Worst command decisions by Captain James T. Kirk

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Gary7, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But where is that location?

    In space, you need reference points, of which the most practial is the destination itself. That is readily available to you through scanning. And when you establish the location of your location by scanning it, scanning for anything else would be an absurd waste of time.

    What sort of an alternative are you thinking of? A galactic GPS of some sort? This would be literally astronomically less precise a tool for establishing the location of a location in a distant star system than on-the-spot scans. Dead reckoning? Same thing. Nobody lands an aircraft on a runway on GPS or dead reckoning. Terminal homing is the only way to go, after GPS or dead reckoning takes you into the general vicinity. And Ceti Alpha won't have local aids to terminal homing analogous to, say, ADS-B.

    That is navigation. Go where your instruments take you, and then disregard those instruments and trust that which is actually there. Because there is no profit in going "Uh, that runway is a mile to the east of where it ought to be", and especially not in "We'll land in the right spot anyway, those runway lights be damned"!

    Except here our sidekicks don't know what CA VI looks like, save for it being a desert - establishing the specifics is their very mission.

    Just think it through (and ignore for now the fact that the writers did not, because that's not what they get paid for). Space basically by definition is full of "lifeless worlds". So our sidekicks must be looking for something relatively specific and special, or they would have found it already. But their maps and records don't tell them whether CA VI would be right for them. They just hint that the place is worth checking out. So the very premise is that the planet is an unknown quantity and an interchangeable element. Just like basically every uninhabited planet in Star Trek. So naturally starships would operate in a fashion that copes with this issue. Just like we see the Reliant doing.

    That's just it, the mistake people seem to make - that planets would have addresses attached.

    They do not. They can be identified by their "fingerprint", or their position can be guesstimated. But a planet going missing will provide neither fingerprint nor position - it will merely remove those. So for really finding the location, see above.

    Well, in Trek, we have never gotten any indication that a planet would be in position. If the heroes could trust them to be, why don't they warp directly to orbit (a thing technologically perfectly possible, as seen many times) instead of doing this "We are here"/"Great, so let's go there" standard orbit dance?

    As for the real world, we're yet to satisfactorily tackle even the three-body problem. The one thing agreed upon about celestial mechanics is that they are chaotic: we have no bloody idea where Jupiter might be a few million years from now, and any harebrained theory of where it used to be is no better or worse than any other. Trek just takes that to the logical conclusion and suggests that change is standard even in shorter timescales.

    We might think so. Kirk didn't, though. An encounter with a mobile planet did not alter his approach to, well, approach. And "The Changeling" is telling in establishing that the heroes can perform "long range scans" to see whether there's life in a star system - but they don't. Not until prompted by something concrete like a distress call.

    If the two scenarios the heroes may face involve those where the map can be relied on and those where it cannot, the response to both ought to be the same - the one appropriate for the latter. Our problem isn't that our heroes (wisely) distrust their maps, because distrust is exactly what Kirk's adventures ought to teach him. Instead, it is that they do not perform extensive preemptive scans for unexpected things wherever they go. Instead, they perform reactive scans. Which is only a problem for us, not them: they come out of their adventures alive by doing them their way.

    Excuses for Starfleet doctrine are readily available (besides the demonstrated success of that doctrine): there's way too much to scan in the "unexpected things" category, there's way too much space to point the sensors to unless you already have a point target, there's way too little time to worry about these things.

    I'm not quite following. What's plausible about that? That is, why's it better than the planet just blowing up all of a sudden?

    Starfleet can't assume that planets being in slightly wrong places would be indicative of the DDM scenario: there is no commonality there, as the DDM never moved any planets that we'd know of. OTOH, and this is the crux of the whole issue with Ceti Alpha, you can't spot a planet not being there unless you scan for that planet specifically. The lack of a planet doesn't manifest unless you turn your sensors directly at the very spot and find nothing. So if our heroes scanned for CA VI and found nothing, they would start searching - and they would then find CA VI (which really was CA V). After which they would be doubly unlikely to scan for missing planets!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm curious...why are other posters assuming that there would be a debris field? Because Khan said CA6 exploded? We don't even know his basis for making that claim. We can at least assume he had no reason to lie to Terrell and Chekov, but we have no idea what Khan observed.

    For instance, if the DDM had been responsible for CA6's demise, there likely wouldn't be much debris at all. If someone red matter-bombed CA6, there might not be any debris to speak of.

    In the end, we simply don't know what happened or what the results would be, beyond what we directly observed and Khan's potentially spurious claim.
     
  3. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    The script may say it was within his authority, but the idea that a victim and principal witness in a criminal case could have any involvement in the prosecution or disposal of that case is absurd. It would mean automatic recusal in any credible justice system today. Imagine if a district attorney's office was taken over by terrorists and the DA was tied up, beaten and threatened with death. The case would be handed off to another jurisdiction to prosecute, for reasons I hope would be obvious.

    Exactly, it's a question of navigation to a known, mapped destination.

    Put into scale, the next-closest house would be maybe a quarter-hour's drive away. The closest orbits in our solar system are those of Mercury and Venus, averaging about (round numbers) 30 million miles apart, or 4000 Venus diameters. Let's give a benefit of doubt and say at their closest approach Ceti Alpha 5 and 6 are 2500 diameters apart. Say the house in the example is on a square lot 50 feet per side. Twenty-five hundred of those house lots end-to-end is 125,000 feet, or over 23 miles. Maybe the planetary distances are even closer than that, yeah, but the idea that the planets' positions were so close that one could be mistaken for the other through navigational error strains belief. And that's not even considering the fact that both are moving around the star and may be on opposite sides of the solar system at a given time, which would also have to be a navigation factor. However one tweaks the distances, in any reasonable analogy to terrestrial locations the error would be one of miles, not feet. If the GPS can't put you within miles of your destination, it's not worth a damn. As was, apparently, Reliant's navigation in TWOK.
     
  4. Henoch

    Henoch Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    If a planet explodes in the galaxy, and there's nobody around to see, does it leave debris? :whistle:
     
  5. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And Picard and Riker wouldn't be arguing the pros and cons of Data being a sentient being. It's not dramatically interesting to suddenly show a trial being conducted by characters who are completely unfamiliar to the viewing audience. You just have to give the show leeway on this.

    But TOS very much depicted an "Age of Sail" type of galaxy where Kirk often didn't turn people over to the authorities because he was the authorities. It was a much less bureaucratic galaxy than that depicted on TNG. Starfleet Command wasn't always readily available via comscreen and there wasn't a Starbase around every corner. Many of the places that Kirk called on hadn't seen and Earth ship in years. And everyone on the ship had been victimized by Khan to some degree. When it came to the final authority in the matter, Kirk was it.
     
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  6. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    No I don't. It's not a deal-breaker for the episode for me, but I don't find it at all believable.

    That's not how things worked in the age of sail, either. Ships' captains were governed by laws which specified exactly whom they had jurisdiction over, which crimes they could punish on their own authority, what those punishments could be, and which crimes had to be tried at a court-martial made up of several captains. More believable to me was the situation in "Mudd's Women" when Kirk took Mudd into custody to deliver him to the authorities with jurisdiction.
     
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  7. Henoch

    Henoch Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    There's more here than just Khan. There's Khan and his 72 other supermen who are all revived. There's no way Kirk and the (usually inept) security force could watch that many prisoners (each being the equivalent to 5 normal men) for any length of time. Best get them off the ship ASAP. Sea Captains have marooned groups of mutineers with supplies on deserted islands in the past. Of course, they usually report it to the authorities once they get back on station. Maybe Kirk did report it, and Starfleet agreed with his recommendation to leave them be.
     
  8. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    I'm not sure what that has to do with the end of "Space Seed," when Kirk dismissed all charges against Khan, McGivers and co.
     
  9. BK613

    BK613 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think the hearing at the end just formalizes what has already been agreed to. I think Kirk, Spock, Khan and maybe McGivers walk into that room knowing what was going down. One thing that's always bothered me is, What if one or more of the 72 didn't want to go? We think of them as "Khan's followers" but legally they would be treated as individuals, would they not? Shouildn't Kirk be having a bunch more hearings?
     
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  10. Tarek71

    Tarek71 Captain Captain

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    Asked and answered. And in 2019 we have no difficulty locating, tracking and distinguishing Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, etc. The sensors would map the entire system. The star, every planet, asteroid, etc. This is an already mapped system. There are dozens of metrics that would tell them which planet was which. Mass, density, composition, volume, diameter, axial tilt, orbital speed, orbital inclination, distance to the star, atmospheric density and composition. No possibility exists for mistaking them, and the sensors would find them with no difficulty at all. If something happened to Mars, it would be detected by the sensors immediately and there would be no chance to mistaking Earth for the very, very different planet Mars.

    No it wouldnt. It is absolutely essential for you to scan 360 degrees, 24/7/365. That is how navigation works, and that is what is actually done in the real world. And the scan would identify which planet was which quickly and very easily. They cannot and would not be mistaken for each other. There are dozens and dozens of identifying characteristics that easily distinguish even those planets that have some similarities like Earth and Venus or Uranus and Neptune. A planetary migration by Neptune would make it no harder to find it, identify as Neptune (not Uranus) and track it.
     
  11. Tarek71

    Tarek71 Captain Captain

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    Even if a Jupiter sized Pac-Man flew threw the CA system and Gobbled up CA6 and flew away leaving zero debris, they still wouldn't mistake CA5 for CA6, any more than the magical disappearance of Saturn would cause you to mistake Jupiter for Saturn.
     
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  12. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Kirk absolutely reported it. What we see at the end of "Space Seed" is an official hearing. Everyone's in their dress uniforms and Uhura is recording the proceedings. The first two lines of the scene:
    And after Khan and McGivers' fates are decided, Kirk says, "This hearing is closed." He obviously wasn't doing all of that pomp and circumstance for shits and giggles. And since Kirk also states on the record that he's acting under the authority vested in him by Starfleet Command, he was absolutely within his rights to do what he did.

    Really, the scene can't get any clearer than that. I don't know why so many fans interpret the ending of "Space Seed" as Kirk somehow going rogue and doing something he wasn't supposed to do. Is it just because TWOK says he was such a big rule breaker that they assume Kirk's defying orders even when he obviously isn't?

    What we don't know is if Kirk actually promised Khan that someone from Starfleet would check up on them. Considering Khan's insanity and paranoia, I'm inclined to think not. Khan wasn't exactly a reliable witness when Terrell and Chekov found him. But in Khan's addled mind, that became, "Admiral Kirk never bothered to check on our progress." In Khan's mind, Kirk was responsible for everything that had gone wrong for Khan.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019 at 1:23 AM
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  13. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Hell, continuing this train of thought even further, what if Ceti Alpha VI never exploded? After all, we only have Khan's word that it did, and there's never a line of dialogue from one of the Reliant's crew about a missing planet. Spock himself describes the planet as "habitable, although a bit savage, somewhat inhospitable" at the end of "Space Seed." What if Ceti Alpha V was just much harsher than Khan and his followers were expecting, and in Khan's deluded mind it was because Ceti Alpha VI exploded and radically changed the environment?

    The more I think about this, the more I like it. Captain Terrell and the Reliant crew weren't so incompetent that they didn't notice that an entire planet was missing. Khan was so out of his mind at that point that he imagined Ceti Alpha VI exploded. :techman:
     
  14. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^That was an explanation worthy of Timo. I tip my hat to you. :p
     
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  15. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No, NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I take it back, I take it back!!!! ;)
     
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  16. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The only explanation I've got is that the Ceti Alpha system had not been thoroughly explored and the Reliant had less information on that area of space than other Starships! :techman:
    JB
     
  17. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think that is probably the best explanation for many of the unknown factors in that part of the film. As mentioned in the novelisation, the Reliant only had the data from a decades old probe to go by and no way to verify its accuracy until a ship went there in person (at which point they would ignore the probe data if it was contradicted by something right there in front of them!)

    I do like the skepticism about CA6 exploding too - it's a planet, after all! Planets do not routinely explode of their own accord and if it was that unstable then Spock really ought to have detected it with his sensors
    Perhaps a massive external threat that went straight for CA6 then?
    Maybe
    Or maybe an extinction level asteroid hit CA5 and Khan just made his best guess. They were in no position to conduct accurate astronomical observations after all.

    The end result is the same: CA5 is reduced to a near lifeless husk of its former self, just what the Genesis project was looking for
     
  18. Tarek71

    Tarek71 Captain Captain

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    None of that would change the fact that Reliant would not confuse them. What actually caused the mass extinction event on CA5 wouldnt change what planet they thought it was. Just as you would not mistake Earth for Venus if an extinction level event happened on Earth. It would still be easily identifiable as Earth (and not Venus). They knew Khan was on CA5, where Chekov said he should have stayed. They mistook it for a different planet, which is complete nonsense. Even our technology would not be fooled.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019 at 5:42 PM
  19. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Especially if Chekov WAS ON the Enterprise during Khan's first visit to the ship? :techman:
    JB
     
  20. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Lower decks officers may not be privvy to every destination the ship goes to though. Certainly they would not have reason to remember planets unless they were directly involved somehow
     
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