For my 30th party, erinkyan got me a petting zoo. As you can tell, it was pretty exciting!
need a sex tip? Cosmo says fuck a donut. fuck a donut. just fuck the fucking donut you fucking piece of shit. fuck you
So, yesterday was my birthday, and I went to go see The LEGO Movie, which is pretty damn awesome, and I recommend everyone go see it. And it’s given some vocabulary to some thoughts I’ve had for some time about the Star Trek universe.
In particular this thing that the 24th Century Star Treks have where it seems that Starfleet Engineers can make just about any part of a starship/space station do just about anything. Reverse the polarity, recompile the subspace sensors and open the anti-matter injectors and Starfleet technology seems capable of doing things that they should have no right to do, right?
This isn’t the case with Enterprise and TOS. The two earlier Enterprises were much more conservative with what they did with Engineering modifications. The chief engineers of both of these ships tended to improve the capacity of existing systems, and occasionally reverse the systems’s function, but never went on a major technobabble technological tangent - Systems pretty much did what they were supposed to do, and not much else.
This made me wonder, what the hell changed? When did Starfleet Engineers suddenly start performing this magic?
We know that Starfleet considers itself primarily on a mission of exploration. The first Enterprise was quite literally humans sending a ship out because we wanted to see what the hell was out there. And it got it’s butt handed to it on a regular basis. Not just with other ships, but general space anomalies.
By the TOS era the Enterprise was much more capable as a ship, with much more powerful technologies, but the unknown trounced it on a regular basis. If it wasn’t for the capabilities of Spock, and the Chutzpah of Kirk, the Enterprise would be a cloud of dust several times over.
My theory? The starship designers started to realise after the TOS era that there was a lot more strange stuff out there than they could ever realistically fit onto a starship. Worse, there’s no way they could anticipate every anomaly they could ever come across. But they realised that the more parts they added to a starship, the more likely that a ship would have all the parts they would need to solve any problem they came across.
So, 24th Century starships, especially those expected to go on exploration voyages, began to be designed with absurdly complex, but absurdly configurable technologies. Starfleet technology is now at least an order of magnitude more complex than it needs to be, specifically on the expectation that a ship’s crew will need to mess around with it to create some new function.
Of course, this was only part 1 of the solution. Having these crazy complex systems is useless without an Engineer who can identify what needs to be routed where in order to build the solution. So, Starfleet’s Engineering program now becomes less about running a starship, but about learning exactly which parts do which thing. So, every Starfleet Engineer comes out trained how to think about their starships as a wholly configurable system.
In short, Starfleet Engineers are trained to be Master Builders, and Starships are their LEGO sets.
This is shown in the later Treks to be something that most other races look at with awe and derision. Every species know that Starfleet Engineers are crazy talented and imaginative, and that Starfleet technology is about an order of magnitude too complex for what it needs to be, not realising that both these things are necessary for Starfleet Engineers to pull off the shit they do. Starfleet Engineers can very quickly pick up other race’s technologies, know exactly how it works and what it’s compatible with, and how to fix it with what they have, in very little time at all. A crazy skill, that very few other species appear to really encourage in their engineers, because when the hell are they really going to need to futz about with other species’ technologies? Only Starfleet, with it’s focus on exploration, expects Engineers to routinely deal with other species’ technologies, and even need to make it do the unexpected when the need arises.
There’s a conversation in Deep Space Nine where Major Kira is discussing the differences between a Cardassian Phaser Rifle and a Starfleet Phaser rifle. Cardassian Phaser rifles have no integrated sights, only two settings (stun and kill), but are so simple that you can drag them through mud and still expect them to work. Starfleet Phasers have the sight, 16 settings from light stun to vaporise, gyro-stabilisation, self-recharge capabilities and multiple target acquisition, but aren’t considered effective field weapons because of their stunning complexity, despite being more powerful. Why throw all that into a phaser that only really needs to fire a phaser beam, unless you’re expecting an engineer to need all the bits you stuffed in. In the mind of the designer, you’ve made a phaser that works better than most in most situations, with the proviso that in any other situations, an engineer can use the excess parts to build, well, whatever else they need.
This actually explains a whole lot of other little things. The Galaxy-Class Enterprise-D is a waaaay too big starship to send out exploring the galaxy - unless you’ve stuffed it with enough systems to let your Engineers protect your ship from whatever weird anomaly of the week you’ve encountered. Starfleet keeps building bigger and more complex ships for the sole reason that their Master Builders need as big a LEGO set as possible to counter whatever unknown thing they can’t possibly expect.
"Poe’s Law, when applied to art, is that thing where you can’t tell if something is bad on purpose (spoiler: It isn’t) because satirizing it would involve not making any changes whatsoever. It’s so hopelessly, overpoweringly clueless that to mock it would just be futile. Instead of including the materials to deconstruct it, it is composed entirely OF them — it’s so shit that throwing shit at it just makes a bigger pile of shit." [via]
To her boyfriend…