2000 Site Updates
December 10, 2000
Mostly housekeeping updates this time; I just don't have time for a lot of serious development on the site right now. The only major addition is a Young-Earth Creationism page linked from the Kansas page. This was to address the irritating creationists who keep E-mailing me with dumb-ass young-earth theories under the assumption that I'm not already familiar with them since I dismissed them as worthless pseudoscience when I first wrote it.
Rewrote the old Bad Science page, and renamed it to the Pseudoscience page.
Added some Star Trek communism-related links to the Links page. I intend this as a mute response to all of the people who E-mailed me about my criticism of Star Trek's communist mindset, acting as if I'm the only person who's ever noticed it.
Added another theory to the Endor Battle scenario page.
Revised the general Sci-fi Myths page (nothing to get excited about; I just shortened it up a bit).
November 5, 2000
Some minor updates to the Canon Database page, thanks to helpful reader feedback.
Revamped the Canon page. I hated the way it was written before; too confusing and wordy.
Minor modifications to the main page (just a bit of rewording, as well as some re-coding to clean it up via server-side includes).
October 29, 2000
Sorry about the terribly long delay in bringing this update on line. I've worked up some pretty big projects, I've been spending a lot of time on "real-life" activities, and I just upgraded my machine to a shiny new Duron 700 so I've been playing with it a little bit. I'm also busy gnashing my teeth and beating my head against the wall in frustration over the Bills' nightmare season. At least you can't accuse us Buffalo Bills fans of being fickle ...
Anyway, when I last left off, I had decided to de-emphasize official literature, particularly on the ST side since Paramount declared official literature irrelevant from the standpoint of continuity. That's when I discovered something interesting about the Star Trek technical websites: all of them simply quote from the TM for 99% of technical info, straying only when the TM says something they don't like. I realized that if I was going to construct Star Trek technical discussions without falling back on the "easy out" of the TM, I would have to construct a database of canon information on my own. And so, the Canon Database was born. It only covers TNG right now, but perhaps someday in the distant future, it will grow to encompass more series. Its findings haven't yet been incorporated into my technical and tactical comparison pages, but I felt I should get this potentially valuable information out there before spending the time to reorganize the rest of my site around its findings.
Removed the "home" button on the main page, so that I could make room for a new "Database" button.
Updated the Site FAQ to add the common question: "Don't you think Star Trek vs Star Wars is an immature argument?"
Added some fanfic awards from the bizarre Star Trek vs Star Wars fanfic archive awards ceremony!
August 13, 2000
Thanks to everyone who responded with suggestions about canon policy. The overwhelming favourite right now seems to be that I should use Paramount's rules for Star Trek, and Lucasfilm's rules for Star Wars. However, C.S. Stowbridge came up with the clever suggestion that I should separate the official data from the canon data on the Star Wars side, so that people who wish to do strict "canon to canon" comparisons can do so, and people who wish to use the proper rules for both sides can also do so.
As a result, I will apologize right now in advance because the next update will take a while, and I won't have much time for E-mail in the meantime. What with the various pages in stages of partial completion, old ideas I want to implement, and this new situation with Paramount's canon policy, my response time to suggestions will be even slower than normal.
For those of you who have supported me in the past, I would like to thank you in advance for your patience.
For those of you who would take advantage of this time to take even more potshots at me than usual (eg. churlish meat-heads like Sorborus a.k.a. Mike Griffiths a.k.a. Lord Edam de Fromage a.k.a. whoknowswhatelse who would critique a little piece of my site and then gleefully trash my name all over the newsgroups if I don't respond within a few days), you'll just have to wait. I'll poke fun at your arguments when I have time.
BTW, I revised the Media page, adding some new MP3 files. I also relocated some of the MP3 files to tripod.com in order to save space and bandwidth (I don't make any money off this site so I use bargain-basement hosting). The only hassle with tripod.com is that you have to put up with their banner page before you can download the file, but it seems to work for now.
August 6, 2000
Following the Kansas state school board elections, I added an addendum to the Evolution vs Creationism page.
Links page revisions: added a link to the hysterically funny Americans for Purity website, and fixed/removed some broken links.
Minor rewording of the Heat Quiz explanations page, to change the term "firewalking mystics" to be more specific. The term "firewalking mystic" was too general, and may have easily been misinterpreted to include people such as Hindus, who use firewalking as a cleansing ritual of spiritual purity.
Updated the Battles page for the Third Battle of Bajor.
Updated the Battles main page to revise the last item in the "Notes" section at the bottom of the page.
I have recently heard that Paramount's policy on canon continuity is that the technical manuals aren't canon or official; they are mere speculation. This is important news (and it helps explain why the writers don't give a damn about maintaining consistency with the TM's), and I'm still trying to figure out how I should deal with it. If I follow Paramount's policy, then rabid Trekkies will undoubtedly accuse me of being "unfair" for not altering the Star Wars rules to match (even though Lucasfilm classifies such materials as official). As far as I can tell, I have three options:
Use Paramount's rules for Star Trek, and use Lucasfilm's rules for Star Wars. This means that the Star Trek TM's are essentially vapour, while the Star Wars tech books are official.
Ignore everything but canon sources for both Star Wars and Star Trek.
Keep the current scheme even though it violates Paramount's official continuity rules (my only choice for the short-term future; a ground-up rewrite would be fiendishly time-consuming).
I would appreciate input from readers on this issue, although you should all be forewarned that I probably won't be able to respond to each message individually.
July 29, 2000
Updated the Battles pages:
Added some more explanation of the rules and scoring system.
Revised some of the individual battle scenarios
Made minor formatting and rewording changes throughout.
Went through the site and cleaned up as much formatting code as I could. Hopefully I didn't screw anything up :)
July 10, 2000
Reorganized the Sci-fi Debating Tactics and Fallacies page. Split off the logical fallacies and dishonest tactics into separate sub-pages, and added some Debating tips at the bottom of the page.
Minor updates to the SpaceBattles.Com Babies page:
Noted that the disparaging remarks about SpaceBattles.Com trekkies were only being directed toward the people who wrote that essay and attempted to use it as a fallacious ad hominem attack to dismiss my entire site. They weren't directed at all of the trekkies who visit the site.
Added information E-mailed from Alyeska about the source of one of his previously unreferenced claims, in the Starbase section.
Minor rewording of the Communism page.
June 13, 2000
Minor correction to the Creationism arguments page, in which I distinguish between the Catholic chuch and the other churches which continue to attack evolution theory (because the Pope has publicly acknowledged the validity of evolution theory even as other churches have stepped up their attacks).
Added Kitsune's homepage to the Links page.
May 27, 2000
Made some improvements to the Links page:
Removed the obsolete Timothy Jones FAQ link (apparently, FAQ-based personal attacks became severe enough that some sort of joint disarmament treaty was declared).
Fixed a broken link for the ASVS fanfic archive (the original maintainer is indisposed and it is now under the care of a new maintainer).
Fixed an obsolete link for the Star Trek Technical Commentaries site. The site moved.
Added a link to the Starship Scales website, with its awesome super-size chart.
Added a postscript to the Philosophy page.
May 22, 2000
Added a "Star Trek Philosophy" page, based on an E-mail contribution I received last year from a reader named Scott Whitmore.
Replaced all of the old STFC screenshots with higher-quality, higher-resolution digital captures taken directly from the STFC DVD (the old ones were taken with an old-fashioned analog screen capture device). The new images can be seen on the ST Myths page, the ST Propulsion page, the ST Maneuvering page, the ST ground combat page, and the ST torpedoes page.
May 5, 2000
Minor changes to the CSS style sheet. It came to my attention that font sizes were goofy on some platforms, so I've altered them a little. For all I know, this will cause more trouble than it fixes, but we'll see.
PS: I can't help but gloat at the victims of the Loveletter virus. They're blaming a 23-year old in the Phillippines, but this debacle was caused by Microsoft, not a hacker. As some pundits put it, the Loveletter virus isn't a bug; it's a feature. Loveletter spread so quickly because Outlook performed exactly the way it was designed to. None of the anti-virus "experts" on TV mentioned what every UNIX user already knows: we're immune to these things. Microsoft acolytes tried to put a good spin on it, saying that viruses specifically target Winblows because of its popularity. But that's a whitewash; even if hackers started writing viruses for linux, they would never be so successful for several reasons that have nothing to do with market share:
Security. UNIX systems prevent ordinary users from damaging OS files. This keeps you (or any virus you activate) from doing any serious damage to your system. On the other hand, Winblows 9x has no security at all, and Winblows NT's default file permissions are wide open on many critical system files (for reasons of user convenience, of course). This gives viruses the ability to cause severe damage to your system.
Variety. Microsoft loudly touts the consistency and conformity of Winblows; we're supposed to be glad that every Winblows computer has the same basic interface, the same features, etc. But the job of a virus writer is much easier if he knows how the target system is configured. The UNIX market caters to individual preferences rather than shoving one set of products down your throat, so UNIX systems won't be such easy targets. If you look at ten different computers running linux, the differences can be so stark that it takes a while to figure out that they're all running the same operating system. This slows down the rate of virus propagation dramatically.
Culture. The culture of UNIX is do-it-yourself. The culture of Winblows is "Father Bill knows best." Far too many things happen in Winblows without your knowledge or permission. And unlike UNIX, you don't have to deliberately activate these features because they are active by default. This is scary stuff, and virus writers quickly learn to take advantage of it. Microsoft acolytes insist that it's not a problem because you can turn off dangerous features, but most users won't think of doing that, so they're the ones who will help viruses like Loveletter spread around the world.
Convenience. Microsoft always chooses convenience over security. In fact, they never even give security a second thought. While Sun carefully designed Java so that applets would always run in restricted space (the "Java VM"), Microsoft threw caution to the winds and gleefully designed its Internet apps to interact playfully with the operating system. "Wouldn't it be nice," they asked, "if people could surf to a website that reconfigures, updates, and maintains peoples' systems over the web? And wouldn't it be nice," they continued, "if people could directly execute E-mail attachments with a single click?" Yeah, it would be nice ... for viruses.
April 29, 2000
First off, I wanted to thank everyone who E-mailed with good things to say about my little fanfic. I started writing it with the rather modest aspiration of not embarrassing myself, but now that it's finally done, I'm glad I did it. I'm sorry I don't have time to write back to everyone individually, but time is a precious commodity for me. My E-mail overload has gotten to the point that I don't answer most of my E-mail nowadays, so please don't feel offended if you sent mail and I didn't get back to you.
April 24, 2000
Finally finished my fanfic. Chapter 20 is now up. I looked back over the story and I find that it's a bit uneven because of the way I wrote it piece by piece. It's also a hardware story rather than an emotionally involving character-based story. But I hope you all liked it anyway, in spite of those flaws.
April 5, 2000
To those who E-mailed to ask why I had such a drastic change of heart a few days ago ... gotcha!
Otherwise, nothing big to report; just minor bugfixes and CSS tweaking (which will probably be ongoing). Netscape's CSS implementation is truly horrible, thus necessitating numerous workarounds. Their lackadaisical, haphazard implementation of CSS is truly shameful, and as much as I hate to say it, the evil Emperor- er, I mean, Bill Gates' Internet Explorer actually handles it a lot better.
On a personal note, I've started using Mandrake Linux 7.0, and this is an awesome distro! If you're into Linux, check out Mandrake.
April 1, 2000
Massive rewrites to the site. After careful consideration, I have finally realized that the superior technical sophistication of the Federation will easily overcome the primitive and weak Empire. I have also reconsidered my attitude toward science, pseudoscience, and religion. I have therefore made the following major changes to the site:
Phaser page updated to recognize the fact that phasers can destroy entire continents in seconds as loosely supported by vague dialogue in TDIC. Apparent contradictions with direct observation are obviously due to bad special effects so they should be ignored. Apparent contradictions in the rest of canon are obviously due to yield settings, so they can all be ignored as well.
Turbolaser page updated to recognize the fact that the Death Star couldn't possibly do what it did, so the obliteration of Alderaan should be stricken from the canon and not considered in firepower estimates.
Shield pages updated: I have accepted that phasers would pass effortlessly through Imperial shields because they're phase-coherent. Also, Federation shields would be immune to all forms of Imperial weaponry from missiles to ion cannons, turbolasers, and even Death Star blasts.
Propulsion pages updated to recognize that the Millenium Falcon can only travel at 1.5c because of what Han Solo said. The SW galaxy must therefore be only a few light-days wide. I had previously come to the erroneous conclusion that this interpretation of dialogue was oversimplistic and therefore wrong. I had assumed that it must be wrong because millions of star systems could not exist in such a small space, but that was before I found out about recent discoveries in particle physics which make it possible.
Ground combat pages updated to accept the terajoule energy estimates produced by numerous posters on the newsgroups. I have now accepted that hand phasers can hit targets dozens of kilometres away and destroy entire cities with a single shot, as proven by the multi-terajoule figures from the newsgroups. The fact that we have never seen anything remotely resembling this level of destructive power on the show is obviously due to yield settings.
Kansas page deleted. I have now accepted that the Bible is God's Word and therefore constitutes a valid piece of scientific evidence. I can show that the Biblical Creation, the Great Flood, and everything else in the Bible is the absolute literal truth, and that scientists are engaged in a worldwide conspiracy of silence. I can also show that evolutionists are all immoral because religion = morality, so if they're not religious, they must be immoral. On an unrelated note, I would like to express my support for those who wish to post the Ten Commandments in public schools as a way of decreasing crime. When you consider all of the Jews and Muslims whose souls were saved during the holy Crusades and Inquisitions, you can begin to recognize how the union of church and state has always produced superior morality.
Tactics pages updated to recognize that a war would consist of the Imperial fleet flying to a pre-arranged point in deep space and then sitting still while Federation ships warp-strafe them, instead of flying around destroying strategic targets as I had previously assumed. This is because real military commanders will always prefer an honourable macho showdown to a planned attack on his enemy's weaknesses (and of course, the idea requires that warp strafing be feasible, and we all know it is).
The fanfic was completely rewritten to show a cross-universe war the way it would really be: the Jedi characters all lose their Force skills the moment they enter the ST galaxy, and Imperial technologies are all utterly useless against the unfamiliar Federation technology. Of course, since Federation technology is superior in all ways, it all works flawlessly against the unfamiliar Imperial technology. In fact, it all works better than it ever has before, destroying trillions of cubic metres of armour with every shot. And of course, I rewrote the beginning to show the USS Carolina effortlessly deflecting a Death Star blast with its navigational deflector and then destroying the Death Star with a couple of torpedoes. The rewrites were necessary to inject a much-needed feeling of realism into the story.
I also made a few changes before I came to my new appreciation of the way things are:
I am in the process of rewriting the page to use cascading style sheets. It's an experiment, so if you see anything which doesn't work, please drop me a line. Some of the tables were replaced with CSS-based columns. Let me know if it blows up on your browser :)
The "Economics of Star Trek" page has been rewritten. When I wrote it, I had assumed that the dismal failure of communism was a given, so I didn't bother justifying the condemnation of communism that was implicit in the article. However, I received numerous flame mails (as well as some thoughtful criticism, to be fair), so I added some more explanation. BTW, as a note to those who said that an engineer has no business discussing history or economics, not only is that an ad hominem attack, but it presumes knowledge of my background which you do not possess. In fact, I studied the failure of communism in depth during a third-year 20th century Russian history course in university (and no, I didn't fail the course; I got an A. Now let's see a history major take a third year advanced engineering thermodynamics course and do the same).
March 4, 2000
Minor revisions to that Kansas page again.
January 5, 2000
Happy y2k, everybody! BTW, I have a message for all of those people who met the New Year with huge stockpiles of kerosene lanterns, portable generators, gasoline, bottled water, guns, and canned food: "HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!" I'm proud to say that I took no disaster precautions whatsoever, because I knew that nothing serious would happen. I hear on TV that people are trying to return their emergency supplies for refunds, even though they were told last year that all sales were final. I guess this proves once again that sellers are often smarter than buyers :)
Revised the Racism essay page, by adding an introductory discussion of racism and by completely rewriting the Star Trek portion. I've received a lot of comments about this page, some positive and some negative, and I felt that a more thorough explanation was necessary. Many of the negative comments revolved around disagreements with my definition of racism, so I added real-life examples to help explain.
On a personal note, I would like to explain why the site has languished for two months, and why I've been ignoring 99% of my E-mail over that time:
My wife and kids got sick in mid-November and didn't recover until late December. As a result, I've been putting more effort into helping out at home. I do enjoy working on the site, but it takes a backseat to my family. Hopefully, I will have more free time in future. If you're one of the people whose E-mail I ignored, don't take it personally. It wasn't you- it was me.
I recently discovered (the hard way) that I have a severe allergic reaction to beryllium-copper alloy. This means that if I am exposed to Be-Cu alloy in a regular basis, I'm in a high-risk group for developing a degenerative lung condition known as beryliosis later in life. Since Be-Cu alloys are ubiquitous in the plastics processing industry, I may have to seriously consider a career change. Oh well, change is good for the soul (and in my case, the lungs), so if anyone knows about any opportunities for an engineer with experience in plastic injection and blow moulding, plastic part design, 3D modelling, mechanical design, CAD/CAM, and UNIX/NT network administration (and who can't go anywhere near Be-Cu alloys), then let me know :)