Monday, October 18, 2010

Galaxy vs Sovereign

Ah, one of the age-old debates in Trek geekdom. Almost as old and bitter a debate as Kirk vs Picard. The debate over the combat prowess of the vaunted Galaxy class starship vs the new Sovereign class starship.

Many social lives have been lost and feelings decimated in this great and bitter feud, that has lasted almost as long as the Federation-Cardassian Wars, and is twice as bitter.

The conflict rages, even though there is only one real answer, the facts and evidence support only one outcome, because many do not bother to fully analyze the facts and evidence, or even look at them, and many of those who do do not do so in proper scientific fashion, or even in honest, good faith.

Full disclosure: I love the Sovereign class. It is one of my favorite designs, tied with the Steamrunner and New Orleans for the number one slot. I greatly appreciate the Galaxy, but it is not in my top three, and sometimes isn't even in my top five favorite ships (my favorites tend to fluctuate a bit). I would choose to command a Sovereign class over a Galaxy class on personal preference alone, and in most situations. The one situation I would not choose a Sovereign, however, is in a battle between the two.

When I first started my technical analyses of Star Trek, I held the Sovereign to be superior in all respects. As I examined the data, however, it became more and more clear that the Sovereign could not possibly compete with the Galaxy class in a raw tactical footing.

This is a long and complex topic, and understanding precisely how and why the Galaxy class out-matches the Sovereign requires an understanding of several pieces of Trek technology, as well as different pieces of lore, and scientific and military realities.

These include understanding how phaser arrays work, a thorough examination of the observed performance of those arrays, the operation and observed performance of photon torpedoes, how shields work, a basic understanding of how a warp core works, the roles that certain base ship configurations fill in a fleet, and the history of the design and construction of each ship and the events surrounding their construction.

This presentation will be much more than one post, it will be a series of posts, each covering a separate topic (sometimes multiple topics for the smaller ones, or just a sub-topic for the larger ones). This is just a declaration of intent, and a brief overview of how the ships match up.

In combat, the Galaxy class is superior in all respects save production cost and warp speed. Even in sublight maneuverability, the Galaxy has demonstrated superior performance.

Size: Though slightly longer than the Galaxy, the Sovereign is a much smaller vessel. In total volume, the Galaxy measures ~5.2 million cubic meters, where as the Sovereign is only 2-2.4 million cubic meters in volume. You could fit ~2.5 Sovereigns inside of a single Galaxy class.

Maximum Observed Phaser Shot: Galaxy is superior by a factor of 3:1

Sustained Phaser Output: Galaxy is superior by a factor of 1.67:1

Shield Endurance: Hard to define and currently uncertain, but will be examined

Torpedo Firepower: Even without quantum torpedoes, the Galaxy's at-launch torpedo capacity is significantly greater than even the Nemesis-refit Sovereign class. At launch, the Galaxy can fire a maximum spread of 52 torpedoes from both launchers. At launch, the Sovereign can fire a salvo equivalent to only 24 photon torpedoes, and even after the Nemesis refit, the Sovereign's salvo is only equivalent to 40 photon torpedoes. The Galaxy could easily have been refit with greater torpedo capacity, especially during the Dominion War, and could also be equipped with Quantum torpedoes

Hull Endurance: The Galaxy's hull thickness is ~16 inches, compared to the Sovereign's 10-12", and the Galaxy has demonstrated tremendous hull endurance, with comparable armor types to the Sovereign

Warp Speed: The Sovereign has not demonstrated superior warp speed per se, but the indications are that it was built for warp speed

Impulse Acceleration: Undetermined; cases of impulse acceleration are hard to measure and compare; the Galaxy is a larger ship, but also has larger and more powerful impulse engines

Maneuverability: The Galaxy has demonstrated a notably superior turn rate to the Sovereign

Construction/Maintenance: At 2.5 times the size of a Sovereign, the Galaxy will logically be much more resource-intensive to build and maintain

Advancement: The Sovereign has a very slight edge here, but only very slight. It is 8-9 years newer, but the Galaxy was bleeding-edge technology at launch and was routinely upgraded in her first decade+ of service, including multiple extensive upgrades.

More specific detailed comparisons to come in later posts.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Federation/Cardassian War - A Rough Timeline

Late 23rd Century / Turn of the 24th Century:
The artistic, highly-cultured and deeply-spiritual Cardassian civilization faces a dire economic crisis, having depleted the resources of their home system.
Federation begins/expands colonization of systems near Cardassian space

~2305: Cardassian economy collapses or finishes collapsing completely. People starving in the streets. Cardassian military declares martial law and takes over all government offices in response to the crisis.

2305 - 2310: Cardassian military completely restructures Cardassian society. Precious historical and cultural artifacts are sold off en mass. Cardassian Union, under military direction, begins a campaign of aggressive expansion, desperately seeking resources to revitalize their economy. Military conquests quickly become an acceptable option.

2310 - 2319: Cardassians rapidly expand their territory through force of arms and aggressive colonization. Cardassian settlers begin colonizing worlds along the frontier bordering the Federation.

2310 - 2340s: Starfleet begins producing large numbers of Type-A Exclesior class starships and Miranda class starships. The Excelsior, formerly a Battleship, becomes the mainstay Heavy Cruiser of the fleet. Versatile Miranda class ships do the same in the Light Cruiser and Destroyer roles. Starfleet opts to build and update large numbers of these two ships instead of designing newer replacements.

2311: Tomed Incident occurs between Federation and Romulan Star Empire. Thousands of lives on both sides are lost in the resulting military actions. Treaty of Algeron signed to stave off all-out war. Federation makes several concessions to the Romulan Empire, including the banning of their use or development of cloaking devices, Romulans retreat into another period of prolonged seclusion.

2319: Cardassia stations military forces on Bajor, Occupation of Bajor begins

2323: New Ambassador class Battleship is launched, replacing the Type-B Excelsior as Starfleet's premier capital ship.

2324: Cardassia annexes Bajor, Bajoran government surrenders with little resistance

2320s - 2340s: Cardassian and Federation colonists continue to settle on neighboring worlds, tensions rise between the Federation and Cardassia over desputes about the exact location of the border, and which worlds belong to whom.

Cardassian leaders are trying to grab as much as they can through whatever tricks they can pull, and assume Federation is doing the same.

Federation does not seek conflict with the Cardassians, tries to avoid conflict as much as possible due to their delicate geo-political position (Federation is effectively surrounded by hostile and/or aggressive major and minor powers with military-oriented cultures or military dictatorships)

2344: USS Enterprise-C destroyed responding to a distress call from a Klingon outpost that had come under attack by four Romulan warbirds. The ferocity of the Enterprise-C crew in their valiant, solitary defense against hopelessly overwhelming enemies deeply moves and inspires the Klingon people, turning around the declining relationship between the Federation and the Klingon Empire virtually overnight. The rapidly-escalating threat of war with the Klingon Empire disappears.

2347: Tensions have risen to critical levels. Cardassians attack Federation colony on Setlik III, claiming a pre-emptive strike. Open war is declared.

2347 - 2355: Dealing with a war with the Tholians on a separate front, as well as increasing hostilities and eventually open war with the Tzenkethi and also the Talarians, the Federation fights largely a defensive war.

The aging Excelsior and Miranda class starships also limit the Federation's ability to respond in force. Though technologically and industrially inferior to the Federation, the Cardassians' newer and bigger Galor class Battlecruisers are able to stand toe-to-toe against the Federation's aging Excelsior class cruisers that form the cores of Federation battlegroups.

2349: Niagara class Battleship is launched. Faster and more durable than the Ambassador, only slightly more heavily armed than recently-refit Ambassadors. Niagaras bolster the Federation's mobile defensive and fast raiding raiding abilities, but does not provide anything new in the way of firepower.

2350: Federation treats the war as little more than a border conflict, Federation citizens still colonizing worlds in the disputed territory such as Doran V.

Cardassians begin mining the disputed Boreti Sector with gravitic mines.

2354: USS Stargazer carries truce offer to Cardassians. Cardassians attack and cripple the Stargazer after Captain Jean-Luc Picard had lowered shields as a gesture of good will, though the Stargazer manages to escape.

2355: Springfield and Cheyenne class Light Cruisers are launched. Comparable in size to an Excelsior, they sport the new massive phaser arrays allowed by recent developments in phaser technology, and bring tremendous firepower for their size onto the field.

2357: New Orleans and Challenger class Heavy Cruisers are launched, bringing even more firepower into the Federation's arsenal on much more resilient platforms. Construction of the newer cruisers ramps up and they begin replacing Excelsiors on the front line, vastly bolstering Federation military strength.

2355 - 2360: Having diverted much of their expansion efforts into the war with the Federation, and suffering major setbacks with the deployment of newer Federation cruisers and other advanced military equipment, the war begins to take a major toll on the Cardassian economy, which was already brittle to begin with.

Federation war with the Tholians comes to an end, though hostilities and tensions remain high.

2360: Responding to the deficiencies of the aging Ambassador and the already-outdated designs of the Niagara, Starfleet begins a two-ship design program and rapidly develops and launches the Nebula class, an absolutely massive Battleship featuring much of the technology and advancements developed shortly after the launch of the Niagara, which are now off-the-shelf tech.

Already weakened by the great success of Starfleet's new cruisers and their faltering economy, Cardassian military is quickly out-matched by the new Nebula class Battleships, even with the limited number that could be deployed initially.

Cardassian economy goes into crisis again. Cardassian military operations against the Federation drop to little more than skirmishes and the occasional raid.

Despite their new advantage, Federation does not press the attack against the Cardassians, who interpret this to mean that the Federation is actually weaker than they appear.

2363: The Galaxy class Battleship, sister to the Nebula in Starfleet's two-ship capital ship design program, is launched. Featuring state-of-the-art, bleeding-edge technology, the Galaxy surpasses the Nebula in performance in all areas despite being the same size.

Federation still does not advance into Cardassian territory. Though wars with the Tholians, Tzenkethi and Talarians are over, and the new alliance with the Klingon Empire is going strong, the Federation's geo-political situation is still strenuous, and a military offensive into Cardassian is very unpopular.

2367: An armistice is signed between the Federation and Cardassians, bringing the already-dwindling war to a halt. Though not technically a formal end to the war, both sides view the war as being over.

2367 - 2370: Despite their technological and military superiority, the weakened state of the Cardassian military, and the dire state of crisis of the Cardassian economy, the Federation does not press the Cardassian Union in the peace talks, and makes several concessions to the Cardassians even though the Cardassians initiated the hostilities, and repeatedly violated the terms of the armistice on several occasions, including an attempt to take Minos Korva in 2369. Federation diplomats are painfully aware of their geo-political situation, and how distasteful renewed conflict with the Cardassians, let alone the prospect of an offensive war against Cardassia, is to the Federation Council.

The Federation does win some concessions from the Cardassians, however, such as the Cardassian withdrawal from Bajor in 2369, after 50 years of occupation.

2370: Formal peace treaty is signed, De-Militarized Zone is established over the disputed area, forbidding weapons and significant starships from either side to enter. Several Federation colony worlds are ceded to the Cardassians.

Cardassians begin arming their colonists in the DMZ almost immediately after the treaty is signed.

Federation citizens in the DMZ, outraged by what they feel is inadequate defense by the Federation during the war, and inadequate Federation responses in the face of Cardassian attrocities and violations of the armistice and peace treaty, take up arms in response to being forced from homes they built with their own sweat and blood, and then defended for 20+ years, at the end of a war they effectively won. Supported by Bajoran resistance fighters and sympathetic members of Starfleet on all levels, they brand themselves the Maquis and begin active armed resistance operations against the Cardassians.

2370 - 2373: Tensions between the Federation and Cardassia fluctuate, and cooperative attempts are made, but conflicts with the Maquis resistance in the DMZ as well as continued Cardassian violations of the peace treaty keep tensions and resentment high on both sides. The discovery of the Bajoran Wormhole and access to the Gamma Quadrant spark new tensions, as do events surrounding the arrival of the Dominion.

2373: Hostilities renewed as the Cardassian Union throws in with the Dominion and war breaks out once again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

While The House Burned Down...

The other week, in Obion County, Tennessee, a man's house caught on fire and the local fire department refused to respond because the man had not paid the $75 yearly fee for the optional fire department coverage. The department was located in the city of South Fulton, and offered the service to the surrounding neighborhoods for a $75 yearly fee. When the man's house caught on fire, he offered to pay the fire department whatever it took to save his home, but they still refused to respond, claiming it was "too late." The fire department eventually did show up, because the blaze spread to a field owned by a  neighbor who had paid the fee, but the fire chief still refused to do anything about the burning house.

The neighborhood community is, as expected, outraged, but the local authorities (all of whom are Republican) have taken a "tough luck" stance, saying he should have made sure to pay the fee and that it is his fault for not paying.

True, the fire department did not technically have any legal obligation to try and put out the man's house, or save his pets that were killed in the blaze (or, really, even him if he had been caught inside). Is that the kind of society we want to live in, however? Where for-hire emergency services use legal technicalities to weasel out of all but the bare-minimum legal obligation, and (literally) leave you to burn if you haven't paid up?

The proper response would have been to respond to the call, put the man's house out, and then send him a bill, for the cost of putting the fire out or just the $75 yearly due, either would have been fine. But refusing to even respond, and then responding to the neighbor's call when the fire spread to the neighbor's field, and then STILL refusing to put out the burning house while it burned down in front of them?

I'll grant the firemen themselves some slack for being told not to, but "just following orders" only goes so far. The fire chief who gave those orders, and then the city's mayor and elected officials who responded with such callous support for this heartless policy, do not deserve any leniency.

This is also a case-and-point for how current Republican police will work in practice. Only the rich or well-off will be able to afford all emergency services, and the poor, and lower and middle classes? Well, it's their fault for not being able to afford medical care, or fire protection, or police protection, or for driving up the cost of those services, so if they can't pay, tough shit for them.

It is also what the Republicans have been doing for the last 10-30 years. Republicans have refused to help while America's house has burned around us, and now they're trying to have the Democrats thrown out for trying to put out the blaze with garden hoses.

If you want to vote out incumbents, make sure they're Republican, because at least the Democrats are trying to DO something to actually fix the mess, even if it is like trying to put out a house fire with a garden hose, and many of the Dems are knew, having replaced incumbents the last two elections. The GOPpers have gotten us into this mess, and their prescribed solution is the same damn shit they've been doing for the last 30 years that caused the problem in the first place.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dragon Stories

For some reason, I have always found stories that portray dragons as having beast-level intelligence, even relatively high-level intelligence, to be rather annoying. I can find the story, etc. to be quite entertaining in its own right, despite that, but the annoyance is always there...

It is also always disappointing to come across a new story or series that I am not yet familiar with that includes dragons, only to find that they are little more than subservient beasts.

What is so hard about righting stories where dragons are actually intelligent creatures, and actively-participating protagonists in the story? It wouldn't even bother me if they weren't the main character, just so long as they were portrayed as people, just as much as any other non-dragon characters.

Finding stories that do that, let alone ones that are good and well-told, is a challenge.