Synthehol, F*** Yeah!

Synthetic alcohol based on chemicals in Valium, non-addictive, and with antidote for rapid switch-off of the intoxication?   New Orleans might never be the same.   But at least Ten-Forward just got a lot more plausible.


Prime Directive Absurdity on Angel I

Some of the plot of "Angel One"[TNG1] revolves around the notion that the Prime Directive does not apply to Federation civilians, even those who are space-faring such as the crew of the "Federation freighter Odin".

That's the dumbest point of plot in the history of Trek, because if true it would render all those heart-wrenching Prime Directive decisions absolutely moot.

After all, even an individual from a sufficiently higher civilization can be an existential threat to a lesser civilization.   Imagine Picard driving around the desert carelessly in Nemesis, having a grand old time.   Now imagine an antbed in the desert being run down without even being noticed.

Modern Earth . . . and other pre-warp societies . . . are a bit larger and more complex than antbeds, but the principle is the same.  A single 23rd Century starship (like the Constitution Class) could wipe out this planet.  A Danube Class runabout could easily conquer this planet.  And a skillfully-used shuttlecraft could possibly do the same.

We've seen this sort of thing in Trek before.  "Bread and Circuses"[TOS2] features the suggestion that 100 starship security personnel armed with phasers could defeat the combined armies of a 20th Century Rome.   Captain Tracey with a phaser was able to completely upset the balance of power on a post-apocalypic Earth ("The Omega Glory"[TOS3]).  23rd Century Historian John Gill was able to manipulate an entire world into a doppelganger for 20th Century Nazi society, proving that it wouldn't even take what we commonly think of as weapons to do the deed (a theme that is picked up in "Angel One" when the masculinity of a few landed men on a woman-dominated planet is able to cause upset and cultural revolution).

And yet, we are supposed to believe that Federation civilians could simply go drop in on whatever backwards culture they find, and we're supposed to trust that they'd do nothing?   And what of non-Federation personnel in Federation space, military or otherwise?   The Ferengi explicitly do not observe a Prime Directive, instead opening up business opportunities with "backwards" planets ("The Last Outpost"[TNG1]).  Should we believe that they would behave themselves without policing?

It isn't like the threat isn't real.  There are arms dealers at work in interstellar space (e.g. Hagath), and of course the Maquis were able to obtain hundreds of Pygorian photon torpedoes and other weapons and defenses for their raiders.  Maquis raiders would also fit in the list above of ships that could conquer modern Earth. 

However, there are fortunately some possible counterpoints to such absurdity.  Doctor Nikolai Rozhenko was an assigned cultural observer in "Homeward"[TNG7] and explicitly not a part of Starfleet, though his operating authority is unclear.   And the Odin, being a Federation freighter, was presumably also a part of the "merchant service" that the SS Beagle was a part of under Captain Merik in "Bread and Circuses"[TOS2] . . . Merik violated the Prime Directive.

Thus there is not a contradiction, provided that one correctly notes the context.   Merik violated the Prime Directive because the Roman planet was a pre-warp civilzation.   The civilization on planet Angel I, however, had already been visited by the Federation, with a last contact in 2302.  That, mixed with their technologies like matter disintegration, suggests that they were either a warp-capable society or one that was polluted by contact previously.  But in any case, they would've been considered an outside political entity . . . a separate nation, if you will.

And thus the absurdity would be resolved.  The Angel system might be considered another entity no different than, say, the Nyberrite Alliance, Talarian Republic, or Ferengi Alliance . . . individual citizens could go there and do stuff, but Starfleet would still have a non-interference directive.   The Prime Directive would still apply to citizens in regards to pre-warp civilizations.

That makes a lot more sense.   Now, as to how they could possibly keep everybody away from pre-warp civilizations . . . well, that's another matter altogether.


Imagine Accessing Enemy Sensors

According to the Wall Street Journal, US Predator drones have an unprotected, unencrypted comlink for live video feeds, and any retarded terrorist with a laptop can exploit it . . . and some have.  This has been considered a potential security hole since the 1990's, but wasn't fixed then because it was thought no one would know to exploit it.   And even as they've known for the past year that it's being exploited, they still haven't fixed it.

Seriously?  You've got to be frakking kidding me.

Yes, sure, this doesn't relate necessarily to command and control of the aircraft . . . it isn't like some terrorist can link a Predator to his Microsoft Flight Simulator and do whatever he wanted to with it.   But it does mean that they can easily check to see if anybody is watching them, analyze drone routes, and so on.   That's more than enough of a serious breach for me.  

For all the talk of computer and communications security in the Vs. Debate, real-life real-world-military examples of pure stupidity like this . . . especially from the U.S. . . . are baffling.  Imagine having ready access to the sensor data of an opposing ship, so you know where and when to hide.  Even in Enterprise's third season, the Andorians were a little alarmed at sharing their sensor data about a mutual opponent with Enterprise because of the potential security risk . . . meaning even Brannon Braga understood that you keep that stuff under wraps.  

Oh good grief, Brannon Braga just outwitted the US military.  How sad is that?


ENT Torpedo Guidance Weakness

In "Storm Front, Pt. II"[ENT4], the disabled targeting sensors on Enterprise meant that the ship was unable to torpedo a target on the planet below whose location was known.

This is rather odd, if you think about it.   A torpedo ought to be able to follow a pre-programmed trajectory, and if Enterprise sensors and computers were functioning at all they should've been able to ascertain the ship's location well enough to drop a bomb from orbit against a designated target.    Indeed, even a simple dumb bomb drop should've been relatively easy for them.

True, the ship was not at her best.  This was after the third season events that left the ship all torn up.  But that's hardly an excuse in this case.  Even operating the torpedo like an old TOW missile (guided by commands sent via an unspooling wire behind the missile) could've prevented them from the ridiculous (if cool-looking) need to take their busted-ass ship into the atmosphere and fly around at an altitude of much less than a kilometer over New York City.

Phaser Swinging

Having recently refreshed myself on Enterprise's third season, I've noticed something that seems a bit odd.

It was apparently decided to make use of squibs and other practical effects for most phase pistol misses.  This is exemplified quite well in "North Star"[ENT3], for instance, where missed phase pistol shots kept hitting water troughs, producing an upward bursting splash as if from some sort of compressed air cannon.   Other incidents in the same episode or in episodes like "Damage"[ENT3] saw the use of squibs against various surfaces, including wood and (presumably) metal.

In all such cases, though, the missed shots seemingly hit just one spot.  Yet this is the very thing a beam weapon should excel at not requiring.   A beam weapon affords a remarkable capacity to adjust one's fire in the midst of firing, turning a missing shot into a hitting one.   Anyone with a laser pointer can attest to this.  But for some reason, Enterprise personnel seemed to waste such opportunities.

We can assume a variety of possible causes.  For instance, in all such cases I've noticed, the weapon was set for stun.  This may imply that the stun setting on phase pistols imposed a short beam duration.   (Certainly later phasers were seen to have automatic fire control capability, seen of a 23rd Century phaser in "Final Mission"[TNG4] and a 24th Century Type I in "The Game"[TNG5].)    Compare the short stun shots with Archer's running cut of 2x4 crossbeams and floor timbers in "North Star"[ENT3], accomplished via a setting change.   This presumed imposed short beam duration may have meant that shot aim adjustment was thought to be an abnormal situation.  

Both in concert with the above and as a separate point, considering that the EM-33 bolt-firing plasma pistol was just a handful of years in the past, the inability to adjust one's fire might not've seemed of great concern at the time, or else might've been viewed as a quick way to supporting sloppy shooting habits.

In any case, however, it still seems a peculiar concept.  Certainly, a longer duration stun beam might've been thought to cause harm, and thus a short duration hit was all that was viewed as acceptable.  However, in a situation like "North Star" when you're trying to stun people who are trying to kill you, I for one would happily accept the risk of heavily stunning someone if I could just tweak my aim a little if I was missing.   Let Phlox sort it out.

This isn't the only time we see short-duration shots being detrimental.  For instance, "Gambit, Pt. I"[TNG7], a backyard-range phaser fight with the Enterprise away team phasers seemingly on stun does feature phaser aim adjustment, but the shot durations in that fight are too short and thus no hits occur.   AR-558 doesn't seem to involve any phaser swinging, either, and indeed the aim-and-fire approach seems to suggest that's the nature of phaser rifle training, though that battle might've benefitted from someone spraying and praying by swinging the phaser to and fro.  Presumably the short duration shots we saw were considered superior for ammunition management, though again having at least a couple of guys authorized to go nuts would've given them a virtual artillery position.    Even in "Civil Defense"[DSN3], the automated replicator-phaser doodad fires short controlled bursts instead of wildly swinging, though it did feature numerous shots that adjusted the aim by a few degrees during the shot.

Could it be that the short duration is required?  That is, does it require a full (albeit short) duration shot to do the deed, and a swinging phaser whose beam only touches a guy for a moment in passing won't have terribly much effect?   In the case of normal stun beams I could perhaps think so, especially in the Enterprise era, but on a kill setting at AR-558 I would think that a swinging beam that touched a Jem'Hadar badguy would've at least stunned or injured him, if not killing him outright, so I don't see it making sense there.

Given how few examples of swinging phasers I can think of off the top of my head, I can't think of any particular example that might show a different idea.   As a rule, a swinging phaser implies a stunned shooter (e.g. "In the Hands of the Prophets"[DSN1] or "Legacy"[TNG4]) or just a missed shot, and I don't recall any missed shots turning to hits in the canon.   Then again, we have the phaser fire against the floating Echo Papas from "The Arsenal of Freedom"[TNG1], where phaser fire was intentionally off then adjusted to hit.   And, of course, Captain Tracey's defeat of thousands and thousands of Yangs in "The
Omega Glory"[TOS3] would seem profoundly less likely if we imagine he was carefully aiming and shooting each time like Sisko at AR-558.  Maybe it's just mostly a stun thing?

Not sure what to make of it all, really.   There seems a frequent use of short duration fire as a rule (much as the modern militaries teach the "short, controlled burst"), though we've clearly seen long-duration fire in various situations (especially for cutting applications).  The short-duration fire seems especially common during stun shots.  And while I've imagined assorted rationales for the matter, none of them strike me as convincing reasons for the frequent avoidance of using the phaser in what would be its most powerful application . . . as a constant source for long-duration aim-adjusting fire, stun or no.

UPDATE 12-23-09:

"Conspiracy"[TNG1] shows Dr. Crusher's phaser shots all moving about some, the last swinging downward several degrees to continue pummelling a man falling on the floor with her phasery goodness.   That shot might've been a kill shot, however, given her later advice to Picard to set for kill because stun was ineffective.   It was also the longest shot.


Small Group Progress in Trek

Observe the thesis put forth by Trek in "North Star"[ENT3], "The Paradise Syndrome"[TOS3], "Up the Long Ladder"[TNG2], "The Masterpiece Society"[TNG5], and elsewhere, which is that it is not especially likely that small transplanted groups of humans cut off from the primary civilization will develop any further technologically, and may not go anywhere especially far culturally.   The Wild West remained the Wild West.  The American Indians remained American Indians.  Irish peasant folk remained Irish peasant folk.  And genetically engineered twits remained genetically engineered twits.

The only culture that featured societal evolution was the clone group from "Ladder", but beyond mere adaptation to a new reproductive method they didn't seem terribly different culturally than what we might expect from a transplanted group of Americans from 2123 . . . they are rather similar to the "Masterpiece Society" folks in style and twittery.

I don't necessarily agree with Trek's thesis on the matter, mind you . . . but Trek's been pretty consistent on the point.

There are a handful of regressions, however, in addition to the lack of progressions.   For instance, we have the folks from "Terra Nova"[ENT1], but that's a special case since basically all the adults died.  And there's a possible tenuous connection via Turkana IV, a Federation colony that devolved into crap after cutting themselves off from Federation contact.   There's also the Mintakans, a "proto-Vulcan" group of humanoids at a Bronze Age level, though their true origin is never precisely given.

I think small groups in a new environment will do more than just stagnate, and regression is not their only other option.   Yes, there is no great manufacturing base to work from, and it's going to be a small group advancing instead of an entire planet's worth of people, but the concept of no progress whatsoever seems incredibly strange, especially when (as in the case of less technologically advanced cultures) they've seen what's possible.  Also odd is that the Mariposan clones and Moab residents, despite advanced computing, never managed to get much further.  But in the first case, we could chalk it up to a lack of imagination when it's the same five people over and over again.

The above having been said, there are issues to advancement for any group.   More primitive groups could theoretically advance more easily, what with their technology not being as complex, but at the same time there is less opportunity for advancement given that more primitive groups must expend a higher percentage of their efforts merely on feeding and sheltering themselves.   More advanced groups require advancements by those with greater specialization and more computational capability, which small groups might have difficulty supporting and creating.

However, a total lack of change or advancement seems most peculiar.


The North Star Paradise Theory

Could the Skagarans be the Preservers?

"North Star"[ENT3] and "The Paradise Syndrome"[TOS3] both feature inhabitants of North America removed from there by alien species.  "North Star" seems to involve the abduction of a large number of western US citizens circa 1865, while "The Paradise Syndrome" involves the abduction of a variety of American Indians which at no point shared contiguous lands.

The "Paradise Syndrome" people were left in place on a lush and lovely world (called Amerind in the script) that seemed to have plantlife very similar to, if not identical to, that of Earth.  I am unaware of any animal life being directly seen, but clothing and other traces of what appear to be Earth-normal animal species are present.   The only evidence of their abductor/saviors was an asteroid deflector left on the planet, with the medicine man of the colony instructed on its use.  

The "North Star" people, along with horses and cattle, were taken to their new colony planet,  which I'll call Skagara Colony.  It was a rather more arid location, and the humans were meant to be slave laborers.  Earth-normal plantlife is seen in the area.   The abductors enslaved the humans but were overthrown within about six months.  The ship was burned and most of the abductors were killed.  Those who were not were forced into sub-1865 living conditions and forbidden from educational activities.

The deflector obelisk on Amerind appears indicative of technology beyond that of the 23rd Century Federation, while the Skagaran technology is only seen in debris form, along with references among the humans to phaser/disruptor and transporter technology.  

Spock is able to decipher writing on the obelisk, and says (borrowing from Chakoteya.net):

SPOCK: Yes. The
obelisk is a marker, just as I thought. It was left by a super-race
known as the Preservers. They passed through the galaxy rescuing
primitive cultures which were in danger of extinction and seeding them,
so to speak, where they could live and grow.

MCCOY: I've always wondered why there were so many humanoids scattered through the galaxy.

SPOCK: So have I. Apparently the Preservers account for a number of them.

Sure, there could be an entire advanced species (or "super-race") devoted to such an activity.  But it seems to me that they would not have renamed their species to correspond to what they were doing.   Ergo, the Preservers likely had an actual species name.   And while I won't outright reject Spock's accuracy of translation (given that it did later enable him to operate the deflector, despite his two months without adequate food or sleep), I will say that the markings were obviously written by the Preservers themselves.

We do not know of any other Preserver-assisted "primitive cultures", though a variety of incidents occurred within centuries of their presumed appearance in the 1700s (such as several whole species dying out) that one would think they might've done more than just pick up some low-tech Earthlings.   So the concept of the Preservers as galactic busybodies seems off.

Worse, if you are rescuing primitive cultures, it does not make sense to screw them up.   Specifically, Spock notes that the Amerind colony appears to consist of Navajo, Delaware, and Mohican tribal characteristics.  While some convergent cultural evolution may have occurred and there weren't really that many tribes originally picked up, nevertheless it seems that the Preservers apparently mixed them, creating an amalgam of the cultures anyway, thereby preserving very little, even beyond the simple act of taking them away from their natural and social environment.

And, of course, we know that the Preservers are not the source of all the humanoids in the galaxy, per "The Chase"[TNG] which shows that it was, instead, largely a matter of guided (or perhaps better put as 'roadmapped') evolution.   Were the Preservers the cause, we would instead expect a number of planets with exactly similar species populations on them, something akin to what is seen in Stargate SG-1 (with various planets seeded over thousands of years by the Goa'uld with humans).   So there would be multiple planets with humans, planets with Vulcans, planets with Klingons, et cetera.  And per the Trek Stagnation Theory, these planets would show almost exactly what life was like on the homeworld when the people were abducted.  

We do not see that sort of thing at all.  Oh sure, we see a lot of species that look just like humans, but almost invariably they are their own species with their own evolution and long history on their worlds.   Instead, all we see of the transplantation is that on one world, Amerind, there are some American Indians. 

Thus, I do not personally think the Preservers were a super-race that did a lot of Preserving.  I think the note upon the Obelisk was simply to say that the abductor species was more advanced, took the American Indians who were in danger, and seeded them on that world.  Why they were interested in the Indians is unclear . . . rather North America-centric of them, really, since I'm sure other groups around the planet (in Africa, for instance) could've used the help, too.

That North America-centric position brings us back to "North Star".  Could it be mere coincidence that members of the same culture which endangered the American Indians were made slaves on another world?   Could it be mere coincidence that around the same timeframe, two groups along with local plant and animal species were taken from North America and transplanted elsewhere?  

I don't think that seems very likely.  Why would the Skagarans, if they were really just interested in slave labor for a new colony, bring along alien plants and animals, too?  If they meant to build a colony, would they not have brought their own?   And if they had transporters, phasers, and a starship large enough to carry hundreds of humans and a wide assortment of lifeforms away, why didn't they just conquer Earth?   The 1.3 billion Civil War-era humans of Earth weren't exactly in a position to kick their ass, after all . . . we didn't even have aircraft.

I think the Skagarans were the Preservers, and that the Skagarans were not quite as fully evil (nor the Preservers as fully good) as has been believed.  Instead of a century-wide gap between abductions, I think they occurred at the same time.  And I think the Skagarans made a moral judgment about the events in North America at the time (perhaps even thinking the slaveholding South was going to win, which would put their visit prior to 1864), and took parts of both of the groups they were interested in for two colonies.

The first colony was the most livable, but also the most dangerous due to asteroids.  The American Indians they sought to save and perhaps even co-exist with upon a possible return to that more lush environment.  With the deflector in place, that colony could do well.

The second world was, I presume, nearby.   The Americans they intended to punish and force into labor were placed there to start working on the colony.  It was safer, but the environment was not as good.

However, the Skagarans were overthrown and most of them wiped out just six months in to the building of the second colony.

Who were the Skagarans and why were they in this area anyway?  Who knows.  If the theory is correct, their ship was at or beyond 23rd Century Federation technology.  Their ship was large enough to carry the hundreds of humans that must've been needed for the Skagaran Colony, along with horses, cattle, and plant species, as well as the Skagarans themselves.   With 1000 or so Skagarans on Skagara Colony, after most were wiped out centuries prior, we must assume a large crew, perhaps even on par with a Galaxy Class Federation ship.   But with no other Skagaran lifeforms in evidence, we must presume one of two things:

1.  That it was a colony ship which had a problem of some kind, resulting in the death of their plants and animals and perhaps some people.
2.  That it was not a colony ship at all, but a ship that had to choose to make a colony.

Notable is that despite their technology, advanced to no less than 22nd Century levels (ignoring the North Star Paradise Theory) as early as 1865, no one has heard of the Skagarans in the 22nd-24th Centuries.  This suggests that the Skagarans weren't from Earth's area anyway.

I would thus submit that the Skagarans were on a ship very, very far from home (intentionally or otherwise), and that they were damaged in some way, perhaps even near Earth.   Visiting Earth for supplies at some point, they became interested in North America and took people, but they were not interested in (or simply unable to achieve) conquest of the planet.   With their situation hopeless, they kept searching for a good place until they entered the early Delphic Expanse area, which may or may not have had a barrier around it at the time, and whether intentionally or not they ended up selecting planets there.   The American Indians they set down and built the deflector, with some Skagarans intending to return.   In the meantime, the other colony had to be set up, so everyone went to the Skagara Colony planet, where in a flagrant display of incompetence they had their asses handed to them by a bunch of cowboys.

The idea is not without problems, and there are undoubtedly some aspects that could be tweaked, but I don't think it has any major holes.    It reduces the number of Earth-visiting species (which is still terribly high, but still). 

I also like the irony.  The American Indian colony dwellers called the Preservers "the Wise Ones".   Yet on Skagara Colony, their defeat means that they forgot everything they knew about who they were.

Now if you really want to get some interesting ideas going, suppose that the Skagarans of 500 years ago (as counting from circa 2370) were some of the last survivors of the species the Klingons called the Hur'q, who apparently originated in the Gamma Quadrant, and who had sacked Qo'noS circa the 1300s . . . .


Drexfiles DS9TM Runabout Pics

The Danube class is one of my favorites, bar none, save for the silly strap things.

Though I strongly approve of this concept of the runabout (and would’ve loved to have seen deposited modules somewhere), it would have been great if the interior and exterior design had matched up better with it. (But, alas, it was only TV . . . yet so much matched up so well.)   Such a notion would make the runabout similar to the Sikorsky Skycrane, but with swappable modules for the underside.

As it stands, however, I don't think the runabout's interior as seen matches up with the concept of either a U-shaped cargo pallet thingy (as seen in some production sketches) or the nifty room-to-go modules that Drexler shows us in the link above.

For help imagining this a bit better, from Amberwolf are some excellent pictures of a runabout model built without the
center section in place.  As you can see, the cockpit module and aft
section would attach to the spine, though the model builder did not know of the central hallway idea from the production sketch and Drexler DS9TM renders and thus left it out. 

Externally, this design concept is somewhat unsatisfying.  The underside of the ship's aft section does not appear to have any
connection of the underwing impulse and end-of-wing warp drive system
to the ship, save for at the very top of the wings.  While Star Trek technology would certainly allow for such adventurous designs, it makes the runabout seem quite fragile, especially when you ponder incidents like the tractor beam from the lower aft section in "Paradise"[DSN2].   Less subjectively, however, we have Sisko’s impulse drive modifications in “Blaze of Glory”[DSN5],
when he
enters a Jefferies tube out of a small hallway or closet of some kind
(all we see is a doodad-covered wall).  

Why is this a problem?  Because for the Sikorsky runabout idea to work, we need a central corridor that connects the fore and aft compartments while also providing access to the special cargo/work modules.  

But the presence of Jefferies tubes throws that out of whack, because their existence requires a
few things.   First, that there is a full deck-height area for the
closet (which prevents us from imagining this Jefferies tube up along
the spine).   Second, that if the tube is going into the wings (e.g.
sideways from the center section toward the warp drive nacelles), that
there must be a second Jefferies tube on the other side.  But instead
we see doodads and not another access hatch, so therefore the hallway
must be on the side of the ship.   Alternately, the tube runs fore to
aft (or vice versa), requiring two tubes running along the side of the
ship, but still we lose the cargo module in that case, since it would
still have to be integrated with the ship and not a removable component.

Then there are internal issues.  Most notably, we have “Timescape”[TNG6] which shows a big wall with doodads (referred to at Ex Astris as the pentagonal console wall) right where the central corridor should be.  To move forward toward the cockpit, you apparently have to cross the door threshold and go left, on the port side of the ship.  The TNG people never go right.  While not proving the lack of hallway or other access, it also means there is no proof they exist.

And of course in all the DS9 episodes generally, the aft part of the cockpit has no central corridor.  Instead it featured the pentagonal console wall either behind the door or in place of it (suggesting that it may move, because otherwise it was completely blocking access to most of the ship).  Later DS9 even moves the transporter there, and the hallway on the starboard side is visible.  ("Timescape" shows Picard and Troi cross in front of the pentagonal wall from the port side, implying that a portside hallway should also exist.)

Of course, the entire area inboard of the tiny winglets is part of the room behind the cockpit, which later got the transporter placed within it (though curiously, we do not see the second, smaller set of windows even then).  So while there's enough extra room on the rear end of the cockpit module to allow for central corridor access if we assume that the port and starboard corridors beside the transporter or pentagonal console wall merge again, this solution is somehow unsatisfying . . . why waste what little space the ship has with so much walkway?

Most of the solutions that allow us to keep the cargo modules as such thus seem very inelegant, and I don’t know what the solution here would be. Two hallways along the exterior around a central space seems odd, especially given the strap-thing on the outside of the runabout hull. And if there were such a large central space, one might be tempted to assume it was engineering, and place the warp reactor there and upright, barring contradictory Okudagrams.

We could presume a peculiar S-shaped hallway, except there's no evidence for that at all.   Or we could presume that there is somehow a central hallway that takes a number of jigs and turns for no apparent reason in such a small ship.  But for most of these, you have a ship that’s “hard coded”, if you will, with only the rollbar allowing mission-specific modules. That’s fine, but not as satisfying a design as the Sikorsky-esque model.   After all, if the ship does not have swappable modules, why the devil does it have the strappy thing?

My preferred conclusion?  Well, I think there's gotta be some sort of use for the strappy things . . . e.g. that something is removable.  I also see no reason to require the ship to lift off in order to dislodge any removable item, because that seems silly even given antigrav tech.   I also don't like the notion that the various parts are connected only by the spindly spine. 

Ergo, I would argue that the wings and aft section are joined together much more.  If you're looking at the underside image of the Amberwolf model, I would say the aft section extends further forward and makes contact with two-thirds or so of the underwing structure, allowing additional integrated (i.e. permanent) space.  This would be the location for the Jefferies tubes, from hallways on each side.  (Note that I don't think the starboard hallway extends all the way, which is why Picard and company always went port.)

You can get a sense of my aft section size preference by looking at this image from MFI.  I would have the aft integrated section extending all the way up to the "science lab"/"crew module" boundary in that image, or nearly so, with the modules listed on that image being the swappable modules.

I would also argue that the cockpit is connected by much more than just spine, but that instead there is some central access and walkway accessible from the cockpit, whether via port or starboard (though hopefully only one at a time, with the other side being toilet or some other useful space as in the MFI image).  And that instead of four Drexler-esque modules, there are two, and they can be dislodged by turning the front outward and sliding them out between the nacelle and potentially-movable winglet, with the ribbed section just behind the winglet serving as a seal and swinging space for when the modules are being turned.   These modules would end just behind the intake-looking part of the wing, just in front of the vertical feature going between wing and upper reactor cover.

As for the number and orientation of the warp core(s), I'm not married to any particular idea.  However, it would make sense to me if the reason that Picard and company had to make a left turn was because of a nice slim vertical reactor on the other side of the wall.  We already know that there are separate port and starboard antimatter pods, though, so I could live with multiple cores . . . but that topic will have to wait for another posting.

Is my conclusion canon?  No.  Since we don't see the underside of the runabout much if at all, there's no way to tell precisely what it really looks like under there, and therefore what might be removable.   However, I find it compatible with canon, and probably a bit more compatible than most alternatives.

(Personally, I always fancied the idea of the rear section being capable of swap-out, too, up to and including the crazy notion of a shuttlebay-esque module for vehicle/probe launch and recovery.  But, alas, I think my present conclusion might be imcompatible with that.  Oh well.)

(Note:  This posting needs pictures in it, and I'll try to edit them in later.)



All this time, I thought the redhead from the Army Wives ads was actually (Louise) Robey from Friday the 13th: The Series.   I remember seeing that show and the big bouffant red hair hotness way back when, though I don't think I ever made it through an entire episode.  Not enough her in them, you understand.

I was impressed when I (thought I) saw her still acting recently.   I mean, sure, I knew she must've aged well, but she was young then, and the hair color and face was the same.   But, alas, come to find out, it's a different cute redhead altogether, Brigid Brannagh.  At least, unlike "Robey" (as she was credited on 13th, however absurdly ... I never could get past that), she uses both of her names.


WW2 Starships

The existence of the Japanese show Space Battleship Yamato has always bothered me on some level.  While I don't think they ever fought Americans or anything in the show, there's something in the very concept of resurrecting a sunken WW2 Japanese warship and wanking it out into a flying warship that gets under my skin, especially considering the reports of some unique perspectives on WW2 being taught in Japan's schools not too long ago.

(Presumably it's the same sort of reaction as the one I have to those select individuals in the southeastern United States who proclaim that "The South Will Rise Agin!" . . . a mixture of pity, disgust, and instant boredom.  "The Yamato will rise agin!")

All that having been said, I was pleased to note that someone has responded quite adequately to the challenge of Space Battleship Yamato.   May I present Cliff Vestergaard's "Space Ship B-17" . . . or, if you will, "Space Battlefortress B-17".

It's equal in wank factor, sure, but at least it's from the right side.


TESB Docking Bay Asteroid

For years, pro-Wars debaters have argued that there is a scene of a ~10 meter asteroid striking the shields/hull of an Imperial Star Destroyer.  This asteroid, which we will call the Docking Bay Asteroid for ease of identification, is claimed to hit a spot just to the portside of the ISD's lower docking bay.  

As a rule of thumb, the basic claims went uncontested.  Everyone could
see an asteroid, a flash, a lack of asteroid, and the ISD continuing
on.   Certain low-resolution reviews seemed to show something extra in
the area at the time of impact, but it was never conclusive.

The claim has existed for years and is generally used in arguments about the shield capabilities of Star Destroyers.   For example, we have Curtis Saxton at TheForce.Net:
"A similar collision between another destroyer and a smaller asteroid left the ship unscathed. The asteroid struck near on the portside of the primary docking bay. Upon impacting with the shields it crumbled within a fraction of a second, indicating a lower-limit estimate on the shields' capacity to absorb sudden blows. The asteroid was approximately 10m in diameter and had a kinetic energy of at least 2 x 10^12 J. "
That is a kinetic energy of about half a kiloton, and has been claimed as a universal lower limit for the shield capacity . . . or occasionally the capabilities of the armor . . . of Star Destroyers, based on the rather convenient fact that at such a long range no damage was apparent.

Of course, unsatisfied with that value, others have claimed that the small and distant asteroid was vaporized by the shields, thereby extending the utility of the most convenient fact that the object was so distant debris would never be observable.   Presumably using vaporization calculations against the 10m potato-shaped asteroid, the shields are thus said to have imparted four kilotons of energy on the asteroid.

With the advent of the HD (1080) broadcasts of the films, however, all the claims can be laid to rest at long last.

The asteroid, moving up the screen at a nice clip, does indeed seem to explode in a flash.  However, that flash begins at the bottom of the asteroid.   Can't see it?  Let's zoom pics 1 and 3:

And here we'll show the two frames overlaid at half opacity, with the top of the asteroid in about the same spot in both shots:

Last but not least, we have the animated .gif:

And so with the facts obvious, we may clearly note that the top of the asteroid is still visible while the bottom is flashing in an explosion.  This is grossly inconsistent with the notion of a shield impact.   For an impact, the initial forces and damage would naturally occur against the "front" of the asteroid relative to the ISD . . . e.g. the impacting side.   Oh sure, we can imagine an event similar to Newton's Cradle wherein the collision shockwave travels through the asteroid leaving the front completely unperturbed but blowing out the tail of the asteroid somehow, and I'm sure my opponents will plant their standard on such an unlikely event.  However, the conclusion that this is not an impact is simply obvious and obviously simple.

"Ah," some might claim, "but the asteroid continued to move between your frames 1 and 3, which is why you had to move the top of the asteroid to match in the overlay.  So even if you're right, this means that the Star Destroyer must've shot at and vaporized a ten meter asteroid, because otherwise the mass would still have hit the shields anyway!  Thus we still have a four kiloton shot!"

This, however, is wrong-headed.  The scaling of the asteroid (from which the firepower would be calculated) is entirely dependent on the assumption of contact or near-contact with the hull.   Without that, we have no idea of the size of this asteroid, because we don't even have a turbolaser bolt to measure against.  We cannot even reliably claim that the asteroid was headed for the ISD, given the other ISD shots in the scene fired against non-threatening asteroids.

As such, we know almost nothing about this asteroid, except that it is seen to explode from the bottom up.  This tells us it was not a collision incident, but little else.

At best, one can simply claim that this is one of the more accurate shots ever seen from an ISD, one which happens to involve a bolt or other weapon shot that the camera is at the wrong angle or too great a distance to observe.

(Or, out-of-universe, it's a simple VFX error of a forgotten bolt.)


Ratings Irony

TCW (the CGI Clone Wars show) debuted in its second season with 2.58 million viewers

Enterprise in its fourth season averaged 2.81 million viewers.

TCW's ratings are said to "kick ass", whereas Enterprise was shut down because of the low ratings.

I know, it's not a 100% fair comparison, and there are different network and other 'environment' factors (not to mention just more channels taking smaller and smaller bites out of the big pie of potential viewers), but it is ironic. 


Incidental . . . B5 & TCW

Is it just me, or is the supposed-to-look-like-CGI of Star Wars: The Clone Wars actually better and more realistic looking than the CGI from Babylon 5?

And yes, I know that isn't fair.  But still . . . am I the only one who thinks so?


Betreka Nebula

In reviewing galactic map details, I pondered the matter of who borders whom.   The Federation, Klingons, and Romulans naturally have mutual borders, of course (though interestingly we've never heard of a "triangle region" outside of the non-canon).  And we've heard explicitly of the Romulan and Cardassian borders with one another, a small bit of rearranging on the part of the DS9 folks to make the area more lively . . . after all, as some had earlier envisioned, Cardassia was to the "west" of the Federation along with the Ferengi, Talarians, and (later) the Tzenkethi, with the old-timer Klingons and Romulans to the "east".

But the question was whether the Klingons and Cardassians shared a border, or whether the Klingons had gone way out of their way to conquer, thus creating a non-contiguous Klingon Empire.  To be sure, there were frequent mentions of the Klingon-Cardassian
border after "Way of the Warrior", but at that point the Klingon Empire
had conquered a section of Cardassian territory so the matter was

The answer, I think, comes from "Way of the Warrior"[DSN4].   Bashir and Garak refer to a "skirmish":  the Betreka Nebula incident sparked an 18-year-long conflict between the Klingon Empire and the Cardassian Union.   This strongly implies the presence of a border or near-border between the two prior to the invasion.

Just a note . . . probably obvious to some, but I just couldn't remember.


Obnoxious Pacifism

Regarding "Jedi Crash" and "Defenders of Peace"[TCW1], as noted at NoLettersHome.Info and expanded here:

I hate arrogant pacifism.  It's the taking of an ideal that's good and worth
striving for and turning it into a socio-political tool.  For instance, if
you're an arrogant pacifist talking to someone who respects pacifism
but values justice and liberty more (and thus fights), then this reasonable person
wants you to understand why they feel liberty overrides peace ((since of course it is a difference of degree but you're both in the same general moral zone and thus equals)).  After
all, pacifism is a worthy goal, and Jedi above all others would not
wish to be seen as not respecting pacifism.

But if you're the
arrogant pacifist who's more pacifistic than said Jedi at the expense of justice and liberty, being an
obnoxious schmuck about it only serves to make perfectly reasonable
people want to hit you.   At that point, of course, you would then start
crying and bemoaning what evil hostile aggressors they are, yelling far
and wide.  Then you get a lightsaber in the chest because you won't
shut up.

Opinions will differ, and moral men will disagree.  But to get all haughty with complete strangers because you made your choice and they made the opposite one in the presence of the same facts is not noble or even pacifistic.  Words can be weapons, too, and the little old alien punk from
this episode knows that all too well.  No supreme pacifist is he.   Instead, he's one of those people who complains that no one likes him and then goes out of his way to ensure he is unlikable so he can complain about people not liking him.   What a toolbag.

The moral of the story is, being a pacifist doesn't
just mean not shooting a gun.  It also means not shooting your mouth


A Silly But Beautiful Game

Imagine fighting the fandom Kobayashi Maru scenario of ever more swarming enemies.
Now imagine you're fighting against ethereal Tarellian starships.
Now imagine you're fighting while within V'Ger.
Now imagine you're tripping on acid.

And thus, you get a sense of this game.



Cruisin' on Tatooine

You must go here at once.

Then here, too, though I think that's Endor and not Tatooine.  That Lotus is just reminiscent enough of the THX-1138 vehicles to make for an awfully appropriate juxtaposition.

And after all that amusement, I'll torture you with this monstrous vehicle with an anime skank writhing upon it.


What's Really For the Kids?

Filoni says no:

 It seemed as we went further in the season, the things that George [Lucas] wanted to see were a lot more intense and we were able to get things even darker and a bit more serious. Especially when you compare it with the film, where we started. I think that's something we as a crew all wanted to do. I know that I did, and Henry Gilroy did. We kind of had to see what a Star Wars animated series was going to be like and was it just going to be a cartoon for kids. It turned out that it's just not. We just try now to make it like the classic movies. They're quite fun, but they can also get quite dark. So that's what we shoot for now.


IGN: [Laughs] Me too. You mentioned that as the season progressed, you began to shift things into darker territory. Was it a challenge figuring out what the balance would be as you went on, since you do have some younger fans who enjoy the stuff with Jar Jar and the Battle Droids, versus the older fans who prefer the darker material?

Filoni: Yeah, I think it's always a challenge. There's this perception right away, since we're animated, that we're just for kids, always, which is just not true. When I was a little kid, I really liked Empire Strikes Back. Now, it freaked me out, because I was really little. When I saw Luke's hand get cut off, I was like, "Oh my gosh…" But something George told me, when we're doing stuff like that, is that as long as there's an intention and a purpose and a story point, we can do things that are intense, because they're just not done gratuitously. We have to keep that in mind. Because I think ultimately, we're chasing some of the best fantasy/science fiction films ever made with our little television series and that's a heavy order for fans. They want us to be as good as those movies, all the time, wrapped into 22 minutes. So we have to have intensity.

But then there's also that whole fun, funny side to Star Wars, like, "Get this walking carpet out of my way." And you have a girl swinging across a chasm on a rope, kissing a guy. It doesn't get much more fairy tale/fantasy than that. So we try to capture all of that and just at the end of the day, tell a good story.

Apparently this is the opposition's attempt to copy my little side point that the Incredible Cross-Sections books are children's books (which is true, as per the 11 links (some from DK, the publisher, directly) on this page), and try to turn it around to ignore some of the highest canon of Star Wars.  Or, as one SB denizen put it, "Not that I put much stock in the series anyway. [...] I don't take what goes on with any particular seriousness. It is a kid's show, after all."

Um, no it isn't.   It's what George Lucas is doing with Star Wars these days.   Sorry if you don't like it, or if it bursts your little Saxtonian Wankery bubble, but TCW sure looks like Star Wars always has  . . . at least, to most everybody but you.


Scalzi - Bad Design in ST

Okay, so is it just me or did Scalzi go much easier on Star Trek?

His basic points feature a couple of irrational-seeming super-advanced alien devices (and here I include Voyager 6 as modified to V'Ger, and you can (but he didn't) include Nomad).   Then he moves on to phasers, only noting their highly variable output and not things like ergonomics, apparent lack of sighting mechanism (or holographic analog) on most, and other possible design complaints.    Then he gets all fashionista on Starfleet uniforms, complaining about the shade of mustard yellow or something.

So basically, he has completely ignored critiques of Federation design thus far, whereas most entries in the Star Wars article made fun of Imperial design on actual utilitarian grounds, with only the last three being more of the nature of production/story design flaws.

He then moves on to the Enterprise problems from TMP, which does bring us to our one and only critique of Federation design, which was the TMP-era method of increasing phaser power by channelling it through the main engines, or whatever.   This means the engines going flaky (as the untested TMP engines did) would disable the phasers.  

Clearly this did not occur in the ENT, TOS, or TNG eras, and thus we may presume a temporary situation.   Meaning the one actual thing he considers to be a poor design in Trek was a one-movie problem that was a function of plot.

He even considers holodecks to be brilliantly designed, even too good, save for the ease of overriding safety protocols.   Really?  That's the only design flaw of the holodeck?   How about not being able to simply pull the plug when Jarada probes fiddle with the settings, instead requiring that engineering teams stand by as the future Chief Engineer patiently watches the wunderkind fix it?   We even saw this graceful failure mode in Voyager!   When the ship was rendered powerless by a dampening field, the holodeck froze with the simulation's setting in place.  Even if that were a special case, however, we could at least assume a failure mode where all the simulated stuff just disappears, leaving you in a blank room.

But I digress . . .

Finally, Scalzi takes the easy shot of making fun of the JJ Abrams magic comic-book "red matter" MacGuffin/BDO from the recent Trek movie.  Gee, that was imaginative and original.

So yes, I'm unimpressed. 


Captain Keogh is Skeletor!?!

I'll be damned.  I'm usually good with voices but I had no idea the Odyssey captain was Skeletor (though there was a resemblance).  Hat off to Alan Oppenheimer, who like Peter Cullen is one of the archetypical voices for 80's kids.


Scalzi - Bad Design in SW

While it is terribly easy for any loser to start critiquing things off the cuff without having any real sense of what was going on to begin with (ref.  ST-v-SW.Net, SDN, Olbermann, ad infinitum), this John Scalzi fellow* has a few good points about Star Wars.

Next up, he says, Star Trek.

(*Unlike most run-of-the-mill sci-fi losers this fellow has some street cred . . . he's a Hugo Award winner, for instance, meaning he's a professional loser.

That said, there's always a touch of bad taste when even a very talented unknown pooh-poohs the popular thing of his own genre.   You really need to be an outsider for that to play well.  Though they're hardly unknown, that same reasoning applies to Scalzi and Brin, and even moreso to untalented unknowns like this loser who I've previously pooh-poohed here, making me some awe-inspiring Over-Meta-Loser.)


Star Trek Hall Passes

In numerous Trek episodes, we've seen folks with padds.

Usually this makes sense, and was even hella-cool at the time.   Instead of the little swiveling desktop unit Picard had in the ready room or the same concept Kirk had in his quarters, the padd was a nice and simple handheld computing device.  Some padds were quite large, but several were probably smaller that even a modern netbook.

However, there are a number of occasions were possession of a padd does not make sense.

1.  "Good Shepherd"[VOY7]

Seven enters some non-critical information into a padd, hands it to a lowly Starfleet person, and orders them to take the padd to Engineering.  Torres notes the information, hands the padd to someone else, and we follow it to Deck 15, where some smarmy twit punches a few buttons on his console upon receipt of the padd.


I can see having a detailed record-keeping process at non-alert conditions using thumbprints or whatever, but when you only have a crew of 150 normally, then assuming only 50 are on duty at any given time (with probably a dozen on the bridge and in engineering combined) then that padd maneuver just cost you two people for several minutes.  Sure, a walk and change of scenery (such as you can have on a starship outside the holodeck) is nice, but you just dropped your manpower by four percent for a few minutes, in non-break conditions.   Torres, after all, seemed really busy.

1a.  "Tapestry"[TNG6]

In a modified present, Picard is a Lt. and astrophysics dude, carrying a padd to be delivered to La Forge.   As Q describes it, it is Picard "carrying reports to your superiors".


While I appreciate the idea and possibility of sensitive information being carried by print-out ("Encounter at Farpoint"[TNG1]) or otherwise not merely stuck in the ship's database, it seems that an assistant astrophysics officer would not be likely to be carrying data that was sensitive to that degree.

2.  "Heart of Stone"[DSN3]

Nog is handed a padd and tasked with doing an inventory of a cargo bay.   He does so after a few hours.  In the process, he did so well that Dax mentions he even found a few things that real station crew had missed in their last inventory.


I mean I know tricorders can be spoofed, and on a station dealing with foreign cargo all the time it can't hurt to look, but he wasn't even carrying a tricorder.  If we grant the idea that they're looking to avoid tricorder spoofing, we're left to assume they assume no holography.  What?

And what's this about missing stuff in the last inventory?   Did they not have tricorders then, either?  

Tricorders are ubiquitous in Trek.  Why would they not be used as timesaving logistics devices?  We do this now with RF tag equipment and barcode scanning handheld units.  You're telling me a doodad capable of telling you what I ate yesterday can't figure out what's in the crate?

3.  "True Q"[TNG6]

Not quite a padd example, but Crusher assigns a student the task of checking medical tricorders before they're put into supply containers by scanning herself with them.

Really?   No remote self-diagnostic on the tricorder?   Or even an onboard trustworthy diagnostic?   You just make sure it sees you and then go on about your business?


This all seems to point to the idea that there's a fair bit of make-work going on aboard Federation ships.  Sure, carrying padds around can give the opportunity for face-time, but it seems that oftentimes folks have padds for no reason they themselves are aware of.   I'd imagine (or at least I trust) that they dispense with such pleasantries in alert conditions, but if not then damn.

Can you really imagine in the modern era someone carrying around a Pocket PC or a Kindle or an iPhone in a hospital or aboard an aircraft carrier, with their sole purpose in life at that point to give the information on it to someone?   Of course not.  It would be e-mailed or otherwise transmitted.  

"But that's not fair," you say, "those are expensive whereas padds are like paper to them.  And people carry paper around, so there!"

Yeah, we carry paper around, but not if we don't have to.   That's the point . . . these padds are being carried about when there's no evidence they have to have it that way.

Just a thought.


Mandalorian History

A bit of history regarding the Mandalorians in advance of their appearance in The Clone Wars:
A battered and tarnished chromecolored droid named IG-88 was also with the group, standing next to the notorious Boba Fett. A human bounty hunter, Fett was known for his extremely ruthless methods. He was dressed in a weapon-covered, armored spacesuit, the kind worn by a group of evil warriors defeated by the Jedi Knights during the Clone Wars. A few braided scalps completed his unsavory image. The very sight of Boba Fett sent a shudder of revulsion through the admiral.
                                   - Ch. 9, TESB Novelization

That's about it.  The name Mandalore in regards to Fett's armor first came from Marvel Star Wars comics in 1983. 

So between those two facts, plus anything else in the comics that Lucas might've decided to make use of and anything from the EU that Filoni can squeeze in, that's probably going to be a lot of what we see.   So far, for instance, we're already hearing a trash-talking Mandalorian talking about killing Jedi and how his people fight Jedi, so here we go.   In any case, I would not expect to see a very sympathetic view of the Mandalorians, what with their first appearance being described as "evil warriors".

Incidentally, as noted elsewhere, what The Clone Wars show is going to do to the EU's continuity regarding the Mandalorians is why Karen Traviss, prime author on EU Mandalorians, has left any and all Star Wars-related writing.   Can't say I blame her, provided one has been told the EU has any relevance to the Lucas universe.



Yeah, I did.   I feel dirty inside, but still.


You can also catch other stuff I do on the same topics:


I'm thus, officially, a twit.


Braga on Coto's Enterprise

So he finally gets it, does he?

Although Coto dismissed a fan’s comment that he "saved the show", with the writer noting "I didn’t think it needed saving, I liked the show." But Braga was not so kind to himself, saying to Coto "I did think your season was the best season" and going on to say "that is what Enterprise should have been from the beginning."

Coto brought Braga on to 24 as his bitch, so presumably Braga's had the benefit of watching how Coto rolls. 

In my opinion, Braga is a wacky guy with lots of ideas, but he's more than a little loony-tunes (which is okay in Hollywood) and requires restraint and logical grounding.  That's why he and Ron Moore worked well as a team . . . Moore was the former Navy guy with a logic streak, and Braga was the potsmokin' hippie.    Braga enhanced Moore's ideas and Moore made Braga's ideas work.   Left to his own devices and/or with Berman, Braga just couldn't cut it.  

I'd imagine Coto is a good Moore-esque character for Braga.

Tokyo Makes Holodeck; Civilization Ends

Well, now . . . that didn't take especially long.  I suppose warp drive will be online next Tuesday.

So with touchable holograms a reality, you know good and well that guys . . . especially those freaky Japanese guys . . . are gonna start having carnal knowledge of holographic chicks, perhaps even bypassing the leather-clad robo-whores altogether.  And, of course, in the process of getting to the point where there's enough of them to go around, somebody will figure out how to program it for an adaptive approach to greatest pleasuring.   Finally, the technology will end up exported and guys . . . especially those freaky Earth guys . . . will have trouble getting anything done anymore.

While I'm sure this ultrasonic holography doesn't match fine textures and whatnot, that probably won't matter to most males.  That said, there is a clear distinction between it and the Trek holodeck.  This can produce a small sense of pressure, but I rather doubt it can produce any real push as from a solid object, the sort of thing involved in a penetration.   Thus, while guys are all out banging holo-hookers, the women will be left the task of (a) running civilization and (b) feeling left out.   Thus they will easily cast off the dead weight (males would be too distracted to note the murderesses until it was too late) and simply start reproducing on their own.  

No doubt the holo-hookers will be used to scrub plasma conduits or something.


TOS Weapons Fire BVR

Just noticed that in "Arena"[TOS1], while Sulu's handling the battle against the Gorn ship he notes to Kirk that phaser fire has been ineffective against the Gorn shields, and he also notes that they've been unable to "get visual contact" because the Gorn were "too far away".  The ship then fires photon torpedoes at the Gorn ship which they still cannot see.

Compare this to "Journey to Babel"[TOS2], in which the Orion vessel closes to 75,000 kilometers and is visible on the viewscreen, at which point Kirk orders phaser fire.   There is a possible counterexample in "Obsession"[TOS2], however, when the cloud creature is not visible and out of range . . . until Kirk orders extreme magnification, which is when the creature appears.  However, as seen in the phaser fire scene, the creature was huge and spread out in space, possibly making it large enough (e.g. kilometers) to be both visible and out of range.

It would seem from those examples that "Arena" demonstrates a *much* further weapons range than 75,000 kilometers, assuming a Gorn ship of similar scale to the Orion ship (and also, presumably, the Enterprise).


Another Ship to Bear the Name?

There's a petition to try to ensure that there's a bit of continuity of US Navy ships named Enterprise. I guess folks still feel screwed after the NASA Enterprise fiasco (the lady don't fly!).

I haven't signed, but I'll consider it. After all, the recent habit of using full names of political figures is exceedingly tiresome . . . I mean, ship names now are basically like "this is the USS John C. Doe III, Esq. (United States Ship John C. Doe the Third, Esquire)". Really? Seriously? I could care less. Just name the ship Doe or Churchill if you really want to (I rather like the latter), but the rest is cheese and ass-kissing.

Give me the USS Resolute or USS Defiance any day . . . Churchill works because it represents such.

But I do rather like the idea of making sure history remembers the name Enterprise.

Brilliant Point on Hoth

"Jack Fetch" on SpaceBattles (hat tip to "Mr. Oragahn" of SFJ) asked a penetrating question recently.

Given the claimed firepower for even the fighters of Star Wars (e.g. multi-kiloton yields from the Saxton/SDN Episode II Incredible Cross Sections children's book), there is no reason why the Rebel speeders should not have been capable of any of the following:

1. Melt or vaporize huge holes in the Hoth ice so that:
A. ... the AT-ATs would fall in because you just melted the ice they were standing on.
B. ... a super-trench the AT-ATs could not navigate would be created.

2. Use blast effects to:
A. ... knock the legs off-course with direct hits, causing instability or tripping a la the tow cable trip wire.
B. ... "tip the cow", producing blast waves that would naturally produce the most force against the largest-area part of the AT-AT: the body.

None of these things occur. There is no logical reason for any of them to fail to work. You may even be able to make up more possibilities yourself.

Further, the fact that we saw dudes in the trenches without any protection also proves the point. If kiloton yields were being tossed about a small battlefield in aerial combat against supertall war machines, would anyone seriously want to be in a mere snow trench? That's like hanging out around Hiroshima and hiding in an alley on a particular day in 1945 . . . not a good plan.

There is no plausible excuse for any of that . . . even the full efforts of pro-Wars trolls and biased moderators at SpaceBattles were unable to thwart the reader's mind from reaching the obvious answer to the "Jack Fetch" question. Their evasiveness, subject changes, and unwavering belief in megaton firepower being in play only served to make them look even more like fools.

But if you have an actual rock-solid idea as to why I should still believe in high yields at Hoth, please let me know via comment. If your idea is crap, however, do not expect the post to survive. I will not suffer fools.


The Moon

Look at this picture.

In late July, 1909, we were still trying to cross the English Channel by air. Sixty years and one day later, we were on our way to the moon.

Forty years after that, and what have we done? Dawdle long enough to probably let the Chinese beat us back to the moon, is what, not to mention losing the national sense of drive and ambition that made this country what it was during the 20th Century.

That sort of thing contributes to the background of the old TNG Space Hippies idea, by the way.


80's Childhood Reboot

Yes, it's a silly video.

Yes, you will click the link.

Resistance is futile.



Trek 2009: What Our Spock Could've Done

In the new Star Trek movie, the old Spock from the so-called Supernova universe ('cause he sure wasn't our Spock) had numerous options for restoring the timeline, were he inclined to think of time as it was treated on Star Trek pre-2009. A list of the things our Spock could've done helps set the tone, especially if we try to keep in mind what might've also made for an entertaining film.

But first, let's acknowledge that Spock's job might initially seem rather difficult. After all, unlike Picard in First Contact, Spock has arrived not minutes after the timeline change, but decades. And, whereas the Borg were in a tactically inferior position on arrival, Spock's position is worse still . . . the powerfully-armed mining ship is in position and ready for battle, compared to Spock who literally just pulled his ship out of a frickin' black hole. Even if Spock's surrender seems "all too easy", we do have to grant that his situation was at least very close to "screwed".

So yes, we can grant that the writers could've had a good way of avoiding the existence of an easy timeline repair option had they kept slamming Spock with bad luck . . . after all, if Picard and the Enterprise-E had rammed into an asteroid or something upon exiting the Borg time vortex thingy, there would've been no one left to de-Borgify the timeline.

However, any such notions are quickly dashed by the simple fact that Nero lets Spock go. And he doesn't even let Spock go on some remote unknown planet where he'll die a painful death. No, he sets him down on a planet within sight of Vulcan and at a location within walking distance to a Starfleet outpost. And then he leaves.

Nero thus appears to be completely ignorant of Trek time travel in the original Trek universe. Because frankly, if I were a maniacal badguy from the future bent on destroying the Federation, I'd be damned sure that any other future-people opposing me were very very dead. After all, future-people have already demonstrated a grasp of time travel, so there's little sense in waiting until they remember it again.

And if Trek 2009 had shown our Spock, then our Spock wouldn't have been so distraught over losing Vulcan, because the next step would be to fix it. Did Picard see a Borgified Earth and go "aww shucks"? No. He immediately planned and promptly executed some Borg ass-kicking, quantum torpedo style.

But I digress. Spock is left on a planet with kinda-sorta spaceflight capability (in the form of a busted-ass shuttle), communications capability, and so on. Even if we ignore how Kirk drops in on him, we can still presume that he has the capacity to leave the planet within a reasonable timeframe. It is further possible, if not likely, that he would gain access to a proper ship, whether by sharing intel with whatever remains of Starfleet or by other means (e.g. mind-melding with living Vulcans so you have a very logical, very efficient, and very discretely very pissed-off group of people on your side). Even a one-man ship of decent range would suffice (provided it didn't look like a frakking jellyfish).

And with that, he has the timeline in his hands.

And so here are Spock's time travel options that he ought to know about (usually due to direct involvement), listed roughly from best to worst:

  • 1. Check and see if anybody's found the Guardian of Forever yet. If not, then you have a time portal all your own.
  • 2. Spock may still recall the formula for the slingshot maneuver a la The Voyage Home. Even a Klingon Bird of Prey can do it, and they suck.
  • 3. Spock may recall the engine implosion formula as employed on the Enterprise whilst in orbit of Psi 2000 ("The Naked Time"[TOS1]). This one's a little worse off since the tech is so different, but it might still be plausible.
  • 4. Spock may be able to calculate the 2258 position of the "black star" near Starbase 9 as referenced in "Tomorrow is Yesterday"[TOS1], and use it in a similar manner as what occurred once before by accident.
  • 5. Spock knows the fate of Sarpeidon, a planet whose sun went nova in 2269. Someone there created the Atavachron, which sent an entire planet's population back in time. Surely it could be modified to send one guy back to a specific point when a ship could be available for him. But it seems this option would be awfully tricky, not to mention tough for Spock.
  • 6. Though he's missed the Nexus energy ribbon by just four years, Spock would likely be aware of the thing that 'killed' Kirk aboard the Enterprise-B, and would likely have learned of Kirk's brief reappearance. It seems likely he would be able to lay in wait for the Nexus when it returned in 2293, or at least pass on the information to Vulcan's survivors.

Okay, so once we can get Spock to the past, what does he do?

The best possible outcome is that he somehow prevents the formation of or somehow 'collapses' the singularity from which Nero emerges in 2233 before the Kelvin ever notices it. Presto-change-o, the future is altered and with it the past. (After all, they do a lot of time travel in Trek.)

Thus the timeline of the entire film is excised, and we again have TOS. So even if there was a Captain Robau of the USS Kelvin with a Mr. Kirk on his bridge, it would all be TOS-ified and not a lick of it would look anything like what we saw in the movie.

Methods of accomplishing this goal could vary, and many would venture toward technobabble. The easiest and most cartoon-friendly solution (thus matching the Abrams film) would be to be able to acquire more red matter via some adventure (no doubt battling Romulans and Klingons along the way) and drop it on the right spot so it spits Nero back out in the future before he even appears in the past, preferably at the Arkham Asylum star system or something.

Other techniques could be more complex or too damaging. For instance, causing a supernova of the star near which the Narada appears would save Vulcan, and depending on the timing the Kelvin could escape, but such a move would be likely to have other repercussions on the timeline. But I mention that example in order to point out the fact that our Spock ought to be thinking of whatever was effective, and can't be afraid to think big.

For instance, merely destroying the Narada upon its exit from the singularity is unlikely to fix the timeline, because the Kelvin was already there. However, if you can somehow manage to guide the Kelvin away from the event and then destroy the Narada and send its parts falling into the nearby sun, then you're just about golden.

After all, in TNG era Trek it is made pretty clear that the timeline is not quite the fragile thing we might expect. One might think the slightest alteration to the timeline would have ramifications not unlike some sort of chaos theory exercise. Merely appearing in the past and standing in a city ought to immediately wreck the future, just from adjusting the courses of the city-dwellers . . . this lady advances a second along the same path, this guy loses a second along his path, this other person turns left entirely. The result is that the first two people, the parents of, say, Colonel Green, never met. And Zephram Cochrane's father was a friend of the guy who turned left but the guy who turned left twisted his ankle two blocks later, missing his interview and with it the job, never meeting Cochrane's father and never introducing him to Zephram's mother, thus Zephram Cochrane did not exist either.

But with DS9, certainly it is explicit that for those who travel into the past, their present (our future) can be the same despite all sorts of minor changes. The same is even true, though, of First Contact.

Thus, what we might call Temporal Inertia is on Spock's side. Keep the change from the original small and it will fall into place.


Blake's 7 Reboot

"All of this has happened before, Roj, and all this will happen again."

Long, long ago, when I was but a young man, I somehow ended up receiving catalogs from the Intergalactic Trading Company. Among the Star Trek and Star Wars items that interested me, there were a few other things I found confusing. For instance, there was a bumper sticker that said:
"I was stupid. I was expendable. I went." - Tasha Yar
I thought this odd at first, until I found another bumper sticker that said the opposite, as attributed to some unknown character called Kerr Avon . . . "I'm not stupid. I'm not expendable. I'm not going."

I thought little more of it, at the time, despite other quotes from this Blake's 7 show. Somehow as a boy Avon's wit didn't fully penetrate, and thus I had little interest. Frankly, at the time I was more interested in the grainy thumbnail-sized shots of the fascinating Timeship Lynx or the text under the Alaska Class Battlecruiser Enterprise-C on the Enterprise history poster (the text of which I could read with a magnifying glass, and thus never bought). (And incidentally, that poster only had the side view, not the top view in which the ship looks like a pregnant-guppy version of the Excelsior with those goofy FASA "megaphasers" all over it.)

But you see, many months ago I came across an old copy of one of their catalogs, and once again this Blake's 7 intrigued me. And I started to watch.

Much as Star Trek has iconic characters Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, Blake's 7 has Blake and Avon, with assorted fascinating interactions of the two with others. Put simply, Avon is one of the better characters ever created, though I daresay he is inseparable from the portrayal by Paul Darrow.

At first seeming to be a mere arrogant computer whiz, almost immediately Avon transforms. Imagine a combination of Nimoy's Spock, Quark when not being silly, and the Olmos Adama and you get a sense of the logic, greed, and badassness of the character, along with the quiet, humble humanity that permeates them all at the right times.

And the tech is an open field online . . . seems that no one has come at it from the perspective held here at ST-v-SW.Net, though there has been a little quickie attempt on scaling that has been copied elsewhere.

And now Blake's 7 will be back . . . maybe even for real, this time.

Can't wait to see what they do with it. But short of cloning Paul Darrow . . .

Also (unrelated): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-RWJ3JYszM


The Temporal Incursion Fallacy

I'm seeing a lot of people assuming that the USS Kelvin as seen in the Star Trek movie existed in the 23rd Century of TOS. That is dead wrong.

Shall we have ourselves a little gedankenexperiment please?

Let us assume linear time, and no universe-hopping or universe-creating potential from time travel. (Orci, this means you.) Let us further assume a rational universe without deific beings.

Now then . . .

Yesterday, I developed a time machine. Tomorrow, you will go back in time to January 1, 1939 to shoot Hitler.

Question: Is it reasonable to assume that all of the events prior to 1939 are unchanged?

Answer: No.

After all, I just sent you back to shoot Hitler. Who is to say what other time travel events might or might not have occurred till now, some of which might be altered when you kill Hitler?

As noted elsewhere,

"Go back in time and blow up Kirk's Enterprise as soon as it pulls out of Spacedock, for instance, and you not only change the 23rd Century but even the 20th ("Tomorrow is Yesterday", "The City on the Edge of Forever", "Assignment: Earth", and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home). This would likely also alter the 24th Century, meaning Picard's Enterprise, meaning "Time's Arrow" . . . in which case the 19th Century is altered, not to mention the 21st and 22nd (First Contact and the related "Regeneration"[ENT]). But of course, at that point the 20th Century gets even more altered, thanks to "Past Tense"[DS9], "Little Green Men"[DS9], "Future's End"[VOY], and "Carpenter Street"[ENT].

While you could argue, per Orci, that each of those events created a different universe, it is clear from all those episodes that Trek lives in a universe where each of those events and changes occurred."

Thing is, though, the same is true even in the non-linear time concept. If you're going to a parallel universe when you 'time travel', how do you know it has the same content as the one you left, if you don't know what yours looked like at the time? For instance, if you had never seen Star Trek and all you saw was the "In A Mirror, Darkly" episodes, which were set in the evil "mirror" universe, you might be led to believe that's what Star Trek was all about.

At best, you can say "pending other knowledge, we will use this data" . . . but that's terribly silly, really. I mean, do you really think the data from another universe ought to be used just because you don't know about the universe you're interested in? Why not just use Battlestar Galactica data while you're at it? Sure, it's a different universe, but that hasn't stopped you before.

That's just silly.

A ship named Kelvin probably did exist in the TOS continuity at some point, but we have no reason to believe it looked like that, had the same captain, or anything else. To assume otherwise is to employ what I'm calling the Temporal Incursion Fallacy.


What Is It With You, Anyway?

Bernd is right.

Ex Astris Scientia's Bernd Schneider has been villified online lately for daring to question some off-the-wall press reports (e.g. blogs, esoteric industry insider Hollywood production mags, et cetera) of a massively upscaled Enterprise for the new film. He contested that notion because, to paraphrase his thoughts, (1) it would be completely retarded for them to keep the same TMP-era exterior details, some of which are almost as good as ladders or stairs for giving sizing cues, but then upscale them on the starring ship like some Voyager ship-of-the-week, (2) one can't always trust the claims of VFX guys (be it "impressionist" VFX guys like DS9's Stipes, or Richard Edlund's 500 mile Death Star), (3) there are seeming scaling variations within the film, so it's too early to come down on an abnormal figure without good reason, and (4) basically, the larger that ugly ship is, the more absurd its shape becomes, simply as a question of engineering.

Now, I don't necessarily agree with all that, but I see his points. Sure, given the gaping plot holes, a lazy production ethic based more on flash than substance (resulting in mere upscaled TMP-era components) is not a huge shock to me, and given the apparent parallel universe I'm quite okay with everything being different, even if it doesn't make sense to us why particular things might be*. Vic's dead, after all. (If anything, it could be more different . . . it's always been kinda silly to have mere set redresses in parallel universes.)

And also, not everyone is working from the same evidence. Some have been listening to the desperate efforts of Orci et al. to handwave away the most retarded parts of the film, treating their words as gospel. Some have been looking at some well-selected and seemingly cam-grab-derived screen-caps on online forums, while others have other images in mind or hand. Others base all their info from trailer images that never appear in the film.

Is it really bonkers to wait for a full accounting of the proper evidence before accepting some wacky figure from some unknown dude? I think not. Even the scaling of Star Wars ships, which most people accepted based on similar trade paper statements, has recently come under scrutiny, so it is hardly evidence of wild-eyed lunacy to approach the topic with intellectual caution. And until the DVD Blu-Ray comes out and we can scale to
our heart's content, it's definitely silly for people to freak out at
the present time based on trailer images and vague recollections.

So for me, I'm leaning based on what I've seen and heard toward the 725-ish meter ship, though I'm fond of the claim of 610m. Others haven't seen or heard the same things and so they might lean elsewhere, and I might even agree with them if I'd seen or heard what they have. No big deal. But I'll still call it the Monsterprise either way. :)

It's not a critical issue, the evidence is not readily available yet, and it is not evidence of mental deficiency or some sort of Bernd temper tantrum as some very strange people are claiming. It is the quest for consistency in a Trek universe rendered far more inconsistent than ever. The only thing that's peculiar is to see people freak out about it.

(*) There's a distinction between production and content. From a
production standpoint, having a bridge dome no longer surrounding the
bridge, yet looking exactly the same, except that the former headlight
notches are now bridge windows and the whole thing's twice as big . . .
it just makes no sense at all. But in-universe, we can imagine any
number of reasons for such a shape to come standard relative to the
other shapes, be it subspace dynamics, a particular designer's history
similar between the two universes, or whatever . . . it doesn't


Glossary of Star Trek 2009 Terms

Henceforth, I shall refer to the Star Trek ships as follows:

1. The Abrams movie's Enterprise is dubbed the Monsterprise, due to her unattractive proportions and wildly increased size.

2. The class of the ship is reportedly also "Constitution" in the film. However, as this is confusing, I shall refer to it as the Altstitution Class.

3. Unique ships like the Kelvin and Narada do not require unique naming, as they are themselves unique.

4. I have yet to figure a good name for old Spock's ship other than "Supernova Spock's ship". I refuse to call it the Jellyfish, because that's even more retarded than any other name I've written thus far.

5. Other ships like the Farragut are awaiting special names, because "Monstergut" or "Altagut" just don't work.

There is also my prior use of continuity distinctions to consider as a solution. For instance, we have the Prime continuity (TOS, et al.), the Supernova universe (Nero and old-Spock's origin point), and the Black Hole continuity (starting with Nero's arrival in 2233 and culminating in the new Kirk and his Monsterprise).

It should be noted that I am wickedly fond of calling the quasi-reboot's continuity the "Black Hole continuity", given the numerous implications . . . some of which are not family-friendly.

In any case, though, that would mean I could refer to the BH Farragut or the USS Farragut (BH). I'll work on that.

Site Downtime

Some of you might've noticed some site downtime this weekend. Sorry about that . . . it appears my webhosts forgot how to process valid card information. Not only did they seemingly lose the one on file, but even when re-entered their system couldn't deduce the complexities of correct operation.

I hate stupid crap like that. But, to their credit, the e-mail address they had on file for alerts of such nature was an older one I do not check frequently, so at least they tried to alert me that they'd gone all 'tard-o-matic on me.


Star Trek Reaction (spoilers!!)

"It was ... fun."

Yes, that's true. But dear sweet heaven the main plot was full of holes and silliness. I mean, I like it as just a fun film . . . it had that fun fluffy romp feel of, say, the Lost in Space movie. Suspend disbelief and lose a couple of hours for eye candy, and you're done.

But I don't want to be completely unfair. The first few minutes set in 2233 are excellent, in my opinion, and if you're not careful they could be tear-jerking (for anyone, not just Trek people). The segments regarding Spock's youth are virtually flawless, soon turning a simple talking moment with a no-thank-you into a moment you almost want to cheer.

Frankly, that was all wonderful stuff.

But after such a great start, we quickly slip toward meaningless-but-fun action-adventure, without depth, and contrivances begin to multiply.

Let's be clear, here . . . I want to like it. And besides, after the Onion so deftly poisoned the well, there's almost pressure to. I'm just not sure I honestly can.

That said, you can't fault any of the people involved in the technical aspects of making the film. The effects were flawlessly professional, the actors were all very good in their roles, and the pacing was effectively frenetic. Whoever did the sound mixing threw in lots of old 60's Trek noises for buttons, beaming, et cetera, and I appreciated them.
(( However, the excessive lens flares were distracting
and annoying, and the music rather surprisingly sucked. ))
Alas, there are (1) gaping plot holes, (2) Trek and real science butchery, and . . . well, frankly, (3) I'm not even sure this has any relation to TOS, over and above its acknowledged splits.


Let's consider some of the plot holes.
1. In 2387 a "supernova" threatens to "destroy the galaxy", and threatens Romulus specifically or first with its blast wave. Spock is late to save the planet with some black-hole-making magic red stuff. Romulus goes boom. Then Spock stops the supernova.
Seriously? How could Spock be late to something with a predictable arrival time? He might as well have overslept.
2. An angry Romulan space trucker (Nero, flying around in his big rig the Narada) concludes that the Federation stood by and watched his planet burn, and that Spock was personally responsible and must be punished. He attacks Spock's ship and both of them fall into the new black hole Spock made, naturally going backwards in time and popping out at random places in Federation space.

Nero emerges in 2233, incidentally destroying Jim Kirk's father and his ship, then he hides out for 25 years. He is waiting for Spock's arrival in 2258 to continue his quest for revenge and hurt Spock, intending on using the red matter on Spock's vessel to create black holes and destroy every planet in the Federation.
Frankly, I think Nero was right to want to punish Spock, given the goofy idea that he was just running late that day. I mean, I'm not the most timely individual in the world, but I'm pretty damn sure I could wake up on time to save billions of people in a pre-planned event. I'm just sayin'.

But the rest of what happens doesn't make sense to me at all. Captain Space Trucker just watched his planet burn with his wife and child on it. And now he just realized that he is in the past.

I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm interested in revenge when I am in the frickin' past. I am interested in fixing the thing I got pissed about, if possible . . . saving the wife and child, in this case, or even the whole planet of Romulus.

(And y'know, it's really, really simple on this one, if you're Nero. Take the red matter from Spock, go to the star that went supernova, and nip that little sumbitch in the bud. Or, if you want to make sure that doesn't screw with the timeline, you do it in the 24th Century shortly before it goes boom (getting there either via time travel, hanging out near a black hole, suspended animation, or just plain boredom waiting).

Instead, he decides to engage in the costly and troublesome maneuver of taking his 24th Century garbage scow into assorted battles with 23rd Century frontline military starships. Even the 2233 ship had kicked his ass with a ram, apparently even causing a head injury to Nero that left him scarred, so you would think he might reconsider this idea. Maybe the head injury is supposed to explain his stupidity.

. . . no, sorry. I still can't get over the fact that he had 25 years to come up with a good idea. I mean, even if there were complications (given that as soon as he got there he shot up a 2233 starship, thus changing history), there would still be ways to make it work. And even if you're pissed at Spock, the not-even-all-that-smart idea at this point in the reasoning is to seek his assistance, even as your prisoner. After all, he does know a thing or two about time travel, and he is involved with the Vulcan Science Academy, which by this point does acknowledge the idea.)

And incidentally, if Spock's ship was so damned important to the whole galaxy, and carrying a weapon of mass destruction no less, how is it that the stupid thing had no escort at all, so a random guy in a mining scow could know of it and challenge it?
3. Spock apparently surrenders to Nero, who spares his life and maroons him on planet Delta Vega where he is to watch the destruction of Vulcan.
Spock surrenders? Okay, whatever. Not really seein' it, but he's old.

But why maroon him anywhere? Could he not watch from the Narada bridge or even a special room with a window, a room where you could taunt him at your leisure? I mean if you really want to emotionally torture Spock and make him watch helplessly as his homeworld is destroyed, isn't part of the fun being there to enjoy his pained reaction?
4. Later, Spock assists the 2258 Kirk in getting back to the Enterprise, feeling he must be there along with 2258 Spock because they have to become friends so they can beat Nero. Old Spock even refuses to come along with Kirk to the Monsterprise to assist because Kirk had to get the ship on his own or something, along with the implication that it would weird out the timeline or something. I lost track, really.
I lost track, really, because this whole concept was retarded. Old Spock seemed to be of the opinion that Nero's ass could be kicked so long as people named Kirk and Spock were friends on the Enterprise, with Kirk as captain. He even says he didn't come back to the ship because he couldn't withhold from young Kirk and Spock the friendship and understanding of their potential or something.

Basically this is all the most retarded Trek-wank bullshit I've ever seen. Trekkies love the whole idea of their favorite characters always kicking badguy ass, and we've had the deep bond scenes of their friendship always coming in above all (The Search for Spock being the prime example), but now all of the sudden we're supposed to believe in some Care Bears crap wherein so long as alt-Kirk and alt-Spock like each other they can defeat a huge ship with technology that is 100 years more advanced.

That's . . . that's . . . just wow, man.

What should've happened is that old Spock should've been like "yeah, I've gotta come with you, 'cause I know how 24th Century shit works and maybe I can hook you up with some tricks." He could've even caused Kirk and Spock to be friends by mind-melding with both to show them the friendship that he'd had with his Kirk, in the process showing young Spock what an awesome Captain Kirk could be, at which point he steps aside graciously.

Except that last bit shouldn't happen either, because young Spock could go "so what? That's an alternate Kirk, whereas this one is an asshole." And he would be right to point that sort of thing out. It's strange that old Spock decides this universe should be like his, with Kirk as the captain. He doesn't even know this Kirk.
5. Spock adapts himself completely to the new timeline, becoming emotionally invested in the destruction of Vulcan and resigning himself to his fate as dictated by Nero.
This is the biggest leap for me of anything, and frankly this is where I call bullshit against the movie.

Let's imagine, for a moment, a different film. This one starts in 2387 and follows the chain of events from the star going supernova to Spock promising to help the Romulans to Spock failing to wake up on time that day to Spock fighting Nero and ending up in the past.

With that chain of events by itself, you have to know the next step for Spock . . . he's going to fix the timeline, the universe be damned. That's what every Trek character has ever done, even when they shouldn't have.

When a drug-addled McCoy went through the Guardian of Forever and changed the past, did Kirk and the gang just start building shelters from the ruins and start populating the planet? No, although Kirk probably did feed Uhura that line for a minute just to shag her rotten. But after that, he immediately went back in time to bone Joan Collins, potentially causing even more of a temporal incursion, just to try to fix whatever McCoy did.

When the Borg went playing in the past in First Contact, Picard's first reaction was to follow them back and "repair whatever damage they've done". He didn't say "aw, man, Earth vacations are gonna suck now."

When Archer's condition due to an anomaly resulted in the failure of his mission and the destruction of Earth, and when it was suddenly realized that a treatment for his condition could change the timeline, the Enterprise people didn't play around . . . they fixed it via suicide in a warp core breach.

Then you have the shouldn't-have. For instance, the humpback whales had died out when Earth was threatened in Star Trek IV . . . Kirk told the entire universe to suck it, went back in time, showed a chick his "humpback whale", and brought some whales forward to end the threat.

And hell, remember Annorax and the Year of Hell? That guy spent 200 years trying to fix his temporal mistake. Even in the Lost in Space movie they were trying to fix stuff.

But instead, in this movie, Spock surrenders completely to whatever happens to him.

The hell you say.

6. Planets are defenseless.
Why the brainbug about naked worlds with not even a frickin' F-14 Tomcat to defend against a frickin' drill on a long cable dipped into the atmosphere?


And now for some of the astrophysical silliness and odd Treknology changes. Skip these if you don't care. Most people probably would or should not.

1. Supernovas do not threaten to destroy galaxies and do not blow apart planets light-years away. This is the cause of the 2387 events but it is silly. (And Spock being late to meet the shockwave thingy is even sillier, because it isn't like it would've been accelerating even if we accept the stupid idea of it.)

2. Black holes are not two-dimensional, "Yesterday's Enterprise"-esque doorways to yesteryear, and if you are falling into one with your megaship you cannot be half-in and half-out of it like it's a stargate.

3. Vulcan had a blue sky. It has never had a blue sky, T'Pol be damned.

4. Delta Vega is a cold planet and apparently a moon of Vulcan now instead of a remote lithium cracking station site, because you can see Vulcan with the naked eye. Except they act like Delta Vega is still remote. But Spock was left there to watch Vulcan's destruction with his naked eyes.

5. Starships are now huge. Whereas before the round bit atop the teardrop bit on the top of the saucer was the bridge, now the bridge is just a little round room taking up a tiny portion of the teardrop bit. In the image below (from a TrekBBS poster), note the little black horizontal line where the superstructure atop the saucer begins . . . that is the bridge window/viewscreen, and it is far too big for the actual one in the film.


The hugeness is also confirmed by various other scenes like shuttles flying over, people working on the hull, and so on, not to mention the fact that even a ship like the Kelvin from 2233 had 15-20 shuttles escaping from it.

But the Enterprise seems to be about largest. You'll hear a lot of people talk about a huge half-saucer from a destroyed ship that the Enterprise almost runs into, but in a wide shot it is clear that this saucer is no larger than the one on the Enterprise herself. Most people seem to miss that.

Some have referred to the new Enterprise as the Monsterprise, and I rather like that. Not only is she big, but she's ugly, too.

5. Normal transporter range is now just 100 miles, unless you have an equation. Plug that into the computer and it's like a cheat code allowing transporter ranges measured in light-years. Titan to Earth beaming is no problem.

6. Warp factors seem to be redone, again. The ship leaves Vulcan at warp factor three, then later Chekov hopes Scotty can get the ship to warp factor four. Unless the scraping of the port nacelle caused way more damage than it appeared, I don't see what the deal is unless the scale's been redone again.

7. Stardates are boned now. It is currently stardate 2009.05 or something retarded like that.

8. Warp speed looks different, again. Instead of even being unique like it used to be, now it just looks like everyone else's FTL.

9. Thrust seemed to come out of the Kelvin's warp engine instead of its impulse drive when a collision course was set.

10. Shields don't seem to do anything anymore. Sure, a Kelvin officer asks if they're even up, but they do decline as the attacks go on, even though the ship is getting punctured anyway.

11. What the hell is up with starships, now? The bridge looks like an Apple Store, while the new Monsterprise engineering section has frickin' analog dials and single-gang electrical knockout boxes everywhere. And shuttles were mixing high-tech touchscreens with old metal toggle switches. Even the bridge had sporadic LED-clock-type number displays, which was just weird. Might as well have had Nixie tubes in random spots.

12. And back to real science for the big finish, it is unnecessary to drill to the center of the planet to drop a black hole there. Per the fears of the LHC, small black holes are more than happy to make their own way to the center of the planet, and would consume mass as they went.

Certainly that is more like how the special effect of Vulcan looked, given that it seemed to collapse into a gravitational crater at the front instead of just smush in on itself.

Finally, why the hell would you have to lower a beam emitter capable of drilling to the center of the planet into the atmosphere? Could this drilling beam not make it through the wisps of air at higher altitudes?

Just a silly excuse for the base . . . er, space jump, I guess.


So does this movie relate in any way to the old Trek? Has the 2233 incursion, as the Monsterprise characters suggest, deleted the old timeline?

The answers, in my opinion, are "no" and "yes".

First the "yes" . . .

As I noted last time, Star Trek has been surprisingly consistent in that "time travel stories have suggested a single timeline which, when altered, reshapes the Trek fictional universe." Therefore, despite the production staff attempting to say that this is a parallel timeline, I think the Black Hole timeline (e.g. Nero in 2233, destruction of Vulcan, et cetera) represents a replacement of the Supernova timeline (e.g. the one old Spock came from).

This is proven by the fact that the Narada left 2387 first, arrived in 2233, and changed history. Meanwhile the Supernova timeline's Spock left a few seconds later and arrived in 2258 right in the middle of the changed history.

However, the Supernova timeline is not what others have called the "prime" timeline of Trek. That is to say, old Spock comes from (and, really, arrives in) a different universe than the Prime timeline anyway.

How do we know this?

1. Romulans from the Prime timeline have had ridges since at least the 2100s. And tattoos have never been observed as a Romulan normal trait, even among the civilians. Nero and the gang do not have ridges but do wear tatts and shave their heads. Ergo they are not our Romulans.

2. Even in the Supernova timeline, they give stardates just like they do in BH 2233, a modified timeline.

3. Supernova Spock is a pussy.

4. Supernova Spock's apparently now part of the Vulcan Science Academy (where was Starfleet when help was needed?!?!) with the rank of Ambassador (like Black Hole-Spock's father in this film, presumably) instead of hanging out with the reunification crowd. Sure, there's no telling what happened after Nemesis, but none of that makes much sense in the Prime timeline.

5. Supernova Spock says Scotty discovered transwarp beaming. Our Scotty never did that.

6. Supernova Spock had no apparent interest in McCoy's friendship, though his ought to have mattered as much as Kirk's.

7. We never saw any of Supernova Spock's past with Kirk via the mind meld, thus we have no way to know what the events were.

I could say that Spock recognizing people who look nothing like the TOS cast was proof, but I'm letting that slide.

There's also one other aspect.

Nero and the Narada go through the black hole first and the Narada arrives in 2233 in a revised Black Hole timeline.

Supernova Spock goes through the black hole last and arrives in the Black Hole timeline's BH 2258, meeting Nero.

But that doesn't make sense in a single-timeline universe. How could they be the same guys meeting in BH 2258?

After all, as soon as Nero fell in, the timeline ought to have changed. Thus the 2387 that existed after Nero's departure should've been one in which Nero arrived in 2233, fought the Kelvin, and then waited in vain for Spock, because there might not've been any black hole to fall into at that time. This is the Nero-Only Black Hole timeline.

Any Spock that arrived in BH 2258 thus ought to have appeared from the Nero-Only Black Hole timeline. Vulcan would have survived in this timeline because the red matter never arrived, and perhaps enough other details remained the same (e.g. Nero disappears somehow or other) to allow for Spock to be an Ambassador and with the Vulcan Science Academy in 2387, trying to save Romulus but pissing off a space trucker, and both wind up caught in the black hole.

You see the problem, though. Anytime Nero goes in first, we wind up with a NOBH-style timeline. So we somehow need Spock to be wrong about Nero going in first, because otherwise we never get Spock in the black hole. Otherwise it's like trying to go somewhere by traveling half the distance with each step.

We can presume that at some point Nero's ship goes in the black hole but is destroyed prior to time travel, or perhaps it arrives in NOBH on top of Nero's first ship (or vice versa), producing no other changes, and so bingo, no changes occur. We thus have a Nero and Spock from a NOBH, a timeline pre-modified for our convenience.

The alternative is that, instead, the movie's original 2387 timeline apparently persists for some number of seconds at minimum, at which point Spock falls in to the black hole and arrives in Nero's 2258.

But a timeline that persists after a timeline change without outside influence (the pocket of the Borg time vortex in First Contact, or the Guardian in City...) is no timeline at all, in the Trek rationale . . . that is a parallel universe. Certainly arrival from a mirror universe would explain things a bit better, such as why the Kelvin is such an odd vessel. It would also allow for the persistence of the Prime universe.

Either idea would allow for the stardate variation from the Supernova timeline.

Anyway, I'll ponder these issues more later, but for now it is making my brain hurt. Suffice it to say that they could've severely improved things by being more clear on that point . . . but given that they were making such a nonsensical universe anyway, I suppose they decided not to bother.

Perhaps I shouldn't either.