2007-11-24

On the Brief Stagnation

Main page news update:

So, in case you're wondering (and I know you are), I do have a perfectly good excuse for a total lack of updates for the past 5-and-a-half months. More than one, actually. First, I've been helluva-busy. Second, I've been working in my virtually non-existent spare time on what may end up being a massive overhaul of the site. I didn't want to mention it at first, but as the days have ticked by and I've kept noticing that the last update on here was from June, I figured I ought to say something. So here it is. :P


Obviously there have been a few blog posts since June, so the whole five month thing doesn't quite apply to the blog. But the point remains. Sue me.

2007-09-04

Dr. McCoy Would Be Pleased

This thing sounds hella-cool . . . a golf-ball-sized ultrasound device with a handle that would be used to scan for internal injuries and, with a few settings adjustments, to patch them via precise and localized ultrasonic heating of the blood into a seal.

Quite a bit different from what we're used to, as so wonderfully explained circa 2:47 in this gratuitous YouTube clip posting.

"Oh, I'd give a lot to see the hospital. Probably needles . . . sutures . . . oh the pain . . . they had to cut and sew people like garments!"

2007-08-30

Oh Please No

Oh my.

Plenty of thoughts come after seeing 'the horror, the horror'.

For instance:

- I hope he simply lost a bet. A massive, massive bet.
- I'm really quite glad I missed Celebration IV.
- Trekkies may go to conventions at which they dress funny, but I've never seen one cross-dress-funny.
- Add this to the list from this old post.

2007-08-21

Redshirts: Hope Kirk Scores

On the DITL Forums, the following link appeared.

Analytics According to Captain Kirk

I can't vouch for the numbers, but the whole thing is hysterical if true.

Notable quotes:

"It was found that red-shirted crewmembers tended to die in groups."

"When Captain Kirk meets an alien woman and "makes contact" the survival rate of the red-shirted crewmen increases by 84%."


Classic!

2007-08-07

Delta Flyer II Acceleration

In "Drive"[VOY7], the new Delta Flyer is taking part in a race, and unbeknownst to the crew it's rigged to explode at the finish line, with the explosion feared capable of wiping out anything within a million kilometers.

The vessel comes to a dead stop at a stated distance of "less than a million kilometers" from the finish line, where Voyager and other vessels are gathered within a handful of kilometers. "Less than a minute" from the detonation, those aboard the Flyer realize what's going on and Paris sets a course for a nearby small nebula, hoping it will contain the blast to some extent. He books it and arrives just in time to dump the rigged warp core and get far enough away to survive.

Shortly after the winner crosses the finish line, Voyager is rocked by the explosion. Tuvok reports that it was the shockwave from an antimatter explosion, "approximately 1.2 million kilometers from here".

Now, besides the fact that it was clearly one helluva bang, this example also gives us the opportunity to compare two distances from a known stationary point. Voyager, after all, was right at the finish line. If the Delta Flyer was stopped relative to the finish line less than one million kilometers away, and then was approximately 1.2 million kilometers away circa the time of the blast, then obviously it must've travelled about 200,000 kilometers, assuming a straight line away from the finish line. (That assumption is actually not supported by the episode, so the true distance should be further, but whatever.)

And, of course, that's 200,000 kilometers in "less than a minute".

To travel 200,000 kilometers in one full minute would require a velocity of 3,333.333 kilometers per second. From zero, then, the Delta Flyer would've had to have reached a final speed of 6,666.666 kilometers per second.

To do that in 60 seconds would require an acceleration of 111.111 kilometers per second per second, or 111,111m/s^2.

That's 11,330.2g, or over 3 times the Earth-to-Jupiter performance of the Enterprise in TMP, and over 18 times the maximum estimated value for an ISD (from a preliminary (and sadly incomplete) analysis of the highest acceleration known in Star Wars).

Top Gear, eat your heart out.

2007-06-02

First Uncontact

On this Tech Archive page about Pathways, I poked fun at the notion of undiscovered bumpy-headed quasi-alien primitive tribes being found in 2344 Central America.

While that's still rather goofy, there is actually some precedent for awfully-late discoveries of primitive tribes in the vast jungles of South America, which was a surprise to me. Here, for instance, is a story on the recent first contact with the Metyktire tribe, previously living in seclusion on a large native American reservation in the Amazon. Even the main tribe of the reservation had enjoyed no contact with the tribe in a long while.

Most fascinating is this note:

Indians were pushed deeper into the jungle by settlers and it is relatively uncommon for the Indian Bureau to come across previously uncontacted native groups. The bureau said that it has learned from other Indians of a few uncontacted tribes in the western Amazon state, where the region's jungle is thickest.

Moura said anthropologists no longer attempt to contact those groups, but instead demarcate the land and wait for them to make contact.


So maybe there's a smidgen of plausibility in the idea after all, were it not for the fact that the Trek writers put Chakotay's find in the much smaller Central American jungles.

2007-05-29

Happy (Belated) 30th, Star Wars

It was a busy weekend, but at last I'm able to make the note.

Here's to 30 more.

2007-05-13

Fact and Consensus: Argumentum ad Populum

The notion of consensus has been appearing a fair bit recently in attempts to prove things or persuade people. As an example, global warming advocates like Al Gore have been claiming consensus among climate scientists that current Earth climate change is human-caused and destructive, hence requiring immediate action.

I've been quite familiar with that type of argument form for some time. Opponents of mine have frequently claimed "everyone believes X" when I'm saying something contrary to X. "Everyone" in that case, of course, refers to the small active population of web boards such as SDN.

It's a neat trick, really, since when stated to an uninformed audience such a thing can sound convincing.

It is obvious that the SDN treatment of dissent is no coincidence, when viewed in that light. Dissenting opinions are shuffled off into private forums, invisible to non-members. Dissenters themselves have been banned, spammed, harrassed, and even threatened. The very climate of well-poisoning vitriol and personal attacks also serves to keep potential dissenters away. And opposition elsewhere on the internet is sought out and attacked via board invasions, wiki-wars, 'sock puppets', and even occasional legal threats. Interested parties even moderate other boards on similar topics, with members of both holding the party line elsewhere. And let's not forget, of course, that even SW authors are attacked and maligned across the internet if they fail to subscribe to SDN views.

And this, so we're told, is consensus of opinion.

I think not. Even if one thinks consensus is important, one does not build it by such action. Ancient kings might've built a consensus that divine right existed, but they did so by slaughtering those who disagreed. That's not consensus at all, except in an ironic sense.

But even if we grant the claim of consensus, let's not kid ourselves that consensus is a determinant in matters of fact.

Truth is not determined by the number of adherents. That includes the collective opinion of a consensus. If everyone on Earth believed that 1+1=3, there would be consensus. However, the consensus opinion would be wrong.

Consensus is what is sought when there is ignorance. In jurisprudence, we could not know the facts with certainty, so consensus of peers was employed. Creating the appearance of consensus is also useful for swinging uninformed public opinion, which is why spin doctors try to claim that everyone believes such-and-such.

This, of course, is nothing new. Hence the fallacy of argumentum ad populam, or the appeal to the belief of the masses.

(Of course, one might argue that for this to be labelled a fallacy, it has been recognized as such by a group of logicians and thinkers through time, and as such could be wrong since that determination has been made by consensus. However, in doing so, one acknowledges that it's a fallacy anyway.)

Most of the above is not new to my readers, but the following is. A very nice and much more interesting take on the matter, the following link refers to a Parliament of Clocks. Much as a stopped clock is falsely said to be right twice a day when in reality it's just lucky, so too is a Parliament of Clocks misunderstood by laypeople:

http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/004879.html

(Incidentally, it's worth noting something tangentially relevant here. One SDN member quotes a statement of mine wherein I note that one does not determine fact by use of persuasive essays, but instead by reason. This quotation of me is apparently used to suggest that I'm a silly person, which is of course true. However, it's not true because I made that statement.

Persuasion occurs via many channels, and many forms of appeal. Appeals to authority, mass belief, emotion, and all manner of other things are valid when one seeks only to persuade. However, matters of fact are not determined with those. Reason is the only arbiter of fact. Write as many persuasive essays as you like, turn as many ears to your message as you can, but don't think for an instant that having people agree on that basis means that your position is factually accurate.)

2007-05-03

Détente, Of Sorts

A continuation of the last post . . . Wayne's posted something interesting on SD.Net:

"After yesterday's fun and games, I was all set to update the Darkstar Database, complete with a whole new chapter. I made space on my desktop, moving the G2K bridge damage textures for "The Last Bastion" part 5, the voice overs, and other things off to the side, so I could amass all the info I needed for the update. But then I began thinking. (Shut it, Dalton.) Darkstar is unruffled by these updates [ ... snip bluster ... ]
So last night, I didn't update the Darkstar Database. Today, after thinking about it for quite a while, I erased it. I did a quick purge of any mention of Darkstar on my website. [...] I'll let "The Last Bastion" [parody video] stand as my ultimate criticism against this idiot."


I've often said that their incessant aggressive bluster is used to cover up other things (weakness in arguments and so on). And so I generally just read past the bluster.

In this case, that leads me to a notion for which I have no direct evidence, but would like to believe. It's possible that after seeing my umpteenth railing against their poisoning the well of discourse . . . the umpteenth description of how I have little interest in and don't want to be involved in their ad hominem battles but will clearly go to the mat when needed . . . he saw through the fog of the other side's spin and realized that maybe what I was saying was true.

In other words, he's declared victory but still taken a step I outlined in my last post for détente.

I can live with the former to get the latter. Thus I shall also begin removing references to Poe from ST-v-SW.Net. And incidentally, the same old offer naturally remains open for Wong as well.

2007-05-01

A Monkey Wrench in the Spin Machine

Recently, an old Vs. foe and I were on the verge of what could've been a détente. There was even talk on a board which I frequent and he occasions regarding an absurd little alliance regarding my doing voice-work in a video of his featuring a character which Woe intended to have as a parody of me.

But after entertaining the notion for quite some time, I finally decided to let the idea quietly die. If there was to be a true détente I would've wanted rapid mutual disarmament. Not just an easing of tension, in other words, but a sort of mutually-executed establishment of a DMZ . . . a moratorium on mentioning one another on sites and so on, similar to what I once offered to Wong. (This would primarily serve my goal of trying to get various personal and/or slanderous material about me off their websites peacefully, but would also serve their goal of having their embarrassingly ill-considered claims and behaviors de-publicized on mine.)

But of course, peaceful coexistence is achieved in steps, just as the modern de-evolution of polite dialog (both in regards to the Vs. Debate and, sadly, elsewhere in American discourse) occurred in steps. By letting the idea die instead of pushing the olive branch down his throat, I hoped such a step would exist.

As I've noted elsewhere, this notion of making peace with those who have behaved so poorly toward myself and others is undoubtedly some foolishly optimistic notion, probably brain sludge lodged in my neurons after watching too much Trek. I am, of course, well aware that in some cases peace simply cannot be made, especially when one or both sides are too intransigent and too unreasonable.

This brings us to the main reason for letting the idea die . . . see, though he'd been behaving a bit better of late, toning down his rhetoric, the fact remained that Wayne was an individual whose philosophy and ethics I found utterly repugnant. He's a militant liberal, I am neither . . . he tries to get attention by being shocking and disgusting, whereas I have no such needs . . . and of course there's the pattern of he and SD.Net regarding the use of illogic, harassment tactics, and generally nefarious behavior against adversaries.

But like I said, he seemed to be toning down in that regard, so I decided to let the one small step happen.

But then the day came when I saw that Wayne had picked a new fight, even calling the new target racist for making fun of militant Islamic jihadists and a homophobe for using terms that might suggest an accusation of homosexuality on the part of adversaries.

While I recall no particular instance of a racist statement on Poe's part, the irony of his calling someone a homophobe was simply too great to ignore. Many of SD.Net's opponents have been accused of sucking on my naughtybits, and Poe himself has implied homosexuality on my part as an attempted insult on multiple occasions.

The fight had begun with the new chap when Poe tried to make fun of another YouTube vid-maker, a move which backfired for a bit since Poe had made use of the guy's video in his own without permission. The other fellow took it through official channels, resulting in yet another banning of Poe from one of his favorite places.

Thus began the war, and both sides were buttholes. The entertaining thing was that Poe's opponent employed the same sort of tactics that Woe and company have made such extensive use of at SD.Net . . . posting of personal info such as Wayne's address and a Google map satellite view of his residence, legal threats, and so on, basically spamming him with these maneuvers with a quickness. Wayne and the gang tried to respond in kind, but mostly they just bitched because all their good material was already taken.

Thus a leading member of the most poorly-behaved coterie in the Vs. Debate found himself rapidly outmaneuvered by the classic arch-nemesis of a butthole . . . that, of course, being a bigger butthole.

I could claim I was not amused, but then you'd be able to see my inability to keep a straight face even via this text.

But more importantly, it told me that Wayne had not changed a bit.

So, I decided to play a bit of tit for tat. You see, it was back in the day after I mentioned a dangerous psycho of my indirect acquaintance who had designs against me that Wayne and company put together a webpage with various personal information about me, advertising it as a one-stop shop for dirt should anyone wish to use it. Given the personal danger represented by the psycho in question and their attempts to help him, I withdrew from the debate for awhile in disgust, until the threat was neutralized.

(Of course nowadays they don't wait for someone to suggest a clear and present danger in their life for them to capitalize on . . . they trade Google map satellite views and publicly ponder approach vectors, suggesting a danger directly.)

Since Wayne and company had been and continue to be so helpful in regards to those who might wish to do or threaten ill, I felt it only appropriate to give Wayne's arch-nemesis a bit of history on who he was dealing with, as his gang and Wayne's SD.Net gang started tangling.

Thus, while condemning his tactics, I couldn't help but applaud the arch-nemesis on his overall campaign, and provide a few pointers on dealing with Wayne Poe and friends. I also provided some background info (though nothing like what the arch-nemesis had already done), and a picture as well. After all, given Wayne's old violent fantasies regarding me and the habit of his fellows to try to harass me it's always seemed apropos to maintain my own little sort of Homeland Security, in case there's chatter regarding what they might want to call a "personal encounter".

I hardly consider this inappropriate. While I've always considered the danger from such nuts minimal, hate-filled leftist moonbats like the SD.Net crowd do sometimes get so consumed by their illogic that they just snap. While I would be an unlikely target, logically speaking, the fact is that snapping moonbats aren't exactly predictable.

The world's getting uglier, after all, especially (and paradoxically) among the hate-filled leftist moonbats that are supposed to be for everyone to get along peacefully. Hell, the guys who outed Al Gore's mansion-sized carbon footprint got plenty of hate mail and death threats, and of course there's the anti-war nut who waved a gun in the face of a GOP officer in Nevada recently.

Like I said, American discourse as a whole is in decline.

But anyway, I also mentioned a few details about the group as a whole based on information that was known at the time, such as the guilty verdict for an SD.Net member charged with murder and another incarcerated for inappropriate behavior with a very minor minor.

And now that advisory e-mail to the arch-nemesis is public, which is fine. It's nothing I haven't said here or to them directly before.

But that part about other members there is new, and has really pissed them off. Wong's even tried to defend it with his usual inaccuracies, comparing their whole userlist to a town and determining that the crime rate of SD.Net is A-Okay, ignoring the fact that their genuinely active posters (of which both mentioned persons were a part) are a small percentage of the whole list.

But I digress.

Since the news came out, and since initially making mention of it to the arch-nemesis of Wayne, I have in fact kept up with the thread regarding the fellow said to be guilty of murder. I'd also mentioned that once before when talking about SD.Net, though that was just when it was an untried charge. Though the information in the support thread is all filtered through the SD.Net spin machine, there does appear to be no direct evidence linking that guy with the murder, or even the murder weapon, suggesting the possibility of his innocence. I almost decided to believe he was innocent, too, and had a little apology post regarding my past comment on the charge started here (more of that détente stuff). But, given the spin machine's usual inaccuracies, I decided to refrain from further comment, except here to say that I don't know for sure whether SD.Net had a murderer in its ranks or not. However, given the ridiculous fact of death threats over a frickin' sci-fi debate, I wouldn't necessarily put it past some of the members there out of hand.

That's as close to an apology as I'll come at this time, pending the fellow's appeal. If he's innocent of the crime then I wish him the best of luck.

However, I can make no apology to Wayne. While I might've upset proverbial karma a bit by taking my own paltry action, the fact remains that the quagmire he's now in was easily avoidable, and I can't help but feel it karmically perfect that Wayne's own vitriolic tactics would be employed against him so expertly by his arch-nemesis.

Ideally this would end up being a lesson on interpersonal ethics and etiquette, and how poisoning the well of discourse is a fallacy not only against the target but the speaker too, but I rather doubt they'll take it that way. Wayne's YouTube account has been reinstated, and the battle seems to be moving more in SD.Net's favor once they recovered from the shock and mobilized en masse.

Thus they'll probably record this in their annals as a great victory if it turns out that way, instead of the sad affair for all involved that it truly is.

Oh yeah, and they'll bitch and moan about me a lot. But then what else is new?

2007-04-22

"Title This" Competition

According to Trek Today, Rick Berman plans to write a tell-all book about his experiences with Star Trek.

What do you think the best title or tagline for such a book would be?

Here are some possible contenders:

"It Wasn't My Fault!: Reflections on the Decline of Trek"
"Susan Suckett's Got Nothin' On Brannon Braga"
"Still Bitter: How DS9 Succeeded When I Wasn't Looking"
"Mediocrity As High Art: The 20-Year Rewards of Taking No Risks"
"Fulfilling Your Vendettas: The Writing of "These Are The Voyages...""

Feel free to add your own.

Brain Fart: Possible Temporal Irony

One particular item from ENT3 has confused people. The Xindi's Guardians, despite their monkeying-about with the timeline, seemed to provide none of the components for the Xindi weapons, which were largely engineered by Degra. However, it's suggested that some of the components for the prototype that struck Florida were from the future, as deduced via quantum dating.

While it's possible that the early prototypes were supported by Sphere Builder components (they were, after all, able to leave a guy as a guinea pig in "Harbinger", not to mention building the spheres, so it isn't like they couldn't drop stuff off), there is another possibility.

As seen in "Little Green Men"[DS9], kemacite has temporal properties when exposed to high energy, and is also a material highly regulated by the Federation. It's generally assumed, though not proved, that this material is the same as kemocite.

However, if it were, it could imply that the Xindi prototype weapon actually had no components provided by Sphere Builders, but that the kemocite in the weapon just happened to impart a temporal signature on some of the components. These components would thus be made to appear to be from the future.

Thus, the cornerstone of Archer's argument that he needed to go into the Expanse would've been based on coincidence, not fact.

(Also, given that it was Future Guy who tried to give him the heads up, one is left to ponder the possible manipulation.)

2007-04-16

"More Input!"

This is largely off-topic, but it's interesting as hell.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUwS1uAdUcI&mode=related&search=

Perhaps the most interesting bit comes at the end, with the push for greater and greater access to information. As computer power improves, greater access to this sort of information in readily-usable formats could change the face of politics and society.

Of course, at the same time, this will undoubtedly contribute to ever more information overload. Americans are largely becoming more insular with their knowledge at the same time as more and more information is readily available. Studies show that more people are ignorant of more basic facts now than ever before, despite the possibilities of the internet.

And indeed, with the fracturing of the media as big media contends with smaller, more focused outlets, I can't help but wonder how all of this is going to pan out.

Are we going to keep on ignoring the facts until our ignorance kicks our ass? Are those in the know going to simply become so fractured because they talk about entirely different things that homogenous societies become a pipe dream? Is that why we already have such divisiveness and close races? Will the 'series of tubes' known as the internet simply become kaleidoscopes for porn?

Oh wait . . . for many the last one is already true.

2007-04-15

Tactical Tipping Point: Now It's a Strategic War

With the latest update, a comparison page on weapons ranges, it finally dawned on me that I'm pretty much near the end of the tactical side of the debate (defined for our purposes as pondering ship-to-ship combat), 'cause I've got pages on almost everything I need to have pages on. Sure, there's lots to do yet, but the following facts have been fairly well established:

1. ST weapon range and targeting just embarrasses SW weapon range and targeting.

2. ST firepower readily trumps SW firepower . . . compare "Rise"[VOY] to the small-town-killing shots of Star Wars (the biggest and best they've ever mustered).

3. ST vessels embarrass SW vessels in regards to maneuverability, though expect some changes in this regard . . . ST ships are grand, but SW ships have been underestimated here due to a deceleration example I recently found. But still, ST ships have a 10-to-1 advantage on acceleration at least, and overall maneuverability is incredibly superior.

4. I still need to run numbers and do some analysis on shields (been meaning to do that for, oh, what, six years now?), but assuming anything near parity between effective firepower and shield strength would bring things strongly in Trek's favor. Even assuming vastly greater comparative shielding for SW (i.e. that their shields would last for days in a firefight within their own universe), it still doesn't work well for them.

And this, of course, is the case even using my biased-toward-SW methods.

In effect, then, an ISD can't hope to match even a smallish Federation starship in individual sublight combat. The Federation ship would run circles around the ISD, pummelling it endlessly without any threat of return fire.

What this means for me is that, while I still hope to complete the tactical pages, the simple fact is that as far as ST-v-SW.Net is concerned, the tactical side of the debate is largely over.

I've generally avoided drawing conclusions of that type on the site, instead leaving the reader to draw his or her own . . . and besides which, I prefer to leave plenty of room for new data.

But I can't help but acknowledge that tactically speaking, the tipping point has been reached.

The main question of the debate is now strategic.

But this, too, must be clarified. After all, we know the Empire has around 25,000 vessels of ISD equivalence, going by the guns of the Death Star and some math. In other words, they could have a million ships, but by firepower they only add up to about 25,000 ISDs.

The Federation has something like 10,000 ships. Even if we assume that only 2,500 of these are war-worthy, that's 'only' 10-to-1 odds. In direct fleet-to-fleet action, that wouldn't be impossible at all given the tactical shortcomings of the Empire's best.

The Empire would have two basic choices.

The first comes in two flavors.

The first flavor would be to be brutal, prosecuting a war of terror against the Federation in an effort to win quickly by breaking their will to fight. In other words, trying to race to the nearest large planet or two and destroy all life before the Federation has a chance to gather significant forces, hoping the Federation will surrender in the midst of the surprise. For this, the Empire need only come through the usual plot-device wormhole all at once in overwhelming numbers, and preferably with a Death Star.

The second flavor involves a somewhat slower campaign if the Federation fails to immediately capitulate. This flavor relies on large-scale maneuver and large-scale tactics . . . force concentration and so on. It requires that the Empire destroy all life on several worlds without spreading itself too thin. For this, hyperspace travel would preferably need to be many times faster than warp drive, as opposed to near-equal as it now appears (though this should be qualified, since high warp would be required for long durations for the Federation ships). This option requires many more vessels total.

The only other choice is for the Emperor to truly changing the face of the Empire so that shipbuilding becomes the sole focus, making it a war of economic attrition. This is a long-term, protracted campaign, wherein the Empire is subject to extraordinarily losses but tries to overwhelm the Federation with sheer numbers over time, burying the Federation in broken Imperial hulls. This choice involves total war from the Empire, and probably total war from the Federation in order to win. Heaven help the Empire if the Federation's allies assist, but heaven help the Federation if its enemies attacked.

In short, the first choice (in either flavor) comes down to something akin to Graham Kennedy's "Portal". The last choice would put the Federation in the sort of long-duration war it's never seen.

But in any case, at least ST-v-SW.Net has some vague conclusions now.

2007-04-08

"A New Sith" and Other Thoughts

Agree or disagree with this, but it's refreshing to see some real and thoughtful speculation on Star Wars.

It's interesting, really. Lucas has called Star Wars fans independent-thinking people, which is true to a point. But I think the EU, which tries so hard to answer all of the questions, curtails that. Sure, they recently cancelled the planned novel on Darth Plagueis on the grounds that "the mystery was worth keeping", but really . . . why cancel it? There's very little mystery that the EU hasn't cast aside.

Thanks to the EU, we just about know everything. At this point, when there's an EU story covering almost every face and droid and building seen in the films, opportunities for relevant independent speculation largely dry up. Hardcore fans who don't accept the EU get their ideas attacked by EU Defense Forces and whatnot. This is especially true if the idea contradicts the EU, though that isn't an absolute necessity given the attitudes of some EU-philes.

For this guy to have taken an idea, expanded it into such a large bit of speculation, and posted it is downright bold in such a climate.

Perusing the StarWars.com forums, you'll find that, largely, the speculation is about the next answer from the EU . . . or the speculation is about EU minutiae and directed as a question to the EU VIPs. In a way that's quite nice, but in another way it might be considered stifling, at least in this context.

The issue hits me along what we in the US call "red-state/blue-state" lines. That description is technically inaccurate . . . a look at this page breaks it down by counties. As you can see by the blue peaks in the 3D map, as a rule those who dwell in large cities tend to vote more to the left. And as a rule, the left in this country tends to be more of a big-government sort of party.

In the rural areas, government is limited in its reach. Without the needs or budget of cities, the level of what we might call "government impression" and regulation in one's daily life has historically been fairly low, contributing to the image of self-reliant rural types. But in cities, the level of government impression has historically been very much higher. Worse, as the service-oriented sector of the economy has grown, the fundamental disconnect with the means of production (i.e. "food comes from McDonald's like magic! Shutting down those cruel cattle ranches won't hurt!") seen among some has increased. We thus get more people viewing the government as the necessary caretakers of the population without knowing how that works at all, an image very much different than the self-reliant "show-me" one.

This simpification takes us back to the EU. Star Wars fans may be independent thinkers, but insofar as speculation goes Lucas Licensing is, for many fans, their necessary caretaker. Speculation, like the services of government, is more visible and official, and more regulated too. And dare I say, it may help foster a certain disconnect with the methods of logical speculation.

Star Trek doesn't have an EU of that sort, though Pocket Books and other licensees are wanting to create that sort of thing. Certainly there wasn't much of a Trek EU during the first Trek interregnum (circa 1969-1987). Indeed, there was a Trek magazine in that period that often featured extensive speculation on TOS and the characters. It's really quite amusing to read now.

Some of this speculation was treated as fact by other fans, while others didn't agree. There weren't flames about it and no indication that camps formed and considered other camps idiots . . . though of course this was prior to the social de-evolution of the internet.

In short, there was, then, a sort of liberty of speculation and spirit of cooperation that modern Star Wars fandom doesn't have.

I'm not sure which is better insofar as franchise longevity is concerned. But, given that welfare often begets welfare, I'm hazarding a prediction here that Star Wars will be the long-term winner inasmuch as keeping a fanbase. But the trick is, the fanbase has to avoid becoming so fractured and negative that Star Wars ends up going the way of Trek.

This probably won't happen, despite certain elements in SW fandom doing their best to bring it about. Star Wars, unlike Star Trek, has been scarce enough in common media like TV that the new live-action show, if ever actually made, will have people flock to it, overwhelming the nay-sayers.

It'll be interesting to see, though, if the show fans transition into EU fans, and if Licensing can have products that integrate the two well enough that folks aren't overwhelmed with the detail.

Then they'll just have to manage the newbie speculation . . .

2007-03-25

2007-02-09

The Star Destroyer class Star Battlecruiser

This has to be the most hilarious thing I've seen this week.

On Wookieepedia and Wikipedia articles, as we are aware, Saxtonites have been struggling to get their nomenclature accepted in implying that a Star Destroyer is, in fact, properly classed as a destroyer.

Now, in one of the old Marvel comics, a General Tagge had several of what are referred to as both "Star Destroyer class" vessels and "battlecruisers."

Apparently, the fact that they were drawn with a slightly different looking bridge tower with four knobs instead of two globes mean these must be roughly twice the size, and should be Star Destroyer class Star Battlecruisers.

I bet you can't say it aloud without laughing.

2007-02-06

Voyager Plot Device Found in Earth's Jungles

Watch this.

You know, folks like you and I are all a-twitter about outer space, but there's still so much on Earth that's so very interesting, astonishing, and just plain extraordinary.

Not to mention completely frickin' nasty.

2007-01-29

Wow . . . Just Wow -- Dooku's Landing

This is one of the better examples of StarDestroyer.Net absurdity.

In a thread on SDN, a poster recently sought assistance in his efforts to spread the rabid SDN line on another board. There, he encountered resistance from someone familiar with SDN and ST-v-SW.Net who could see through the usual SDN BS. Hence the thread title, "Need help with Darkstar's follower!"

So naturally, they've all piled on to try to provide counterarguments and rebuttals . . . even our old friend Ossus.

The attack is occurring at a forum not conducive to debating, so the usual invasion has not occurred. Instead, the SDN intelligentsia is posting jewels to the original poster like this:

in AOTC, we see precisely what scooter denies--Coruscant having two suns. When Dooku is landing on Coruscant after Geonosis, the camera pans across the cityscape following him in. We see a bright glow in the sky at the beginning of the panorama and another at the end.


Here is a quick-and-dirty low-quality 200k 3ivx video of Dooku's landing. Please, someone explain to me how a second sun is supposed to exist based on that shot?

(C'mon, fellas, at least pretend you have a ticket for the clue train, even if you invariably refuse to board.)

2007-01-15

Two-Legged Walker Designation

I received some site feedback back in July that was interesting. (Sorry to the guy who wrote it ... I started writing this that day but got distracted.)

For reasons I could never quite understand, my opponents have always gone apeshit over a tiny issue. In The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, we see some two-legged walkers running around in addition to the big four-legged AT-ATs. We're never told the name of these. In the RoTJ novelisation, they are referred to as "war wagons", "armored vehicles", and "war-machines" . . . in the script, they are "giant", "mighty machines" . . . none of which sound anything like an official designation. And of course, the term "chicken walker" that some have employed was also out-of-bounds.

At some point way back when someone got the bright idea to use a knock-off of the "AT-AT" designation, and so in the EU these two-legged walkers were known as AT-STs. Whereas AT-AT had stood for "All Terrain Armored Transport" per the TESB novel, AT-ST was given the meaning "All Terrain Scout Transport" by EU sources.

But since EU sources aren't canon and my site is based on the canon, the most I could do is what I did: I used the AT-ST term for ease of reference (much as I use Starfleet ship class names never spoken on screen but widely accepted), while accepting none of the non-canon info about the vehicle ... including the phrase "All Terrain Scout Transport".

And as I'd said, "In spite of the non-canon denigration of the vehicles, AT-STs are evidently the premiere small combat vehicle of the Empire, not reconnaissance vehicles or transports (how does one do much transporting in a two-seater?). We have witnessed their frontline combat use at Hoth alongside the larger AT-ATs, and we see them serve as the primary fighting vehicle in the thick forests of the Endor moon. In the RoTJ novelisation, they are referred to as "war wagons", "armored vehicles", and "war-machines" . . . in the script, they are "giant", "mighty machines" . . . hardly terms befitting a mere scout. Indeed, the only scout/recon activity we see is performed on the speeder bikes which suit the role best, and which are piloted by people identified as scouts."

However, since I have a page detailing the weak armor and structure of the AT-ST (or whatever its proper designation in the canon universe), it became very important to my opponents to make the vehicle out to be a 'mere' scout, intentionally fitted with a pitiful papier mâchè hull.

It's silly, but then so are they.

However, I'm told that in the radio play of Return of the Jedi, they are indeed called "scout walkers". Of course, this is the same RotJ radio play that was made about a decade after the film and used EU characters and terminology, so I'm hardly that concerned.

But, I was inspired by the guy to take a closer look at real scout vehicles.

After all, it is true that scouting vehicles have taken many forms, historically. The usual concept of a scouting person is of a quick fellow who is not bogged down by too much equipment, capable of rapid movement and at least a little stealth. Wars of the 20th Century have seen a similar design philosophy behind scouting vehicles. One of the more popular American scouting vehicles of WW2 was the Harley-Davidson WLA, a motorcycle which served with distinction. (I'm guessing they muffled the hell out of it, 'cause these days you can hear a Harley coming from miles away.)

There were also larger vehicles that served in the role of scout, however. A wide variety of armored cars have been used in the role. These heavier scouts are generally multi-role vehicles, capable of performing various duties like cargo transport, armored personnel carrier, command car, ambulance, and so on, sometimes dependent on modifications.

The American M3 scout car resembled the well-known "half-track" vehicles of the era (which were based on the M3 chassis), but with four wheels instead of tank-like treads in the rear. Capable of carrying the driver plus seven occupants, they had 6-13mm of armor depending on location on the vehicle, giving it armor numerically equivalent to the British Mk I heavy tank of WW1. The vehicles saw extensive multi-role use. The M3 was equipped with a .50 cal machine gun and two .30 cal machine guns on rail mounts. During 1943 they were largely replaced by other vehicle types, including the six-wheel M20.

The M20, known as the Armored Utility Car or the Scout Car, was based on the M8 tank destroyer. The turret removed and an open-top rear section added, the vehicles were lightly armed with a .50 cal machine gun but fast, and featured up to 19mm of armor in the front. For armor comparison, note that the basic Sherman tanks of WW2 featured some 50mm of armor on the best-protected upper-front area, achieved in part via armor sloping. The M20s were probably the heaviest scouts of the war, and the crew of up to four were even provided a bazooka for anti-armor use. The additional capacity of the open-top rear section allowed additional cargo or transport ability.

The British Dingo was designed as and often used as a scout. Officially known as the Daimler Scout Car, the Dingo was a 2-seater with 30mm of forward armor protection. They generally carried a light machine gun or, in some theaters, an anti-tank rifle capable of penetrating up to 20mm of armor plate at about 100 yards.

Also of interest is the T-60 "scout tank". Featuring 7-20mm of armor protection and a 20mm armor-piercing main gun with at least one additional light machine gun, the scout tank was a far cry from the Harley-Davidson WLA. Similar to the scout tank were the tankettes . . . small one or two man tanks, often without a rotating turret, designed for infantry support or reconnaissance. These were usually armed with either multiple machine guns or, more rarely, a 20mm cannon or RPG. Most tankettes were somewhat lightly armored, with the Japanese tankettes the best protected with 12mm of forward armor.

For more modern scout car examples, the French VBL is a small vehicle of a jeep- or Humvee-like design, but which was designed as a light armored vehicle with a recon variant. The vehicle has up to 11.5 mm of armor protection. Also in existence is the RG-32 Scout, an unarmed SUV-looking vehicle designed to be survivable against small arms and small mines.

Jeeps and Humvees have also been widely employed in the scout/recon role over the years. Though generally lacking the armor protection of armored cars, their speed and nimble maneuvering make them very good in the scouting role.

On the flipside, we have the British CVR(t) vehicles . . . combat/ recon vehicles, either tracked (t) or wheeled (w) (though the latter never came to much fruition). One such vehicle is the Scimitar, an "armoured reconnaissance vehicle" that is basically a light tank like the T-60 (and often classed as such), featuring a 30mm main cannon capable of firing explosive and armor-piercing rounds at up to 90 rounds per minute (limited by the 3-round clips employed).

From this little survey of scouting vehicles, we can see two or three main families:

1. The "light scout" . . . including the Harley, jeep, and Humvee:
Light, nimble, and quick, these vehicles are designed for rapid travel over whatever terrain is needed. Like human scouts they are not intended for combat or any significant contact with the enemy, but instead to quickly gather information and return safely and with haste. These generally feature little more than the defensive small arms of the crew, and the vehicles are generally just multi-role or logistical vehicles used in the scouting role. As such they have limited armor protection.

2. The "heavy scout" . . . including the Dingo, VBL, RG-32, etc.:
Not quite so nimble or quick as the light scouts, these vehicles are designed with the idea of briefly bumping into small pockets of enemy personnel in mind. Some are armed with light defensive weapons and some are not, but all offer some form of armor for crew protection in forward battlefield or patrol conditions. These vehicles are purpose-built scouts, though other uses may occur.

Included in our informal "heavy scout" designation would be vehicles like the M20 or M3, large vehicles of significant armor protection which featured one or more large machine guns.

These latter vehicles blur the lines between scouts and "battle taxi" armored personnel carriers like the M113, especially given their transport capacity. The M3 and M20 were both used in the APC role. All scouts, like most or all APCs, were not intended for combat against other armored vehicles. Their armament was anti-personnel in nature.

Vehicles intended for combat against other vehicles or positions as well-fortified as combat vehicles are armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) or, if troops are also carried, infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). Indeed, M3 variants were AFVs, and the M20 Scout Car was simply an AFV with downgraded weaponry.

The T-60 scout tank was definitely an armored fighting vehicle, despite the scout designation. So too is the British Scimitar. These "fighting scouts" make up their own family of sorts. Of course these families are very informal designations, though useful for our purposes . . . and indeed even formalized military classifications feature a great deal of overlap.

Naturally none of these are the heaviest combat vehicles by any means, nor is that the plan. The variations of military vehicles from Main Battle Tank to truck are based on selecting compromises between speed, weight, cargo capacity, armor protection, air transport ability, terrain navigation, and a hundred other things.

Now, let's stop and take a moment to process this information in the context of our subject.

The Imperial military primarily uses walkers for ground warfare. Like tanks and other modern ground vehicles, walkers must observe some mass limits in order to traverse the ground. And, as seen in the forests of Endor, size limitations also come into play . . . though AT-ATs were used, much of the forest could not have been traversed by them without the blasting of pathways.

The AT-ATs serve in the role of main battle tank, with virtually impenetrable armor and the heaviest weapons capable of striking the hardest ground or mobile targets. However, they also have APC capability in the main body, making them a fusion of tank and APC not usually considered workable in modern Earth warfare . . . infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) don't usually pack the punch of a main battle tank.

The AT-ST is another story altogether.

We could try to pigeonhole the vehicle into any number of classifications.

Let's consider some options, like Main Battle Tank (MBT), Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), Armored Personnel Carrier, and the light, heavy, and fighting scout groups we pondered earlier.

For instance, if the AT-ST had the guns and head of an AT-AT but simply lacked the cargo/infantry-carrying part of the body we could easily think of it as a proper main battle tank. However, it is a much smaller vehicle with smaller, and thus presumably less-powerful, guns.

Further, we've seen that the AT-STs appeared on Hoth only after the AT-ATs had destroyed the majority of heavy weapons emplacements. If this was intentional, then it suggests that vehicles were considered less survivable than the AT-ATs. This could put them anywhere from light tanks on down the line.

We know the AT-ST does not have significant transportation capability, though, implying that they cannot be APCs. And we know they can't be light scouts . . . that's where speeder bikes, AT-RTs, STAPs, and similar vehicles come in. Heavy scouts might be used for fire support of a squad much as the AT-STs were used in RotJ, but as a rule would not be mainline combat vehicles with armor-piercing capabilities, unless it was a heavy scout heavily modded. If anything, what we have in the AT-ST is something like the Scimitar . . . a light tank with a recon role . . . or something akin to a T-60 scout tank or the Japanese tankette.

Indeed, given their battlefield use on Hoth, abilities of armor penetration, and infantry support use, I would argue that AT-ST would best be understood as an acronym for "All Terrain Scout Tank".

Which, coincidentally, happens to satisfy the radio play designation of "scout walker", in concert with the script and novelization statements regarding a giant, mighty war wagon.

2007-01-09

Regarding the Canon Challenge

Commenter GStone said something that I found interesting in the comments to the last thread, and (partially due to my ever-excessive verbosity, and partially for full "mea culpa" value) I decided to take my response and make an entry out of it:

"This whole situation feels anticlimactic"

Well, frankly I think that's my fault in large degree, and I've been thinking that way for awhile now.

If you think about it, there are any number of nonsense beliefs out there, and there simply comes a point where a rational person must ignore the loons in order to carry inquiry forward.

For example, there remains in the 21st Century a group and website (with rather active forum) for the Flat Earth Society.

While random folks might occasionally strafe the whackaloons who still claim a flat Earth, I rather doubt that anyone dedicates a serious percentage of his site-writing-time to debunking flat-Earth claims. That is to say, I rather doubt that there's a ShapeWars.Com or whatever.

But, to extend the analogy, this site is based on examinations of Earth's roundness and the effect this has on, say, naval force projection ability of two different nations.

Of course, the question of naval force projection can hardly be decided until the shape of the Earth is known. And before my entry into the debate on naval force projection, a loud and nasty bloc of flat-Earthers had proclaimed themselves the authority on all things, flaming anyone who suggested that, for instance, Russia could successfully take the Aleutians because, after all, the two were on opposite sides of the world.

Of course, whereas the flat Earth question has been decided for hundreds (and, in some areas, thousands) of years, the analogous canon question has only really heated up in the past four years.

It's been like compressing the hundreds of years of debate on the matter a hundred-fold.

Sure, there might've been a time when otherwise-reasonable people could've been swayed by the flimsy logic of flat-Earthers. There was a time when the limited resources and limited knowledge of man made the issue debatable.

But since then, it isn't like people who understood the roundness of Earth wasted time (better spent pondering the round Earth and the many results of that roundness) by tearing down and/or mocking flat-Earth beliefs over and over and over again because some people just didn't get it, and because flat-Earthers continued to yell and holler.

I, however, did make that mistake. In effect, I gave their cockamamie claims too much implicit merit by bothering to answer them.

My mistake . . . one that I make quite consistently . . . was to believe that (a) the modern-day flat-Earthers could be swayed by logic and evidence, and more importantly that (b) someone needed to provide a contrary voice to flat-Earth lies. The sort of optimism of the first is a very hopeful line of thinking . . . dare I say, it's very Star Trek . . . but in the modern world it's usually very wrong. Sadly, most absurd beliefs only disappear as adherents die off.

And while it may be true that a contrary voice is needed, there simply comes a time when a belief system is so absurd you just laugh and move on.

It was in August, 2005 that the Star Wars canon question was finally decided, via Lucas in Starlog. There was certainly plenty of evidence of the round Earth before that, but Starlog '05 was the equivalent of a satellite picture of a spherical Earth.

But just as flat-Earthers live and breathe and expel their mental muck upon the internet even to this very day, so too will there probably always be militant EU Completists of the SDN variety.

The Chee quotes are like a movie from a shuttle in low Earth orbit circling the globe . . . yet another confirmation of what we already knew.

I like them on that basis, but more importantly I find them liberating. There are no modern objective statements by high-ranking folks left for them to hang on to, and even if someone who hasn't gotten the memo says something (or, more likely, if someone says something they think they can twist), the facts are now so brutally obvious to anyone who troubles themselves to look that I don't feel like I have to do anything anymore to oppose the lies they tell. They are, in the end, just talking to themselves.

Sure, I still have a morbid curiosity as to what pitiful claims the flat-Earthers will make next, and I may yet give their silly attempts to maintain their worldview too press by tearing them apart yet again (once, that is, they concoct a defense against Chee). This I'll do even knowing it's a mistake.

But whatever my faults, you're right that this is anticlimactic. The climax of the war came in 2005 when they were decisively routed by Starlog. This event isn't the climax . . . just another profound rout of the foes of Star Wars, its makers, and its canons.

But of course, there will be no honorable Appomattox here, despite my challenge of the last post. The SDN insurgency, if you'll forgive the phrasing, is bound to continue.

But, like flat-Earthers, they are now so marginalized that it cannot be of consequence.

2007-01-08

CanonWars Challenge

Given that there are some folks who read ST-v-SW.Net that don't read CanonWars.com, and given that the canon issue is still considered contentious in some circles, I figured I ought to point specifically to the . . . what, 20th? . . . final nail in the coffin of the staunch EU-centrist viewpoint of most pro-Wars/anti-Trek debaters.

Now, three major mouthpieces for Star Wars . . . Lucas himself and two vocal continuity experts in Licensing (Rostoni and Chee) . . . all state that there are separate continuities in Star Wars . . . one focused on Lucas's films and another focused on the films and the vast material of the EU.

Up until recently Chee had been the only hope for EU Completist militants, since he'd made comments in the past year or so that suggested he'd abandoned his old statements regarding two separate canons, instead favoring the idea that "one overall continuity" existed per 2004 comments and his response to Lucas's "two universes" from Starlog's August '05 issue and the related "parallel universe" comments he's made.

But in early December, Chee acknowledged that there are indeed two official continuities . . . a Lucas continuity of the films and the Licensing continuity of the EU and other materials in Chee's "Holocron" database. (Read more about it here and here.)

As such, the final noteworthy official whose statements were malleable enough to be misused by the foes of the canon has now come down squarely in the centrist, dual-canonism camp, originated here at ST-v-SW.Net and now housed at CanonWars.com.

In other words, the old canon battle is over. Of course it has been over for a long time, given Lucas's statements over the past few years, but there's really nowhere for the foes of the canon to turn anymore.

Right now their continued support of their opinion is sustained only by the inertia of the old obfuscations and lies upon which it was based. There is nothing objective for them to point to anymore.

With that in mind, I've offered a challenge to my opponents, most of which are more likely to read this blog than the one at CanonWars.

But whether they accept it or not, their concession is accepted.