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Darth Fluffy

NP, Wednesday July 17, 2019

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When John Byrne took over Superman in the 1980s, a lot of "technical details" about how his Super Powers worked were redefined.  Basically DC said "Yes, he's strong, tough, smart, and can see through things that aren't made of lead.  (And who knew that most of Metropolis was made of lead?)  But really, he has LOTS of Telekinesis."  The Big Blue Boy Sprout lifts heavy objects, punches through mountains, flies, breaks the sound barrier, deflects bullets, and burns anything he can see via Telekinesis.  About the only thing he couldn't do with TK was pick up objects and move them at a distance, like almost everyone else does with TK.

There were a significant number of comic fans who did not like this development.

So the lesson I took was that there is little benefit for the comic writer in giving the comic and characters too much of a technical footing.  Just write the story and remind your audience to Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain.

Edited by Pharaoh RutinTutin
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7 hours ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

When John Byrne took over Superman in the 1980s, a lot of "technical details" about how his Super Powers worked were redefined.  Basically DC said "Yes, he's strong, tough, smart, and can see through things that aren't made of lead.  (And who knew that most of Metropolis was made of lead?)  But really, he has LOTS of Telekinesis.  The Big Blue Boy Sprout lifts heavy objects, punches through mountains, flies, breaks the sound barrier, deflects bullets, and burns anything he can see via Telekinesis.  About the only thing he couldn't do with TK was pick up objects and move them at a distance, like almost everyone else does with TK.

There were a significant number of comic fans who did not like this development.

So the lesson I took was that there is little benefit for the comic writer in giving the comic and characters too much of a technical footing.  Just write the story and remind your audience to Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain.

Yeah, I've never found that retconning does much to help a series. That is the path to midichlorians, the dork side of the farce. (OMG, the Star Wars fan sites are hyphenating it. That can't be good.)

 

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1 hour ago, Darth Fluffy said:
9 hours ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

When John Byrne took over Superman in the 1980s, a lot of "technical details" about how his Super Powers worked were redefined.  Basically DC said "Yes, he's strong, tough, smart, and can see through things that aren't made of lead.  (And who knew that most of Metropolis was made of lead?)  But really, he has LOTS of Telekinesis.  The Big Blue Boy Sprout lifts heavy objects, punches through mountains, flies, breaks the sound barrier, deflects bullets, and burns anything he can see via Telekinesis.  About the only thing he couldn't do with TK was pick up objects and move them at a distance, like almost everyone else does with TK.

There were a significant number of comic fans who did not like this development.

So the lesson I took was that there is little benefit for the comic writer in giving the comic and characters too much of a technical footing.  Just write the story and remind your audience to Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain.

Yeah, I've never found that retconning does much to help a series. That is the path to midichlorians, the dork side of the farce. (OMG, the Star Wars fan sites are hyphenating it. That can't be good.)

Yeah, the lesson is not that too much technical footing is bad, the lesson is don't retconn the explanations, or anything else.

However, the original Superman was explained so badly and inconsistently it could've been worth the try. (If it would help ; unfortunately, Marvel and DC are both extremely bad with consistency.) StarWars however? There really was no reason to bring another explanation. It didn't made it more consistent, more logical, more anything ... didn't brought any option not possible before ... it just made it more complicated.

8 hours ago, ChronosCat said:

There are some superheros who have noticeably tough skin, temporarily or permanently - but they tend not to be able to pass as ordinary humans when in these forms. (Examples that come to mind are The Thing and Colossus.) 

Inverse is not true however. Hulk, for example, doesn't tend to be able to pass as ordinary human AND his skin is very tough, HOWEVER it still doesn't LOOK tougher and it's entirely possible it feels normal as well.

And "How"? Frankly, I don't find it THAT unbelievable. Non-Newtonian fluids  can get tougher when bigger force is applied to them ; the way superheroes skins react to bullets may be similar.

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7 hours ago, hkmaly said:

 StarWars however? There really was no reason to bring another explanation. It didn't made it more consistent, more logical, more anything ... didn't brought any option not possible before ... it just made it more complicated.

<sigh> George Lucas, ..., it's like a mental condition that won't let him let go and move on. Frankly, Han shooting after Greedo bothers me way more. You had a vision, man, own it.

 

7 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Inverse is not true however. Hulk, for example, doesn't tend to be able to pass as ordinary human AND his skin is very tough, HOWEVER it still doesn't LOOK tougher and it's entirely possible it feels normal as well.

Not that I've ever read them, way before my time, but Hulk is somewhat akin to the original version of Superman from, who, for instance, couldn't fly, but could jump really well.

But why does moving from a red-sun world to a yellow-sun world make him stronger? Shouldn't the more intense radiation kill him, since his physiology isn't adapted to it? Or perhaps his species is not native to Krypton, he just happens to be from there. Maybe he's just wrong about why he's superpowered; has nothing to do with the lighting, Krypton is just hugely massive. See, it's BS questions like this that make the writers want to fix their s#!%.

(Don't get me started on Green Lantern. Is he allergic to Yellow light? How "yellow" does it have to be? A specific wavelength? A band? Does intensity matter. Why doesn't white light, like daylight, bother him? It has yellow. Or is it all in his head? The perception of yellow. Yellow paint, even if it's not reflecting much yellow light. What if he's presented with an optical illusion, where one background makes it look not quite yellpw, and another makes it appear vivid yellow? And we don't actually see yellow, our brain has to synthesize it from other information, mostly red and green balance, I guess. Can you "see" yellow if you observe the right balance of actual red and green, and would that affect him?)

(And how does The Flash maintain traction to run?)

I like Mystery Men because they are essentially mundane and avoid most of this. "I am The Shoveller. I shovel well." Or Batman; "My superpower is that I am a filthy rich genius martial artist."

 

7 hours ago, hkmaly said:

And "How"? Frankly, I don't find it THAT unbelievable. Non-Newtonian fluids  can get tougher when bigger force is applied to them ; the way superheroes skins react to bullets may be similar.

I don't disagree, that's a pretty astute observation, but I would like to point out that you just did the very thing we're talking about, applied a layer of science colored paint to it.

 

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The Silver Age Green Lantern weakness to Yellow was supposedly a deliberate design flaw that the Guardians of the Universe built into the weapons they gave their agents.

It is easy to understand a need for a weakness from a story telling perspective.  And it even makes some tactical sense, giving the weapon makers a way to defend themselves from the weapon users.  Although why the specific weakness to Yellow was chosen is a something you will need to bring up with either a comic writer or a Guardian of the Universe.  Whomever you might happen to see first.

However, the source of the Green Lantern's power was ultimately the Guardians of the Universe themselves, channeling their power through the batteries.  If the Guardians provided the power, couldn't they just turn it off when their agents became reckless or rebellious?

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12 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:
21 hours ago, hkmaly said:

 StarWars however? There really was no reason to bring another explanation. It didn't made it more consistent, more logical, more anything ... didn't brought any option not possible before ... it just made it more complicated.

<sigh> George Lucas, ..., it's like a mental condition that won't let him let go and move on. Frankly, Han shooting after Greedo bothers me way more. You had a vision, man, own it.

I don't think it's necessary to determine which of those two stupid changes is worse.

12 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:

But why does moving from a red-sun world to a yellow-sun world make him stronger? Shouldn't the more intense radiation kill him, since his physiology isn't adapted to it? Or perhaps his species is not native to Krypton, he just happens to be from there. Maybe he's just wrong about why he's superpowered; has nothing to do with the lighting, Krypton is just hugely massive. See, it's BS questions like this that make the writers want to fix their s#!%.

If he's POWERED by sun light, it makes sense stronger light would make him stronger. Sort of.

12 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:

(Don't get me started on Green Lantern. Is he allergic to Yellow light? How "yellow" does it have to be? A specific wavelength? A band? Does intensity matter. Why doesn't white light, like daylight, bother him? It has yellow. Or is it all in his head? The perception of yellow. Yellow paint, even if it's not reflecting much yellow light. What if he's presented with an optical illusion, where one background makes it look not quite yellpw, and another makes it appear vivid yellow? And we don't actually see yellow, our brain has to synthesize it from other information, mostly red and green balance, I guess. Can you "see" yellow if you observe the right balance of actual red and green, and would that affect him?)

Well the white light not bothering him makes obvious it's about perception, yes. Especially if you realize how CLOSE green and yellow actually are.

Not that it would make it make sense.

12 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:

(And how does The Flash maintain traction to run?)

Not as big problem as the fact he would incarnate both himself and everything around.

In some cases, recomputing how fast he was resulted in his speed being superluminar (FTL).

12 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:

I like Mystery Men because they are essentially mundane and avoid most of this. "I am The Shoveller. I shovel well." Or Batman; "My superpower is that I am a filthy rich genius martial artist."

Batman can breathe in space and only explanation he gives about it is "I'm Batman".

You can have scientifically plausible superheroes (or at least relatively scientifically plausible) even with more power, just don't expect it from Marvel or DC, who don't have even basic consistence anywhere near the top of their list of priorities.

12 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:
21 hours ago, hkmaly said:

And "How"? Frankly, I don't find it THAT unbelievable. Non-Newtonian fluids  can get tougher when bigger force is applied to them ; the way superheroes skins react to bullets may be similar.

I don't disagree, that's a pretty astute observation, but I would like to point out that you just did the very thing we're talking about, applied a layer of science colored paint to it.

Well, thinking about how something may be at least somewhat possible is more fun that just saying it's impossible.

Also, when you say something is impossible it's embarrassing when later someone does it.

Finally, note that I never objected to the existence of scientific colored paint over something: my objection to midichlorians was that it was done too late and without respect to original explanation.

11 hours ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

However, the source of the Green Lantern's power was ultimately the Guardians of the Universe themselves, channeling their power through the batteries.  If the Guardians provided the power, couldn't they just turn it off when their agents became reckless or rebellious?

Maybe because if they turned off the power the batteries would still last some time, possibly dangerously long?

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On Superman's source of power: Krypton's high gravity would definitely justify the 1930s Superman, who was shown throwing an automobile on the cover of Action Comics #1--Krypton has been fairly consistently depicted as having 5-6 times Earth's surface gravity (e.g. Jimmy Olsen shown weighing slightly over eight hundred pounds in a Kryptonian environment), so a Kryptonian having the strength of 10-20 Terrans would be perfectly reasonable, his body being adapted to needing such strength in his native environment.

As for the yellow sunlight thing, in the Silver and Bronze Ages it was pretty well established that ANY organic life in the DC multiverse becomes superpowered under a higher-color-temperature sun than its own--red-sun life under a yellow or hotter sun, and yellow-sun life under a blue sun, for example. There were a few stories with people from Earth getting Kryptonian-like superpowers under a blue sun.

On Green Lanterns and the color yellow: Post-Crisis, the writers established that the colors represented a spectrum of emotion-based energy that could be tapped--red was anger, orange was greed, yellow was fear, green was sheer willpower, (cyan) blue was hope, indigo was compassion, violet was love, and white was life-force itself. Anybody remember the line "You have the ability to overcome great fear"? Yellow represents fear, which is the antithesis of everything that a Green Lantern needs to believe in to be effective. Essentially, then, a Green Lantern is ineffective against yellow because he must fight his own fears to overcome it.

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15 hours ago, ijuin said:

On Superman's source of power: Krypton's high gravity would definitely justify the 1930s Superman, who was shown throwing an automobile on the cover of Action Comics #1--Krypton has been fairly consistently depicted as having 5-6 times Earth's surface gravity (e.g. Jimmy Olsen shown weighing slightly over eight hundred pounds in a Kryptonian environment), so a Kryptonian having the strength of 10-20 Terrans would be perfectly reasonable, his body being adapted to needing such strength in his native environment.

That sound nice, except that it's very hard to lift an automobile with hands no matter how strong you are: the AUTOMOBILE is not build to withstand that. When Edward was asking who's automobile Grace lifted, he was worried she damaged it. And Superman did even more absurd things, like lifting a big chunk of ice by edges. That's why they tried the tactile telekinesis stuff.

15 hours ago, ijuin said:

On Green Lanterns and the color yellow: Post-Crisis, the writers established that the colors represented a spectrum of emotion-based energy that could be tapped--red was anger, orange was greed, yellow was fear, green was sheer willpower, (cyan) blue was hope, indigo was compassion, violet was love, and white was life-force itself. Anybody remember the line "You have the ability to overcome great fear"? Yellow represents fear, which is the antithesis of everything that a Green Lantern needs to believe in to be effective. Essentially, then, a Green Lantern is ineffective against yellow because he must fight his own fears to overcome it.

I remember several cases where the Green Lantern DID successfully fight against yellow, it was just much harder for him. But yes, this is consistent with the perception idea.

15 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:
18 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Batman can breathe in space and only explanation he gives about it is "I'm Batman".

At least you don't have to hear him say it.

Strangely, the people around did hear him. And by "people" I mean ... I think there was Superman next to him? Or was it just in this webcomics? I understand the webcomics is making fun from something from deadtree comics but I don't know the original.

13 hours ago, ijuin said:

I'm pretty sure that it has to be a sunlike/starlike light spectrum--i.e. a blackbody spectrum peaking in that range.

So, probably not roentgen, but I think there are blue lights like that.

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5 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Strangely, the people around did hear him. And by "people" I mean ... I think there was Superman next to him? Or was it just in this webcomics? I understand the webcomics is making fun from something from deadtree comics but I don't know the original.

I think that was actually making fun of a poorly designed toy (and the artwork on the package). Shortpacked is set in a toy store after all (or at least it was back then, I haven't read it in many years) and if you look closely, it looks like that's an action figure package she's holding in the last panel.

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8 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Strangely, the people around did hear him. And by "people" I mean ... I think there was Superman next to him? Or was it just in this webcomics? I understand the webcomics is making fun from something from deadtree comics but I don't know the original.

Technically in space, someone could hear you scream, albeit, within a narrow zone, and you'd have seconds of useful consciousness, and it would not propagate well, ...

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In space, someone might hear you scream,

But since you only have a period of time slightly less than how long you can hold your breath to do something useful, screaming and hoping someone hears that scream seems like a bad idea.

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16 hours ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

In space, someone might hear you scream,

But since you only have a period of time slightly less than how long you can hold your breath to do something useful, screaming and hoping someone hears that scream seems like a bad idea.

I am fairly certain you would not have nearly that long. I can hold my breath under water for a minute without much effort. I have had altitude training in a pressure chamber. One of the "This is why you're doing this" demos was for one person to go off oxygen at a simulated 40,000 feet. (It may have been a little higher, like 42,000; the training was many years ago). They had a Tupperware toddler puzzle, the red and blue ball with the slots for the yellow shapes, and their task when they went off oxygen was to put in as many as they could. They got one in, then froze and started shaking, then the instructor put their oxygen mask back on for them. Seconds of useful activity, at best.

"In space, someone might hear you scream" was meant to be a reference to the movie catchphrase, nothing more.

If you want a takeaway, these terms we take for granted, "space", "vacuum", "atmosphere" are somewhat relative terms. The definition of space, particularly where it starts, has changed over time, and has legal implications. Not everyone agrees on the definition. Our moon has an atmosphere; it's tenuous, but it exists, it can be characterized, and it has a wiki article. Of course, relative to some of our neighbors, we  live in a near vacuum ourselves.

This is not unusual; any field of study will break the nominal vocabulary and require distinguishing new shades of meaning.

 

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2 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:

If you want a takeaway, these terms we take for granted, "space", "vacuum", "atmosphere" are somewhat relative terms. The definition of space, particularly where it starts, has changed over time, and has legal implications. Not everyone agrees on the definition. Our moon has an atmosphere; it's tenuous, but it exists, it can be characterized, and it has a wiki article. Of course, relative to some of our neighbors, we  live in a near vacuum ourselves.

For spaceflight purposes, there are at least two definitions of "where space begins" (i.e. "where the atmosphere ends") that provide useful information:

First is the Karman Line (used currently as the definition for when a flight qualifies as being a spaceflight, as in the X Prize competition and suborbital space tourism flights). This is the altitude, about 100 km above sea level, at which aerodynamic lift becomes too low to hold up an aircraft that is flying at less than escape velocity. Above this altitude, maneuvering must be done propulsively rather than via aerodynamic control surfaces such as ailerons, and altitude can not be maintained. Air density at this altitude is also too low to provide buoyancy to any reasonable balloon, being about a millionth as great as at sea level.

The second limit, somewhat higher, is the line at which aerodynamic drag is low enough that orbiting is possible. The altitude at which an orbit will not decay for at least 24 hours is around 150 km. Below this, drag will cause the spacecraft to slow down and dip into the lower atmosphere very quickly.

In between these two lines is a "no-go" zone in which a vehicle can not sustainably fly without constant propulsion--there is too little lift to hold the vehicle up, and too much drag to allow it to orbit--and within a short time it will descend below the Karman Line.

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36 minutes ago, ijuin said:

For spaceflight purposes, there are at least two definitions of "where space begins" (i.e. "where the atmosphere ends") that provide useful information:

First is the Karman Line (used currently as the definition for when a flight qualifies as being a spaceflight, as in the X Prize competition and suborbital space tourism flights). This is the altitude, about 100 km above sea level, at which aerodynamic lift becomes too low to hold up an aircraft that is flying at less than escape velocity. Above this altitude, maneuvering must be done propulsively rather than via aerodynamic control surfaces such as ailerons, and altitude can not be maintained. Air density at this altitude is also too low to provide buoyancy to any reasonable balloon, being about a millionth as great as at sea level.

The second limit, somewhat higher, is the line at which aerodynamic drag is low enough that orbiting is possible. The altitude at which an orbit will not decay for at least 24 hours is around 150 km. Below this, drag will cause the spacecraft to slow down and dip into the lower atmosphere very quickly.

In between these two lines is a "no-go" zone in which a vehicle can not sustainably fly without constant propulsion--there is too little lift to hold the vehicle up, and too much drag to allow it to orbit--and within a short time it will descend below the Karman Line.

Yep, that's why I linked the Wiki article four posts up. The Kármán line is kind of an international standard but wouldn't you know, someone has to be a major hold out.

The USAF currently uses 50 miles (80 km), approximately the mesopause (85 km, but none of these are exact nor even consistent around the planet nor stable) [The Kármán line is also an approximation.] NASA follows suit with the USAF, to avoid conflicts of "Of the folks in this vehicle, the Air Force crew members are in space, but the civilian crew members are not." It gets weirder. When this revision of NASA's definition of space took place in 2005, three civilian X-15 pilots were awarded civilian astronaut wings, 35 years after the fact, and two of those were posthumous.

The US Army (which doesn't participate as much in space ops) goes with low perigee for an orbital vehicle, then does not specify an altitude. (The article cites it as "US military", but that obviously leaves out the USAF, and the citation link is to an Army document. This page spells out who follows which rule.) You can read the bloody details, but an additional weirdness is that since altitude is unspecified as is the method of determining perigee, it could mean the 159 km figure for a circular orbit that you cite, of it could mean 130 km, stated to be the lowest possible perigee of an elliptical orbit. (This makes no sense to me. If you have to orbit at 150 km, 130 has too much drag, then that drag should affect you when you dip down to it on each pass in an elliptical orbit. Maybe there's an unstated criteria of how long the orbit will last to be "stable".) [Clearly, the US leads in not having our $#!% together regarding defining space.]

This definition is of import to distinguish between sovereign airspace and outer space where space law applies. Once the lawyers start their feeding frenzy, I'm sure the weirdness will escalate.

 

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On 7/20/2019 at 1:47 AM, ChronosCat said:
On 7/19/2019 at 7:51 PM, hkmaly said:

Strangely, the people around did hear him. And by "people" I mean ... I think there was Superman next to him? Or was it just in this webcomics? I understand the webcomics is making fun from something from deadtree comics but I don't know the original.

I think that was actually making fun of a poorly designed toy (and the artwork on the package). Shortpacked is set in a toy store after all (or at least it was back then, I haven't read it in many years) and if you look closely, it looks like that's an action figure package she's holding in the last panel.

Oh.

On 7/21/2019 at 6:33 AM, Darth Fluffy said:
On 7/20/2019 at 1:45 PM, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

In space, someone might hear you scream,

But since you only have a period of time slightly less than how long you can hold your breath to do something useful, screaming and hoping someone hears that scream seems like a bad idea.

I am fairly certain you would not have nearly that long. I can hold my breath under water for a minute without much effort. I have had altitude training in a pressure chamber. One of the "This is why you're doing this" demos was for one person to go off oxygen at a simulated 40,000 feet. (It may have been a little higher, like 42,000; the training was many years ago). They had a Tupperware toddler puzzle, the red and blue ball with the slots for the yellow shapes, and their task when they went off oxygen was to put in as many as they could. They got one in, then froze and started shaking, then the instructor put their oxygen mask back on for them. Seconds of useful activity, at best.

There is another angle to consider: it's BAD idea to hold breath in vacuum. In water, you breathe in, then hold breath, and can use the oxygen in your lungs for I believe several minutes with training. In case of explosive decompression or like when thrown from airlock, having vacuum around and atmospheric pressure in your lungs will rupture them; you will live longer if you breathe OUT, but without oxygen in lungs you will have less useful time.

On 7/21/2019 at 11:49 AM, Darth Fluffy said:

This definition is of import to distinguish between sovereign airspace and outer space where space law applies. Once the lawyers start their feeding frenzy, I'm sure the weirdness will escalate.

It will mainly get weirder when it actually became useful to have some aircraft in the uncertain attitude.

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8 hours ago, hkmaly said:

It will mainly get weirder when it actually became useful to have some aircraft in the uncertain attitude.

The p1$$1#& contest is decades old. Not edge of space but in 1960, you can imagine that the airspace claim was debatable. Followed by these planes. Some folks were not happy campers about being overflown. Spy satellites have pretty much taken over. 

Space has been useful from the earliest days. Comm sats began early. Landsat began in the early seventies. Imaging deep spae works much better from space. 

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The mechanics of orbital flight dictate that any object in a non-geosynchronous Earth orbit must necessarily eventually pass over all points on the Earth that are of a latitude equal to or less than the orbiting object's maximum latitude. That is to say, it is impossible to avoid basically overflying EVERYWHERE without consuming a prohibitive amount of fuel. This is the main reason why nobody tries to deny permission for orbital overflight of their territory--because if anybody denied such permission, then orbiting at all would become a practical impossibility.

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1 hour ago, ijuin said:

The mechanics of orbital flight dictate that any object in a non-geosynchronous Earth orbit must necessarily eventually pass over all points on the Earth that are of a latitude equal to or less than the orbiting object's maximum latitude. That is to say, it is impossible to avoid basically overflying EVERYWHERE without consuming a prohibitive amount of fuel. This is the main reason why nobody tries to deny permission for orbital overflight of their territory--because if anybody denied such permission, then orbiting at all would become a practical impossibility.

I suspect that "We don't have big enough guns to shoot them down." has something to do with it as well. (If you can't orbit a satellite, you probably can't do asat either.)

 

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