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On Lawn's Journal: Klingons vs the Federation 47

Journal by On Lawn

Stephen Hawking has come out with a strong caution against trying to contact space aliens. In Stephen Hawking's universe the likely put us on the wrong end of the same scenario where the white man who ultimately over-ran the Native American population. The reasoning is simple, those with the technology to achieve such transit (like the Europeans across the Atlantic), would also have the capacity to soundly defeat us, the backwards people still dependent and living off of the earth's bounty. With such an opportunity, why wouldn't they just take what they want?

Dafydd ab Hugh, co-author of the Doom Novels has the most pragmatic reply. He takes a number of well (if not over-written) scenarios of war-like aliens and shows how completely infeasible it is. He then notes that he's struggled with this before in his own writings...

When my pal and worthy co-conspirator Brad Linaweaver and I wrote the Doom tetralogy, we wanted (for plot reasons) to have an interstellar war (we were writing a subluminous, Einsteinian space opera, which I think is unique in science-fiction history). My goodness, how we struggled to come up with a reason that was not preposterous on its face, that was vaguely plausible, why alien races would ever go to war!

We finally settled on a long-ago dispute between competing schools of literary theory, the Surrealists and the Post-Modernists, each trying to analyze a fistful of fragments left behind by the first race ever to achieve spaceflight, billions of years earlier. These academic disputes erupted into a war that, due to lightspeed limitations, still continued after thousands of millennia. But that took us days of teleconferences to concoct.

Simply put, logic implies there is simply no reason for beings of one stellar system to attack beings of another. And while it's true that alien logic might be very different, we don't have any to study; so we're stuck with our own logic. To be frightened of the prospect of contacting aliens is to yield to xenophobia and the mortal sin (and bleak helplessness) of despair.

But he left one flagon unfilled though he set it at the table. Perhaps this flagon was a bit strong on the philosophy in a pragmatic menu of the logistics of inter-stellar war ... kind of. See, I've always had a question after many years of watching the Klingons and others on Star Trek that deals directly with logistics, but has more to do with morality.

The Klingons were a war like race, ready to exploit anyone and everything around them. The Federation stood in ideological opposition, helping each society grow on their own. The Federation even instituted a Prime Directive that was ultimately an act of discipline, don't deal with undeveloped societies at all.

Watching the struggle between the two, the same question kept coming up. Could Klingons, with their sense of warlike domination, ever have developed the technology needed without killing each other first? Would any race that learns the skills of domination and exploitation not even more become their own demise of undermining the very source of their livelyhood when they learn to harness power capable of wiping out entire continents or planets? The Cold War was a reaction, a reaction of discipline, in light of the creation of a weapon that could wipe out the earth. Could they have cooled off their warfare?

The game theory of confrontation is also simple. Where the threat of being exploited exists, it is better to be on the side of being the exploiter. As General Patton put it, it is better to get them to die for their country then for you to die for your country. He also noted that a poor plan executed violently will prevail over a superior strategy.

But the ability to exploit with greater power comes with the danger of undermining your own ability to tap resources. Today is the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, which was by no means was an act of war. It wasn't even an act of natural exploitation. It was simply a failure to implement the safety required for handling the worst case scenarios of nuclear power. If anything it was a failure to act, it was a failure to enact discipline. Discipline, the ability to enact safeguards even when no danger is immediately present but still potentially dangerous, is the core of morality.

The Federation, the only political power in the Star Trek universe that is projected from a real history -- our own -- developed a sense of morality from the threat of unnatural disaster after another. After years of war, dark ages, and general strife, the society matured to note the power of morality was an essential survival tactic. Without great restraint and morality, there was no safety from great power.

Ultimately, however, that doesn't predict whether or not we can guarantee any alien intelligence we contact is benign. Because there is no guarantee that technology doesn't fall into the wrong hands. IIRC, the Klingons did not develop inter-stellar travel on their own, but took it from the Romulans who though war-like were very calculating about its execution. Their own isolationism kept them restrained, as opposed to the expansionism of the Klingons. But should an atom bomb fall into the hands of an aggressive society, wouldn't they still cut their own thoughts with it rather then realize its potential to send them to the stars? I don't know. But the question keeps coming up.

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Klingons vs the Federation

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  • They already have us, hanging in the kids' room [csnimages.com]

  • Is if morality is so important, why are all of the leaders in our world dead set on being immoral?

    • by Bill Dog (726542)

      I can think of two reasons:

      1. Some don't/didn't understand or accept that morality is essential to our survival.
      (I'm thinking bankers and politicians and all the greedy Average Joes here, and the "economic survival" of the human race, as one example. We recognized the nuclear threat, but were in denial on the financial threat of escalating a ponzi-scheme bubble to near Armgeddonesque proportions. See also big social welfare programs, which by nature involve eventual catastrophic collapse, that we're also li

      • Morality is a purely human construct. While it might be necessary for civilized collective living, it certainly is not needed for the survival of the species. Presently it's just a virus used by the command center to control the botnet(that would be us). Most of these absolute moralists are just like congress. Their rules don't apply to them. It only gives morality a bad name, and creates more chaos. Fun to watch as long as you don't get caught in the crossfire. Not sure what you mean in number 2.

        If you nee

        • by Bill Dog (726542)

          Presently it [morality]'s just a virus used by the command center to control the botnet(that would be us). Most of these absolute moralists are just like congress. Their rules don't apply to them. It only gives morality a bad name, and creates more chaos.

          To me what you're describing is Leftist Progressives. I.e. the redefined, man-made "morality" of Leftism + possessing no qualms of imposing it on people via force or deception or both. So what struck me was the final clause of your observation. Their goal o

          • Any utopia > 1000 citizens is doomed to failure.

            I've experienced such heavens-on-earth from time to time. But none of them have been very large.

            • by Bill Dog (726542)

              Any utopia > 1000 citizens is doomed to failure.

              Maybe it's the diminishing heaven-like qualities that is causing the dysfunction that leads groups at or beyond a certain size to certain failure. And where the fate of doom is sealed at about three orders of magnitude of human beings, maybe the reduction in heaven-like qualities actually starts at a group size of 1. (Or 0.) And maybe drops off exponentially with the growth in group size.

              • I personally think the reduction in heaven-like qualities drops off at the limits of love. I would say insanity also plays a part, but then I remember how the Benedictines deal with a friend and a priest accused of clergy abuse (by recalling him to the monastery, putting him in charge of the museum, and limiting his hours out of his cell to minimize other human contact), and realized that is already covered in the rules of such societies.

                You can only love what you know. You can only love those you know.

                • by Bill Dog (726542)

                  I think I like your theory better.

                  BTW, on a totally different subject, what's a "status quo conservationist", and what's a "conservative activist"?

                  • A Status-quo conservationist is someone who appreciates the past for what it is, and doesn't want it to change. A conservative activist wants a past that never was, and wants very badly to destroy everything else to get it.

                    With slightly different definitions of the past, you and I are status-quo conservationists. We have a lot in common with great *local* republican leaders like Oregon Governor Tom McCall, who in an attempt to preserve the past he knew and loved, gave Oregon our famous land use law, and s

                    • by Bill Dog (726542)

                      I tend to think I'm much more in that 2nd category. America's past is full of blemishes, and I wouldn't want any of those to have persisted. I'm more for what we could be, going back to founding principles, but avoiding the mistakes in for example unequal application of them.

                      And that's what a Conservative is, to me.

                    • Where I'd call that, almost a liberal.

                      Our founding principles were flawed- mostly due to not being able to scale. They work *great* in small communities.

                      The blemishes in earlier times, all had a reason- it wasn't worth throwing out the original Articles of Confederation merely because a few businessmen couldn't expand from New York into New Jersey (and vice versa).

                    • by Bill Dog (726542)

                      In a sense anyone who's either far Left or far Right is a liberal, in that we want lots of change. (Where the far Left has much farther for us to go, but what they've accomplished so far is a lot that the far Right wants to roll back).

            • Maybe if people were allowed to migrate more freely, no community would grow so large. But we cage them, mostly with long term contracts, leases, credit, all that banking crap. All this destroys local livelihoods also, making the natives(all of us) dependent on the robber barons. And with the borders creating and sustaining enormous economic and development disparities, well, you see what we get from that. A very profitable human trafficking industry. 10,000 years of the iron fist should have taught us some

              • Scratch that. The place would get as messy and crowded as India.. Damn, you always gotta have Col. Jessup on that wall. Nope. No peace our time. So primitive we are. There was a scene from Titanic, of the sinking from an imaginary airborne camera taking a wide shot, showing the ship alone in the middle of pure nothingness. My first impression was, "That's the earth". Can't say that it's "sinking" or anything, but we are stuck with each other, and we're on our own. We are living "Lord of the Flies".

                • The trick, that the kids in Lord of the Flies never figured out, is that segregation and geographic borders are important.

                  They would have done MUCH better if piggy and the nerds had simply split off and gone elsewhere.

              • Where I think if people were *truly* allowed to migrate freely and own their own means of production, most of that stuff simply wouldn't matter. Traditionalist economics is the default state of humanity, not capitalist or communist- and traditionalism *requires* that people stay close to their extended family for support.

                • Well, modern tech has made it possible to extend our families to all points on the globe now. "Local" has gotten bigger, and the planet has gotten smaller. We shouldn't create hard division lines between us like a pie chart, we should blend smoothly into each other, the way a color blends into the other on a gamut [wikimedia.org]. You can still have your center of "purity" so to speak.

                  • True enough- but when you have children, you'll find an hour of travel one way, including waiting time, is pretty much a practical limit for any *reasonable* trip. Due to security concerns, that cuts air travel right out, as well as anything on the ground other than local train, bus, or car within 60 miles.

                    Yes, it's a bigger local than it used to be (back in the 1600s and 1700s, most people never ventured much more than 10 miles from home for permanent settlement), but practically speaking, I find the 40 m

                    • I see your point.. Travel should be an adventure, not a commute. At the same time our methods of moving about are still very primitive. Someday we will have our "horizontal elevators", where you select your destination, hit the "close door" button, which never works, and go... If we can't get rid of the "frontera", we should at least make it real fuzzy and allow it to freely fluctuate some. The hard "line in the sand" is too harsh.

          • To me what you're describing is Leftist Progressives.

            Seems to me I was describing 10,000 years or more of human history...

            ...dupe us into thinking that we can create heaven here on earth...

            Showing simple respect [youtube.com](lust a little bit) towards each other would go a long way towards that goal.. I would consider the attempt far better than eternal warfare, but that's just me.. I don't accept misery as a precondition of life on earth. Whatever misery we do experience is usually at the hands of other humans from al

            • by Bill Dog (726542)

              Seems to me I was describing 10,000 years or more of human history...

              Indeed, history is filled with Godless pagans and misguided Christians trying to control other people.

              Showing simple respect(just a little bit) towards each other would go a long way towards that goal..

              The devil's in the details, so to speak, of positions like that, but in general I would agree. Where to me this simple respect inextricably includes not forcing on persons what they don't want, and not trying to trick them into things either

        • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

          Morality is a purely human construct. While it might be necessary for civilized collective living, it certainly is not needed for the survival of the species.

          No, it's not purely human at all -- it's easy to draw equivalents from the behavior and emotions of apes and chimps -- and whether or not it is necessary for survival, it is the way we have survived, and evolved. Morality can only be explained by one of two things: we were given it by a Creator, or it evolved as a part of humanity (or, of course, both). Either way, it is necessary to who we are as a species. We would not exist as humans without it.

          But then, you're new to this whole "making sense" thing.

          For instance, Reagan, Thatcher, Friedman, Obama, and those types are neo-liberals (let's see if we can convince smitty). They are not conservative by any means. Goldwater may have been a conservative, but he's dead.

          A

          • You are wrong, camel breath! But after noticing your style of "debate"(HA!) when faced with factual argument, I've come to the conclusion that you just ain't worth it.. Maybe when I'm bored and drunk... It's easier to deal your bullshit that way. For now I'm satisfied with just telling you you're full of it. Most people already know that, but I thought I would just spell it out anyway. Have a nice day.

            • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

              You are wrong

              Demonstrate it, then.

              Oh right. You can't.

              when faced with factual argument

              You provide none. That's the point. You are perhaps incapable of providing factual argument: I've never seen you do it. But whether or not you are capable, the fact remains you didn't.

              For now I'm satisfied with just telling you you're full of it.

              Shrug. Since I provided facts and you provided none at all, that's entirely meaningless, but if it makes you FEEL better, bully for you.

          • Ok, here we go.

            You haven't backed up your morality bullshit with any facts, just theory and opinion. No reason to deal with you any further on that matter.

            On His Holiness...
            Oh, whoop-de-doo! He was Goldwater's speech writer! So speaking nice words makes him a conservative? You're nuts. Take a look at what he did, and you will find his words are quite hollow.

            Reagan attacked the idea that we needed more government in our lives...

            But he decided to meddle anyway. He introduced gun control to California. He didn

            • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

              You haven't backed up your morality bullshit with any facts, just theory and opinion.

              You backed up what YOU said with nothing more than that. Indeed, you provided far less, since you merely made assertions, but I not only provided a rational theory, but I also gave examples.

              He introduced gun control to California.

              False. No such thing happened.

              He didn't care for the type of people that were trying to protect themselves from racist, abusive, murderous cops.

              Now you're just lying. The Mulford Act -- which Reagan did not introduce, but merely signed -- was designed not to protect from bad cops, but to prevent intimidation by violent Black Panthers. I disagree with what it actually did, but everything you've said about it so far is incorrect.

              He grew the federal government and the deficit(for what that matters) more than any of his predecessors.

              M

              • ...I also gave examples.

                You gave examples of your opinion, nothing more. And your "rational" theory came from the bible. Please, do not try to pawn that off as scientific evidence.

                was designed not to protect from bad cops, but to prevent intimidation by violent Black Panthers.

                Uh huh.. Dream on. The cops drew first blood. They(the cops) declared war on them. The Panthers reacted like true Americans. But being black and all.. Of course I expect you side with the cops. Nothing new

                ...including the massive spen

                • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                  You gave examples of your opinion, nothing more.

                  Whatever you call it was much more than you gave. Shrug.

                  And your "rational" theory came from the bible.

                  Huh. Show me where the theory of evolved morality comes from the Bible. You're lying. Again.

                  They(the cops) declared war on [the Black Panthers].

                  False.

                  Don't even try to pretend they actually actually opposed each other

                  I didn't pretend anything. I assert fact. Reagan opposed much of the Democratic spending, but he had to compromise to get the military spending he wanted, in order to break the USSR. You do realize, for example, that Reagan's proposed budgets -- if adopted -- would have resulted in balanced budgets? Probably not, because you don't realize much at a

                  • Ah cool.. I was just about to crash

                    Whatever you call it was much more than you gave.

                    I don't have to prove the sky is blue. You have to prove that it's not..

                    Show me where the theory of evolved morality comes from the Bible.

                    Morality didn't evolve out of nothing. It was created by man.. in the name of their/your false gods.

                    False.

                    No. True... You're confusing them with the New Black Panthers. They're a bunch of phonies.. But again you choose to remain ignorant of history, as you must, in order to maintain your a

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      I don't have to prove the sky is blue. You have to prove that it's not..

                      Except you're not asserting the sky is blue, where most people can look up and see evidence. You're asserting that morality is "a purely human construct," with no evidence of any sort, beyond mere assertion, to support you.

                      Morality didn't evolve out of nothing. It was created by man.

                      No, it evolved within man. Do you really not know how evolution works? Did man create his own lungs? Did man create the instinct to see faces -- whether they are really there or not -- in the forest? Did man create his own emotions? Of course not. So it is with morality, if it wasn

                    • I know people who knew Huey Newton.

                      Yeah? I know the grandkid of the uncle of his second cousin twice removed. He says you're a liar. See? you are wrong again! You are thinking of the phonies. All those black radicals look alike to you. The wannabes match your description [nationalgeographic.com] of them exactly. Yes, you are very confused, or you are lying. Which one is it, hmmm?

                      Now, go read the Church Committee report and of COINTELPRO, and weep..

                      You're a liar and you can't argue worth a damn.

                      With you I respond in kind. More fun t

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      He says you're a liar.

                      And here is where I stop reading your comment.

                      Provide evidence, or don't. If you don't, it's a tacit admission you've got none.

                    • Damn! I thought you forgot about me.

                      Anyway, you're lying. You read the whole thing. Just too embarrassed by it, that's all. I was gonna put the kid on, but he split already. Went to get some malt liquor I think. Said something about picking up a coupla Colt 45s..

                      As always, my brotha

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      Anyway, you're lying. You read the whole thing. Just too embarrassed by it ...

                      Funny, people rarely accuse me of reading when I say I don't.

                      But, as usual, you're lying. I actually do stop reading when I say I do (which was right where I snipped your comment above). I have the will!

                    • You have the will to tune out reality. Can't say how successful you are, but your posts indicate that you're pretty good at it. Too bad you don't have the will to lose your mistaken prejudices. Then you could see what reality looks like. But being closed minded requires very little effort for those so accustomed to it. No biggie it's there for all to see, and for my personal entertainment.

                      Your various syndromes have been pointed out several times by others. Wanna link? It's right there in RG's journal, if h

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      You have the will to tune out reality.

                      Shrug. As demonstrated time and again, you don't produce "reality." You simply make assertions and then yell loudly that you're right. You don't give evidence or facts of any sort.

                      I stopped reading after "closed minded" this time, in case you were curious. I gave you ample opportunity to provide evidence. This is being open-minded, by any standard. You refused to do so, as you still refuse.

                    • :-) Evidence is wasted on you... There's no point. That's all documented in your journal there [slashdot.org].. nope.. more fun to play your way.. and throw your baseless accusations right back at ya.. Taking you seriously would be the epitome of insanity.. it brings on ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and male pattern baldness... I wanna keep my full head of hair and healthy stomach..

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      Evidence is wasted on you.

                      Weak cop-out. You can't do it, so now you're making up excuses for the fact that you've got nothing.

                    • Weak cop-out.

                      But it's all true, cuz I always tell the truth, unlike some people I know :-)

                      ...you've got nothing.

                      I have nothing less than you have, except the fat ego.. You got me there

                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      I didn't read ANY of this comment. Just so you know. I can see it out of my peripheral vision. A few short lines. But none worth the focus of my eyes.

                    • :-) You are the coolest cat, man.. I wish I could be you... for just one moment

    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

      Is if morality is so important, why are all of the leaders in our world dead set on being immoral?

      Your assertion is clearly flawed, which leads to the unanswerable question.

  • Exploitation of natural resources does not make sense. If you are capable of interstellar travel you will likely pick closer targets to get your resources. Nor are you likely to pick them up from the bottom of a gravity well when there are so many other places to get them, like asteroid belts. The idea of enslaving other planets seems pretty silly. At that point in a races development they are likely to have the majority of their work automated and it will be mostly mental type labor they would need. W

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