10 July 2008

The unposted things

This is yet in another of sporadic posts on lack of posts! You have to love these things...

Lately my time has been taken up in pre-packing for a future move. The move itself has been indefinitely delayed with one of my cats pulling up with a swollen chamber in his heart. That was caught early but there is no remedy for it and his expected lifespan at this point is sub-six months (on average for those cats with similar conditions). Sudden stress could kill him, and I am unwilling to seek an improvement in my environs that would kill him.

Getting out of Dodge, on the other hand, is the imperative and the more of the long-term material (books and such) that we can get pre-packed around here the faster the final move will be. This process requires some physical effort (even if directing others), the raising of dust which puts my allergies into high gear, and the multitude of decisions that need to be made via triage: pack, leave out, toss? Some items need to be left out - the multi-season clothing selection because it looks like one or two more seasons will be spent here. Other items, like all my 3.5" floppies go away - I can't remember the last time I used a floppy for anything and now mostly use CD/DVD disks or USB sticks/memory devices.

Keeping the active computer base at home operational is one duty that is mine as sysadmin: can't delegate that any time soon. Keeping the Dell notebook I use healthy is one of those deals where one begins to suspect a cosmic ray took out some minor piece of some sub-system that works fine when the system is not under stress. It didn't permanently take it out, just that something causes problems under activity, most likely heat, then bringing the problem out. A bad solder joint could also be the culprit for non-repeatable errors.

After that there is the question of what to do with the two older systems taken out during the 'portability upgrade' phase: two huge towers built on quite good small server cases now sit unused. One has a motherboard that went kaput back when I was still getting the effects of my medication problem causing my catalepsy and severe fatigue problems. I trusted on my mind to chase down the best way to make my current main system while that old one failed in ways most likely due to the motherboard. Upon further review that system's problems are due wholly to the motherboard (an old Abit one with IDE RAID built-in). The other system is even older, dating back from the late 1990's and having been put to use for my lady's netsurfing. I'm looking to see if my niece or her mother would like for me to do a quick system build in the cases, stripping out nearly everything and keeping the case as a basis for a new system. I do adore those cases from Supermicro (the old SC-750A) and I bought two of them at the time. My old main machine that was housed in one of those had 11 hard drives, CD burner and floppy on board, and didn't sound like a jet aircraft ready for take-off when in use. More the dull roar of a DC-3. As I paid well for them and have gotten good service, I am loathe to let them go out for the scrap heap - there are better cases these days, but none that have gotten my respect like those two.

Also on the computer front is my ancient A900i Elitegroup Desknnote or iBuddie. Currently I am doing a parts scrounge for the best possible components to give it a final upgrade and will most likely send it in-family for use. I can think of a couple of individuals in need of basic portable computing for net surfing but no real need of a full-blown modern notebook/laptop. That should go pretty quickly, and I am only waiting for a new CPU, the old stuff still works, but it might as well go as fast as the system can handle for end-of-lifecycle.

Reading! Beyond the latest Grantville Gazettes in the 1632 series, plus novels, I have also gotten through Mark Steyn's Face of the Tiger and America Alone, Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, Michael Yon's Moment of Truth in Iraq and about half-way through Ray Robison's Both in One Trench. Excellent works, and Kenneth Timmerman's The French Betrayal of America is serving as the bridge piece for reading between the early 1990's to pre-2001 in keeping track of just how much the 'New World Order' deteriorated. I should probably read it cover-to-cover, but it is such a handy reference work that I will probably get to that point after having read major portions of it out of order.

My video watching has backed up. Still holding the last few episodes of Sledge Hammer! in reserve, but have Police Squad to back that up. Pat Dollard's Outside the Wire has gotten lost in the shuffle of being exhausted in the evenings (like most of my other video watching) and that I do need to view when I can get some energy together. After that I finally got my hands on the live-action Flash series, which did not last out a season - currently it is at or near the top of my list for highly realistic live action superheroic presentations... with that said I didn't get to see Iron Man, The Hulk's recent film and will try to get to see the next Batman film. I am not much for going out to movies as having time, energy, concentration and staying awake are all problems... and no theater serves a decent cup of coffee so that has to come in with me from outside. In general there have been a few films I wanted to see, but just never did get to seeing them... ones that do benefit from a large screen.

HDTV? Back-burner and will let the cable company keep the analog going. If I am stuck with *only* Hi-Def after the move, then a new TV is in order... actually that old Sony beast I have is wonderful, but it weighs some godawful amount that I can't really do much with. Any replacement will be flatscreen and light. Back burnered for now.

Ah, writing. Actually, I am doing some fiction work out here in the middle of nowhere, mostly for personal amusement purposes. The main idea centers on the Star Trek universe post-whateverthehellthelastawfulmoviewas and will explore an idea that came to me a few weeks ago. One of my main complaints with ST is that the Enterprise is, actually, not so interesting as things go. The episodic format played into a problematical situations and never looked at the wider view of the entire universe. Here is where ST meets SF and the 1632 series is proof-positive that excellent stories come from a consistent historical timeline.

Star Trek's chronology sucks.

From all accounting there are at least two if not three major timelline variants that contradict each other in pretty stark ways. The recent Enterprise series actually made things *worse* not better as the producers steadfastly refused to stick to known historical points given in the The Original Series and even Next Gen. You can reconcile things to a certain extent, but claiming that the USS Republic had a nuclear 'pile', as seen in 'Court Martial' and then to go into ST:IV and have the fission 'dalliance' limited to the end-20th and early 21st century is a non-starter. That is not even addressing the question of 'was the Eugenics War a World War?' or just how, exactly, do you have such good warp-drive technology and then get the 'sub-light war' with the Romulans? Those can be answered, but not glibly, not quickly and not without some pretty nasty thinking into the types of logistics and supply systems for something like faster-than-light interstellar war. Unfortunately, each successor series, to try and get some 'authenticity' then goes on to *ignore* the historical problems and layer in additional ones.

While you might get a good episode out of that, you have just broken with an ordered and established history in a major way and *that* is lethal to continuity between episodes and for the entire universe. And I won't even go into the harsh divide seen between the likes of Cyrano Jones and Harry Mudd with the non-explained economic system of the Federation... I figure it is some interior military deal with Star Fleet that utilizes 'credits' and then has to have an exchange system for the real economy we never get to see. Yeah, I don't buy Picard's advanced economic theory as he couldn't even explain it - it is either socialism (with all of its attendant problems) or so complex that it defies easy description (like Russia's current mess). I prefer the Fleet-interior credit system having to interface with the real world system for ease of discussion.

Then there are the things not explicitly stated, but that must be true: starships are relatively easy to upgrade once you have the construction bases made. The only reason to cycle starships out of service is due to damage or structural deficiencies that only show up over time. As seen with the Republic, it was of a class of Heavy Cruiser from *before* the Constitution class and yet was upgraded TO the Constitution class. That means that a ship design type may have a 'class' of new builds, but then it also covers a broader category of similar ships with similar capabilities to a high degree, but that have non-similar history. As starships don't get barnacles, much in the way of exterior corrosion and the other ill-effects of ships at sea, they have an effective life span limited to its components and superstructure. We saw that between the time period from TOS to ST:I - USS Enterprise was taken in for a refit/upgrade, not newly built. Coming from the old analog, face-to-face game of Star Fleet Battles, I give that classification to be an 'X-class cruiser'. What that means is that every ship built since the Enterprise series to the last timeline film allows the Fleet to accumulate vessels.

Which is why I prefer the original timeline of warp capable for movement but not for combat types of ships that would typify the Earth-Romulan War. That is an interesting universe and has some very, very old ships still in service, although few of them continually as there must be some of the 'waiting in line for upgrade' problem seen between TOS and ST:I.

Actually Paramount should just hire JMS from Babylon 5 to create a coherent timeline and then have a studio decree: from this you do not waiver. Absent that, the individual writing about non-canonical characters in non-canonical settings is left up to their own devices... which is why the ST novels are, generally, awful.

All of these thoughts from the 1970's to the present that I have had on ST then come into play when I attempt to write something in that universe. Perforce it is non-canonical. I am tired of the Enterprise and her crew... give them a rest as they are not that interesting in the long-haul. And when taking a genius within that universe who is admitted to be one many times over inside that universe and who goes through a psychological breakdown, as happened in that universe, then what do you expect to find of his actual work that went awry when the Fleet finally deems it can't figure it out and is a museum piece... 130 or so years later?

That probably has limited viewer interest and is far lower than my normal readership... but for self-amusement it is interesting as I get to sort out some of the problems in the timeline, gloss others over (who doesn't?) and then see just how deep a genius the man was. Could he create something that no one else, in 130 years, can duplicate without his ability to explain it as sanity (via those really lovely devices that just set everything 'right') was imposed and venturing into that research area was a non-starter for him? That is a fun possibility to explore and points out yet *another* piece of the canon's history that really needs examination as it is obvious that *nothing* came of that one research project for the longer term as everything is derivative of his earlier work, not his later work.

As an individual who ran role-playing games as 'worlds' or 'self-contained universes', that is right up my alley as the things happening in that universe for my players was based on the wider context of what everyone *else* was doing. I am fully used to thinking in terms of long timelines, deep history and how to work them. My ability to write characters and dialogue is pretty sparse, as well as do emotional/romance plotlines. I have the heart of a romantic... in formaldehyde in a jar on my desk. And going by the 'write what you know' arena means that I get to write a story from the perspective of weekly meetings of a project... and anyone who goes to staff meetings knows how those go.

On the political side: just how fast can Barack Obama collapse his base? Or John McCain? They are both positing to their bases that they have 'nowhere else to go'. America is heading into a crisis of representational democracy and the problem is that the ideological 'base' on the Left and Right are now finding that they are being used by those who seek the fascistic and now non-existent 'center'. The center already dropped out of US politics - that started in 1964-68. What happens if the 'base' of each party starts to not show up? The center is already pulling the Nation to sub-50% turnout which will get true and absolute minority government... that is neither 'of, by or for the people' by definition. American society, pre-1776, held through 1775-77 to allow a new formulation of government to be cast into place.

Which failed in 1786-87.

Again society upheld the ideals that bound the people together and by 1789 a new system to uphold those ideals was put in place... but the warning signs of the problems *of it* were deeply discussed and we are now seeing the sign posts of those warnings showing up. The center has actually held and expanded as seen by the non-participation of a large plurality soon to be majority.

It is *government* that will not hold or will go authoritarian in an attempt to hold its seat of power.

The elite cities cannot impose rule on the countryside. And the countryside needs to logistics of the cities to exist in a stable form. That dynamic was present before the Revolution, nearly brought down the Nation under the Articles of Confederation, and have been an ongoing dynamic ever since. Can a new outlook and compromise be reached by this society that has been so divided by its political elites that the only commonality is in the detestation *of* those elite politicians?

That last happened in 1787.

The form may seem different, but the underlying causes are still there and a new compact between the parts of society must come out of it. And it is not one that will want *more* government as that center has been dropping out as government has gotten ever larger... ever worse... ever more beholden to a small class of elites. And it is that center which stands far, far away from Barack Obama and John McCain: they can't even find it.

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