Middle Aged Dumpy Trek…

What can I say, I’m a Trekkie. (No, not that new age “trecker” crap. A real original Trekkie.)

Having watched pretty much every Real Trek a dozen times (despite essentially remembering them from the first run, one of the problems of high memory function…). So being someone who has strong “novelty seeking behavior” (since once I’ve seen something it can never be “new” again even a little bit…) I sought out the Fan Trek movies and series.

I must admit that, over the last couple of months, I’ve spent way too much time finding most of them, categorizing them, and then sorting the individual series into date order. Yeah, that bad…

It has it’s moments. Like Scots Trek! ;-) There’s something a bit bizarre about a Redhead Romulan with a thick Scots accent ;-)

FWIW, Star Trek Continues is a good one, as is the movie Of Gods and Men.

But there is another genre. Seen across MANY of the Fan Films. Star Trek Pudgy Boomer…

There’s way too much spandex and velour being draped over beer bellies and women of “robust” stature… This is an example, but far far from the worst. I can’t afflict you with the worst…

Yet, for some unknown reason, I’m compelled to watch them all…

I’m up to the “New Horizon” group in my alpha sort (by maker). And, truth be known, I’ve seen many of the ones beyond N already. Just now bothering to sort and organize them.

Several, unfortunately, have succumbed to (or created?) the current “Gay Guy Grope” genre. An obligatory Gay Guy Romance shoved in your face, want it or not. (Rather like Star Trek STD – yes, Sexually Transmitted Disease is their abbreviation, who would have thought they would “go there” in a Gay Guy Sexualizing series… where the Real Trek: Star Trek Discovery has a Gay Guys Getting It On theme spread (cough cough) through it…) Like this one, Hidden Frontiers:


Which, despite the Gay Guy Shoving It In Your Face sub-theme, and the mediorcre “remastered” green screen that has a green halo around older lower quality acting scenes against remastered backgrounds, it’s actually a decent script and a good story line. Adequately acted and a pretty good yarn.

Southern Drawl Trek caught me by surprise too. It seems Oklahoma is a hot bed of All Things Trek and the folks in Alabama and Arkansas pitch in… and the various Australian and UK Treks along with, even, Dog Fart Humor Trek:

Then there is the truly bizarre… but we don’t need to go there, do we Jim?

It’s a very odd world we occupy, we Trekkies…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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105 Responses to Middle Aged Dumpy Trek…

  1. President Elect H.R. says:

    OMG! That Flintstone Trek was priceless! I had not seen that before.

    Now they need a South Park Trek. 😜

    Must show the Mrs. She’s the Trekkie in the family. You know you’ve married a Trekkie when you buy her a Star Trek Christmas tree ornament as a special gift… and she loves it! Hugs! Kisses!! And ooh-lah-lah!!!!!

    P.S. to E.M. – She pretty much mirrors your take on the various versions of Star Trek; what was good, OK, and plain cringeworthy, and for much the same reasoning. I’m thinking that the cash receipts say that most all the other Trekkies feel much the same. It’s been noted that the producers can’t move on fast enough from the flops, but they do keep trying because of their loyal fan base of all ages spanning decades. Cha-ching! when they hit a winner.

  2. President Elect H.R. says:

    And I have to add, no matter how cringeworthy, Mrs. H.R. has to watch it for at least a few episodes, even if it’s only to trash the effort.

    Me? I’m anticipating a BLM and Antifa Trek as the next series. (😜, sort of, but would not be surprised)

  3. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    I’m watching every STD episode… but… it is Friday and I might not get a round to the Thursday episode until next Tuesday.. or 2 weeks from now. That shows in the statistics…. I watch it as an “opportunity to toss rocks at it” not as an “Oooh I like it!” experience.

    In fact, I like several of the Faux Trek series more. Quite a lot more, really. I’ve watched somewhere around 30? hours of Faux Trek this week, and not yet got around to the 1 hour of STD… Think about it…

    “Maybe next week” is fine for STD…

    I mean, really, they ripped off a crummy video game for the plot core (“Big Blue Tartigrade ‘spore drive’ around the universe”? You think that’s not an obvious rip off?) then have a “2 Gay Guys Emote TOOO much” sub theme? Do you really think that there are that many Gay Guys wanting to revisit their failed relationships to attract a big audience with that gush crap? It is just something an 8th grader would write who has no real world experience nor a grasp of reality. BUT, I said at one time I’d watch all Real Trek Series, so I do. Even if some are 20 x (TOS) and some or “One Time Only”…

  4. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Well, H.R., since you like the “outside”, try:


  5. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    The original “all about that bass”

    and my favored “cover” / parody

  6. Ron Clutz says:

    Off topic, but you could no doubt make more sense of this deposition regarding the US election:


  7. Jim Masterson says:

    Speaking of old things Star Trek. I have an old, IBM mainframe load module of a Star Trek game. It’s all done with text–no fancy graphics like today’s games. It belongs to a class of old Star Trek games–they were called Super Star Trek back then. I ran the load module through a dis-assembler of mine and reconstructed the original FORTRAN statements. Since I didn’t have a FORTRAN compiler, I converted it to C/C++. Later, I converted it to Java and made it into an applet–which I placed on my website. Unfortunately, applets are not supported by browsers now, so I’m thinking of converting it to Javascript. Unfortunately, Javascript isn’t very OOP and JPanel’s not really a thing either. The silly game is still fun to play and brings back memories of TOS.


  8. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Ron Clutz:

    The PDF link would not show, just pasted in, so I wrapped it in some HTML and now it works.

    Interesting deposition. Looks like they had some decent OSINT guys digging at it. (Open Source Intelligence or what you can dig out just digging on the internet and other public sources). The also spidered the network nicely.

    IMHO, the biggest thing this does is lay the foundation to use the E.O. per foreign influence. Not just the foreign servers connected, but that China owns the security patents. How can you trust an election device where China owns the key security I.P.?

    IMHO, this gives Trump all he needs to use the 14Th Amendment coupled with the E.O. to set aside this election result, and start the process to round up the culprits.

  9. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Jim Masterson:

    I think we had that at UC. It was sucking up most of the mainframe as it ran “real time” even if you didn’t make any moves (i.e. a K for Klingon would just cruise into your “sector” on the screen and start shooting at you…)

    They did a re-write of it to NOT run real time, only reacting to your “moves” that saved a lot of cycles, but wasn’t as much fun.

    IIRC, it was in Animal Science Lab where they had the Tektronics Storage Scope terminals where it was most played. (Green screens where you could draw an image and it would persist without redraw).

    How many lines of FORTRAN or C was it? If small enough, you could post it here and I’d compile it for the Raspberry Pi… (I don’t “do” Java stuff… and really don’t want to learn Yet Another Language…)

  10. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Never Mind… Looks like others have already “gone there”:

    There’s a Python version, and I “speak Python” now:


  11. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Oh Gawd… the original in HP Basic. I remember reading this back in the middle 70s…

    Which I’ve now saved and can trivially translate to FORTRAN… or I could just install BASIC…


    Golly, I could run the original code As Is for a full on retro experience. Not only that, but the Boroughs B6700 was also a multi-processor machine (though only 2 cores IIRC) and of almost the same word length (56 bit instead of 64… it has some bits reserved for security stuff so you needed the ‘I can change things’ bit set in each instruction executed to do systems programming stuff, or even run the ‘special’ compiler that was used to build the OS with features not in the ‘regular’ ALGOL…)

    OK, I’m set with something to do for the next few weeks ;-)

  12. Ed Forbes says:

    Prelude to Axanar
    All time best. I like the script and acting better than the original

  13. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Ed Forbes:

    Unfortunately, Paramount stepped on them before they could make the actual Axanar movie. So all we have is the promo / trailer… A whole bunch of the best Faux Trek folks just stopped when Paramount got pissy. Leaving series hanging. Renegades promised to be good in a dark way, but Paramount said “No Real Trek Cast Members” (that I think must violate some labor law or other…) so it was stuck with no main star. Hidden Frontier ends with the season 7 ending “to be continued” mid-battle .. and never returned.

    Then, given what they’ve done to really screw up All Things Trek, it has caused me to hate Paramount. I get a bit of a stomach knot when I see their name / credits…

    I wonder… IF every Trek Fan pitched in a couple of $$$ if we could just collectively buy it from them and do it right…

  14. Jim Masterson says:

    @V.P. Elect Smith:

    My FORTRAN code are scribbles on computer printouts. I never actually wrote the FORTRAN code into a computer file. My old C++ code is so buggy, that I’m not prepared to share it. I’ve worked a lot of bugs out in my Java code. I’ve also added some improvements. I think there’s too much code to share here. It’s up to our host if he wants to deal with it. In fact, I’m not sure how to deal with it–probably a zip file.


  15. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    And the answer is, um, no joy…

    I installed “bwbasic” and tried to run the original HP Basic.
    It barfs on an undefined “TIM(0)” function that I think is a built in time calculator that isn’t built in in bwbasic, and when that is coded out, it barfs on line 420 that is a chain array assignment (that I think does not exist in regular BASIC).

    So “some porting required”… Maybe I’ll just get the Python version…

    At one point in the ’70s I did work as a professional programmer and they had me write some software in HP Business Basic (which was really cut down Pascal forced into the BASIC spec, sort of… complete with BEGIN END blocks, functions, subroutines and all) but it really isn’t a language I want to revisit, and certainly not one I want to translate into even more primitive plain BASIC… or one with loads of incompatible “extensions”.

    390  S1=INT(RND(1)*8+1)
    400  S2=INT(RND(1)*8+1)
    REM  410  T7=TIM(0)+60*TIM(1) 
    410  T7=60 
    420  C[2,1]=C[3,1]=C[4,1]=C[4,2]=C[5,2]=C[6,2]=-1 
    430  C[1,1]=C[3,2]=C[5,1]=C[7,2]=C[9,1]=0
    440  C[1,2]=C[2,2]=C[6,1]=C[7,1]=C[8,1]=C[8,2]=C[9,2]=1
    450  MAT D=ZER
  16. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    As there were only 4 lines of “chain assignments” I went ahead and turned them into single assignment per line… and it still barfs on line 420 as:

    420 C[2,1]=-1

    Which leads me to think it just doesn’t like arrays… or has a different array handling syntax. Whatever. I’m off to a different language…

  17. I’ve seen at least two of the different fan series. The first one was presented as if it was Season 4 of TOS, they even opened with the NBC peacock and the voice over saying “The following program is presented in living color.” Another series featured Grant Imahara (from Mythbusters) as Sulu. I’m sure there were others. I’ve got a couple fan movies I’ve never watched. As far as the current Star Trek franchise goes, I wasn’t too impressed with Discovery and haven’t read much good about Picard. As far as Trek replacement type shows go, The Orville on Fox Network isn’t bad at all, and I’ve always liked the movie Galaxy Quest as a sort of parody of TOS.

  18. ossqss says:

    STDTrek? LOL

    I have yet to watch the latest CBS streaming “make me pay” Trek series. Even after I discovered the free monthly codes.

    I do look forward to the 5th season of “The Expanse” coming on the 16th of Dec however. Last year they dumped all the episodes at once. I hope they don’t do that this year.

  19. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Ah, clue:

    Note: As implemented under bwBASIC, DIM accepts only
    parentheses as delimiters for variable fields.
    (Some BASICs allow the use of square brackets.)

    So at least I know what’s likely the cause. And, as bsBASIC has oodles of flags to set when you compile it to change what all is in or out, and as there’s no telling what’s in or out, I think I’m well justified to just do a full re-write in some other language OR just use the Python one (if it works).

    Fighting unknown spec differences between two different unknown language specs is not my idea of a fun time. I’d rather just write…

  20. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @PrezElect Pinroot:

    I absolutely love The Orville and can’t wait for a new season of it.


    STD is not worth paying to watch. They recently released season one to broadcast and even free it was beaten by 2 RERUNS of game shows. You already know the winner, there’s no suspense with the questions. And it beat STD in the ratings… I watch it (one time per episode only…) out of a sense of duty to my former pledge to “watch every Trek” and then only with a sense of dread about it all.

    Plot, what there is of it, centers around the emotional broken character of the staff ( I hesitate to call them “crew”…) and their traumatic interactions. Lots of introspection (done in such a way as to never actually gain any self awareness…) and lots of interpersonal angst (especially in the “2 Gay Guys” relationship. From what you see on TV, any time there’s 2 gay guys they have the emotional development of a 13 year old girl and behaviours to match… no doubt for the “drama” of it. “Drama Queens” comes to mind…). Toss in rude crew dissing other crew and lots of personal betrayal / angst to fill it out. Then they toss in a “Good vs Evil” Bad Thing Happens, then a non-sensical seqway into “Pew peww peeewwww” phaser fight or similar “action scene” and in the end it all goes just fine, don’tcha know…

    Rather like the plot arc you would expect from a teen author. “And then they have a agument and then “pew pew pew” a gun fight and then somebody needs to kiss and then…”

    Oh, and the whole thing is decorated in what can charitably be called “Sciency Fantasy” stuff. Planets with blobs of mountain floating in the sky (ala plagiarizing Avatar) a giant blue tardigrade based “spore drive” (plagiarized from a video game – I mean really, they want you to believe TWO people independently came up with that? Oh, and the key characters have matching characters too…) and bar scenes (lifted from Star Wars ideas no doubt) in rustic out of the way space places… and more… Very unlike the Star Trek requirement that all future tech have some root in current theories about what might be possible. Very unlike the Trek rule that there would be no staff angst / issues between workmates.

    Picard is a little better (they stepped in and did a ‘do over’ on the general plot direction and theme after realizing things were tanking; so after the first few that were already “in the can” it improves). It does a little bit respect some of canon. Has way too many “nostalgia walk ons” trying to save the basic show. Picard himself gets all non-Picard like emotional. Gratuitous cussing tossed in to try and generate “buzz” (and fails…) Has all sorts of “logical failures”, like a supposed Data type android that can do ‘magical things’ reminiscent of bad Chinese Fight Movies (like jump up a couple of feet then magically fly forward 30 yards… in a flat trajectory…)

    I’ve checked about every 3 months to see if there is a new season, but only when I’m already checking something else, so in the neighborhood. I’d not notice if they just cancelled the show…

  21. President elect A C Osborn says:

    You Trekies may find this sacrilege, but have you watch the spoof Film Galaxy Quest?
    A very good comedy take on Star Trek type programs.

  22. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Prez Elect AC Osborn:

    In my experience, Trekies love Galaxy Quest. I know I do. I’ve watched it a few times, and very few movies get me to watch them more than once, very very few more than twice… In fact, I think I’ve watched it more than some of the Star Trek movies… actually, I’m sure of it… the later “lots of swooping movement with flash and bang” movies, the new Kelvin timeline?, I’ve only ever seen once. Might work better on the small screen, but in the theatre they just made me wince and feel dizzy… I don’t need an assault on the senses to think the special effects are good.

  23. Pouncer says:

    I’m not sufficiently fanatical to do so myself, but I understand Trek Fans count “Galaxy Quest” among the canonical ST movies, to ensure a cyclic quality theory works correctly.

    “Star Trek [movies] 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 – [are] considered bad and 2, 4, 6, 8, – [are] considered good. But then 10 is bad when it should have been good and 11 is good when it should have been bad, going by the rule. Now toss in “Galaxy Quest”, which came out after Insurrection, making it number 10…”

    So Quest is not only “good” but necessary to salvage the pattern.

    Quest has some marvelous “missing scenes” that were saved from the cutting room floor and archived to youtube. Worth finding.

  24. philjourdan says:

    WE original; Trekkies be getting old! I do no see pudge. I see old aged spread.

  25. philjourdan says:

    @Jim Masterson – I remember that game. I hacked it so that when I accidentally warped out of the galaxy, any course I took would get me back in. I also increased the number of star bases so that I could resupply more often, I had a lot of spare time on the terminals in my senior year.

  26. philjourdan says:

    @EMS and AC Osborne – ditto on what EMS said. I like Galaxy quest! Just as I like Bored of the Rings.

    Check that one out!

    And I made no such pledge on Star trek, so have not watched STD (the venereal disease of the Star trek Universe).

    What every iteration of the Star Trek universe had in common was 2 things. A chemistry with the bridge crew and eh aversion to war. The violations came with the aversion to war (once Roddenberry died, DS9 became a war) and Enterprise (no chemistry). So they are my least favorites.

  27. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    There was also an implied nobility of purpose and folks (modulo red shirts… ;-) were expected to be centered and competent at their jobs.

    This Star Trek Dystopian filled with emotionally fragile people in conflict with their lives and with no clarity of morals or purpose just flounders, IMHO.

    Then in the first season of STD all the dialog was delivered like set pieces. Everyone would “hit their mark” then stand there repeating lines. Just stoopid. The latest has them moving a bit more (yes, they actually can walk and talk at the same time now, sometimes…)

    But, as of this season, “Everything you know is wrong. Again.” For entirely idiotic reasons, they flew the whole ship 900+ years into the future, where, surprise, they find out “The Burn” happened, almost all the dilithium blew up (taking all of the Star Fleet ships with it) and the Federation is a few hundred people hanging on at HQ. Oh, and everyone is suspicious of everyone else… and slave trading happens…and Pew pew Pew a gun fight, and then somebody has to kiss someone… See, all different!

    So now they have a free hand to change everything. Isn’t that clever? (NOT!)…

    They have all sorts of magical tech now. But still can’t quite make FTL space flight common again… except when it makes the plot easier to write… Sigh.

  28. philjourdan says:

    You are right – NOT.

    Just like Chris is NOT

  29. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Uh, Phil, a bit of context? I have no clue what you’re talking about…

    Are you saying Chris Pine is a bad James T. Kirk?

  30. FWIW, Pluto.tv has a Star Trek channel (150) that shows mostly TNG reruns along with movies on weekends. Star Trek: Nemesis is on right now.

  31. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Prez Elect Pinroot:

    Golly! I’d not looked around the dial at Pluto in a while. They’ve added a lot!

    There’s a 007 channel (50) running Bond films, then that Star Trek channel at 150.



    British TV: https://pluto.tv/live-tv/british-tv

    And several retro like: https://pluto.tv/live-tv/70s-cinema

    I think I need to look over their listings more often…

  32. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    OMG! Classic Comedy is playing Red Dwarf right now! I’ve missed Red Dwarf…


  33. @VPElectSmith – Re: Pluto.tv- Lately I’ve been binge watching the Johnny Carson Channel (514). The oldest one I’ve seen is from 1974 and the most recent from 1991. One that really stood out was with Anthony Quinn. He said his wife made him wear a tie because Johnny and Ed wore one and it was uncomfortable for him. Without saying a word, Johnny reached up and started untying his tie and removing it. Ed followed suit, along with the other guest on the show. Quinn just laughed and removed his tie. For some reason, it was a really special moment.

  34. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    It is that classic midwest hospitality thing. Guest is uncomfortable, reason is tie, spouse blame an issue, so just quietly remove the problem to make the guest comfortable…

  35. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Why I’m not fond of Python, reason 25 or maybe 30… It’s just so wordy…

    Size of BASIC version of StarTrek game:

    ems@OdroidN2:~/STk$ wc ../Desktop/StarTrekBasicSrc.txt 
      645  2922 19046 ../Desktop/StarTrekBasicSrc.txt

    645 lines, 2922 words, and 19.046 k Characters.

    The Python version? Well, first off, it’s now 8 programs instead of just one…

    ems@OdroidN2:~/STk$ wc * 
       55   261  1397 st_course.py
      104   291  2016 st_device.py
      162   415  3278 st_game.py
       91   291  1784 st_input.py
      299   724  6676 st_main.py
      203   661  4350 st_quadrant.py
      384  1231  8361 st_sector.py
       12    26   176 star_trek.py
     1310  3900 28038 total

    About double the total lines at 1310, words go up about 30%, and total characters blows out to 28 K or 47% more.

    This is an improvement? (Don’t get me started on the whole obscurity of hiding things in classes and all…)

    But, OK, it’s another version. I’ll see if it runs tomorrow…

    FORTRAN is looking better by the minute… I can dump a bunch of lines from the BASIC by rewriting it to avoid the “goto foo” and such lines that make up a lot of the control structure into a more dense form. We’ll see how I feel about that tomorrow…

  36. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Well, I lied. Figured I’d just toss it at Python then go to bed after the first error message. “python star_trek.py” proceeded to run, AND I did a short and long range sensor scan. Saw a Klingon, fired a photon torpedo and killed it…

    Unfortunately, my next instinctive move was to hit S instead of 2 for short range sensor scan and this caused the game to barf:

     === SELECT COURSE ===
     4 3 2
     5 E 1
     6 7 8
    course(1-8) >8
     4 , 3
     5 , 4
     1 = L.R. SENSOR SCAN     2 = S.R. SENSOR SCAN
     5 = SHIELD CNTRL         6 = DAMAGE REPORT
     7 = WARP ENGINE          8 = IMPULSE ENGINE
    command(1-11) >s
    Traceback (most recent call last):
      File "star_trek.py", line 11, in 
      File "/home/ems/STk/st_main.py", line 35, in start_game
      File "/home/ems/STk/st_main.py", line 50, in command_loop
        cmd = self.game_input.input_command()
      File "/home/ems/STk/st_input.py", line 26, in input_command
        cmd = input( 'command(1-11) >' )
      File "", line 1, in 
    NameError: name 's' is not defined

    So, OK, it worked, but the bounds checking / fail recovery of input sucks.


    I’ll get back to it tomorrow. Then decide if I want to “roll my own” short and efficient, or just glue on a bounds / input checking bit of python…

  37. I think I had this game as a young adult, which is basically a hardware version of the same game (maybe on a slightly larger matrix).

    Re: Pluto.tv: One thing I’ve noticed about them is that on some of their channels they only have a certain amount of episodes, so if you watch some particular channel for a while, you might notice that you will eventually see “reruns”. If you wait a few weeks, new episodes will show up. I’ve seen “reruns” on the Star Trek, MST3K and Johnny Carson channels, among others, but after a few weeks, new episodes do show up. Although, the Star Trek channel seems to be mostly TNG seasons 1 and 2. :( But then, they have an Addams Family channel, which only had 64 episodes (32 hours of programming), and it’s been on for months. But, it’s free, so there’s that.

  38. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Prez. Elect Pinroot:

    Looks like your game was Star Wars while this one is Star Trek… but similar ideas.

    Per Pluto:

    As a ‘live’ real time ‘broadcast’ they have to expect that much of their audience is not watching at any one time, so they repeat the episodes until everyone has had a chance to find / watch it, then “move on”.

    In the era of “On Demand” TV, that became cumbersome and not what The People wanted… so Pluto has added an “On Demand” section (switch at the top of the menu page to choose live vs on demand). I’ve not explored the On Demand area as much as I ought. But I will.

    The big feature of Pluto, for me, is that I can get it on any computer I have and I have their app installed on my Tablet. Nothing like being stuck in an airport with zero to do for a day waiting for your flight to be rescheduled… and realizing you have Pluto + free wifi + Tablet… so can check news other than CNN and entertain kids with cartoons and later on watch Johnny Carson at the bar and…

    At home, I find their level of commercials a bit too high for preferences, so tend to watch other stuff on the Roku (or did, until it died…). OTOH, I can still keep up with the blog by just hitting mute and swapping tabs for a few minutes ;-)

    One big feature of it for me is that they often have things I just don’t otherwise have. Like the Red Dwarf episodes. (For the 007, we have a set of tapes and DVDs… but somehow Red Dwarf never got bought and now I doubt it’s still being packaged… but have not cared quite enough to find out.) Or the Johnny Carson reruns… Also some quirky stuff, like the train that runs all over Norway. Soothing in a strange way… Just a train and the tracks and countryside…

  39. Jim Masterson says:


    I don’t doubt your hacking skills; however, my game didn’t allow you to leave the galaxy. It was called an attempt to cross the negative energy barrier. You got a pass for two tries. The third try lost you the game–with a comment that your navigation is abominable. The galaxy was an 8 by 8 grid of 64 quadrants.

    I agree that the low number of starbases is a pain. Two to four bases (depending on the random number generator) just isn’t enough for some games.


  40. philjourdan says:

    @EM – I was actually agreeing with your comment. But I see that fell flat. and yes, Pine is a terrible Kirk.

  41. Compu Gator says:

    Ahhh, yes!  The BASIC programming language, invented at Dartmouth, by John KemΓ©ny & Tom Kurtz. Knew it well, yes, indeeeeed.  Its Dartmouth Time-Sharing System [♦] became the programming environment for many early computer games, notably “Star Trek“.

    Alas, KemΓ©ny & Kurtz waited too long to incorporate their own string-handling, which was needed to facilitate the manipulation & display of ordinary text in those games. That might be no surprise to programming-language specialists who are aware that both earned their Ph.D.s in mathematics, which often seems to afflict such academics with tunnel vision that considers mathematical results, e.g., finding prime numbers and calculating greatest common divisors, to be engaging challenges for teaching introductions to computer programming. Need I answer with an explicit nottt! ?

    Ahhh, so!  Geographic biases struck again! 
    β€’ Altair BASIC (later marketed as Microsoft BASIC), by Harvard drop-out Bill Gates, would follow the BASIC-language extensions developed for string-handling in BASIC-PLUS by Massachusetts minicomputer manufacturer Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC).
    β€’ Atari and Apple, the latter of whose 2 active founders were alumni of H-P, would follow competitive BASIC extensions by more-or-less neighboring Silicon Valley electronics manufacturer H-P.

    The “Star Trek” text-game began as programs written sequentially in 2 incompatible versions of BASIC by Mike Mayfield [🌠]:
    β€’ The 1st version (1971–1972) was for a Scientific Data Systems (SDS) 32-bit Sigma 7 mainframes. This was back in the days when it was a preciously rare privilege for a guy who was then merely a high-school student to get repeated access to a mainframe computer.
    β€’ The 2nd version (October 1972), more widely distributed, was written in H-P (Time-Shared) BASIC for its H-P 2000 minicomputer series.

    Then Bob Leedom at Westinghouse ported the latter version to a Data General Nova 800 (another, quite different, minicomputer manufactured in Massachusetts) that was unused after-hours at his workplace. He dramatically expanded it, naming his program “Super Star Trek“. It was this version whose distribution eclipsed the originals by Mayfield (perhaps rather quickly).[**]

    A version in ANSI-C can be found (if one must) of “Super Star Trek” at a Web page that’s still accessible as of today: “The Classic Super Star Trek Game”, by Tom Almy [***]. The similarly-purposed pages by a Chris Nystrom are no longer accessible, not even via the provided archive links.

    For environments like Win. 9x, see other links in the low-on-page section that’s sensibly titled “Links” [🌠]. I haven’t verified their accessibility; I figure I’ve done enough on-topic on-line research for today.

    Note ♦ : The Dartmouth Time-Sharing System, running on General Electric mainframes, was commercialized as the GE Timesharing System, which at least mostly seemed to use Teletype ASR-33 keyboard-&-printer terminals equipped with the paper-tape reader-punch option. It offered BASIC, “FORTRAN II”,  and maybe an Algol-60 for programming.

    Note 🌠 : Mayfield began brainstorming his original version as a high-school senior in what he describes as his “1971” senior year (1972 graduation deduced from HP-35 details below). His Sigma 7 mainframe acct. was at U.C. Irvine, via a Teletype ASR-33. Mayfield couldn’t have started his port (which he describes as a “rewrite”) to H-P 2000 BASIC until summer 1972, because his purchase of an HP-35 calculator [#] provided the informal contacts who provided access to an H-P 2000C.[*]

    Note * : Games of Fame “Star Trek: To boldly go… and then spawn a million offshoots” (blog-entry author not explicitly identified, but a Maury Markowitz inferred from comments):  https://gamesoffame.wordpress.com/star-trek/. Includes excerpts from corrective correspondence directly from Mayfield himself, which makes this more authoritative than program-header comments as published by Ahl.

    Note # : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP-35.

    Note ** : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek_%281971_video_game%29.

    Note *** : “The Classic Super Star Trek Game”,  by Tom Almy (2007):  http://web.archive.org/web/20081014043001/http://almy.us/sst.html. Being rewritten from DEC pdp-11 FORTRAN, with incorporation of Almy’s own bug-fixes and enhancements disqualifies it from being literally “The Classic”,  but ponder these: Bug-fixes and “still accessible”.  Maybe even I ought to download it while I can be sure that it’s “still accessible”.

  42. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    I go the first line as agreement ;-)

    It was Pine that lost me… I guess I never really noticed him as Kirk. Then again, maybe that’s something a Good Kirk would not have happen… Hmmm….


    Um, gee, I got an HP-35 calculator for my first year at UC, in 1971-72. Perhaps they were a little earlier release out here near H.P.?…

    Don’t remember my exact year of purchase, though, but I do remember it being about as close after “available” as possible ;-) And costing a small college kid fortune…

    [Correction: I remember wanting one my first year, but I also relied on my trusty slide rule for my first couple of rounds of chem… It was a couple of years later than the want when I was able to satisfy the urge and buy one. So I saw, handled and used a friends when they first came out, but wasn’t able to buy one until prices came down… But I do still have mine. In a box somewhere…]

    FWIW, I’ve fixed misspellings and a bug in the Python (had two directions coded with ‘6’ when one was supposed to be 6 and the other 8 on two diagonals on the same side.

    Also fixed spelling errors (hey, Japanese guy… so damege vs damage probably not obvious…) and ‘nergy’ in one place where ‘energy’ was expected.

    It seems to accumulate damaged things rather quickly for no reason (even when just standing still) but also fixes them fairly randomly fast. I also raised my allotted energy by a factor of 10, increased the odds of a Star Base from 1/2 to 3/4 of the time, and gave myself a 5 x on photon torpedo load-out ;-)

    It’s a little bit fun to play, and I’m getting out of the habit of pressing letters (I’m pretty sure the one from way back used ‘s’ for short range and ‘l’ for long range sensors, at least that’s what my fingers want to do…)

    At this point I’m finding it more “limited” than the one we had at UC. I suspect ours had been “upgraded” by computer students ;-)

    Thanks for the pointer to Super Trek. I may give it a try. (Rather than re-work someone else’s Python2 code…)

  43. Compu Gator says:

    Ahhh, yes!  The HP-35. It quickly became the prestige tool for engineering majors who could afford their multihundred-dollar price tag, or who had generous parents (ahem) who could afford them, or pretend to. I’ve thought for decades that ownership of that tool, or its successors, drew a sharp line that divided 2 generations of engineering students.

    Hey-ell, I still recall a summer job as an engineering draftsman in 1971, during which the office’s head engineer proudly showed off his latest purchase: A hand-held battery-powered calculator [#], add, subtract, multiply, and divide only, for ca. $500!

    I never owned an HP-35, nor any hand-held battery-powered calculator as an undergrad. I was among those left behind, using slip-sticks: the widespread slang for slide-rule(r)s. But by the time H-P was shipping that 1st wonder calculator, I had bailed out of engineering, and into computer science, which eliminated potential future needs for either category of calculation devices. No more kicking the feared “Thermodynamics” course into distant future academic terms. Say halleluya!

    Note # : That ca. $500 primitive calculator, which I vaguely recall as bearing the Sharp brand from Japan, was more-or-less the length & width of a modern cell-phone, but at least 1 inch thick.

  44. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    I had gotten a job by my 2nd year and was making enough money I could finally afford one. Tuition then was $210 / quarter and included medical coverage… Yes, I worked my way through school. Likely cost me about a full grade point. B instead of A. Something about working 30+ hours a week that takes away from study time and prep time… Oh Well…

    I actually liked my slide rules more than the HP for most stuff, especially Chem. By then I’d been using it for about 4 intensive years. (In high school we started out with learning the slide rule in chem class. Teacher had a big 6 foot long one hung over the chalkboard…) I was faster with the slide rule than the calculator. Where it was a big win was in precision. No more 3 digits only. Plus any function not on the slide rule. It was also a win for lots of addition of numbers where you needed full digits. Helpful in my non-Chem classes. I still have my sliderules too…

    I’ve also bought the same 6 inch model that went to the moon on Apollo as the “backup computer” ;-O

    Unfortunately, I no longer have the “better than 20-20” needed to get 3 digit precision reliably out of the 6 incher.

    I carried a simpler 6 inch, in leather case, even into the 80s. Hidden in a pocket most of the time. Still carry the Concise circular one from time to time… as long as I have my glasses around or it is a bright day…

    The HP had the battery pack give up the ghost decades ago. I think the contacts are corroded too. Yet the slide rules just keep on working…

  45. Re: Chris Pine – I just didn’t get a Kirk vibe from him, but I think Zachary Quinto as Spock was pretty good, and Karl Urban, somehow, without looking like McCoy, managed to capture his essence.

    Calculators: My first was a National Semiconductor. It did RPN, which I was never comfortable with. For tech school I had the TI-55, which was decent. I went back to school about 15 years ago, and we used TI-85 (I think) which is a graphing calculator, which was pretty nice. I don’t think I’ve ever owned an HP (that RPN thing again).

  46. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    I think heavy slide rule users were more fond of RPN. In both cases you need to think about “setting up the problem” then the minimal key strokes or slides to get the result. Algebraic entry is more comfortable for folks who want to just read the formula and key it in in the order presented.

  47. President Elect H.R. says:

    NO calculators in H.S. All slide rule.

    I remember my brothers and I went with dad (an engineer) in the very late 1960s to buy a handheld calculator. (He had a beautiful ivory slide rule (K&E, I believe?) in a hard leather case, which my 2nd oldest brother now has.)

    Anyhow, back when, engineers were paid – oh, just guessing – $2 dollars or $3 dollars and something an hour? He paid several hundred dollars for a handheld calculator that added, subtracted, multiplied, divided, and did roots! It was a big deal going down to buy it; sorta like buying a color TV when they first came out.

    My oldest brother has it, and it still works!

    I was done with school by the time graphing calculators came out. My son had one in H.S., but I could never figure it out. Too %$#@! many buttons. I could read the problem and visualize the solution faster and easier than trying to find all of the functions and buttons on his calculator.

    He got help from his buddies and teachers on how to use the thing because, as I mentioned elsewhere, I just devolved into using *ahem* highly inappropriate language when trying to use it. The frickin’ instruction manual was as thick as a few of my college texts!
    I had a solar-powered TI-35 that I used mostly for trig functions (much faster than flipping through tables) and the odd statistical calculations. I forget what my first calculator was. It was battery powered and the batteries would die at the most inopportune time.

    I got so used to the TI-35 that when it died, I tried another calculator – yuck! – and pitched it as soon as I found another TI-35. They do crap out. However, they kept getting cheaper and over the years, I have acquired SIX of them at $8 to $10 dollars each. I will never have to use any other type of calculator until the day I die.

    Y’all know how it goes. My boss at one company had a similar calculator he used all through his college engineering school days and into the working world. The numbers were worn off the keys of that sucker! It did not have trig functions, either. He’d look up the angle in his little pocket book of trig functions and punch it into the calculator. Yes, he did all the common angles from memory and was faster than most who had calculators with trig functions. You know how it goes. He’d be lost if that calculator ever died and he had to buy something newer.

  48. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    The keyboard I use most on the R. Pi’s has the letters wearing off. About 1/4 of them gone already. Good thing I touch type… When I look down at the thing, I get lost ;-)

    In H.S. I knew the values of some common functions for common angles. That’s evaporated now… Oh Well.

    I remember clearly the first time, in Chem class of all places, we turned to the Log Tables in the back of the book and were told how to use them. It was an OMG! moment for me. Such insight and beauty in a table of numbers other kids were groaning over… I still have a copy of that book (they were updating to new books and these were being given away…) Pgs. 574 and 575. Looking at it now…

    Somewhere between that moment and Geometry class was when I found a love of mathematics. Later transferred to programming too. FORTRAN IV let me do all that same stuff even faster…

    Strange thing is that since about 1995? 2000? I’ve not seen that same Ah Ha spark about math in students. My Son got A’s in math and even did Advanced Placement Calculus, but I never got that “I just love it” vibe from him. More of a “Neat trick, easy to do, OK, watch me do it.”… Most of his H.S. class just seemed like kids waiting to escape into the real world.

    Or maybe I just didn’t get to see the Geek Squad at his school.

  49. rhoda klapp says:

    Sin 45 deg, = 0.7071
    Log 2,= 0.3010
    log 5 = 0.699

    From memory and I last had that little book in the 1960s.

  50. President Elect H.R. says:

    What about 27.8 deg., Rhoda? 😜
    At the place I retired from, we made hydraulic tube assemblies for excavators and forklifts. The drawings gave the XYZ coordinates of the endpoints, the distance between straights, the bend radius, and the bolt patterns of the fittings, which were rarely at 90 degrees in relation to each other.

    All of our competitor companies would bend the tubes, cut them to length, then weld on the fittings. You need skilled welders for that. Our expertise was that we welded on the fittings while the tube was in the straight condition and then bent the tube to its final form. We got better welds from our rotary welding machines and could use much lower-skilled welders. We’d hire someone off the street and teach them how to run the welding machines.

    My task for tube bending was to figure out the feeds and the plane and bend angles, which are different from the print angles (never given) due to stretch during the bend and springback of the material. I also had to figure out the orientation of the fittings to each other when they were on the tube in the straight condition. That was usually a bit different from the calculated orientation due to distortion of the tubes during bending.

    Anyhow, it was a challenge and that’s why most other companies bent the tubes (fairly straightforward), fixtured the tube, and then welded on the fittings after.

    Lots of daily trig at that job.

  51. jim2 says:

    I didn’t find love for math until trig. It was a beautiful, self-contained system – start with the unit circle! And my love matured with calculus. I thought it was beautiful too. There is so much more math I’ve never even heard of. A rich man might have the kind of time needed to explore it, but even then …

  52. cdquarles says:

    Ah, yes, the days. I had a slide rule in HS. The *teacher* had a calculator (principal’s better half). I used my slide rule for years. I did get a calculator at the University, a programmable TI 59, if I am remembering correctly.

    This heavy slide rule user never much cared for RPN, though I could use it.

    My third year at the university cost me graduating with honors. Full schedule with comparative anatomy + physical chemistry (more than just thermodynamics) and working, too. I did land my best job that year, as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the summer.

    My main regret now, looking back on it; was stopping at differential calculus to get a minor in biology (not that biology wasn’t useful later). My youngest loved mathematics and optics, so when he was at the university, I found myself learning linear algebra and the like to help him; stoking said regret.

    @ our host,
    Yes, the tables in the back of the chemistry books were wonderful. I bought a CDC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics while at the university. I lost it in a move. I shudder to think what those cost now.

    My mom’s dad knew a lot of tricks (though only got through 6th grade during Jim Crow) he picked up himself as a brick mason and carpenter. He also had a slide rule :). His story is one of the reasons why I say education is not warming a seat in a school; but something you get as much of as you want it. “You can lead a horse to water, but can’t make him drink. You can lead a child to knowledge, but can’t make him think.”

  53. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    I picked up a “Rubber Book” somewhere along the line. It’s in a box somewhere too… Spent a good many years just rummaging around in it. Remarkable what all you can learn from it.

    Mine is one of the older nearly cubical shaped ones, with small up/down side/side dimensions printed on “bible paper” like stock. Not the newer big PDR like ones on thicker paper. I think I got the last year of that shape. Gold-ish cover IIRC.

    I’ve noticed that a lot of trades have a lot of ‘efficient math tricks’ that academics don’t know or use. My favorite example is the “casting ruler”. Any casting shop will have various rulers for various substances. They have the shrinkage coefficient built in. So if you need the final size of a brass piece to be 10 inches, you measure 10 inches with the brass casting ruler and pour… So you only need to do the shrinkage coefficient math once. Similarly, IMHO, a lot of the discussion of “how much the ‘foot’ varies” in the ancient world is just “different feet for different uses” and the archaeologists didn’t know that. Like the difference between the Imperial Gallon and the U.S. Gallon. The U.S. gallon was the “wine gallon” of the English system…

    A wine gallon is a unit of capacity that was used routinely in England as far back as the 14th century, and by statute under Queen Anne since 1707. Britain abandoned the wine gallon in 1826 when it adopted imperial units for measurement. The 1707 wine gallon is the basis of the United States’ gallon, as well as other measures.
    Some research concludes that the wine gallon was originally meant to hold 8 troy pounds of wine. The 1707 British statute defines the wine gallon as 231 cubic inches (3,790 cm3) – e.g. a cylinder 7 inches (178 mm) in diameter and 6 inches (152 mm) high, c. 3.785 litre – and was used to measure the volume of wine and other commercial liquids such as cooking oils and honey.

    Yes, 8 troy pounds ’cause wine is valuable like gold and silver ;-)

    (For milk, “a pint is a pound the world around”… and wine has similar density… it is measuring it with plain water that’s the mistake and gives an 8 1/4 pound gallon).

    Trades have to use the measures and math, so find ways to reduce the work.

  54. Jim Masterson says:

    The 1707 British statute defines the wine gallon as 231 cubic inches (3,790 cm3) – e.g. a cylinder 7 inches (178 mm) in diameter and 6 inches (152 mm) high . . . .

    Why not just a right rectangular prism, or a rectangular parallelepiped, or even an orthogonal parallelepiped (all the same thing basically), with edges 3 inches by 7 inches by 11 inches?


  55. President Elect H.R. says:

    @cdquarles – My grandfather on mom’s side on made it officially through 2nd grade and I believe he was 11 or 12 when he finished that. Farm kid. Was only allowed to go to school in bad weather or just whenever he could be spared from the farm, so he attended when he could. He loved learning and was a lifetime reader. That was typical around the early 1900s.

    He learned to read, write, and cipher. Besides addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, he was adept with fractions and decimals due to dollars and cents.

    It was pretty amazing what he learned just paying attention to everything and picking things up, mostly while working or asking questions about someone else’s work when his path crossed theirs.

    My grandfather was a Back East townie and attended school through 8th grade. After that, you went to work. His sister did get to go to H.S.

    My grandfather and his dad went to Oregon to homestead, but I think they were late to the party and couldn’t get a suitable site. So they lumberjacked 2 or 3 years and returned home back East.

    He’s another one who loved learning and read as much as he could. The math they taught up through 8th grade then, plus some drafting for the boys, was sufficient for any trade; carpentry, masonry, machining. He was a sheet metal worker for 56 years at the same company and had to know his basic trig for angles and bend radii. And blueprint reading. Again, that was taught to most boys so they could produce stuff.

    What I noticed is that in the 1800s and early 1900s, formal education was a coveted thing. Kids had to work to contribute to the family and most, not all, but most were eager to go to school and learn. As and Bs and Cs actually meant something then, and most people were pleased with their C-average kids, particularly if the got a few Bs and the odd A,, because that was good enough to succeed in most trades and maybe start your own business.

    Anyhow, I know exactly what you meant about your grandfather, and he probably knew as much and more than today’s H.S. graduates with 2 years at a technical college. He could have probably taught his trade(s) in one of today’s tech colleges and no one would ever know he only completed 6th grade.
    Oh, and I note, being in manufacturing: any of the C-student H.S. grads of the ’60s and early ’70s were more prepared for manufacturing than a lot of the recently graduated engineers that I had to shake my head over and send a nice “Sorry, but good luck with your search” letter to. And recent H.S. grads are hopeless. We had to teach them everything and write work instructions on about a 5th or 6th grade level, let alone having to get them back up to speed on very basic arithmetic.
    /”when I were a lad” rant ;o)

  56. Power Grab says:

    @ President Elect HR re:
    “It was pretty amazing what he learned just paying attention to everything and picking things up, mostly while working or asking questions about someone else’s work when his path crossed theirs.”

    That’s kind of how I amuse myself these days. But whenever I try to share the stuff I’ve been puzzling together, I frequently get a reaction that feels to me like the person is saying, “Who the heck are you? Where are your credentials? You have no right to talk…”

    It’s all about credentials these days.

    My grandmother used to glibly just pop off, “Just do it!” whenever I talked about a thing I thought should be done. But it usually involved trades that had established credentialing, and I never would have thought I could tackle the project in question. But 100 years ago when she was growing up, that sort of credentialing (if it existed) was in its infancy.

  57. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Jim Masterson:

    What shape is a wine bottle… round you say?…

    It’s all about the wine ;-)


    My Dad’s Dad would load the truck with hogs and head to market. There was a hill.

    My Dad reports that when he was a kid his Dad would note the point where he had to downshift on the hill, then in a few seconds say how much they would net at market. Yup. Calibrated the hill climb => truck pounds-load. Knew $/pound likely that day in the market. Did the mental math and CaCHING! He was usually very very close… I’m pretty sure his formal education was “nearly nill” as he was an apprentice blacksmith to HIS Dad so needed no school time to be profitable. (His Dad was a village Smith, while he, Grandad, was Smith to the local Amish with the smithy on his farm and married an Amish girl. Dad learned to smith from his dad, but professionally did other things. I like playing with fire and hot metal ;-)

    Dad almost finished high school (went to war W.W.II instead of his last month…) but could tell you the sq.ft. in an acreage without drawing a breath… (43,560 sq.ft. /acre times fractional acres…) I think to about 3 decimal places. He was U.S. Combat Engineer and both blew up and built bridges from Cherbourg to Germany. (including offloading at a beach on about the 2nd or 3rd day of the invasion and doing bridges down to Cherbourg- he wasn’t sure which day as the time at sea was more or less continuous with the events). He’d look at a German bridge via binoculars, estimate the steel needed to replace it after it was blown in the German retreat, and calculate the steel to load. Then they would advance, and build the replacement bridge. Don’t know what all math he did, but pretty good job of estimating ;-) I suspect his time in the smithy was helpful in getting him that job ;-)

    I have a great fondness for the competency of the 1800s Generations and even into W.W.II generation. After that, it seems a long slow decay.

  58. President Elect H.R. says:

    @Power Grab – Oh yeah… it’s all about the credentials.

    My wife, about 15 years into her career, would sometimes mentioned that she could not apply for her own job. They wanted certificates, degrees, credentials.

    She was a PC geek and guru (I always had the latest PC tech. She was an early adopter, hang the cost.) because when PCs first started showing up in the workplace, many women, and it was mostly women at the time, were given them to use as their boss instructed. The pointy-haired bosses did not understand or want to fool with or use the things.

    My wife was support to a group of geologists; a secretary, though I think they weren’t using that title anymore. So she did the letters, reports, and one very cool project where she was using a program to map the underground stratigraphy of the State based on well cores that drillers were required to preserve. That was a 3-year project. She also produced an annual report, heavy on graphics, that summarized the state of the oil and gas industry in our State.

    The geologists didn’t know much about the mapping program, so when bugs popped up she had to figure out what was wrong to get things moving again. And no one with ‘credentials’ would lower themselves to do ‘word processing’ so if they needed a report with graphics, they’d describe what they wanted and give her a sketch and some data and tell her to get back with them when she was done.

    Then PC networks made their entrance and they were always buggy and glitchy. Again, no one knew much and she had a knack for figuring out what was wrong and how to fix it. She soon became the very few go-to persons in her Department of a few thousand people for set-up and trouble-shooting.

    They finally got around to forming a crew of PC and Network admins and she was one. Sadly, they had about 4-dozen people but only about a half-dozen were competent. She worked for the State doncha know and that’s just how it was. Couldn’t get promoted either, because then they’d lose one of the people who got things done while the others looked busy and somehow never managed to complete a project, which finally would get done when they sent her to ‘help.’

    So yeah, by that time the people they added to the PC and Networking group had to have credentials and she could not have applied for her own job.

    BTW, a lot of the early PC and network geeks were women just because they started as secretaries given PCs to do their job and told to ‘make it work’. Some became quite the experts.

  59. Jim Masterson says:

    @V.P. Elect Smith

    It’s simple math as they say. A cylinder with a 7 inch diameter and 6 inches tall works out to be roughly 230.907 cubic inches. Whereas, a rectangular parallelepiped 3 inches by 7 inches by 11 inches comes to exactly 231 cubic inches. I believe the definition of a gallon is 231 cubic inches and not roughly 230.907 cubic inches. I’ve seen wine sold in boxes–cheap wine, but wine nonetheless. Also, the rectangular parallelepiped gives you just a tiny bit more–if you happen to like wine.


  60. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jim Masterson:

    I wasn’t advocating for the cylinder, nor asserting in 1707 they had 5 digit precision. Just pointing out that in 1707 wine was shipped in round things (barrels, butts, bottles, …) not squares of glass.

    So since the wine gallon was for shipping wine, I’d expect the definition to be round thing friendly.

    Also note that exactly 8 troy pounds of wine will occupy slightly different volumes based on temperature. I’m pretty sure their thermometers were not accurate to 5 significant digits then.

  61. philjourdan says:

    I would rather have wine out of a square of glass than a butt!

  62. E.M.Smith says:


    I’d rather skip the square glass and get the butt load:


    The butt was an English measure of liquid volume equalling two hogsheads, being between 450 and 1060 litres by various historical definitions.

    A butt approximately equated to 108 imperial gallons (130 US gallons; 491 litres) for ale or 126 imperial gallons (151 US gallons; 573 litres) for wine (also known as a pipe), although the Oxford English Dictionary notes that “these standards were not always precisely adhered to”.

    The butt is one in a series of English wine cask units, being half of a tun.

    So while I’d not want to drink directly from a butt, I’d rather have one than not…


  63. philjourdan says:

    I know what the old Butt was, but I do not want to go around saying I drank a whole butt of wine!

  64. E.M.Smith says:

    I knew you knew it, I was extending the joke…

  65. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Tee Hee…

  66. Steve C says:

    @E.M. – “a pint is a pound the world around” … It isn’t, you know! In Britain, “a pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter”, or so I was taught over half a century ago, immediately before the UK “went metric” in the early ’70s (a process which continues to this day!). This came about when our ‘Imperial’ measures were adapted slightly so as to be a little more compatible with metric units, for trade – our ‘New Gallon’ is a shade under 5 litres as a result. We also used to share H.R.’s grandad’s facility with fractions when our money went in 12s and 20s, but modern teaching methods seem to have removed that ability. When I was at school, a 7″ single record cost 6/8d – a third of a quid. Easy!

    Re people’s competency “even into W.W.II generation”, I forget which of our popular science presenters said it (Heinz Wolff?), but he made the observation that until WWII, the average man could easily understand and repair all the technology around the home, but after WWII, things became so specialised that today the average man is almost completely unable to repair, or understand, any of it. It’s a valid observation, and its truth is endlessly frustrating to us would-be ‘Mr. Fixits’.

  67. p.g.sharrow says:

    Steve C, Boy and how ! I was once able to repair and operate anything made by the hand of man, Now days ?????? AND you got to have a license ! What the hell has this world come too? Now I’m only allowed to dig ditches with a shovel. ! ? ! ##@# and my training is considered worthless….pg

  68. Jim Masterson says:


    Your comment raised some interesting points. I checked the history of PI and in 1699, PI was known to 71 places. That and the fact that how to calculate the volume of a cylinder was known to Archimedes means the powers to be in 1707 should have know the cylinder was slightly smaller. They had the ability to calculate the size even if they might not be able measure to that level of precision. Leave it to government to tax for a full 231 cubic inches while giving you a measuring device that slightly short-changes you.

    A temperature difference between supplier and consumer could swamp the minor measurement errors due to a smaller measuring device. However, if you compare the two measuring items side-by-side, then a temperature difference would be negligible. The cylinder would still be slightly smaller.

    Finally, I didn’t know there was a requirement to measure round containers with only round measuring devices. I guess that would imply that rectangular containers can only be measured with rectangular measuring devices. The things you learn!


  69. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    Yes, I know that the English & Irish side of my family have “moved on” to less perfect units of measure ;-)

    Mum taught me to do pence and pounds and shillings when I was a little kid. (I’d made the mistake of asking about it when some document she had in hand stated the fee had been some number of shillings… then asked about the other bits…) I found it a slightly complicated but convenient system (for the same fractional ability reasons).

    Anything you intend to divide into bits is best handled with a system rich in common factors and via fractions, not in a decimal system (2 and 5 only as factors) and floating point math. In the old systems of measure, you find lots of factors for a reason.

    5280 ft in a mile has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 20, 22, 24, 30, 32, 33, 40, 44, 48, 55, 60, 66 and a whole lot more as each of those has the complementary number such as 96 x 55 to yield 5280… so 5280, 2640, 1760, 1320, 1056, 880, 660, 528, 480, 440, 352, 330, 264, 240, 220, 176, 165, 160, 132, 120, 110, 96, 88, 80

    Now with that rich a set of factors to the length of a mile, a whole lot of distances can be given as exact fractions. Compare 1/3 of a km… 333.333333333333 etc. meters. Don’t get me started on 1/11 of a km… but 1/11 of a mile is 480 feet.

    The missing factors in the low numbers tend to be a few primes and some multiples so 7, 9 (3 x 3), 13, 14, 17

    So for some less common things you can get a 1/3 remainder or have a decimal value anyway (like 1/7 or 1/13) but for any of the common fractions folks tend to use a lot, it’s exact and easy. Lets just say I’d rather be dividing up a plot of land between 6 brothers with miles on each side vs one with km on each side… (4 brothers and 3 sisters not so much…)

  70. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Jim Masterson:

    I did not assert it was necessary to measure round with round, just that were one busy doing Pi round calculations it would be easier to scale that up to another Pi round thing. “Round thing friendly”. Calculating a bigger round thing from a round thing spec is more direct than turning a cubical thing into a round thing. Want 2 gallons? Make it twice as tall…

    What is possible is rarely common. So while it was possible to do calculations out to great precision at that time, it took a very long time with a learned person, paper, and pen. On a dock unloading a ship and in a winery loading barrels you will not get that. “For all practical purposes” matters. Also, Pi was commonly used as a fraction (as the math is much easier and by choosing your fraction you can choose your precision) so I’d not be surprised to find that the standard cylinder calculation was “exact” using 22/7 or 355/117 or other common fraction for Pi. For a standard all you really care about is that it be easy to replicate, useful, and “close enough” (precision suited to task).

    For measuring wine in the 1600s to 1700s being accurate to 4 decimal places would be way more than “close enough” and the ease of making a cylinder of the appropriate size for scooping with would make a round “standard” a very convenient thing.

    I don’t know why you want to count these particular angels on this particular pin, but nobody in 1707 would be getting knickers in a twist over a 5th decimal place rounding error in their jug of wine. People today didn’t notice that a 1/5 of wine became 3/4 of L and life went on.

  71. E.M.Smith says:


    Part of that is due to many things no longer being made by “the hand of man”, especially electronics. Parts too small for you to hold get placed on boards and soldering done via a specialized machine using a wave of solder in motion. Trying to repair these things is nearly impossible.

    Robotic welders can reach places no human can reach.

    Honda uses an exotic “slush casting” method to make pistons of an alloy and strength not otherwise possible. Requires machine control. Attempts to repair via heating destroy the properties.

    And on it goes…

    We are in the age of robotic assembly and construction.

    Per licences:

    Yeah, bothers me too. Can’t screw one pipe into another? Is the licence to assure you know “righty tighty”? A licence needed to braid hair?

  72. E.M.Smith says:

    3.5 x 3.5 = 12.5

    12.5 x 22 / 7 = 38.5

    38.5 x 6 = 231

    So yes, a 7 x 6 cylinder is exactly 231 cu inches IF you use the common fraction of 22/7 from that era for Pi. Essentially they chose their precision as 3.14x for Pi. (3.14285 instead of 3.14159…).

    I can’t fault them for that. I can’t require that they use moden precision and calculation methods in 1707. I can admire the winery workshop friendly of a standard that works with the common math of the day with all the precision they needed..

  73. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Note how fraction math makes this easier:’

    Pi x R^2 x H where R is 7/2 inches.
    22 /7 x (7×7) / (2 x 2) x 2 x 3

    Then cancel:
    2 x 11 / 7 x (7 x 7 ) / (2 x 2) x 2 x 3
    11 x 7 x 3 = 11 x 21 = 220 + 11 = 231

    Something a 1707 winery worker or dock worker can do.

  74. rhoda klapp says:

    Typo there, not 12.5, 12.25. Because the square of something ending in a half must end in a quarter, which I’m sure you use as one of your sanity checks.

  75. rhoda klapp says:

    ..which would be a tell of someone used to and good at arithmetic. You don’t just work it out once, one way, you try a couple of ways in your head as a check. Which I find just doesn’t work as well with metric because I started in imperial, I find the potential for order of magnitude errors is more with metric.

  76. E.M.Smith says:


    Yup, worked the problem right, but got a transcription error making it pretty in the typing. 12.25 gets you the correct 231 answer.

    Problem of trying to read a tablet up close without glasses…. you can tell when I’m using the tablet as typos go up a lot. I catch a lot of them, but not all.

  77. Jim Masterson says:

    @ V.P. Elect Smith:

    I guess I’m slow. I didn’t realize you were the site host. Impressive use of the incorrect PI value of 22/7. I believe (according to Willy Ley in “The Borders of Mathematics”) the Egyptian value of PI from the Rhind Papyrus (where they squared the circle) was 256/81. Not very accurate, but as they say: “Close enough for government work” (and surveying).


  78. President Elect H.R. says:

    This isn’t part of the Trek franchise, but the Mrs. is watching a series called “The Expanse.”

    Has anyone caught that one yet? I’m paying 1/8-attention to it and a few interesting things have happened, but I can’t tell anyone much about it.

    So far, First Lady Elect Mrs. H.R. seems engaged with it.

  79. President Elect H.R. says:

    I went to get a link to the IMDB (sorry, I forgot in prior comment).


    It’s in its 5th season. I did not know that until a few minutes ago. I thought it was new.

    And it’s all about our fully colonized solar system two hundred years in the future.

    What struck me, in the most recent episode the Mrs. was watching, I caught that they suspected that aliens had sent a “God Molecule” or something like that to the solar system. (Remember, I’m only paying 1/8-attention) The reaction was something like “Gee. We may not be the only life in the universe.”

    So from that, I gather there are no Star Wars-type bar scenes in the show and in another 200 years from now we still haven’t found any other life in the universe.

    Oh! And instead of phasers going pew-pew-pew, they use good ol’ semiautomatic pistols. It did cause me to wonder why they seemed unconcerned about putting holes in their protective huts, as I gathered the shooting was going on away from Earth and there was no atmosphere.

    Oh! Oh! And I caught one (fairly tasteful) glimpse of boobies, artfully draped, just because they can do that on an Amazon show.

    The script writers prolly discuss how long it’s been since showing a little boobie. “Four episodes, is it? Well let’s throw in a little bit of skin in the next one. Gotta keep the good ol’ boys and switch-hitting girls in the audience from losing interest.” But maybe it’s more racy than that. I dunno actually from just glancing at the show now and then.

  80. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Prez Elect H.R.:

    I’ve seen a fair amount of The Expanse. Florida Friend was really into it… so when I was there watched a bunch.

    IMHO it’s pretty good up until the point that they start having the Magic Molecule segments. Magic Molecule makes Magic Goo that causes all sorts of mayhem and “stuff”…

    It’s an OK McGuffin of sorts, but really, in a show that was Really Really Good up to that point at having things fairly closely track real physics, chemistry, and likely future engineering, to suddenly toss in a Fantasy Magic Bit is just sort of jarring to those of us who like our genres relatively clean.

    But it is what it is.

    Overall, I liked it. Way better than many, most. Hard to jump in in the middle though as a lot of it builds on prior episodes. Best is to start at the beginning.

  81. President Elect H.R. says:

    I don’t know where the Mrs. started. When she’s watching “Season 3, Episode 6” she knows to go back to the start.

    She may have been watching it from the beginning and picked up where she left off. There was a break in production as I understand it.

    Her recent viewing picked up before the Magic Molecule showed up, and perhaps that’s why I found there were some interesting bits.

    I have to agree; when the possibly-alien molecule showed up, it started getting more than a bit ridiculous to my 1/8-attention and I dialed back my “look up from the ‘puter and check in” even further.
    Side note: you made fun of the poor, immature plot lines above, something about Jr. High-schoolers writing the plots.

    Yup. Some shows are so formulaic that I tell the Mrs. what’s going to happen next, and I’m right far, far more often than wrong. I don’t think she likes that because it’s sort of pointing out that she falls for the same fake-surprise plot twist every time. “How’d you know that?!? You aren’t even watching the show.”

    OTOH, and in defense of the Mrs. and millions of others, I suppose it’s like someone’s favorite story or joke. They never get tired of it. But for me, I can only be delighted maybe two or three times when I turn the handle on the jack-in-the-box and the little clown pops up out of the top. It loses its luster pretty quickly with me.

  82. Simon Derricutt says:

    The Expanse is the filmed version of James S.A.Corey’s series starting with “Leviathan Wakes”. I was given that book, and found it good enough to buy the next ones in the series (I have 7 so far) with the “magic goo” being acceptable as a way of getting over the physics problems. Probably the books are a lot better than the films, though I might enjoy the films in a trekky sort of way though the actors would be unlikely to match the book descriptions.

    The book explanation of the Magic Goo is maybe better than the film version, given the information density available in DNA. OK, so there’s still maybe an overload of information density involved, and the ability to create some super-strong materials, but then again look at what a dust-sized tobacco seed can produce, or the multiplication of a single cell into a complex animal with instincts to do certain things, and that teeth are the hardest known organically-produced material, and maybe this sort of thing is possible. I’m not certain that wormhole-type transfers between different locations in space are not possible, or indeed that any of the other stuff in the book is actually impossible either. In fact, I’d expect some more things to be possible fairly soon that aren’t part of that future science, as regards methods of space drive and how we obtain energy, as well as transmitting data FTL (and travelling FTL too). As space-opera goes, apart from the Magic Goo results the rest of it is an extrapolation of what is currently accepted as possible, rather than pushing the limit of what is speculated might be possible. It’s really about how people might react given a different level of science and possibilities, in much the same way as Star Trek was. Maybe a bit extreme chance involved in getting such high-performing individuals together by chance, but then such competent people do exist and it’s not beyond chance that they would form a team.

    Maybe worth getting the first book at least to get the background before watching the series. I recommend the books, anyway. Kind of hard to put them down….

  83. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    I think that, IIRC, the movie “Magic goo” explanation was weak. Just sort of a “it came from far far away and it’s really complex and interesting and AAHHHKKK It’s ALIVE and EATING THINGS!!!” Or maybe I wasn’t watching closely when they said the word DNA in passing…

    I expect that the book does a far better job of making it an acceptable McGuffin…

    @P.E. H.R.:

    One of the things I liked was that just when you started to think there was a formula, they do a “change up”. Add another conflict player, change the drama point. These will be sort of random memory order but, for example:

    Just when you think it’s an “Earth vs. Mars” thing, they add the “Belters” in a 3-way conflict including asteroid miners. Then you get a conflict inside the groups about just how strong they ought to hate each other (from we’re all human to go get ’em boys). At the point where all that wears thin, the Magic Goo shows up and the plot line shifts (like Magic Goo or not…). IIRC there’s even a “rag tag group” on a ship of mixed earth, mars, belters running around. Hard to predict that kind of stuff. Then it shifts between Big Scale Drama planet vs planet to inside the ship interpersonal conflicts.

    So IMHO well worth watching as a sci Fi show, but the Magic Goo point makes it a “different show” from that point forward.

    @Jim Masterson:

    The use of “V.P. Elect …” hides my being the blog runner. When I use my “accepted” credentials on the other machine, it flags me with the Blue Box… I’ll go back to all blue all the time whenever a Real V.P. Elect shows up…

    22/7 is NOT incorrect.

    This is an extremely important point. Be it in Decimal or Fractions, you are just choosing your precision in an irrational number that can NEVER be stated “correctly”. It never ends and it never repeats.

    So the use of 22/7 is simply a statement of 3 to 4 digit precision. They knew the other available fractions for higher precision, so it was a choice to make “easier math for practical users in the field” over “a lot harder math with precision they don’t need and can’t really use”.


    22/7 beats the commonly used 3.14

    “Technically, 22/7 is better than 3.14 (which the USA Pi Day).”

    This is crazy. Out of 1000 iterations, the best value was at n = 467 (with an estimate of 355/113). Nothing better after that. Also, it is odd that there is a group sort of evenly spread out between n = 200 and 500. What next? Oh, you know. If running it up to n = 1000 is cool, what about n = 10,000? Yeah. I am going to do it.

    The graph is dumb, so I am not going to include it. If you run this to 10,000 you don’t get a better estimate. Crazy. Well, maybe not too crazy. I just realized that maybe my Pi is not accurate enough. Ok, I still think I have a nice fractional representation of pi.

    But asking a guy in a wine warehouse to do math with 355/113 is unlikely to end well…

    311/99 *
    355/113 *
    Maybe you already see it. The fractions with the * indicate that one of the numbers in the fraction is a prime number. 223/71 has two prime numbers. Coincidence? I think not.

    Doing fraction math with big primes becomes problematic. One must resort to long division or big multiplication as the numbers get big.

    So yes, they could use more digits of precision, but at a big cost of usability and not much improvement in result.


    Truncating the continued fraction at any point yields a rational approximation for Ο€; the first four of these are 3, 22/7, 333/106, and 355/113. These numbers are among the best-known and most widely used historical approximations of the constant. Each approximation generated in this way is a best rational approximation; that is, each is closer to Ο€ than any other fraction with the same or a smaller denominator.

    Then it rapidly blows up into way big numbers:

    Fractions: Approximate fractions include (in order of increasing accuracy)
    .[31] (List is selected terms from OEIS: A063674 and OEIS: A063673.)

    I think it’s pretty clear that you don’t want to afflict doing 52163/15504 x R^2 x H on a guy wanting to turn a 1 gallon standard into an 8 gallon measure (when he could just double diameter and height of full inches instead, so 14 inches x 12 inches and bend metal into a cylinder…) and do it all “in his head” as I just did.

    Essentially, they chose 3.141 instead of 3.141592 (as rough guesses) or 3.14150 for 333/106. ALL OF THEM ARE “WRONG” as they are not infinite. But all of them are useful and to use them you must choose what precision you think appropriate for your task.

    Note that the Egyptian value you cite becomes 3.16049 per my calculator, so not as accurate as 22/7 which is 3.1428 per my calculator (so close to 3.141 and only slightly away from the ’rounded up’ value of 3.142). So really the case is that the Egyptians had not found the better value of 22/7 yet. The wiki has a good listing of the historical values found in use.

    The earliest written approximations of Ο€ are found in Babylon and Egypt, both within one per cent of the true value. In Babylon, a clay tablet dated 1900–1600 BC has a geometrical statement that, by implication, treats Ο€ as 25/8 = 3.125. In Egypt, the Rhind Papyrus, dated around 1650 BC but copied from a document dated to 1850 BC, has a formula for the area of a circle that treats Ο€ as (16/9)2 β‰ˆ 3.16.

    Astronomical calculations in the Shatapatha Brahmana (ca. 4th century BC) use a fractional approximation of 339/108 β‰ˆ 3.139 (an accuracy of 9Γ—10βˆ’4). Other Indian sources by about 150 BC treat Ο€ as √10 β‰ˆ 3.1622.

    So you have a lot of values in use depending on their level of understanding and needs.

    BTW, I’m “beating this to death” not because of anything you posted, but because I’m a “math geek” sort. Just “into it”. I was playing with this history of Pi a good 40 years ago “just because” it was interesting to me. There was a big fuss when a more precise fraction was found somewhere around the 1700s (history I’ve forgotten)… that had 4000 ish in the top number IIRC. It made a splash then as a usable and more accurate approximation for fractional math. Newton had a very interesting way to find Pi:
    that will interest the math geeks in the room…

    FWIW, at one time I could “do pi” out to 3.14159265356 OK, checking that by memory against the wiki, I was off in the last digit. It’s an 8 not a 6. Rounding it up to 9 would be more accurate. Ok Well, only 11 digits now. “Close enough” for anything I do.

    For anyone interested in the zillion and one ways to find an approximation of Pi:


    Be Forewarned: People can go, and have gone, down that rabbit hole to the exclusion of the rest of their life. Don’t go there if you can’t haul yourself back.

  84. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    I suppose all that long “down the rabbit hole” could be summarized as:

    Today we know Pi to millions of digits, but don’t use it for anything. We use much shorter values, commonly 3.14 and sometimes up to a dozen digits, chosen by the precision we need. No value is exact, all are “correct enough” for our uses if we chose the precision we need to match the Pi value chosen.

    In 1707, the value 22/7 was used. It is more precise than our commonly used value of 3.14 and very “fraction math friendly”. It makes excellent sense for the period and is often better even today than using 3.14 as Pi.

    Pi is always a choice, never exact. Always absolutely wrong, often more than right enough for our needs.

  85. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    Not necessarily.

    A LOT of humor depends on tone of voice, facial expression, posture to give a clue that it has /sarc; in it or ;-0 instead of dead pan serious. All that is removed by text.

    Thus the arising of /sarc; tags and ;-0 emojies and more. To clue that there is humor here so folks do not default to serious.

    You may well be quite good at humor, just not l33t… (LEET or geek stuff…)

  86. Compu Gator says:

    I remember physical chemistry as the course that chemistry majors feared most, and kicked as far into their future academic terms as possible. I suppose that was to avoid subjecting themselves to its reputed brutality until they were confident that it was the last significant barrier to earning their bachelor’s degree in chemistry. So they’d delay it until the spring term of their senior year.

    My knowledge is only vicarious, from my junior year, via a roommate who was a chemistry major in his senior year. Serious anxiety and other stress in advance of the final exam, but he did pass and get his degree.

  87. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    Ah, yes, physical chem… One of my college chums was Chem Engineering. He basically said Physical Chem was when all the hypothetical bits got set aside. How does a catalyst work? Atoms of this and that adsorb onto the surface and “everything is different”… as the surface fields change the reactant fields and the energies change and “magic happens” ;-)

    He didn’t seem to fear it as much as the Chem Majors, but then again, he was an Engineer… and they already took the harder calculus, the harder physics, and the harder …. (I know because at one point I thought I’d get an engineering degree so took the Engineering calculus, physics, etc…)

    But yeah, “it’s different”… yet central to Chem E. as using catalysts is a huge part of production chemistry and physical chem is pretty much how catalysts work.

  88. Compu Gator says:

    E.M.Smith replied on 4 December 2020 at 2:07 am GMT:
    Thus the arising of /sarc; tags and ;-0 emojies and more. To clue that there is humor here so folks do not default to serious.

    Uh, huh.  Maybe you’re right about that! 

    I read somewhere–maybe in Wikipedia–that there was once a writer named Samuel Clemens. Even after adopting the pseudonym Mark Twain, his attempts at humor were an abject failure. But he began to enjoy major success as soon as his editors began inserting “/sarc;” and “emojies” into his writing.

    I also read that comparable “/sarc;” and “emojies” insertions by editors were responsible for rags-to-riches turnarounds for the writers H.L. Mencken, Art Buchwald, and Dave Barry. And on the Old Side of the Pond, for someone named P.G. Wodehouse. At first, some, like Twain, accused the typesetter of being drunk on the job; the rest of them protested the editors’ alien character clutter. But none of them could argue with their newfound successes.

    As Paul Harvey would say: “And now you know … the rest of the story.”

  89. President Elect H.R. says:

    First rate 😁, Compu Gator. Well done.

  90. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    Nicely done.

    But I must point out that in the era of Mark Twain readers were more careful and even then, many missed the humor. So in Twain you find he often ‘goes big’ (sometimes after playing you along for a while) to make his point clearer.

    I’d also note that your typical web poster is not in the same class as Twain…

    So with both readers and writers a “child of a lesser god”, they often need a bit of help.

    Emojis and tags are necessary crutches for the mind on the internet.

  91. President Elect H.R. says:

    Well, First Lady Elect Mrs. H.R. did stumble across The Expanse and did recognize that she needed to start at the beginning of the series.

    So she’s been binge-watching starting at the beginning. I think she’s on season 3.

    Meanwhile, I’ve upgraded from paying 1/8th attention to paying fully 1/3rd attention. It’s pretty good! (She’s watching her 4th episode of the evening and I’m typing this note instead of giving the show my rapt attention… and so it goes.)

    Anyhow, for a show set 200 years into the future, the characters remarkably resemble the current ethnic mix. There are Asians, Latinos, Indians (India Indians, not the Woo-woo-woo scalp the wagon train type), Western blacks, and some get down Reggae Jamaican types.. oh… and the usual array of vanilla, Wonder Bread white folks.

    Per our discussion not that long ago of the early dispersal of humans throughout the planet and the fact that very few people nowadays are pure “some ethnicity,” I would expect that in the next 200 years, the World population would converge to a comingled, muddy, light yellow-brownish eyes not almond shaped yet not round Heinz 57 almost all alike One-World ethnicity.

    We should be celebrating the “muttness” of us all in 200 years.

    So, the series disappoints. I’d go for the entire cast being coffee-colored if they really wanted to sell what the human race would look like 200 years from now.

    It’s 200 years later and they are casting according to identity politics.

    Ah well… I suppose the casting Directors have to work with what we have now.

    OH! It just hit me; I’m not seeing the usual emphasis on gays, lesbians, and trannies. I haven’t noticed any so far. But that makes sense because there would not be much of an Earth/Moon/Mars/Asteroid population in 200 years if every kid and his brother was gay. The population would soon drop to zero; not a successful evolutionary pathway.

  92. Jim Masterson says:

    @President Elect H.R.:

    You got me interested in The Expanse. I started at the beginning (of course). It was interesting at first, but after six episodes I’m getting bored–just get on with it! I don’t really care about UN’s (Earth’s) problems; or about Mars’ problems; or about OPA’s problems; or about Ceres station’s problems; or about Holden and his little voyaging group’s problems. Maybe episode seven will be more interesting. I guess season four (if I ever get there) is the final season.


  93. President Elect H.R. says:

    @Jim Masterson – I don’t disagree with you. It’s really the Mrs. watching it, though there’s enough interesting bits happening that got my attention level up a bit.

    I agree with you as to what makes it hard to watch; too much interplanetary skullduggery and Palace intrigue going on.

    I did catch the part where the Marine Sargent chick was remembering under chemical enhancement the attack where everyone else in her squad got killed. She said the attacker wasn’t wearing a vac suit, meaning (cue dramatic music) it was a non-human alien!

    OK. That was interesting, but then I haven’t noticed anything more about that, dang-it.

    I guess I’d call it 30/70 science fiction/space soap opera. If the ratio ever reverses, it would definitely be a good show to watch.

    Simon Derricutt mentions above that it’s based on a series of books, which he says are quite good. In books, the characters’ thoughts can be laid out. In video form, the people just stand around and emote, so you’ve got to guess at the point of it all. Books are almost always better than the screen adaptations made from the books.

  94. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Jim Masterson:

    It picks up after all the stage setting and when the shooting starts….

    I do think they could double the pace and improve the show, though…

  95. Jim Masterson says:

    @President Elect H.R.:

    It’s 200 years later and they are casting according to identity politics.

    HBO’s Perry Mason checks off all of that stuff. Della is gay; Paul is a black cop; Perry isn’t really a lawyer except Burger wants Perry to become one, and so on. It’s really strange–not an Erle Stanley Gardner typical Perry Mason.

    My favorite recent SF show is HBO’s Westworld–well, the first season. It was kinda like Groundhog Day with robots (hosts). And Anthony Hopkins makes any show more interesting. However, he doesn’t continue in season two and three. So skip those seasons unless you like seeing robots (hosts) getting killed in various bloody ways (not to mention a few humans too). Season three was strange–to say the least. I guess there will be a season four.


  96. President Elect H.R. says:

    Watching (sorta) Season 3 Episode 6 of The Expanse. It’s a little better now.

    One thing I noted is that when someone is wearing their mag-boots and walking on the exterior of a spaceship, you hear their boots making a metallic clang as they make their way along. And if they drop something it makes a loud noise. And we won’t mention the roar of the rockets outside of the ship when they fire up and take off.

    Would someone please remind me of the speed of sound in a vacuum? I seem to have forgotten that number.

  97. President Elect H.R. says:

    (Best Columbo voice) Oh, and just one more thing. They use F*CK w-a-a-a-y too much in the show.

    Language changes over time. In 200 years, I can’t see that any one would be using f*ck at any time. Heck! In the next 20 – 30 years it will probably be replaced by, ohhhh…. POOK!

    Pook you, you pookin’ piece of glump. You must have glump for brains. Go pook yourself. Eat glump and die! What the pook was that?!?

    The overuse of a current expletive in a setting 200 years in the future is a sign to me that the script writers weren’t really trying. The dialogue disappoints.

  98. Jim Masterson says:

    Would someone please remind me of the speed of sound in a vacuum?

    One of the great things about the 2001 movie is the “The Blue Danube” being played during the space-vacuum scenes, There were no rocket noises, explosions, or space boot clicking. Even my wife (who didn’t really like SF) enjoyed Johann Strauss’s music.


  99. Jim Masterson says:

    Well, let’s get back to Star Trek word games. The manual for my game is:
    and the manual for a Super Star Trek games is:

    I have the C code for the Super Star Trek game–if anyone wants it.


  100. V.P. Elect Smith says:


    Appreciate the offer, but have already downloaded Super Trek source from elsewhere ;-)

  101. Compu Gator says:

    M.S. might’ve provided fans of the various “Star Trektext-only computer games an easier path to being able to run them on personal/home machines. It’s released the source code for GW-BASIC (in whatever version dated February 10, 1983). But wait!  There’s a catch: “[T]he source doesn’t contain the tools to generate executable binaries.”  That source is in an assembler for the intel 8088 [β‹”]. So people will need at least an assembler for the intel 8088 [β‹”β‹”], the DIP-chip made nearly ubiquitous in its time by the IBM 5150 original “Personal Computer”. MS-DOS isn’t the issue, per se: M.S. previously open-sourced that system [β‹”β‹”]. And I suppose the output of a successful assembly of GW-BASIC could be run in a Windows DOS Box, altho’ maybe not those in the most recent Win.- versions.

    I wonder how many P.C. software developers or enthusiasts own such an assembler, but didn’t carry it forward to modern operational storage-media in their personal archives, e.g., anything past original 5ΒΌ-in. floppies?  I also wonder if anyone is working on porting the released code, in whatever exactly was the M.S. assember, to the possibly more widely available Borland Turbo Assembler?  Just idle musing here; none of those are projects that are worth it to me to spend any of my final years on [Γ—].

    Note β‹” : “Microsoft takes you back to 1983: It’s just open-sourced its GW-BASIC interpreter”. By Liam Tung, ZDNet, May 22, 2020 Β· 11:17 GMT (04:17 PDT): https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-takes-you-back-to-1983-its-just-open-sourced-its-gw-basic-interpreter. For perspective on the GW-BASIC version, release of the 5160 P.C., i.e., the XT, thus MS-DOS 2.0, was still a month in the future.

    Note β‹”β‹” : https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-open-sources-ms-dos-again-this-time-on-github/.

    Note Γ— : “Sorry, this comment could not be posted.”,  thrice! What the Hey-ell, it’s now after 5 p.m. in U.S. possessions in the Atlantic Time Zone.

  102. Simon Derricutt says:

    Compu Gator – as it happens I do have MASM, LINK and EXE2BIN .exe’s for 8088 assembler around, and I’ve just been looking at some code from 1985 and thinking that I didn’t put in enough comments then. I also have a manual for the IBM 5150 with a BIOS listing. I’ve probably got a Z80 assembler/linker around in the archives, and CP/M assembler/linker for that, but I’d have to hunt a bit more. I don’t think I’ll really need to use them again, though. Somewhere around that time I had a program that converted Unix/Linux format text files to Dos format (with a line-feed as well as CR at end-of-line). It was quick at the time, but took several seconds to convert a file. Somewhere around 20 years ago I needed to use it again for some file (on a 350MHz Pentium box), and instead of taking a reasonable time to do the job it came straight back to the blinking cursor, so I thought “Oh well, the hardware and OS have changed too much and it doesn’t work”. It had however worked correctly, just at around 100 times the speed it used to. Today the box I’m on, though not current, is probably at least an order of magnitude faster. Amazing advances in 35 years.

    Back in the early 80s (1981?), my first CP/M box (with 8″ floppies) came without a BIOS, and it was necessary to write one (in assembler, of course), and burn it onto the system EPROM before you could even start, so bootstrapping needed to borrow someone else’s machine to get going. A bit of a bar to early adopters, that. Luckily the CP/M manual (that I’ve probably still got somewhere) had a “sample BIOS” that needed only some modifications to get things up and running, but the process wasn’t plug’n’play.

    If you want the 8088 assembler/linker, I can put it in an email (only 122K for the three files). It will most likely work on current PC hardware, but might need a DOS emulator to be running first. I’ve also got a 68K assembler/linker. Even through an emulator, such programs would probably run a lot faster than on the original machines (unless there’s a slow-down put in to drop the speed to the original). Personally, I don’t have a need to run those old programs, and I was never a game-player or nostalgic about Space Invaders. Still, that is a thing for some people.

    If you need disassemblers, I have some of those, too…. For the 8086 disassembler, it runs from 8088 to 80386 code. 8031/8051 assembler? Yep got that…. The whole set of various assemblers/disassemblers is less than 1Mb, so easy to attach to an email today where even a single photo is a couple of megs unless I’ve chopped and made it smaller.

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