UK) Chief Inspector Michael Gipp in 2001. “This is a campaign based on fear and intimidation at every level.” FBI supervisory special agent William Voigt observed in a July 2002 AP story: “SHAC has quite an extensive history of violence.” And Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, responding to the indictment of 12 SHAC activists for threatening Robert Harper and his family, told WHDH TV: “Those are crimes. That is criminal behavior. Are they acts of terrorism? Yes, they are.”

Almost amazingly, as with PETA these people are the "respectable" side of much darker groups that try to keep the main organization "clean" by operating under different names. One of my very rare off-topic pages on this site was in reference to the Animal Liberation Brigade and its sick manifesto . . . like SHAC, they were working against Huntington. And as it turns out, the Animal Liberation Brigade (and other terror groups like the Animal Liberation Front, the Earth Liberation Front, and so on) all have ties with SHAC.

(Indeed, that Rodney Coronado firebomber fellow mentioned in the ActivistCash write-up as being one of SHAC's keynote speakers at an event was also receiving donations from PETA. (Penn & Teller's wonderful show Bullshit usually opts for a comedic-but-fact-based approach to debunking, well, bullshit. But in their PETA episode, they actually took the gloves off and, in the midst of utterly owning PETA by letting their own words and actions assassinate their own characters, showed this Coronado freak talking. Watch it sometime . . . even in this decadent age when people seem willing to say any irrational thing, people like Coronado are still astonishing to behold.)

I guess these psycho animal rights folks think it would be better to pour chemicals into the eyes of their own children than to do it on animals. Or maybe they hope their child will die . . . not of the disease, but of the insufficiently-understood attempted-cure that ends up killing the kid because it wasn't tested sufficiently.

Oh, but silly me. That would assume too much logical consistency on their part. You see, they'd probably rather just use the children of their philosophical opponents. After all, SHAC members sent anonymous e-mails to some random lady who does business with a company that does business with Huntington, threatening "to cut open her son and fill him with poison ''the way Huntingdon does with the animals.''" As Jeffrey Gold with the Chicago Sun-Times so wonderfully set the scene:

Sally Dillenback's son used to crouch by the door brandishing a 5-inch kitchen knife when the doorbell rang, promising to protect his mommy.

The 7-year-old ''told me not to worry,'' she testified last month. ''He said he was going to get the animal people.''

The ''animal people'' referred to animal-rights activists who waged a campaign of threats and vandalism against a company that tests drugs and household products on animals. On Thursday, an animal-rights group and six members were convicted of using their Web site to incite the harassment.

The group posted information about the lab's employees and those who did business with Huntingdon Life Sciences, including their home phone numbers, addresses and where their children attended school. [...] Dillenback saw even more detailed information about her family on Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty's Web site, such as the name of her son's teacher and the fact that the boy sang in the choir.

[...] SHAC maintained its actions were protected under the First Amendment, and its leader pledged to continue to ''expose atrocities'' at Huntingdon Life Sciences.

From ActivistCash:

The Fall 2002 SHAC newsletter -- a professionally printed, glossy piece for which someone must have paid handsomely -- included the following warning:

SHAC campaigners have routinely taken Sun Tzu’s instruction to heart, learning every minute detail about their targets -- where they work, where they live, who their friends are, where they pump their gas, and what their plans are on Friday night -- identifying their weaknesses, and then preying upon those weakness [sic] until they inevitably crumble.

But naturally, these terror-mongerers have gone too far, as terror-mongerers so often do. Now the former SHAC leader Kevin Jonas/Kjonaas is behind bars. He and five others were "convicted of terrorism and Internet stalking yesterday by a federal jury that found them guilty of using their Web site to incite attacks" against Huntington and its business partners, per the NY Times. Therefore Pamelyn Ferdin is now the SHAC leader, since everyone above her is in jail.

If this sort of behavior sounds familiar to you, it should. That's the reason this post exists, as a matter of fact. You see, StarDestroyer.Net's hate-mongering contingent employs the same tactics as these "domestic terrorists" against those they disagree with. After hearing about the SHAC bit the term "Talifan" to refer to sociopathic fanboys seemed even more fitting than before. (This was especially the case when I read about Brian Cass in the opening tale of the ActivistCash.com page. He was attacked by three men armed with baseball bats in a tale reminiscent of Wayne Poe's posted fantasy about he, Wong, and some other guy beating me in a similar fashion.)

Indeed, nowadays the SD.Net Talifan doesn't really wait around to see if someone's going to turn out to be an opponent. One cross word gets the ball rolling. Recently, for instance, some poor guy joined up and, after 19 posts in which he questioned just how far you can take mathematical analysis in regards to analyzing sci-fi shows (which is hardly an invalid point), Wong flipped. He claims the guy "downplayed the importance of math and science", and so he posted a message where he claims to have "checked up on him". He handed out the e-mail address the guy registered with (with a coy "oops, did I say that out loud?"), posted info about the fellow's university, and gave everyone the guy's name (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=86542). Fortunately, with only 19 posts the guy hadn't annoyed the rest of the Talifan there to the point that they all started gathering as much info as possible (such as home phone number, address, aerial photos, et cetera), posting it on the boards or on specially-constructed web pages, and using it for harassing phone calls, threats, openly planned "home visits", et cetera . . . but I'm sure that if he hadn't been quite so nice and diplomatic then they'd already be at that point, yet again. (As it stands, Wong just grabbed the guy's e-mail address and looked up the university, then tried to make himself sound all important and badass by saying he'd "checked up on him".)

Before I digress, though, I do want to take a moment to enjoy the fact that the same lines of BS are used to justify the activities. Both SHAC and the SD.Net Talifan group hide behind the claim that posting the information isn't illegal, and try to claim that they are somehow within their freedoms to do it. When pressed, they'll even go so far as to post disclaimer-type comments like 'oops, did I say that out loud? Well, don't go using it! (wink, wink)'. Or, as SHAC's most recent UK newsletter (#39, featuring pictures of people's homes) puts it:

This newsletter is not intended to encourage illegal activity of any kind. [...] Readers must bear in mind that certain demonstrations eg home demonstrations are now illegal in the UK although they are perfectly legal in other countries [...] Company details are listed for the purposes of readers making informative and polite communications with the companies listed. The details are not intended for repetitive, rude, or threatening calls.

In a (borrowed) word, "bullshit!" (Especially telling is that in their "SHAC SHOP" section on page 8, it has the following which I presume they thought was funny: "Warning! Anyone caught shoplifting will get a home visit...know what we mean?")

For starters that "it's not illegal" crap has always been a pansy excuse, even if true. A lot of things are wrong and unethical but not illegal, and if your moral compass is based only on the laws of the land then the problem is yours and not mine. Second, in several arenas (and some countries) that sort of activity is quite illegal . . . such as in the case of animal rights activity since 1992 in the US. (It's classifiable as harassment anyway.) Do you really think there's a wide ethical gulf between the events simply because this is ST-v-SW.Net and not HLS-v-SHAC.Net?

In any case, before you think me unfair for calling Ferdin a terrorist simply because she's assumed command of an organization linked to terrorism, with terrorists in it, and which publishes its terrorist intent in its newsletters, let's take a look at her response to the verdict:

"[She] called the verdict an insidious curb on free speech and said she was "ashamed of the jury."

"Anyone who writes anything on an e-mail or on a Web site is being treated like we're in a fascist state," said Ms. Ferdin, a former child star who played Felix Unger's daughter on "The Odd Couple" and was the voice of Lucy in the "Peanuts" cartoons. "Our forefathers fought for the right to free speech." [...] Ms. Ferdin vowed that the campaign against animal testing would continue, despite the verdict against her group.

Hmm . . . I don't see her renouncing a damn thing about SHAC's past. I certainly see no apology from SHAC on its now-broken-ass website, which simply says it is shut down for "legal reasons". The UK SHAC website protests that "All these activists are solid, decent people who were never accused of causing even $1 dollar of damage yet here they are sitting in jail."

Thank you for missing the point, you bloody freaks.

In any event, now I guess OPama bin Ferdin should renounce her participation in Peanuts since Snoopy was a confined animal, a prisoner whose Red Baron Dreams were escapist fantasy from the reality of his incarceration . . . or some other such bullshit.

The thing is, now whenever I think of Charlie Brown I'll wonder if Lucy is planning to blow up Linus because his blanket might be made of wool.

And, of course, now anytime I watch "And the Children Shall Lead" I'll wonder if the little blonde girl was messed up in the head by seeing that fist-shaking crap make people scared and thus willing do her character's bidding.

Call me a hardass if you will, though, but I don't care where she got her stupid ideas or how she ended up as a pro-terrorism nurse. There's no excuse for such sociopaths. If SHAC continues its campaign of terror under her leadership then I hope the group and its members (including her) receive the full measure of justice.

And if she doesn't like it, she can shake her fist at me 'till she turns blue. I'll be too busy supporting Huntington to notice.

(EDIT 03-06-06: Though I already mentioned Bullshit!, I had forgotten that Pam Ferdin appeared on the PETA program. Of course I still had her hot redhead pic in mind, but she's now much older and much less hot. She appeared seated next to a Dr. Vlasack with the "Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine" (PCRM), a freak of the first order who threw the "do no harm" bit out the window and has proclaimed that animal rights violence was okay. Apparently in his mathematics, killing a few humans in order to save animals is A-OK. Ferdin sat there like this was a perfectly normal and reasonable attitude. Of course, she's married to Vlasack, so it isn't like this sort of thing should've surprised her.

And you know, the sad part is that I've always been really soft-hearted when it comes to animals. Oh sure, there are lots of animals that are more worthwhile to keep around than some humans. Force me to choose between a puppy and Hitler and you better believe my choice involves future purchases of Dog Chow. But when it comes to the general question of humanity and human suffering versus the lives and suffering of animals?

It's just no contest. Screw you, animal-rights terrorists . . . and anyone else who uses your tactics.)


Praxis and the Evacuation of Q'onoS

I saw this in the comments to the starbase post from a few days ago and wanted to reply, but the ideas were particularly interesting to me so I put it up here.

"[In Star Trek VI] the depletion of [oxygen] from Qo'nos, a single planet, meant the practical extermination of Klingon race and death of their Empire."

For kicks, let's give the 23rd Century Klingon Empire half-a-million ships (military, civilian, et al.). Let's assume that each ship can carry an average of, say, 500 people. And, finally, assume a one-month average round trip to the various suitable planets in the Empire (which as of the 2260's was said to have many poor systems, which was the basis of their expansionism).

That's 250,000,000 people per month. At that rate, evacuating modern-day Earth would take two years and two months (assuming 6.5 billion people). However, that wouldn't even begin to account for material, supplies, population growth during evac (we're going to hit 7 billion by 2012), et cetera.

And while that's going on, do you really think the Klingons could do much in the way of their interstellar policies?

Now, chatter from the Federation president in ST6 made reference to completing the evacuation of Q'onoS within a fifty-year timespan, which eases things quite a bit. Let's assume there are just 10 billion Klingons on the homeworld, and that over the course of fifty years the total number to evacuate will be 20 billion. (That's a rough ballpark figure, meant to account for births per year and the notion that older Klingons might just choose to stay and die on the homeworld. We're at 130 million births per year, so I adjusted theirs to 200 million/year in keeping with the 10 billion total. That would give us 10 billion new Klingons within fifty years. (Since the birth rate would decline over the course of the fifty years I was going to drop the total evac population to 15 billion. However, they probably have shorter generations than we do and yet also have far longer lifespans, so more of the original ten billion would be around than is the case with mankind.)

To evac all of them in fifty years (600 months) will require an average rate of over 33 million people per month. Even at fifteen thousand people per ship -- equal to what the Galaxy Class could carry, and it'll have to be the average per ship -- that's still going to require 2,223 ships engaged in constant evacuation with a one-month turnaround time. If the round trip turnaround time were two months then 4,445 ships would be needed.

Of course, Klingon ships are generally not Galaxy-esque luxury liners. Like the Intrepid Class, they are built more for combat performance. The Intrepid Class starship Voyager, despite being on the large side, could evac an absolute maximum of 475 people. A particular type of Klingon civilian transport in the 2370's carried just 441. Thus it might make more sense to bring down the average from the Galaxy maximum to something more reasonable . . . say, an average of 1000. That would mean that 33,334 ships would have to be making trips with an average one-month turnaround time, or 66,667 ships with an average two-month turnaround time. And again, that's just people and not materiel, supplies, mementos, cultural icons, et cetera.

Remember, though, that common estimates of fleet strength in the 2370's are around 10,000 ships each for the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans. While I'm sure there are many, many more private/commercial/cargo ships, there's just no way one can assume that the Klingons are going to be able to maintain their empire without incident.

In short, the depletion of the Klingon homeworld's ozone layer and the end of free oxygen would've meant that the planet would've died within 50 years assuming no one left. However, to evacuate the planet would require thousands of ships times decades.

Either way you're talking about an incredible blow to the Klingon Empire. The fact that the 24th Century Trek seems to suggest that some sort of magic fix was accomplished doesn't negate the fact that the Klingon Empire had to have basically been in a state of reconstruction for much of the late-23rd and early-24th Century.

Anakin's Hand

As seen here, we're not too far from Star Wars-quality prosthetics, and better ones soon after. Sure it isn't made of durasteel, but it will enable fine control. Although I can't immediately find a reference of Anakin's hand containing sensory feedback systems (though he could clench his hand so hard that the electronic feedback would make his shoulder ache, per the RoTS novel, he didn't have "pain sensors"), the new bionic hands will have that capability.

Further, the hands will (like early-model Terminators) feature a false covering designed to mimic human flesh. In other words, no need for a black glove to cover up shiny metal.

Of course this will all cost some coin, and probably won't be readily available for a decade or more. I'd imagine also that some sort of power system is required, though presumably the same is true of Anakin's hand (given Vader's many systems). Given our power tech I'm sure there will be need of recharging. However, that's hardly a vast improvement.

Of course, a few decades after this becomes available, I'd bet that instead of all this bionics we'd rather simply use cloned body parts. You don't have to create a complete lifeform, after all . . . cell differentiation is what makes organs and pieces to begin with. Replicating that will take a bit more effort than just growing a whole new human being, but it won't be impossible. However, Star Wars seems not to possess that technology for some reason, which is quite odd given the cloning elsewhere.

Of course Trek is no exception to this oddity, what with Picard's bionic heart and Nog's "biosynthetic" leg. I'm not even sure what a biosynthetic leg is, exactly, but it sounds like instead of cloned Nog-parts they used either a forced-growth setup (a la the new arm of Swamp Thing from the movie of the same name), or attached something which adapted itself to Nog's leg requirements, or else some sort of android-like leg composed largely of biomaterial and not all artificial bits like Data, or something else altogether. Nog was gone to a starbase for a time to get the procedure done, though, so it apparently isn't as fast a job as Luke's hand seemed to be.

However, since Anakin's hand presumably had all the time in the world to get installed, it seems that limb replacement is generally more advanced in Trek, whereas Star Wars limb replacement in the Republic era topped out at a level of tech comparable to mid-21st Century Earth.


Top Ten Reasons the Rebel Alliance Rocks

  1. One squadron of X-wings plus one squadron of Y-wings vs a Death Star and the best fighter pilot in the history of the galaxy: Rebels win.
  2. Rebel ion cannon the size of a large telescope vs Imperial Star Destroyer the size of an airport: Ion cannon wins.
  3. Five squadrons of Rebel fighters, one Millenium Falcon, and a dozen or so assorted Rebel cruisers vs several dozen Star Destroyers and a Death Star: Rebels win.
  4. Rebel commandos plus Ewok support vs a legion of the Emperor's best troops: Rebels win.
  5. Vader's "great fleet" tries to capture Rebel ships launching out of a gravity well... and fails miserably in the face of their evasive tactics.
  6. Slavery is illegal in the Empire ... but when Jabba practices slavery on the home planet of an ex-slave right hand man of the Emperor(Darth Vader), it takes the Rebels to end his foul ways.
  7. The Empire only gets hot chicks in the EU. And almost all the really hot ones there defect anyway.
  8. Even when the Empire succeeds in capturing a Rebel ship, they let what they were looking for (Death Star plans) get away.
  9. Carrie Fischer (Leia) is a hundred times hotter than Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine). If not more.
  10. The Rebel Alliance is an equal opportunity employer with regard to species, sex, race, and religion, unlike the Empire.