tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sun Dec 19 22:06:19 1999

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Re: cardinal directions

"William H. Martin" wrote:
> On Fri, 10 Dec 1999 17:34:38 -0800 Ben Gibson
> <> wrote:

> 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.

No. Actually I never thought about this until you brought it
up. Why they did things the way they did, I don't care. They
did it, and it either makes Klingons more or less realistic. 

> 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.

Then you are left to explain why they would have two
completely different and unrelated systems, when it would be
far more efficient and easier to relate the two systems. It
makes no sense to me to have them unrelated.

Also you are talking about relative vr. absolute
coordinates. Even though they are different they are
> 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.

Well I disagree. The two pieces of evidence together show
that there is a possible relationship. You are supposing
that there is none, because none is specified.

There is no information either way. And that makes such
speculation just as valid as anything else.
> 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?

Sigh, there are physical laws in this universe, even in the
fictional world of Star Trek. If you want to postulate a
technically advanced species, that species is going to have
to have a system of mathematics that allows it to describe
such things as say, how a mirror reflects light, or the
transfer of momentum. An ability to describe natural
phenomena can be aided or hindered by whatever arbitrary
coordinate system it uses. Each coordinate system has its
strengths and weaknesses. 

The Cartesian system is very effective at describing such
physical laws as above. I do not see a corresponding
strength in the system that is apparent from the show and

In the last Century, H.G. Wells wrote about a flight from
the earth to the moon. His mode of transportation was a
special paint, called Calvorite, which had antigravity
properties. Today, it is highly unlikely that such a system
is possible. So the story is hopelessly outdated, and to me,
it loses some of its "magic". It is no longer science
fiction, but fantasy. I see a danger of the same thing
occurring with Klingons.

Whether Okrand and Okuda worked together is irrelevant, as
is their motivations. They made statements or at least
inferred that the Klingons used such a triangle based
coordinate system. The use of such a system is going to have
consequences, either make it easier or harder for the
species to survive, especially against other technically
advanced species. Some probably never imagined by Okrand and

> > 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.

I KNOW that. It is obvious that they did not give it much
thought. They wanted something odd and alien and do not care
nor never bothered to think about whether it made any sense
or not. So they thing apparently nonsensical. So what, it
sells merchandise.

> 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?

Like I said before, it does not make much sense to me. If
you do not want to ask the question, if you are perfectly
happy not knowing these things, then fine, it is your right.
I am not like that. I don't understand your hostility to the

You are right, there is no whole system here at all. There
is a pile of disconnected fragments that make no sense, are
growing more and more unrealistic. Imagine that all you had
was a dictionary and a few scraps of dialog, wouldn't it
bother you? Wouldn't you try to put the pieces together and
figure out what how the language works? I am trying to do
the same thing with other aspects. Or at least I would be if
I didn't have to defend the right to even wonder about it.

> But this species is fictional. Its depiction is far from
> complete and you are arguing about fine points that have never
> been drawn.

I think the word you are looking for is fantastic. 
> > 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?

First of all, it is not my rule. It is a rule I and you are
stuck with in the universe we live in. Now you are free to
postulate a universe where weak species thrive despite its
weaknesses, where Darwin does not work. But it stops being
something I am interested in.


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