Flame on! Stilgar Episode V: The Blowhard Strikes Back Flame on!

Written: 2000.12.30
Last Revised: 2001.02.17

Just as Nicholas Fittro became outraged by the fact that I posted his unsolicited E-mail on my site, this "Stilgar" character became outraged when he discovered that I had preserved our public debate and posted it on my website.

Naturally, he sent me an E-mail (shortly after Christmas, which I suppose must mean that he was really getting into the spirit of the season) in which he accused me of violating copyright law by posting our debate, as if he has exclusive copyright over a public debate in which we both participated.

I'm not the sort of person who takes well to this sort of approach, and I was rather irritated at his tone. It was completely in keeping with the style of his original argument: empty posturing rather than substance. There was a short exchange, which I am posting here unchanged except for some formatting changes and spelling corrections:

The Opening Salvo (Dec 30, 2000)
More Threats (Dec 31, 2000)
Third Threat's the Charm? (Dec 31, 2000)

He went away for a while at this point, and then came back for a somewhat longer exchange:

Stilgar Comes Back for More (Jan 28, 2001)
Stilgar's Paranoia Grows (Jan 30, 2001)
Stilgar Tries a New Pseudoscience Argument (Jan 31, 2001)
Stilgar Tries to Slither Away (Feb 3, 2001)
Robert Lipka-Velikovsky (Feb 4, 2001)
Bluffing with a Lousy Hand (Feb 4, 2001)
Bluffing and Paranoia together: a Match made in Robert Lipka (Feb 5, 2001)

He vowed never to speak to me again at this point, so he resorted to saying bad things about me to other people. You can view the next chapter in all its glory, in Stilgar Episode VI: Return of the Sore Loser.


The Opening Salvo

Are you aware what's happening with Turbolaser Commentaries?

Yes, Brian shut it down because he was tired of being flamed and receiving threats of violence and even death threats from psychopathic sci-fi fanatics who can't differentiate between fiction and reality. He let me know about it a while ago.

[Editor's note: as this exchange drags on, you will see that Stilgar betrays the same problem as Brian's psychopathic flamers; he can't stand losing an argument so he tries to take our dispute into the real world]

PS. I have looked in your updates pages - and I have noticed you are calling me a troll. Curious. Is it because I disagree with you ... and keep on disagreeing in face of a silly argument involving SW?

No, it's because you make statements which are blatantly untrue, totally unsupported, and whose illogic is so easily pierced that any fool with basic reading comprehension can see through them. Worse yet, you showed up a year later and made the exact same argument without revision even though it was thoroughly shot down to the satisfaction of every observer (even your fellow pro-Trek debaters) in its first go-round.

Repetition of an argument without addressing serious rebuttals is the hallmark of a troll; it's an old deception technique favoured by creationists among others, who are still repeating bizarre young-Earth arguments that were shot down more than a century ago.

Of course, it's also possible that you're simply a moron rather than a troll, but I thought I'd be charitable and assume your behaviour was deliberately deceptive rather than incompetent.

In short. I believe you have no right to put up on your website a material I wrote for another site. I own the copyright to everything I write - as such I am formally requesting that you remove everything I wrote. I do not give you, and never did give you, a permission to use my material.

Blow me. And while you're at it, look up "fair use" provisions of copyright law, you self-righteous little dipshit. Since I'm not passing your material off as my own, it's not plagiarism. Since I'm not misquoting it, it's not slander. Since I'm not using it to generate profit, you have no claim on income. In other words, you have no case whatsoever, and an army of lawyers wouldn't change that. Unauthorized excerption for the purpose of discussion has been protected by law since before either of us were born.

[Editor's note: the posturing starts. He says I "have no right" to do what I've done. He says he owns copyright to his public postings and he is lodging a "formal request" for me to cease and desist, which is just a legalistic way of saying that he wants to give me a warning before calling in the lawyers. He also tries to insinuate that Brian Young would be upset at me, even though I know for a fact that he doesn't care]

I am disappointed in the way you conduct your argument by picking out single paragraphs from my posts, destroying the coherence of what I wrote.

Nonsense. Our original debates were conducted in piecemeal fashion and you know it. There was no long, cohesive essay on either of our sides because the BBS format simply didn't permit it. I quoted your paragraphs and my original responses to them, and I added extra commentary where I felt it was appropriate, annotated and colour-coded so people could easily differentiate them from my original responses. The fact that I didn't quote every single post you made in its entirety is hardly proof that my rebuttals are invalid.

If there's some incredibly strong argument you made that you think I edited out, then by all means, point it out. While you're at it, try to think of an example where one of your lucid arguments' shining coherence was disrupted by the fact that I didn't quote a month-long BBS argument in its long-winded entirety.

Or adding your own replies without giving me a chance to reply (or even notifying me).

You had ample chance to reply in the original debate, which took place in a public forum and which left no one convinced of the validity of your arguments, not even your fellow pro-Trek debaters.

Or ever mentioning that my science qualifications are actually higher than yours!

This is the same argument you used in the original debate; unverifiable reference to imaginary science qualifications (also known as the classic appeal to authority, since these claims seemed to be most of your basis for argument). However, you used pseudoscience exclusively in your original arguments, with unscientific methods such as your insistence on qualitative rather than quantitative evidence, your hopelessly vague description of mechanism or your reluctance to discuss numbers for the mechanism rather than the consequences of your theory. That's classic pseudoscience, and I don't accept it from Trekkies claiming to be science experts any more than I accept it from creationists pretending to be science experts.

You can claim to be the world's greatest scientist for all I care; you based your argument on pseudoscience, and that is not indicative of someone with a genuine scientific education. So please, remind me once again of exactly what your impressive credentials are, and while you're at it, perhaps you could explain why they didn't keep you from basing your entire original argument on pseudoscience. Most people with a real scientific or engineering background know that when a statement is challenged, you have to come back with something better than vague qualitative statements and appeals to authority.

[Editor's note: I actually thought I was being nice to him when I didn't quote the part of his argument in which he appealed to his authority. The background here is that he waded into Brian's web board spewing pseudoscience and telling everyone not to argue with him because he's a real scientist and they're not. He was fond of saying that he found it very difficult to talk to laypeople about this, in an obvious attempt to discourage criticism and appeal to his authority. That is, of course, the classic appeal to authority fallacy; no matter who you are or what degrees you have, you must explain your reasoning rather than simply making reference to credentials or pulling the classic pseudoscience idiot trick of quoting impressive-sounding names of quantum mechanics books that you found in the library].

In the end I am not sure that I have the time to conduct a long argument on this.

Of course not, because you'll get your ass kicked again.

[Editor's note: I always love this part. This is where they admit they can't generate a substantive rebuttal to my arguments, which is obviously why they're relying exclusively on vague suggestions of bias]

However, if you want to post my opinion on this, ask me to give you permission to do so!

Boo hoo. Don't you realize who you're speaking to? My words are twisted, misquoted, and taken out of context by dozens of feeble-minded Trekkie fanatics on the newsgroups every damned day. Forgive me if I don't break down in tears at your sorrowful plight at not having been courteously contacted before your words were quoted. But if you didn't want your words to stick to you, then you shouldn't have posted them in a public place.

Maybe I will write a single short argument them - and give it to you to post it. As long as I get a chance to reply to whatever you write.

You had that chance before. You can always try again. But if your objective is still to "prove" that the explosion of Alderaan was caused by nuclear chain reactions initiated by a low-energy event, then you will be bound to fail because that is physically impossible. It was impossible when you first proposed your hare-brained idea, it is impossible now, and it will be impossible in the 24th century too.

[Editor's note: Of course, he has to end with one final bluff, which is that he's going to send me a convincing argument. Naturally, he has no intention of doing this, and he'll even admit it in the next message]


More Threats

I must admit that I only skimmed through your reply.

Of course. Just as you skimmed through our arguments the first time around.

[Editor's note: ... and just as he obviously skimmed through the science books he claims to have read]

In short. To summarise my position again. I do not care about the fusion argument enough to restart it.

In other words, you know you have no argument and you don't want to admit that your position was simply ill-considered.

[Editor's note: he doesn't care about the whole argument, yet it has such great value to him that he'll take me to court for it, eh? How schizophrenic of him]

I do not care to be associated with your site in any way - this includes posting anything I write on it.

Then you shouldn't have posted your comments on a public bulletin board.

[Editor's note: I'm sure that some of the creationist authors I've attacked wouldn't be overly happy to have their work quoted and then torn apart on my page either. But at least they're not stupid enough to try and bluff me into taking the relevant pages down. The right to freely criticize is not something that anyone in a free country should take lightly, and I don't think much of people who think they've found a way to suppress it]

*Accordingly I again request that you take off any material written by myself from all your web pages.

And I again say "blow me". You accuse me of distorting your arguments without a shred of evidence and then you demand that I accept your right to copyright statements made in a public place after the fact and better yet, to enforce unprecedented restrictions over academic discussion of those statements.

You should look up current copyright rules yourself. You have not made a fair use of my material, but you have quoted a much larger portion of it than is allowed under fair use, and you are using it for character assasination.

This sort of statement makes it seem as if you have looked up copyright rules, but you obviously have not. The Stanford article on fair use at fairuse.stanford.edu states that fair use permits "limited reproduction" for such purposes as "criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research". You can call it "character assassination" instead of "criticism", but that's pure semantics and it would fool no one. Moreover, the Stanford article goes on to state that the four following factors are taken into account when evaluating whether something constitutes "fair use":

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.

  2. The nature of the copyrighted work.

  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.

  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

[Editor's note: the above four criteria are actually taken directly from §107 of the U.S. Copyright Act. I'm not an American myself, and I don't know his nationality since I don't even know his real name, so I'm going with American law since many countries' copyright acts are slowly converging on the American model, probably as a result of heavy international lobbying. In my case, Canadian copyright law differs from American copyright law in a few areas. However, legal precedents established by case law are causing convergence as our judges tend to mirror the actions of their American counterparts]

Furthermore, the article listed court precedents in which the last criterion was deemed to be the most important by far, and where the quantity of excerption (the crux of your argument) was barely considered at all. Let's look at those four criteria:

  1. The character of this use is academic discussion and/or criticism. No problems yet.

  2. The nature of the copyrighted work is a public posting on an Internet bulletin board. Again, no problems yet.

  3. The amount used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole is dependent on how you define the copyrighted work. Is it all of your Internet postings? Just the pieces I chose to quote from that particular debate? How convenient the latter definition would be for you, but it would accomplish nothing because of:

  4. The effect upon the commercial value of the copyrighted work is nil, because the commercial value of that work is zero in the first place. Or do you intend to claim that you can sell the pseudoscience garbage you spewed on Brian's web board?

[Editor's note: in his first message he complained that I didn't quote enough of his arguments. Now he complains that I've quoted too much. It would be nice if he could make up his mind. And where does he get off claiming that I'm engaging in character assassination when he's never even revealed his real name?]

Copyright rules do not apply as you say - under the law you are now a thief after I have informed you of my wishes.

Go ahead and just try to sue me. Tell me: how much does one demand in repayment for stolen property which has no value to either party?

[Editor's note: does he always attack criticism as thievery? By the very nature of debating, rebuttals have no meaning unless the original arguments are quoted. I'd rather not dwell too much on law because it frankly isn't very interesting to me, but all engineers in Ontario are required to take courses in liability law before we can graduate]

I am therefore not totally unfamiliar with law, and in the case of an oft-contested subject like fair use, many of the relevant documents are freely available for public perusal. Just as he did in the original argument with his vague allusions to superior study, he again tries to bluff. He thinks he can make me believe that he's researched the relevant laws in depth, even though it's quite obvious he has not. In Campbell vs Acuff-Rose Music 1994, the US Supreme Court made 4 very clear statements in its judgement, each of which severely weakens Stilgar's claim of unlawful copyright infringement. Together, they totally destroy it:

  1. The Court stated quite clearly that even a "parody, like other comment and criticism, may claim fair use", even for commercial purposes, never mind the non-profit purposes to which I am using Stilgar's arguments. So much for the distinction he attempts to draw between criticism and character assassination; even mockery is protected under "fair use".

  2. The Court stated that a lower court of appeals erred in giving weight to the excessive quantity of excerption, because the quantity was "reasonable in relation to the copying's purpose", just as it would be for the discussion of a public "back and forth" exchange such as a debate. In other words, excessive quantity of excerption is evaluated on a situational basis. The excerption of entire sections from his posts is not only reasonable in this situation, but it is actually necessary, in order for rebuttals targeted at his individual points to make any sense.

  3. The Court stated that fair use depends on the extent to which the use is "transformative, altering the original with new expression, meaning, or message". Once again, a debate obviously qualifies, since the meaning of his arguments are heavily affected by the nature of my rebuttals as well as my editorial commentaries.

  4. The Court stated quite clearly that even in cases where the defendant is using the copyrighted material for commercial gain, "the cognizable harm is market substitution, not any harm from criticism". Unless Stilgar can show that there's a real or potential commercial market for his arguments (highly unlikely) and that my website is taking profits which belong to him (utterly impossible, since my website generates no profit at all), he has no case. Any emotional harm from perceived "character assassination" is thoroughly irrelevant to copyright law.

In other words, this page is completely protected by §107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, and most countries which respect copyright treaty have similar provisions in their own laws. The document is a criticism. The quantity of excerption is reasonable in relation to its purpose. The work is heavily transformative (the volume of my replies and editorial comments greatly exceeds the volume of his quoted text, and changes it from a pro-Trek pseudoscience tirade into an attack on Trekkie pseudoscience). And finally, there is no "cognizable harm" as defined by the US Supreme Court. This is just another bluff: just as he did with nuclear fusion, he is pretending to have in-depth knowledge of copyright law which he obviously doesn't have. Fraudulent claims of detailed study seem to be habit-forming for him.

In case you're curious about the international aspect of this dispute, copyright infringement is defined using the laws of the country in which the offense occurred. In this case, this means it would fall under Canadian jurisdiction. Our laws have been slowly moving towards the American model, but there are still distinctions. In Canada, we call it "fair dealing" instead of "fair use". Instead of defining four criteria for "fair use", Canadian copyright law simply states that copying is permissible for the purpose of criticism, review, or news reporting as long as the following are mentioned:

  1. The source

  2. If provided in the source, the name of the author

In Hubbard v. Vosper (1972), the following statement was entered into the record:

"It is impossible to define what is "fair dealing". It must be a question of degree. You must consider first the number and extent of the quotations and extracts. Are they altogether too many and too long to be fair? Then you must consider the use made of them. If they are used as a basis for comments, criticism or review, that may be fair dealing. If they are used to convey the same information as the author, for a rival purpose, that may be unfair. Next you must consider the proportions. To take long extracts and attach short comments may be unfair. But, short extracts and long comments may be fair. Other considerations may come to mind also. But after all is said and done, it must be a matter of impressions".

In other words, Canadian courts will assess copyright infringement on a case by case basis, based on many criteria, including purpose and relative proportions (between my contributions and his statements). Since the purpose is criticism and my text greatly outstrips his text in volume, there would be no problem on either count. In any case, I would like to see Stilgar care to try his hand at Canadian copyright law, in order to convince a judge that the use of heavily commented excerpts for the purpose of criticism constitutes copyright infringement. It would probably be quite amusing, particularly since Canadian law, unlike American law, has a "loser pays" provision in order to discourage frivolous lawsuits.

Moreover, in U&R Tax Services vs H&R Block (1995), Mr. Justice Richard listed some major criteria to be used when determining whether "fair dealing" had occurred:

  1. The quality and quantity of the material taken

  2. The extent to which the defendant's use adversely affects the plaintiff's activities and diminishes the value of the plaintiff's copyright

  3. Whether the material taken is the proper subject-matter of a copyright

  4. Whether the defendant intentionally appropriated the plaintiff's work to save time and effort

  5. Whether the material taken is used in the same or a similar fashion as the plaintiff's

These criteria make it quite obvious that the intent of Canadian copyright law is to prevent copying for plagiaristic, gainful purposes, not to give people a weapon to stifle criticism of their statements (as if this even needs to be said). The last two criteria are particularly enlightening in this regard]

Unless this is resolved by you, I will be taking this up with your service provider (they might be liable as well after I inform them), and so on, until I get results.

Are you done posturing yet? Or is it beginning to occur to you that if you had asked nicely instead of E-mailing me with strawman criticisms and empty bluster, you might have gotten a better reception?

Hell, maybe I should make a point of spamming every Trek-related newsgroup I can with the contents of that page, just to drive home the fact that we don't live in the sort of totalitarian state that you would obviously prefer. Would that make you happy?

[Editor's note: I've said it before and I'll say it again: copyright exists to protect the rights of artists to take credit for their work and secure its income potential. It was not designed as a weapon to silence criticism of public statements. Furthermore, since we both participated in that debate, I own equal copyright under Canadian (and American) copyright law, which grants equal copyright to both contributors over the entire body of a jointly authored work. Therefore, even in the unlikely event that Canadian copyright law suddenly became far more restrictive with respect to "fair dealing", I could simply claim copyright on the entire work, just as he can. Individual paragraphs cannot be stripped out of a collaborative work and then declared as separate copyrightable works]

PS. If you feel the topic of fusion is interesting, you should do a proper page for it. You do not have to waste the idea or your own writing. Take out my material. Add more of your own, and present an article with your own views on your own page.

Obviously, you have no idea what the purpose of that page was. It was not intended to discuss the topic of nuclear fusion. It was intended to give my readers an example of the deplorable use of pseudoscience in order to buttress a position for which no reasonable argument can be made. Your publicly posted argument was a fine example of said mentality. That's why I pilloried it. Get it now? Or would you like me to edit out the multi-syllable words and explain it again for you?

[Editor's note: you've just gotta love the way he insists on acting as though there's some actual value in his work, as if I'm drawing from it rather than criticizing it. However, he really has no choice but to lean on that presumption, since he can't admit that my article is critical rather than plagiaristic without tacitly acknowledging that it constitutes legitimate "fair use", or in Canadian legal terms, "fair dealing"]


Third Threat's the Charm?

You are now effectively a thief. I will taking this up with your ISP.

Of course you will. You're too much of a coward to accept responsibility for your own words.

I will also get the SW copyright holders as well as other people whose sites you "borrowed for review" to look into whether they want to stand up for their rights.

In other words, you hate my site and you'll do everything you can to take it off the air, under the flimsy guise of intellectual property protection. I've received threats of physical violence, hacker attacks, and even death from other Trekkie fanatics in the past ... why do you think I'll scurry and hide because of this?

Under fair use you are only allowed to use 10% of any material - in case of posts that usually amounts to quoting a sentence or two. While you've pirated most of what I posted.

Nonsense. Excerption of entire paragraphs is perfectly acceptable. In fact, for the sake of academic discussion, entire pages can be photocopied from commercially valuable textbooks without fear of legal repercussions. That is far more egregious than the quoting of paragraphs from a public posting with no commercial value. Furthermore, there are no hard and fast restrictions on percentage quantity, which is why fair use must be evaluated on a case by case basis, using the criteria I described in my last post. And finally, you are defining the proportion in a ridiculous fashion, by arguing that I quoted a large portion of a small subset of your Internet postings.

[Editor's note: he obviously doesn't even realize how much of his original text I didn't quote, simply because of its mind-numbing repetitiveness or off-topic journeys. He must not have a copy of the original argument, therefore he has no way of documenting whether I've taken 1%, 10%, 50% or 100% of his posts. Furthermore, I would also like to know where this universal 10% figure comes from, since the Supreme Court referred to no such arbitrary line in the sand, preferring instead to discuss the subject of situational relevance]

The publication of complete debate exchanges for the purpose of academic discussion is nothing new, and there is no record whatsoever of one of the participants in a debate being prohibited from quoting such debates, even in their entirety. Furthermore, there are no grounds for exclusive copyright being granted to one of two authors for a collaborative work, and when taken as a whole, any debate is obviously a collaborative work. I have as much right to copyright on this material as he does, so he tries the bizarre tack of acting as if the debate should be treated as a collection of individual, separate works, of which each paragraph warrants copyright protection on its own. This is a bit like a member of a musical group claiming exclusive copyright to certain notes or words in a song).

Posting material in a public place does not take away any of my rights. Especially when I did not post it to your site, but it appears at your site.

Brian Young would have no problems whatsoever with this use of the material. Would you like to E-mail him and ask? I know him, and you obviously don't.

[Editor's note: he's actually correct that a public posting does not detract from copyright. However, it is always the author of a creative work that owns copyright, not the person who owns the transmission medium. Besides, his copyright claim is utterly groundless for numerous other reasons upon which I have already elaborated]

Your site is no more academic or educational than a fan fiction site.

Your opinion. Parts of it are fanfic, and parts of it aren't.

[Editor's note: The US Supreme Court has a much broader definition of legitimate commentary than he does, but he obviously doesn't realize that]

You are not reviewing the material (even if you reduced my material to 10% of original), but you are engaged into character assasination, or what is more commonly know on the net as "flaming"

Sorry, but there are no laws against flaming. Perhaps that little "freedom of speech" thing in the constitution escaped your attention. Furthermore, the very concept of "character assassination" against an anonymous Internet alias like yours is an utterly laughable concept.

[Editor's note: I refer once again to the excerpts from the US Supreme Court judgement referred to earlier. They make no such fine distinctions between legitimate "review" and illegitimate criticism. He is attempting to sell me a very narrow definition of "fair use", even though the Supreme Court has shown repeatedly that they will not countenance any attempts to restrict fair use or narrow its definition]

I have asserted my copyrights and informed you of this.

The copyright assertion of an anonymous pseudonym is about as valuable as a refridgerator in Antarctica. And in this case, it is totally irrelevant anyway.

[Editor's note: actually, copyright assertion is irrelevant in most cases. Under Canadian copyright law as well as the laws of most signatories to the Berne convention, creative works are automatically copyrighted at the moment of their creation. I don't believe American copyright law states this explicitly, but the US Supreme Court has set numerous precedents to this effect]

This is the crux of my argument. I hope we can resolve this in a civilised manner. Otherwise you have been informed by me, and I will be going "over your head" after this to protect my rights.

Any hope of resolving this in a civilized manner was irrevocably lost when you threatened legal action.

[Editor's postscript: there are many personality types in this world. Some are easily cowed by bullying and threats. Others, like me, merely become angry, and the stronger the threat, the more defiant my response. Bluffing isn't a good idea with my personality type, and neither is bullying. If he had asked nicely, I might have been willing to cut him some slack. But accusing me of violating the law and then escalating his posturing to include the threat of legal action is a lousy approach. Bullying may work in the schoolyard, but we're adults now. Or most of us are, anyway. By the way, he sent those messages from sietch_tabr@hotmail.com, and he goes under the alias of "Stilgar Ayat - Enkidu", which is obviously not a real name. Since he's one of those anonymous cowards who won't reveal his identity, I don't know how long this E-mail address will work, but I just thought I'd make a point of listing it here, simply to remind him that I can]


Stilgar Comes Back for More

[Editor's note: he went away for a few weeks after the last message, but suddenly reappeared out of the blue, but from a different E-mail address. I didn't think much of the address change, but it would become important later]

Mike I have not forgotten you - I am just busy with more important things. I will be dealing with your abuses when I have the time.

Naturally.

P.S. Asking people to flame was a silly idea, it only helps me make my case to your ISP... I had no idea you were so bitter.

Bitter? No. "Bitter" would be a sore loser who takes an on-line dispute so personally that he tries to cause problems for his opponent out in the real world, as you are trying to do. It's only slightly more mature than calling me out for a fist-fight.

I, on the other hand, am just trying to make a point; one which you're obviously too dense to understand. The point is that you have no legal case whatsoever, and I can flout that fact in your face as much as I want. You have no grounds for a damage claim, you have no exclusive copyright over a public debate in which you were one of two participants, and you have no understanding of the fact that quotation for the purpose of analysis and criticism is precisely the reason that fair use copyright provisions were written in the first place.

Your tactics haven't changed one iota; whether it's science or law, you pretend to have detailed knowledge of subjects in which you actually have only the most superficial understanding, and you use vague allusions to your studies being more "current" whenever your assertions are challenged, refuted, or made to look foolish. You can harass my ISP if you wish, but you have no legal case whatsoever.

P.S. 2 On the topic of qualifications: why did it take you so many years to finish a simple Bachelor degree?

Co-op education. Work four months, study four months. Use the income from the work term to pay for the next study term. Drags out the process but makes it affordable and provides real-world experience. Some of us had to work our way through school, dumb-ass.

PS. It's quite obvious that you're still trying to prove you're right through appeal to authority rather than construction of a legitimate counter-argument, since you're apparently trying to find some flaw in my education rather than a flaw in my argument. This proves that you still don't understand A) nuclear fusion, B) copyright law, and C) the illegitimacy of the "appeal to authority" fallacy. Even if I had no degree at all, you still wouldn't have an argument. The problems with your "planetary fusion" theory can be looked up by any high school kid with a physics textbook.

BTW, most people claim defamation when someone quotes them incorrectly, not when someone quotes them correctly.

[Editor's note: as Robert Neumann once said: "Lampooning is unnecessary with many people. Quoting is sufficient."]


Stilgar's Paranoia Grows

[Editor's note: he responded within a few days, and it took me a while to figure out what he was talking about. He seemed to be rambling incoherently]

Please tell Tigerclaw that I am really pissed with him for giving away details I did not let him.

I have no idea what you're talking about. My argument with you has nothing to do with Tigerclaws.

[Editor's note: Tigerclaws? At this point, I was scratching my head and wondering how on Earth he found it necessary to talk about Tigerclaws, or what some personal beef about Tigerclaws has to do with our little disagreement]

However, since you are using this e-mail, it means you know what degrees and connections I have, so I do not have to prove this.

No, it means I hit "reply" and sent it back to the originating E-mail address.

I would also appreciate if you did not sniff around my personal details and start catching people around me... the last group who tried this was Berserker and V. Wes and I dealt with them (ask Tigerclaw for details)... they came up with this account on their search too as a matter of fact :)

You're obviously too stupid to realize that unlike you, I have better things to do than try to take on-line conflicts into the real world. I have made no effort whatsoever to dig into your personal background. I don't care what degrees you have or claim to have, nor do I care which school you attend, what you think of me as a person, what colour your socks are, or what you had for breakfast this morning. You sent me mail, I hit "reply". Simple as that. If you sent it from an account which you want to keep secret for some reason, that's your problem, not mine.

[Editor's note: Ahh, now it made sense. He sent the last E-mail from rlipka@ics.mq.edu.au instead of sietch_tabr@hotmail.com or sietch_tabr@bigfoot.com. I thought nothing of it, hit "reply", and sent my response. Apparently, he didn't realize that he had sent the message from the wrong account.

As he sinks deeper into paranoia, he seems to think that I'm following him around and snooping into his personal affairs (rather ironic since he's the one who's trying to take an on-line dispute out of cyberspace and into the real world). He seems to assume that I'm digging into his credentials. Paranoid assumptions like that often tell us more about their authors than about their targets, and in this case, I suggest you look at the previous message, where he slyly asks about the duration of my university education. Interesting, eh? He's digging into my background, and when he gets an E-mail message at an unexpected account, he gets angry and accuses me of digging into his background! This man needs help.

In any case, regardless of what he may think in his paranoid house of delusions, I have not researched his credentials and moreover, I have no intention of doing so. His ignorance is clear for all the world to see. If he truly has genuine scientific comprehension, then why is he unable to form cogent responses to my criticisms? Why does he have to rely on these vague threats and appeals to authority? Scientists are habitual proponents of "fair use", yet he seems opposed to all but the very strictest definitions of "fair use", in favour of a draconian interpretation of copyright law. Moreover, scientists are generally opposed to the use of pseudoscience and purely qualitative theories, yet he relies heavily on both. Not once in the entire original debate did he produce any numbers to establish the feasibility of the mechanism; he only repeated numbers regarding its consequences ad nauseum. And finally, scientists always respond to criticism by publishing rebuttals, while his response is to attempt to silence the critic! Does this sound like a genuine scientist to you? If he is a scientist, then he must be a hardcore Trekkie who's so desperate to refute Death Star firepower that he will deliberately throw his training to the winds, and act exactly like an ignorant fanboy.

The really funny thing about all this is that if he hadn't gone off the deep end with his paranoid delusions about me crawling around and digging up this super-secret E-mail address, then I never would have had any idea that it was so important to him. Now, I realize that he considers it very important to keep his true identity a secret, and when someone is that intent on obscuring his identity, I get the feeling that he's trying to hide something. So if you're reading this page, don't let anybody know that he has an E-mail account at rlipka@ics.mq.edu.au. Oops! I slipped up and printed his top-secret classified E-mail address again! I'd better be careful ... I wouldn't want too many people finding out that he has an E-mail address at rlipka@ics.mq.edu.au ... Damn! I did it again! I'm just so careless ...]

Your argument about fusion fails on basic philosophy of science. Neither of us has really proven (or came close to) what really works and does not or what happened. My argument is just simpler and thus better.

You tragically misunderstand Occam's Razor. Occam's Razor does not force observed phenomena to fit into pre-existing models. It only demands that unnecessary terms in a theory which fits the facts be discarded. Since your theory does not fit the facts, the fact that it's simpler has no bearing on its total lack of validity. It is better to have an incomplete theory than to alter the observations to fit your expectations (see example of solar power generation, which nobody initially understood).

[Editor's note: I was actually being charitable when I didn't bother fighting him on his claim that his theory is simpler. A "simpler" theory with respect to Occam's Razor is one that does not introduce unnecessary terms, not one that necessarily fits with expectation. His definition of "simpler" is obviously different from this one, since he's introducing all kinds of extra mechanisms to the situation. While I simply propose that the superlaser pumps a whole lot of energy into Alderaan, he downgrades the violence of the explosion and then proposes spontaneous nuclear fusion in the planet's oceans with no credible cause]

I also have to work while studying... take off that huge boulder sitting on your shoulder man! ... and stop making assumptions ... scientists do not!

We're not talking about assumptions. We're talking about your theory (which violates the laws of physics) and my lack of a theory. Or are your skills of observation so pathetic that you don't notice that I never once tried to explain how the Death Star works?

I only observe the kinetic energy of the Alderaan explosion, and I attribute that energy to the Death Star superlaser. That is the simplest, most straightforward interpretation of this event. Any attempt to introduce more terms only produces unresolvable conflicts with known scientific theory. A planet is simply not volatile enough to spontaneously generate such power on its own, even if its entire mass is raised to the temperature of the Sun.

As for the Death Star's source of power, I leave it as an unknown, and note that the books say it's something called "hypermatter". That's precisely analogous to the approach astrophysicists used with respect to the Sun's power generation, before they understood fusion. You list your observations, you see if you can explain them, and if you can't, then stop. You don't run around trying to alter anomalous and unexplained observations until they will fit into pre-existing expectations (eg. your insistence that Alderaan didn't really explode the way it did).

I am right on copyright according to what I found out. I am definitely right that your site is fan fiction, and thus illegally uses SW, my own and others contribution.

Again you resort to proof through assertion. You can't counter my legal definitions and you can't provide supporting precedents in relevant case law, so you simply resort to saying "oh yeah? Well I know I'm right, so there!" How impressive. Did you write this devastating argument all by yourself? Or did you have help?

[Editor's note: notice how he always evades direct argumentation. I produced specific excerpts from American copyright law in order to prove my point, and he totally ignored those excerpts in favour of the vague statement: "according to what I found out". He also seems to think that criticism and fan fiction are synonymous]

Your whole site is one very immature vitriolic and paranoid attack on other people and things (this will be obvious to anyone who takes a look and there goes your fair use provision on yet another count) ...

Fair use has nothing to do with maturity. There are no judgements made on literary quality. Fair use provisions are related to freedom of speech and academia guarantees, and the government does not have the right to dictate that all criticism must meet a subjective criteria of maturity (never mind your personal criteria of "doesn't make Stilgar look like an idiot") before permitting fair use. In your previous letter, you acted as though the act of asking others to flame you somehow affected my claim on fair use. Now, you act as though my failure to live up to your lofty standards of maturity also affect my claim on fair use. In both cases, you are introducing red herrings.

You obviously have no idea what fair use is. If I decide to write an article claiming that Captain Picard and Wesley Crusher are homosexual lovers, I can do so, and nobody can do a damned thing about it no matter what they think of my attitude. Don't you understand what freedom of speech is? Or are you so blinded by your desperate desire to silence a critic that you think the laws can be used to muzzle those who would say bad things about you?

most people I ask think you are psychologically disturbed.

Oh, no! I feel so bad about myself now! Oh boo hoo, Stilgar claims to know people who don't think much of me! Egads, my entire world view is collapsing around my ears! My entire self image was based on my expectations of what Stilgar's friends might think of me! Whatever will I do? Hmmm ... hey, I know what I'll do! I'll just add this latest demonstration of your ignorance and irrationality to my Hate Mail page.

[Editor's note: of course, you realize what this means. This guy is either lying, or he actually went out and asked his acquaintances to read my website and then evaluate my personality on the basis of my essays and arguments regarding matters of science fiction. It's starting to sound more and more like I'm dealing with a genuine four-alarm nutcase]

Your site also has some very funny mistakes in basic science and logic (a clue: claculate the caloric intake of an average person per day, multiply by the population of Coruscant... see what numbers you come up with LOL)...

Curtis Saxton did all of that work a long time ago on his site. I see no reason to duplicate his activities unnecessarily. And how does this translate to "mistakes in basic science and logic" on my part? Are you seriously suggesting that it is scientifically impossible for a civilization which builds moon-sized battle stations and occupies millions of star systems to provide food for one overpopulated planet?

[Editor's note: he crows about "mistakes in basic science and logic" and this was the best example he could come up with? The first and most obvious problem here is that I don't actually have a figure for Coruscant's population on my site, although I mention off-handedly in many places that it's obviously many trillions of people. The very high figures for Coruscant's population actually come from Curtis Saxton's Star Wars Technical Commentaries site, not mine, although I am prepared to support them on his behalf if necessary. Perhaps he should go to Curtis and berate him for these so-called "very funny mistakes in basic science and logic".

I am prepared to disregard his obvious case of confused identities and defend the figures anyway, because his criticisms are so mindlessly incompetent and because if I didn't, then he and his ilk would probably run shrieking through the newsgroups, hooting that he'd defeated Curtis Saxton's calculations. The high food requirements (and bio-waste production, and oxygen intake, and cargon dioxide output, and electrical energy consumption, and communications network bandwidth demands, etc.) of Coruscant's enormous population are not a matter of science or logic at all. They are a matter of logistical feasibility, not science. Again, he claims to be a qualified scientist but his arguments betray the mentality of an ignoramus; he doesn't even seem to understand the difference between an error in science and a problem in logistical feasibility]

It's is akin to me reviewing Stephen Hawking and claiming he is a total idiot because I could not understand his arguments... the joke would have been on me and not Stephen (you do it with a number of people).

Now you claim that my disagreement with you is akin to a disagreement with Stephen Hawking? The phrase "delusions of grandeur" comes to mind. Here's just one of the differences between you and Stephen Hawking: if he disagreed with me, I am absolutely sure that he would explain why he's right, rather than simply saying "I have a bigger degree than you, so I'm right and you're wrong".

Your argument is a joke. You made some ridiculous comments about producing fusion ignition conditions in an entire planet as if this would somehow reduce the energy requirements of the Death Star, and I suspect you realize your mistake. But you're too arrogant to admit it, so instead of constructing a better argument or admitting your error, you hope to cover it up by bullying or bluffing me into taking down the evidence.

Finally legally not everything written down is a review, for example hate attacks, personal attacks, etc, are not treated as reviews and do not fall under fair use provisions (yet another reason why you do not have fair use - and SW TPTB certainly will not wish for SW to be used in such attacks :) ).

Actually, personal criticism is indeed protected by fair use provisions. Newspaper editorials rip politicians to shreds every day, and they often quote sections of public speeches in the process. As for it being a "hate attack", you need a bus trip back to reality if you think my site constitutes hate literature. You accuse me of being psychologically disturbed, yet you are the one who is quite obviously taking this thing way too seriously.

As you can guess, I have no time for these silly discussions. Any more e-mail to any of my accounts I did not let you use will be treated as spam and stalking and I will report the abuse to my own and your ISP. And after that I will just send it to the trash file.

More threats about running to the authorities. You send me an E-mail message, I hit "reply", and now you accuse me of "stalking"? This is rich. Let me summarize your position: you think I'm a deranged, immature stalker and a distributor of hate literature because I publicized our debate and replied to your E-mail messages. At what point did reality stop and the Twilight Zone begin?

P.S. Get some really good university level text on logic, and learn arguments on more than just the very introductory level.

More vague attempts to make it seem as if you're on more solid ground than I am. You tried it with fusion, you tried it with copyright law, and now you're trying it with logic. But if you understood logic, perhaps you would have actually sent a rebuttal rather than endless threats and vague allusions to your superior knowledge. Perhaps you would have actually tried to construct some justification for your ridiculous fusion theory instead of trying to force me to take it off the air. In other words, perhaps you would start to debate like an intelligent adult instead of a petulant child, perpetually threatening to call in his big brother if the other kids won't be nice to him.

[Editor's note: I'm growing tired of his perpetual bluffing about contacting my ISP and launching legal action. I almost wish he would just go ahead and do it already, so that I can crush him in court and then countersue for recovery of legal fees and compensation for lost time]


Stilgar Tries a New Pseudoscience Argument

[Editor's note: Stilgar eventually managed to figure out that I was telling the truth about not "stalking" him by replying to his E-mail. In a desperate attempt to save face and win some small victory, he will suddenly shift gears, forget about the whole Death Star issue, and fire off a brand new pseudoscience attack]

Sorry. I worked it out in the end. It was a Hotmail glitch that input an improper return address from among my address book there. Microsoft! !@$#*

When you rely on Microsoft, that sort of thing will happen to you :)

No. Food probably could be provided. Energy dissipation is the problem.

Let me guess ... you aren't going to bother doing any number crunching to support this upcoming theory, just as you didn't bother doing any real number-crunching the first time around, with your silly Death Star theory.

I found it funny because you attacked the English guy over the same principle - if the Enterprise had so much power while running idle, its skin would be very hot.

Far hotter than the surface of the Sun, in fact, which means that the ship would be plasma. The heat generation of Coruscant's population is not even remotely comparable.

Same principle for a planet. When you add up just the energy value of food consumed by such a population per day, the power output from food is as large as the energy from the Sun incident on Earth's surface assuming all of Sun's energy is absorbed (which of course does not happen as some of Sun's energy is reflected straight back into space).

You exaggerate (as usual). Let us say that the average person consumes 2500 calories per day, for an average heat output of 120W. If we use the population density of Hong Kong (~100,000 people per square kilometre) as a baseline and then increase it by an order of magnitude, then on an Earth-sized planet, we'd be looking at 500 trillion people (Curtis Saxton's figure is twice as large, but he estimates Coruscant to have 1.4 times the planetary diameter and therefore nearly twice the surface area).

With an assumed population density of 1 million people per square kilometre (equivalent to one person per square metre), the total heat output would therefore be 120 watts per square metre. This is less than one tenth of the intensity of solar radiation bombardment at 1 AU, and it would be spread over the entire surface of the planet rather than being concentrated on one hemisphere. Obviously, your math is seriously deficient!

Of course the population would use far more energy than just the food they eat. Thus if you add up all the energy used by an industrial society at SW level, with the suggested population of Coruscant its surface would be FAR hotter than the Sun side of Mercury ... clearly this is nonsense and population has to be lower. Do the numbers and you will see :)

"Do the numbers" because you're too lazy to do it for yourself, eh? It's amazing that you think you can claim exclusive copyright over this discussion OR the original debate, when I actually have more valid claim on copyright for the debate than you do. By volume, I contributed more content by far, my contributions were more substantive in general, and I also did more supporting work, since you were consistently too lazy to provide anything more than vague qualitative suggestions. Furthermore, the original debate was conducted on an ephemeral medium (Brian's web board, on which old entries scrolled into oblivion), and under Canadian copyright law, by precedent, the transcriber of a conversation (or debate, in this case) rather than the speaker can actually claim copyright for himself!

In any case, returning to the issue at hand, you massively overestimate the global temperature increase required in order to dissipate more heat. You fail to realize that you don't need staggering surface temperatures to radiate heat at rates approaching a tenth of solar radiation. In fact, our planet already radiates heat at almost exactly the same rate that the Sun bombards it, hence the fact that we are in thermal equilibrium and our planet's temperature is fairly stable. You do know what thermal equilibrium is, don't you?

Take a sphere with the Earth's diameter and an average surface temperature of, say, 290K. If the Earth can be assumed to be a blackbody radiator, it will dump heat into space at a rate defined by sigma*(TE^4-TS^4), where sigma is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, TE is the temperature of the Earth, and TS is the temperature of space (close to zero, so negligible). The Stefan-Boltzmann constant is 5.67E-8 W/(m²*K^4), so if we assume 0.8 emissivity, a 275K Earth-sized sphere would produce a radiative heat flux of approximately 325 W/m². When you multiply this figure over the entire surface area of the Earth, you get (surprise!) a figure which is very close to the rate of solar radiation.

So how much of a temperature increase would be necessary in order to dump the body heat of 500 trillion people? Since you're never going to bother crunching a single useful number, I'll do it for you: given blackbody radiation, the global surface temperature would rise from 275K to roughly 297.5K. That's the result of 500 trillion people: 22.5 degrees Celsius.

"Far hotter than the Sun side of Mercury", eh? Please, enlighten me and explain where you came up with that estimate. And while you're at it, please explain to me why you failed to recognize that a planet does not have to be as hot as Mercury in order to balance out solar radiation bombardment at 1 AU. Your insistence on intuitive guesswork rather than quantitative analysis merely reinforces the overall impression that you are either a faker or a troll.

I suppose you'll argue that they must generate a huge amount of heat besides body heat, but that would speak to the efficiency of their life support systems and machinery. Since Coruscant is an entirely residential planet (ie- no industry) and its climate appears to be fairly well controlled on a planet-wide scale, the indoor heating and industrial energy requirements of a typical industrial society won't apply, and that takes away a very large part of an industrialized society's energy consumption in one fell swoop.

In a natural ecosystem, a temperature increase in excess of 20 K would be devastating. However, Coruscant is not a natural ecosystem. It is very far from its Sun (so far that they built huge orbital mirrors in order to direct more sunlight toward the surface in order to keep it from freezing over), and its ecosystem has been obliterated in favour of a planet-spanning city. Therefore, it is hardly a scientific or logical problem to conclude that the heat generation of the planet's huge population and its activities, far from posing a problem, is actually necessary in order to maintain the planet's current environment. One could postulate that over the millenia, as the population grew, the requirement for orbital mirrors decreased, and the poles became inhabitable.

Your entire approach is wrong. You are trying to disprove an observation (the enormous population density of Coruscant) with a theory (your unscientific, intuitive assumption that a planet would have to be red-hot in order to equal the rate of solar radiation bombardment on the Earth). You can't do that as a basic matter of scientific philosophy. If we are to suspend disbelief (which is necessary if we are to analyze sci-fi at all), then theories are subordinate to observations, not the other way around. When you accuse me of making "basic mistakes in science and logic", you actually indict yourself, by making it quite clear that you either can't or won't apply the scientific method. The population of Coruscant cannot be disproven with your woefully erroneous patchwork of guesses and intuition, any more than a 1905 astrophysicist could have used GPE theory to disprove the power output of the Sun. It's an observation. It's there, it's indisputable. If we can't figure out how it works, then that only means we have to keep working on it. It does not mean we arbitrarily alter the observation until it fits our preconceived expectations.

As to the rest I am not interested. I will deal with the copyright issue and your ISP when I have the time... it is not exactly a priority for me. Meanwhile it would be better if you took my e-mails of your site, and did not encourage people to send spam to me.

Your "copyright issue" is a joke. You fail to realize that my copyright claim on the original debate is every bit as valid as yours (and arguably more so). You also fail to realize that since I reside in Canada, a copyright infringement case would be tried under Canadian copyright law, and Canadian copyright law demands that you first demonstrate the copyrightability of the material, by showing that it fulfills the requirements of adequate creativity and originality. In that context, the original debate may or may not qualify (although our joint authorship makes that issue moot), but your threatening E-mails definitely do not qualify, any more than you can E-mail someone saying "I think you're an idiot" and expect to copyright it. And finally, you fail to realize that I have NOT posted any of your E-mail mesages to the Internet. I posted my replies to your E-mail messages. Those messages contained quotes from your messages as a necessary explanatory precursor to each argument, and in that context, fair use applies.

If you want to defend your honour, then write a good rebuttal. Publish it on the Web. Tell me I can't copy it, and I'll merely link to it instead. That's how a real scientist would handle having his arguments defeated in public (unless he has no counter-argument, in which case I would expect him to be mature enough to admit error), rather than trying to use copyright law as a bludgeoning instrument to silence the critic.

To be honest, I've had a theory for some time. It might be right, it might be wrong, but it does happen to fit the facts at my disposal. Here goes: people tell me that you're studying to be an MSc (not quite Stephen Hawking despite your wildly self-aggrandizing statements, but that's OK). If that's true, and your school isn't a third-tier institute or diploma mill, then you undoubtedly know full well that you have played VERY fast and loose with science in your pro-Trek jihad. Of course, such conduct would be unbecoming of a person who is studying physics at the university post-grad level, which would just happen to explain your insistence on hiding behind pseudonyms and anonymous E-mail addresses.

Your paranoid reaction to my apparent discovery of your true E-mail address tells me just how important it is for you to maintain your anonymity, and if the above is true, then it's small wonder: as an aspiring professional scientist, you might be worried that your ill-considered on-line recreational activities might reflect badly on you in real life. And now we get to the meat of it: if this is true, then you don't want to continue this debate because you know you're holding an untenable position. You don't want to publish an on-line rebuttal and do battle in an intellectual sense, because you know you've just been trolling for kicks (I've called you a troll since day one, and I still stand by that assessment). No, you just want to bury the offending evidence, so that you won't have to worry about the potential for embarrassment. That's my little theory. So am I right? Am I wrong? Would you tell me the truth either way? If you did, it would be the only thing you could possibly do that would merit a shred of respect.

What do you hope to accomplish? You should know perfectly well that one participant in a public debate can hardly claim exclusive copyright over the debate at the expense of his opponent (copyright on joint authorship extends equally to both authors). You should know perfectly well that no court in the land will ever accept your transparent attempt to fragment the work in order to claim exclusive copyright over little pieces of it (Canadian case law precedent is quite clear about the unacceptability of fragmentation in copyright claims). You should know perfectly well that fair use is not contingent upon subjective evaluations of taste or maturity, since the perceived intent (criticism, plagiarism, or profit) is all the matters. You should also realize that if you try to sic Lucasfilms' lawyers on me for using images from Star Wars (which is probably not beyond someone as obviously spiteful and bitter as you), you would only succeed in forcing me to remove some of the unimportant "eye candy" pictures from my site, while the more informative pictures would still be covered under fair use. And if you succeed in intimidating my ISP even without a solid legal case (let's assume they're skittish and paranoid), the worst that can possibly happen is that they give me grief and I simply switch ISPs. Do you realize how many ISPs there are in Toronto? It's only the fifth largest metropolis in North America.

But that's actually the best case scenario for you. The worst case scenario is that by inconveniencing me, you make me into a serious enemy who will now be willing to mimic your decision to take our dispute out of cyberspace and into the real world. Since I know your real name, your real school, and your real E-mail address, you no longer have the advantage of anonymity. I could take every conceivable opportunity to make sure that this little melodrama sticks to your name in perpetuity. However, I would stress that this is not my preferred course of action. I prefer to leave on-line debates where they belong: on-line. I'm just trying to make you understand that there is no way on Earth that you can actually force me to wipe that debate off the Internet, or take down my site in its entirety, so the best you can possibly do is inconvenience me and incite me to retaliatory action. You'd be better off apologizing for your asinine threats and then politely asking me to remove your school E-mail address from my website in order to help you preserve your anonymity as a professional courtesy, before too many people see it.

PS. Don't bother trying to claim that your identity is confidential and that I must take it off my website or face legal action; there is no confidentiality whatsoever implied in the sending of E-mail, and before you raise your other hand, I'll point out that the identity of a human being is a fact, not a copyrightable work. You would probably prefer having the pseudonym "Stilgar" trashed on the Internet than the name "Robert Lipka", so maybe you should try growing up a little bit, and learning how to ask for things instead of demanding them.


Stilgar Tries to Slither Away

[Editor's note: After making a worthless pseudoscience attack and then being thumped, Stilgar has no answer but to appeal to his authority again. Does he really think this fools anyone?]

I have actually done the number crunching several times. I get the same result every time. If you are really interested, I will send you the calculations. OTOH, if you are simply interested in being ass stuborn and pretending to know better... I will not bother to type. I also assumed you would believe your own calculations... and I wanted to demonstrated your naivety and ignorance towards science repeated all over your site.

In other words, you don't care to produce any actual numbers to support your argument, and even though I produced numbers to demonstrate the extreme fallacy of your arguments, you have no rebuttal except for vague suggestions of superior knowledge. Your modus operandi hasn't changed one iota.

[Editor's note: In the last message, I asked him to "please" send me his calculations. Now, he says he has calculations, but he won't let me see them until I ask for them. Does this smell like yet another Stilgar evasion to you?]

P.S. Your argument on this is far more complicated than it needs be. You have probably made a mistake somewhere along the way because of this.

[Editor's note: notice how he says I "probably" made a mistake in my calculations. You would think that if he had actually found this mistake, he would have pointed it out]

SIMPLY: multiply the energy value of food by the entire population per day. Turn it into power output. Then scale the power output of the Sun per unit are of a sphere of radius 1 AU. When you have Sun's energy density per area at 1 AU, multiply by the area of Earth's cross section to get the entire energy incident on Earth. Compare the values.

I did. There's an order of magnitude difference. Moreover, I sent you the resultant numbers, and you had no response but this vague nonsense.

[Editor's note: this guy is a fascinating study in pseudoscientific rhetoric techniques. He argues that my calculations are too "complicated" for him, then he suggests that I convert the food consumption of the population into power output, and then compare the resulting power intensity to the Sun's power intensity at 1 AU. However, apart from one obvious error in his method, that is exactly what I did in the last post! The man obviously can't read.

In case you're curious about the "error in his method", look carefully at his prescribed method. I took the intensity of human heat production and compared it to the intensity of solar radiation at 1 AU. His prescribed method is almost correct, but he wants to compare totals rather than intensities, and ignore the differing surface areas (the entire planetary surface area for human heat production, versus only ¼ of that for solar radiation). Why does this matter? Because heat intensity controls temperature, and temperature defines our ability to sustain a habitable environment, which is the real issue under discussion here.

Furthermore, he totally ignores the even larger problem which I pointed out, which is his naive and totally unjustified assumption that extreme surface temperatures (equivalent to the "Sun side of Mercury") are required in order to radiate such heat, when in fact, the Earth already radiates roughly as much heat as the Sun pours in. If it didn't radiate that much heat, then we wouldn't have thermal equilibrium and the Earth would be rapidly heating up (elementary thermodynamics, my dear Watson).

Since blackbody radiation is proportional to the fourth power of temperature, the requisite 10% increase in heat output would only result in a 2.4% temperature increase. Once again, notice how he bases his argument on intuition rather than quantitative analysis, even though he insists his scientific knowledge is superior to mine, and even goes so far as to compare himself to Stephen Hawking!

And finally, he ignores the fundamental problem I pointed out in his philosophy, which is his belief that an observation (the population of Coruscant or the violent obliteration of Alderaan) can actually be contradicted by a naive interpretation of theory. Yes, this is just sci-fi, but I will reiterate that suspension of disbelief requires us to treat those observations as if they were real. When real-life theories and observations collide, observations always win. Even though he doesn't seem willing to acknowledge it, this is the philosophical foundation of the entire scientific method. Even if there were a serious problem with Coruscant's human heat generation, it is observation rather than conjecture, so we would simply have to rationalize it (keeping in mind that Coruscant is naturally cold, and the worst case scenario is that they have to build huge heat exchangers in order to dump extra waste heat into space). As I pointed out initially, it is an logistical or engineering problem at worst, rather than an unresolvable scientific conundrum as he seems to think.

His mistakes in method and philosophy would give serious cause for concern in a high school science class, never mind a university master's program in physics. If he really is what he claims to be, then his blatant incompetence reflects very poorly on the academic standards of his university]

P.S 2 Don't bother typing so much vitrole... I do not read most of it anyway... I have real science to take my time... not pretend science web site :)

Then why do you bother writing at all, and if you write at all, why do you exclusively write pseudoscience? Not one hard figure. Nothing but ephemeral suggestions, vague allusions, and fallacious appeals to authority. I performed the calculations, you didn't. If you did, you would have a better response than "I did the calcs but ... uhhhh ... the numbers slipped my mind, so I can't tell you what I came up with."

However, if you continue to insist on making yourself look like an ass, then I will continue to post your junk E-mail on my site as proof. In the end, it doesn't matter whether you convince me or I convince you. All that matters is that anyone with basic reading comprehension can easily see your evasiveness and dishonesty. You can try to slither away from every single demand for hard numbers to back up your elusive claims, but it fools no one.

[Editor's note: Eventually, when backed into a corner, simple minded creatures such as this have a tendency to pretend that they didn't care about the argument in the first place. So in the space of a few posts, we have gone from "this material is so important that I'm going to sue you for copyright infringement" to "ahhh, I don't care about this whole subject anyway". Is this schizophrenia, dishonesty, or cowardice? You decide)]


Robert Lipka-Velikovsky

[Editor's note: after perusing my website, Stilgar realized that he had to put up or shut up. So he responded to my demand that he justify his "'Sun side of Mercury" claim with calculations, by ... ignoring it and going over the familiar ground of how much energy would be thrown off by a quadrillion people. Does that modus operandi sound familiar? This is the same guy who responded to "prove the nuclear fusion can be initiated at low energy cost in water" with "fusion would happen, and this is how much energy it would produce". He thinks he can prove B if he can prove A, even though he hasn't shown how A leads to B. His evasion technique is so predictable it isn't even funny any more (well, maybe it's still a little funny]

Sigghhh... you and your web site have as much in common with science as a scientologist. I pity those who have to work and live with you.

Aww, are you getting upset? Starting to resort to ever more personal insults? Poor baby!

Take an average requirement of 3500 *food calories* (NB one food calorie equals 1000 calories of the kind used in physics) per person - this is for a reasonably active lifestyle, but not the most active (some people use more food).

[Editor's note: just in case you're curious, "food calorie" is actually not a scientific term. The relevant scientific term would be the kcal, which obviously stands for kilocalorie. The colloquial term "food calorie" actually refers to kcals, because as I've mentioned many times, popular language often ignores strict terminology, so one must either bow to it in normal conversation or put up with people thinking you're "anal-retentive" for pointing out the inaccuracy]

I used 2500, you used 3500, so I checked, and it turns out we're both wrong. A healthy average is more like 3000 (although the United States averages more than 3600, which may explain why it is the most obese nation in the world). Therefore, both of our sets of calculations need to be revised accordingly.

[Editor's note: it's too bad I just whip off these responses rather than sitting down and thinking about them for a while. Upon reflection, I realize that it's probably an overestimate to use daily caloric consumption figures for adults, since children and the elderly consume much less. Oh well ... too late to point that out now, and it would only be splitting hairs anyway]

1 joule = 0.24 calorie (actually 0.23889 calorie) => 1 calorie = 4.186 joule
(extra decimal places in the middle of claculations in order to avoid rounding off errors)

1 food calorie = 1000 calorie = 4.186 * 10^3 joule
therefore: 3500 food calories = 3500 * 4.186 * 10^3 = 1.465 * 10^7 joule

Seconds in a day = 24 * 3600 = 86400 seconds
Population of 1000 trillion = 1 * 10^15
Energy from food alone for the whole population per day = 1 * 10^15 * 1.465 * 10^7 joule = 1.465 * 10^22 joule
Since this is an amount consumed per day, power from food alone = 1.465 * 10^22 joule/86400 second = 1.696 * 10^17 watt

[Editor's note: Notice the classic pseudoscientific attempt to obfuscate and overwhelm by over-complicating a very simple calculation. While I simply said "2500 calories a day, for an average heat output of 120W", he deliberately paced through each and every conceivable detail, carefully describing the conversion of calories to joules, the multiplication by the planetary population, the process of time averaging, and even the calculation to determine the number of seconds in a day!]

Power output of our Sun = 3.90 * 10^26 watt
Mean distance of Earth from the Sun (i.e. 1 AU) = 1.496 * 10^11 m
Area of a sphere = 4 * PI * r^2 - where r is the radius
Therefore, at 1 AU Sun's power output is spread over a sphere with a surface area = 4 * PI * (1.496 * 10^11 m)^2 = 2.812 * 10^23 m^2

Radius of Earth = 6.378 * 10^6 m
Area of Earth facing the Sun is the same as the area of it perpendicular to Sun's rays,
i.e. the area of cross-section of Earth = PI * r^2
= PI * (6.378 * 10^6 m)^2 = 1.278 * 10^14 m^2

Therefore, the Earth intercepts the following fraction of Sun's power output = (1.278 * 10^14 m^2)/(2.812 * 10^23 m^2)
= 4.545 * 10^-10

[Editor's note: Again, notice the deliberate over-complication of the facts. Instead of merely listing the solar radiation bombardment or even its intensity, he painstakingly goes through the entire process of explaining exactly how the inverse square law is used to determine solar radiation intensity, how the projected area of the Earth is calculated, and how to multiply the two. If he were writing for public consumption this might make sense, since anybody could be reading it. But I perform those calculations routinely on my site, so there is no reason to bother listing this information to me unless his goal is to exaggerate the complexity of the work. I'm guessing that his ulterior motive is to pretend that there was a great deal of effort involved in this post, so it ranks as a "copyrightable work" and he can claim copyright infringement. However, copyright requires much more originality than this]

Therefore, power from the Sun interecepting Earth at all times = 4.545 * 10^-10 * power output of the Sun
4.545 * 10^-10 * 3.90 * 10^26 watt = 1.77 * 10^17 watt

Thanks for that long-winded and condescending calculation. I notice your continuing insistence on examining totals rather than intensities, even though intensity defines temperature and surface temperature is the issue under discussion (specifically, your ridiculous claim that the planet would be as hot as the "Sun side of Mercury").

Earth's albedo = 0.39

It means 39% of the Energy from the Sun arriving at Earth is simply reflected straight away without being absorbed in any way.

Therefore, the Earth absorbes in various ways 61% of the power output from the Sun that reaches it = 0.61 * 1.77 * 10^17 watt
= 1.08 * 10^17 watt

Thus: food consumption alone releases 1.696 * 10^17 watt compared to the smaller contribution from the Sun at 1.08 * 10^17 watt.

FOOD CONSUMPTION *ALONE* FOR A POPULATION OF 1000 TRILLION RELEASES 157% AS MUCH ENERGY AS REACHES THE PLANET FROM THE SUN!!!

Once again, you are ignoring the questions of intensity and surface temperature which are at the heart of this problem, in favour of your exaggerated figures and your oversimplistic model which compares totals rather than intensities. It's nice that you went and looked up the albedo of Earth's atmosphere (admittedly something I didn't bother doing, even though you accused me of making things overly "complicated"), but your fundamental problems in method remain.

Apart from doubling the figures in my previous "back of envelope" calculation by estimating 1 quadrillion people on an Earth-sized planet, there are several serious problems with your model:

  1. Reflectivity: you assume that the reflectivity of Coruscant's atmosphere is identical to the reflectivity of Earth's atmosphere. Since atmospheric reflectivity is dependent on moisture content among other factors, and Coruscant's atmosphere has very little cloud cover (not surprising, since it has no oceans), it is totally unreasonable to make this assumption.

  2. Intensity: you ignore intensity in favour of undenominated totals, even though intensities are what defines surface temperature. Since you are attempting to claim that the surface of Coruscant would be untenably hot, it is intensity that you should be analyzing, not undenominated totals. Undenominated totals exaggerate the problem by ignoring the fourfold difference between projected area (which the Sun sees) and total surface area (which is used for heat radiation into space).

  3. Temperature: you cannot leap straight from power output to temperature without bothering to perform the necessary calculations. In this case, you leapt from "energy output similar to the Sun's rate of bombardment" to "700K surface temperatures". Radiative heat output is proportional to the fourth power of temperature, so a doubling of heat output would only increase the surface temperature by 19%, rather than causing it to skyrocket to nearly 700K (or as you put it, "the Sun side of Mercury"). Indeed, if an Earth-like planet's surface temperature really was 700K, it would radiate heat into space at more than 13,500 W/m², which would be nearly forty times the rate of solar radiation bombardment at 1 AU. If we estimate 150 watts average per person and 30% retention through the greenhouse effect, this would require a planetary population of more than 35 quadrillion people, not 1 quadrillion.

  4. Technology: you ignore the possibility that as the city grew over the millenia, they started using technological means of controlling the surface temperature. For all we know, they have huge lasers which dump heat into space.

  5. Baseline environment: you ignore the fact that Coruscant is very far from its Sun, and in fact, its natural environment is so cold that it needs huge orbital mirrors in order to maintain habitability. The heat production of its population may actually be a necessary part of its unusual and highly artificial ecosystem.

  6. Philosophy: you cannot refute an observation (the population density of Coruscant) with a naive interpretation of theory. That's ass-backwards, and it bears no resemblance to the scientific philosophy. Theories never override observations. Any assumptions on your part which make the observation seem impossible must therefore be invalid on that basis alone, since observations cannot, by definition, be impossible. You should therefore re-examine your assumptions.

[Editor's note: it's so tiresome to explain the same thing over and over. When he responds, he'll probably say he doesn't have the time to address all of those concerns. As an aside, you may find it interesting to consider various technological solutions. For example, we know that the Old Republic had planet-moving technology as demonstrated by Centrepoint Station, so they might have gradually moved their planet away from its Sun as its surface-level heat production rose with its growing population. In fact, Curtis Saxton alerted me to a BBS article describing precisely what I'm proposing: a potential method for gradually adjusting an Earth-like planet's orbit, and it doesn't even require any sci-fi technology]

If you can not imagine this clearly compared to your everyday experience, think of it as follows: both of your children are more efficient sources of energy production per volume than the Sun by the order of a couple of magnitudes! :)

And yet I'm not fried by holding them in my arms, am I? The point (which you obviously fail to see even though you just inadvertently helped reinforce it) is that while it sounds stunning to say that the population produces enough heat to approach a significant fraction of solar radiation bombardment, it is actually not a really big deal.

[Editor's note: if you look through the original fusion debate, you will see that he repeatedly harped upon this fact even then, although it didn't address the problem at all. The fact that he drags it out again, with no better results, makes me wonder if this lone fact constitutes the bulk of his scientific knowledge]

Note that this is only so far the contribution from food. As you say, to sustain such a huge population, most of the food would have to be imported. How much energy would be added into the environment by food transports alone thus?!!! I guess you would have to at least count the energy equivalent to the difference in the potential energy between high orbit and surface for several kilograms of food per person per day. I would not be surprised if this item in turn added many times Sun's contribution again all by itself (for a population of 1000 trillion).

Who said that most of the food must be imported? Who's to say that bio-mass recycling and hydroponics don't account for the majority of the food? Indeed, if they don't have huge quantities of plant life somewhere on the planet (in giant hydroponic farms, presumably), then they would need enormous machinery for CO2 conversion, in order to recycle CO2 into O2 for human consumption. That's hardly the most likely option.

Moreover, material must be removed from the planet as quickly as it is brought in, because there obviously isn't any room for gargantuan waste dumps. Apart from entropy production, there is no scientific need to assume a net influex of mass/energy into the system from a balanced cycle of imports and exports.

Curtis Saxton performed calculations for food importation based on an absolute worst case scenario (zero recycling or local food production) simply for the sake of argument, to address Michael Kube-McDowell's concerns about transport requirements. You took that worst-case scenario and misinterpreted as his prescribed model for Coruscant's food suppply. That's the problem with you Trekkie pseudoscience types; you don't understand the purpose of worst-case calculations and limits, so you mutilate their intent beyond recognition.

[Editor's note: this is one of my pet peeves about newsgroup Trekkies. They look at various types of limits, best-case, and worst-case scenarios, in an almost mindlessly oversimplified way. They completely ignore the context in which the figures were generated, and they reinterpret that context in the manner most convenient for them. They interpret lower limits as upper limits, upper limits as lower limits, and worst-case scenarios as best-case scenarios]

Then there is the average energy consumption of each citizen in an advanced society - as a good lower bound estimate you could use energy consumption per person in the USA (I assume a SW level civilisation would use many times more energy per person than the USA). Again this would be a contribution many times larger than from food.

On the contrary, the United States' per capita energy consumption is the most voracious in the world, and much of it is due to industry, indoor climate control, and the travel requirements of its widely dispersed population. Since Coruscant is an exclusively residential planet with no industry whatsoever and a heavily urbanized population whose travel patterns and technologies would be vastly different from those of the United States, I see no reason for this assumption. On other planets with a reasonable balance of industry and residential space it would presumably be different, but Coruscant is a special case.

Curtis calculated his population figures for an Earth sized planet, and not as you suggest a larger one (anyway, this would not make a difference to the argument). He does note that Coruscant is probably larger, but he uses Earth's dimensions. According to what he says, the population of 1000 trillion I use, is on the smaller side of his estimates which say at least several hundred trillion to the order of several thousand trillion.

Yes, his figures are in that range, although the figures I made up for my "back of envelope" calculation were slightly different (based on 1 million people per square kilometre rather than 2 million). So you finally realize that the 1E15 figure comes from Curtis Saxton's site rather than mine, eh? I was wondering when you'd pick up on that. How long have you known this? Did you know it from the beginning? If you did, then you were deliberately dishonest when you used it as a criticism of my site rather than his (although you are certainly free to go to the source and tell him about your evaluation of his work as a collection of "very funny mistakes in basic science and logic").

Clearly this an environmentaly impossible situation - a too large population by several orders of magnitude. Maximum population for Coruscant should be on the order of one trillion (and I reserve the right to reduce it further after I calculate energy contributions from things like food transport, life support, and industrial activity).

Nonsense. Given the sheer quantity of floor space on Coruscant's planet-spanning city, a population of 1 trillion people would be so widely dispersed that a person could go weeks without ever seeing another human being. Given a planet-spanning city with 2 mile high buildings everywhere, there would be hundreds of thousands of square metres of floor space for each person (millions of square feet). There would have to be huge sections of the planet full of deserted buildings for a population of 1 trillion to maintain reasonable human contact.

As for your naive assault upon thermodynamics, I invite you to go ahead and perform those calculations on food transport, life support, and industrial activity. After seeing what you've done so far, I'm sure that they won't be exaggerated or based on invalid assumptions in any way :)


Bluffing With a Lousy Hand

Stilgar sent a second message right on the heels of the message above (sent less than two hours later, according to the timestamps). This one contained ... (surprise!) another blustering threat, even though the subject line was "A Request":

Please remove all instances of my e-mail from your site, i.e. rlipka@ics.mq.edu.au. It is putting my personal security at risk, and I do not wish to have anything to do with arguments with you. You have no right to put me at risk. Thanks.

Robert Lipka

P.S. I will be sending a copy of this to your ISP in 48 hours unless my e-mail is removed.

[Editor's note: it starts well enough, with him saying the word "please", but if you read the entire message, it's pretty damned obvious that this is a threat rather than a request. A threat with a 48 hour deadline, and backed up with his usual bluster about me not having the "right" to publicize his identity. Amazing, isn't it? He's basically saying "you can't tell people that I sent you E-mail". I love the way he says "please" and "thanks" even though he can't help but phrase his request in the form of a harshly worded threat. It reminds me of the memorable character "Otto" in "A Fish Called Wanda" who, when asked to apologize, couldn't help but alternate between saying "sorry" and physically assaulting his opponent. You may have also noticed that he continues to vacillate between arguing with me (in his previous post) and then abruptly insisting that "I don't have time to argue with you"]

I warned you before that I will not respond to threats. I advised you that it is better to ask than to demand. You chose to ignore those admonitions.

Therefore, I will say once again that you are totally wrong. I do have the right to publicize your identity, as I made no promises whatsoever of confidentiality. It is a fact, and an attempt to classify it as a "copyrightable work" would be treated with contempt and derision in any court of law. Your attempt to muzzle this information is tantamount to suppression of news reporting.

You can complain to my ISP if you wish, but the publication of facts revealed without non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements (such as the identity of a person who sends a stream of harassing E-mail) is not prohibited by local or international laws.

If you're too arrogant to apologize and ask nicely, then you deserve whatever trouble you get. If your ego is more important than your "personal security", that's your problem.

In other words, blow me.

[Editor's note: he is obviously not a student of human nature; believe it or not, he still hasn't figured out that the harder he pushes, the harder I'll push back. Can you read between the lines? He claims it's a matter of "personal security", as if I just published Salman Rushdie's home address. What a load of crap ... nobody's life or personal safety is put in danger because of this ridiculous little melodrama. He's just saying that for the benefit of my ISP, in the hopes of convincing them that I'm putting someone's life at risk by publicizing his identity. What a sleaze ... he's worried about embarrassing his school or catching personal flak because of his asinine behaviour, and he's too full of pride to simply suck it up and apologize. His solution? Try to trick my ISP, as if they wouldn't see right through it the minute they check this page to see what the fuss is all about.

Even if my ISP is moronic enough to take his claims at face value (which I seriously doubt, but you can never tell), what's he going to accomplish? As I warned him before, the best he can possibly accomplish is to make me change ISPs and switch my domain name over to the new host. Big deal ... that would only create a temporary inconvenience and eliminate any remote possibility of me ever taking his name and E-mail address off the site. Even as it stands, his contemptible behaviour means that it would take quite an apology to get his name and address down, and the longer he waits, the less important it will become since more and more people will see it. Doesn't he realize that there's no way to forcibly stop me from telling people that he E-mailed me? Hell, if I wanted to, I could start spewing his name all over the newsgroups, or E-mailing various members of his faculty just for kicks! He still thinks he's got the ball, but he doesn't realize that the game is over, and I'm already celebrating]


Bluffing and Paranoia together: a Match made in Robert Lipka

Yet more blustery threats and increasingly bizarre accusations. Now it seems as if he seriously thinks that it's "stalking" to answer his endless stream of threatening E-mails:

Look up anti stalking laws - they are a criminal offence - you can end up in jail. My details got to you by mistake; nonsense like disclosure arguments? Plus I am not *Stilgar* is the main point of my argument. Either way, as you are not being reasonable, I am pursuing it through the law. I will not be contacting you or replying to you again.

You really are psychotic; you think I'm stalking you because I answered your E-mails? Obviously, your concept of "stalking" is just as peculiar as your concept of science. Or didn't it occur to you that every single E-mail that I have ever sent you has been a response to one of your unsolicited E-mails to me?

Clearly, you need professional help. I thought I was just being witty when I suggested that you might be suffering from paranoid delusions. Sadly, it seems like I may have actually been right.

[Editor's note: many countries do have anti-stalking laws. However, the act of replying to an unsolicited E-mail message, or telling others who sent it to you, is only "stalking" in the apparently deranged mind of Robert Lipka. And I would like to know what he's talking about with this "I am not Stilgar" nonsense, since he and "Stilgar" were claiming to be the same person until this sudden change of heart. Perhaps he's suffering from multiple personality disorder in addition to his paranoid delusions :)

On a related note, he sent Curtis Saxton an E-mail message within a day of sending me the message above, complaining that it's impossible to argue with me (translation: he has no more ammunition so he'll try to walk away claiming that I wasn't being reasonable), and explaining the "very funny mistakes in basic science and logic" which he had identified in Curtis' site. Amazingly, he also complained to Curtis that he can't discuss the matter with me because I'm stalking him. I wonder if he really does think it's "stalking" to reply to his E-mail harassment. Unfortunately for him, the complete and unabridged text of our exchange is posted right here, and I have the luxury of letting the Internet public be the judge.

I wonder if he seriously thinks he's going to put a scare into me by pretending that he'll lodge an international complaint of stalking on the basis of my E-mails. First, it was "copyright". Now, it's "stalking". He must be accustomed to dealing with gullible people; can he really be foolish enough to think I'll be cowed by this transparent buffoonery? Sadly, when it comes to the Stilgar/Robert Lipka/Blowhard entity, nothing would surprise me any more.

After all is said and done, I just hope he keeps his word about no longer pestering me with this seemingly endless barrage of empty threats. It's been fun to knock him down a few pegs, but he's starting to get repetitive. Perhaps my readers can start a betting pool on whether he'll keep his word and stop wasting my time from here on in]


Continue to Stilgar Episode VI: Return of the Sore Loser


Click here to return to the main Hate Mail page.



Valid HTML 4.01!Valid CSS!This website is owned and maintained by Michael Wong
This site is not affiliated with Lucasfilm or Paramount
All associated materials are used under "Fair Use" provisions of copyright law.
All original content by Michael Wong is copyrighted © 1998,2004.
Click here to go to the main page