Star Wars v. Star Trek

This is the pinnacle of all nerd debates; which science fiction franchise is better? This goes into personal favourites and also discussions on who would win in a head-to-head battle.

CAUTION: This could get nerdy from time to time from here on out.

This debate is nothing new, but seeing as the new Star Trek film is coming out in a little more than a week, I figure it’s a good time to let everyone know where I stand on the matter.

Star Wars has my vote hands down.

That’s not to say I don’t like Star Trek. I love The Next Generation, enjoy most of the Original Series episodes I’ve seen, and like most of the movies. I also can’t wait to see the new Star Trek movie when it comes out on the 8th. From everything I’ve heard and from the trailers, this movie is going to be awesome.

But still, I just like Star Wars better.

The technology in Star Trek is like nothing ever seen before it. Who wouldn’t want to be able to transport themselves or and object instantly across huge distances? Who wouldn’t want to be able to replicate anything they want? And then there’s the holodeck. If this could be built in our time, it would be the pièce de résistance of all known entertainment.

On the other hand, Star Trek has the disadvantage of weak ships. How cool is it when your shields are down to 60% after one phaser blast? It’s almost embarrasing when you have this advanced society that can make just about anything, but can’t adequately protect themselves.

Star Trek may have the fancy, albeit cool, technology, Star Wars has the best weapons and firepower. Death Star, blaster, lightsaber, bowcaster — Star Wars has everything you could ever want to destroy anything.

I think the well-defined plot is what sets ‘Wars aside from ‘Trek for the most part. ‘Wars has the advantage of all the episodes being feature length, but are also tied together. With the majority of ‘Trek’s content being from the various series, there is only so much you can do with an hour when the episodes aren’t tied together by plot. The exception to that, however, are the ‘Trek movies.

I’m sorry, but anyone who thinks the Enterprise could take on and survive an attack from a Star Destroyer is crazy. All of the specifications around point to the Star Destroyer being about one kilometer longer than Enterprise (which is only about or a little more than 600m in the first place). Size advantage pretty much seals it for me, but the Star Destroyer also has a large complement of fighters. In my opinion, those fighters are going to be too small and fast for the Enterprise to be able to consistantly and accurately hit them.

These are just a few of the things that set these two storied sci-fi franchises apart. Like I said before, most of the allegiances betweent the two are based soley on opinion. Mine still stands by Star Wars.

You’ve heard how I feel, which side do you sway towards (if any)?


A Trip to the Park

I took a trip to the park the other day. Ritter Spring Park north of Springfield, MO to be specific. I decided to take my trusty camera along to snap a few photos of what I saw while I was there. I also wanted to see how well Google My Tracks GPS tracking for Android on the T-Mobile G1 worked on a smaller scale. It worked well (see map of the path I walked below).

I know that I don’t start and end at the same point. It was a little while before I thought of starting the application. On top of that, it’s a jumbled mess when you zoom in because I did a lot of backtracking to take some shots.

So, without further ado, the pictures. To be honest, I’m not even sure I was supposed to be walking down these paths because I was first greeted with this sign:

Park Sign: No Tresspassing?

Park Sign: No Trespassing?

And then the rest:

Dead Tree

Dead Tree

Running Stream with a Fallen Tree

Running Stream with a Fallen Tree

Bird of Prey: Hawk? Falcon?

Bird of Prey: Hawk? Falcon? Does anybody know?

A Group of Purple Flower

A Group of Purple Flowers

A Group of Turtles Lying on a Fallen Tree

A Group of Turtles Lying on a Fallen Tree

A Small Waterfall at the Edge of a Pond

A Small Waterfall at the Edge of a Pond

Facebook: What’s the Point?

Raise your hand if you have a Facebook. That’s silly… everyone has one. To be honest, most of the time I don’t even know why I still have it.

I was first introduced to the service in the fall of 2005. It was my freshman year of college and we had a contest on our floor. We join this website and the person with the most friends from our floor of the dorm would get a 2-liter of soda and some candy. I ended up winning the contest, but didn’t know who any of the people I became “friends” with were; nor did I care about finding out. That should have been my hint.

Since that time, I now have a little over 200 friends, of those I could probably count on my two hands the ones that I am in contact with regularly. And of those, I can and do interract with most, if not all, in other ways.

And therein lies the question: What’s the point?

The only reasons I can come up with are the “what-ifs.” What if I really need to get a hold of a certain person? What if I completely lose track and just want to say “Hi”?

Other than that, I don’t really know. It’s probably just the person I am and an anomaly compared to the masses.

What are your thoughts?

The Truth About Racing

The new season of Formula 1 racing is upon us. The F1 Grand Prix at Melbourne, Australia will start this year’s festivities. I became a fan about 4 years ago or so and I have to say that I could not be happier. Now, if you live in the US, you probably have a tainted view of racing on account of the whole NASCAR abomination. Let me start off by saying that it is my opinion that NASCAR is a disease to the racing world.

You may be thinking to yourselves, “Isn’t that a little harsh?”  The easiest answer is NO!

The basis of racing is the skill of the driver. Please, tell me how much skill it takes to have the gas on full throttle, turn the steering wheel the same direction, and sweat for three hours. An F1 driver, on the other hand, must actually use the brakes to slow down for upwards of nearly 20 turns per lap and know the optimal speed and angle at which to take said turn.

The “series of turns” are what makes a race interesting. They are also the true test as to whether a driver is worthy to race in the first place.

WARNING: I am about to lay down a harsh insult to any paved oval track racer (I will mention how Indy racing is slightly, and I do mean slightly, better than NASCAR later). I realize that some F1 drivers have made the transition to NASCAR, but I am unable to respect them as a result.

The insult in my own words: “Any monkey can drive an oval track.”

This is an insult because I am implying that a monkey could do a better job behind the wheel than the driver (I know, you really did need the explanation, right?). The curves on an oval track are so big, they’re practically straightaways and they easily run three-wide on them. If you don’t have to down-shift at least one gear, then it’s not a curve. Therefore, oval track drivers are (un?)glorified drag racers. Drag racing surely takes more skill by the way.

Next, comes NASCAR’s concept of “bumping.” I’d be lying if I knew the strategy behind it, because frankly, it doesn’t make sense. Basically, it just involves cars hitting each other, many times this results in crashes. I will note that crashes are the only thing that make NASCAR worth anything to watch, but bumping boils down to lack of respect for the car. You bump, you crash, you wreck a car worth more than most people’s lives (no offense), and these driver’s don’t care. For an F1 car, if you scrape against anything, car or wall or whathaveyou, something important (e.g. nose wing) will probably break off your car or the car may be beyond repair all together to remain in the race. I’d say that’s an incentive to pay strict attention to where you are.

Cautions, those dreaded cautions. There’s a piece of dust on the track, looks like we better put out a full course caution. Give me a break. The beauty of an open F1 course, there are almost exclusively local cautions. That means you don’t have to stop the race and waste precious laps because of the forementioned piece of dust. In fact, in the about four years I’ve watched F1, I have seen between two and four full course cautions. It has to be a bad accident for that to happen, but at least you get to watch an awesome Mercedes safety car drive around the track.

Weather almost goes hand-in-hand with the cautions. How can you not let the cars race in the rain. Tire companies make tires with tread. F1 gives its fans that satisfaction. A couple years ago, I saw an F1 Grand Prix at Hungary where the entire race took place during a rain storm and it was awesome! Only half or so drivers finished the race, but at least they let ’em give it the old college try.

I’m not even going to go into depth about NASCAR fans.

I mentioned earlier that I would explain why Indy racing is slightly better than NASCAR. Indy is cursed from the get go by racing on the oval. However, they do have the open-wheel factor in their favor. Indy drivers must also be careful to not hit each other. They also get props from me for not driving in a huge pack the entire race. Therefore, F1 > Indy > NASCAR.

Remember, if the race you want to watch has turns that go both directions, it’s okay to continue watching.

Thoughts About Sound

I started reading “Tell No One” by Harlan Coben last night (it was adapted into a great French movie by the way), and I came across this paragraph in chapter one that really got to me:

“But I remembered how the laugh and the howl and the splash would ripple and echo in the stillness of our lake, and I wondered if ripples and echoes like those ever fully die away, if somewhere in the woods my father’s joyful yelps still bounced quietly off the trees. Silly thought, but there you go.”

It was only the first chapter, but it stuck in my brain deep enough that I had to stop reading after I finished the chapter.

Now, I know that it is kind of a silly thought knowing that sounds do in fact dissipate, but what if conditions are ideal. What if you make a sound in a perfect room that does not absorb any of it; will the sound keep going forever? The sound will bounce off the walls, but what will happen next?

Will it bounce back as the same sound that bounced in?
Does it just expand enough that it’s so faint that we can’t hear, but still exists?

No matter how cool I think it would be if every sound ever made was still floating around somewhere, in one way or another, up in the sky, I think it could be possible if conditions are perfect.

First, sound is a wave, but it also emanates in every direction from the source. So, the sound is expanding in every direction and therefore losing intensity just by being emitted.

Next comes the point when the sound is reflected. Now, we are assuming that the room is ideal and the wall will not absorb any of it. I believe that there is a least one example that could keep the sound alive. This is shown in my brilliant picture below.

Sound Diagram

Imagine that the circle is actually a sphere with all the “sound” lines coming from every point except from the point of attachment. When it hits the wall is where things get tricky. If the wave hits at the crest (top of the wave) or trough (bottom), it should bounce back directly to the source and then back and forth forever (in my mind) as long as the source is of ideal material.

Now, if the wave hits the wall when it’s at some other point in between the crest or trough, it will bounce in any number of directions. That’s when the sound wave gets diffused by contact of various wave pieces going in those different directions and therefore the wave is eventually destroyed.

From my example, it all depends on the relation of the distance of the wall from the source and the frequency of the sound wave. Conditions have to be extremely ideal, so I would say that even with ideal material, it is unlikely for the sound to continue. And even though this could never happen for real, the nerd in me enjoyed thinking about this problem.

I would love to hear what everyone thinks about my theory or what your theories might be.

New Baseball Season

MLB spring training is in full swing and that means I’m as excited as a little school girl for the regular season to start.

I am a huge baseball fan in case you weren’t able to gather from my earlier post about NFL’s Pro Bowl. I am a Chicago Cubs fan to be specific (again, in case you weren’t able to gather, this time from the banner image though). The Cubs hold priority, followed by the Kansas City Royals. More importantly, however, I am a fan of baseball as a whole.

So, I want to give you all a few hopes I have for the upcoming 2009 season.

First, I would love to see the Cubs win the World Series. I know that is a little biased of me, but I’m a lifelong Cubs fan and the analysts’ comments on the 101 years and counting since a championship are getting a little old to say the least. So the Cubs winning is the ideal situation, the one thing I always hope for is a competitive Series. Nobody wants to see the Series be decided in four games (unless it’s their team winning), nobody. A long, competitive series, is good for baseball.

Second, I hope the World Baseball Classic (WBC) doesn’t have any ill effects on the season, mainly from injuries, but also from the time frame. Big injuries are never good for the game and you always want the teams to play to their full potential. Also, the WBC has pushed the start of MLB’s season back by a week, and subsequently the end of the season. We all saw how weather became an issue last year and that applies to precipitation as well as temperature. I just pray they don’t require the Series to be played in domed stadiums.

Third, I wish nothing but the best for the MLB Network. I wish I had access to it myself, but chances are high that it will be a long time before that happens in good ‘ole Springfield, MO. Regardless, the network is a good idea considering the success of NFL network, and the length of the season compared to the NFL.

Last, I know this is a vain hope, but I wish the steriod scandals would go away for good. It taints the game. Period. News of steriod use can make you wonder about anybody and everybody, even if the said party vehemently denies the accusation/suspicion/witch-hunt. That is why the news of A-Rod’s use saddened and angered me at the same time. Let it be known that I am far from a fan of the New York Yankees, but I had dreams of A-Rod’s legacy. He was going to wipe away Bonds’ tainted home run record. Who can I believe in now?

Well, those are some of my hopes for the season. I might have more later. If I do, I might even share them later. I can never quite tell what I am going to write about until I’m about to sit down and write it.

P.S. – Go Cubs!

New Pictures

I finally took the opportunity to take my camera outside to get some shots of more than just the items in my room. I don’t think anything else needs to be said, so here they are:

Barbed Wire Fence

Barbed Wire Fence

Woodchip Pile

Woodchip Pile

Hammons Tower

Hammons Tower

Softball Field

Softball Field