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Old September 20 2008, 03:33 AM   #91
William Leisner
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Re: Difference Between Earth Starfleet and the UESPA?

Shawnster wrote: View Post
Dayton Ward wrote: View Post
^ We also have no real idea when Shaun Christopher was born (wasn't it also an Okuda conjecture?). For all we know, it was ten years after the events of the episode.
Not sure if this was addressed or not but it's obvious from Capt. Christopher's reaction that he'd not fathered a son when captured by the Enterprise.
Even more obvious from Captain Christopher out-and-out saying, "I don't have a son."
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Old September 20 2008, 07:31 AM   #92
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Re: Difference Between Earth Starfleet and the UESPA?

Shawnster wrote: View Post
Back to the topic of the Federation. I would like to suggest that it's possible the organization, structure and responsibilities of the Federation grew and adjusted from ENT (where we saw the founding) to TOS to TNG and beyond. After all the United States government founded in 1776 was different from the one that ratified the Constitution in in 1787. While the government in 1776 was called the UNITED States (originally the United Colonies) the supreme law of the land was called the Articles of CONFEDERATION. The US even had a different president who preceeded George Washington.
No, it did not. Rather, under the Articles of Confederation, there was a position entitled "President of the United States in Congress Assembled." However, "the United States in Congress Assembled" was the formal name of the Congress under the Articles. In other words, the Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled were not the heads of state or heads of government as the current President of the United States of America is. Rather, they were the presiding officers of the legislature -- equivalent to the Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, or Speaker of the House of Commons in Great Britain.

You are correct in noting that it is entirely possible that the scope of the Federation's authority may have fluctuated throughout its history. Indeed, that is the most probable scenario -- even under the US Constitution, the scope of the US federal government's authority has fluctuated over the ages, going up and down depending upon how each generation interpreted the Constitution and the principles of federalism.

Interesting side note about the Constitution/Articles: Depending on who you talk to, some would argue that the United States of America that exists today did not actually exist until the Constitution was ratified. Rather, they would argue that the United States of America that existed prior to the Constitution was a separate legal entity, a mere alliance of sovereign states that ceased to exist upon the adoption of the Constitution, which created a genuine state in its own right.

Personally, I would tend to interpret the situation as being analogous to the Coalition of Planets. The Coalition as Our Heroes' attempt to create an alliance of sovereign worlds that later proves untenable, with the United Federation of Planets being established to create a sovereign state in its own right to unify those formerly sovereign states.

Timo wrote: View Post
Ergo, when treating the Federation within the context of the fictional universe it inhabits, we have to treat it as a state.
But if enough contradictions to that exist, then it shouldn't be too difficult to accept that the UFP could be something other than a state, and something other than a federally or confederally tight or loose cooperative of states. A descriptive approach to analyzing this futuristic construct might be better than one that tries to fit it in assorted historical molds.
Well, I don't think enough contradictions exist. To me, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence is in favor of the Federation being a state in its own right, and the few contradictions that do exist there can be rather easily reinterpreted. It's much easier to creatively reinterpret "Journey to Babel" than it is to reinterpret the five thousand other pieces of evidence for the Federation's out and out statehood, IMO.

As for "Vulcan exhile" -- what makes you think that the Vulcan government even knew that Kirk and Co. were at Mount Seleya? It's entirely possible that the Vulcan government no more knew they were hiding out there than the State of Montana knew that the Unabomber was hiding out in their state.
To operate a starship from a starport, no matter how much a "dirt strip", would seem to be an operation any government would like to be aware of if it happens on their dirt... And one would assume Vulcan keeps at least some sort of public eye on its celebrities such as high priestesses. But it could always be argued that this eye was deliberately turned away, and that Vulcans simply kept saying "No, absolutely no Earth fugitives here - would we lie to you?"...
True enough as well. If the government of the State of Montana had wanted to hide the Unabomber from federal officials, I've no doubt that they could have done so, too. Arguing that Vulcan was sheltering Kirk and Co. does not necessarily say anything about the structure of the UFP.

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Sci wrote: View Post
TheAlmanac wrote: View Post
On the other, other hand, the fact that Kirk & Company can have a "Vulcan exile" in the first place, that they have to volunteer to return to Earth rather than simply being arrested and/or extradited, and that Sarek is Ambassador to the Federation (rather than, say, a member of the Galactic Senate ) implies that Vulcan is a sovereign state in this situation, which can harbour fugitives if it so chooses.
That has more to do with shifting creative intent than anything else. It's fair to say that, originally, the Federation was meant by the TOS writers to be more of a "UN in space" kind of deal -- hence Sarek being "the Vulcan Ambassador" (his full title is never given, though -- we don't know if he's Vulcan Ambassador to the Federation or Vulcan Ambassador-at-Large, or even if "the Vulcan Ambassador" is his actual title rather than a nickname) and Ambassadors of Federation Member States getting the say over whether Coridan joins the UFP in "Journey to Babel."
I don't think that Spock would've referred to performing actions "at the behest of the Vulcan Ambassador" in a formal briefing to Starfleet Command if all that was meant by the term was "the ambassador who's Vulcan." If nothing else, the term would've been too vague in that context.
Maybe, maybe not. Depends on just how famous and widespread such a nickname might be.

Another possibility, of course, is that perhaps Federation Councillors were originally styled "Ambassadors" because the Federation was originally intended to be a looser organization than it evolved into. Another possibility is that it was always intended to be a state, but one with a strong form of federalism, and that ergo the stylistic trappings of sovereign states were originally retained, in much the same way that, even today, you sometimes hear people refer to "the sovereign State of Ohio" or the "sovereign Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

But over time, the creative intent has rather obviously shifted to the idea of the Federation as a state in its own right. Ergo, when treating the Federation within the context of the fictional universe it inhabits, we have to treat it as a state.
I would agree with Timo that various pieces of evidence point to a structure for the Federation which doesn't fit neatly into a present-day analogy as the most likely explanation, and that you're deliberately ignoring such evidence or glossing it over with your thoughts on "creative intent" and interpretation of "Journey to Babel."
No, I'm deciding what I think the preponderance of evidence indicates and then creatively reinterpreting seemingly contradictory pieces of evidence. You know, like we do in Trek Literature all the time.

But the Federation possesses all of the characteristics of a state. It has a definite territory over which it rules ("The Best of Both Worlds," numerous DS9 episodes referring to "Federation space"). It has the legal power to create binding law within that territory ("Force of Nature" [TNG]). It is recognized as having legal authority over its population and to conduct foreign affairs on the behalf of its population by other states ("Errand of Mercy" [TOS], State Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country). It has a government, including a legislature called the Federation Council ("Amok Time" [TOS], "Force of Nature" [TNG]), an executive officer called the President of the United Federation of Planets (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) who is the commander-in-chief of the Federation military ("Paradise Lost" [DS9]). It has a judicial system of its own, including grand juries ("The Ascent" [DS9]) and a Federation Supreme Court that is the court of last resort for Federation citizens ("Dr. Bashir, I Presume?" [DS9]). It has its own monetary unit, the Federation Credit ("Mudd's Women," "The Trouble With Tribbles," [TOS]), it has its own military in the Federation Starfleet ("Court Martial" [TOS]), and it has the successful monopoly on the use of legitimate violence (numerous episodes). It has a law enforcement agency called Federation Security (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) and its military officers are empowered to enforce Federation and local law ("Let He Who Is Without Sin..." [DS9]). Its Constitution grants all sentient beings living under its jurisdiction protections for a set of rights ("The Perfect Mate" [TNG]), its Charter overrules local law and even Federation laws, marking it as the supreme law of the land ("Accession," "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges [DS9]), and its government is capable of declaring martial law and overriding the authority of its members ("Home Front"/"Paradise Lost" [DS9]). It has an extensive bureaucracy and civil service, including a Bureau of Agricultural Affairs ("The Trouble With Tribbles"), a Bureau of Industrialization ("The Cloud Miners" [TOS]), a Bureau of Planetary Treaties ("The Mark of Gideon" [TOS]), a Central Bureau of Penology ("Dagger of the Mind" [TOS]), a Department of Cartography ("Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" [DS9]), a Department of Temporal Investigations ("Trials and Tribble-ations" [DS9]), a Federation Naval Patrol ("Thirty Days" [VOY]), a Federation Science Council ("Force of Nature" [TNG]), a Federation Science Bureau (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), Terraform Command ("Home Soil" [TNG]), a Federation Astronomical Committee ("Eye of the Needle" [VOY]).

In short, the Federation possesses all of the traits of a state. What few things can be claimed to be inconsistent with that concept are fairly weak -- styles of address, and procedural differences during what is described as a time of extreme crisis. Seems to me that the logical conclusion is that the Federation is a state, as we understand a state, in its own right -- albeit one with far greater commitment to local government's rights and autonomies than we oftentimes find in real-life federations.

As for "Vulcan exhile" -- what makes you think that the Vulcan government even knew that Kirk and Co. were at Mount Seleya? It's entirely possible that the Vulcan government no more knew they were hiding out there than the State of Montana knew that the Unabomber was hiding out in their state.
The various parties speaking before the Federation Council seemed to have a pretty good idea of what happened in Star Trek III (complete with footage of the Enterprise's destruction ), even if the Klingon Ambassador had the wrong impression of who detonated the Genesis Device,
So? Knowing what transpired in one star system does not tell you what happened later on in another. It was an established fact that Eric Rudolph attacked the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, but it still took years for authorities to figure out he was in North Carolina.

and it would seem strange to me for him to ask for the extradition of someone whose location was still unknown.
Not if the Klingons' intent was as much to embarrass the Federation as anything else. "We DEMAND that you extradite this CRIMINAL who so blatantly attacked innocent Klingon citizens!.... What? What's this? You don't even KNOW where he is? What kind of government are you running here?"

I'd be very surprised if they knew that the Klingons destroyed the Grissom and killed David Marcus; and that Kirk blew up the Enterprise, killed (most of) that Klingon crew, and stole the Bird-of-Prey; but somehow didn't know what happened afterwards,
I can completely buy that. Kirk would probably want to tell them what happened in order to avoid an interstellar incident. Send out a subspace probe with the data on it, activate the cloaking device, and go about your merry way as a fugitive from justice.

when he's talking to Sarek, one of the people (a "celebrity," to use Timo's term, and a representative of that government) who met up with them then.
All that that means is that Sarek is a participant in a criminal conspiracy to hide Kirk and Co. from justice.

Timo wrote: View Post
I believe it might have been in Sarek's and Vulcan's interests to obfuscate somewhat, though. Perhaps it was never quite officially admitted that the fugitives were on Vulcan soil - so the issue was not an internal one of denied or disputed extradition from Vulcan to Earth or Vulcan to Federation, with the implications of disunity, but a purely external one of extradition from Federation to Klingon Empire, with some dishonesty involved as to where in the Federation the fugitives were hiding.
Exactly.

As for the title of "Vulcan Ambassador", we might choose anything between clinging on to the exact meaning of "Ambassador" today and deriving the structure of the UFP from there (by using "Journey to Babel" and ST4 evidence), and clinging on to the exact meaning of a "Federation" and deriving the UFP structure and the possible role of Ambassadors from there. In the latter case, we'd then probably have to accept that "Ambassador" in the 23rd century means something like "Senator" or "Secretary/Minister" in the 20th...

...Which wouldn't be that much of a leap, considering that "Minister" in the 18th-19th centuries used to mean more or less exactly the thing we now call Ambassador, right? That is, we'd have had a Minister of Vulcan in the putative 18th century Earth government, him being the human from Earth responsible for doing diplomacy with Vulcan.

Timo Saloniemi
The usual term was actually "Minister Plenipotentiary." It's the "Plenipotentiary" bit that marked them as being empowered to represent their state to another. Meanwhile, there were Ministers of State who performed the same functions that Ministers in parliamentary governments do today -- Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, etc. I.E., the heads of executive departments.
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Old September 20 2008, 09:56 AM   #93
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Re: Difference Between Earth Starfleet and the UESPA?

William Leisner wrote: View Post
Shawnster wrote: View Post
Dayton Ward wrote: View Post
^ We also have no real idea when Shaun Christopher was born (wasn't it also an Okuda conjecture?). For all we know, it was ten years after the events of the episode.
Not sure if this was addressed or not but it's obvious from Capt. Christopher's reaction that he'd not fathered a son when captured by the Enterprise.
Even more obvious from Captain Christopher out-and-out saying, "I don't have a son."
Bill, since when on these boards does a straight statement of fact direct from an episode count for anything in an argument??
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Old September 20 2008, 12:23 PM   #94
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Re: Difference Between Earth Starfleet and the UESPA?

..since when on these boards does a straight statement of fact direct from an episode count for anything in an argument??
Indeed. They could be lying bastards all, these "character" folks.

But there's no way a manned mission taking that long would ever be approved, even with cryogenic technology, because of the risk of cumulative radiation exposure. A manned mission to Saturn would have to wait for faster propulsion methods or a highly propitious planetary alignment.
Or for the development of shielding technology. Which was supposedly part of the Charybdis mission, by Okudagram accounts anyway. Going by "Space Seed", it would seem that by the first decades of the 21st century, we had propulsion and cryosleep down pat for a multi-decade crewed mission and were making good progress with shielding - but the window for such a mission was a narrow one, terminated by the invention of better propulsion. Going by Spaceflight Chronology, though, Christopher's ship had performance comparable to that of Ares IV, and wouldn't have needed years upon years (let alone cryogenics) to reach Saturn.

One wonders what sort of stories could be told of the earliest interstellar exploits of this UESPA bunch, or of other early Earth attempts and successes and failures before Starfleet came to being. The potential for stories that could be told without interfering with other Trek "projects" would be greater back when ships would be slowly crawling in interstellar isolation.

So far, we don't canonically know even the story of mankind's first intentional interstellar flight. Theoretically, it could have been a sublight one, initiated long before WWIII and completed before Cochrane could get his act together. One would assume that there would have been a lot of competition before the war, rather than a concerted effort overseen by something like UESPA...

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Old September 20 2008, 02:27 PM   #95
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Re: Difference Between Earth Starfleet and the UESPA?

Sci wrote: View Post
Well, I don't think enough contradictions exist. To me, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence is in favor of the Federation being a state in its own right, and the few contradictions that do exist there can be rather easily reinterpreted. It's much easier to creatively reinterpret "Journey to Babel" than it is to reinterpret the five thousand other pieces of evidence for the Federation's out and out statehood, IMO.
Why treat it as a choice between two opposite extremes? There's always plenty of middle ground. We're talking about a political entity invented centuries in the future by members of multiple different species. Why does it have to fit into some pre-existing model from Terrestrial history? Why can't it be something new that embodies elements of both a federal state and a confederation of sovereign powers, but isn't exactly like either one?

If anything, I'd say that's inevitable. In SF, we tend to simplify the concept of a planet, to think of it as being a monolithic entity politically and culturally. Most SF planets have less cultural and ethnic diversity (and seemingly less territory, sometimes) than a single large city on Earth (or even a single New York borough). But think about it realistically. Think how many different states and cultures there are on a single planet and how hard it is to get them to work together. Even managing one planet as a unified state would require a political entity different from anything we've invented on Earth to date. It would have to be something that gave the planet's distinct cultures and nations enough autonomy that they'd be willing to cooperate in a unified system at all -- something that balanced the need for global unity with the need of each culture to retain its own identity and sense of self-sufficiency. Anything else would essentially be an empire and the individual cultures would rebel against it in time.

Heck, even the most successful empires in history have not been monolithic states, but have granted their conquered territories considerable political and cultural autonomy within their own borders so long as they provided the necessary tribute and resources to the imperial state. Historically, the successful governance of a large, multicultural political state requires finding a comfortable balance between central authority and regional autonomy.

So when you multiply that to an interstellar alliance, it becomes even more complicated. The scale and complexity of such a system is unprecedented in human experience, and we simply cannot assume that any pre-existing Earth-based political paradigm can be transposed to it. On the one hand, there are so many different cultures and species involved that considerable cultural independence would be essential; yet on the other hand, the territory is so expansive that a strong central authority would be necessary or you wouldn't have any effective overall government at all. It's a paradox that no previously existing system on Earth could solve. Whatever system of government makes the Federation work, it's not the same as anything we know from past or present politics. It couldn't be. It must be more complex and exotic and have attributes that seem strange or contradictory to us.

Personally, I think the only way it could work is if it had a hierarchy of organizational tiers, from local to regional to national to continental to planetary to systemwide to interstellar. It makes sense to me that each planet could be simultaneously a more-or-less sovereign political entity (at least where its internal affairs are concerned) and a part of a larger metastate that manages external and interstellar affairs.


Another possibility, of course, is that perhaps Federation Councillors were originally styled "Ambassadors" because the Federation was originally intended to be a looser organization than it evolved into. Another possibility is that it was always intended to be a state, but one with a strong form of federalism, and that ergo the stylistic trappings of sovereign states were originally retained, in much the same way that, even today, you sometimes hear people refer to "the sovereign State of Ohio" or the "sovereign Commonwealth of Massachusetts."
Again, I don't think we can explain the Federation using historical precedents alone. And as Timo said, we can't assume that every term and title in a multispecies state centuries in the future would be used the same way that we use it in English today. To me, it makes sense to assume that "Ambassador" as used in the Federation is a term that encompasses both the current meaning of the term and something closer to "Councillor." Since individual worlds would still have considerable local autonomy, the Federation Council would be as much an IGO-type forum for allowing individual worlds to work out their disputes as it would be a federal legislature for dealing with issues of broader concern.

And yes, I recall the arguments for why the Federation can't be an IGO in the sense the term is used today. Which is why I said IGO-type. Again, we're talking about something more complex than any present Earth-based system, something that embodies elements of multiple different such systems on different tiers of organization. So it functions like an IGO on one tier (the tier of planet-to-planet relations) and a singular state on another tier (the tier of relations between interstellar powers).


Seems to me that the logical conclusion is that the Federation is a state, as we understand a state, in its own right -- albeit one with far greater commitment to local government's rights and autonomies than we oftentimes find in real-life federations.
Err, I think that's pretty close to what I've been arguing all along. I never said it wasn't a state, just that it was a different kind of state than we have experience with on Earth.
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Old September 20 2008, 09:31 PM   #96
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Re: Difference Between Earth Starfleet and the UESPA?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
Well, I don't think enough contradictions exist. To me, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence is in favor of the Federation being a state in its own right, and the few contradictions that do exist there can be rather easily reinterpreted. It's much easier to creatively reinterpret "Journey to Babel" than it is to reinterpret the five thousand other pieces of evidence for the Federation's out and out statehood, IMO.
Why treat it as a choice between two opposite extremes? There's always plenty of middle ground. We're talking about a political entity invented centuries in the future by members of multiple different species. Why does it have to fit into some pre-existing model from Terrestrial history?
It's not that I'm arguing that there could not have been a middle ground in how the Federation was portrayed, or that it HAS to fit into a pre-existing model from real history. It's just that, when I look at it, it, in my view, obviously does fit into the pre-existing model of the terrestrial state, because that's how the creators generally chose to portray it -- by giving it all of the characteristics we associate with states in real life. What few contradictions there are to that portrayal strike me as being quite minor.

Why can't it be something new that embodies elements of both a federal state and a confederation of sovereign powers, but isn't exactly like either one?
It certainly could be, but almost nothing about how the Federation has been portrayed in the canon or in the novels strikes me as being truly unique. Even the intra-Federation conflicts such as we've seen in "Journey to Babel" or the DS9 Relaunch's Trill: Unjoined strike me as having rather strong historical parallels (tensions between US states early in the Union's history, civil wars, etc.)

The evidence that I see from the canon and the novels, I interpret as indicating that the Federation fits our current model of a state. It COULD be different if the creators make different choices in their portrayal of the Federation, but in general they haven't.

If anything, I'd say that's inevitable. In SF, we tend to simplify the concept of a planet, to think of it as being a monolithic entity politically and culturally. Most SF planets have less cultural and ethnic diversity (and seemingly less territory, sometimes) than a single large city on Earth (or even a single New York borough). But think about it realistically. Think how many different states and cultures there are on a single planet and how hard it is to get them to work together. Even managing one planet as a unified state would require a political entity different from anything we've invented on Earth to date. It would have to be something that gave the planet's distinct cultures and nations enough autonomy that they'd be willing to cooperate in a unified system at all -- something that balanced the need for global unity with the need of each culture to retain its own identity and sense of self-sufficiency. Anything else would essentially be an empire and the individual cultures would rebel against it in time.

Heck, even the most successful empires in history have not been monolithic states, but have granted their conquered territories considerable political and cultural autonomy within their own borders so long as they provided the necessary tribute and resources to the imperial state. Historically, the successful governance of a large, multicultural political state requires finding a comfortable balance between central authority and regional autonomy.

So when you multiply that to an interstellar alliance, it becomes even more complicated. The scale and complexity of such a system is unprecedented in human experience, and we simply cannot assume that any pre-existing Earth-based political paradigm can be transposed to it. On the one hand, there are so many different cultures and species involved that considerable cultural independence would be essential; yet on the other hand, the territory is so expansive that a strong central authority would be necessary or you wouldn't have any effective overall government at all. It's a paradox that no previously existing system on Earth could solve. Whatever system of government makes the Federation work, it's not the same as anything we know from past or present politics. It couldn't be. It must be more complex and exotic and have attributes that seem strange or contradictory to us.

Personally, I think the only way it could work is if it had a hierarchy of organizational tiers, from local to regional to national to continental to planetary to systemwide to interstellar. It makes sense to me that each planet could be simultaneously a more-or-less sovereign political entity (at least where its internal affairs are concerned) and a part of a larger metastate that manages external and interstellar affairs.


Another possibility, of course, is that perhaps Federation Councillors were originally styled "Ambassadors" because the Federation was originally intended to be a looser organization than it evolved into. Another possibility is that it was always intended to be a state, but one with a strong form of federalism, and that ergo the stylistic trappings of sovereign states were originally retained, in much the same way that, even today, you sometimes hear people refer to "the sovereign State of Ohio" or the "sovereign Commonwealth of Massachusetts."
Again, I don't think we can explain the Federation using historical precedents alone. And as Timo said, we can't assume that every term and title in a multispecies state centuries in the future would be used the same way that we use it in English today. To me, it makes sense to assume that "Ambassador" as used in the Federation is a term that encompasses both the current meaning of the term and something closer to "Councillor." Since individual worlds would still have considerable local autonomy, the Federation Council would be as much an IGO-type forum for allowing individual worlds to work out their disputes as it would be a federal legislature for dealing with issues of broader concern.

And yes, I recall the arguments for why the Federation can't be an IGO in the sense the term is used today. Which is why I said IGO-type. Again, we're talking about something more complex than any present Earth-based system, something that embodies elements of multiple different such systems on different tiers of organization. So it functions like an IGO on one tier (the tier of planet-to-planet relations) and a singular state on another tier (the tier of relations between interstellar powers).
Fair enough.


Seems to me that the logical conclusion is that the Federation is a state, as we understand a state, in its own right -- albeit one with far greater commitment to local government's rights and autonomies than we oftentimes find in real-life federations.
Err, I think that's pretty close to what I've been arguing all along. I never said it wasn't a state, just that it was a different kind of state than we have experience with on Earth.
I think we've sorta been saying the same thing from different angles. It sounds to me like you're describing de facto behavior, whilst I've been describing de jure organization theory.
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Old September 22 2008, 12:26 PM   #97
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Re: Difference Between Earth Starfleet and the UESPA?

...because that's how the creators generally chose to portray it -- by giving it all of the characteristics we associate with states in real life. What few contradictions there are to that portrayal strike me as being quite minor.
Replace "states" with "humans", though, and you get the creators' way of portraying Vulcans, Klingons, Ferengi and other nonhumans.

Even when we get "essentially the old ho-hum with minor contradictions", I say we should concentrate on the contradictions and go for the imagination angle, and ignore the unfortunate fact that it's all built on today's reality. That's what the creators would want us to do...

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Old September 23 2008, 11:34 PM   #98
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Re: Difference Between Earth Starfleet and the UESPA?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Babaganoosh wrote: View Post
Getting back to the earlier topic...I think I like the idea that Shaun Christopher's flight was at such relativistic speeds that he and his crew took years to complete it, and the Ares project could have been initiated in the intervening years (i.e. if the Ares 'third generation ion drive' was invented after Christopher's flight left).
Err, at relativistic speeds, it would take less than 90 minutes to get to Saturn, and that's as seen by an Earthbound observer. A journey of years is more the sort of thing you'd get with today's technology. The Voyager probes took 3-4 years to get to Saturn because they had a favorable planetary configuration to give them gravity assists. Cassini-Huygens followed a more roundabout path, looping past Venus and Earth a couple of times to get onto the right trajectory, so it took nearly 7 years.

But there's no way a manned mission taking that long would ever be approved, even with cryogenic technology, because of the risk of cumulative radiation exposure. A manned mission to Saturn would have to wait for faster propulsion methods or a highly propitious planetary alignment.
Perhaps in the Trek timeline, ships were already sufficiently shielded against radiation even when Christopher's mission took place (as is implied in films like 2010). Or, as you say, the planets were sufficiently aligned at the time.
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