March 2005: On the Origins of the Modern Non-Canon
Wanking Out Star Wars, Consoling One Another, And Stroking My Ego Since Who-Knows-When)
Back in February 2004, I saw an interesting comment on StarDestroyer.Net's BBS.
"I miss the old mailing list that Curtis, Bob, Mike, and I were on (long before this forum existed). We had some great discussions and exchanges of ideas."
- Galvatron, "Anyone else miss Bob Brown's Star Wars discussions?", Tue Feb 24, 2004 11:30 pm
I'd previously heard rumors of a similar list being used by the Star Wars side in an effort to present an united front during the old alt.startrek.vs.starwars days (part of that whole "groupthink" thing I used to point out to them), but this was the first time I'd heard anyone actually speak of such a thing openly. Wong's half-joking response of "Shhh!!!! You have broken your vow of eternal secrecy!" was the icing on that particular cake.
To be sure, it was well-known that Wayne Poe wasn't coming up with his site updates strictly on his own. With his frequent mentions of Brian Young and a few other people, it was clear that there was a lot of e-mail support going on, and that thus he was probably a member of the list.
I wasn't sure if this was the same list, of course. The "Curtis" mentioned above was Curtis Saxton of the Star Wars Technical Commentaries, a fellow who has frequently disavowed any activity in the Star Trek vs. Star Wars debates. Indeed, those who've dared to suggest that Saxton has an interest in it have been called all sorts of names for daring to even speak the name of Saxton and the debate in the same breath.
Of course, the truth is that he used to be active and with all the vitriol we'd expect from a Vs. Debate poster, what with declaring SW tech completely superior, calling fellow post-grad astrophysics majors "typical Trekkies" for disagreeing with him about the Alderaan explosion energy requirements, and making reference to "silliest Trekkist fallacies". Both of those were made on Star Trek groups, by the way, and delivered with such an air arrogant loathing as to make it impossible to believe that he's disinterested in the Vs. Debate. If anything, it suggests a deep interest in the concept, what with troubling himself to go to "Trekkist" havens to debate them, all while feigning a sense that he's above having to interact with 'those people'.
So since then, he'd kept out of it, at least publicly. This is not to say he wasn't involved with the people on his side . . . as many have noted, Mike Wong, Wayne Poe, and others showed up on the acknowledgements of Saxton's Episode II: Incredible Cross Sections, which featured highly-inflated firepower figures for Star Wars. And, sure, I'd seen a few things that could've been quiet responses to my work, but I'm not so conceited as to think that I'm the focus of everyone's attention all the time.
You see, it recently came to my attention that there is indeed a currently-active e-mail list being run through Mike Wong's StarDestroyer.Net server. The list membership appears to include Mike Wong, Curtis Saxton, Wayne Poe, Brian Young, Martyn Griffiths, Adam Gehrls, and maybe others (though I can't identify some addresses). (Brian Young also makes use of the "staff of analysts" from BabTech-onthe.Net, including Sean Robertson.)
The group seems to be a loose confederacy doing research on Star Trek and Star Wars away from the curious eyes of the hoi polloi and 'lesser Warsies'. That sounds fine in and of itself, though of course I might be annoyed were I one of those lesser pro-Wars folks thus excluded.
Sadly, I didn't get full access to the list, but I did get a small peek. And even in that small peek were some very choice bits.
The part I find amusing, though, is the goal of a lot of that research. Naturally, given the obsession of some of the members of that list it should be no surprise that I'd be mentioned, along with those horrible "Trekkies" in general . . . but the fact that they talk about "pushing to add more examples to make [me] look foolish" is amusing. I especially enjoy how much effort they expend explicitly trying to frame their collective position so that there's nothing for me to be able to argue against . . . not to mention what a poor job they do of it, historically.
I'm not the sole focus, of course. They lament about things as any researchers would. For instance, who can avoid hearing the pain of disclosure when they say that "It is possible that we undercalculated this for the ICS"? Especially when the message reminds them of their obvious efforts to try to make sure that "things make it a better comparison to Trek"!
But, then, few in Vs. Debate circles seriously doubted that the E2:ICS firepower figures were anything more than an anti-Trek wank, even if the Warsies cried foul at the mere suggestion that Saxton's ICS figures were based on anything other than Saxton's careful research of AoTC (despite the fact that he had little to no actual movie to base most of the figures on). And, of course, I'm sure they'll label this a personal attack on Saxton, too, just as they did whenever anyone else besides them dared breathe his name.
Update: July 2009
"Mr. Oragahn" at the Starfleet Jedi forums uncovered some old unfinished pages at the Star Wars Technical Commentaries site. They provide a fascinating, if unsurprising, glimpse into Saxton's page creation process and the tone and character of the group at the time.
For instance, we have the "Shields" page, which is barely begun, composed primarily of e-mail fragments, notes, and so on, in preparation to be worked into a proper page. That page features Mike Wong, Wayne Poe, and others, including a bit of Robert Brown using Trek shields as a comparison. No worries there.
We can see the progression from there to more finished work, as is visible in the Starfleet page . . . there we have the original e-mail notes below, and more finished and polished text above. Besides some complaints against evil stupid Trekkies by Mike Wong, there's nothing problematic there, either.
The prize, however, is that we can see in the Matters of Scope page some text that appears to be intended for future editing . . . it is normal site text instead of a mere e-mail, and thus it is obviously Saxton's text. The Transport and Communications section reads:
Hyperdrive: "They couldbe on the other side of the galaxy by now." "Kid I've been from one side of this galaxy to the other." "This will be a day long remembered." Travel times. Compare with 'Trek warpdrive - seventy years to traverse galaxy. Maintaining a cohesive galactic government. Regional variations in economic, other conditions. Accentuation of inhomogeneities? Damping of inhomogenieties?
Now, given Saxton's claim from the site's FAQ that his work "has nothing to do with the SW vs ST online debate nor any debate like it", not to mention comparison to his other pages, we can make the logical inference that explicit mention of Trek warp drive would not have occurred. However, it is apparent that Saxton intended for a comparison to exist. And how would he do this?
The obvious way is to make an implicit comparison, targeting all of his points against what he thinks Star Trek is without ever suggesting that he's talking about Star Trek or even some unnamed "other sci-fi franchises" or what-have-you. Were I to wish to do this in regards to, say, phasers versus turbolasers, I would discuss phasers and how they operate but be sure to mention or at least suggest how vastly more capable and generally superior they are to laser beams or plasma weapons in general, and let you do the math.
In regards to warp versus hyperdrive, this sort of maneuver on Saxton's part explains why he has the quotes about "other side of the galaxy" above as if they are to end up as his main evidence. After all, there are several examples in Star Trek of Federation personnel making similar statements, but I don't base my arguments off of such clear hyperbole. Saxton, however, clearly intends to . . . and the reason why is to enable a stronger comparison against Star Trek, however quietly.
That said, I guess this explains why Saxton never responded to those two e-mails I sent a couple of years ago. I'm a dirty "Trekkist" whose work had to be attacked in private e-mails, not to mention disagreed with in the pages of an otherwise pretty EU book that he and the boys did calcs for with a view toward inflating Star Wars past Star Trek levels. Woe is unreplied-to me. :)
But, I digress. Why is all this amusing, over and above the fun I've already had above? Because, with rare exception, this site is mine. I've conferred with a handful of others on occasion (and those others know they have my eternal thanks), but over the years this site has existed I have invariably been the primary author, creator, and calculator.
In other words, I realized that I'd been kicking the asses of Wayne and Mike and then the whole gaggle of SD.Net denizens for a long while, thanks to ASVS, the Wong Debate, and the Battle of Britain (not to mention their efforts to harass me out of the debate) . . . but I never realized that they'd been crying for help to a secret smoke-filled e-mail list of other guys for all this time.
Come on girls . . . I know you hate to avoid using that numerical advantage, but increasing it via secret dispatches to Curtis Saxton and Brian-and-the-gang is getting a little ridiculous, don't you think? Why not a little one-on-one?
I would've tried to e-mail email@example.com for comments before publication, but given Wong's redirection of links to from here to there to porn sites, his probable blocking of my e-mail address, and so on, I just waited until a few hours afterward:
Mike, Wayne, Curtis, Brian, et al.:
You'll probably be wanting to change this list's e-mail address most immediately. I mean, when The Great Satan(tm) can just walk into your secret private chapel treehouse without so much as a decoder ring, you know you have a problem. :-)
But, I digress. I've often wondered if you people were really obsessed, or if it was just some mental compartmentalization of your online activities versus your real-world ones. But, in perusing some of the list's text, I see that you guys really are fixated on me. (Oh and Brian, hope you're feeling better after that day home a month ago.)
But, alas, fascinating as all this is, 'tis time to part. I hope those of you not yet fully over the deep end take care, and I trust you'll forgive this little bit of fun at your expense. I just couldn't resist. And maybe, if you guys would start to lighten up, I'll even explain how this happened . . . e-mails saying "hello" are always accepted. It's not surrender or a violation of manhood for there to be a dialog which doesn't contain venom.
But, then, I've always been naively optimistic about other people.
There was no response. No big surprise there, of course, but as I said . . . I try to keep a measure of optimism about others.
Within a few days, though, I saw that they'd figured out how it all happened on their own.
You see, if a webmaster wants people to be able to see all the files in his web directories, all he has to do is not make an index file. At that point the server will have instructions as to how to handle the situation, and either the directory contents are shown in index form or not, depending on the server's instructions.
Let's give some practical examples, here. For instance, we have the domain st-v-sw.net, or the URL http://www.st-v-sw.net. Now, I have a directory entitled "images", which contains (astonishingly enough) the images I use for the site. (Incidentally, way back in the old days (i.e. before the site was even located at ST-v-SW.Net) I used to have *everything* in the same directory. That's why the vast majority of my page filenames start with STSW . . . it helped me keep the pages organized. But I digress . . . )
So, let's take a look at a directory with an index page . . . http://www.st-v-sw.net/archive/, for instance. You get a webpage called index.html that I've made. On my directories, though, if there is no index then there is nothing you can see. For example, http://www.st-v-sw.net/images/ . . . if you click it, you'll see:
That's because I set up my directories ages ago, and I decided then not to allow people to surf the naked directories.
But, let's see what happens if that isn't done. I've created a directory entitled "text". Now, take a look at what happens when you try to look at http://www.st-v-sw.net/text/. You get an indexed directory, and if you've surfed the internet a lot it probably looks familiar to you. If pictures, pages, or what-have-you were in there you'd be able to see them and pull them up at your leisure. You can even click on other directories inside that one and see their contents.
So now you know the technical reasons the above was possible. Let's look now at the reasons it actually happened:
The obsession with me that one of my opponents suffered from had been on the rise again. Minus some spikes here and there, it had been on the decline since "the good ole days" when he'd posted his torture and murder fantasy about me on ASVS.
(And, incidentally, Wong once conceded the concept of this being a death threat, though he's always denied that any threat or harassment of me was to be regarded as a death threat. Funny, that. Of course, I probably shouldn't have mentioned that, because having a long memory and being able to point out their obsession and hypocrisy simply means that I'm the obsessed one, somehow, 'cause they said so. Or something.)
The obsession culminated in the "Darkstar Database", a one-stop shop for assorted distorted contorted abortions of logic as were employed against myself and my writings over the years.
But I read it, since in between various unfounded attacks on me there were occasional references to actual facts relating to the debate, and as such there was the possibility I could find something with which to further idiot-proof my pages. On such an occasion I clicked my browser's "up" button instead of the "back" button, and quite accidentally found myself at his directory structure. There, like a panorama, was everything he had. I saw his pages and images. I also saw pages in progress . . . images as yet unused . . . and text files that Wayne had somehow managed to cut-and-paste from his e-mails without injuring himself.
These text files, of course, were from firstname.lastname@example.org.
I sat on that info for awhile, amused. I was tempted to post something about it immediately, but paused.
Tactically, merely mentioning it would tip him off to my access, and I did briefly entertain the notion of freaking them out by having ready-made rebuttals (including quotes from his just-posted pages) that could be posted instantaneously.
Strategically, they'd howl and scream about anything I said based on it. But, fact is fact, and I couldn't simply let their pretenses continue. They try to warp fact and history to paint me as the dishonest side. They are obsessed, yet desperately try to paint me as such. They discuss me at SD.Net day after day, now over two years since I posted there, and even have a list devoted to the topic. And yet, when I point this out to them, they claim I have "a bizarre persecution complex". (No, I'm simply acknowledging that you guys are freakin' weird, and that yes I have a long memory about it.)
They even claimed that this "outing" of the contents of their e-mail group constituted stalking, while they ironically and simultaneously point to their oldwebpage which purports to present all my personal information to any prospective stalker and harasser (and they know it's been used), from back when the Warsies were trying to harass me off the internet. Projecting much?
The simple fact is, my opponent's sloppy webmastery had just validated everything I've ever said against them in one swift stroke.
Meanwhile, at SD.Net the anti-me brigade has posted numerous pictures of themselves, rants about work and bosses, pictures of workplaces, and so on and so forth. If I were really the harassing stalker as they claim, their lives would be a living hell . . . just like the one they've sought to create for me.
And yet, I still offered them an olive branch in the e-mail to their group.
When will I ever learn?
The above update has been edited somewhat. After yet another round and yet another offer on my part, a "Détente, Of Sorts" occurred with Poe.
I've largely removed direct references to Poe from this site, just as he has deleted his "Darkstar Database". I did, however, have to leave some of the references to him here, albeit obliquely, simply because I could hardly construct a narrative of how I got access to the list without reference to his site's text files.