A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Star Trek & Federalism

I meant to share this last week, but it slipped my mind until now:

Ilya Somin: How Federal is Star Trek's Federation?

How much power does the Federation's central government have, and how much is left to the individual planets? Does the central government's Star Fleet have a monopoly of military force, or do Vulcan and other planets have their own local forces? Does the Federation subsidize planetary governments heavily, or are there hard budget constraints? Despite five Star Trek TV series and numerous movies, these questions haven't really been answered. Unfortunately, the academic literature on Federation law isn't much help either

Somin continues with an interesting (and wonderfully geeky) analysis of Trek-era government, and there's a lengthy discussion that follows in the comments.

Edited to Add: No sooner did I post this than the National Review went and had itself a Star Trek Weekend, with multiple Trek analyses, including a modified version of Somin's earlier column.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sprechen Sie Deutsch, Herr Claremont?

Stelok, a new poster over at the Comics Should Be Good forum, had a few things to say recently about the use of German in Marvel comics. With his permission, I'm reposting some of his comments:


Fabian Nicieza typed in X-Force Vol.1 #8 that Baron Strucker greeted to Cable and his gang, "Guten Tag, mein Freunds". That is wrong. There is no such German word as "Freunds". Nicieza should have typed "Meine Freunde". Obviously he has never studied German once in his life.

Mein Freund- masculine, singular, nominative
Meine Freundin- feminine, nominative

Meine Freunde- plural, for both males and females, nominative
Meine Freundinnen- plural, for females only, nominative

There is another book called "Captain Amerca: Medusa Effect", written by Roy Thomas. In that book, Helmut says "Mein Mutter". He should have typed "Meine Mutter", not "Mein Mutter".

"Mein" is the masculine German article of "my" while "meine" is the feminine German article of "my."

And I also think Bucky is supposed to ask Helmut the informal question "Sprichst du Englisch?" instead of the formal question "Sprechen Sie Englisch?"

Fabian Nicieza also made a typographical mistake with a German word in X-Force's 1999 Annual. The correct German word for "experiment" is Versuch, not Vershuct.

Take my advice. Don't learn German phrases from Marvel comics. Don't learn them from an English-German dictionary, because just a dictionary is not adequate enough. I know it, because my German teacher noted some German words in all of my English-German dictionaries were not accurate. Learn them from a German tutorial class instead.


Now I wouldn't expect comic writers to go to the lengths of taking night classes just to get their foreign phrases right. But in the age of the internet, it's all too easy to find someone fluent who could do that translation for you. I imagine that's how Alan Moore got the Arabic right in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Stelok also passes along a link to Nightcrawler's Marvel Wiki page, which has a short section on erroneous words and phrases that have been put in Kurt's mouth.

And on an unrelated note, reading this reminds me of my own time in college learning German, and how, as in Spanish, I came to despise the notion of "genders." Every noun is declared, more or less arbitrarily, to be male or female (or in German, neutral), which essentially doubles the number of things to memorize and unnecessarily complicates lots of conjugations. My German teacher once said that Germany was perhaps moving to use the neutral gender for everything; I don't know if that went anywhere, but it would sure make the language easier and do away with an utterly silly and useless complication.

Friday, September 07, 2007

New Defense -- She Hulk #21

Oh, and yest, there will be spoilers.

Well, one of the secrets of the Marvel Universe has been how the in the name of Jack Kirby could the She Hulk have slept with the Juggernaut?

Well, she did . . . or so in seemed . . . in an issue of X-Men a few years ago.

This issue answered that question while giving supervillains a new defense to their crimes.

It seems that some joker from Earth A has been sending people from that world to Marvel Earth and using an atomic resequencer to match the structure of their Marvel Earth counterpart. In other words, the Earth A Jen Walters came to Marvel Earth and has been doing some of the She Hulk stuff, including sleeping with the Juggernaut.

But this provides a new defense for super villains, at least for a limited time -- the Earth A guy did it not me. If a villain can make a colorable argument that he was not at the scene of a crime, e.g., on vacation in Hawaii, not fighting the Initiative in New Mexico, he or she, if they are later arrested, can argue that it was his or her Earth A duplicate. This would be especially good for those villains who we know had Earth A counterparts visiting the Marvel Universe. I'm sure Mallory Book (the new partner; it seems Holliway quit the firm) will take advantage of that loop hole.

Oh, by the way, the She Hulk's back. Part of me hopes she joins the Winter Soldier and they kill Stark (fat chance). But I'd really like to see her going after the SHRA, that blatantly unconstitutional piece of litigation. Isn't anybody doing anything about it?