tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Dec 13 08:51:54 1999
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Re: cardinal directions
On Fri, 10 Dec 1999 17:34:38 -0800 Ben Gibson
> "William H. Martin" wrote:
> > You have so many presumptions.
> Perhaps if you could list some of them, I can clarify. You
> have raised a couple of good points. You cannot determine
> the whole of Klingon mathematics, what coordinate system
> they use from the scanty data provided for us. The cardinal
> points are not sufficient evidence.
> However, on the tactical displays shown on Klingon ships we
> see this triangular mesh. That is strong evidence they use a
> triangular system in and of itself. The three cardinal
> points seem to confirm this assumption.
I can guarantee you that while Okuda made this up while
designing the displays, he did not consult with Okrand, nor has
Okrand consulted with Okuda before coming up with his three
vector directional system. So, making presumptions based upon an
assumed coordination between two people who independently
developed ideas is probably a first mistake.
The second mistake is assuming that a map system and a
directional compass system are coordinated. I have a fairly nice
compass and I enjoy orienteering. When I pull out a map, I have
to use features on the compass to adjust for the lack of
coordination between the layout of the map and the direction the
compass points. I adjust for magnetic declination and I slide
the base around in order to link the world I'm walking around in
and the world represented on the map.
A one-dimensional line on a two dimensional map can be
represented by several different systems. It can use the maps
rectangular coordinate system which measures distance along one
axis (yielding a line perpendicular to the axis), distance along
another axis (yielding a line perpendicular to this other
axis) and intersections of those two lines. You also could
represent it starting at one end and using distance and
direction to get to the other end.
The compass is directly useful for this latter system of
measurement. Unfortunately, the map is really set up to use the
other measurement system. Orienteering is largely the skill of
finding landmarks on the map to correspond to landmarks you can
observe, then use the compass to measure directions to these
landmarks and relate those to the map to discover your viewpoint
on the map. There are other factors involved, but the point is
that the system the compass uses is very much NOT something you
can directly relate to the system the map uses.
Okrand has given us a system for the Klingon equivalent of a
compass. This has nothing to do with any system the Klingons
would use for maps. It is there that you are making huge,
> You are also right that mapping to a globe does not
> necessarily require any reference to the cardinal
> directions. However if you allow a system that is so
> independent, you have generated an extra level of
> complexity. It requires more effort to determine your
> position on a map, etc. Why you would ignore the use of
> cardinal points in your mapping system is something that
> should be explained.
The cardinal system is quite complex with a lot of arbitrary
choices made. Simply because that is what you learned first, you
suffer from the illusion that this system is simple or natural.
It isn't. It is completely arbitrary, like placing the subject
first, then the verb, then the object. Klingon didn't follow
that "simple, natural" way of handling words. Why should it use
our system for laying out a map?
> Then the whole question comes up about the effectiveness of
> such a system. We state that our fictious Klingon culture
> has survived over a thousand years, that they live in the
> same universe as we do. That despite being a very aggressive
> warrior culture, that has survived planetary invasion (by
> the Hur'Iq), no one stronger, smarter, or more efficient has
> not come along and cleaned their clocks.
> It leaves many questions to my mind, questions I will
> continue to attempt to answer. First off, is there any merit
> to such a system or are they hamstringing themselves by
> using it?
The merit is that it allows you to find things.
> What are the consequences of using such a system?
You can find things.
> How would it affect their ability to do science,
> mathematics, etc.? How do they navigate on Qo'noS?
Again, you speak as if the people coming up with these fictional
systems somehow coordinated their efforts so that they would be
functional together. It never happened.
It is sort of like the way the fiction writers like to speak as
if Klingon families and houses go on for many generations, yet
when they start speaking of houses, they always give the names
of living individuals or of one generation ahead, in the form of
"Worf, son of Mogh". So, who was Mogh the son of? What is the
name of their house? Ummm. Gee. We don't know. Nobody thought
about that. So, you can shame seven generations with your
dishonorable act, even though your name may never be associated
with a house at all, or if it is, it won't be associated for
farther than one generation. How does THAT work?
We don't know. We can't know.
So, why can't you let go of your model of how maps work on
Klingon, given that we don't know how they worked and we can't
find out? One might say you are beating a dead horse, but in
fact, we aren't even sure what you are beating is a horse. It
may simply be a drawing of a horse's nostril. There is an
incomplete thought of what directions, coordinates and maps are
for a Klingon, and you want to argue about whether this whole
system works well or not.
WHAT whole system? THERE IS NO WHOLE SYSTEM. We don't even have
meaningful fragments of a system. So, what exactly are you
arguing about? You take a couple of shreds of evidence,
combining what one linguist and one set designer have given us
and you start building a navigating system out of it and then
start arguing about whether or not you think it is a very GOOD
poHmaj Danatlh neH.
> An understanding of the universe you live in is essential
> for any species that has intelligence. Without an ability to
> understand the universe, to model it, to investigate it, to
> arrive and test theories, and later on, to express those
> theories in mathematics, science, enginneering and
> technology are impossible. Such species are left as the rest
> of the animals, and intelligence has no use (indeed, it
> poses a metobolic handicap on the species.)
But this species is fictional. Its depiction is far from
complete and you are arguing about fine points that have never
> Darwin works. both in the real world and supposedly in the
> world of Star Trek. It applies to cultures as well as to
> speices. Adapt or die is the only rule.
I think there are a few other rules, and a few other things to
do than adapt. Two warring civilizations are not adapting to one
another, and the one that conquers is not necessarily the one
that does the best job of adapting. Do you think China adapts
better than Tibet? Do you think that European settlers adapted
better than the Cherokee?
I think your one rule requires so much clarification and
exception that it is not a very useful rule. The people captured
by the Borg adapt. You call that living?
> Klingons do things a
> certain way, and Klingons are a viable culture, they did not
> die out. Yet some of the Klingon ways seemed to be very
> detrimental to that viability. So I try to figure it out.
Do you think bureacracy helps humanity? Yet we lug it along with
us where we go and we survive despite it. Every civilization has
> Ben (DraQoS)
> (Yeah I know this is very late. I hate Chrismas. chay' "Bah
> Humbug" Dajatlh?)