Peculiar DNA Factoid

There are parts of the genetic code that are being called "ultraconserved regions" which, despite having no known purpose, have survived aeons and remain unchanged.

I'm pretty sure the DNA sequences will also fit together into funny shapes and, when completed, happen to contain extensive holographic imagery of this chick.


Separatist Boarding Ship vs. Kazon Torpedo

I am amused.

One of the crappier tech examples from Voyager is the so-called "Kazon Torpedo". It is a Seska special from the mind of the half-nuts Cardassian operative and Maquis impersonator. It is basically a specially-built Kazon shuttle with a reinforced front-end designed to poke right into Voyager's hull and allow a small boarding party to enter the ship. ("Maneuvers"[VOY2])

In certain respects the idea has some merit for a transporter-less space-going society. Boarding an enemy vessel requires some sort of manual entry, after all. Other Trek episodes have shown enemies docking with disabled ships by airlock, grabbing ships and working on cutting through the hull, and the old favorite of trying to come in via shuttlebay. Given those options, the wee rammer has, at least, a greater dramatic flair.

But there were several bad points in the idea's execution as shown in the episode:

1. The Kazon penetrator does not apparently aim for likely weak points like bay doors or windows. The vehicle penetrates the hull at Cargo Bay 2 which, though known to be a location that can have body-size objects vented into space ("Scorpion, Pt. II"[VOY4]) and which is clearly right along the hull, doesn't have the obvious-exit-route doors like at least some TNG cargo bays located on the hull.

2. The Kazon were not in protective gear of any kind, which is a very odd proposition for a vessel designed to ram through the hull of other vessels while in space. It would be like not having scuba gear after crashing a midget sub through the hull of a nuclear submarine.

3. Although exhaustive work goes in to explaining how the penetrator gets through the shields, which was nice, Voyager is never seen to fire on the penetrator, despite the painfully slow approach the VFX guys chose to craft.

4. The impact is not seen, since with the still-mostly-model-work of the time it would've been a severe pain to try to show it. But, it means we have no clear idea on impact velocity. While probably quite low, given Trek vessel maneuvering and acceleration capabilities a last-second burst of speed after getting the final trajectory correct is not outside the realm of reason, though only to be added if absolutely required.

5. The vessel does way too much "ethereal" damage to Voyager. Despite only damaging the wall around the hole . . . the rest of the cargo bay was in great shape . . . the ship's structural integrity went to the toilet and continued to drop even after the impact, power was lost for at least part of the deck, and life support was failing on the deck. Even the warp drive was considered useless with the disruption the penetrator was causing to the warp field.

This may be suggestive of more than a mere kinetic impact, however, since there is little obvious reason for such field disruptions unless the penetrator itself was putting out one helluva field.

Really, though, the basic problem with the Kazon penetrator is that given the yields of Federation weapons, it is incongruous that a simple and slow kinetic penetrator should work. Maybe lots of technobabble about structural integrity fields or high-energy weapon penetration might be workable, but otherwise the whole thing is more than a little silly. Hence the mention above of the possibility of a higher final speed.

In any case, however, now Star Wars is in on the act. Apparently the same class of vessel as the Pod Hunters from the second episode (albeit with blades going from closed -> open instead of open -> crush), Separatist Boarding Ships are seen to have some rather surprising penetration capabilities.

Even given Star Wars yields and hull strength this remains somewhat silly, but there they are. And, they have some of the same problems, along with a few of their own. Let's compare with the earlier points:

1. The Separatist Boarding Ships do not apparently aim for likely weak points, just like the Kazon penetrator. They penetrate the hull near the flight deck doors, poking in through the 'garage' ceiling.

2. Unlike the Kazon who were not in protective gear, the Separatist boarding ships are manned by droids. That said, however, we do see another event of a ramming vessel getting a good, airtight seal.

3. The boarding ships also exhibit a slow and leisurely approach, though there seems to be a speed increase right at the end of the flight.

Unlike Voyager, which just sat there and took it, the Republic vessel . . . identified as "Jedi cruiser Tranquility" . . . was shooting up the sky in advance of impact. However, they hit nothing consequential that we saw.

Interestingly, we do not know anything about the status of the Venator's shields. Tranquility's commanding officer quickly identifies the boarding ships as the attack begins, notes the fighters we see (approximately a dozen of the vulture-droid type), and starts shooting, but that's about it. It's possible that the opening attack by three fighters did something to knock out the shields, but it is never explained.

Of course, there are differences between Star Trek and Star Wars vessel shielding. This episode includes reference to "outer shields", for instance, and we know of "ray shields" on sections of the exterior of the Death Star. In RotS, the idea of landing on the Invisible Hand has a problem in that "the shields are still up", but this apparently only referred to the containment field at the door to the landing bay.

In short, we don't know if something happened to the shields or if they were behaving normally.

4. The impact is seen, here. Eyeballing it based off the later scenes of super battle droids falling out of the boarding ships between the blades, and comparison with the pod hunter scenes, the collision happens at around 100 meters per second (4 meters per frame at a rate of 24fps for my source material). Assuming a mass similar to Trek shuttles of 30 tonnes, the kinetic energy works out to 150 megajoules, 0.036 tons of TNT, or the equivalent of 35 kilograms (75 pounds) of TNT.

The temptation would be to consider this impact as focused on the forward point of the four blades as a good way to determine some facts about the hull, but I don't think we can make that leap.

As you can see above, the flat forward midsection of the boarding ship hulls . . . the part forming the base for the blades . . . is completely visible! This incredibly-complete penetration is surprising. One would expect the blades to penetrate then somehow stretch open, making small but useful holes. Instead, the entire ship could have easily flown through. Equally surprising is that, just as occurred with Voyager, there is little to no debris on the floor or other local disruption.

This not only gives us some possiblities regarding making estimates of hull thickness (e.g. far less than a meter), but tells us a lot about kinetic penetration of Imperial vessels. Needless to say, the asteroid shearing off the command tower is consistent with the boarding vessel performance.

5. How much other damage the boarding ship impacts did is unknown. We follow the fight to repel the droids at that point, followed in short order by Asajj Ventress disabling the ship by attaching grenade-sized explosives to the reactor area.

In short, this example is at least as bad as the Voyager case. Instead of a one-off design, the Separatists have such vessels as a class. The Tranquility, seemingly shieldless and incapable of targeting the boarding ships, is readily and thoroughly punctured by 150MJ of KE. The only thing in favor of Tranquility is all of Voyager's "ethereal damage."

If we take this example further, we would find that with the boarding ship being some four meters across, give or take, then we would have a Republic star destroyer incapable of repelling depleted uranium tank rounds from a modern-day Abrams, and maybe even having trouble with the A-10 Thunderbolt's rounds penetrating the hull.

Of course, given that Republic tanks can penetrate the hulls of Separatist warships ("Downfall of a Droid"[CGI106], it perhaps should not be surprising that our own tanks probably could, too.

In any case, there's hope for the nBSG vs. SW crowd.


Respect The Technobabble or I'll Shoot Plasmon-Polariton Beams At You

Yeah, seriously.

Scientists have produced laserlike emissions of surface plasmon-polaritons . . . so it said in a tech blog I read.

I was stunned . . . stunned, I say! . . . to learn that we had done this, for I was quite certain that this meant that we had inverted the subspace polarization matrix of the tertiary electromechanical ectoplasm in the quantum flux capacitors of our gravimetric frangible drives, which (obviously!) could have catastrophic consequences.

Having had zero prior experience with quasi-particles, I started to try to read up on them.

I shall have to try again.

That said, I was carried from phonons and polaritons to eventually seeing the term "polaron" in use as a real word. Frankly, I'm not entirely certain I'd ever heard of it outside the context of Jem'Hadar "phased polaron beams".

From what I gathered in the few minutes before the headache really took hold, polarons are simply what we call the effect of an electron travelling through (at least some) materials. A very rough layman's analogy would be considering the effect of an 18-wheeler (big lorry) as it travels down the highway as a windaron.

In the case of an electron, the local effect on a material with numerous ions is one of numerous local attractions and repulsions on a small scale, radiating outward from the electron as it passes, with the to and fro based on electric charge instead of any other factor. This charge difference in the material is a large excited state that will dissipate as the electron passes and the excited state from this field of electromagnetic interactions is called a polaron.

Why they didn't just call it something simpler I don't know . . . the whole quasiparticle nomenclature strikes me as completely ridiculous. I like "electron interaction field", though I'm sure we could come up with something shorter.

In any case, I have no idea what a phased polaron would be, or how you would go about shooting polarons through empty space, given that they are basically just charge imbalances in a material caused by a charged particle's passage therethrough. But the "phased" part, in Treknobabble, is what generally suggests freaky properties like passing through matter and whatnot, so that remains the most likely source of the beam's shield-bypassing property.


Riker Destroys the Enterprise

(Video Link)

It's the sound effects on "impact" that really sell it and crack me up.


The New Enterprise

This would have been acceptable. But this is a fan design by Gabriel C. Koerner and not the real deal.

No, friends, the new Enterprise is here: Click at your own risk.

As someone on Flare put it, this is what the ship from Galaxy Quest would've looked like if they'd been legally able to make it look like the Enterprise.


Weird Science News

Scotch tape, if peeled in a vacuum, emits surprising amounts of X-Ray radiation.

Next up . . . fusion from Velcro in vacuo.


Trek More Militarized?

Entertaining as it might seem at first blush, it may be that even in the time of the TNG Space Hippies, the Star Trek galaxy during the Dominion War might be more heavily militarized than was the Star Wars galaxy during the Clone Wars.

I say this because of a line in this video, a sneak peek at the Clone Wars CGI series. We know from the AoTC film (and, more explicitly, the novelization) that circa (or soon after) the beginning of the Clone Wars, the Republic had some 1.2 million clones.

(Unless the Kaminoans had exponential increases in capacity, it follows that the Republic must have had only a small number of millions of clones available for most of the war. Given the batches we saw in the film, this generally follows.)

The line in the video: "Our droid armies outnumber the Republic clones 100 to 1."

Per the premiere episode, it is clear this is not a reference to a specific battle or specific region. Thus, this would mean that the number of Separatist battle droids of assorted flavors numbers somewhere between 120,000,000 and, guesstimating, perhaps 500,000,000.

That's just five hundred million, for a reasonable top-end.

Compare this with the fact that a Cardassian reserve unit on Septimus III numbered some 500,000 men, which Martok described as old men and walking wounded. Even if we assume that this reserve unit, the Eleventh Order (of twelve known), was at full manpower for an Order, this would give the Cardassian military some 6,000,000 (six million) personnel.

This seems small for an Order, however. In "The Dogs of War"[DSN7], the number of men under two Guls (one with 100,000 himself) and a Legate was over 600,000 . . . and of course Guls can merely be captains.

Cardassian Orders seemed to usually include ships, though, whereas the description of this Order sounded more like a ground force, i.e. an army. Assuming the Cardassians had perhaps 5,000 ships (of the 30,000 that the DCB Axis was fielding during the latter days of the Dominion War), with average crews of 275 per ship, the total would rise to around 7.5 million.

Of course, we know from "The Changing Face of Evil"[DSN7] that seven million Cardassian soldiers had died over the course of two years of war . . . a war the Cardassians were generally winning, thanks in no small part to their expendable Jem'Hadar allies.

So clearly the 7.5 million total Cardassian military figure is too low, unless they were all completely replaced in two years with fresh recruits.

Surely, then, the correct figure is in the tens of millions. If we assume that the Cardassians had 21 million soldiers (having thus lost a third of them over two years . . . rather high for a war you're winning, but whatever), then they would outnumber the Republic forces anywhere from 4-to-1 to almost 20-to-1.

This from the Cardassians, generally considered a rather smallish adversary. (After all, a third of the Klingon military ate the Cardassians' collective lunch circa "Way of the Warrior"[DSN4].)

Now, I've previously calculated that Starfleet ought to have some 2.5 million persons on starships alone. Sisko has referred to millions on the line. It follows that the Federation had at least as many soldiers if not more than the Cardassians.

So there were six total powers . . . the DCB Axis and the FKR Alliance. If they all had 20,000,000 troops or so, then we'd be looking at a total of 180,000,000 military personnel.

That is equal to the low end of the total Clone Wars possibilities, but within the range.

But that's only part of the tale. Even multiplying Federation population estimates by six to account for the other five empires in the Dominion War, plus some extra wiggle room, we might find a total population of 20 trillion for the six nations involved.

Meanwhile, a rough minimum estimate for the Empire is about 200 trillion persons, or ten times larger.

The end result is that, by percentage, the Federation during the Dominion War featured a greater percentage of her population in the military than did the forces on both sides . . . including clones and droids for argument's sake . . . during the Clone Wars.

Also noteworthy is the fact that even a small Alpha Quadrant power like the Cardassians managed to lose more troops in two years of war than the Republic ever actually had. While I'm comfortable with the assumption that the Empire fielded a larger force than the Republic twenty years earlier, one can't help but wonder just how large this force might've been. Even at ten times larger than the wartime military, the Empire would have only 12 million troops. The Cardassians would likely still have more.

(Now all we need are crew counts for frontline SW vessels.)

If these values are even remotely accurate, the view of the Empire as a military juggernaut if for no other reason than the walls of flesh they could send against an enemy is suddenly quite a bit different.

If these values are even remotely accurate, then, the Empire would have a helluva time doing anything against any major nation in the Alpha Quadrant.

- Ship ranges would favor the AQ power significantly, making combat extremely difficult for Imperial ships.

- Imperial ships might have a small FTL advantage, but there's not a great deal they could hope to do with it.

- Conquest could not be an option, as they would not have the manpower to take and hold a rebellious planet.

And so on.

Clone Wars CGI Premiere Report

The first two episodes of the Clone Wars CGI series have shown. I'm actually pretty fond of it so far on a pure enjoyment level. I find that I'm really liking the theme, which (until it hits the BSG-drum-ized SW fanfare) has a really nifty sound.

As for the tech, though . . . well, let's look at the highlights:

- We get to see the small Republic vessel from TPM again, which is a very nice nod to continuity. The vessel is not especially nimble, it seems, but does the job. It has four four-meter-wide cylindrical escape pods which, given the floorspace, might be able to hold a dozen people. It looks designed for four, though, implying a likely crew of sixteen or less.

- Two Separatist warships drop out of hyperspace right on top of the small Republic cruiser. These are referred to in the non-canon as Munificent class and said to be 825 meters in length. Gunnery aboard these vessels appears to be handled by your basic retarded battle droids.

- Range on these ships is as limited as it always is in Star Wars. Just as the CW CGI movie gave us ships lined up within spitting distance, we hear it pretty explicitly this time. Right after this moment, the clones report they they are out of range of the Munificents:

The Munificents had actually already stopped firing by this point, despite their intense desire to destroy the pod:

Similarly, in the second episode we get to see another space combat incident. A Separatist warship and a small Republic force square off, holding position outside one another's weapons range:

Then, shortly before the Separatist warship is reported as beginning to close with the Republic ships, we see this:

That skinny shadow against the red dwarf is the Separatist warship Malevolence, estimated at SDN to be around two to three kilometers in length, meaning we are not terribly far from it in the above shots, probably less than a hundred kilometers.

When the Separatist warship prepares to fire its funky ion cannon superweapon thingy, the Jedi Plo Koon aboard one of the Republic Venators orders the ship to fire. The clone officer replies that they are "not in range yet".

So even against another large warship, their range is on the order of 100 kilometers.

- Clones from the above-mentioned Republic ships were able to operate for a brief time in a low pressure environment (definitely not a vacuum given the light refraction from droid and vessel headlights, but enough to result in death within seconds (with multiple lungfuls of screaming) for unprotected clone officers). The medical droid that looked them over later said that the "pressure suits" provided "some protection" against the effects, but the Clones were obviously not feeling well. The medical droid said they'd need a medical frigate for full recovery. The Jedi Plo Koon also said and demonstrated he was able to "withstand the pressure" for a brief time.

Barring some special and not-mentioned difference between the Clone armor in this instance and regular clone armor, it seems that Clone armor does have limited sealing capability. Whether this applies to later Stormtrooper armor is unclear . . . given the usual capacity to see skin, I would assume that if Stormtrooper armor has such capabilities it requires some sort of extra equipment or special preparation.

- Both clones and especially droids are again shown to be extraordinarily awful shots. Two clones and a batch of droids do battle at a range of less than ten meters . . . the droids probably fired fifty times and hit nothing. One droid fired for several seconds, first hitting a rock and then firing constantly about a foot to the left of a clone.

The clones were victorious, but they probably fired three or four times as many shots as there were droids to shoot at.

- Clones are seen to have a rocket launcher and grenades. The rocket launcher is actually fairly powerful, dislodging and cracking up a large rock feature which then smushed several destroyer droids.

More to come if I see anything noteworthy.

- UPDATE 10-06-08

- Venator class Republic ships are
apparently built like clown-cars . . . three of them can put out a
huge-mongous amount of debris, enough to act basically like the
asteroid belt from TESB. This despite there being parts of them --
large enough to be recognizable as Venator sections -- also visible.

An SDN post reminded me about the Separatist warship picking up an
active medical droid when all the other systems on a hiding ship were
down to evade detection.

"We're picking up a faint signal," says a battle droid, "from a droid. Not one of ours. They're right behind us."

It isn't clear what the signal was.

SDN commenter claimed that this case was evidence of detecting a
droid's power emissions and then determining (from them or via a deeper
scan) that the droid was not of the battle droid models. While
possible in context, it seems off given that the Separatists couldn't
find the escape pods with their working comm systems.

What seems more likely was that this was the droid's equivalent of a Bluetooth connection to the ship.


Geek Porn: Future-Tech Tricorders and Lightsabers

Applied quantum entanglement principles, realized on a small scale, could produce high-quality EM scans from a handheld device. While this much was obvious (albeit sci-fi for now), not as readily apparent is the statement that entangled emission and detection can achieve similar quality of information with as little as a millionth of the energy input.

While I'm not sure about the direct scaling as suggested by the reviewer in the linked article (a microwatt CT scan? Come now . . . ), the principle could certainly result in a CT-type scanner operating off of the future equivalent of AA batteries.

We're already getting close to tricorder goodness with use of ultra-wideband signals, which allow for a scanning device that can effectively see through doors and walls.

Elsewhere in Geekville, you can tie knots in light beams, after a fashion, by way of electric and magnetic field lines linking up. Among other things, this can be used for plasma confinement.

Of course, it's not too hard to make the mental leap from "shaped light-thingy" to "long shaped light-thingy", i.e. lightsaber, whether merely as confined light or in the form of a confined plasma sword. Whether this idea would actually support such an application (even theoretically) I leave to the future to decide. In the meantime, though, my geeky brain will leap to that conclusion post-haste.

Also cool in that article is the storyboard of how focus fusion is supposed to work, which is the first time I'd heard of such a concept. Given that I was already thinking of lightsabers, certain elements of the focus fusion idea made me think of the Death Star superlaser.

Tacking back on a tangent from that and going back to knotted light beams, we could at least now have a tentative explanation for how a laser could stop in mid-space and join up with other lasers in a lasery cloud before launching off to blow up a planet.

But, of course, we no longer need one. Between my exploration of SW canon and the recent EU books like Death Star, the superlaser is widely known not to be a mere laser. Ironic, no?


Clone Wars Quickie Tech Review

First off, let me re-iterate my earlier comments based on the trailer for the Battle of Christophsis:

*** Numerous Dialled-Down Yields! ***

I couldn't help but giggle. Not only are there massive, voluminous cannons with the output of pea-shooters (come on, guys, where's the earth-shattering kaboom?), but they constitute such a threat to Separatist forces that a retreat is issued. And, there are so many atrocious tactics here that I scarcely know where to begin.


But just as a first rough pass, let's look:

1. No air support: There are at least five jetpack-laden clones, but the jetpacks get only brief use in a cavalry-style raid. And even then they don't do it right . . . they just land on the ground in the open beside the enormous walker and start running and shooting like morons.

2. No use of high ground: With the quasi-exception of the cavalry raid, everyone is parked on ground level.

3. No perimeter scouts or spotters: Despite the presence of tall buildings useful for spotting, it appears that the Separatists, with dozens and dozens of droids and multiple ubertall walking weapon platforms, surprised the Republic forces by walking up the road to within half a mile before anyone really got wind of their attack.

4. No sensors: Carrying on from the above point, a tricorder would've been pure awesome here, since it seems that neither side knew what the other had even when they were within line of sight and half a mile away. The Separatist leader seemed astonished to learn that the Republic forces had those pea-shooter cannons, for instance.

5. Inconsistent use of cover: Multiple Republic AT-ST-style walkers just go meandering toward the Separatists right in the middle of the line of fire . . . little surprise that we see two of them blow up. Later, Obi-Wan orders a charge, and a group of clones go running right up the line of fire. The extraordinary thing is that some of them live, only to walk right up to droids and start smacking them around while the other droids scarcely notice. It's like fighting Civil-War-era Borg or something.


But surely it is I who must be mistaken. I mean, SW forces are all uber-elite, y'know, with kiloton-yield hand weapons, making them more than capable of spanking the pants off pajama-clad UFP hippies.

More seriously, there are instances of clones being flung backward by weapon hits, which speaks well for SW firepower . . . but it appears that those shots came from the big Separatist walkers anyway, which returns us to the "awful" category.

Now, I can revise and extend those remarks somewhat, and add (A SPOILER-STREWN) review of other issues:

Read forward at your own risk.





Last chance to not be spoiled . . .




1. First, let me note that indeed, the Republic soldiers did take up spotting positions later. There is no evidence of any sniping in use, but at least spotting did occur eventually. We can excuse the early lack of it as perhaps not having had time to climb some stairs or something.

(You would think given the lack of sensor equipment that this would've been a first priority, but I guess not.)

1a. The above having been said, there is mention of sensors later. On Tatooine, Separatist or Hutt sensors detect three lifeforms crossing the Dune Sea, and are able to distinguish between different the different lifeforms.

(I would at first have assumed . . . given that the Separatists on Tatooine at the time were not in a base or with an obvious large vessel nearby IIRC . . . that those were the Hutt's own sensors. However, given the plotline at this point and one of the lifeforms they found, it seems unlikely that the Hutts ever had this info. Thus I would presume those were Separatist sensors hidden away somewhere, possibly on the ship or ships that I don't recall seeing).

2. As known from the trailer, the Separatist forces retreat under a withering Republic cannonade. So poor is the command and control of the Separatists that the alien commander is ignorant of the presence of the cannons even while having other Trade Federation tanks blown up by them right beside him. When he finally talks to a forward droid and learns of them, he orders a full retreat.

Later, however, he executes a new plan. The Separatist forces on Christophsis had a Gungan-esque shield generator (at a fixed location instead of on a creature), implying that the technology is not unique to Naboo's waterways.

From a location perhaps a handful of kilometers distant . . . I'd call it a mile or two, but it is within line of sight and not on the horizon, in any case . . . the alien commander activates the shield, and begins expanding its radius to cover a new advance of his forces.

The Republic forces consider the tactical situation grim. The cannons are useless against the shield. Without time to take out enemy forces with the four or five cannons as they advance, what will happen is that the shield will pass over the Republic forces and the cannons with the droids right behind, at which point they'll destroy the cannons and overrun the Republic forces.

Evidently the cannons themselves were not only unshielded, but also didn't have the range to take out the shield generator as soon as the shield passed over. One gun moved forward could have poked through and fired, but instead . . .

Anakin and his new Padawan volunteer to try to get past the enemy lines and take out the shield generator on what ought to have been a suicide mission. Remarkably, however, the Separatist alien commander did not leave himself any reserve forces nor any large force guarding the shield generator . . . The Jedi meet one destroyer droid. Near the generator a handful of very heavy combat droids were present, but by the time they came out of hiding and attacked the Jedi were a couple of dozen meters away from the critical (and easily destroyed) shield generator anyway.

This gives the Republic forces the upper hand again, as does the arrival of reinforcements.

2a. We learn that clones and Jedi and people hiding from droids in little boxes can pass through the shield without ill effect. Clone cannon fire, however, is deflected.

This, plus the large beam/spread shield emission pattern, suggests that the Gungan-style shield is of a very different nature than the ray shields that trapped Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine in Ep3. Besides a different look (e.g. without the watery shimmer when struck), that one was said to be able to kill, though that could merely imply a much greater energy level.

3. The overall plot revolves around the retrieval of a kidnapped Hutt child, who happens to be Jabba's son. Because, in a Republic with trillions of common folk and with uncounted quadrillions in the galaxy as a whole, there are only actually like a dozen interesting people.

The kidnappers take the Huttlet to the planet Teth, said to be in "wild space", outside the range of the fighting. This strongly implies support for the fact that there's a lot more of the galaxy than what is contained within the Republic or Empire.

4. Did I see an Acclamator?

5. There was more of the same sort of in-atmosphere combat between front-line starships like we saw in RotS, but this time even lower. And not a mushroom cloud to be seen. Funny that.

6. Unless I'm mistaken, a Republic ship drops shields over its main hangar entrance (which on this Venator was actually the portal on the side . . . those got used more than once I believe). Droid fighters immediately kamikazed it, which is funny really . . . perhaps the smartest droids in the picture were the ones who killed themselves.

7. Speaking of droids, just wow. Many of the clones weren't all that bright in combat, either, but the droids are definitely not intellectual powerhouses when it comes to tactics and strategy.

Interestingly, however, the battle droids do have some level of autonomous thinking. A commanding droid's semi-retarded companion (who couldn't remember 13376245 when spoken to him, if I remember correctly) frequently debates tactics with him, requiring reminders of who is in charge. Of course, the commanding droid is not terribly brighter, given that as the retard falls to his disassembly the commander orders him to "get back here".

8. The bit with Republic walkers scaling a wall is interesting. They basically push their toes in the rockface, from what I saw in the trailers, but I didn't notice that maneuver in the theater.

The tactical utility of the whole operation is suspect, though. Scout troopers (in camouflage, but still with the funny hat brim on their helmets) had indicated that there was no way to land at the structure's top. However, we later see that there are multiple landing platforms. Further, even as they flew in the Republic soldiers ought to have noticed that they could just drop in at the front door. The losses incurred scaling the wall could not have been fewer than if they'd just dropped right in the middle of the show, or used sensors to find the other landing platform. Instead, R2 had to find reference to it in the location's computer system.

Again . . . lack of sensors kills these people. But still, the walker climbing routine is an impressive feat.

9. The show may end up giving us EU-inspired faster speeds. The action was quick fairly often, i.e. "OMG we have to be there tomorrow", while no distances were given.

The trips here include Coruscant to Christophsis, Christophsis to Teth, and Teth to Tatooine. The Teth to Tatooine trip takes less than a day, and possibly much less than a day. However, whereas Teth is wild space, Tatooine is merely deep in the outer rim. This is suggestive of speeds greater than the AotC example, though we'll have to see more about where wild space is considered to begin and such.

10. We also see our first Star Wars starbase. It was a relatively simple design . . . a central shaft (with some sort of peculiar cylindrical ship docking along the outer part, IIRC), with a toroidal area or spokes about a third of the way down, perhaps (we only got a glimpse, and as I write this it is several hours later, so pardon my memory).

Republic ships dock with their noses against the station. Presumably the cylindrical vessels are base resupply rockets, a la Progress and the ISS.

11. The ship shots are rather nice . . . there are a few good old fashioned ship beauty shots here.

12. Last but not least, this is a really violent show. We get to see heads from a multiple beheading, clones getting their heads blown off, clones getting blown up, clones getting picked up by the neck, shot through the torso, then tossed aside . . . all kinds of disquieting stuff. In that sense I think it might be more gruesome even than the films.

More to come as thoughts come to me . . .


Clone Wars Not Actually CGI !!!

That's right, you heard me. How do I know? Because I was reading this press report about the Clone Wars "CGI" movie and saw this picture:

It was at that point that I realized that Anakin was, in fact, being played by Don Swayze:

And what of Dooku? You've seen that unnaturally looooong face in the promos and trailers, right? That's just Ric Ocasek from The Cars.

It's all a lie, I tell you!



Main Site Update

From the main site update list:

"I was reminded recently that I have made no noteworthy changes to the site in, oh, over a year now. So, I've been trying to do a little better. I had once been pondering a massive reworking of the site to make use of some of the newer site-construction technologies that would allow a huge number of features and easy updating. However, I reached a bit of a halt when it came to the idea of wanting to convert all the pages over to new scripting and such. So, for the time being things remain as they are. I have, however, done a little bit of rearranging on this page, which hopefully smooths things out a bit, as well as converting to the use of a Creative Commons license. It's hardly a relevant change, but I like it better."

As for the re-arranging, I've basically just moved a few things about. The feedback and links area that used to inhabit the bottom of the page has been tightened up so it's now part of the Errata in the Articles section, along with the legal disclaimer.

Some old stuff has been moved into section pages, such as the Debates and Site Attack Responses area and some of the reviews and episode-specific analysis stuff.

I've also just graduated a few things from the Tech Archives into the main pages, such as the SW Orders of Magnitude page and the Taylor novel research, which is now part of the aforementioned Reviews and Episode Analyses section.



While the canon issue stuff is best discussed over at canonwars.com, I can't help but take a moment to ponder something funny here, where the Funny SDN News goes.

You see, our old selectively-EU-phile friends from SDN have recently discovered and been discussing an LA Times Lucas interview from May, some 3 months ago. It's old news, but they're apparently just finding it, right?

Or, is it that the quote they're referencing is a fairly safe one to deal with? It's not like some of the other quotes from Lucas this year that devastate their position (even moreso than it already has been). It's more generic.

Either way they're out of touch, and instead of disagreeing with and debating creators of and experts on canon, they ought to simply defer to them. But I guess that's almost the definition of "belligerently uninformed", so I guess I ask too much of them.


(Theoretically) Humorous Turns of Phrase

I was looking for something else and came across a rather brief discussion from 2004 regarding a page of mine.

While discussing the origins of neutron stars, I made the following statement:

To get a good neutron star, you need to take a really old star . . . preferably one of sufficient age that it has an iron core (because once you hit iron, you actually have to put more energy into fusion than you get out of it, and most stars don't bother).
Now, silly me, I never thought that anyone would take that last parenthetical bit literally. But check out this humorless git:

It's not that "most stars don't bother" it's that these stars CANNOT continue the fusion reaction. It would require more energy to fuse the iron atoms together than this reaction (note the word reaction) would produce. The word reaction is important because this is how all of the lower elements are formed. The fusion reaction runs off of the energy it produces, and if it does not have the available energy, then the reaction will halt.

It's like saying that if you don't give your standard car enough gas, then the engine will seize because "it doesn't feel like continuing the reaction."

It's not that it doesn't want to, stars don't have a personality or a brain, it's that it simply cannot continue the reaction.

The only reason we have the higher elements is because they were created during a supernova. The extreme heat and energy present during a supernova provides enough fuel for the iron atoms to fuse into elements like lead, cobalt and uranium.

Okay, fine, maybe it wasn't funny and I'll give up my lifelong yearnings to do stand-up comedy. But was it really necessary for some twerp to try to correct me on the point, as if I were seriously anthropomorphizing big fusion balls?

(Note to the twerp, on the off-chance this is ever seen: stand-up comedy is not a real life-goal for me ... just kidding a little! Get a grip!)


(Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder For The Win!)

Check out these pictures of a guy's modified Super Star Destroyer resin kit with gazillions of wee fiber-optic lights.

This guy is bats&!+ insane. Awesome work, but totally bats&!+ insane.


Great Big Bag of Awesome

Look at these pictures.

Popular Science
notes that we do not fully understand the origin of volcanic lightning, but acknowledges that "the lack of research done in the field is understandable: Even
scientists, when they see an erupting, lightning-spewing volcano, tend
to run in the opposite direction."

"What Does the Computer Think?"

With the exception of "Home Soil"[TNG1], in which Crusher instructs the computer to theorize on something, most of the time the TNG era showed us computers used in a way not dissimilar from computers today. You tell it to provide information, make your own theory or determination, and run with it. Or, via the vocal equivalent of clicking a "beam me up" icon, you tell it to do something it's already programmed to do.

In TOS, though, it seemed that the computer . . . for all its whirring and clicking . . . was doing more thinking. There seemed a more frequent use of computer theorization. For instance, in "Mirror, Mirror"[TOS2], Kirk poses a few questions to the computer and lets it do the theorizing, and even provide an instruction list for what to do with the theory's application. Scotty followed along with its reasoning enough to know he'd need some help doing the work, but that's it.

It may be that TOS was actually closer to future reality in that case. In a rather interesting article, it's suggested that sheer volume of information along with mathematical correlation might allow for a computer that serves more as analytic theorizer than info-search-tool a la Google.

To be sure, this isn't necessarily a new idea. There have been many science-fiction stories about all-knowing thinking machines. Among other iterations, there was "Cyclops" from David Brin's novel The Postman, which also featured a "data net" along the lines of what you're currently surfing.

But presumably, as we've gotten to know working PCs, the idea of what they're capable of has declined to some extent. That is the best explanation I can think of for the less impressive way they were written in the TNG era. To be sure, the computers didn't seem to be any dumber by any means, but they simply weren't asked that many theoretical questions as I recall.


Something I Never Noticed During ST2 ...

The TMP-era ships have phaser emitters that are rectangles with two little hemispheres on top. Generally I've rolled with the common idea that the two hemispheres were little ball turrets or some high-tech no-moving-parts emitter thingy or what-have-you. But whatever it was, there were just two per rectangle.

But if that were so, then what the hell is this?:

That's three beams with a fourth on the way, though there's enough wiggle room for the fourth to be non-overlapping with one of the other three (and hence still keeping the three total).

But that's three. Three, I say.

Back to the drawing board?


Irony Bomb


The thread above could very well split your side if you've followed the debate for any length of time.

The same people who seriously consider the notion that a TIE fighter is sufficiently armed to wipe the floor with any ship named Enterprise consider whether there's any such thing as a wanked pro-Wars argument or pro-Wars wankers, and find that there really aren't any.

In other news, back when David Duke, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and like-minded souls had that conference in which they claimed the Holocaust never occurred, a straw poll was held in which they found that there wasn't a single Jew-hating sociopath in the room, and that all anti-Holocaust arguments therein expressed were both logical and valid.


Quantum Entanglement Photography

This is spiffy.

I don't even know if the quantum entanglement this thing uses can be interfered with via natural causes, if you'll pardon some layman terminology, short of destroying photons or otherwise causing absorb/re-emit episodes for them, but that would be an interesting concept for that everpresent interference that Trek sensors always experience. ;)



May 14-20 1994 TV Guide, p. 20:

"But there is a very strong sense of finality -- we owe that to the audience. Riker will not wake up in the shower and say it's all been a dream."

- Rick Berman, Executive Producer

Yeah . . . he saved that for Enterprise. Dick.

SP 937-215

Based on the title (which is Picard's serial number, per "Chain of Command, Pt. I"[TNG6]), then Picard represents one of 676,000,000 (676 million) possible Starfleet officers.

(For those in Mississippi, you multiply the possible values of each digit to get the total . . . 26 x 26 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10, in this case.)

This pattern for serial numbers was faithfully followed in TNG materials (even for fairly recent Starfleet folks), though there are possible discrepancies in Voyager. TOS serial numbers were different, and thus it is unclear when the new version began. Assuming this occurred circa 2300, and assuming no repeats, we would have 70 years in which to fit up to 676,000,000 people who received serial numbers. That's a maximum of 9,700,000 persons per year.

If we also assume a completely made-up average of 15 years of service from every person receiving a serial number, then Starfleet could have up to 144,000,000 people serving at any one time between 2300 and 2370.

Remember, however, that these are highest possible values . . . it is absurd to assume that the serial number system was set to die in 2370.

Perhaps more interesting/strange is the fact that both ENT-era and TOS-era serial numbers allowed for higher numbers.


Caught Another Warp Reference

Another "Head Case" example (i.e. quick mental calculation by a character):

In "Obsession"[TOS2], Kirk and Spock are discussing an event "an hour" earlier with the cloud-creature that had been doing warp eight prior to the event. As Kirk notes, it turned and attacked when instead "it could have been many light years away from us".

Even assuming that "many" equalled "two", two light-years per hour is 17,520c.



Lightsabers and long exposure times combine most excellently.

"Darth Mojo" original post (with more) here.


"Stop Nerd on Nerd Crime"

Great commentary on and summation of the Vs. Debate:

"As a nerd I understand how and why people can be passionate about many things. What I don't understand is when one fanatical nerd group thinks they are better than another fanatical nerd group. Case in point Star Wars fans vs. Star Trek fans. Star Wars fans think that Star Wars is the Filet Mignon of Science fiction and that Star Trek is a turd sandwich served with a side of fecal fries. Darth Vader pwns (nerd lingo for owns) Captain Kirk, Obi one super pwns Spock, and C3PO bitchily slaps Captain Picard. News flash nerds those that wear costumes, are of a greasy composition, and live in their parents basements should not be bashing those that wear costumes, are of a greasy composition, and live in their parents basements. Stop nerd on nerd crime.

Someday I have a dream where all intergalactic space based nerd theme show fans can come together and share some awkward costumes and Zimas. Star Wars fans with Star Trek fans and Battlestar Gallactica fans etc. Maybe even some will fall in love and have a whole mess of costumed babies who will be ostracized and beaten up by the non costumed children of public schools. Until this magnificent dream of nerd unity occurs I will use the force and live long and prosper."

Replicators Are Coming

While in this particular instance the term "replicators" better fits the Stargate SG-1 definition (think chip-size TNG Borg) than the Trek definition, elements of both are present.

The RepRap is a self-replicating rapid-prototyping machine. I've seen a large rapid prototyping device before at a university, and they are magnificent devices. Building a plastic object layer by layer, you end up with a near-perfect model (or, if it was a plastic object you wanted in the first place, a near-perfect object ready for use).

Calling it "self-replicating" is a bit of a stretch at the moment. In addition to a wealth of additional parts (including steel rods and assorted electronics), it must be hand-assembled and requires a computer to operate. However, future RepRaps are intended to have the ability to do circuitry. This sort of thing is manually possible even now . . . there are special conductive-ink pens that allow one to draw working low-voltage circuits. Microprocessors are certainly a long way off for any such tabletop technology, but the germ of the idea is there.

Even with what it can do now, it would be theoretically possible for RepRap to put certain companies out of business, if the units existed in sufficient numbers. For the most low-key example, you can imagine a simple "make solid" plug-in to convert 3-D graphics models (LightWave or POV-Ray or what-have-you) into solid shapes that the RepRap software could build. This would have the effect of savagely reducing the business of certain fringe model kit and toy makers. Even for more advanced model-builders who wanted to light their models, designing little conduits (or large open spaces) for running wire or fiber optics is hardly outside the realm of possibility.

The best part of RepRap is the open-source nature of it. You can make your own right now.

The active mind can certainly see all sorts of potential for a device like that. But, I want you to imagine the future. Picture a replicator similar to RepRap capable of working with many materials. I'm not even talking about nanotechnology dreams, here, but a real assembler capable of using small quantities of metals and plastics. Even with the most basic processors, what common items couldn't be made with such a thing?

This is the coming revolution. While industry will remain a step ahead for a long while owing to quantities of scale and special needs and whatnot, home manufacturing will slowly whittle away at it as time passes.

Of course, the more things can be made simply, the greater the danger, too. If you can make a simple analog telephone at home, you can make a sealed detonator circuit just as easily. The same is true even today, to be sure, but with so severely lessened cost and thought and effort requirements I have a feeling the problem would worsen significantly.

Will we make it past a home manufacturing revolution? Will nano-tech based home replication systems come and will society survive? It remains to be seen. But we're not too terribly far away now from finding out. The world of 2100 will either be extraordinary to see, or positively horrifying.


A Neat Toy

SensibleUnits.com can give you a better grasp of some of the object sizes, masses, or what-have-you that we deal with in the debate.

For instance, when I plugged in 289 meters (the length of NCC-1701), I learned that this was 3.6 Airbus A-380s side by side (i.e. wingtip-to-wingtip). It's that sort of little observation that can cause the brain to springboard elsewhere. For instance, given that the Airbus A380 carries over five hundred (and up to eight hundred) seated passengers, you're talking about room for almost two thousand people, with most of that space being taken up by wing.

But then I've talked about such things before.

Still, it's a neat little toy to put things in better perspective.


Phoenix "EDL"

Tomorrow this happens. Due to the more massive nature of the lander the old Pathfinder airbag system isn't useful, so the Phoenix Mars Lander must use heat shield, chute, and retro landing rockets.

Gotta hand it to NASA. Not only is the lander going to do its thing (we trust), but in addition they have a pretty good PR team doing their little filmmaking efforts.

("Give me your most attractive Phoenix team members, the director from the Bourne movies or someone who can fake it, and some of the CGI guys from Foundation Imaging or nearby, stat!")

EDIT: Nailed it! Good job NASA!


Neat Research: "Wink of an Eye" (TOS)

This is interesting research. Youtube user albion432 slows down some of the accelerated Scalosian speech so one can make it out.

NOT SAFE FOR WORK ... But funny as hell.

Okay, I warned you.

If you're at the office, or near family, friends, pets, or anything else with ears, don't say I didn't warn you.

There, see, I warned you again.

Now click here. Watch the video. Don't drink anything before doing so, though, because that wouldn't be safe for your monitor, either. I'm just sayin'.


Such Primitive Ablative Armor, Ha!

I'm interested in knowing more detail on the reference in this story about NASA's lightweight ceramic ablator heat-shield material withstanding 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously that must refer to a certain thickness lasting a certain length of time before burning off (i.e. ablating) entirely, but no data is provided.

Nonetheless, that's pretty cool. Might've been helpful on the hull of the Invisible Hand, which managed to get pretty cooked during a low velocity atmospheric entry.


For Those Who Might've Missed It . . .

Just wanted to point over to the CanonWars blog (see here and especially here), where there are recent Lucas quotes. Lucas re-iterates and expands upon the assorted "parallel universe"/"two universes" sorts of quotes that he's been making since 2001, which (as we know) nullify the efforts of some to use Star Wars novels and reference guides (including children's books created by Vs. Debaters which were an attempt to 'adjust' the 'evidence').

While I'm saddened by the knowledge that some will continue to embarrass themselves by suggesting otherwise despite seven years of quotes on the matter, the simple fact is that by the standards that the Vs. Debate supposedly uses, the Expanded Universe is objectively invalid, and its continued use is a subjective choice to deviate from the standard.

Consider this a sort of epilogue to the State of the Debate 2008 post.


TOR and Distance

I've been noticing something for awhile that I've been hesitant to deal with, but it has to happen.

I've been hesitant for a few reasons. First, I was a little unclear on how one should treat the remastered original series (usu. "TOS-R", but I prefer "TOR" because it fits the three-letter scheme). Second, and more importantly, I haven't really seen any of it. For the most part I'm just seeing the TrekMovie.com reports so far.

But there are now too many cases confirmable even from TrekMovie reports for me to continue hesitating.

At issue is this: the TOR guys have no conception of distance whatsoever.

The example that broke the camel's proverbial back is this one from TrekMovie:

That is the lead Romulan ship from "The Enterprise Incident" giving chase to the Enterprise near the end of the episode, as Scotty feverishly works to install the stolen cloaking device, and Spock ponders his recent installation regarding the also-stolen Romulan commander.

You'll note that the Enterprise nacelles are clearly visible in this aft view, as if to scream "this is an aft view!" . . . because otherwise we silly modern viewers might not get it.

Here's the problem, though, with thanks to Chakoteya's transcripts site:

KIRK: Mister Spock, distance from the Romulan vessel?
SPOCK: One hundred and fifty thousand kilometres, Captain, and closing very rapidly.
KIRK: Stand by, phasers. Commander, you'll forgive me if I put up a fight.
COMMANDER: Of course. It's expected.
SPOCK: One hundred thousand kilometres. They should commence firing at us within the next twelve point seven seconds.

In the FX reel available at TrekMovie.com, you can even hear "very rapidly" while the image above showing the nacelle ends is on the screen. In other words, the displayed image . . . showing a Klingon ship perhaps a handful of kilometers distant assuming a normal camera image . . . is in fact some 150,000 kilometers away.

One could try to explain the discrepancy via other, intra-universe means. For instance, one could assume a really wonky camera system in use for the viewscreen, or an image display system with a flair for the dramatic. But such in-universe explanations fall flat with other examples.

For instance, we have "Journey to Babel", in which the Enterprise has difficulty firing on a high-warp attacker. In the episode, we see this:

There's a dot which, in the video, looks like a fly buzzing about in space, with the Enteprise phasers trying and failing to track it.

Clearly the CBS Digital guys thought it would be cool to see the Orion ship zipping about. However, they failed to realize this is impossible, even ignoring the inherent peculiarity of seeing a superluminal vessel at all. (I can't fault them for that, though, since TNG, especially early TNG, often showed us the Enterprise flying by at high warp with a normal starfield behind it. It's a convention.)

To be able to see the Orion ship zipping about like that, it must either be helluva-huge or awfully close. By "huge" we're talking about thousands of kilometers. By "close" we're talking about hundreds or perhaps thousands of kilometers for it to show up as just a dot, but in that case it would be moving very slowly.

Even at a bit above lightspeed . . . say, 314,159 km/s . . . a vessel 1,000 kilometers from the Enterprise would be able to orbit the ship 100 times per second. (At best, then, the little dot in the episode would only be akin to how helicopter rotor blades or bicycle spokes can appear to stand still if the frame rate and motion match.)

Episodes like "Elaan of Troyius", which also features both warp strafing and range callouts in the tens of thousands of kilometers, also get this absurd sort of treatment. There are other examples as well, but frankly I'm sufficiently depressed. ;)

It seems pretty clear that, in the end, TOR will be considered canon . . . it will, apparently, be all that is available in the high-def world. Such obvious errors are unfortunate given how easily they could've been avoided with a little research. The fact that Dave Rossi and Mike Okuda are involved in this makes this failure to research and comprehend even more appalling.

While it is tempting to declare all of the remastered effects as mere eye candy illustrations (and indeed, in many cases "illustration" is precisely what it looks like), the simple fact is that we cannot completely ignore them. However, in the case of obvious error like this, we have no choice but to ignore the revisions where they err.


History - Regarding SpaceBattles

Commenter "International Man of Mystery" requested information about my departure from SpaceBattles in comments to the last post.

As that was a mere four and a half years ago, and as SpaceBattles cannot be googled going back that far, I wasn't thinking I'd find much.

But I did. So now, as usual, far too much information:

For starters, a little backstory.

Then, as now, SpaceBattles had a strong cross-pollenation with our old friends at StarDestroyer.Net's forums, meaning that the vitriolic anti-Trek contingent was well-represented. It was, though, a much different environment. First, the overall noise level of so many universes being pitted against one another left Trek vs. Wars discussions a mere drop in the rainstorm. And, there were pro-Trek folks there to a larger degree than one would find at SDN, though without the unity of SDN's spin campaigns.

The natural result of this was naturally that I, the Great Satan (tm), would be piled upon as usual, albeit with the occasional kudo to break up the monotony.

One SDN/SB border-hopper was SpaceBattles mod "H.B.M.C.", who was more than happy to use executive authority in support of his most favored franchise of Star Wars. I naturally found this quite annoying, and my resulting failure to kow-tow led to a tangle or two. Or three.

And there was much to discuss then. This was the era during which the dual canon idea was still relatively fresh, while at the same time the other side was subverting their minds to the ICS children's books as the end-all be-all of Star Wars fact, widening the gap between myself and the other side as they devolved into selective EU worship at the expense of the Star Wars of Lucas. And the other side felt they had the upper hand at the time, as previously pro-Trek poster Alyeska, in an obvious social play, chose to publicly concede to the aforementioned children's books. This was spun as an objective repudiation of any who failed to toe the opposition's party line.

As I had never been one to try to socialize with my ever so ill-mannered opponents, I'd never had need to try to get in their good graces.

Alyeska had already done so, cozying up to the opposition to the point that, as a classic "useful idiot", he was even granted a small moderation position at SDN. His final choice to abandon reason in favor of community was, as he undoubtedly expected, lauded and further rewarded by the opposition, though after his usefulness ended there was a bitter falling out.

At one point, I'd asked another mod with pro-Trek leanings on how best to get HBMC off my back. The fellow noted that HBMC had gotten in trouble for that sort of thing more than once already. A portion of his response . . . quoted here under the presumption that any statute of limitations has run out . . . was as follows:

"I wish I could give you some advice... but HBMC's a tough case. He's been around here much longer than I have, but after a few years, there's a few things I've come to understand about him...

He hates Star Trek, in all incarnations, and considers Star Wars to be practically a masterpiece, instead of the derivative pulp work it frankly is. He does, however, have interests outside of Trek, so it couldn't hurt to find some common ground.

I don't know how often you intend to hang around here, but it certainly could only get better if you visit some of the other forums. {...} Remember, every time you've posted here so far, that I can recall, it has been in a Trek/Wars debate of some kind or other, and you make some very strong arguments against his position, which psychs the hell out of him. So he gets a ten foot pole up his ass the minute he spots your name on the board.

{...} That'd be my best advice. Hang around a bit more, get to know some of the other people... get involved in different forums, and debates about *other* SF universes, and I practically garauntee he'll either shut up voluntarily, or the rest of the people on the board will tell him to."

The fellow's basic advice was to socialize with HBMC -- make friendly with him and/or others.

There was logic to that. However, I'm not involved in this hobby to make friends. I'm in it to establish and support facts on the topic (such as one can have facts regarding fiction, but you know what I mean). Any interest I might've entertained in revealing myself further became extinct the first time such conversations became used by the opposition as ammunition for personal harassment and death threats. (This gives people the impression that I am extraordinarily single-minded on this one topic, with nothing else in life. I'm quite comfortable giving off that impression, given the unpleasant alternative.)

In short, as a rule of thumb, if I want to socialize with people I don't do it with faraway strangers from the internet. And so in regards to HBMC, the advice to socialize fell on deaf ears. My sole interest in SpaceBattles was for the sole purpose of Star Trek vs. Star Wars fact-finding. All else was irrelevant, meaning that, unlike Alyeska, I was completely unconcerned with the opinion others held about me on a personal level.

My only concern with HBMC was that he was interfering in fact-finding. He had what I considered a 'unique' concept of what topics to close and when . . . always seeming to correspond to that which most benefitted the pro-Wars mythology camp of which he was a part. His trolling of threads, support of trolling of me, and abuse of moderator authority were mucking with my goals.

Perhaps some of the most entertaining bits were his calls for invasion of the board he moderated, so as to try to wear me down and drown me out.

"It brings me great pain to do this...
But I am at my wit's end with DarkStar. Thanks be to Alyeska for doing what he has done, but it has made DipShit even more unbearable than ever.

I come here only because no one else will, and because I'm a mod in the VS forum who has his hands tied.

Anyone who can help deal with DarkStar over there is welcome, and I implore someone to help."


"Are we totally sure that no one wants to pop over and pitch in? A few descenting voices would be nice, and as long as they're not outright attacking him all help (not that we need any, but it's fun to watch him squirm when he has 6... 7... 8 ... 9 people against him at once) would be greatly appreciated."


"We're getting no-where at Spacebattles and we're sick of his posts.
Worst of all, I can't actually ban him for any real reason as he's done nothing wrong either."


Of course the invasion requests included the "not outright attacking him" yarn, but merely for cover . . . a total flame-invasion would've drawn the attention of other mods, whereas the usual SDN tone of flaming with an admixture of non-flame words would at least give the appearance of heated debate instead of mere nonsensical personal attacks.

In any case, it was against this entire backdrop that Wayne Poe, using one of his multiple accounts at SpaceBattles, chose to repost his "Trekmiss" video (newer version here). In it, Poe had culled examples of misses by Trek vessels, put them to funny Benny Hill music, and thus crafted a small, fuzzy, low-logic video which purported to show that Star Trek starship weapon accuracy was crappy. As one thread participant put it, "Blind retarded monkeys would make better gunners than Trek targeting computers! That display of accuracy is absolutely PATHETIC! At least Star Wars turrets hit their targets more than 1 out of 10 shots."

To my mind, the most efficient response was to respond in kind with a parody video mocking Wayne's unintentional parody. Thus I culled examples of misses by Star Wars vessels, put them to the music of the Cantina band, and thus crafted a small, fuzzy, low-logic video that purported to remind Star Wars fanboys not to get too haughty in their anti-Trek glee.

I considered it tit for tat, a suitable negation of Wayne's silliness. I certainly see nothing wrong with the tactic. Why would I? Applying your opponent's own irrational attack pattern to your opponent's preference in order to make a point is hardly dishonorable. Turnabout, after all, is fair play.

Imagine my (lack of) surprise when H.B.M.C. came along and closed the thread and removed the video link, calling the whole thing "petty, childish and immature flamebait" compared to Wayne's "harmless fun".

But the idea that I had posted flamebait was silly. It's me we're talking about here, the GREAT SATAN(tm) . . . the fact that I posted at all was flamebait, including for HBMC. More specifically, though, I was annoyed at the obvious double-standards.

And that's the real crux of the matter. The situation was basically that a pro-Wars mod/troll and his fellow pro-Wars members, invasion-buddies, and trolls could not be expected to behave with civility when their opinions were challenged. I, meanwhile, was expected to be respectful of their failings in that regard while peacefully and happily accepting all their challenges and insults to my opinions and person. If I failed to do so, thereby producing flaming from them, I was considered the troublemaker.

If such a consequentialist view is how one wants one's board run, that's fine . . . just be honest about it. The annoying part is when that's done at the same time as the pretense of fairness and justice is maintained.

HBMC sent attacks via PM and I replied forcefully. Seeing that HBMC was rendering SpaceBattles useless to me, I decided to lodge a formal complaint. There was little chance of a good result, but if I was to be made to go I had no desire to go silently.

And indeed, I later learned I was banned. Since HBMC was already effectively interfering with and closing (i.e. banning) discussion, this hardly changed anything. (And according to reports, this still goes on.)

The end result was that, alongside the SDN ban, I had another badge of honor, and more proof that the pro-Wars side cannot take the real heat . . . they can only flame.


Space Sans CGI

Pretty cool video from the shuttle solid rocket boosters:



State of the Debate 2008

I'd been batting around ideas for a State of the Debate 2008 for awhile, even back when it would've been 2007, and thus wouldn't have rhymed quite so nicely. Of course, I've been ever so busy for the past several months, and thus many ideas for updates, blog posts, and so on have been left by the wayside, if not forgotten altogether. But this one keeps re-appearing in my brain.

A State of the Debate, by its nature, is not meant to cover every little detail. Here, we primarily wish to ponder some of the grander themes and overall tracks of the debate.

For the purpose of this post, we'll accept as accurate some statements of the opposition.

My opponents have long listed the the matters of canon policy and the technology of the Death Star as what they consider to be my two primary arguments. While I never considered it in that way, it is true that those two topics bring us to our major points of logical departure.

Their assumption of selected EU material's validity for the purpose of analyzing Star Wars tech (even allowing them to re-understand clear film evidence) carries them far, far away from views that a normal movie-goer would hold. Also, their assumption that the Death Star uses raw, focused reactor energy to annihilate worlds results in much of their beliefs on Imperial reactor power and firepower, as they initially derived estimates by simply scaling downward. That is to say, they simply assumed years ago that a turbolaser was a small superlaser, with a linear firepower relationship joining the two. Ignoring that this would result in ridiculous blaster firepower, this scaling view informed all other firepower estimates, even those that ought to have been taken independently.

Meanwhile, we have argued since at least 2002 that the EU is not valid for the purpose of understanding the Star Wars universe of Lucas. While there might've been room for almost-reasonable doubt at first, the matter became quite settled a couple of years ago, what with Lucas et al. repeatedly stating that there are two separate, parallel universes with the EU being the other. This means that analyzing the Expanded Universe for info on the Lucas universe would be like watching "Mirror, Mirror" to find out about Trek technology, or learning history from alternate history books like Fatherland.

The pro-Wars debaters still refuse to accept this point, instead choosing to ally with the similarly-stuck "EU Defense Force" types who are also emotionally invested in claiming that the EU is not to be discounted for any purpose. But despite such irrational resistance, their position has been thoroughly discredited.

As for the Death Star, we have maintained since at least 2002 -- based on analysis of the films and novelizations thereof -- that the Death Star is not a brute-force weapon directly transferring its reactor's energy . . . instead, the superlaser produces a highly destructive hyperspace-related matter-energy conversion. This was the only useful way to explain the rings added to the Special Editions, material disappearance, and so on, effects which the other side chose instead to ignore. It was also the only way to satisfactorily explain how a vehicle powered by simple fusion could have a planet-busting raygun.

In what must seem the ultimate betrayal for the EU-phile pro-Wars side, the Star Wars Expanded Universe now forces this position, as well. October 2007's Star Wars: Death Star novel also discusses the superlaser in terms of a hyperspace-related matter-energy conversion, with hyperspatial reflux rings and target matter that disappears into hyperspace. Even the reactor technology, despite use of the EU's "hypermatter" nonsense, is incapable of planet-busting energy levels except under catastrophic superlaser misfire conditions, similar in broad strokes to our explanation of the destruction of DS1.

This means, in short, that their cherished EU now officially agrees, in principle, with what their arch-rivals have maintained for years. They can continue to argue the point by trying to scour older EU sources for contrary-sounding minutiae, but only at the expense of their own logical consistency.

And so, with the canon debate also long-settled, the situation they are faced with is quite terrible for them . . . what they view as my two primary arguments are both now lost.

Even putting the best spin on things (emphasis on spin), they are faced with a Catch-22. Either they can try to argue the point of the superlaser at the expense of the EU, or they can argue the EU at the expense of the superlaser.


There is, of course, a certain irony to all this. For all the work that's gone into ST-v-SW.Net . . . for all the debates and postings and so on . . . it was generally outsiders who decided the issues. Lucas and Lucas Licensing personnel clarified the existing facts, but the Death Star novel was an independent construct of the two authors (barring the outside chance that they somehow stumbled upon this internet backwater and paid attention to some of the same details I presented in the Death Star Research Project).

But given the vitriolic, irrational taking of sides that I have long railed against . . . the sort of us vs. them war mentality that is so often prevalent in this, the most unimportant of topics, just as it is in American politics (which often seems tamer by comparison) . . . that was really the only way it could've happened. Their 'Darkstar Derangement Syndrome', to coin a phrase, has been too prevalent, and thus nothing I or anyone espousing similar views could've said would've convinced them.

That having been said, there's no reason to presume that they will be convinced by anything.

- When faced with devastating facts in the canon debate, they withdrew into a virtually impenetrable groupthink, outright ignoring the facts and patting one another on the back for doing so.

- When faced with devastating facts from the EU regarding troop numbers far smaller than their pulled-from-the-air quadrillions, they attacked and made threats against the author, who now seems to rather enjoy slipping in additional jabs in her continuing EU writings. Nowadays, the author's numbers are ignored despite their repetition in the EU.

- When initially faced with the Death Star novel, their claim was that this increased the Death Star's firepower and reactor power to unknowable levels, instead of decreasing it from their already-expanded values.

With all those facts in mind . . . and oh so many others from similar stories . . . the future will likely not involve an acceptance of the facts.

The pro-Wars Vs. Debate subculture has seen its heyday, what with one of its members contributing to the EU a few years back, but with its assorted attacks on EU personnel they have served to isolate and marginalize themselves rather effectively, and as they continue to spout quadrillions in the face of everyday Star Wars EU readers who see millions, they will continue to be viewed as off their collective rocker . . . especially as their vitriol increases.

Thus I would wager that they will engage in continuing re-imagination or outright ignoring of the Death Star novel, with the same 2002-era myths of theirs told and retold.

Meanwhile, Star Trek will have a film in late 2008, with Star Wars possibly having a TV show in 2009. Thus the topic itself will probably not be dying out anytime soon, and . . . years behind as I already am . . . I'll continue to have work to do, thus enabling me to get even further behind without even trying.

There's much more that can be said on the State of the Debate 2008, but for now . . . with the rather serious exceptions of the author being AWOL and all the pages being in need of updates . . . ST-v-SW.Net's position is strong as ever.

And, with the continuing presence of StarfleetJedi.Net in the pro-Trek side, along with its forum that the SDN pro-Wars side have failed to destroy, the debate itself is proceeding apace.