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 
<> wrote:

> "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, 
presumptive leaps.
> 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 
navigating system?

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 
been drawn.
> 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?)


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