Why Wee Screens?

This is from a 2009 draft post that was never quite completed.  With a recent Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode, I was pleased to see my idea in action, to wit:

I've been bothered for a long while by the use of tiny screens on handheld devices, most notably in Trek. The amount of data and control options that a tricorder must offer is absurd, especially if communicated via the tiny inch-wide screen. Yet we see the characters providing tons of data and controlling all manner of devices by way of the wee screens and a handful of hardware buttons.

To be sure, this all makes sense from a production standpoint. But in early TNG we see ubiquitous high resolution holography.   We even learn in "The Chase" that the tricorder has a remarkably good holo-emitter capable of projecting a perfectly good representation of a person.   So why not abandon the screen altogether in favor of a holographic screen projection in mid-air?   It isn't like the tricorder doesn't already have a dozen flashing and blinking lights all over it.   And if you're concerned about the person in front of you knowing what you're reading, just have it project a solid block or a black screen on the other side.   If you want to get really fancy, just have it go to the next level and have it only visible for the user, not unlike today's polarization screens that prevent passersby from reading what's on your monitor.

Ironically, it was Star Wars that finally showed the basic technology in action, and seemingly just to show off.   In "The Lawless"[TCW5] from 2013, we see a small comm device which can project the number of signal bars it has above the unit, much like a cell phone would do today with a tiny icon.   This isn't even really a necessary act for the technology, and yet there it was.

I also imagine this technology being useful for phaser targeting.   The smaller phasers don't seem to have any obvious targeting method available, though it is clear they do somehow.   The phaser rifles do have tiny screen things or something going on.   And of course there was the headset for the TR-116 rifle.   Wouldn't it be better to have a little holoprojection screen pop up above the weapon, allowing zoom and better target discrimination?    Then every weapon could be a veritable sniper rifle, which given Data poking fun at the limited range of muskets in an early TNG episode, would make the point make more sense.

Vapid Sleight-of-Hand

"I enjoy the really loud people who hate Star Trek ’09 for not being the same, and hate Enterprise for not being different."

I saw that quoted on Twitter and it was too annoying not to share.  It isn't a case of hitting close to home ... I am hardly loud, nor do I hate either.  But the fact is that, like so many ill-considered cutesy posts online, it is stupid.

First, JJ-Trek is not the same as Star Trek.  And again, I say this as a person who thinks the first few minutes of that movie are some of the best of Trek, bar none.  The rest is mere sci-fi with trappings of Trek, as the Star Wars comparison video demonstrates.

As for Enterprise, it had its moments, to be sure, but being set 100 years prior made some things look silly.

On a technical level, the only way you knew you were in the past was because of NASA-esque uniforms and buttons instead of Okudagrams and a warp five speed limit ... or at least a limit that they couldn't exceed.  Beyond that, they had everything right, right from the get-go.  They didn't even need a navigator, and the transporter was so unimpressive they just had it sitting in a hallway.

I have previously said that ENT should've been more like the Starfleet Museum at Ex Astris Scientia, but I can live with it mostly as-is.


1.  The transporter really shouldn't have been around, and if it was it should've been very limited in function (e.g. cargo only) or capacity ("alright, we can only take one at a time!") or requiring almost a minute of beaming or a long prep time or all of the above.  And even then, it should've been huge and primitive, taking up the space of a whole cargo bay or something similar, and had a dedicated team of operators and maintainers, rather than being operated by anyone who walked by.

2.  The ship should've needed X minutes to go to warp, be it for field generation, scan-ahead, navigation, or all of those.  Popping into warp at a moment's notice is too easy.
(Note that I had this thought when ENT premiered, and was amused to see BSG take it and run with it and even have a whole early episode revolve around it.)

3.  Travis should've been in charge of a whole slew of dedicated navigation personnel, maybe making use of the back of the bridge.  Yeah, we sometimes saw people there, but there was no indication that anything was going on other than Travis.

The funny thing is, all of these would have contributed to dramatic needs, perhaps excluding the last one (at least until the ep where the team's all killed and Travis really has to do things alone, which adds to the time to go to warp a la #2).  But still, #3 certainly could've contributed to the Mayweather character, which was otherwise lacking.

And bingo, you have a more plausible show, just like that.



Nanotech just entered the canon with the latest TCW, "Sabotage". At the Jedi Temple, a civilian foreman over all gunship weapons was an expert in nanoweaponry and was murdered via ingestion of a large number of volatile nanodroids which were used to explode him while he was at work.

Frankly, the use of the nanotech wasn't really necessary to the episode, but it was there and now I'm trying to figure out if there's anything in Star Wars that would require or would have benefitted from this knowledge previously. And for the life of me right now, I can't think of anything.

I mean, I suppose we could insert them in different places . . . the Death Watch ropes that coil around the target could be related, and assorted grappling devices might bond via nanotech rather than magnets. But, as I think I've probably said before, Star Wars seemed to make no use of nanotech at all previously, and certainly nothing like nanites or nanoprobes. Put simply, we haven't had much Star Wars that required any microscopic explanations, especially in the weaponry department. Even medically, bacta always struck me as more biotech than nanotech.

I suppose we could ponder this in the context of modern Russian thermobaric devices that make use of nanoparticles for enhancement of explosions, but that's rather different than nanodroids.

Notable, though, is that the searching for additional nanodroids in the Temple seemed to be a unique event, and the scans for it involved special equipment never before observed. Ahsoka carried around a tricorder-like pair of devices when scanning, for instance, which I don't think we've seen before (but which did have impressive scanning capabilities). Thus, to my mind, there is no current reason to assume that nanotech has been hiding in every scene, because otherwise one would think that related equipment and scanning would be very much more standard.

In any case, time will tell if we see more evidence of nanoscale devices in Star Wars. For myself, though, the macro-scale of things seems to be more the norm.

Cloning Dehumanization

Between the variable heights of stormtroopers in the original trilogy and mentions of Luke trying to get to the Academy and so on, I've pretty much come to conclude that much as the droids were deactivated at the end of RotS, so too were the clones.   Not to say that they were killed outright at war's end, but it seems there was a transition to volunteers and impressment over time, and no further orders from Kamino.

However, this strikes me as a little odd.   With clones, the Emperor had a group that, like droids, could be made to somewhat mindlessly follow orders.  It is one thing to order an automaton to kill . . . quite another to order the same from someone else.   

But of course, human history tells us it is not terribly difficult to get soulless killing out of someone, even from a group that is initially subject to a moral code, so perhaps that was not so far a leap as I would like to think.

But in any case, post-war, with the Imperial Senate still fancying itself meaningful, it seems likely that no additional clones were ordered, and those who remained were kept in service (and as cannon fodder) as a transition occurred.   New recruits would've thus seen and become used to the sort of blind allegiance we might be pondering, which would've been useful in itself.  

More to the point of the title of the post, though, I would daresay that having clones about which you don't have to care (as so exemplified by members of the Republic Senate in TCW) had a dehumanizing impact.  Later troopers would've been thought of with less concern than military troops of a pre-Clone Wars era, over and above a likely continued erosion of ethics under Imperial rule.   That is to say, the clones served Palpatine's purpose by making the Clone Wars easy . . . later, they were no longer needed politically, and indeed it probably served his purposes better against the Rebellion to have Rebels shooting "real people".

But by the time the Senate was wiped away, there was no longer need for such considerations . . . the value of lives in a moral and political sense had been overcome by the rule of fear. 


The Politics of Rebellion

This comes from a bookmark folder entitled "Stuff to Blog" which I obviously haven't done any emptying of in awhile.


Do yourself a favor and read the whole, short thing.

The gist on the one hand is that neither the Empire doesn't make political decisions, and this is true.

The Empire ruled through fear . . . the political consequences that we might hear discussed in the Clone Wars era become increasingly irrelevant to the power structure of the Empire during the time between III and IV.   It went from an ostensible (and unworkable) democracy to a society of lords and peasants under their heels within a generation.  And yet the Rebellion was small and struggling.  In short, this technique of rule was largely working.  The people were probably well fed and well entertained . . . bread and circuses, much as we see today . . . and kept uninformed and/or propagandized.

And yet, the people also had to be kept fearful, both of the Rebellion and of the Empire's might against enemies within, which could've been quite the juggling act.   At least until you get the Death Star, but at that point any veneer of respectability is wiped away.

As for the points about the Rebellion's techniques, I think it likely that a number of small insurgency-style events occurred, but that we see the big ones because, well, they're the more interesting.   But it is troubling that the Rebellion was on the run and in such dire straits during ESB, for instance . . . after Alderaan and their victory over the first Death Star, you'd think they'd have had safe haven everywhere. Presumably the Emperor really ramped up basic military action against suspected sympathizers and such after the loss.

In any case, there is a great deal to ponder here, and I have merely scratched the surface.  The rest I leave to you.


Trek vs. Wars Tech Support

If I ever need something to write about, I could do a series of posts on how Trek/Wars tech would've been helpful in this or that Wars/Trek situation.

Of course, transporters would show up all the time during the Clone Wars and elsewhere, and the presumably untrackable hyperdrive would show up in Trek a lot when warp either doesn't work or lets them know you're coming.

But I daresay Wars would be the greater beneficiary most of the time, so the idea comes across as a little rude, to me.

Of course, Star Wars during the Imperial era would be fun insofar as a "How Would the Empire Handle This Trek Situation" series, getting the advantage back in that case.  "Galaxy's Child" comes immediately to mind as a very short episode.